Monday, December 2, 2019

#December Days to Remember


December has some of the most important holidays, along with a few dates set aside just for fun. Here’s what’s coming up.



December 7 - Pearl Harbor Day
December 12 – Poinsettia Day
December 13 – Friday the 13th
December 22 – Chanukah (last 8 days) and the Winter Solstice
December 25 – Christmas
December 26 – Boxing Day and Kwanzaa
December 27 – National Fruitcake Day
December 31 – New Year’s Eve

Friday, November 29, 2019

Sleuthing into the Past


Guest blog post by Julie B. Cosgrove.
Whodunnit? My mom used to ask us that with a hand cocked on her hip, peering into our wide-eyed faces. Naturally the blame trickled down to the youngest one, me. Being from a family with four generations of lawyers and legislators, I developed the skill of building my defense before I spoke at a young age. I had to solve the crime so I could plead my innocence.  Well, even when I wasn’t quite innocent, building my case often helped. My parents were fair judges. Sometimes I got off with a light sentence.
On endless nature walks through the Texas Hill Country, Dad taught us keen observational skills. We learned to detect where a deer had traipsed in the moonlight or a beetle laid its eggs under a fern leaf. I became a keen observer of nature, and later, human nature. So sleuthing is part of my DNA. 
Though I now absorb mysteries whenever I get the chance, I never could get into Nancy Drew books. I didn't want to read about her and her shallow society friends. I wanted to be her, only a tad more rebellious and unconventional. I also was more of the tomboy type instead of the pearls and hairspray type.
Adult life told me to get real. I complied...for decades. I raised a family and worked as a medical insurance appealer, which still involved sleuthing and developing a case to get our claims paid. On the hour commute to and from my home in the burbs, I’d develop plots in my head, though writing them down on paper seemed a tad presumptuous at the time. Who would take me seriously? Sure, I exceled in creative writing in high school, even won awards and was published in a national magazine, but…
Three people encouraged me to write for a living, so I began a small freelance writing and editing business. And actually, I made a meager living at it for about a decade. Then life became way too real. Widowed in my fifties, I had to fill the silence of my evenings. I've never been craftsy, so I shook my story-telling brain cells awake, let them capture my keyboard, and crafted mysteries and suspense instead. Over a dozen novels later, and as a digital editor and writer for a missionary society, I think I have finally begun to be who God has been molding me to be all my life. I hope you agree.
Besides writing mystery, suspense-romance, and family-friendly stories, I am a digital missionary for CRU’s Power to Change, as content editor of 28 devotional writers for their website The Life.com. I have written regularly for the last ten years for several devotional publications and my own blog, Where Did You Find God Today?, has readers in over 50 countries. Visit my website at www.juliebcosgrove.com
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What if you began to research your family’s past only to discover things no one wanted revealed?

The Relatively Seeking Mysteries series follow three church friends and choir members, Bailey, Shannon and Jessica, who decide to take a Bible study class. As they delve into the Gospel of Matthew and read the genealogies of Jesus they decide to discover a bit about their own family history.

One Leaf Too Many -  Bailey knows very little about her mother’s side of the family, other than she had three brothers and for some reason they have lost touch with each other after her maternal parents were killed in a car accident. But when she begins to look through her grandmother’s old photo albums, she finds pictures of a mystery girl stuffed behind the others. Who is she and why were her photographs hidden? Finding the answer may lead to solving a fifty-year-old crime.

Fallen Leaf -  Jessica’s adoptive parents never discuss her birth parents. Seeing Bailey learn about her kin leads Jessica to want to learn more as well. So, she starts with a DNA kit. When she finds out she is half Cherokee, Bailey and Shannon help her discover the truth about her real parents, only to discover her father is in jail for a murder he swears he did not commit. Can Jess clear her father’s name with the help of the handsome Tulsa DA or does he have an agenda of his own?

Coming February 10, 2020: Leaf Me Alone – Word gets around about the three friends’ sleuthing into the past. Their Bible study teacher is diagnosed with an untreatable cancer and wants them to locate her long lost nephew. While Shannon, with the help of her long hauler hubby, comb Florida for his whereabouts, Bailey begins to suspect that some of the residents in the hospice facility are dying before their time. But who can she convince of it?
*****
The first two books in The Relatively Seeking Mysteries series will be on sale for just $0.99 from November 28 through December 1, 2019 only. You can find them on the publisher’s website, Write Integrity Press, at https://www.writeintegrity.com/feature1?fbclid=IwAR3C84R9pwTepAw3q-kr8_x56g9jKTcCY4RCtuqEBPe78snbQ6k7i0tPYiY 
Also, Julie has a free short story, "A Leaf that Fell", for anyone who signs up for her newsletter: http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/contact.html.



Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Happy #Thanksgiving


I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving and has the opportunity to celebrate with family and friends. For a twist on the traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, I often make pumpkin cheesecake. If you want to give it a whirl this year, here’s my favorite recipe. Enjoy and have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.


PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE

Crust: Crush 10 whole graham crackers and mix with 3 tablespoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of butter. Press into a 10 inch cheesecake spring pan (bottom and 2 inches up the sides). Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove.

Filling: Beat together until smooth, 2 (8-oz) packages of cream cheese (works best if softened), 1 cup of light cream, 1 cup of canned pumpkin, ¾ cup of sugar, 4 egg yolks (save whites in a separate bowl), 3 tablespoons of flour, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, ½ teaspoon each of ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Beat egg whites until stiff and gently fold into the pumpkin mixture. Pour over prepared crust and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Baking times vary, so make sure the center is set. I’ve found it often takes longer than the 1 hour noted in the recipe.

Topping: Gently mix 2 cups of sour cream, 4 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until well blended. Spread topping evenly over cheesecake and bake another 5 minutes. Refrigerate and serve cold.
Enjoy!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Celebrate #Christmas on Your Way


Whether you’re the type that embraces Christmas head-on with gusto and enthusiasm or you lean more to the cautiously optimistic side, I hope you feel free to celebrate your own way without judgement. I’ve never been the overly-exuberant type when it comes to any holiday, and that has often made me feel inadequate, especially during Christmas. So, if you’re with me, know you’re not alone, and if you are the enviable passionate type, please take the time to share your joy with others. Merry Christmas to all.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Reality in Fiction – Mountain Snow


Another adventure that has made it into a novel was an early Christmas morning drive into the mountains during a heavy snowfall around thirty years ago. My husband and I were still newlyweds and were trying hard not to disappoint either family, so we participated in my family’s traditional Christmas Eve Mexican Fiesta, and agreed to join his family at a cabin in the mountains of northern Wyoming in time to open gifts on Christmas morning. 
We barely made it out of my parent’s place as the snow drifted in the lane, which should have been our first clue to abandon the expedition, but we were young, fearless, and accustomed to driving in bad weather. Heading out of town we quickly found ourselves ahead of the snowplows. After turning off the main highway the roads got progressively worse until we were driving through powder halfway up the grill of our four-wheel drive pick-up. The blowing snow froze to the windshield faster than the wipers could clean the glass, forcing my husband to reach out the window and brush off the snow with a gloved hand as we crept up the winding mountain road. The truck performed admirably, getting bogged down only occasionally, until we buried it in the parking lot where the road closed. While my husband dug the snowmobiles out that were promised to be waiting, I dug the truck out. By the time we got to the cabin we were relieved and we have never experienced such a white Christmas since.
The second chapter in A Dose of Danger is loosely based on Christmas morning drive. Grace Talbot’s journey wasn’t quiet as perilous, but she was alone, which makes any situation more suspenseful and dangerous. But, as you will find out, she is one tough lady.