Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Cabin Fever

By Mary Pascoe, Cornish immigrant, 1835

From the Chloe Ellefson Mysteries

by Kathleen Ernst

I heard a miner talking about "cabin fever" the other day. Now that winter's pressed down, do you have it too? If so, I must admit to some envy.

It took every cent my brothers and I had to travel from Cornwall to what soon became the Wisconsin Territory in America. We settled near the spot where the very first lead was discovered in Mineral Point.

Our first "home" was a little dug-out shelter with brush for a roof. This winter we got lucky, and moved into a tiny cave somebody had carved out from a hillside. We've even got stone around the entrance to help keep the rain out. Since there's no door, I get to watch the snow fall.

Source:  PIxabay

The boys go down in the mine every day. It warms them up and keeps them busy. I don't have much to do this time of year except huddle under my blankets, feed the fire, and dream of spring.

And when a blizzard roars down, or the temperature plunges...well, let's just say that a cabin sounds pretty good.

Don't worry about me, though. I've adopted a little girl to raise, and she gives me hope. I'll rise above all this one day, and own a real home. You'll see.

* * *
A note from Chloe:

The Cornish mining families that settled in southwest Wisconsin endured rugged living conditions. Fair-weather miners might simply dig out a shallow pit and stretch a tarp or some brush over it. The hillside across from Pendarvis, the historic site where I'm working as guest curator, is riddled with evidence.
Note the trees growing from the depression once dug by miners.
People who wintered over did what they could. This so-called Badger Hole was dug near Mineral Point, WI.

Here's another photograph, this one on display at the Badger Mine & Museum in Shullsburg.

Can you imagine spending a Wisconsin winter in one of these shelters? The tenacity of these immigrants, who sacrificed so much to make a better life for themselves, inspires me every day.

* * *
To learn more about the award-winning Chloe Ellefson series---including the latest, Mining for Justice, see Kathleen's website  or follow her on her Facebook Author Page.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Through Thick and Thin

Nothing better than friends and families and there are no families or friends closer than Southern families and friends. That’s especially true in my Consignment Shop Series. Book 5, Lethal In Old Lace, out March 13. Here’s a few examples from the series.

Mamma and KiKi were sisters. At birth the muses tangoed over auntie’s crib turning her into Savannah’s dance diva and they wrapped mamma in a blanket with little elephants resulting in this campaign and me getting the name Reagan.

Friendship means being there for each other when the chips are down, like when Walker Boone is wanted for murder.

            I looked at my ’57 red Chevy convertible parked at the curb. “Might as well put a target on my back trying to get away from the cops in this thing.”
           Reagan shoved her helmet at me. “Take Princess.”
          “A scooter? You want me to ride a pink scooter named Princess?”
            “Better than that being your nickname in the big house.”
And there are all kinds of friendships…friendships between guys…

                      Dawg,” Big Joey said to me as I slip onto a stool next to his, everyone in the place giving Joey space. “Know you’d show.”
          Big Joey was built like a Mac truck, muscles buffed to jet black, gold tooth, ponytail and main man of the Seventeenth Street former home and forever family. He was my brother in every sense of the word except parental commonality.

Friendships between girls…

                        Footsteps skittered across the floor over our heads and I tore up the steps, with Auntie KiKi right behind me. We turned the corner at the top and faced a big guy with alcohol-infused breath and wild-looking bloodshot eyes that I could make out even in the dark. The guy took a swing at me and missed. KiKi threw the rest of her martini in his face and I added an added a cocktail shaker uppercut to his jaw.
                       “I give up! I give up!” The guy stumbled back against the wall and slithered down to the floor as I switched on the hall lights.

So who’s always there for you? Who always has your back come hell or high water?

Hugs, Duffy Brown


Monday, January 15, 2018

Nikolai here ~

Yes, you know me already.  How could you forget me?  You know me from all da Zodiac Mysteries.  And I'm famous in the city now!  Dere’s my TV show and all my hypnosis vork.  And now, I’ll be doing a very special event at The Mystic Eye.   I not telling anybody vhat it vill be.  Is surprise!  Da ladies at the Eye are very worried about dis  -- Julia and Gale and Cheryl.  Vell, not vorried exactly, ha ha, dey just nervous, not sure vhat to do vit me most of da time.  

But I von't be disappointing them.  No vay! 
You see, my favorite ting to do is explore past lives.  Through hypnotizing.  Ve can't remember vhat ve doing before, before dis life, but I help.  I hypnotize da person and den dey remember.  It all comes flooding back.  And sometimes is real surprise. 
I tink dis party vill be lots of fun.  You von't get to learn about it till dis summer vhen you can read all about me in da Tail of da Dragon.  You are gonna really like my surprise!  Can you guess vhat it vill be? 

You can read all about my author, Connie di Marco, da lady who invented me, at her website and at that ting dey call Facebook.  I don' understand dat.  It's got faces, but I don' see any book, do you?  And den dere's Tvitter.  She's at @AskZodia.  Dat's the name of Julia's newspaper column.  Da one vhere she gives astrological advice.  You'll learn lots of tings dere.  You'll enjoy your visit I know and den come see me at da Mystic Eye too!

Sunday, January 14, 2018


From:  Sabrina Tate

Of: The Bad Luck Cat Mysteries

By: Kay Finch

Hi there and Happy New Year to all! My name’s Sabrina Tate, and I live in the Texas Hill Country with my black cat Hitchcock at the Around-the-World Cottages owned by my Aunt Rowe. I moved here after quitting my Houston paralegal job with the goal of becoming a published mystery writer.  And guess what? I now have a signed contract with a big New York City publisher.
Hallelujah! My first published book!

Ever since my agent told me about the publisher’s first nibble of interest I’ve been on cloud nine. I drifted through the entire holiday season happily picturing a row of my published novels sitting on reader’s shelves all over the world. Okay, so maybe I’m a bit optimistic, but you never know. Every best-selling author had to start somewhere.

But now that we’re here in 2018 I can’t ignore the realities of the author’s world. My friend Tyanne, who owns the local bookstore, is hounding me about the need to have a concrete marketing plan. What? I’m busy proofreading my book (for the fifth time) to make sure there are no typos. Not one.  I need to finish writing the next book. Ty isn’t letting up with the nagging, and everything she says on the subject raises questions in my head.

What’s a book launch – exactly? What do you mean I need to write a press release? Book signings - plural? Attending conferences?  A travel budget? Yes, I know I need to design my web site.  I should think about starting a blog? Really? Tweeting, Facebook, and all that other social media stuff? Sure sounds like it would take up a lot of my precious writing time. Of course, I’ll go to a festival or two – or ten - with you and sign books at your booth(s). Let me add that to the ever-growing list.
I gave in one day and looked up marketing tips for authors online – there were plenty of sites. I scanned past 119 Book Marketing Ideas, 71 Ways to Promote Your Book, 50 Simple Ways to Publicize Your Book, and stopped at one with “5 Easy Ways” in the title. That’s more my speed.  As I read numbers one through four I started feeling overwhelmed – these things didn’t sound easy at all. Then I got to #5 and grinned – “Plan To Do Nothing.” The advice said to appreciate your work, reflect, rest, enjoy living your life. I liked the sound of that. Of course, it doesn’t mean to do nothing all the time, but from time to time I’ll make sure I sit out on the back deck with Hitchcock on my lap and just enjoy being.

Kay Finch is the National Best-Selling author of the Bad Luck Cat Mysteries by Berkley Prime Crime.  Though her character, Sabrina Tate, has left the paralegal profession behind to move to the Texas Hill Country, Kay still works as a paralegal at a Houston, Texas law firm. She resides in a Houston suburb with her husband and pets. Visit her at

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Welcome to the Cottonwood, Kentucky ~ a southern, charming small town And 2018 Murder Mystery Reader Weekend

Hi-do. I’m Nanette and I’d like to welcome you to The Tattered Book and Inn. We are a full service Inn. Come on in. This here is Purdy. She’s the Inn’s cat. If you are allergic, too bad or you can waddle on down to Dixon’s Foodtown and get you some medicine.
Over yonder in that room you’ll find refreshments and snacks that are stocked all day long. If you need something you can ask Malina over there behind the desk, really behind that book. Darn girl always has her head stuck in a book, which reminds me.

You’ll find your room has its own library. If you don’t see anything that strikes your fancy, you can mosey on over to the library. Marcy Carver is our librarian and she’s a little bit of a busy-body. Which reminds me, where are you from? What do you do for a living?
Anyways, you can have breakfast in your room or you can come on down to our communal dinning room. If nothing I’ve fixin’ makes your mouth water, then you just go right on next door to Ben’s Diner. He’s always got some specials that you might want to noodle around.
Now go on. You probably want to get in a nap or freshin’ up. I hear y’all are meetin’ down on the courthouse lawn to start your tour of Cottonwood. You better make sure you’ve got your ears turned on. From what I heard, now it’s just hearsay, but I heard they were offering some fun giveaways.

Where’d you say you were from again? Tell me in the comments and be entered to win an ebook copy of Fixin' To Die. If you already have it, we can gift it to a friend of your choice.

You can go on a real virtual tour of Cottonwood and get to know all the fun characters along with the cozy community by visiting the new Kenni Lowry Mystery Series website by clicking here!

I LOVE to connect with my readers!! Please send me your questions to where I answer reader’s questions via video! It’s so fun!! Also be sure to connect with me on my FREE Facebook page in our Cozy Krew Community.

Are you signed up for my newsletter? Don’t miss a thing or release day fun that’s ONLY on the newsletter. 

Enjoy your visit in Cottonwood!
Bless your heart! 


Book 4
Kenni Lowry Mystery Series
Release 3/18
Read Chapter One FREE on my website

YUMMY!!! My four boys were home from college over the Christmas break and they always put in requests for suppers while they are home. This is one of our favorites!! Yes...I put pickles on top because they are so goooooooood!

Be sure to check out the southern recipes on my website under the Front Porch Sittin' Tab!

Do you like witchy fun mysteries?? Do you remember The Scarecrow and Mrs. King?? Don't miss out on this special deal from Tonya Kappes!!
Where magic and mystery collide! Only $.99 Buy or read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited!


The two dames, cozy mystery authors Duffy Brown and Tonya Kappes Books, invite you for a weekend of murder and mystery...sorta....

Join us October 12-13 in Knoxville, Tennessee. The weekend will kick off with a fun pizza party and mystery right at the hotel. The next morning, we'll enjoy a coffee and breakfast at the complimentary hotel bar before we are off to the Star of Knoxville Riverboat.

Boarding the riverboat at 12:30 PM EST and cruise at 1:00 PM EST. On the cruise, you'll be served an amazing southern style dinner (or as nonsoutherners call it lunch), while participating in a murder mystery theater event where you might be the killer or worse...the victim!

Also while on the cruise, you'll be able to purchase books by Tonya and Duffy.

Sadly, the weekend will end after the cruise. BUT don't fear...Duffy and Tonya are working on another TRAIN for 2019, unless Tonya can find an airplane for cheap because she's been spouting Two Dames take it to the land, sea and air!

REGISTRATION OPENS JANUARY 1ST, 2018!! $50/person + hotel.

#books #booktag #cozymystery #southernauthor #mystery #mystery #reader #readerevent #knoxville #tennesse

Friday, January 12, 2018

New Year, Same Old Me

by Aunt Bess from Honey-Baked Homicide by Gayle Leeson

Do y'all make New Year's resolutions? I don't. I gave them up years ago when I decided I'm not so bad just as I am. I've made it 82 years just fine, thank you very much. And if I take a notion, I might just go 82 more.

If you look at my boards on the Pinterest, then you probably have an idea of how much I like my desserts. That said, it wouldn't hurt me to cut back a teensy bit after overindulging over the holidays.

It's a good thing for me that my great-niece Amy Flowers, who runs the Down South Cafe, has a whole lot of recipes--even ones for healthier dessert options. Now, I have to admit, that when Amy brought these up to the house, I thought they were just brownies. Then after I bragged about how good they were, Amy told me they were only 95 calories apiece.

So, here's the recipe (she got it from Delish) so you can make your own "healthy" brownies:

Healthy Makeover: Brownies


1 tsp. instant coffee powder or granules
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ c. all-purpose flour
½ c. unsweetened cocoa
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
¼ c. trans-fat free vegetable oil spread (60% to 70% oil)
3 large egg whites


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 8" by 8" metal baking pan. In cup, dissolve coffee in vanilla extract.

On waxed paper, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.

In medium bowl, whisk sugar, vegetable oil spread, egg whites, and coffee mixture until well mixed; then blend in flour mixture. Spread in prepared pan.

Bake 22 to 24 minutes or until toothpick inserted in brownies 2 inches from edge comes out almost clean. Cool in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.

When cool, cut brownies into 4 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 4 squares. If brownies are difficult to cut, dip knife in hot water; wipe dry, and cut. Repeat dipping and drying as necessary.

Happy New Year to all of you from all of us in Winter Garden!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New Year New Beginnings

by Caro Lamont from Sparkle Abbey's Barking with the Stars

Happy New Year! I know we're a few days into the new year, but only a few. I haven't quite packed away all the holiday decorations and I'm still having to remind myself to write the correct year on checks.

For many, the new year means New Year's resolutions. Do you make New Year's resolutions? I don't anymore I've found if I need to make a change in my life, it's best just do it. There's nothing magical about the first of a new year. Change can happen anytime. January or June, it doesn't really matter.

That's said, I do love new beginnings. One of my favorite January rituals is picking out a new planner for the year. Fresh pages, unfilled days, a space for notes. I'm a list maker and so I like having room for my daily To-Do list.

I also spend some time selecting a new calendar for my office. Something with adorable dogs and cats maybe? Or perhaps one with gorgeous scenery. Or one with famous quotes might be fun. So many possibilities!

Sure you can just use your phone for all of that. You can take notes, put appointments on the calendar, plan you days. Sounds pretty convenient, right? But for me it's not the same. I like an actual planner I can handle and scribble notes on, and a calendar that I've enjoyed choosing.

How about you? Do you keep all your appointments and plans on your phone and computer? Or, like me, do prefer an old-fashioned calendar and/or planner?

Comment below for a chance to receive a print or ebook copy of DESPERATE HOUSEDOGS, the book that chronicles my first murder investigation.

In posh Laguna Beach murder has gone to the dogs... When Caro Lamont, former psychologist turned pet therapist makes a house call to help Kevin Blackstone with his two misbehaving German Shepherd dogs, she expects frantic dogs, she expects a frantic dog owner, she even expects frantic neighbors. What she doesn't expect is that two hours later the police will find Kevin dead, his dogs impounded; and that as the last person to see Kevin alive (well, except for the killer) she is suddenly a person of interest, at least according to Homicide Detective Judd Malone.

Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of two mystery authors (Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter). They are friends and neighbors as well as co-writers of the Pampered Pets Mystery Series. The pen name was created by combining the names of their rescue pets--Sparkle (Mary Lee's cat) and Abbey (Anita's dog). If you want to make sure you're up on all the Sparkle Abbey news, stop by their website and sign up for Sparkle Abbey's Newsletter.

The first book in Sparkle Abbey's mystery series, DESPERATE HOUSEDOGS, is currently on sale for only 99 cents in all ebook formats.

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