Thursday, March 27, 2014

Guest Blogger - Chris Dietzel

Magic and Mayhem… without the magic and mayhem?
By Chris Dietzel

While thinking about the type of book I wanted to write, I knew it had to be something that took place in a world full of imagination and possibility—the type of story I enjoy reading myself—but I also wanted it to be realistic, something I could envision actually happening. I wanted to write about the end of the world, but I didn’t want to create your typical apocalyptic book, which always seem to be filled with marauding gangs, children with special powers, and so on. Instead, I wanted to focus on simple things such as looking back on life and regretting how time was spent, about the importance of family, and about the everyday things we take for granted. In short, I wanted to write about the magic and mayhem of the apocalypse, only without any magic or mayhem!

To do this, I focused not on the fantastic and supernatural elements of mankind’s impending extinction, but of the human elements—people growing older each year, the human population slowly fading away. Instead of zombies terrorizing everyone or battles for the few remaining resources, my story has people reminiscing about the final movie they watched, the final vacation they took.

In my book, there is no hope for a better tomorrow, but there is still the marvel of realizing which few things in life are truly important. And although there are no warlords or flesh-eating zombies, there is still the quite human havoc of rats and spiders taking over basements, of water dripping through ceilings, of people feeling overwhelmed with day-to-day life.

When you read The Man Who Watched The World End you won’t be given a gift-wrapped happy ending in which the teenage hero has rallied against some grand villain. You won’t have the immediate satisfaction of an invasion being prevented. After all, my book is science fiction without the magic. It’s the apocalypse without the mayhem. But in place of a feel-good story or a climactic battle, my hope is that you’ll find a story about real people and real concerns, and because of that, the story will remain with you long after you’ve read it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review: The Bank Holiday Murders by Tom Wescott

  • File Size: 767 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

So many Ripperologists only consider 5 murders to be his work, but Emma Smith and Martha Tabram were murdered earlier in 1888 and I always wondered myself if they truly were unconnected.  This book explores how they might be.  Their injuries were definitely not the 'same' as later known victims, but they could be consistent with a killer starting out.  And then escalating.

Regardless, this book interested me most by its trying to get beyond the 'known' 'facts' (terms I use loosely) and trying to find historical documents to find what was happening in that tiny section of Whitechapel.  Reading it made me see how tiny it actually was, and how people had to know much more than they were telling the police.

It certainly is not a sensational read, it is an historic investigation that found some interesting links and players that pretty much have stayed under the radar.  The author is cautious in his conclusions and honest.  I was really impressed.

There is also additional material on other theories and curiosities that really are a nice extra.

One thing it reminds us is that a skeptical eye is needed by any serious Ripper enthusiast.


Review: Doctor Who: Keeping Up with the Joneses by Nick Harkaway

  • File Size: 424 KB
  • Print Length: 62 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Digital (February 6, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • ASIN: B00FZ08D3G
The Doctor is in the TARDIS when a temporal mine hits and then he is in a little Welsh town inside the TARDIS where he meets Christina de Souza (who is not quite the Christina he met on the Big Red Bus). Bad storms are hitting the town and the TARDIS is in pain.

I love Doctor Who, and yes, 10 is one of my favorite Doctors so this was fun. And it was good to see (almost) Christina again as well. Very fun! 


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Luck of the Irish

Luck Of The Irish,

Happy belated Irish Day! Okay today I want to know are you a lucky person? I think I am so so in the luck department. Sometimes I win and sometimes I don't and mostly I think we make our own luck by way of karma.

Also we make our own luck by faith. I have for the most part since January kept my promise to myself that I would think positive. That lasted until I had a really bad week last week.

Yep that promise flew away faster than a dove on the first day of dove hunting season. However it is back this week. I feel lucky to have won a couple of good books to read this month. Loving The DROWNING SPOOL by monica Ferris and when I finish reading it I will write a review. I LOVE reading The Sayers Swindle by Victoria Abbott. When I finish I will write a review.

I am hoping that my positive feeling and (luck) will continue and Terri will do her interview this week and post it on our blog. I think this will be a fantastic interview as I am an armchair traveler through Terri and her travels.

I am trying to get back on the blog track but I have to say I deleted emails on my gmail account and when I did last week my email addys for authors went bye bye. To top that off I forgot to send one of my favorite authors of all time her questions. This should have happened ten days ago. Did I mention last week was a very bad week? I will blog about last week another time. It even bled over to the weekend. So then I forgot about the readathon I wanted to on our cozyarmchairgroup. Yep totally slipped my mind. What I did do was play free online Publishers Clearing House Games. LOL The problem is I never quit playing. I missed meals, bedtime, housework, the dog felt neglected and I hardly sent an email or checked messages. Facebook well I did not tune in much at all maybe not at all unless I hit like. Laundry forgoet it but did try to catch up on it.

Do you get distracted easily? Today I made a to-do list and am checking things off as I go.

Write a blog (check).....LOL

Okay tell us about your past week!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Gust Blogger - Joyce & Jim Lavene

What would YOU do?

By Skye Mertz

From Broken Hearted Ghoul – A Taxi for the Dead Paranormal Mystery

I’m a zombie—I know. Don’t judge me.

What would you do if someone offered YOU another 20 years of life?

My daughter, Kate, was only five when I was killed. It wouldn’t have been so bad that I was going to die, but my husband, Jacob, was already dead. And my mother-in-law, Addie, told me she had six months to live after finding out that she had cancer.

I couldn’t leave Kate alone, the way I was left alone. No one should have to grow up in the foster care system the way I did.

So I took Abraham Lincoln Jones’ offer to drive the van that picks up his undead workers. I call it the taxi for the dead. He doesn’t appreciate my humor.

Everyone who takes Abe up on his offer, and gets the circle A tattoo on their heel, has twenty years to live. They have to help Abe with what he needs to have done. I thought he’d want me to continue as a Nashville cop, but that wasn’t what he wanted.

So I drive the taxi, and I take care of Kate. I miss my past life. I miss my husband. But it’s better than the alternative, right?

I’m also looking for answers about Jacob’s death. I know he wasn’t killed in the wreck that took my life the way everyone thinks. Something else happened to him that night. I’m going to use my twenty years to find out what.

In the meantime, I’ve learned a few things that I didn’t want to know. I’ve seen a man become a werewolf, and I know there are ghouls. There is magic too—real magic. I know a sorcerer who isn’t sure who he is, but he can still do some amazing things.

I’m two years into my twenty-year afterlife. I don’t know what’s going to happen when it’s all over. But whatever it is, Kate will be an adult, and I can prepare her for it. It may not be easy explaining that her mother is dead, and her grandmother who takes care of her is a ghost. But we’ll work it out.

Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Review: The Man Who Watched the World End by Chris Dietzel

  • File Size: 1221 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1484080513
  • Publisher: Chris Dietzel; 1 edition (January 12, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

In this novel, the world doesn't end with a big bang or drama, it ends slowly with a whimper.  Children start being born with no awareness of the world.  they simply exist and need others to take care of them.  These "Blocks" as they are known, area totally dependent.  So the world ends as the population dies off.

This story is told by journal entries of an old man who is caring for his Block brother in an empty subdivision called Camelot.  Where wild animals from the forest are the only other things living there.  His entries reflect on his life, the Blocks, how society addressed the situation and the importance of family.

Very compelling and sad and so very honest.  Loved it.


Dancing with the Stars

Good Morning,

Today I thought we might do something fun. Below will be my list of people I would like to see be on Dancing With The Stars. Read mine and add your own. Since I am an author I am adding more than just stars and celebrities. After all Malice is coming up. LOL

1. Rachel Ray
2. Kelly Rippa
3. Tom Hanks
4. Janet Evonovich
5.Elaine Viets
6. Laura Levine
7. Duffy Brown
8. Julie Hyzy
9. Hank Philippi Ryan
10. Parnell Hall
11. Lee Goldberg
12. Joanne Fluke
13. Bailey Cates
14. JB Stanley
15. Monica Ferris
16. Heather Webber
17. Jill Churchill
18. Tim Myers
19. Jo Dereske
20. Victoria Laurie

Okay your turn today.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Life After 50

I think my life change dramatically after fifty. Here are a few things I have learned about my life after fifty and so far this decade.

1. You are invisible to the younger generations.

2. Do not give your children advice. They don't want it or think they need it and really they can look anything up on Google so why bother. Plus they do not want to hear your wisdom and wit. This was a shocker for me but alas in my family I think they have lost respect for the older generation.

3. Don't ask questions of your grandchildren and about their lives. my grandparents always asked me questions and I took it like they cared about me and my life. My grandchildren think I am nosey and I don't need to know because they are very private people. But of course it is still okay to give gifts and show up to their events etc....

4. Have a sense of humor because even with bodily functions you are going to need it.

5. Life after fifty does give you the chance to start a new chapter in your life. You can have the time to do all those things you never had time for before fifty. if you want to wear your dress clothes all day at home who is going to care? I mean it's important to do what you want when you want. We get so used to living for others and can carry this over and never just let go and enjoy life!

6. Don't live in the past around your family. They either think you are going senile and besides what they don't know about the 60's and 70's they can look google it. They don't need your home spun stories.

7. Husbands have many more mood swings and yet they are always seem to be unmoved by life. LOL if you have been married for a long time and are over fifty you understand this one. I should have said "My husband"

8. Your friends are your family and their lives always look better than mine. LOL

9. Naps are important not a punishment.

10. Reward works for me. If I do the dishes I can read another chapter.

11. If you get mad at me I am rally not that curious as to why. Besides with my lack of memory I may very well have forgotten it.

12. To-do are important for many reasons.

Okay this just MY life but feel free to add more.....about your own life after fifty. I will say one word. FREE now I am FREE to be interesting.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: Forget Me Knot by Mary Marks

FORGET ME KNOT (A Quilting Mystery Series)  First in a new series
Author: Mary Marks
Paperback Edition

Martha Rose is a quilter and every Tuesday she meets with her best friends Lucy and Birdie. They are also quilters and darned good ones. They enter their quilts in shows, contest and are always there for each other. However, they are ready to add another quilter to their group. Claire is a younger quilter than the other three ladies as she is forty. Claire's quilts stand out and are the most beautiful and professional quilts in her category.

on this Tuesday they are expected at Claire's beautiful home. When they arrive they find Claire dead. This is not only disturbing and sad but Claire's quilts are also missing. Then the real mystery begins because not only is there a murderer on the loose but at the quilt show someone actually steals the quilts that Claire did have in the show and they steal Lucy, Birdie and Martha's quilts.

Why would anyone want to steal all of these quilts? Martha is asked by Claire's mother to find out why Claire was murdered and what happened to her quilts. Claire's father wants the matter dropped and soon it's more than quilts at stake. Martha's life is in danger as well as many family secrets come stumbling out of the closet.

Detective Arlo Beavers warns Martha to stay out of the investigation. She can't leave it alone and is even arrested.

Now Martha is mad but she is not going to play it safe especially when her own home is broken into so she tries to piece this murder together. Past and present will not stay buried. Martha Rose is a mother and she will not let another mother down.

In FORGET ME KNOT there is humor, mystery, quilts to die for.....Mary Marks knows her characters, she knows her quilts and she does murder with a deft of hand.

I loved this debut mystery series. I am looking forward to seeing what Martha Rose and her crime solving quilters are up to in the next book. That book is due out in November 2014.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Movie Review: The Heat

Movie: The HEAT
Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy

Katrina James is an FBI agent who wants a promotion in the worst way. Joyce Nelson is a street cop in a different city but when Katrina has to team up with Joyce a worse thing could happen she could've died. if she wants the promotion she has to learn to play nice with others.

Trouble is Joyce doesn't actually have a nice side. Soon they learn it's a man's world whether you're a good cop with a bad personality or an FBI agent who needs a promotion.

However things heat up with drug dealers, at Joyce's family dinner table, and the dynamite duo may break some rules but they prove there is more than one way to get on each other's nerves and still get the job done.

Joyce thinks Katrina's life is sad and pathetic. Katrina thinks Joyce could use lessons in well just about everything but mostly sensitivity training and fashion advice.

The Heat is funny and Russian Gangsters will wish they were dead when they meet up with these letters of the law. I won't say which letters....


Thursday, March 6, 2014

An Interview with Sheila Connolly

MM2: Sheila, what was the first book you had published?

As Sheila or Sarah? My first series was a work-for-hire for Berkley Prime Crime about a glassblower in Arizona, and I wrote that series under the name Sarah Atwell. The first book was Through a Glass, Deadly.  As Sheila, my first book was One Bad Apple, the first of the Orchard Mysteries, in 2008,

MM2: What the moment when you realized... "This is really happening. I am an author?"

I’m still not sure I believe it. Every time I tell someone new, “I’m a mystery writer,” I have to squash a giggle. I keep thinking someone is going to change their mind about it and take it all back.

MM2: How many books and series have you written?

Do you know, I have to check my cheat sheet to make sure. Four series: the Glassblowing Mysteries (three books), followed by the Orchard Mysteries (seven so far), the Museum Mysteries (four, with the fifth coming out in June), then the County Cork Mysteries (two, and more to come). That’s, uh, sixteen in print. Then there are the ebooks, which are not part of any series: Once She Knew, Relatively Dead, and Reunion with Death. Does that make 19? And there are more in the pipeline.

MM2: Do you have an author whose books you reread?

Not recently, although years ago I reread a lot of books, particularly Dorothy Sayers and a lot of the golden age mysteries—Agatha Christie, Josephine Tey, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh. But back then it wasn’t all mystery for me—I used to reread Tolkein once a year, and science fiction, what was then called women’s fiction, and a real grab bag of other books.

MM2: Tell us about your writing schedule?

I’m usually planted at my desk with my second cup of coffee by eight o’clock in the morning. I take a short break for lunch, then back to the desk again. Over time I’ve found that I can write more freely in the morning, so before lunch it’s creative, and after lunch it’s administrative (blog posts, promotion and so on). When my creative brain shuts down altogether by late afternoon, I read. Yes, I watch television, although I’m more analytical about plot and structure than I used to be. And I usually read before I go to sleep.

But the writer brain is always busy, no matter what I’m doing. When I start a new book, I figure out one pivotal theme or image, which may be no more than a phrase or a picture, and then I let my subconscious go to work on it. Sometimes a plot point will suddenly pop up when I’m doing laundry or driving somewhere, and I file that away. As a result, when I sit down to actually start writing, I have a lot of material accumulated in my head, and most of it fits together. You never know when and where you’ll find something interesting that you want to use somewhere.

MM2: What advice do you have for aspiring mystery authors who want to write a series?

I’m speaking primarily about cozies. First, choose characters you like, because you’re going to be spending a lot of time with them. Make sure they have room to grow and learn as individuals. Then surround them with interesting people, whether or not one (or two) of them is a love interest. Then drop this crowd into a place that’s not too big but not too small, so that many people know each other and may have histories with each other. Then sit down in front of your keyboard and see who shows up and starts talking. Sometimes they may surprise you.

Oh, and never give up. Rejections are part of the process. When you get one, wallow in misery for a day or two, then suck it up and keep moving forward. You get better at writing, even if you can’t see it.

MM2: Where is your favorite place to vacation or visit? Do you have a wish list of places you would like to vacation?

These days, Ireland, where my father’s parents were born, although I never visited the country before 1998. That’s why I wanted to set a series there, so I’d have a reason to go back regularly. But in general I love to travel—I’ve lived for short periods in France and England, and I’ve visited Australia and Mexico, and a lot of different states in the US. I went to Italy last year for the second time after many years, and I’d like to get to know it better. In the past I would have said I wanted to see Egypt and Greece, but things there are too politically unstable now to make travel appealing. New Zealand? I may have relatives there.

But I want to see and do things, not sit on a beach (my fair Irish complexion doesn’t handle sun well!).

MM2: Pretend this is Oscars and you have won top honors. Who would you like to thank?

In kind of reverse order:

--My parents, mainly because they always kept books around and set an example by reading a lot.
--My husband, because he provided the salary that gave me the luxury of writing full time when I started out.
--My agent and editors, who trusted that I could turn out not one but many books that people would want to read.
--But maybe I need to thank a series of employers who “let me go” (and a few who outright fired me), because they inspired me to say “I’ll show you, you jerks” when I started writing. And I think I have.

MM2: As far as your books and deadlines. What can we expect next and when will it be released?

Razing the Dead (Museum Mystery #5), June 2014
Picked to Die (Orchard Mystery #8), October 2014
Something we haven’t named yet (County Cork Mystery #3), February 2015
And maybe a standalone ebook or two

MM2: When you are writing does it have to be completely quiet? Do you write by music or television in the background?

I used to listen to classical music, but not lately. I can’t listen to anything with words because I sing along, which is a little distracting, so I save that for the car. I can read with television on, but not write.

MM2: What would your main characters say is your best ability?

Persistence? Which could also be called stubbornness. In the face of the multiple rejections that any writer faces, I just kept trying. I think that’s a good quality in a protagonist—life throws things at them (like dead bodies), and they keep muddling along.

MM2: Leave us with a writing quote or maybe some words of wisdom by one of your characters?

Wow, that’s a hard one. What I finally decided on is something from One Bad Apple, the first Orchard Mystery and the first book published under my name. It’s from near the end of the book, where the two main characters, Meg and Seth, have identified the murderer. I think it sums up the heart of a cozy mystery: why people set out to solve the crime.

"Meg, I know how hard the past couple of months have been for you, what with losing your job, and the house, even before...Chandler's death.  You put yourself in a difficult position, moving here, with nobody to lean on."
Meg nodded.  "Maybe you're right.  I didn't plan things very well, did I?"
"I've got to say it took guts to stand up in front of a room full of strangers and do what you did."
"Even if I was wrong?"
"You got some pieces right. Look, a lot of people would have said 'it's not my business' and walked away.  But that would have been wrong."
"That's what I thought," Meg answered. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

Pasadena, California; Daisy Gumm Majesty; and Me

SPIRITS REVIVED cover art and Amazon link:

SPIRITS REVIVED, Daisy Gumm Majesty’s seventh adventure, is being published this month, which makes me very happy. As I’m sure I’ve said before, Daisy Gumm Majesty is my all-time favorite character of those who have showed up in my brain. What’s more, she lives in Pasadena, California, where I was born in the Pasadena Women’s Hospital (Mrs. Pinkerton dithers on the hospital’s board of directors). Shortly after I was born there, the place burned down. I had nothing to do with it, being too young for arson at the time. My parents then moved to Maine, where I spent my first four or so years. The only thing I remember about Maine is my mother telling me never to eat yellow snow. But Pasadena and Altadena (where I spent my childhood) have always been special to me. In fact, I’ve used a lot of my own personal . . . what? Not experiences. Places, I guess, and even people, in my Daisy books.

For one thing, I grew up in Mrs. Bissel’s house. Honest. It belonged to my aunt (my mother’s older sister) Maren Fulton, and it still sits today on the corner of Altadena Drive (in Daisy’s day, it was Foothill Boulevard) and Maiden Lane. Wrennie (my aunt) used to own all the property from Maiden Lane to Lake Avenue on the west, and from Foothill Blvd. to Rubio Street on the north. Her children, my cousins, had horses that lived in the meadow to the west of the huge house. I loved that house. I loved my aunt. But it’s the house that still haunts my dreams. I’d always thought people were supposed to haunt houses, but in my case the situation is reversed. An artist and his consultant wife live there now, and they’ve restored the house to pristine condition. Alan Cate, younger brother of my friend Dr. Mary Ray Cate, tunes their piano before the big parties they often host. Go figure. The house was built in 1904 by a fashion designer named, believe it or not, Duncan (not a relation). The breakfast room in that house is where the séance in SPIRITS REVIVED takes place. Wrennie gradually sold all the extraneous property. I remember when Homepark Avenue was built. Shoot, I’m old. My aunt and my favorite cousin, Joan, are buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, where Daisy buried Billy, only I call it Morningside Cemetery in the books.

Also, Daisy and her family live in a house in which I used to live myself. It’s a bungalow in what’s now known as Bungalow Heaven, only my house was on Michigan Avenue and not Marengo. The kitchen in that house is gigantic, and it was a sore trial to fix Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in it, because I’d have to walk for miles in order to prepare anything. The woman who lived there after I moved out had the good sense to stick a table in the middle of the room to make her life easier. Why didn’t I think of that? Oh, well.

When I was a little girl, my mom used to take me shopping at Nash’s Department Store on the corner of Fair Oaks Ave. and Colorado Blvd. At that time, stores were only open until 6:00 p.m. except on Fridays, when they stayed open until 9:00 p.m. It was a big deal to go shopping on Friday nights!

During my sewing days, I bought many, many yards of material at Maxime’s Fabrics on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena. Miyako’s was the very first Japanese Restaurant I’d ever heard of. I ate there several times, although it’s since closed its doors. I call it Miyaki’s in SPIRITS REVIVED. Mijare’s Mexican Restaurant (which opened in 1920) is still there, and still serves fabulous Mexican food. The Crown Chop Suey Parlor was gone when I came along, but it was there on Fair Oaks in Daisy’s day. The Crown Theater was still around when I was a kid. My friend Lauren Fiedler and I used to go to the movies there all the time when we were teenagers.

When my kids were very young (actually, Robin hadn’t come along yet) I worked at the Lamanda Park Branch of the Pasadena Public Library. At that time, the Lamanda Park library was an old, old building. In fact, it used to be the Pasadena Public Library’s Children’s Library and was moved to Lamanda Park in some long-ago year. It’s since been torn down and replaced by a modern building. By the way, the entrance to the old library, where Daisy spent many happy hours, is still there, although the rest of the building is gone, on the corner of Raymond Ave. and Walnut Street. I visited it once before its ultimate demise. It was just an old abandoned place then, but it was still interesting.

The First Methodist-Episcopal Church Daisy and her family attended is no longer extant; however, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Altadena, which is directly across the street from Mrs. Bissel’s house, is. My family used to attend church there when we lived with my aunt.

Then there are the people. Across the street from my aunt lived Dr. Doehring and his family (I called him Dr. Dearing in one of the books). Keiji, who shows up in this present book, was the name of my late son-in-law, who died far, far too young. Riki (the name of my younger grandson) will show up in THANKSGIVING ANGELS (a Mercy Allcutt book in which Daisy appears to, natch, conduct a séance). Marshall Armistead, who is a character in the Daisy book I’m writing right now, was a dear friend of mine in high school. He was a photographer when we were in high school, and he went on to become a photographer for the L.A. Times. Alas Marshall, too, is now deceased. It’s downright depressing when youngish people die, isn’t it?

And, of course, there’s Dr. Benjamin. I took my daughters to Dr. Benjamin when they were little. He didn’t make appointments. You showed up in his office and it was first come, first served. Dr. Benjamin was a great friend of my aunt’s and came to many Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. He smoked like a chimney and was a very kind man. His office still survives, although he’s long gone. It’s there on Beverly Drive and Lake Avenue in Altadena.

Um . . . what else? The Huntington Hospital and the Huntington Hotel (now the Huntington Ritz Carlton) are still around, although I named them the Castleton Hospital and Hotel in my Daisy books. And you can take tea at the Huntington Library (where Miss Emmaline Castleton lived when it was a private residence) if you make reservations in plenty of time. And, of course, there’s the Tournament of Roses Parade (we just called it the Rose Parade) and Brookside Park, where both Daisy and I took our very first dachshunds to obedience classes offered by the Pasanita Dog Obedience Club. I cheated in the books, though. Pasanita began in 1940, and I had Daisy take Spike there in the early twenties.

The red cars were defunct by the time I entered this world, although when I was little a trolley line still ran from the top of Altadena to Los Angeles. I rode it once with my cousins. The trolley tracks lasted for decades after the trolleys stopped running and made driving up and down Lake Avenue quite interesting. Oh, and Honeycutt’s Market, where Daisy bought some peanut butter once, was on Foothill Boulevard a little east of Lake Avenue when I was a kid. A fire station was there beside it, and every Halloween the firemen would give us kids candy and let us climb onto the fire trucks.

Vroman’s Books (which I renamed Grenville’s Books for FINE SPIRITS) is still a great bookstore on Colorado Boulevard. And Hull Automotive is still there on Allan Ave. and Villa St. In the 1920s it was called the Hull Motor Works, and Billy had planned to work there after the war. The peacocking Kaiser and his mustard gas put paid to those happy dreams. By the way, a couple of people have mentioned Daisy’s seemingly irrational hatred of Germans. Daisy’s sentiments, however, prevailed pretty much everywhere after the Great War. Heck, people called sauerkraut liberty cabbage, and they even renamed dachshunds liberty hounds! I have a whole herd of liberty hounds right this very minute. Sigh.

Anyway, I’m extremely happy to be able to write Daisy’s stories set in my own hometown, Pasadena, California. In fact, I’ll be giving away copies of SPIRITS REVIVED in my March contest. So if you’d like to enter, please e-mail me ( your name and home address. And don’t forget that all of Daisy’s past adventures are still available (link below). Thanks!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Guest Blogger - Duffy Brown

A title like Pearls and Poison doesn’t leave much to the imagination on the murder weapon of choice but the question is how to get the job done.

With a gun you pull the trigger and bam it’s over. With a knife it’s slash and dash, but with poison the possibilities are endless. Where do you get it? You just don’t walk into Walgreens and ask which aisle has the cyanide. How much do you need? Which ones work the best? What do you mix it in?

So, like I always do when I have a question, I hit the Google and there it was…plants! With Pearls and Poison set in Savannah there are lots and lots of plants year round. All I had to do was pick one…decisions, decisions.

Everyone knows Poinsettia berries are a big no-no but I bet you didn’t know those lovely spring daffodils you adore can cause big problems. You may not die; you’ll just be so sick you wish you were dead.
I have a whole hedge of oleander in my back yard and one plant could probably wipe out my neighborhood.  Good thing we never used the sticks to roast marshmallows!

Rhododendron, jasmine azaleas and wisteria, foxglove is so beautiful, they are the focal point of spring and toxic to extreme. The victim gets deathly ill then a coma and then he kisses his butt goodbye. ( I used one of these in Pearls and Poison)

Yew is fatal and has no symptoms you just keel right over. Up minute dead the next.

And then there’s Lantana, buttercups, foxglove, periwinkle Vinci rose. These are in every summer garden and pot and totally lethal. How can thing be so lovely and so deadly?

Never feed your dogs onions. Chokecherry is death to horses.

I did a ton of research for Pearls and Poison to get the right poison and figure out how to get the victim…who deserves to die…to drink it.

When doing this research I was invited to a dinner party and asked to bring ice cream instead of the salad. Wonder why?

I had a cleaning lady. All my poisonous plant books along with Deadly Doses, Armed and Dangerous and Intent to Kill were on my desk. She never came back. Life is not easy for a mystery writer.
Have a wonderful summer, enjoy your flowers...just don’t eat them.



Duffy Brown loves anything with a mystery. While others girls dreamed of dating Brad Pitt, Duffy longed to take Sherlock Holmes to the prom. She has two cats, Spooky and Dr. Watson, her license plate is Sherlock and she conjures up who-done-it stories of her very own for Berkley Prime Crime. Duffy’s national bestselling Consignment Shop Mystery series is set in Savannah and the Cyclepath Mysteries are set on Mackinac Island. Duffy writes romance as Dianne Castell and is a USA Today bestselling author.

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