Blog Tour Plans

Happy Sunday, everyone!

I have an update on the blog tour I’ve arranged for the release of Murder, by George. One month to go until the book is shipped from Five Star’s warehouse to booksellers and wholesalers for library orders. Time’s flying now!

This week I submitted a guest post, told from Veronica’s point of view, to Dru Ann at dru’s book musings for her A Day in the Life feature. The post will appear on May 20.

I’m also working on a post for Lori’s  Cozy Wednesday on Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book , which will be published on release day, May 18.

I’m scheduled for an interview with Kathy at Cozy Up With Kathy on Sunday, June 5.

Murder, by George will be spotlighted at Storeybook Reviews on May 18 (and reviewed on June 6) and at Yvonne’s Socrates’ Book Reviews on a date to be set.

There will also be reviews at A Cup of Tea and a Cozy Mystery, Shelley’s Book Case, and Mallory Heart’s Cozies.

All Things Murder is getting some attention, too. Karen at A Cup of Tea and a Cozy Mystery  reviewed  the book earlier this month. Leslie at Storeybook Reviews will offer her thoughts on my first cozy on May 5.

I am grateful to these women for the opportunities they are giving me to present Murder, by George to their readers. Dru Ann, Lori, Kathy, Yvonne, Shelley, Leslie, Karen, and Mallory are great supporters of cozy authors and run websites loaded with reviews, interviews, and guest posts on fantastic writers and their books. I’ll post links to my posts and reviews when they become available, but please visit these wonderful blogs today to discover new books to add to your To Read lists.

A final note. Passover begins this Friday (4/22) at sundown. I wish everyone celebrating a happy Pesach.

Enjoy the rest of the day and have a great week, everyone!

 

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Goodreads Giveaway

Hi everyone,

Today begins my Goodreads giveaway of four advance copies of Murder, by George. The contest runs until May 6. Click on the Goodreads button to enter. You need to be registered with the site, but membership is free. Good luck!

Goodreads

 

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Easter Wishes

To everyone celebrating tomorrow’s holy day, I wish you all a happy, blessed Easter. May you have a beautiful day with family and friends!

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Meet Veronica’s Best Friend

Is spring in the air where you live? It showed up in my corner of the world this week with bright sunshine, warm temperatures, and landscapers beginning their yard cleanup. Yesterday I spotted the first flowers of the season: clusters of beautiful crocuses in purple and yellow outside my local library. The blossoms inspired me to have a “chat” with an important character in the Veronica Walsh mystery series: Carol Emerson, Veronica’s best friend.

What is your occupation, Carol? I’m the happy owner of Emerson florist, the only flower shop in Barton, NY. We’re located on Orchard Street, a block up from All Things, Veronica’s boutique. I opened the business fifteen years ago after working for a wholesale florist.

Tell us about your family. I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart, Patrick, for thirty years. We have two terrific children, Bridget and Michael. Patrick is a science teacher and baseball coach at Barton High School.

How did you and Veronica meet and how long have you been friends? We met in kindergarten x number of years ago. Her cubby was next to mine. Veronica gave me a hug when I cried the first day of school when my mother left the classroom. I reciprocated by letting her use the pink crayon at the coloring table. We’ve been best pals ever since.

Tell us something about Veronica her soap fans don’t know. She plays weekly in a six-hand canasta game.

I understand you’ve been an extra on Veronica’s soap opera. A few times! I’ve played a guest at three of Veronica’s character’s weddings. My husband and I were extras in a restaurant scene where Veronica’s character and her arch rival got into a huge fight. It was spectacular! Being on the set, getting this fantastic behind-the-scenes look, gave me an appreciation for how hard actors work to make a great show.

What do you think of Veronica’s amateur sleuthing? I think Veronica needs to be very careful. I’m used to having my friend back home in Barton. She’s already had one close call with a killer. Murderers tend not to want to be exposed.

Do you help Veronica in her sleuthing? I give her emotional support and act as a sounding board for her theories. That’s as far as I go.

How often do you see Veronica? She’s a frequent visitor to my shop. Veronica likes to engage in what she calls floral therapy. She walks around and sniffs the flowers, but she never buys anything. I’ll have to talk with her about that.

What’s your favorite flower? I can’t pick one! My favorites change by season and mood. I do love flowers with a strong fragrance, like lilacs, peonies, and gardenias.

How do I keep tulips from drooping? Leave them in their wrapping overnight and put them in cold water in a tall, slim vase. Remember to cut the stems at an angle, under water, and remove leaves that are below the water line.

Have a great week, everyone. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

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Barton Newcomers

Today I thought I would introduce you to three characters new to Veronica Walsh’s world of Barton. The three play important roles in Murder, by George.

Architect Scott Culverson is essential to the plot: he is the murder victim. A good-natured man in his early thirties, Scott works at Barton’s SRB Architects. He has a lot going for him and his fortune rises further in the first chapter when he discovers a million-dollar painting in a vintage box he purchases for ten dollars at a flea market. It’s a remarkable find for a young guy establishing himself in the world. Scott counts himself a lucky man: he has a promising career; a smart, pretty girlfriend; and now enough money to pay off his student loans, start construction on his dream house, and contribute to the community, with some change leftover to add a few expensive bottles of wine to his collection. However, there are several characters who claim ownership of the painting and want to take possession of it before Scott can trade in the canvas for a pile of cash. When Scott is stabbed to death with his own cheese knife, there is a ready-made group of persons-of-interest for the police to interrogate.

One of the characters who stakes a claim to the painting is Regina Quinn. In her late twenties, Regina has just moved to the village to work as a chef at The Barton Hearth and is living temporarily with her great-aunts, Ella and Madeline Griffin. Regina has a short temper, which is set off when she learns the painting was given as a wedding gift to her great-grandmother. She pitches two fits, first at the flea market and later at The Hearth, insisting the painting still belongs to her family. Regina’s fury doesn’t win her any friends, and it puts her on the suspect list when Scott is stabbed to death two days later. It’s not easy being the new girl in town.

Though Regina is a handful for Scott, an even greater adversary is Leona Kendall. Leona, the regal daughter of the painting’s artist, lives in nearby Bear Lake, a swanky neighbor to the quaint Barton. Like Regina, Leona demands that Scott immediately hand over her father’s work, threatening a lawsuit if he doesn’t comply. With an icy glare and wave of a manicured finger, Leona expects everyone to fall in line and do as she says. When that doesn’t work, she has plenty of money to throw around. Does she use it to buy someone? The police? The district attorney? A killer?

Have a great week, everyone!

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The ARCs Are Here!

Murder, by George ARCs

Here they are, the advance copies of Murder, by George (I love mail, particularly when it’s a box of books). Since receiving the ARCs last week, I’ve sent out six copies to cozy bloggers for review, set up an interview with one blogger, and guest posts with two others.

I’ve also been proofreading the book, looking for goofs that weren’t caught during the editing process. It’s amazing how different the story looks when I’m reading it in book form rather than on a laptop screen or on paper printed from the computer. Errors, word usage, and slight inconsistencies pop out.  I’ve found some typos and a few instances where two paragraphs should be combined into one or one paragraph split into two or three. There are also a couple of minor changes I want to make. One change relates to the past history of a new character. The change will make the circumstance in which the character lands more realistic while also making the character more flawed, more human.

I will submit the corrections to Five Star this week and then that’s it, no more tinkering!

Have a great week, everyone, and enjoy tonight’s Super Bowl!

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Bad News/Good News

The last ten days have brought good news and bad news from my publisher, Five Star Publishing.

First, the bad news. After much analysis and reflection, Five Star has made the very difficult decision to stop acquiring mystery titles. They will continue to accept manuscript submissions for their Western and Frontier lines and are one-hundred percent committed to the mysteries they are contracted to publish through March, 2017.

I am very grateful to Five Star for the opportunity to present my writing to readers. Without this terrific company, I might still be daydreaming about being a published author. I’ll always be proud to have been a Five Star author.

This doesn’t mark the end for the Veronica Walsh series and other stories that have yet to emerge from my brain. Once I finish writing Veronica’s third adventure (I’ve fallen behind a bit, I admit), I’ll start the search for a new home for Veronica and her friends. I appreciate your positive thoughts on this effort.

The good news from Five Star, which I received on Friday, is that the advance copies for Murder, by George are on the way! I can’t wait to see the ARCs and distribute them to cozy bloggers, librarians, and bookstore managers.  I understand the importance of book promotion now more than ever and will work hard to spread word of the book’s release far and wide.

Finally, if you were hit by the blizzard that roared up the East coast (fifteen inches of snow fell on my town), I hope you have electrical power, are still talking to the people with whom you were snowbound, and have shoveled out of the mounds of snow without too many aches and pains.

Have a great week, everyone.

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From Resolution To Habit

I’ve read that it takes eighteen days for a behavior to become a habit. Or is it twenty-one days? Whichever it is, if you have been diligent in following your New Year’s resolution(s), you are only hours away from having a shiny new addition to your daily routine.

My main 2016 goal is to throw something out every day. And I don’t mean things that are thrown out in the course of a typical day, like the scrap paper I used to make my shopping list. On day seventeen of the new year, I’m proud to say I’m keeping to my resolution. I don’t know if I’ll come up with 366 items to discard, but I’m going to ride this wave as long as I can.

Since January 1, I’ve tidied two drawers, thrown out a stack of old VHS tapes (am I the only one who still has them?), and started piles of clothes and books to donate to the church thrift shop and the local library. I’ve taken a few trips down memory lane after finding souvenirs from long-ago vacations, letters from pen pals I had when I was in high school, and a box of my college notebooks. Other discoveries make me shake my head.

For example, my recipes’ folders. I’ve amassed quite a collection of recipes from websites, cookbooks, and friends for appetizers, entrées, and desserts. I have repeatedly stuck the sheet of paper I just printed into the folder and never looked at it again. Going through one folder last week, I discovered I had more than a dozen Irish soda bread recipes (for both the inauthentic version that’s loaded with sugar, caraway seeds, and raisins and the traditional soda bread my maternal grandmother learned to bake when she was growing up in Kiltimagh, County Mayo). I kept one recipe and dumped the rest in the garbage can, along with all the recipes for chocolate chip cookies, pound cake, beef bourguignon, and shrimp scampi.

When I set this resolution, I thought it would be a difficult task. Instead, it’s wonderfully fulfilling to clear out and clean up. The kitchen cabinet looks so much better now that I’ve thrown out the baggie filled with Box Tops for Education markers meant for a school that closed two years ago, the town bulk pickup schedule from 2014, and the spray nozzle from a since-replaced kitchen faucet. Plus I found house key duplicates I didn’t know we had during my cleaning session.

I’ve learned that I need to be more mindful of what I tuck on the shelf or stash in the closet. I need to ask myself: Will I watch this dvd again? Is this a book I’ll remember and want to re-read? And do I really need this list of military alphabet codes? Because you know, Jeanne, you can find it on the internet anytime you like.

By the way, have you noticed there are now links at the top of this page for pre-ordering Murder, by George? Just asking.

Have a great week, everyone!

 

I

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What January Doldrums?

Happy New Year! In 2016, I wish you more joy than sorrow, more highs than lows, more smiles than tears, and more credit than debit.

Now we’re in January, a month many don’t particularly like. The excitement of the holidays is over and we have to cope with cold, snowy weather, credit card bills, and the hard reality of resolutions made in the waning, optimistic hours of 2015. You might be asking yourself right about now, “Do I really want to exercise two hours a day and eat more fruit?”

Some folks deal with the January blues by fleeing to Florida, catching up on new movies, or re-decorating their Christmas trees with Valentine hearts. I face January with a smile. I happen to like this month. My mother and brother Bob have their birthdays in the coming days, giving our family a great reason to gather in celebration. The film awards season kicks into high gear with the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild presentations and the Academy Award nominations. A college football champion will be crowned next Monday, and the NFL will hold its playoffs to determine what teams will meet in the Super Bowl.

January also starts a new season of expectation. Whether you’re awaiting a wedding, birth of a baby, graduation, or book publication (Murder, by George begins its trek to bookseller warehouses on May 18!), a flip of the calendar page brings your special event that much closer. January, despite its frigid days and early sunsets, carries within it the promise of wonderful things to come.

Want more? We celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on the eighteenth. January 13 is May Your Dream Come True Day (start that book you’ve always wanted to write!), Dress Up Your Pet Day happens on the fourteenth (don’t go too crazy with the costumes),  the sixteenth is National Nothing Day (it falls on a Saturday, when many of us are doing nothing anyway), and Spouse’s Day comes on January 26 (how did retailers miss this special day?). If you’re a foodie, enjoy Bean Day (6th), National Popcorn Day (19th), National Buttercrunch Day (20th), National Blonde Brownie Day (22nd), National Pie Day (23rd), and Chocolate Cake Day (27th).

If you’re still not feeling great about January, go back to bed and celebrate the Festival of Sleep Day, happening today.

Have a great week, everyone!

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Christmas Greetings

Holly and Mistletoe

Season’s Greetings!

Before I get to my Christmas post, I have an update on Murder, by George. I received word from Five Star a week ago that they are rescheduling the release of their upcoming titles. The release date for Murder, by George has been moved from January to May 18, 2016. Now instead of having the book to curl up with on a cold winter’s night, it will be the perfect book to bring on your summer vacation!

Christmas Bells Red Ribbon

The wait for Murder, by George will be a bit longer, but the Advent season of waiting will come to an end soon. Where are you in your Christmas preparations? Are you done and enjoying the sights, smells, and tastes of the season? Or are you still running around, searching for a gift for your uncle, buying flour for cookies to be baked, and trying to figure out where you’re going to find the time to bake those cookies?

Baking is one of my favorite Christmas traditions, with the candy cane cookie serving as the official Quigley family holiday treat. My paternal grandmother introduced the family to the cookie, baking it for many years from a Betty Crocker recipe. When she passed away in 1983, I assumed the duty of sifting confectioner’s sugar, crushing candy canes, and dying dough with red food coloring to make the tasty goodies. The cookie distribution has grown from three tins to nine as family scattered from upstate New York to the mountains of Colorado look forward to sinking their teeth into the delicious delight. I don’t leave myself out, always filling a tin with a few dozen to enjoy all the way to the twelfth night of Christmas.

Yummy!

Add batches of chocolate chip cookies and butter cookies to the mix and I’m in the kitchen for hours. That’s plenty of time to indulge in another tradition, the viewing of Christmas movies. I always start with Grumpy Old Men, starring my favorite screen team, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. It might not be considered a holiday film, but the plot takes place during the season, which is enough reason for me to pop it into the dvd player and enjoy. It’s A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, and A Christmas Carol (the George C. Scott adaptation!) are on my must-see list.

A Christmas Carol is also a must-read in the days that lead up to Christmas. The Charles Dickens’ classic is so rich in story, characters, and setting, something different stands out to me each time I read it. If you’ve never read this short story, or if it’s been a few years, I heartily encourage you to set aside some time to spend with Scrooge, the Cratchit family, and the Three Spirits. I also add a helping of humor to my reading list with laugh-out-loud tales of holiday disasters, courtesy of Laurie Notaro’s An Idiot Girl’s Christmas.

Finally, what would the holiday be without fabulous Christmas music? Rosemary Clooney’s version of “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” Doris Day’s “Toyland,” “Christmas Time Is Here Again” from Marty Robbins, and anyone singing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” are particular favorites of mine. And I’m always ready to sing-along with Mitch Miller and the Gang (“The Twelve Days of Christmas” anyone?), though my family would prefer I keep it to a soft hum.

However you celebrate, may your traditions bring you pleasure this season. Enjoy every moment with your family and friends, savoring old and new traditions with the spirit of the season. I wish you a very happy Christmas!

 

Holly and Mistletoe

 

 

 

 

 

 

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