Wicked Wednesday- Favorite Halloween Candy

Jessie: In NH where the foliage is beautiful it breaks the heart.

pick-and-mix-171342_1920Everywhere I’ve been in the last couple of weeks, from the pharmacy to the gas station, has had bountiful displays of Halloween candy for sale. So far, I have managed to leave it be. But it has got me to wondering which sort of candy do you each favor? Which ones beg to be tossed into your shopping basket?

Liz: Milk Duds and Tootsie Rolls! Omg, I love them both. So I don’t buy them, even for Halloween, because I know I’ll eat them way before the trick or treaters arrive!

Sherry: I was in the store today and passed the candy row. It was tempting, but I managed to resist! Pretty much anything that is chocolate is what I throw in and pass out — Snickers, Kit Kats, M&Ms…I could go on and on and on. I’ve taken to waiting until the last minute so we don’t eat it prior to the big night.

Jessie: I love candy corn. There, I said it. Candy corn. Or the tiny pumpkins made out out the same sugary, toxic madness as candy corn. When I was a child I loved to put pieces of candy corn on my incisors and pretend I was a vampire. Ok, sometimes I still do…

Edith: (Why am I not surprised, Jessie!) I bought the tiny bags of peanut M&Ms last week – and pretty much assume they’ll be gone by Halloween! I also love Baby Ruth bars, and if I come into contact with candy corn I still have to bite off one color at a time. I swear each color tastes different.

Barb: I love candy corn, too, Jessie! I’m so glad you admitted it. My favorite though is mini-Butterfingers. I don’t buy until the last minute and I hate that neither Bill nor I have an office to send the leftovers to, though our street in Somerville, MA was the “trick or treat street” and there were never any leftovers.

Julie: Count me as another candy corn girl! Love it. Also love Butterfingers. My favorite are Reese’s cups. LOVE. Them. Will admit, I hit target after Halloween to get some sale stuff. Also, the Halloween M&M colors are harvest, so good to get a bag or two for Thanksgiving.

Readers, what is your favorite Halloween candy?Save

The Detective’s Daughter – The Creative Ones

Kim in Baltimore sitting in the heat after foolishly taking all the air conditioners out of the windows.

In August I took a job a job as an assistant to the artist Maxine Taylor. Though art had been my minor in college, nothing compares to first hand experience. I have lately given great thought to what it means to be creative and have gone as far to buy journals to help me develop my own work more creatively. This led me to ask the question: Does our level of creativity form the path we take in life or does it hinder our plans?

One of my many journals

My dad was both a creative and talented artist. When I was a child he would sit and sketch my dolls as I pretended to be on the boardwalk at Atlantic City. He would give me the finished sketch and I would hang them up just as my parents did with the portraits we brought home from vacation.

Dad showed such promise as an artist he was encouraged to attend the college of art after his high school graduation by his teachers. My grandmother had hoped that he would work in the advertising department of a big store like Hoschild Kohn. True to form, Dad would not commit himself to Nana’s plan. She told him she would be happy with any career he chose as long as it wasn’t police work. Legend has it he applied to the police academy that day. Their relationship is a column for another time.

Despite joining the force, Dad did not abandon his art. At work he was known for drawing

The mascot Dad designed and drew for his homicide unit.

detailed accounts of crime scenes and designing mascots for the different divisions in the force. At home, in addition to his sketching, he dabbled in jewelry making, ceramics, pottery, velvet painting and interior design. He made a small fortune designing and making chess set, a small business venture he stopped because the demand for his games became more than he could produce. Near the end of his life he had a small mail-order business selling puzzles of police badges from across the country that he had painted.

Dad and Mom, who was an expert seamstress, collaborated on two projects. The first was a Halloween costume for my sister. The year she started crawling they built her a turtle shell. It was cute and she won a prize. We always won prizes for the costumes Mom made for us. Their second project was creating a Bicentennial room in our house. Mom sewed, Dad painted and in the end the room was so red, white and blue it gave us all migraines.

A ring Dad made in the 1970s.

Nana always believed Dad had wasted his talent by joining the police force, but he hadn’t. He had a unique way of observing situations and an uncanny ability to read people. Those were the skills that saw him through a forty year career of solving crimes and retiring as a homicide detective with no open cases on the books. Now, that takes creativity and talent.

Readers, how has your creativity formed your role in life? Tell us in the comments. [Note: Kim is out of town on a writing retreat and won’t be able to reply to comments – but she’s thinking of you!]

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Newsworthy?

Jessie: In New Hampshire where autumn has well adn truly arrived.

Last week I attended a conference for novelists down in Florida. There is a lot to thinkfullsizeoutput_5c7 about and I left with a head crammed full of possibilities and things to ponder. One of the workshops that I attended was on the subject of newsletters.

I must admit, rather shamefacedly, that I do not currently have a newsletter. I have meant to put one together, told myself I should put one together, added it to my projects list and agonized thoroughly over the lack of one. But somehow, I have never seemed to have managed it. The workshop presenter convinced me it was time to change all that.

Apparently, a newsletter is not all that difficult to produce and according to the presenter readers actually truly love to find them in their email inboxes.  she made the entire thing seem like fun instead of like something overwhelming and tedious. Which brings me to the point of this post. I could use a little help from all of you.

I would love to know which sorts of things you like to hear from writers when you subscribe to a newsletter. I’d love to know how frequently you like to receive such things. I’d like to know if you value notifications about upcoming releases, author appearances, exclusive content available only to newsletter subscribers, or newsy tidbits and behind-the-scenes information about what went into the books that you like to read.

I also would love to grow the numbers of people interested in receiving the inaugural issue of my newsletter. I do have a sign-up link  for one on my website and have added it here should any of you be interested in signing up.

Readers, I’d love to hear the answers to the questions above. Writers, do you send out a newsletter?

The Food Conundrum

Finished Product (1)

The recipe I came up with for Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen–shrubs!

When you write cozies, there is always the food issue. That is, do you include recipes or not?

Now, for some folks, that answer is an easy one. They’re centered around food, so of course! There’s even a great blog called Mystery Lovers Kitchen that is about mysteries and food. It features a huge array of cozy authors. They let me do a guest post in August. I made shrubs, which are discussed in Chime and Punishment. Part of the challenge is taking pictures of the process that look somewhat appetizing.

I like mysteries with food. In fact, Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swenson series is a go to for cookie recipes for me. There’s even a cookbook, which I own and have given as gifts.  Her Highlander Cookie Bar recipe is one of my go-tos when I need to impress. (Shortbread on the bottom, brownies on top. Oh. My.)

Several of the Wickeds have series that include recipes. In my Clock Shop series, there was a natural fit if I featured recipes from the Sleeping Latte. But, then I learned some of the “rules”. The recipe needs to be original. And, since I know I try them on occasion, they need to taste good. I bake, and cook, but I couldn’t take the pressure.

For my Theater Cop series, a food tie in doesn’t really work as well. Though, I did mention cinnamon and sugar french fries with a cream cheese frosting dip that I thought sounded pretty interesting in book 2, which will be out next September. I totally made them up, so the recipe isn’t in the book.

I am writing a new series (stay tuned), and I’m not sure if I’m going to have recipes. But I do find myself mentioning food a lot, just in case. I plan to have the nieces help me develop a couple to see if I can pull it off. We’ll see how it goes.

Today, my question for you dear readers, do you like cozies with recipes? Do you try them? Trust them? Should I try and pull this off? Let me know in the comments!

Wicked Wednesday

Jessie: In New Hampshire, thinking fondly of the sunny shores of St. Petersburg, Florida I enjoyed visiting at this time last week.

Last week I asked which of the household chores facing you left you procrastinating and groaning with despair. Today I’m wondering if there are any particular tasks that you happen to like doing, especially those that other people would rather avoid? Do you polish the silver during times of stress? Enjoy getting that very last cobweb off the ceiling fan? Do you delight in making a grocery list? Do tell!

ShinyCounters

Edith: I like cleaning the kitchen counters. We have lovely dark greenish granite, and long expanses of it. I wipe it with a damp dishrag and then polish with a clean dishtowel. It’s exclusively my job, because the person I live with does not SEE crumbs (in the same category as dust for him, I guess,) and his superpower is leaving toast crumbs everywhere…. The counter looks so pretty when it’s clean and polished, and the polishing is meditative, too.

Sherry: The closest thing to tasks that makes me happy would be periodically cleaning out my closet. But the everyday tasks? I like making my bed every day, but anything else? Not so much. My sister likes to iron to relax. I wish I’d gotten that gene. The last time I cleaned out my closet I found a shoe with change and a Swedish fish in it. That was very strange!

Barb: I like the events that mark the seasons: putting away summer clothes and getting out the winter ones, spring and fall cleaning, getting out the holiday decorations and putting them away.

Liz: I really like vacuuming and decluttering. I get a lot of weird pleasure sucking up cat fur. And I’ve really become a fan of throwing things out. Of course, these things are procrastinating techniques too…

Jessie: I actually do like to polish the silver. There is something so satisfying about seeing something tarnished gleaming once again. I also like to make my bed up with clean sheets, a fluffed duvet and a stack of pillows.

Julie: Loading the dishwasher, and shining my sink. Even when the rest of the house is chaos, my sink is shiny. Baby steps!

Readers, do you have any household chores that you secretly love to do? Or at least ones that you find surprisingly satisfying?

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Guest Linda Lovely

Edith here, writing from north of Boston, where fall has finally hit. Our guest today is the multi-published Linda Lovely.  Bones to Pick, the first mystery in herFINALBonesToPickfrontCover new Brie Hooker Mysteries series, releases in a few weeks! To celebrate, she’ll give away a signed ARC now or an ebook after the book comes out to one commenter here today. Take it away, Linda.

Wicked Research for Wicked Villains

This blog’s Wicked Cozy Authors title echoes my belief that the best cozy mysteries have plenty of wicked seasoning. Just because a novel eschews profanity, graphic violence and sex doesn’t mean the heroine (or hero) won’t confront a multitude of deadly dangers engineered by wicked, ingenious villains

A mystery’s heroine is most memorable—and heroic—when she faces scary villains. This requires some wicked research. The Writers’ Police Academy (WPA), held each August at a real police academy, offers hands-on experiences that writers can use to create haunting villains and plausible plots. WPA instructors are the same ones who train police in everything from firearms and non-lethal weapons to drones and crime scene investigation. Outside experts also explore subjects like bioweapons, forensic psychology, gangs, and private investigation techniques.

Full disclosure: I’m a five-year member of the Writers’ Police Academy (WPA) “family.” I handle registrations, coordinate the Golden Donut Short Story contest, and help with varied organizational details. I volunteer because the program affords me—and fellow crime writers—invaluable opportunities to pick the brains of experts and get the details right.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOver the years, the WPA has given me the chance to fire a Glock and an AR-15…feel the tension of making a split-second, shoot-don’t-shoot decision…learn to free myself from a larger assailant…ride in an ambulance with a paramedic…handcuff a suspect…join a SWAT team in clearing a building…wear a duty belt…swing a baton. And the list goes on.

Once I’m home, these experiences weave their way into my cozy mysteries. In Bones To Pick, the first novel in my Brie Hooker Mystery series, Brie’s recall of her dad’s story about gangbangers hiding  weapons saves her life. (Though Brie’s dad is a horticultural professor, he’s also an aspiring crime novelist who attends the WPA each summer.)

In the second Brie Hooker Mystery, which I recently turned into my editor at Henery Press, the heroine flies a drone to gain key information. While Brie doesn’t pack heat, the villains she faces do. So I tap weapons’ knowledge gained at WPA to describe their firearms. Insights into police procedures, CSI techniques, autopsies, poisons and criminal proceedings also figure in how Brie interacts with law enforcement and the legal system.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

In the real world, amateur sleuths seldom prove the innocence of a loved one, solve a cold murder case, uncover fraud, or thwart a radical group’s attempt to rig an election. However, authors can make any of these plots more plausible by weaving in accurate criminal behavior and crime-fighting details.

Writers who can’t attend a WPA can look to information sources in their own backyards Options include ride-alongs with local police and online and in-person programs hosted by Sisters in Crime. Speakers at my Upstate South Carolina SinC chapter’s meetings have included K-9 officers, DAs, judges, detectives, US Marshalls, FBI agents, crime scene investigators, ATF officers, paramedics, bank fraud investigators, and even psychics.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe best part? I’ve yet to meet an expert who wasn’t willing to answer my questions. I’ve gained insights into experiences well outside my day-to-day existence. It’s also allowed me to make friends with people from many walks of life. Yes, research improves books, but it also enriches the researcher’s life.

Linda Lovely finds writing pure fiction isn’t a huge stretch given the years she’s spent penning PR and advertising copy. Her blend of mystery and humor lets her chuckle as she plots to “disappear” the types of characters who most annoy her. Quite satisfying plus there’s no need to pester relatives for bail. Her new Brie Hooker Mystery series offers good-natured salutes to both her vegan family doctor and her cheese-addicted kin. While her new series may be cozy, she weaves in plenty of adrenaline-packed scenes to keep readers flipping pages. LindaHeadshot

She served as president of her local Sisters in Crime chapter for five years and also belongs to International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America. She’s the award-winning author of five prior mystery/suspense/thriller novels. To learn more, visit her website: www.lindalovely.com  

Readers: Which expert has helped you in some area of your life? Writers: Who is the quirkiest expert you’ve called on in the name of research? Remember, she’s giving away a signed ARC now or an ebook after the book comes out to one commenter here today.

Yea or Nay-Pumpkin Spice

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Jessie: In New Hampshire, shivering under a wool blanket and hoping the furnace is fixed sooner rather than later!

Autumn is well and truly in the air and in the past few years that has come to mean Pumpkin Spice everything. From coffee to air freshners pumpkin spice is the belle of the season.

So, Wickeds, I wondered how each of you feel about it? Do you swoon to see the signs proclaiming it to be available at the local Dunkin Donuts or do you just find it all baffling?

Liz: Next to summer, fall is my absolute favorite season, and it’s mostly because of the pumpkin spice craze. Beginning October 1, I make it my mission to have as many pumpkin-flavored anythings as possible. Although I much prefer Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes over Dunkin Donuts any day….

Sherry: I’m not a fan and don’t rush out to buy everything from M&Ms to Oreos flavored with pumpkin spice. That said I do make an excellent pumpkin spice cake that I’ve been making for about ten years (that predates the craze, right?). It’s so easy — two ingredients a spice cake mix and a can of pumpkin. You mix the two together and bake it at 350 for 25 minutes. It’s low calorie and full of fiber. It doesn’t need frosting because it is so moist.

Jessie: I really dislike tinkering when it comes to my coffee. I like it black and very strong, with no sugar so the idea of gussying it up with dessert flavors just leaves me cold. I guess I don’t really get the whole pumpkin thing unless we happen to be talking about pumpkin squares with cream cheese frosting. Or jack-o-lanterns. But I think I will try baking Sherry’s cake! That sounds intriguing.

Barb: When I rule the world, (not that anyone has asked me to), everything will have a season. In North America, that will mean cider in September and October, pumpkin spice in November, and peppermint hot chocolate in December. No overlapping or rushing the seasons! I do treat myself to a pumpkin spice coffee (or maybe two) and a peppermint hot chocolate, but only in the appropriate month (as decreed by me). (They’ll be a lot more changes when I rule the world, btw.)

Julie: One of my favorite parts of the pumpkin spice craze is how much Liz loves it. Because, seriously, she’s a wicked healthy eater. And yet, she stands in line for her pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks, which have never seen a real pumpkin. But I digress. I love pumpkin pie, and was surprised that the craze doesn’t taste like that. I can take it or leave it. But eggnog latte season? THAT is my favorite.

Edith: Only in pies! Never in coffee! But I think I’ll try Sherry’s cake, too – except maybe I’ll make the spice cake from scratch and use canned pumpkin for the butter and eggs part.

How about you, dear readers? Fans of the pumpkin spice, or not?