Posted in Uncategorized

What my Daughter’s Middle School Graduation Taught Me

Friday was my daughter’s graduation from middle school. Over 400 students graduated with her. Although people may not consider this event as important as a high school or college graduation, I learned something important from attending. This past school year was not an easy one for Holly or for us. Early in the first semester, she began experiencing panic attacks that made it difficult for her to attend classes. While a few of her friends and classmates found her problem hard to understand and some even thought she was pretending to get out of school, I knew better because when I’d started what was then called junior high, I had my own issues with anxiety. My parents switched me to another school where I coped better, but it was years before I was finally able to control those debilitating feelings. Luckily, Holly received support from the school social worker and a private counselor so that she could manage her fears and stay at the middle school where she’d made many friends. However, there were days she couldn’t make it into classes at all. For a girl who had college-level Lexile scores and scored in the top 90 per cent of her peer group in state testing, her grades began to drop because of the lessons she’d missed.

So when Holly’s name was called in the auditorium on Friday, we were especially proud of her for persevering. She managed to pass two regents exams including the Algebra regents that she found particularly challenging. Her grades had risen back up in the last semester, and she was making strides to cope with her anxiety. While I found the speeches leading up to the delivery of diplomas boring as most graduation speeches are, one speech still stays in my mind. It was given by the school’s superintendent who told the gathered students that he was giving them gifts that had secrets attached to them. One of the gifts was that he wished them luck and that the secret to attracting it is hard work and making the right choices. Looking back at my own life, I realized that point was true. The things I’ve achieved, my own graduation from library school with a Master’s Degree, losing sixty pounds last year, and publishing my novels, have all been the result of hard work but also because I made choices to move in those directions when I went back to school after working as a secretary, when I joined Jenny Craig and committed to the program, and when I sat at my computer and started writing my first book. Likewise, my husband’s graduating college and working as a computer technician despite the disability he’s had since he was 13, wasn’t without challenges that he had to overcome.

The other point Superintendent Bonuso made was regarding the transition from Middle School to High School. He compared it to a bridge that one needed to cross by holding on to a rail (symbolic of a friend, parent, teacher, or other support person). If a rail wasn’t available, he said, one needed to center one self and walk in the middle of the bridge. The concept of finding balance as one moves forward can apply to anyone whether you are starting a new job, a new relationship, or even just taking a trip. Change requires a psychological as well as physical adjustment. The middle schoolers crossing the bridge to high school have gone through many changes in their bodies as well as their minds. They were addressed as young men and women, no longer children graduating elementary school. Their new bridge is wider, scarier, but also features more opportunities on the other side. While I hope my daughter crosses that bridge with less anxiety or holds on to a rail if need be, I also hope she learns to center herself, find a balance to help her cope with any rickety “planks” along the way.

What I learned from Holly’s graduation is that when you want something, you shouldn’t give up just because it’s hard or you face challenges to reach it. I know Holly wasn’t the only student who had difficulties this last year of middle school or any of the three years leading to graduation. However, there are kids who don’t ask for help. They think they’re alone with their troubles – whether it be anxiety, difficulty learning, problems with a bully, or even a friend. There are so many issues teenagers face at this age, but problems don’t disappear when you become an adult. They can then involve work, relationships, family, and a multitude of other issues. We all have to learn how to maneuver our bridges. As an author, I often feel like I want to give up, that I’m not reaching enough people with my books, and it’s too much work to promote them. But the prospect of sales isn’t what keeps me writing, querying agents, and marketing my novels. It’s about sharing the words that I hope will touch others so they enjoy my stories, take something away from the writing – an idea, a lesson, a question, an emotion . . .  I can’t quit when the going gets tough because I need to keep crossing those bridges. I need to find where my writing takes me. And as I’m thankful for all the people who helped my daughter cross the Middle School bridge, I’m thankful for the support of my publisher and fellow authors as well as my family and readers who are helping me cross the publishing bridge. There are lots of rocky spots and reasons to turn back on this journey, but I move forward thanks to you all.

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Posted in Cozy Mystery, Guest Post

Guest Post and Blog Tour for Murder Made to Order: an All-Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery by Lena Gregory

This tasty post was contributed by author Lena Gregory. Her cozy mystery, Murder Made to Order, is currently on tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Breakfast Ideas

By Lena Gregory

When I was younger, I worked the breakfast shift at my grandfather’s deli. I loved everything about it, but I especially remember enjoying the aromas; coffee brewing, bacon, freshly baked Kaiser rolls…To this day, the smell of breakfast cooking reminds me of my childhood.

When I decided to write a cooking cozy, it seemed natural to base it around breakfast, but I started wondering if there would be enough items to fill the menu. So I sat down and thought about everything you could make for breakfast, and to my surprise, the list just kept getting longer and longer. Of course, you can always go with the traditional bacon, eggs, home fries, and toast, but here are a few more suggestions from the All-Day Breakfast Café menu you may enjoy.

Omelets: Omelets can be a quick easy breakfast, especially if you prepare ahead of time like Gia does. Once or twice a week you can spend a few minutes dicing your vegetables, or frying and cutting your meat, then keep it in a covered container in the refrigerator. When it’s time to make breakfast, you just throw in whatever you want, and you have a nice, hot meal in no time at all.

There are two ways to make omelets. You can cook the eggs first, then fill the omelet and fold it over, or you can scramble the omelet ingredients into the eggs, then cook them together. Personally, I prefer everything cooked together.

And what can you put in your omelet? Pretty much anything you’d like! Some of the omelets on Gia’s menu include:

Meat Lovers – a blend of bacon, ham, and sausage, topped with American or cheddar cheese.

Veggie Lovers – any kind of vegetables you like. Some of my favorites are spinach, tomatoes, squash, and zucchini.

Western – diced ham, green peppers, and onions topped with American cheese. Western omelets are also amazing on a Kaiser roll with salt and pepper.

Breakfast Pies: Breakfast pies take time to make, but they can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the fridge, then you can simply take a slice and heat it up any time you’re ready. When Gia makes breakfast pies, she lines the pie tins with home fries or shredded potatoes, then she scrambles eggs with whatever ingredients she want to use. (Mostly the same ingredients she uses in omelets.) Once cooked, she adds them to the pie tins, then sprinkles shredded cheddar cheese over the top and puts it in the oven until the cheese melts.

Sandwiches and Wraps: You can never go wrong with a nice bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll. Not only can you make it quickly, you can take it with you and eat it on the run.

Those are just a few breakfast ideas, but you could also do pancakes and waffles, (with or without toppings) burritos, quesadillas, even a breakfast pizza. So next time you aren’t sure what you feel like having for breakfast, just give something off Gia’s menu a try.

Check out Lena’s social media links and try your luck at her rafflecopter: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/02887792735/?widget_template=56d5f80dbc544fb30fda66f0

Website:  http://www.lenagregory.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/lena.gregory.986

Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/Lena.Gregory.Author/?fref=ts

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/LenaGregory03

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14956514.Lena_Gregory?from_search=true

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/lenagregoryauth/

 

Posted in Books

An Update on my Book Projects: Something for Every Reader

For those who don’t subscribe to my author newsletter, I thought I’d post an update on my book projects. I believe my works-in-progress will appeal to readers of a variety of genres.

I’m currently editing a new version of my very first novel, a paranormal romance called Cloudy Rainbow.  This book was originally self-published but will now be reprinted in a new version by Solstice Publishing. I’m hoping it will be released by the end of the summer. The book was written after my 15-year old cat, Floppy, died and includes him as a character. It features themes of reincarnation, clairvoyance, and virutal reality and is told in alternating time periods from 1992 to 2008. It received an honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Books Contest. Although only printed originally in paperback, it will now be available as an eBook on Amazon.com and will be free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Coming in the fall, I should be submitting my fourth Cobble Cove cozy mystery, Love on the Rocks, to Solstice. This book takes place near Valentine’s Day and features the Cobble Cove characters from the series with a few additions including a new kitty in town who keeps Sneaky on his toes.

I’m also working on a time-travel story that continues one that I wrote for an anthology called Cat Crimes Through Time nearly twenty years ago. The main character, Gina Garrett, now grown will once again travel back through time for two different reasons. I’m hoping this will evolve into the start of a new series.

I have two other completed novels that I hope to publish next year: The Case of the Cat Crazy Lady, the first of a new cozy series; and Sea Scope, a psychological thriller.

To view a video of my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series including the upcoming fourth volume and my new standalone mystery, Reason to Die, click this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1FmAW4U-jA

Posted in Cozy Mystery, Guest Post

Guest Post and Blog Tour for Poison by Punctuation by Kelley Kaye

This post was contributed by author Kelley Kaye. Her cozy mystery, Poison by Punctuation is currently on tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

https://www.aspeninstitute.org/magazine/can-literature-save-us-need-saving/

I’ve always felt that books can save lives. Whatever it is that’s going on in your life, there’s a book for it, something out there that will teach you, heal you, inspire you or shelter you.

For me, the shelter aspect was key. The young version of Kelley was a total nerd, forty years before nerds became cool. I hated sports, sucked at foursquare, and did really well in school, thought knowing how to spell was the awesomest. Translation: big ol’ geek. The playground was not a respite for me; rather a black hole. I only wanted to escape back into the classroom, where I felt much more surefooted, or, escape into a book, where I felt…indomitable. Into a world I controlled by a turn of the page, or not. I can still picture myself, propped on the playground curb, one skinny leg stretched out to one side, with the book splayed open on the concrete. Catty little girls or thoughtless little boys took a back seat in this world, where space travel is as easy as a Sunday drive, telepathy is real, and if you want it, the good guy always wins. It saved my life.

As a teacher, my motto was “If you don’t like to read, you just haven’t found the right book yet.” I still believe it, even though I’ve been trying for over fifteen years now to find the right one for my husband. I’ll keep trying.

But for a lot of my past students the old adage rings true: take Elijah, who as a freshman hadn’t read a book since fifth grade, hated the idea of books, but after experiencing the motto–and the persuasivenessAKAbossiness–of teacher Kelley, he found his groove in a Dean Koontz book, and by the end of his senior year had finished 30 of them. Same thing happened with Brian, though for him his groove was Harlan Coben.

Now I don’t know if these two examples would be dead if they’d never found a love for reading, but I know I would be. The article I posted at the beginning of my guest post talks about literature as a lifesaver more in terms of big world issues being better understood, disseminated and dealt with through books, which is maybe a more literal way it saves lives.

But no matter how you look at it, for a lot of us, books are akin to breathing.

A lifesaver. How about for you?

Here’s a book trailer for Poison by Punctuation: Poison by Puncutation Trailer

Poison by Punctuation (Chalkboard Outlines)
by Kelley Kaye

About the Book


Poison by Punctuation (Chalkboard Outlines)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Red Adept Publishing, LLC (April 24, 2018)
Print Length: 243 pages
Digital ASIN: B07BTYJXCG

High school teacher Emma Lovett is finally recovering from her first year of teaching when she discovers another dead body. As if that wasn’t bad enough, this time, someone has killed a student, Kisten Hollis.

Emma and her best friend, Leslie, are desperate to solve this murder. But suspects abound. The perpetrator could be a teacher, an administrator, a member of Kisten’s zealous church community, or even another student.

Emma must juggle her teaching responsibilities, her new romance with handsome Hunter Wells, and interest from a hunky second suitor, all while searching for evidence to bring a killer to justice before someone else dies.

About the Author

“Kelley Kaye” taught High School English and Drama since 1992 in California, then Colorado and now Cali again, but her love for storytelling dates back to creating captions in her high school yearbook. Maybe back to the tales she created for her Barbie and Ken—whatever the case, the love’s been around a long time. She’s married to an amazing man who cooks for her, and they have two funny and wonderful sons.

Website – http://www.kelleykaybowles.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authorkelleykaye/

Blog – http://www.kelleykaybowles.com/kelley-s-blog2.html

Twitter – https://twitter.com/kelkay1202

BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kelley-kaye

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Kelley-Kay-Bowles/e/B00JJ9T7AC

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1380492.Kelley_Kay_Bowles

Purchase Links

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a Rafflecopter giveaway
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June 15 – Ruff Drafts – GUEST POST

June 15 – Jane Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 16 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT

June 17 – Varietats – GUEST POST

June 18 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 19 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 20 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

June 20 – My Reading Journeys – SPOTLIGHT

June 21 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 22 – Readeropolis – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 23 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

June 23 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

June 24 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 25 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

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Posted in Authors, Guest Post

Guest Post and Blog Tour for Murder Gone Missing by Lida Sideris

This post was contributed by author Lida Sideris. Her cozy mystery, Murder Gone Missing, is currently on tour with Escape with Dollycas Escape into a Good Book. 

Rustling Up Characters

I’m often asked where I find my characters. Are they based on people I know? Nope. But they are based on people I don’t know. For instance, in a subplot in my first book, heroine Corrie Locke is hired by basketball superstar, Ty Calvin, to find his missing lucky charm. I’ve never known any professional sports stars. But I did have a brush with one. It was enough for me to want to base a character on him.

A few years ago, I waited on the first tee of a local golf course with my junior golfer son. Basketball superstar Alonzo Mourning approached us from behind and asked if he could play through. In golf speak, that’s, “Mind if I go first? I’m in a little bit of a rush.” He asked so politely, so kindly, that he left me with a lasting impression. Of someone who treated others well, of an animal lover, a gentle role model, one who was bent on doing the right thing. I have no idea what Mr. Mourning is really like. But I had a strong notion of what my basketball player creation would be like. Kind, thoughtful, generous, and yes, an animal lover who would go to great lengths for his animal and human friends. Would I have created the character without that brief encounter? Probably not.

Sometimes, a character idea will arise from viewing a photograph or a movie. For instance, I was watching a 1947 Bogart film, Dead Reckoning that co-starred an actress I wasn’t familiar with: Lizabeth Scott. I’d never seen or heard of her, but her mannerisms were enough to inspire me to create a lanky murder suspect, patterned after her character in the movie. I used her in Book Two. Ms. Scott’s expressions, the way she spoke and walked, her hair and her clothes in that particular film, helped me to get a sense of the character I was seeking to create. Ms. Scott has a very unique voice and every time, my character, Alyce Scerbo, opened her mouth, I thought of Ms. Scott.

Basing characters on my impressions allows my imagination to run around and figure things out. It helps me to hear them speak and move…and eventually breathe between the pages.

Murder Gone Missing: A Southern California Mystery
by Lida Sideris

About the Book


Murder Gone Missing: A Southern California Mystery
Cozy Mystery/Soft Boiled Mystery
2nd in Series
Level Best Books (April 10, 2018)
Paperback: 262 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1947915046
Digital ASIN: B07BHCBX51

Newly minted lawyer Corrie Locke has taken a vow of abstinence. From PI work, that is. Until her best friend Michael finds his bully of a boss stabbed in the back after confronting him earlier that day. Michael panics, accidentally tampering with the crime scene…which could lead the cops to Michael instead of the real culprit. He turns to Corrie to track down the killer. She doesn’t need much coaxing. Her late great PI dad taught her the ropes…and left her his cache of illegal weaponry.

They return to the scene of the crime, but the body’s missing. Racing against time, Corrie dredges a prestigious Los Angeles college in pursuit of clues. All she finds are false leads. Armed with attitude and romantic feelings toward Michael, Corrie dives into a school of suspects to find the slippery fugitive. Will she clear Michael’s name before he’s arrested for murder?

About the Author

Lida Sideris is an author, lawyer and all around book enthusiast. She was one of two national recipients of the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America scholarship for her first novel, MURDER AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS. MURDER GONE MISSING is the second book in the Corrie Locke series. Like her heroine, Lida worked as an entertainment attorney in a movie studio. Unlike her heroine, she keeps her distance from homicides. To learn more about Lida, please visit her website: www.LidaSideris.com

Author Links

WEBSITE: http://www.lidasideris.com/

BLOG: http://www.lidasideris.com/blog/

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/lidasideris

TWITTER: @lidasideris

GoodReads:http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26139837-murder-and-other-unnatural-disasters?from_search=true&search_version=service

Purchase Links

AMAZON B&N

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

June 11 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

June 11 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST

June 12 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 12 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW, GIVEAWAY

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Posted in Cozy Mysteries, New Releases

Spotlight for As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles by Leslie Budewitz

As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles (A Food Lovers’ Village Mystery)
by Leslie Budewitz

About the Book

As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles (A Food Lovers’ Village Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Midnight Ink (June 8, 2018)
Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738752419
Digital ASIN: B075W25FNF

Erin is one smart cookie, but can she keep the holiday spirit—and herself—alive till Christmas?

In Jewel Bay, all is merry and bright. At Murphy’s Mercantile, AKA the Merc, manager Erin Murphy is ringing in the holiday season with food, drink, and a new friend: Merrily Thornton. A local girl gone wrong, Merrily has turned her life around. But her parents have publicly shunned her, and they nurse a bitterness that chills Erin.

When Merrily goes missing and her boss discovers he’s been robbed, fingers point to Merrily—until she’s found dead, a string of lights around her neck. The clues and danger snowball from there. Can Erin nab the killer—and keep herself in one piece—in time for a special Christmas Eve?

Includes delicious recipes!

About the Author

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician, and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model, and avid bird-watcher.

Connect with her on her website, http://www.LeslieBudewitz.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Purchase Links

Amazon B&N BookBub Kobo

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

June 6 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – COZY WEDNESDAY

June 7 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

June 7 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW

June 7 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 8 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

June 8 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW

June 8 – Carole’s Book Corner – GUEST POST

June 9 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW

June 9 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

June 10 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

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June 11 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

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June 13 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

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Posted in Cozy Mystery, Guest Post

Guest Post and Blog Tour for A Deadly Eclair (the 1st. French Bistro Mystery) by Daryl Gerber

This post was contributed by author Daryl Gerber. Her cozy mystery, A Deadly Eclair, is currently on tour with Escape with Dollycas Escape into a Good Book

Giveaway below!  Don’t miss out.

Hi, all! I’m so happy to be on the Great Escapes Tour. I’d like to share some of my favorite recipes from A Deadly Éclair, the 1st French Bistro Mystery. It came out in  hardcover in November, but I’m excited to say it’s out in trade paperback as of June 12. And the second in the series, A Soufflé of Suspicion, comes out July 10!

One of my all-time favorite desserts is crème brûlée. I often order it at a restaurant, just to compare. For this luscious dessert, use the best vanilla beans available. If you’re planning this recipe for a party, remember to remove them from the refrigerator a few hours ahead so they can warm to room temperature before applying the vanilla sugar and heat to the top.

I like a utility blowtorch from a hardware store, but you can always spring for the big bucks and get a pretty one from a kitchen store, at double the cost.

Tip:  Vanilla sugar can be costly, but it’s worth it. However, you can prepare it at home by combining approximately 2 cups of white sugar with the scraped seeds of one vanilla bean. Put it in an airtight jar. Let the mixture age for about 2 weeks, and then use 2 tablespoons in place of one packet of vanilla sugar. Make sense?  Each time, replace the sugar that is used, and the vanilla beans will last indefinitely. Cool, right?

Enjoy the recipe, and please tell a friend about A Deadly Éclair and the giveaway for this tour!

Crème Brûlée

1 quart heavy cream

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

1 cup vanilla sugar, divided (*you may use regular sugar)

6 large egg yolks

2 quarts hot water 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp into a medium saucepan, which has been set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and set aside for future use.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup vanilla sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color.

Add the cream, a little bit at a time. Stir continually.

Pour the liquid into six (7 to 8-ounce) ramekins. Place the ramekins into roasting pan or a 13 x 9 cake pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake the ramekins until the crème brûlée is set, but still able to shake a little in the center, approximately 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Remove the crème brûlée from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to finishing the top.

Divide the remaining 1/2 cup vanilla sugar equally among the 6 dishes and spread evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow the crème brûlée to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Below is the link to the tour’s rafflecopter and Dayl Gerber’s social media links:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/02887792726/?widget_template=56d5f80dbc544fb30fda66f0

Visit Daryl or Avery at www.darylwoodgerber.com.

Daryl’s Blog – Avery’s Blog – Mystery Lover’s Kitchen – Killer Characters –

Facebook:   Daryl      Avery 

Twitter: @AveryAames @DarylWoodGerber

Goodreads:    Daryl Wood Gerber     Avery Aames

Purchase Links

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