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Between the Chapters Extras

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Creativity

Start Your Engines, er, Memorabilia by J.C. Kenney

Hi, folks! I hope you’re having a great day. I’m so happy to be here with you all today, at Hobby Reads, chatting about things that make us happy.

As a writer of murder mysteries, I spend an awful lot of time at my keyboard examining the dark side of humanity. If that sounds a touch creepy, you don’t want to look at my browser history. It’s all book research. Promise! So, today, instead of chatting about investigating bad guys, I want to share with you one of the things I like to do in my free time.

I’m a big fan of IndyCar racing. Growing up in Indianapolis, my love affair with motorsports began at an early age when my dad would take my brothers and me to the Motor Speedway to watch qualifications for the Indy 500. I attended my first race at age eleven and have never lost the thrill of watching cars racing mere inches from each other at over two hundred miles per hour.

That long-standing love affair with Indy-style racing has led to one of my favorite pastimes, collecting racing memorabilia. A lot of that is because the drivers in IndyCar are really accessible to the fans. Here’s one of my favorite pieces.

This is a mini-helmet signed by Pippa Mann. In addition to being a great driver, Pippa spends a great deal of time and energy supporting breast cancer awareness initiatives. In fact, she wears a pink helmet as a sign of her commitment to the fight against breast cancer. Pippa signed this beauty for me at an event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Another great thing about collecting IndyCar memorabilia is the way the drivers go to such lengths to sign things for fans at the race track, like these hero cards I got at the 2017 race in St. Louis.

It was pretty cool to score a hero card signed by Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won the Indy 500 in 2014. Then Josef Newgarden, who won the race that night and went on to claim the 2017 IndyCar season championship, signed one for me. I even gota card autographed by the one and only James Hinchcliffe, who is a multiple race winner, and came in second on Dancing with the Stars a few years ago. Yeah, was a great day.

I’ve added a lot of other fun things to my collection over the years. The final one I’ll share with you today is this photo print.

Taken by photographer Kate Shoup, it features car owner Dale Coyne hugging driver Sebastian Bourdais after Seb won the 2017 St. Petersburg race. Both men were kind enough to sign the print, which I won in a silent auction put on by Pippa Mann to raise funds for her breast cancer fighting efforts.

To me, IndyCar is one of the coolest things around. Being able to hold onto some of it by collecting memorabilia is really special. And a lot of fun.

So how about you? What do you like to do for fun? Are you a collector, like me, or are you into something else? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you. And until next time, wishing you blue skies and warm breezes!

 

 

The first book in a new series featuring Allie Cobb brings the New York literary agent back to her Hoosier home town where a mysterious death keeps everyone on spoiler alert. . .

Allie Cobb left home for the literary circles of Manhattan to make her name out from under the shadow of her legendary father. Now his death brings her and her rescue cat Ursula back to the southern Indiana town of Rushing Creek, population: 3,216. But a tragic new chapter hits the presses when the body of her father’s hard-drinking, #1 bestselling client is found under the historic town bridge. The local police suspect foul play and their prime candidate for murder is the author’s daughter—Allie’s longtime friend.

Determined to clear her bestie, Allie goes into fact-checking amateur detective mode while trying to ignore the usual rumormongers. Those with means, motive, and opportunity include the vic’s ex-wife, his rejected girlfriend, the mayor, and a rival agent trying to mooch clients. With a rugged genealogist distracting her and the imminent Fall Festival about to send tourists descending on their once-peaceful hamlet, Allie needs to stay alive long enough to get a read on a killer ready to close the book on a new victim: Allie . . .

Messages For Your Bookish Valentine by Michelle Frances

Messages For Your Bookish Valentine

Valentine’s Day is one of those specials days of the year where you can express your love openly, and loudly, for the world to see. If you’re like me, you might have an obsession with those little Valentine’s cards and their adorable messages. Even if you don’t, I hope you take a minute to share a sweet note for the people you love, and don’t forget—friendships deserve love notes too!

So here are a few quick and fun messages you can send to your bookish Valentine this year:

  • Dear Valentine, like a good book, I just can’t take my eyes off you.
  • Dear Valentine, you have the longevity of a classic and the intoxication of a thriller.
  • Valentine, like a good book I don’t want this to end.
  • Valentine, you’re more than a good front cover.

And, of course, I couldn’t resist turning an old classic on its head:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
A good book is a gem
And so are you. Continue reading “Messages For Your Bookish Valentine by Michelle Frances”

Your Furry Valentine by V.M. Burns

Valentine’s Day is a time for lovers. Heart shaped boxes of candy, flowers and greeting cards abound during this time set aside to celebrate the ones we love, but let’s not forget to show love to our four-legged companions too. Our pets provide love, comfort and amusement all year and deserve a little love too. Dogs don’t appreciate flowers or greeting cards (at least mine don’t) and chocolate is poisonous to canines. However, the THREE T’s, will win your pet’s heart every time.

TREATS – Everyone loves getting a treat on special occasions. In THE PUPPY WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, Lily Echosby and her canine companion, Aggie, start obedience training. Lily is instructed to bring treats that her dog will “sell her soul to get.” It may seem surprising, but not all treats are created equal. Carrots aren’t even in the same league as cookies in my book. For Valentine’s Day, kick things up a notch and swing by your local pet store and go for the good stuff. Or, better still, make your own. Baking dog biscuits can be surprisingly easy and your dogs will love them. Let’s face it, most dogs aren’t known for being particular and will eat just about anything. So, even if you’re not the world’s greatest chef, chances are good your dog will still eat whatever you bake.

TOYS – Like humans, most dogs enjoy toys. Whether it’s a new tennis ball for a retriever, or a new stuffed animal which has yet to be gutted and the squeaker removed. New toys can be a source of entertainment for your pet for anywhere from fifteen minutes to weeks, depending on the breed and the toughness of the toy. Similar to children who play with boxes rather than the toys that came in the box, dogs can be easily entertained without spending a ton of money. My poodle, Coco (Snickers in the Mystery Bookshop Mystery Series) enjoyed playing fetch for HOURS when she was a puppy. Continue reading “Your Furry Valentine by V.M. Burns”

Knitting a Mystery by Sally Goldenbaum

Have you ever wondered why so many cozy mysteries revolve around food or knitting or gardening or bookstores? Why isn’t a plain old murder enough? Who needs herbs or bamboo needles or a trowel when you have a dead body?

I explored the question with the four protagonists in the seaside knitters society mysteries, Izzy, Cass, Birdie and Nell, and I wondered how they’d be different if they didn’t knit, if they were simply “the seaside women.”

Here’s what I think:

I think the knitting provides a centering for their friendship, and has been instrumental in how it has grown. Izzy’s yarn shop is a place to bring Nell, Cass, and Birdie together regularly. It gives them a ready-made place to interact, to gossip, to develop their friendship in new ways. In How to Knit a Murder, the knitting room even provides a place to welcome a newcomer to town. To knit her into their lives. And to help her when she is accused of a horrible murder.

Knitting also provides a metaphor for the way Nell, Birdie, Cass, and Izzy think. As they knit a pattern, they carefully and methodically knit together the pieces of a puzzle—a body in a mansion, a new woman in town, scandals reborn in an online newsletter, high school secrets, once buried, brought to life: all pieces knit together to solve a murder.

And lastly, yarn is simply so tangible and visceral and sensual that it provides a feeling that can soften the harshness of murder and at the same time heighten and stimulate the senses. It injects a sensuousness into the mystery, just like writing about food does. Sinking ones fingers into a basketful of Izzy’s buttercup yellow cashmere yarn, for example, or savoring Nell’s garlic grilled shrimp salad with fresh flakes of basil sprinkled on top—and clinking together four glasses of Birdie’s chilled pinot gris—are sure ways to stimulate and sharpen the senses and help the knitters of Sea Harbor explore the intricacies of murder. Continue reading “Knitting a Mystery by Sally Goldenbaum”

Rules for knitting by Sally Goldenbaum

People often ask me about knitting, assuming, I think, that I know a lot about it because my mysteries revolve around a group of women whose deep friendship was knit together over. . .well, over knitting.

But the truth is, I don’t know much about knitting. Accept that I can barely sit down to watch television or go on a long car trip or meeting without my stash beside me—unfinished mittens and baby hats and sweater sleeves just waiting for a cuff.

I’m a passionate knitter, rather than the expert kind. And that’s why I have my own rules for knitting, really simple ones that somehow will take care of any other rules you need. And there’re only two.

  1. Find a cozy yarn shop

One just like Izzy’s (in the Seaside Knitters Society mysteries) in which friendly wonderful people work, and will sit with you patiently while you rip out rows and knit them back again and again or explain nicely that casting on isn’t the same as fly fishing. A person who will help you line up a sleeve with a sweater, and one who can make you smile when your cat uses an almost-finished sock as a miniature soccer ball.

  1. Find a knitting group

Online? A church? Or a group that meets every Tuesday morning in a yarn shop over coffee and shared patterns and caring bodies gathered around a table.  Or start one yourself. There are knitting groups everywhere and they make the art and craft of knitting a wondrous, sometimes therapeutic, and always fun adventure.

I discovered one on Cape Ann recently, a group of women sitting in comfortable chairs near a window. I watched from a distance while they laughed and chatted and passed around yarn to feel and patterns to look at. The saleswoman said that they’d been meeting for years—women of different ages — mostly strangers in the beginning. But as the months and years flew (and finished sweaters and hats and prayer shawls and chemo hats flew off their needles), the bonds grew. Now if a member doesn’t show up for a week or two, someone calls and checks on her, and when a birthday is revealed, it’s celebrated over needles and yarn and chocolate cake. And when someone is sick, chicken soup magically appears at that knitter’s door.

Community of the best sort. And all around needles and yarn, knitting and purling. And good caring people.

A mysterious woman arrives in picturesque Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, and the Seaside Knitters welcome her into their cozy world of intricate patterns and colorful skeins. Unfortunately, nothing frays a warm introduction like cold-blooded murder . . .

With her shy manner and baggy jeans, Rose Chopra becomes an unlikely superhero the night she stumbles into Izzy Perry’s shop and inadvertently saves a shipment of yarn from water damage. When the Seaside Knitters help the enigmatic handywoman settle into town and find work at a popular real estate company, Rose proves she can fix just about anything—until a potential homebuyer is killed and she becomes entangled in murder . . .

The moment controversial entrepreneur Spencer Paxton is found dead in a pricey ocean-side house, accusations fly at the last person on the property—Rose. But the Seaside Knitters have their doubts. After all, Spencer’s political aspirations as well as his company’s plans to pave over Sea Harbor’s historic art district with luxury apartments earned him some very real enemies . . .

Now, Izzy, Birdie, Nell, and Cass must swap knitting for sleuthing as they struggle to move the needle on a twisted homicide case causing turmoil across town. As tensions build in the sleepy New England community and Rose’s secret past unravels, the ladies face an unsettling realization—true victims aren’t always the ones buried six feet under . . .

Includes a knitting pattern

Knitting, Writing, and Making Friends by Sally Goldenbaum

One of the great unexpected perks of writing cozy mysteries is that of forming new friendship. It happens in lots of different ways. Some I get to meet in person at events, and that’s truly wonderful.

And some come from my search for the one perfect pattern to include in the book I’m working on at that moment. In addition to finding patterns, I have found lovely people behind those designs.

Examples (just a few):  While writing a holiday themed mystery, I was on the lookout for an ornament pattern that the seaside knitters could work on. I quickly fell in love with Linda Dawkins’ fanciful knit animals and toys on line. (Linda lives on a farm in South Africa with her family and lots of animals. Check her out on Ravelry) Being the generous soul she is, she sent me her a pattern for a sailboat ornament for the seaside knitters to hang on their tree.

For another book, a PhD student who designed knitting patterns as a break from studying, allowed me to use her ‘shipwrecked shawl’—renamed in the book and presented as a gift for Izzy on her wedding day.  And in yet another book, a talented yarn shop manager in Kansas City agreed to design a wedding shawl afghan the knitters could work on for a wedding anniversary in the book.

And when I was looking for a ‘girl-sized’ pattern so Birdie could knit a sweater for her granddaughter, Cheryl Erlandson, owner of In the Loop yarn shop in Plainville, MA, designed the perfect one for Gabby. Continue reading “Knitting, Writing, and Making Friends by Sally Goldenbaum”

Tricks and tips for making it through the holidays by Stacy Finz

We all know the holidays can be one of the most stressful times of the year. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of pressure to eat, drink and be merry. Like many writers, I’m an introvert so I find the merry part particularly taxing. And being a diabetic I have to watch the eating and drinking.

Over the years, I’ve come up with a few coping strategies to get me through and thought I’d share them with you.

  • Be kind to yourself. Okay, when people say things like that I want to punch them in the mouth so let me expand on exactly what I mean. Buy yourself something expensive. A cashmere sweater, a full-body massage or if you’re broke settle for a foot massage. But treat yourself to something you ordinarily wouldn’t do and make it all about you. Because if you’re anything like me you’re going to spend most of the holidays trying to make everyone else happy.
  • Stockpile books you really want to read and read them. Despite all the revelry, the holidays can be a lonely time for many. But you’re never alone with a good book.
  • Embrace the mocktail. They’re delicious and a great prop at parties when you want to fit in but don’t want to over drink or drink, period. Simply tell the bartender or host I’ll have a Margarita, hold the Tequila.
  • Don’t deprive yourself of the good stuff but think sampler plate. A little bit of everything but just enough for a taste. After years of working as a food writer I’ve learned that things actually taste better that way.
  • Make time to do something special with your closest friends. Whether it’s a fancy tea or pizza at someone’s house these are your besties who have your back and the people who let you grouse about your in-laws. Lean on them and let them lean on you.
  • Start your shopping early and look for deals. Every time I’ve waited until the last minute, desperation sinks in and I wind up spending way more money than I intended.
  • Budget and stick to it! Or else you’ll wind up like me and still be paying for Christmas 2005.
  • Put your computer and the internet to work. Traffic, scarce parking and crowded malls make me extremely Grinchy and suck the joy right out of the holidays. So grab yourself a hot drink, put on your flannel PJs and let your fingers doing the shopping. This might be a good time to plop down a little cash on Amazon Prime, just saying.
  • Someone, somewhere, can use a friend right now and who knows maybe you’ll make one in return.
  • Book a solo trip to Puerto Vallarta and say, feliz navidad, but I’m out of here until the new year. If you try that tell me how it works out. I’d be interested to know . . . uh, for a friend.

Continue reading “Tricks and tips for making it through the holidays by Stacy Finz”

Leanna’s Suggestions for Dressing like your favorite Books and Book covers by Leanna Renee Hieber

If you know me, you know I’m always dressed in some sort of vaguely antiquated regalia. It’s not a costume, it’s my life. My closet is a time-slip between 1980’s Goth and 1880s Gothic. If you don’t know me, now you know a very important thing about me that you can spot easily in a crowd. Yes, I’m the girl who looks like she’s ready for an intense Victorian funeral 24/7. Hello! (Don’t worry, don’t let any somber finery fool you, I’m friendly.) Does this relate to books and book covers? Of course! My favorite line to say at any event is: “If you like my clothes, you’ll like my books, I dress like I write.” My books are very “me” and there isn’t any pretense there. So, my style advice? Celebrate the authentic you as paired with your favorite things. Make anything you present be something from the heart. Merge your favorite art and your style as entwined.

In dressing like your favorite books, characters and book covers, think not only about the style of the cover but the spirit of the book itself and honoring the characters within. Not all my characters dress in the classic Gothic black, but many do, as does the heroine of The Spectral City, out of respect for her ghost colleagues, and she learned that trick from a few of my other characters who are Gothic performers. What I present in a visual, fashion representation is still all related to my world-building. I’m very familiar with the cosplay world and I relish the chance to live in other worlds by dressing in their honor.   Continue reading “Leanna’s Suggestions for Dressing like your favorite Books and Book covers by Leanna Renee Hieber”

Gifts to Rock a Reader’s World By Ellery Adams, The Whispered Word: A Secret, Book, and Scone Society Mystery

Gift giving isn’t easy. In fact, some would say it’s a fine art. We all want the special people in our lives open our gifts and smile with genuine delight.  Not a forced smile, but the big, brilliant smile of someone who loves what they’ve been given.

It can be a challenge to buy a booklover the perfect gift. After all, we can’t always know what our favorite reader has on their TBR pile or what they’re planning to binge read next. If they have a public Amazon wish list, you might discover a few titles to buy. If not, think about their all-time favorite books and find them a beautiful version of that book. They’ll proudly display this prize front and center on the bookshelf.

 

 

You can surprise the reader in your life by buying a first edition, a signed copy, or a special illustrated volume of one of their most beloved books. For example, what Ian Fleming fan wouldn’t kill for a Classic Library version of Thunderball?  How about an amazingly artistic Pride and Prejudice with a gilt peacock on the cover for your Austen aficionado? Does your bookworm love classic children’s stories? How about presenting them with The Chronicles of Narnia as a pop-up book? These and thousands of other titles can be found on my favorite online shop for purchasing rare and unusual books: http://www.abebooks.com

 

 

Books aren’t the only things to buy a reader. After all, a cozy reading environment is a plus.  To help create this environment, you could wrap up a super soft blanket or book-themed candles like Bookstore, Reading at the Cafe, or Rainy Day Reads as sold by the Etsy shop, Frostbeard. You could also add a pair of book print socks or a box of Novel Teas (each teabag features a literary quote). Remember, winter’s coming. Continue reading “Gifts to Rock a Reader’s World By Ellery Adams, The Whispered Word: A Secret, Book, and Scone Society Mystery”

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