Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Gift of Giving

By: Jaymie Leighton
From: Vintage Kitchen Mysteries
Title: No Mallets Intended
Pub. Date: November 4th, 2014

I love everything about this time of year... the decorations, the lights, the smile on most people's faces, the parties and get togethers with both family and friends. It's hectic, sure, and all of my jobs seem to need extra time and effort this time of year, from subbing at the Emporium so the Klausners can spend more time with their grandchildren, to my work at the new Queensville Historic Manor. But still... I love giving gifts, and I kinda like getting gifts too, even the silly or dumb ones! ESPECIALLY those!

But a recent trip to my grandma's hit me hard. I was running to the grocery store to get a box of chocolates that she wanted to give to a friend of hers. Becca does so much for Grandma Leighton that I try to do some running around for her when I'm in London to see her. (London, Ontario, of course, not the other London ;-) )  The grocery store is just a few blocks from the downtown area, so it serves the urban population.

As I was coming out, I noticed a very elderly gentleman sitting on the cold sidewalk just beyond the grocery store's far wall. He held his hat out. It was frigid, and he wasn't dressed correctly, not nearly warm enough in my opinion. I scooped all the money I had with me out of my purse and headed over to him. I dropped it in his hat and said, "Hey, brother, how are you doing?"

He looked up, maybe surprised to be addressed, and nodded. "Okay," he said his voice dry and dusty sounding. I chatted with him for a moment and he said he lived at the Salvation Army hostel. They were good people, and made sure he had enough to eat and a warm place to sleep. He admitted the extra money he got from passers by helped him buy the little extras in life... including smokes.

We shook hands and I told him not to stay out too long, to make sure he took care of himself and got into the warm. He assured me he would, and he smiled, a grin that showed most of his teeth missing. I said I hoped he had a good Christmas, and he told me he looked forward to the turkey dinner - almost as good as the one his mama used to make - and warm socks he'd get at the mission.

I turned away to bustle off to my busy life with tears in my eyes. As I walked away a gentleman came over to him with a steaming cup of coffee, and I was grateful that I saw that happen. I'm pretty sure I'll remember the elderly gentleman sitting on the sidewalk long after he's forgotten me.

I don't talk about this much. When I do, people like Valetta's brother Brock will say how he's heard about panhandlers who drive away from their post in Mercedes, and beggars who are living it up and make more in a year than they do. Others say, with their mouths pinched up in distaste, that those kind of people will just use the money for booze or drugs. Or cigarettes.

Maybe. But maybe not. None of my business. I hope the money I gave that fellow helps, and if he buys cigarettes, I don't care. Maybe those cigarettes give him solace in loneliness. It's really easy to judge from the comfort of a warm home and all the food you need and family and... you catch my drift.

When it comes down to it, I really think I got more out of that interaction than the elderly fellow did. I hope I remember him through the rest of the year so that I am reminded, giving and the ability to give is the best gift of all. It has the capacity to make the giver feel warm inside, and what other gift can do that?

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to you all. And I ask this question... what gift, in the giving, makes YOU feel the best?

In the spirit of the season, and for our Season's Readings giveaway, I have a prize package of books and a book tote for one person who comments here! Today's contest is open to American and Canadian readers!

This pic is just one of the books with the tote... I will probably add in a couple of other books, and if you already have them, feel free to pass them along to someone you know who likes to read! And oh, by the way?

Cat not included.


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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Happy Howlidays!

Holly Miller blogs

for the Paws and Claws Mysteries

by Krista Davis

I'm finally settled in my apartment on top of the Sugar Maple Inn. My boxes are unpacked, my clothes are hanging in the closets, and I'm loving my new life on Wagtail Mountain. I haven't found the remote control for the TV yet, but Trixie, my Jack Russell Terrier, and Twinkletoes, my calico kitten, must know where it is because they turn the TV on all the time.

Trixie and Twinkletoes are double trouble - in a good way. What happened in THE GHOST AND MRS. MEWER wasn't their fault at all. True, the two of them found a body and managed to drag me into a murder, but now that I think about it, they never would have done that if my crazy Aunt Birdie hadn't pulled a fast one on me in the middle of the night. I'm clueless about how to handle that woman!

I have to admit that it was pretty exciting to have a team of ghost hunters staying in the inn. They were an interesting bunch. I never gave ghosts much thought before I met them. I didn't expect them to be so scientific and knowledgeable. The problem with ghosts is that it's very hard to prove they are responsible for the odd things that happen. The ghost debunker showed me some very logical reasons for some ghostly occurrences. But some of the scientific rationale to explain away ghosts is as mysterious and unlikely as a ghost! No wonder people are so confused about whether they exist.

Wagtail is all decked out for the holidays now. The staff of the Sugar Maple Inn has had a ball decorating trees and hanging pine roping. There are candles in all the windows and the smells from the inn kitchen are just heavenly.  We even had a light snow yesterday.

I love walking through town after dark. It's like a magical winter wonderland. Lights twinkle everywhere, and there's caroling every night at the big tree in the middle of the pedestrian zone. Dogs even join in the singing, and no one minds if they're a little off key.

This is my first Christmas with Trixie and Twinkletoes. They both deserve something very special. Of course, a lot of cool dogs are wearing THE GHOST AND MRS MEWER bandanas, so Trixie already has one of those. And Twinkletoes loves her new Christmas catnip toy! I'll have to think of something else for them.

But Krista is giving away a copy of THE GHOST AND MRS. MEWER, a bandana, and a catnip toy. To three different people! To enter just leave a comment telling her which one you would like to win.

 Good luck and Happy Howlidays to you all!


Friday, December 19, 2014

Tis the Season to be Murdered...

The Fortune Teller Mysteries
by Kari Lee Townsend

Sunny Meadows here...

I'm a fortune teller in the small town of Divinity NY and sometimes I help the police out as a consultant. October gives me chills, November fills me with thanks, and December is full of thrills. Tis the season to be merry. I just love giving to others, don't you?

As much as I love the holidays, they can be stressful. Decorating, baking, sending out cards, buying gifts, wrapping presents. Tempers rise and murder is in the air. I've seen it in the future, so I am being extra careful in trying to keep the peace.

I'm easy to buy for and so are most of my loved ones, but my  mother is not! She puts the P in picky and definitely pushes people to think of murder. Just wait until you check out my next book PERISH IN THE PALM coming in 2015. You'll see exactly what I mean when she winds up as the main suspect in a murder investigation as she shows up in town to help with my best friend's wedding. But family's family, for better or worse until death do us part.

So tell me, what do you buy for your "difficult" loved one? I need help, people.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a book of your choice from my website and check back tomorrow to see if you've won. Good luck and happy holidays ;)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

It's Time To Get Lucky Around the Holidays

by Rory Chasen, superstition agnostic and pet store manager, whose adventures are memorialized in the Superstition Mysteries by Linda O. Johnston


Hello.  I'm Rory Chasen, and my stories are featured in the Superstition Mystery Series which began this year with Lost Under A Ladder.  

I described some Thanksgiving superstitions when I was here last month.  Today I'll be talking just a little about Christmas superstitions since I'm hoping to bring you luck--even though I'm still skeptical about luck and superstitions despite living in Destiny, California, which is all about superstitions.  I know today is the first full day of Hanukkah but I'm not aware of any good luck Hanukkah superstitions.  If you happen to know of any, please let me know. 

Why do I want to bring you luck?  Well, I've been told that each of us who blogs on Killer Characters during this month will be giving away something on our blogging day.  That means someone who leaves a comment here today will receive a copy of Lost Under A Ladder, plus a little lucky swag.

So what can you do to bring yourself some luck today?   

Here are a few Christmas superstitions that you can engage in before Christmas day: 

-           It's good luck to hang mistletoe.  Also to kiss under it.

-           Make a Christmas pudding today and stir it.  It's also good luck to find a charm in it.

-           Although it's a bit early, if you happen to have carolers visit your home today, give them some gifts.

 Or, you can of course resort to the standard kinds of superstitions.  Cross your fingers when you leave a comment here, although that can make it a little difficult to type.  Knock on wood that you'll be the winner. 

Will any of this actually bring you luck and ensure you'll receive today's prize?  I can't promise it will to all of you, but it certainly should to one of you!  I'll keep my fingers crossed that it's you.


Be sure to leave a comment today for a chance to win a copy of Lost Under A Ladder and more!



LOST UNDER A LADDER, the first Superstition Mystery by Linda O. Johnston, is an October 2014 release from Midnight Ink.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Too Many Gifts?

 by Willow Vanderling from the Threadville Mystery Series by Janet Bolin
At Christmas,  I can count on exchanging gifts. eating a major feast, and having fun with friends and family.

My Threadville friends and I have realized that, although we love giving and receiving gifts, some of us are running out of space to keep things.

Just for fun, we instituted a new rule this year--we have to make the gifts, and no one gift can be bigger than a Christmas stocking.

Here are some of my ideas:

1. Home-made jam
2. Embroidered (monogrammed?) bookmarks
3. Fudge
4. Embroidered coasters
5. Hand-knit socks
6. Hand-knit mittens
7. Jar of homemade pickles
8. Rum balls
9. Gingerbread men

Do you have other suggestions of things I might be able to make?

Do you have ideas for cutting down on the proliferation of gifts at Christmas and/or other times of year?

One person who enters a comment below will win a signed copy of the Threadville Mystery of your choice. The are in order: DIRE THREADS, THREADED FOR TROUBLE, THREAD AND BURIED, and NIGHT OF THE LIVING THREAD. You can read them in any order.

Read excerpts.

Find a bookseller.

Like Janet on facebook.

Follow Janet on twitter.

Check the sidebar to the left tomorrow to see if you won. And come back every day in December for another Killer Character's Season's Readings giveaway!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Holidays…Island Style

Evie Bloomfield here. It’s my first Christmas and New Years on Mackinac Island. I could have chose to go off island and spend the really cold months with my parents and siblings in Chicago but there is a ton of work to do at the bike shop to get ready for next year.
Now that it’s Christmastime on Mackinac Island and the place is really gearing up for the event. Things on MI are a little different than other places with there being no cars. By now the horses have been taken off island for the winter and we are polishing up our snowmobiles and dragging out the winter boots. I’ve never driven a snowmobile and cannot wait! (Hope others on the island agree!)
To get the season off to the right start we have the Mackinac Island Christmas Bazaar. To benefit the medical center that keeps us all happy and healthy. For three days people meet, talk, bid, eat, bargain hunt, and buy all for the sake of raising funds.
The Friday before the Christmas Bazaar is the kick off with caroling, tree lighting and a hay ride in the middle of Main Street where the Christmas tree is placed.
Almost all 500 of us permanent residents congregate to sing holiday carols which ends with a local child being picked to “throw the switch” and turn on the lights on the Christmas tree. After the tree is lit, a hay wagon arrives to take young and old on an old fashioned hay ride, where often the singing continues.
The Rummage sale then opens for early birds to get first dibs on the best buys in the Mackinac Island Fire Hall. You see, with this being an island getting rid of stuff is tough so we sort of swap stuff around instead of tossing it out.
And  now the fun for the kids starts…all 65 of them that attend out schools and the younger ones too. On Saturday the community hall and fire barn open at 11:00 a.m. Lunch is served throughout the day and then Santa arrives. We wind up the day with a Prime Rib Dinner where we all get together in the town hall and celebrate being together.
For New Years we ring in the event with the a snowshoe walk and the Great Turtle Ball Drop…’cause out island is shaped like a turtle. Then we head over to the Town Hall for live music and dancing.

So that’s the Happy Holidays news from Evie Bloomfleld and Mackinac Island. See you all next year! And by the way…what do you have planned for next year

I’ll give away a copy of Geared for the Grave from the answers. 

Geared for the Grave
first book in Cycle Path Mysteries
Berkley Prime Crime
December, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Trust No One

Season's Readings!  At Killer Characters we're giving away a book a day from now till Christmas.  Just be sure to leave a comment and you could win the book of your choice from the Soup Lover’s Mystery Series!  Happy reading and Merry Christmas!

Rick Colgan here. You may think I’m crazy but I know they're after me.  You've never met me before so I know it’s hard for you to believe that I’m in danger, but trust me, I am. 

See . . . I'm Sophie Colgan’s brother.  I’m her last living relative in fact.  My sister’s friend, Lucky Jamieson, has talked a lot about how much she used to love our big noisy family and I guess we were a real family once upon a time.  But not any longer.  Dad's gone . . . that's a story for another day.  Mom got sick after that and died.  Our sister too.  And our brother was killed in a car accident a few years later.  Everybody’s gone now, except for Sophie and I wish her well, but I’m really coming back to Snowflake to take care of some business and then I’ll be on my way. 

I don't want to tell my sister I'm in town, not just yet anyway.  It's not that I don't care about her -- I do, but in truth we hardly know each other.  I was gone by the time she was getting out of elementary school.  And my life, well, let’s just say it hasn’t been a bed of roses.  I'm doing okay, I’m not real successful, but I’m gettin' by. 

So I don't wanna rain on her parade.  I'll look her up and wish her well while I’m back in town, but it’s not family that brings me back.  It's all about our mother's land.  The Snowflake Resort wants it and I don't want them to get it.  I've got my reasons, suffice it to say, but I don't trust any of those guys in suits as far as I can throw them.  I don't think there’s anything they'd stop at to get what they want.  That’s the real reason I’m scared.  That’s why I know they’re after me.  
None of us had it easy, but Sophie's the only one of us who seems to be doing well.  We all protected her.  She was the baby of the family and we kept her safe.  She tries to connect with me every so often and she sounds happy.  But she's working for the Resort now and that really worries me because I don't want her to become a target too.

I’ll tell you some more when Ladle to the Grave comes out on March 3rd.  So far, I've been pretty much ignored in the Soup Lover’s Mystery Series and that’s just fine by me, but in a few months you'll probably learn more about our family than you'll really want to know.  

Don’t forget to leave your email with a comment to be entered in the Season's Readings giveaway!  You could win the book of your choice from the Soup Lover’s Mystery Series!  And if you’ve already read all the books in the series so far, and don’t mind being patient, you could win an early release of Ladle to the Grave.  It's available for pre-order now.  Happy reading and happy holidays!  

You can visit Connie at her website, at Facebook and Twitter @SnowflakeVT.