Wicked Wednesday- Say Something Nice

Jessie: Enjoying the ocean breezes on the coast of Maine

newspaper-943004_1280I prefer to look on the bright side just as often as possible but I have to admit there are times when that is a bit more challenging than usual. Lately, with the headlines being  pretty grim on all sides, it has been sort of tough to remain cheerful. So, I thought it might be nice to share some good news from your life, your community or even from around the web. Ladies, what’s right in your world?

Edith: I have a happy, healthy, funny nine-month-old great-goddaughter who is much loved by her parents and grandmas – and by me. I spent time with her last week and was lifted up by this sunny young nugget of life. (Her parents don’t allow her picture on social media or the web or I’d share her with you.) And I get to see her this afternoon, too!

Sherry: I am in Davenport, Iowa for a high school class reunion. My dear friend Carol and I both flew in early so we could spend some time together. Friday night is the casual night of the reunion. I have to miss Saturday night, but it’s for a good reason too. I’ll be attending the Kensington CozyCon in Richmond, Virginia on Sunday along with a bunch of other wonderful authors. Click here for more information!

Liz: Shaggy and I have been enjoying the beautiful weather, checking out new places in our neighborhood and making sure we take advantage of the summer months as much as possible. We’re really trying to relax more and soak up our favorite season.

Barb: It’s so amazing that Jessie posted this question this Wednesday of all Wednesdays, when twelve young Thai soccer players and their coach have been successfully rescued from a flooded cave system. It’s been a rollercoaster ride of a story. First the boys were lost, then they were found, then the difficulty of rescuing them was revealed. Their successful extraction was an international effort involving science and technology, but most of all bravery. A retired Thai Navy SEAL was lost in the rescue effort. As I write this, there are still three divers and a doctor in the cave. The boys and their coach have a long road ahead, mentally and physically, but the results so far have been my good news of the summer.

Readers, how about you? Do you have any good news to share? 

 

Alex Erickson: When the Not So Cozy Gets Cozy

News Flash: Diana Wunning is Alex’s randomly selected winner. Congrats, Diana! Please check your email. Alex will be contacting you.

Edith here, loving full summer north of Boston. Today I welcome a new guest, fellow Kensington Publishing cozy author Alex Erickson. He and I are going to have Christmas novellas published together in 2019 (along with Carlene O’Connor), so I thought I’d invite him over so we can all get to know him. He writes the Bookstore Cafe Mysteries, and his latest book is Death by Espresso. Don’t you love the cover?

EspressoBookstore-café owner Krissy Hancock has plenty to keep her occupied outside business hours, like preparing for her best friend’s wedding and solving a murder.

Krissy is meeting Vicki’s parents at the Pine Hills, Ohio, airport—it’s the least she can do as maid of honor, even if her relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Patterson is a bit strained. Besides, her own dad is coming in on the same flight. But there are a few additional arrivals, too. Her father’s brought a date—and the Pattersons, both actors, seem to have an entire entourage trailing behind them.

Uninvited guests are a headache—especially when one turns out to be, allegedly at least, the most important wedding planner in all the world. Though Vicki and Krissy have already made arrangements for a small, simple party, Vicki’s snobby drama queen mother has her own ideas. Cathy the wedding planner is raring to go, possibly energized by the chocolate-covered espresso beans she compulsively munches. But while the caffeine keeps her awake, it doesn’t keep her alive—and after Cathy chokes on an espresso bean after being hit in the head, Krissy has to find out who ended her supposedly stellar career . . .

Alex is giving away a copy of the new book to one lucky commenter here today, too (US and Canada only)! Take it away, Alex.

“You’re the wrong sex!”

I’ve heard it more times than I can count. Nearly every event I go to, someone comments on the fact that I’m a man writing cozy mysteries. While it’s not unheard of, some say cozies and men simply don’t go together.

I get it. You look up and down the aisle of authors signing their books, you do find a lot of women. I stand out. And when you sit back and look at my interests, I fit in even less.

BooksI grew up on Stephen King. That’s not exactly cozy reading. I also love my sci-fi and fantasy, both in book form and television. While I watch a lot of mystery and detective shows, many of them are of a darker, bloodier sort. Shows like The Killing. Shows like Dexter. These are not cozy.

And then there’s what I do for fun and to relax (when I’m not reading, of course.) I own a Playstation 4, an Xbox One (two in fact,) a Switch, a gaming PC, and most of them get used every single day. Even my work laptop can run most PC games at max settings. When I’m not reading or writing, I’m often found with a controller in my hands, talking to my friends through a headset.Board Games

While I also like board games, which could fit in with certain cozies, my games are quite a bit different than Monopoly.

Don’t even get me started on my music tastes. Let’s just say it isn’t very cozy.

So, how did someone who is more likely to be found at a Moonspell concert, or who spends hours playing Overwatch, or who watches shows depicting gruesome murders, end up writing cozy mysteries?

Pops

“Pops” mostly from Overwatch

Easy. I love telling stories. I enjoy making people laugh. When so much of what I do resides in the darker realm of entertainment, it’s good to get out and write something that doesn’t dwell on darkness. Sure, there’s murder, but it’s what I like to think of as “light” murder. Happy murder!

And sure, writing a female lead as a man has its challenges. Voice is important to the story. When I write, I focus on what the character would do, not what I would do in any given situation. That helps. I also subscribe to the idea that I don’t make this stuff up on my own; I’m transcribing for my characters.

While I might not spend a lot of time with traditional cozy hobbies, I am an animal person. And when it comes to cozies, sometimes, the animals are all that matters.

Alex_Erickson_8x10_BWReaders: Do you have any hobbies or interests that would surprise the cozy community? Are there any odd hobbies or themes you’d like to see in a cozy? Remember, Alex is giving a copy of Death by Espresso!

Alex Erickson has always wanted to write, even at a young, impressionable age. He’s always had an interest in the motive behind murder, which has led him down his current path. He’s always ready with a witty—at least in his opinion—quip, and tries to keep every conversation light and friendly. Alex lives in Ohio with his family and resident felines, who provide endless amounts of inspiration.

The Real Cabbage Island Clambake

by Barb, enjoying the most beautiful day on the coast of Maine

My kids and their kid gathered with us in Boothbay Harbor for the Fourth of July this year. One request from them all was a visit to the Cabbage Island Clambake, the inspiration for the Snowden Family Clambake in my Maine Clambake Mysteries.

I’ve written before about the difference between the real Clambake and my fictional one. You can read about that here.

But this year there wasn’t a hint of a research trip. It was a happy day with family. I thought I’d take you on a photo tour below.

Friday started out rainy and windy, but it was the only day all seven of us were available, so we pressed on.

The crowd lined up in the rain and ready to get on the Bennie Alice

But then the sun came out just as we got to the island.

We grabbed a table under the covered porch, but plenty of people wiped off picnic tables and settled outside.

People getting their food

The clambake meal

After the meal

Badminton on the lawn

One of the island cats–there are four

Employees up on a platform washing the trays the meal come on

The little house the the dock. (The one in the books is slightly bigger.)

Time to go.

The owners, brothers Bob and Wayne Moore see the Bennie Alice off

On the boat ride home

Passing the osprey’s nest

Good-bye Cabbage Island

Readers: Did you do anything fun for the Fourth of July?

Wicked Romantic

balloon-1046658_1920Jessie: In Washington D.C. thinking fond thoughts of my beloved.

Today is my wedding anniversary and my thoughts naturally have turned to romance. I know I like a bit of romance in the books I read and the ones that I write and I wondered if the rest of you do as well? 

Julie: I do like the romance, especially as a reader. As a writer, I’ve learned from all of you that pacing is important. Really important. Keep it going, but don’t frustrate everyone. I loved writing about Ruth and Ben’s relationship in my Clock Shop series. I am figuring out Sully’s romantic path in my Theater Cop series. She has a couple of options, but is also a strong single woman. In my new series, Lilly Jayne is a widow. There may be romance at some point, and there is an interesting next door neighbor, but for the first three books Lilly’s romance is with life, and embracing it again.

Mommyand me

With my mom about ten years ago

Edith: Yes to both, and happy anniversary to you and the dark and mysterious husband (who must be delighted that Brazil is going strong in World Cup competition). I’ve written conflicted relationships and ones that go more smoothly, but in the end I want my protagonist and important supporting characters to be happy in love. One of my favorites was giving Cam Flaherty’s widower great-uncle Albert in the Local Foods Mysteries a new sweetie – who turned out to be my late mother, Marilyn Muller! She never got to read any of my books, and I so love including her on the pages. Romance in the assisted living residence: it’s never too late.

Liz: Happy anniversary, Jessie! I do like a little romance in books – especially crime fiction, where the rest of the world we’re in is so dark. I’ve had fun with Stan and Jake’s relationship in my Pawsitively Organic series, and in a twist unplanned even to me, Stan’s mother also found love in a small town. Romance can definitely add a nice flavor to the story.

Sherry: Happy anniversary! I’ve always love a side of romance dating back to my early reading of Phyllis A. Whitney, Victoria Holt, and Mary Stewart. I’ve enjoyed the twists and turns in Sarah’s love life. Most of them were unexpected. Seth? Never planned on him even having a name, let alone continuing on through future books.

Readers: Romance in your mysteries, yay or nay? Are there any you’ve read that didn’t work for you?

A Favorite Thing

By Sherry — I’m melting in the summer heat

I originally wrote about this on my SherryHarrisauthor.com website a couple of years ago. But I was dusting today and thought maybe you all would like this story too.

One day when I was wandering around an antique store in Concord, Massachusetts I found the beautiful little jar below. I loved it for two reasons — it was blue and white and it said Boston on it. I knew I would live in the area forever and thought it would be a wonderful keepsake.

IMG_2667This side of the jar reads: MAGDA TOILET CREAM, C.J. Countie G CR, CHEMISTS, BOSTON, U.A. — other jars say USA but the S on mine has disappeared.

I decided to use the jar in the third book of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries , All Murders Final. I wanted to find out more about the jar so I did some research (thank you Google). Boy, was I surprised! There was a jar similar to mine on Etsy and the seller provided a lot of information — you can view the full post here. I had always thought the lid said Counti of Boston with a little extra flourish by the word “Counti”. In reality Countie is the family name of the company that manufactured Magda Toilet Cream. Here’s a picture of the lid:

IMG_2669 The Esty site provided this information: One of the Countie family members was kind enough to contact me and offer more information about this beautiful jar. Here’s what she told me:

‘My Grandfather Francis’ two Uncle’s John and Charles started this business in the late 1800’s. They called it MAGDA toilet cream. They were Chemists in the beauty business and developed this wonderful cream. Beacause it was in such demand, Cheeseborough Company, which is now Pond’s bought the formula and called it Pond’s Cold Cream. They used the porcelain jar back in those days because of it’s lower cost. Pond’s Cold Cream

IMG_2670This reads: Ah, Exquisite Communion of rare blossoms (Isn’t that so perfect?)

IMG_2671And this one reads: A dainty luxury for me skin. (I love that!)

I’ve done some more research since I wrote the first post.

The National Museum of American History has one, but it’s not currently on display. Click here for the link.

There are eight jars for sale on eBay and range in price from $26.75 to $199.00. I paid $10 for mine. (I’m almost tempted to by another one!)

There are two for sale on Esty. Both are around $150.00.

Most sites date these from the mid to late 1800s to the early 1900s.

Readers: What small thing do you have that you treasure?

Wicked Wednesday- Fireworks

Jessie: In the nation’s capital for the holiday!

new-years-eve-1953253_1920Happy Independence Day to all our readers! Not only is it a day to remember the founders of our nation, it is also a day to attend parades, host barbecues and to wear red white and blue. Many Americans end the day  stretched out on a blanket watching a dazzling display of fireworks.

What I wondered was whether or not all of you love fireworks or if you prefer to give them a miss?

Edith: I do love the wonder and awe of fireworks, even though at root they celebrate wartime. In my town they are held across from a big hill that is town land, a former farm. Everybody heads up there, many on foot, and bring picnics. Afterward the road back into town is closed to cars and we all walk home. It feel wonderfully old-fashioned, which is why I had to stage a murder during the 1888 fireworks in Called to Justice, Quaker Midwife Mystery #2 – which is on sale right now!

Barb: I love fireworks, too. Because of technological advances, they’re one of the few things that are just as magnificent now as I remember them as a kid. The fireworks in Boothbay Harbor take place over the water in direct line of sight from our front porch, so we don’t even have to leave home to view them. I included fireworks over the harbor in Boiled Over, the second Maine Clambake Mystery.

Sherry: I love fireworks, but hate the crowds and the traffic. So I guess I like them if they are easily accessible. But since our sweet Lily hates them this isn’t the best week for us.

Julie: I love fireworks, but will confess that the noise gives me more pause than it used to. That said, I can see the Boston fireworks from my living room window, and enjoy having my family over so we can have a picnic indoors and enjoy the show. I’ve also seen the fireworks at Old Orchard Beach, and that was wonderful.

Jessie: I adore fireworks! I love the colors and the surprise of what sort of formation will light up next. I love the sparkle and the finale. We never went to them when I was a child and I always wished that we had. Now, as an adult, our house in Old Orchard Beach is within easy walking distance of the beach where they are set off every Thursday night. If it doesn’t rain I go every week. It has become a tradition I have loved sharing with my own kids!

Liz: I like them if I choose to go to a fireworks display. I confess, I don’t like it much when people set off random fireworks in neighborhoods, which seems to happen more often than not over the years! Shaggy and the cats don’t love the noise, either, so I always feel bad for them. But not to sound like a party pooper – I think when done right in a proper show, they are amazing.

Readers, do you love to attend the fireworks? If so, where are your favorites? If not, do you have another way you like to celebrate Independence Day?

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Jessie: In Washington D.C. wondering how it could possibly be so hot on Planet Earth.

white paper with yeah signage

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

The Wickeds have been thinking about additional, interesting ways to connect with our readers. At this year’s retreat we decided that a Wickeds newsletter seemed like it might be just the ticket. So, we wanted to let you all know that as of Autumn 2018 we will begin sending out a newsletter.

To quote Barb, “It will arrive in email boxes on a regular but not annoyingly frequent basis.”

If you would like to receive notice of our upcoming releases, book cover reveals, appearances, giveaways, and bonus content, we hope you will consider clicking below and using the form to sign up. We look forward to visiting your in boxes starting in the autumn!

Readers, what do you like to see featured in author newsletters? Writers, do you send one out yourself? Any tips you would like to share?