Mar 012017
 


Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am excited to welcome Fran back to Escape with Dollycas!

 

Playing with Words by Fran Stewart 
Guest Post Provided By Publicist

What do I do and where do I go when I want to escape any sort of humdrum? Not that my life is humdrum at all. I can always find something to intrigue me, amuse me, or inspire me. But there are those times when I want to veg out, and I find myself playing with words. Writers do that sort of thing. A lot. At least, this writer does.

Several years ago, for instance, I meant to type the word centimeter, but it came out sentimeter. That made me think about sentiment, sensation, sensible, and so on. At the time I was planning to drive 150 miles to pick up my first beehive.

But anyway, sent words led to scent words, which led to the following list, which I put together later while I sat outside one morning on the back deck next to my two hives, sipping tea, and listening to the songs of my 42,000 tiny yellow and brown-striped girlfriends. Talk about escaping somewhere? I was in heaven, even while I gleefully misspelled each one of these key words:

Scentence: the bedrock of a writer, the way odors are the bedrock of a beehive;

Scentient: really, really smart about figuring things out by paying attention to what they smell like;

Scentillate: the action of making bees curious by wearing a particular perfume;

Scentiment: the warm feeling I get when I recall my dad’s Old Spice aftershave, hoping the bees would have liked it if they could have met him;

Scentimeter: what a worker bee uses to distinguish her hive mates from outsiders;

Scentinal: the guard bee who uses that scentimeter to decide whether or not an incoming bee can be admitted to the hive;

Scentry: another name for the guard bee I just mentioned;

Scentsation: the excitement in the hive when an incoming forager proclaims a new abundant source of nectar and pollen;

Scentsibility: what inspired Jane Austen to write as she sat among the beehives in her family’s garden;

Scententious: what bees and writers shouldn’t “bee.”

Two Scents Worth: what I enjoy putting into conversations and enjoy hearing from others as well. Feel free to put your two scents’ worth into a comment below!

Then I went onto other bee-related words and came up with:

Nectar-grination: flying all around the place to find some flowers that have enough nectar to be interesting.

Queenification: the process of eliminating a weak queen and producing a new one.

Beebreadify: To bring bee bread (a rich mixture of pollen and various liquids) down from the storage cells and feed it to the baby bees.

Cleansi-depoopifi-dumpification: Taking the queen’s waste products away from her and depositing them outside the hive.

Scrubba-dubba-da-deck: What Frannie will have to do next summer after a lot of cleansidepoopifidumpification has been going on.

I ended up using some of the words in both of these lists in the beekeeping blog I wrote for a couple of years, so if you’ve seen them before, please understand I thought they were too good not to be recycled. In the meantime, I continue to play with words every chance I get.

~Fran

Thank you Fran for dropping by today! 

 

A Wee Homicide in the Hotel
(A ScotShop Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Vermont
A Berkley Prime Mystery
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Release Date – February 7, 2017
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425270332
ASIN: B01E4WAGIU
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The national bestselling author of A Wee Dose of Death returns to Hamelin, Vermont, where Peggy Winn, owner of a Scottish-themed shop, is spectator to caber tossing, sword dancing, and just a spot of murder…
 
Hamelin is overflowing with tourists enjoying the Scottish-themed games—and most of them are donning tartans from Peggy Winn’s ScotShop. And her fourteenth-century ghostly companion, Dirk, has been indispensable, keeping an eye out for shoplifters and matching customers’ family names to their clan plaid.

Adding to the chaos is Big Willie, a longtime champion of the games, but not everyone is happy to have him in town. So when he misses the first event of the weekend, Peggy senses something is awry. After Willie is discovered dead in his hotel room, the victim of a bagpipe-related crime, Peggy decides it’s up to her and Dirk to suss out a murderer.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Nothing puts a damper on a festival quicker that a murder especially when  it is a long time champion of the Hamelin Highland Festival that is found dead in his hotel room. Peggy was just getting to know the man and finding his body was so traumatic. She starts her own investigation with her handsome ghost’s assistance. To add to the excitement the town in crawling  with Secret Service. It appears the President wants drop in for a visit.

This story has a slow build as we get to know some new characters, especially Big Willie, the former champion who is killed and his Scottie Silla. Big Willie’s body is found about halfway into the story and the pace picks up considerably. There are two plots that converge along with another subplot to keep us turning those pages.

Ms. Stewart brings humor to this story with Peggy still explaining current time expressions and things to Dirk as he struggles with the ways of modern times. She does trust him more to go off by himself and they are learning to work together. She keeps his speech and its patterns true to his Scottish 14th century time. This was a bit frustrating for me in the first book but now it is natural for me to read. I can even hear the lilt in his voice. The author also tells a bit of the story from Scottie Silla’s point of view. Touched my heart as a pet mourned the lost of her companion.

As always the majority of the story takes place in or close by to out protag’s ScotShop. I can picture the store very clearly in my mind. Peggy also has a tent selling ties and scarves at the festival. I need to give a little shout out to Jessie Reisch for the amazing cover art for this book. Those two adorable Scotties with the festival grounds take me right into the story.

These characters have warmed my heart. Cozy lovers will love Peggy and Dirk. I suggest reading the series in order though so you don’t miss a minute.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About The Author

Fran is the author of fourteen books, including the Biscuit McKee mystery series and the ScotShop mysteries, as well as A SLAYING SONG TONIGHT and FROM THE TIP OF MY PEN: a workbook for writers. When she isn’t writing or otherwise playing/working with words, she loves to read, sing, knit, garden, put jigsaw puzzles together, and volunteer in her grandchildren’s school library. She lives and writes quietly beside a creek on the other side of Hog Mountain, Georgia, after having moved repeatedly from her birth through her fourth decade. The small fictional towns she writes about embody the hometown she always wanted—except for the murders.

To find out more about Fran Stewart and her books on her webpage here

Thanks to the publisher I have 2 copies to give away!

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Add this book to your WANT TO READ shelf on GoodReads for 3 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

Leave A Comment for Fran Stewart for 5 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End March 15, 2017 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Feb 102017
 


On Flashback Fridays I will share with you the books I was not able to review when they were first released that have been screaming at me from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.


A Wee Dose of Death (A ScotShop Mystery Book)
Paranormal Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Vermont
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery (January 5, 2016)
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425270325
Kindle ASIN: B00W2ZKSLC

While business is booming at the ScotShop in Hamelin, Vermont, proprietor Peggy Winn doesn’t have time to toast her good fortune thanks to her hot-tempered, fourteenth-century Scottish companion. Being thrust into the modern world hasn’t been easy for Dirk, but Peggy is at her wit’s end trying to keep the ghostie galoot in line.

But when the local police chief finds the body of Peggy’s friend Karaline’s college professor in a deserted mountain cabin, everyone is thrown for a loop. It seems the secretive professor may have been killed over his ecological work, an idea that’s only reinforced when Karaline herself is shot. Now Peggy and Dirk must set aside their differences to put the cold-blooded killer under loch and key…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Peggy and Dirk are back and have their hands full, well as much as a ghost can have his hands full.  If you haven’t read the previous story you need to know that Dirk came home to Vermont after a trip Peggy took to England. She purchased a shawl and never knew it came with a ghost as a bonus item.

Cross country skiing is a big thing in Hamelin, Vermont, even the chief of police straps on his skis and grabs his poles every once in a while. His first trip of the season goes horribly wrong when he falls and breaks his leg. With no way to call for help and no one around, he uses his ski to splint his leg and crawls to a nearby cabin. He never expected to find a dead body there. Sadly the guy isn’t missed right away but when he is found he tries to wrap the case before he has all the information. Peggy and her friend Karaline along with a certain cranky 14th century Scotsman try to find out what really happened. When Karaline gets shot things get more than a wee bit serious but Peggy isn’t giving up.

I love that Dirk and Peggy are at odds through most of the story. It has to be hard having him around all the time and answering all his questions. The author keeps the Dirk’s way of speaking genuine to his time period and his reactions to modern day things may me laugh out loud several times.  When he gets on her nerves Peggy just folds up the shawl and he disappears. We don’t know where he goes but he doesn’t appreciate being dismissed in that way at all, but it gives Peggy a bit of a breather.

The rest of the characters are fleshed out well and each holds their own in a twisted mystery that will keep the readers on their toes. We also meet a wonderful Scottish terrier named Scamp who seems to make himself right at home in the ScotShop. We are provided with plenty of suspects and several red herrings. I was kept guessing the whole way and figured it all out right along with Peggy.

Fran Stewart has given us a captivating cozy, with witty characters and top notch mystery. I look forward to the next installment,  A Wee Homicide in the Hotel was released this month and I will be reading it soon. 

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To find out more about Fran Stewart and her books on her webpage here

I am giving away my review copy! 
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Add this book to your WANT TO READ shelf on GoodReads for 3 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End February 24, 2017 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Jun 032015
 

cozy wednesday 2013 640Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am excited to welcome Fran Stewart to Escape With Dollycas today!
Her book A Wee Murder in My Shop was released in March. The next ScotShop Mystery, A Wee Dose of Death, will be out January 5, 2016.

fran stewart

Shadow-Play by Fran Stewart

Let’s look at shadows. They play an important role in my life. You see, I’m not a beach kind of person. I’m more a mountain gal. A sit-under-a-tree kind of woman. A shadow crone.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. Beaches are lovely places. I have two children and five grandchildren who revel in the sunshine. And maybe you do, too.

But I prefer beaches at pre-dawn, while a few stars are still accessible, before the sun bursts above the pulsing sea. Or right around sunset, while the shadows of the clouds play with the last rays of daylight.

I escape to the beach at Sapelo Island (http://GAstateparks.org/lodges/reynolds/about/) twice a year with a group of artists—I’m the only writer in the group—for a creative retreat. For a week, the artists all disperse during the day to paint the marshes, paint the dunes at the edge of Nanny Goat Beach, pain the groves of spreading pecan trees and ancient live oaks hung with Spanish moss.

22668799While they’re outside painting in the bright sun, I’m in the shadows, writing. Or reading. I sit on the tree-shaded terrace or upstairs in the shadow-cool circus room, decorated many years ago by Athos Menaboni, one of the foremost muralists of the early 20th century. His lion graces my favorite corner, tucked into a shadowed corner between tall windows.

And, quite often, I write about shadows. Did you ever think about the shadows in the books you read? We hardly ever notice them, but they can set a tone most effectively.

I recall years ago sketching the face of a woman who sat across from me in an airport lounge. I’ve never claimed to be an artist, but sometimes I like to try. Seldom do I share the results with anyone except my cats—they promised long ago not to laugh at me. On this occasion, though, I showed the drawing to my sister, who is an artist. “You drew the shadows,” she said, “and left out the lines along the side of her face.” That was because the woman had sat in a shaft of sunlight that erased any distinction between the curve of her cheek and the wall behind her. I couldn’t see a line there, so I didn’t draw one.

Instead I drew the shadows beneath her angular cheekbone, the jut of her chin, around her eye, and beside her nose. My sister was impressed. It’s the only time she’s ever been impressed by one of my sketches. I wish I’d saved the sketch, just as I wish I’d saved a lot of my early essays and stories, but the memory of those shadows on that woman’s face still haunts me. I may have managed the shadows, but I didn’t draw her well enough. I didn’t capture her essence. My art lies in words, and while the pencil drawing may have been technically interesting, it stopped short of capturing who that woman truly was.

My inexpert shadows turned her into an enigma. Did the sunlight that day come from a bright spring morning or a harsh mid-summer? Was the woman an undercover agent, a jilted lover, a harried executive, a wilted mom (or stepmom)? Was she headed out or headed home? Was she someone’s best friend, or a harpy-like harridan who had just sent the emotionally unstable protagonist spinning back into an alcoholic dead end? Had she inherited those deep-set eyes from her paternal grandmother or were they a reflection of her inner turmoil? Was her angular cheekbone the result of ethnicity or anorexia? If she had raised her hand, would it have blocked the light and created a dark slash of shadow, or would the light have penetrated between her fingers and outlined each one in an unearthly red glow, like a flashlight beneath a blanket in the middle of the night?

Shadows. Sometimes they ask more questions than they answer. Unless we know how to sketch them with a deft pen.

Shadows. A great place to escape to. Especially if I have a book with me. Either one I’m reading, or one I’m writing. What do you do when faced with shadows?

~Fran

fran stewartAbout This Author

Fran Stewart is the author of the Biscuit McKee Mysteries – GRAY AS ASHES is the seventh book in that series – as well as a standalone mystery – A SLAYING SONG TONIGHT. Her non-fiction work includes FROM THE TIP OF MY PEN: A WORKBOOK FOR WRITERS. Her new ScotShop Mystery Series from Berkley Press begins with A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP.

Part of today’s guest blogpost was taken from a chapter in FROM THE TIP OF MY PEN.

Fran lives quietly with various rescued cats beside a creek on the other side of Hog Mountain, Georgia, northeast of Atlanta.  She is a member of the National League of American Pen Women, Sisters in Crime, and Mystery Writers of America.

Photo Credit: Mozelle Funderburk

22668799A Wee Murder in My Shop (A ScotShop Mystery)
First in New Series
Cozy Mystery
Setting – Vermont/Scotland
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (March 3, 2015)
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illusteation by Jesse Reisch
Cover Design by Diana Kolsky
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425270318
E-Book ASIN: B00LMGK41Q
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Hamelin, Vermont, isn’t the most likely place for bagpipes and tartan, but at Peggy Winn’s ScotShop, business is booming…

While on a transatlantic hunt for some authentic wares to sell at her shop, Peggy is looking to forget her troubles by digging through the hidden treasures of the Scottish Highlands. With so many enchanting items on sale, Peggy can’t resist buying a beautiful old tartan shawl. But once she wraps it around her shoulders, she discovers that her purchase comes with a hidden fee: the specter of a fourteenth-century Scotsman.

Unsure if her Highland fling was real or a product of an overactive imagination, Peggy returns home to Vermont—only to find the dead body of her ex-boyfriend on the floor of her shop. When the police chief arrests Peggy’s cousin based on some incriminating evidence, Peggy decides to ask her haunting Scottish companion to help figure out who really committed the crime—before anyone else gets kilt…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Peggy Winn’s ScotShop is in Vermont but each year she travels to Scotland in search of new vendors with new and unique items to sell. On her recent trip to the Highlands she comes home with much more than new connections and a new shawl.  She discovers a 14th century Scotsman has traveled home with her, well his ghost has. Not quite sure what to do with her new Scottish “friend” she decides to make the best of it. When a dead body is found in her shop she quickly realizes this specter may be able to help her catch the culprit that left her ex-boyfriend buried under her Scottish wares.

This was a fun read. It reminded me of J.J. Cook’s Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mysteries in that ghosts are great once you figure out how to handle them. In Peggy’s case all her friends think she is losing it because she keeps talking to herself as her ghost, Dirk, has so many questions. She sometimes gets very tongue tied as she tries to discreetly answer him only to find her friends looking at her strangely.

The author gives us a small cast of quirky characters and a even smaller suspect pool.  There were several interesting twists to the mystery too. The story was brimming with humor as well. Trying to explain modern things to an old ghost can be quite funny. See the excerpt below when Peggy tries to have a private talk with her new friend:

I opened the blue door. “Inside, you,” I whispered with my teeth clenched.

We were fairly cramped. These things were designed for one person at a time. His head brushed the top. Damn, he was tall. I thought people had been short in the fourteenth century. As close as we were standing, I had to tilt my head back. I got an unexpectedly good look at his upper incisors. They were big, strong, and very white. This would be a great place for him to turn into a vampire. Stop it, Peggy.

“What is this place?” He sounded a bit awed. Maybe that was why his mouth had been hanging open.

“It’s a porta potty.” When he looked blank, I added, “A loo.” Still blank. “A privy.”

Understanding dawned. “A necessary?”

I nodded.

“Why did ye bring me in here? I dinna have to pass water.”

“We’re here because it’s the only place I can speak to you in private. Now, you listen. We’re about to get into a car—”

“A what?”

“Hush. A car. It’s like a little house on wheels.”

“Why would we get into—?”

“No, wait, it’s more like a wagon that’s all closed up.”

“And how d’ye open it?”

“That’s not the point!” It’s hard to shout when you’re whispering. “The point I’m trying to make is that you have to be absolutely quiet. You cannot ask a single question while we’re in the car. Do you understand?”

“Why not?”

“Because I won’t be able to answer you. Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair are already looking at me funny. I don’t want them to think I’ve gone barmy.”

“What is barmy?”

“Mad. Crazy.” I threw up my hands. “Now, will you keep your mouth closed until we’re alone again.” It wasn’t a question.

“Ye tell me I have been deid for more than six hundred years. In all that time I have not said a word, and now ye want me to keep my mouth closed?”

“Yes. That’s right.” I almost felt sorry for him. Almost.

I was quite taken with Peggy and Dirk and am excited to see what kind of mystery they get wrapped into next. Fran is off to a great start with this series!

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

GIVEAWAYI am giving away my review copy and the author is giving away a copy too!

Plus Fran is giving away a copy of

gray as ashes

Martinsville Georgia has always been a sleepy little town, where nothing much ever happens, except a few murders…

There’s a firebug in Martinsville. Town librarian Biscuit McKee isn’t too worried when a garbage bin at the grocery store is set on fire. But when it’s her beloved garden shed that goes up in flames, the fur begins to fly.

Biscuit’s feline companion Marmalade comments frequently, …
Yes, I do.
… (even though her humans think she’s only purring …
Mouse droppings!
… or sneezing). She’s as baffled by all this as her humans.
We could have some tuna. That would solve a lot.

Distracted by a visit from Peachie, an old college friend, Biscuit pays only scant attention to a third fire, but it’s hard to ignore the fourth fire and the dead body found in the charred remains of Connie Cartwright’s studio, where glass-blowing may have turned into homicide.

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US address or Canadian mailing address (for my review book).

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Following the new Google+ Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book Fan Page
will earn you 3 Bonus Entries.

Leave a comment for Fran for 5 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End June 17, 2015 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Whiskers in the Dark: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery by Rita Mae BrownGet Your Copy Today!
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