ACORN COOKIES

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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, 

Andrea

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Gratitude November 16 Newsletter

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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. 

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COZY UP, EVERYONE   November 9 newsletter     

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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. 

Happy reading,

Andrea

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It’s Flue Season  November 2, 2022 newsletter 

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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!

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NATIONAL COZY MYSTERY DAY +1

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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

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WHERE DID THIS PLOT COME FROM?

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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. 

IT’S HERE!

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END OF SUMMER?

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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.

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SUMMER’S STILL HERE

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To be honest, summer will be here in Arizona until October.

Really. 

Right now we are experiencing the summer monsoons. Hot mornings, clear skies then as the day goes on the clouds roll in and a violent, brief storm hits. 

I knew one was coming but had to get some groceries and—wham—the storm hit. Oh well, I wasn’t going to stand inside looking at the storm, so I waded in about six inches of water and got thoroughly soaked. As did the plants, which is a good thing. 

Afterwards the backyard – there is actually a sidewalk there somewhere under the water.

Don’f forget to get MURDER AT THE BEACH HOUSE

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SPLISH SPLASH

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Growing up, summer meant going to the beach on Saturday. Our parents took us to Oyster Bay, a beach on the North Shore of Long Island, that had gentle waves suitable for little kids. At low tide, you could walk quite far out and still have your head above water.

For a longer vacation, we went to Boothbay Harbor, Maine, which wasn’t really a swimming kind of beach place although we explored the rocks and tidepools. Some of those memories made it into MURDER AT THE BEACH HOUSE.

Next, we graduated to Jones Beach, on the South Shore, that had miles of beach to choose from but all with what seemed to me high crashing waves. We had my father’s Army blanket and a striped umbrella to shade us from the sun, but we always came home sunburnt. 

Now I live in Arizona, about four hours from the nearest beach in the Gulf of California and eight hours from San Diego. With Covid, we’ve been reluctant to travel and I really miss the ocean. 

I hope you get a chance to get away somewhere where it’s cool and there’s water. Our pool will have to do for now. 

Nurse Aggie Burnside is looking forward to a quiet vacation at a beach house in Morgan’s Cove, Maine. But neighbors quarrel, old feuds erupt and someone dies. Can this amateur sleuth sift through the strands of deception to solve the crime?

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DIA DE SAN JUAN

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In Southern Arizona, we have two rainy seasons. If we’re lucky. 

In the winter, there are the slow, long rains that prep the plants for spring blossoms.

In the summer, we get the violent thunderstorms and torrential rain of the monsoons. 

Dia de San Juan, June 24, is the traditional start of the summer rainy season.

There are parties, fiestas and invocations to any spiritual entity that will take pity on us suffering through the hot, dry days that are frequently over 100 degrees. And then we get humidity which tells us that the rains are coming soon. 

Today, there are dark clouds on the horizon and at night we can hear the rumbling of thunder and see flashes of lightning. But so far, the only evidence of rain is slightly dirty car windshields in the morning.

We’re in a period of drought here in the Southwest US in addition to climate change, and we converted our entire yard to what is called ‘xeriscape’ using low water using plants. The grass is long gone. But even these drought tolerant plants need some moisture now and then. So, come on, already! Let’s have some rain!

In the summer, I like to read books about cool climates to take my mind off the heat. This spring and summer, I decided to write a mystery set in Maine where our family spent many summer vacations. Alas, we were not so lucky to have a beach house of our own, but I have fond memories of picking blueberries and wading in the cold waters. I tried to capture those sensations in MURDER AT THE BEACH HOUSE.

Find it here:

 https://www.amazon.com/MURDER-BEACH-HOUSE…/dp/B0B1BLP6MY 

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