I typically plan trips a few months in advance, but the recent trip to Alaska was more like a ten-month process. It was a short cruise and never having done one before, I had no idea there was so much paperwork. I get it, but it was a far cry from usual vacations where you book air and hotel on your own and that’s it.
It was a National Geographic tour of 6 days leaving from Juneau and it was my first trip to that state. My surprise was that Juneau was a small and hilly city, so from my hotel I could see the giant cruise ships looming in the harbor. A few blocks up the hill and there was the State Capitol and my friend Ruth and I took an informative hour-long tour.
Late in the afternoon, we were shuttled to the boat, met the other guests and crew and settled in with the boat cruising south. The next day, we boarded Zodiaks (Jacques Cousteau’s favorite sea transport) and observed an iceberg calving in the rain. Subsequent days featured a hike in the temperate rainforest (yes, it really rains a lot), a shore trip to Wrangell where we had a Tlingit welcome ceremony and got to view petroglyphs on the beach.
Next was a Zodiak excursion into the misty fjords with—you guessed it—more rain but spectacular waterfalls coursing down the rock formations. The last day of the trip took us into Ketchikan and a visit to a park where totem poles are made with many on display. Our guide told us that where human figures were represented with red nose and cheeks it meant that there was some factor of shame associated. So, the totem of Seward, the Secretary of State who negotiated the sale of Alaska from Russia, expressed the locals’ displeasure that they had provided many potlatches (feasts) when he visited and he never reciprocated. Great trip and I even got some writing done—longhand since I didn’t have internet. That’s a totally different thought process.
A replica of a petroglyph that is down at the
beach being eroded by waves and time.
Totem of William Seward, negotiator
of Alaska purchase, recipient of many
honors but shamed for lack of reciprocity.
Raven clan totem.
As a recovering anthropologist, it was a treat to visit
Saxman Totem Park in Ketchikan, our last stop.
HAPPY READING, ANDREA
|A BRAND NEW SERIES!It’s live today!|
1930s Boston, a socialite sleuth, bootleggers, speakeasies, wily politicians and a handsome detective.
MURDER ON BOSTON COMMON: A Plot Twist Cozy Mystery
GET IT HERE
And it’s not too late to catch up with my previous Berkshires Cozy Mystery series that starts with MURDER AT HIGHFIELDS.It’s here along with other great books.Click on the photo and just keep scrolling.
GET IT HERE
Funny, quirky, just a little scary. See Karen McSpade’s paranormal cozy mystery.
GET IT TODAY
Don’t forget to buy
MURDER ON BOSTON COMMON,
the start of a fast-paced historical cozy mystery series.
E-book, paperback and Kindle Unlimited
GET IT TODAY
|2022 was busy for me writing six books in the Berkshires Cozy Mystery Series for a total of nine volumes. I hope you enjoyed Aggie Burnside on her adventures in West Adams, Vermont, Boston and New York. She’ll be taking a bit of rest, but it’s not the last we’ll hear of our intrepid young nurse and her doctor husband. |
In January I’ll launch a new series featuring Amanda Burnside, Aggie’s cousin, who we met in two of the Berkshires books. Amanda is a young socialite in 1930s Boston trying to find herself and coming face to face with a murder. Of course.
A persistent suitor, an intriguing detective, a wayward sister, bootleggers and speak-easies round out her world in MURDER ON BOSTON COMMON. She’ll spend the remainder of 2023 finding adventures and solving murders in the many neighborhoods of Beantown.
As a self-confessed list maker, I’m winding down the year by scheduling out her life and mine for the next twelve months. Hang on for the ride!
Meet my good friend
I’ve read this fantastic, fast-paced, first in the Treasures of the Ark thriller series. It takes you around the world in a complex plot if you can catch your breath.
GET IT HERE
On a lighter note, here’s a holiday cozy that you’ll be sure to enjoy. The holidays aren’t over until they’re over.
GET IT HERE
If you think the holidays are all about family, love and good cheer, you haven’t read any seasonal cozy mysteries!
Don’t forget to buy CHRISTMAS MURDER OF A MISER
And here’s COUNTRY HOUSE CHRISTMAS MURDER
There are more books in the Berkshires Cozy Mystery Series
SEE THEM ALL HERE
November 30 Newsletter
When I was growing up and many mothers were of the stay-at-home kind, December was the time to bake a variety of cookies. And luckily, we got to help.
The festive cookie cutters were hauled out from the recesses of a kitchen cabinet to make the shapes of bells, santas and ornaments. Icing was applied after baking which was colorful but not terribly tasty.
My mother also had a metal cookie press where a die could be changed out to make three dimensional shapes of wreaths and Christmas trees to be decorated with dragees, those little round decorative balls.
Other treats were fried strips sprinkled with powdered sugar and pecan shortbread but my favorite were acorn cookies because the preparation involved—chocolate! And you can guess who had that smeared on her face and fingers by the time they were finished.
Here’s the simple recipe for ACORN COOKIES
1 cup melted butter
¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ¾ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
Mix butter, sugar and vanilla. Add flour and baking powder. Shape the dough into a tablespoon and flatten the top surface. Slide out onto a cookie tray, flat side down. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. When cool, dip the rounded end of each cookie in chocolate and then sprinkle with chopped nuts. Lick fingers.
Sadly, the days of massive baking seem to have waned, although my niece, Michelle, does her part to keep the tradition going and sends me some each year. Years ago, when more women got into the work force, someone brilliantly invented the cookie exchange party, so you only had to create one type of treat. You brought a large tin and took a sample of everyone else’s thereby having an assortment. The last exchange I attended lost its sparkle when—the horror—someone appeared with store bought cookies.
Here’s to a sweet holiday, however you celebrate.
And Happy Reading,
It is hard after getting through a difficult loss to feel gratitude. But I think I’m there.
When I was in the going to the office work world, I made it a habit to sincerely thank at least one of my employees every day. I hope it made them feel better and it made me realize the valuable work they and we were doing helping people find housing.
Now, in the world of independent publishing, I want to thank you readers for diving into the fictional world that I have created. When I am in the midst of writing, I am in that world entirely, and I am grateful for that release.
I am also grateful for the fellow indie authors I have met in the past two years as I continue to learn how to publish and market books. What a learning curve it has been! They have been so helpful and supportive, and I still have much to learn.
And just to be random, here’s a photo of wild turkeys two Thanksgivings ago. No, we didn’t eat them, just let them browse and fly up into the sycamores in the evening to nest.
It’s a busy week for me spending time in North Carolina with a cousin only recently discovered in 2016 after years of searching on both sides. But that’s a fascinating story for another, much longer post.
Fall seems to rank high as a favorite season but for me, growing up in New York, it meant that things were soon going to be cold and dreary for months to come. Luckily, I live in the desert Southwest and get to enjoy the sun almost every day. Even we have some deciduous trees that lose their leaves but check out that sky!
I wrote two cozy mystery books that take place in December in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. It was interesting to recall the sensation of being bundled up in woolens, as people in the 1930s through to the 1960s were, turning a corner and getting a blast of cold air in the face. Much more fun to write about than having experienced.
So, bundle up somewhere with a hot beverage of your choice and enjoy some cozies. Mine and those of my author friends.
Yes, you read that correctly. If you’re using a fireplace, make sure the damper is open, so the smoke goes up the flue. Duh, right?
One of the hazards of creating fiction is that even when you are not sitting down and writing, the characters may still be chattering in your head impatiently waiting for you to get back to work.
But daily life—mine, not theirs—must go on, and I need to take breaks to do routine chores. One of the least usual is lighting a fire although I had the kindling all set up the other night. Then I became distracted by one of my fictitious friends and couldn’t remember if I had opened or closed the damper. Of course, it’s open, I told myself.
A few minutes later the haze in the room told me otherwise. Then the screeching of the smoke alarm confirmed it. The dog’s howling and the security company’s urgent call were unnecessary reminders that I had not been paying attention.
All is well now. The house smells as if some neighbor is burning leaves even if we don’t intentionally do that in Arizona. I’m reminded to do a better job of being present. And telling my characters to give me a break from time to time.
Be well, happy reading. And don’t forget to get your flu shot!
I can’t believe I totally flaked out and forgot that September 15 was National Cozy Mystery Day!
How did that happen?
Silly me, I was recovering from my launch of MURDER AND A MEDIUM on Wednesday and busy writing the next book, CHRISTMAS MURDER OF A MISER coming out in November.
In case you missed it, cozies are fun, traditional whodunnits that exercise your brain to solve the puzzle without scaring the daylights out of you. A fast-paced frolic.
Aggie Burnside, intrepid nurse ,working in a small town in the Berkshires, Massachusetts in the 1930s, is somehow always in the middle of a murder case. Sometimes she is put in danger and often she beats the Inspector to the solution.
Here is the link to MURDER AND A MEDIUM
MURDER AND A MEDIUM was a fun book to write for two reasons.
First, the model of feuding faculty: I spent more years than I care to remember in academia. While my subject matter was fascinating and I loved doing research, the personal interactions were not very positive. And if you think the shenanigans among faculty members is exaggerated in my story, I’ve only scratched the surface.
Second, the manipulative medium: I grew up on Long Island, New York. Although I think reality shows are a waste of time, I had to watch the Long Island Medium which is exactly that, a show. You’ve got to admire the skill of her technique in leading people on during the question and answer phase of their interaction. And no, we don’t all ‘tawk like huh.’
So, mix them up, add a bit of murder and here’s MURDER AND A MEDIUM.
The end of August and the looming Labor Day weekend spell the end of summer for most of us.
Growing up on the East coast, it was the end of summer camp, the last full burst of garden vegetables, the beginning of school supply shopping and the start of cooler evenings.
Here in Arizona, we’re coming to the end of the summer rainy season with uncharacteristic humidity. At least the plants love it. It’s hard to imagine that once every yard in our neighborhood was once wall to wall grass year-round. Over the years, everyone has moved to xeriscape, low water use plants such as you find in the desert. It’s not all cactus.
Enjoy the end of summer and let’s celebrate all those people—our ancestors, our living neighbors and ourselves—who believe in the value of hard work to celebrate a holiday of joy and beauty.