Family, friends, food, and football are a few things we think about when it comes to Thanksgiving.
Today, I wanted to share some fun Thanksgiving trivia with you. Do you know what President Calvin Coolidge received as a Thanksgiving gift one year? It was a racoon in 1926. Vinnie Joyce from Mississippi sent a live racoon to be served as Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksfully President Coolidge took a liking to the furry critter that he made it a pet and named her Rebecca.
Do you know what food the colonists and Native Americans did NOT have at the first Thanksgiving? Turkey.
Thomas Jefferson refused to declare Thanksgiving a holiday.
I also discovered only male turkeys gobble. Female turkeys cackle.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I want to let you know I’m thankful for all of you!
I met Leah Dobrinska at agency Zoom meetings, and we became friends. Leah is the author of the Larkspur Library Mysteries, a cozy mystery series set in the Wisconsin Northwoods, and the Mapleton novels, a series of standalone small town romances. She earned her degree in English Literature from UW-Madison and has since worked as a freelance writer, editor, and content marketer. As a kid, she hoped to grow up to be either Nancy Drew or Elizabeth Bennet. Now, she fulfills that dream by writing mysteries and love stories. Death Checked Out is her debut cozy mystery. A sucker for a good sentence, a happy ending, and the smell of books—both old and new—Leah lives out her very own happily ever after in a small Wisconsin town with her husband and their gaggle of kids. When she’s not writing, handing out snacks, or visiting local parks, Leah enjoys reading and running. Find out more about Leah, join her newsletter community, and connect with her through her website, leahdobrinska.com.
Leah gave me to opportunity to read Death Checked Out, and it’s a hit. I believe you’ll enjoy it too.
Enough from me, I want you to get to know Leah.
It’s cozy mystery season, y’all! I know, I know, technically I could make an argument that every season is cozy mystery season, but I don’t know, there’s something about this time of year that makes me want to curl up in front of the fire with a warm cuppa and get lost within the pages of cozy mystery.
Actually, it was this time of year three years ago that I was struck with a desire to pen my own cozy mystery. I had recently finished writing several romance manuscripts and I was itching to try something new. My family and I had returned from an end-of-the-summer visit to a small, northern Wisconsin town where my husband’s aunt and uncle own a cabin on a lake.
While cruising the lake on a pontoon boat, we came around the corner of this little cove and I spotted a tiny log cabin nestled up and in the trees. I said right out loud, “That’s the perfect setting for a mystery novel.”
When I got home, the idea wouldn’t leave me alone. So I decided to write it.
Truth be told, I didn’t think anyone else would ever read it. This was a creative exercise meant just for me. I grew up on Nancy Drew. The tales of the daring, strawberry blonde teenage girl sleuth are woven into the fabric of my childhood. She made me into the reader I am, so it wasn’t surprising to me that, eventually, I’d write a mystery.
I deemed my draft the little mystery that could because I kept chug, chug, chugging along with it. I had no idea what I was doing, having never written in the genre before. I did plot the entirety of the story using the Save The Cat beats, and then I simply told the story that came to me.
It took me a while, but the bones of my first cozy mysterysolidified. Nine months later, on a whim, I decided to query literary agents. After some heavy revisions, one took me on (thanks, Dawn!), and now in less than a month, the little mystery that could will hit shelves.
I am at once excited and terrified to be jumping from the comfort of the romance genre to this new terrain of the mystery genre. Fortunately, mystery authors and readers alike have welcomed me with open arms. I’ve had authors willingly take my uncorrected proof, read it, and provide me with amazing blurbs. I’ve had readers sharing my cover art and drumming up interest for my book. What a gift this cozy community is!
I can’t wait for the world to read the cozy mystery that could, now officially titled Death Checked Out. It’s releasing on December 6, 2022, and you can preorder it now.
Here’s what you’ll find within these cozy pages:
A trio of friends (my own small nod to Nancy, Bess, and George!)
A library hook
A Northwoods, lakeside town setting
A quirky cast of neighbors and side characters
A cat named Biff
A lot of humor
A disgruntled detective
A touch of romance (…maybe?!)
A fast-paced mystery
I hope you’ll give it a try, along with any of the other amazing mysteries releasing this fall and winter.
Some that are on my TBR list include:
The Plot and the Pendulum by Jenn McKinlay
Too Much To Candle by Sarah E. Burr
A Christmas Candy Killing by Christina Romeril
Film Crews and Rendezvous by Heather Weidner
What are you reading this November and December?
Friends, here are some links to get to know Leah better.
Hi friends, get prepared for your hearts to melt as Heather shares with us today.
We share our house with two crazy Jack Russell Terriers. They are our companions, friends, squirrel-chasers, snack-sharers, and since the pandemic, they’ve been my fuzzy coworkers. They work really hard to alert us to every walker, biker, and delivery driver.
Like Jackie, I love animals. Pets are an integral part of our lives, and it’s natural that they would have key roles in my stories. My stories are full of furry sidekicks. Below are my pups, Riley and Disney (the brains of the operation).
Bijou, the spunky Jack Russell Terrier, in the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries, is based on my JRT Disney. She’s friendly and full of energy, a perfect ambassador for Jules’s glamping resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Disney was thrilled to be the cover model for the latest mystery, too.
Margaret Thatcher Reynolds is a tubby English bulldog who is the sidekick of Delanie’s partner Duncan in the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries. Margaret, the brown and white log with legs, is a four-legged sleuth, and she helped solve the mystery of “what is that sound in the ceiling” in Glitter, Glam, and Contraband. She spends most of her days snacking and snoozing in the private eye’s office.
MARGARET THE WONDER DOG
My new series, launching in January 2023, is the Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mysteries, set in the quaint beach community of Mermaid Bay. Proprietor Jade Hicks shares her house and her business with Chloe, a rollie-pollie white French bulldog. Chloe, like Bijou, is a greeter and ambassador for Jade’s store.
CHLOE THE FRENCHIE
I wrote some novellas for the Mutt Mysteries series. They contain a Jack Russell Terrier who helps solve the crime in “Diggin’ up Dirt” in To Fetch a Thief, and Margaret the Wonder Dog gets a starring role in “Strut Your Mutt” in To Fetch a Killer.
“The Fast and the Furriest” and “Wags to Riches” feature Oliver the Rottweiler. He’s the Director of Security at the Amelia Racetrack, and he helps owner, Cassidy Green, solve several crimes in To Fetch a Scoundrel and To Fetch a Villain.
OLIVER, DIRECTOR OF SECURITY
Our pets are our family, best friends, and loyal companions. They hold a cherished place in our homes and hearts. And I always make sure that my novels feature a sleuth and faithful companion with four paws and a wet nose.
Hollywood has come to Fern Valley, and the one stoplight town may never be the same. Everyone wants to get in on the act.
The crew from the wildly popular, fan favorite, Fatal Impressions, takes over Jules Keene’s glamping resort, and they bring a lot of offscreen drama and baggage that doesn’t include the scads of costumes, props, and crowds that descend on the bucolic resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Added security, hundreds of calls from hopeful extras, and some demanding divas keep Jules’s team hopping.
When the show’s prickly head writer ends up dead under the L. Frank Baum tiny house in what looks like a staged murder scene with a kitschy homage to the Wizard of Oz, Jules has to figure out who would want the writer dead. Then while they are still reeling from the first murder, the popular publicist gets lost after a long night at the local honky-tonk and winds up strangled. Jules needs to solve both crimes before filming is canceled, and her business is ruined.
Heather, congratulations on Film Crews and Rendezvous: A Jules Keene Glamping Mystery! Thanks for spending time with us today. It’s been fun!
Kim and I have not met in person, yet. But I still consider her a friend, and I’m excited to have her with us today.
Cake Popped Off by Kim Davis
Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Jackie! I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my Halloween-themed book, Cake Popped Off, which is now on sale, with your followers! While I’m not a fan of ghoulish and horror-filled Halloween activities and movies, I do enjoy the cutesier aspect of the holiday. From creative costumes (especially those worn by little kids) to the candies (fun-sized Snickers are my fav) to Halloween-themed food (mummy dogs, anyone?), I’m pulled in and ready to trick-or-treat.
Each of the books I write in the Cupcake Catering Mystery series has several recipes included to fit the theme of the book. In Cake Popped Off, I’ve included recipes that are perfect for Halloween parties or pre-trick-or-treating gatherings. I had a blast researching ideas online and creating dishes to fit the Halloween theme. Included in Cake Popped Off are recipes for Bloodshot Deviled Egg Eyes, Double Dip Jack-O’-Lantern, Graveyard Taco Dip, Chicken Cordon-Boo Casserole, Yummy Mummy Calzones, Poison Apple Cupcakes, Smashed Pumpkin Cupcakes, and more. And, of course, with a title like Cake Popped Off (courtesy of my fellow blogger Lisa Ks Book Reviews) I knew I had to include a recipe for “spirited” adults only cake pops—Poison Apple Cake Pops to be exact—which might have been used as a murder weapon.
When it came time for my cover designer to go to work on the cover, we found we couldn’t find cake pops on stock photo sites that would readily work. So, I remade the cake pops from my book recipe, photographed them, and my cover designer used those instead. But what I thought really made the cover cute, is my grand-puppy, Piper, with her witch’s hat. Piper also shares a role in the story with my protagonist, Emory, as she tries to find out who killed the Bavarian barmaid.
Happy Halloween, everyone! And as a special treat, Cake Popped Off is on sale through October 31st.
What it’s about:
Cupcake caterer Emory Martinez is hosting a Halloween bash alongside her octogenarian employer, Tillie. With guests dressed in elaborate costumes, the band is rocking, the cocktails are flowing, and tempers are flaring when the hired Bavarian Barmaid tries to hook a rich, hapless husband. Except one of her targets happens to be Emory’s brother-in-law, which bodes ill for his pregnant wife. When Emory tracks down the distraught barmaid, instead of finding the young woman in tears, she finds her dead. Can she explain to the new detective on the scene why the Bavarian Barmaid was murdered in Emory’s bathtub with Emory’s Poison Apple Cake Pops stuffed into her mouth?
With an angry pregnant sister to contend with, she promises to clear her brother-in-law’s name. As Emory starts asking questions and tracking down the identity of the costumed guests, she finds reasons to suspect her brother-in-law has been hiding a guilty secret. Her search leads her to a web of blackmail and betrayal amongst the posh setting of the local country club crowd. Can Emory sift through the lies she’s being told and find the killer? She’ll need to step up her investigation before another victim is sent to the great pumpkin patch in the sky.
This is the time of year when I’m more excited about Christmas than a kid on Christmas Eve. I’m eyeing up the boxes with the decorations in them and making holiday baking lists. I’ll have the house decorated by November first. This is not something I get from my parents. Growing up we didn’t decorate until after the first week of December. In those couple weeks before Christmas my mother did a bit of holiday baking and bought festive chocolates and candies. Every Sunday in December we would light the candles on the advent wreath as well.
My parents are both from Germany and so we had lots of German traditions in our holiday celebrations, one of my favorites was the advent calendar. We always had one hanging in the kitchen with chocolates in it and another that just had pictures behind each window. My brother and I had to alternate which calendar window we got to open each day, so we only got a chocolate every other day. Oh, the hardships.
I have four children so we had more than one advent calendar in the house, though I do recall them having to share a bit too. These days I have multiple advent calendars. There is a giant fabric one from Pottery Barn Kids hanging on the front door. I fill each pocket with something for either my husband or I, or something we can do for or give to others. There is a wooden one in the kitchen with little drawers that I fill with special chocolates. In the hall we have a quilted one I made years ago. On the kitchen counter there is also one where you move the old fashioned truck each day. And finally, in my office I have a paper one just like when I was little with the pictures behind each window. That one brings back so many nostalgic memories.
My love of Christmas is what sparked my decision to set my debut cozy mystery, A Christmas Candy Killing, during the holidays. Identical twin sisters, Alex and Hanna, also sport a German heritage. Quite the coincidence, eh? They also have a love of decorating and there are lots of descriptions in the book to get you into the holiday mood. There’s enough talk about chocolate in the book to keep you drooling to the end. You will want to stock up on your favorite chocolate treats before you sit down to read. I’d love to know what Christmas traditions you celebrate at Christmas. Catch up with me on one of my socials. Until then Merry Murder.
Thanks so much for sharing your Christmas traditions.
I’m excited for this debut cozy mystery. Christina Romeril and I became friends through agency Zoom meetings. A Christmas Candy Killing releases today, and I couldn’t be happier for Chris. Next week, she will share more with us. Be sure to come back.
Here’s the blurb:
Identical twin sisters Alex and Hannah are the owners of Murder and Mayhem, a mystery bookshop that sells their famous poison-themed Killer Chocolates. But now, there’s a real killer in their midst. Shortly before Christmas, their septuagenarian neighbor, Jane, confides to Alex that a murderer from a true-crime show has taken up residence in the village. Unfortunately, she’s also shared her suspicions with town gossip Netta. The next morning, Alex shows up at Jane’s house to watch the show, but instead discovers Jane’s body, with a box of Killer Chocolates nearby.
The sheriff quickly zeroes in on two suspects: Alex, a beneficiary in Jane’s will, and Zack, a handyman who was seen leaving the crime scene. But Alex maintains her innocence and sets out to draft a list of other potential suspects—townsfolk who’d recently been seen arguing with Jane.
When Alex gets hold of Jane’s journal, she begins to understand the truth. But a bearer of ill tidings is arriving early this year—and Alex just might not make it to Christmas.
With a hurricane barreling toward the United States, I decided to keep this post short and simple. Before living on the coast, I didn’t put much thought into how other states are affected. We live two states away from Florida, and we’ve been advised to prepared for flooding and tornadoes. If you viewed tonight’s sunset, you wouldn’t know potential danger is on the way.
Now a public safety message.
Even though we deal with tropical storms and hurricanes, I still believe there’s never a bad season to be at the beach.
A couple weeks ago, we went to Charleston to see Beyond Van Gogh and Michael Buble! And we enjoyed a stroll through Charleston, because we always enjoy walking around Charleston!
If you have the opportunity to go, it’s a lot of fun. For about forty-five minutes, you stand in a large room, and Van Gogh’s painting appear and disappear all around you. You’re surrounded by his art. I don’t know who came up with the idea, but it’s incredible.
Last week I went to Tybee Island, Georgia to research for a new cozy mystery series. We toured Tybee Island Lighthouse.
There’s a lot to share about the lighthouse, but today I want to focus on an item I discovered in the light keeper’s house.
I asked the guide about this box. He told me the federal government sent inspectors to the different light stations periodically. Many light keepers were alone at first and grew bored and turned to drinking too much. The government decided to encourage men with families to apply for the jobs.
Another way to avoid boredom was to deliver boxes of books. You can see this box is numbered. The inspector would deliver boxes of books from station to station. When the books had been read by all of the light keepers, they’d replace the books.
Have you ever visited a lighthouse? If you were a light keeper, what kind of books would you want to find in you box?