The Williamsburg Book Festival

The Williamsburg Book Festival was held in Williamsburg, VA, on October 6, 2018. This was not only my first visit to the Williamsburg Book Festival, but my first visit to Williamsburg period. It was a great experience and I can’t wait to go back.

I thought I’d use today’s post to share some photos with you. I shared some of these on social media so you may have seen a few of them, but others I haven’t posted anywhere yet.

Garden cottage

The garden cottage was tiny, with moss growing on the roof (you can see that detail in the photo). Inside were heads of garlic hanging from the rafters to dry. Outside the cottage was a large trestle table with different heirloom vegetables:

tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers

Nearby there was a Linus-worthy pumpkin patch.

Because we got there Friday afternoon, left Sunday morning, and wouldn’t have much time to explore Colonial Williamsburg on Saturday because of the book festival, we didn’t buy an admission ticket. A ticket would have allowed us to tour inside the colonial buildings and see tradespeople demonstrating their talents, but maybe we can do that on another trip.

We also got to see a reenactment of a cannon firing, which was interesting and noisy. I especially loved the fife and drum corps, which entertained the small crowd with songs that would have been played in Colonial Williamsburg to mark the end of each day. I’ve tried to upload videos of both the cannon and the fifes and drums, but I wasn’t able to get them into this post.

I was lucky enough to go with my son and a friend of ours, so here’s the obligatory selfie with the three of us:

And here’s the photo of my two companions after they got in big trouble:

We went on a ghost tour after the festival, but I couldn’t take photos because it didn’t start until after dark (after all, what fun is a ghost tour that takes place during the day??)

The Book Festival was fun. I saw old friends and met new ones, which is always a treat. Here are some photos from the festival:

From left, author Kris Kisska Mehigan, author Heather Baker Weidner, and me

 

with author TJ O’Connor

 

from left, Heather Baker Weidner, TJ O’Connor, author Teresa Inge, and me

And finally, a photo of me at my table, ready to sell some books…

Thanks to everyone who came out to support the Williamsburg Book Festival! I had a great time, and I hope you did, too.

Until next time,

Amy

 

 

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Author Interview: Jenny Kales

Today we’re celebrating the release of A Stew to a Kill, Book 4 in the Callie’s Kitchen Mystery series by Jenny Kales.

Welcome, Jenny! Congratulations and happy book birthday!

Jenny has a busy day planned with book launch festivities, but she’s here for an interview about her characters and her books.

The main character in the series, Callie Costas, is the owner of Callie’s Kitchen; each book in the series finds Callie dealing with various seedy elements of Crystal Bay, Wisconsin. In A Stew to a Kill, a new employee in a neighboring shop, Tea for Two, is found murdered and Callie finds herself being drawn into the murder investigation. And when an old boyfriend shows up in town with his sights set on developing a mall that will hurt the small business vibe in Crystal Bay, Callie begins to wonder if his sudden appearance has anything to do with the murder.

I love Jenny’s books and I’m eager to read A Stew to a Kill.

So Jenny, tell us how you came to choose the setting of Crystal Bay, WI, for your series.

Two reasons that I created this fictional town: I love Wisconsin and I wasn’t coming across cozy mysteries set there. That got me thinking. The next time I visited the Geneva Lakes region of Wisconsin, a beautiful area filled with lakes, small scenic, towns, colorful local history and a bustling small community combined with tourists, I looked around and thought: this is it! Also, there is a presence of Greek people in the community, though it is small.

Specifically, I based Crystal Bay on the Lake Geneva and Williams Bay area of Wisconsin. Because I wanted to take liberties with the location, I decided to combine the two into one town: Crystal Bay. I visit the area often and have come up with my mystery ideas each time. It’s fun!

Are the recipes in your books ones that come from your own collection? Are there recipes you’ve wanted to include in the books, but didn’t?

Recipes come from my own collection, including family recipes from my husband’s side of the family. Now, sometimes Greek recipes are hard to track down because nobody writes them down and would look at you oddly if you asked for that. They seem to be absorbed through the DNA! I’ve been lucky in two ways regarding Greek family recipes. My husband’s grandmother (YiaYia) was involved in a 1950 Greek Orthodox Church cookbook produced in 1950. Several copies survived and were gifted to new members of the family. This book is amazing! True, I have tweaked many recipes for fat content here and there, but these are true-blue recipes and they are fabulous. Several years ago, my sister-in-law commissioned a family cookbook and captured many elusive recipes that we now all have.

There are always recipes I’m not able to include, but I try to find some way to share them. For example, I did not include Callie’s “Speedy Pastitsio” recipe in my latest book even though it is mentioned, because I just had too many other recipes to include. However, I plan to include the recipe in a newsletter soon, so make sure that you’re signed up! Speedy Pastitsio is my own creation and my whole family loves it.

Your knowledge of Greek food and culture is obvious, but in a beautifully subtle way. Have you been to Greece?

I have not been to Greece. My husband has been there several times and was briefly a student there. He also worked on an island for a while, many years ago. I get a lot of my knowledge from him! However, I’m hoping we can go at some point because I plan to set my next Callie novel in Greece!

Can you share something about your main character, Callie, that most readers don’t know?

She’s afraid of the dark! Not so convenient for her, considering she keeps finding herself in dangerous situations that often involve it.

Who are some of your favorite cozy authors?

So many! To name a few: Dianne Mott Davidson, Leslie Meier, Lorna Barrett and two I am lucky enough to call friends: Linda Reilly and new author Debra Sennefelder. This isn’t everyone, of course, so I guess you could say I love cozy mysteries, period.

When you’re writing a novel, do you read within your genre, or do you, like many authors, read only books outside your genre when you’re deep into the writing process?

I try to avoid cozy mysteries when I’m deep into writing a novel. One, because I don’t want to unconsciously copy anyone and two, because I don’t want to feel inferior to the author I’m reading, lol. You never want to let the self-doubt creep in while you’re writing. I like to read historical fiction, contemporary fiction, “detective” fiction like the Shetland novels and suspense when I’m writing.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to spend time outdoors, travel with my husband and family, hang out with my kids, bake and cook, of course, and browse vintage stores. I love vintage clothing, cookbooks, jewelry and I collect classic Nancy Drew novels. I also love to read, (no surprise) and I love mystery TV like Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. She is my idol.

Where do you do your best writing?

Not at home! I have two favorite libraries where I have written most of my books. The key is to find a library with a “quiet room,” and then I go to town.

Do you have a favorite character in your Callie’s Kitchen series? Who is it and why?

That’s a tough one, but I’d have to say George, Callie’s father. I can picture him so clearly in my mind’s eye and his dialogue just flows out of me. Also, he’s funny, sometimes unintentionally, protective to a fault, but loving as can be.

What’s next for Callie?

She is about to set off on a big adventure! I can’t give too many spoilers but as I said above, I’m about 90% sure I will have her visiting Greece and, of course, encountering a mystery there.

Thank you, Amy, for having me on your blog today. It was a lot of fun!

It was my pleasure. Congratulations and best wishes for lots of success with the new book! Readers, you can find A Stew to a Kill by clicking here or by clicking on the picture at the top of the post.

Jenny has a seasonal newsletter: sign up here!

To learn more about Jenny, visit her online!

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Instagram

Pinterest

Until next time,

Amy

 

 

First Tuesday Recipes for October

October is my favorite month.

There. I’ve said it. Where I live, most people love summer, but I can’t wait for it to end.

I love fall and everything about it: the cooler weather (but not too cold), the dip in humidity (hear the angels singing?), and the food! It doesn’t get much better than in-season fall ingredients. I’ve got a great fall recipe in today’s selections, plus a couple other creations that are just plain delicious.

First up, the fall recipe. My father gave me this recipe and I keep it in the “Casseroles” section of one of my cookbooks. I use it as a dessert, but it would make a great side dish to turkey or pork.

* * *

Apple-Cranberry Casserole

3 c. peeled, chopped apples, any variety

2 c. fresh whole cranberries

1 1/4 c. sugar

Topping:

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. butter, melted

1 1/2 c. rolled oats

1/3 c. flour

1/4 t. salt

1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish, mix apples, cranberries, and sugar. Mix all topping ingredients, except nuts, until crumbly. Spread over apple mixture.

Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Add chopped nuts to the top and bake 15 minutes longer.

* * *

The next recipe was given to me by my mother-in-law before my wedding. My husband’s family is Swedish, and this is delicious.

Swedish Meatballs

1 c. breadcrumbs

3/4 c. milk

3 T. diced onion

2 T. butter

1/4 t. nutmeg

1 1/2 t. salt

1/8 t. pepper

1 lb. ground beef

1 egg, slightly beaten

10 1/2 oz. (1 can) beef consumme

1 1/2 T. cornstarch

1 1/2 T. cold water

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Soften the breadcrumbs in the milk. Saute onions in the butter until light brown. Add this to the breadcrumbs. Add the nutmeg, salt, pepper, ground beef, and egg. Mix lightly with your hands. Form mixture into balls about 1 inch in size.

Place meatballs on greased cookie sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes, until browned. Do not turn them over.

Blend consumme, cornstarch, and water until smooth and thickened. Pour over the meatballs.

* * *

And the last recipe comes from a good friend, Sue Murphy. She tells me the original recipe is from Willow Bird Baking–you can find the recipe here. This is my eldest daughter’s favorite!!

Ice Box Cookie Trifle

3 c. heavy cream

1/4 c. almond liqueur (optional–I used 1/2 t. almond extract instead)

3 T. sugar

2 t. vanilla extract

2-3 packages chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreos work well, as do Famous Chocolate Wafers. If you use Famous, use three packages)

Using a mixer, beat heavy cream, almond liqueur, sugar, and vanilla in a chilled bowl until soft peaks form. In a trifle dish, arrange a single layer of cookies in a circle and put one or two cookies in the middle. Carefully spread about 1/2 c. whipped cream mixture over the cookies. Repeat layers of cookies and whipped cream, ending with a layer of whipped cream on the top. Crumble a few leftover cookies on the top. Cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.

* * *

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Amy

 

We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

It’s the last Friday of the month–time again for some good news to take you into October with a smile.

The story I’ve chosen for this month is one that gives hope for the reduction of fossil fuel use in the State of California. And it harnesses the power of a pre-existing engineering wonder to do so.

Click here to read the story.

Here’s how #WATWB works: On the last Friday of each month a number of bloggers participate in a blog hop in which each blogger highlights a story that spreads good news, happiness, and hope.

These are the cohosts for this month: Eric Lahti, Inderpreet Uppal, Shilpa Garg, Sylvia Stein, and Peter Nena.

Want to join? Click this link to sign up and help spread some happiness!

The Last Tuesday Book Round-Up

As you may have read if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, I spent eleven of the past nineteen days in Hawaii. I was so relaxed and unplugged that I forgot–TWICE–to put up blog posts. So I apologize for my absence the past two Tuesdays.

I did get some reading done on vacation, though. I finished Entrance to Nowhere by Marja McGraw. It’s part of her Sandi Webster series, and I loved it. As I write this, I haven’t put a review on Amazon yet, but I will (I promise). It’s a story about the kidnapping of an eccentric billionaire genius for nefarious technological purposes. It kept me turning pages as fast as I could, even though I hated for it to end. I highly recommend this book, along with the other Sandi Webster stories.

Right now I’m reading–are you ready for this?–The Cape May County New Jersey Magazine of History and Genealogy from June, 1955. It’s research for Cape Island Menace and it’s fascinating.

What are you reading? I hope you’ll share your current reads with the rest of us.

Until next time,

Amy

Cover Reveal…Followed by First Tuesday Recipes for September!

It’s here! First my street team saw it, then my newsletter subscribers, and now it’s time to show the rest of the world. The cover of The Worst Noel is here and I love it! Are you ready?

The Worst Noel is available to pre-order as an ebook through all the major online retailers and, through some glitch that is no doubt my fault, as a paperback from Amazon. Other retailers will have the paperback in November.

Want to order a paperback copy? Click here.

Want to order an ebook from Amazon? Click here.

Want to order an ebook from another retailer? Click here.

If you’ve already ordered, THANK YOU! As we get closer to the ebook release date, I’ll be posting more about The Worst Noel, so stay tuned. And feel free to use the share buttons below!

And now for The First Tuesday Recipes for September. If you get my newsletter, you already have the recipe for Muddy Buddies. Here on the blog this month we’ve got a summery salsa, a dessert, and a fabulous side dish that’ll go with almost anything.

First, thanks to Maggie King for submitting her recipe:

Cucumber and Avocado Salsa

1/4 c. diced and seeded cucumber

1 lg. avocado, peeled, seeded, and chopped

1 sm. Roma tomato, diced

1 1/2 T. red onion, minced

2 t. Serrano chile, minced

1 t. fresh cilantro, minced

3/4 t. salt

2 T. fresh lime juice

Carefully fold all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, guacamole-style. If doubling, don’t double the lime juice.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Thanks to my mother for this side dish recipe:

German Potato Salad

6 medium potatoes

6 slices bacon

1/2 c. chopped onion

2 T. flour

2 T. sugar

1 t. salt

1 t. celery seed

dash pepper

1 c. water

1/2 c. (you may like a little less) white vinegar

2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

Cook potatoes until tender, then drain well, peel, and slice. Cook bacon until crisp; drain, reserving 1/4 c. drippings. Crumble the bacon and set aside. Cook the onion in the reserved drippings until tender (and a little browned). Stir in flour, sugar, salt, celery seed, and pepper. Add water and vinegar; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1-2 minutes more. Stir in bacon and potato slices. Heat through, tossing lightly. Add egg slices; toss gently just to mix.

And last, but certainly not least, thanks to Sharon Aguanno for contributing this dessert recipe she found here on allrecipes.com:

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Foil Packets

1 1/2 T. brown sugar

1 T unsalted butter

1 pineapple ring

1 maraschino cherry

1 shortcake dessert shell

Vanilla ice cream for serving (optional, but why wouldn’t you include it??)

Preheat grill to medium-high or an oven to 450 degrees.

Tear off a 12′ x 12′ square of aluminum foil.

Mound the brown sugar and butter in the center, then top them with the pineapple slice and the cherry.

Top with the dessert shell, flat side up.

Fold in the sides of the foil and seal to form the packet. Grill each packet for 12-13 minutes.

To serve, flip the cakes over. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

 

Thanks to everyone who contributed! And thanks for being part of my cover reveal for The Worst Noel. If you haven’t subscribed to my mostly-once-a-month newsletter, click this link.

Until next time,

Amy

We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

It’s the last Friday of the month–time again for some good news to take you into September with a smile.

The story I’ve chosen for this month is one that involves experimental technology that can take water droplets from the air and turn them into potable water. The process uses electrospun polymers–and who among us doesn’t love those??

Click here to read the story.

Here’s how #WATWB works: On the last Friday of each month a number of bloggers participate in a blog hop in which each blogger highlights a story that spreads good news, happiness, and hope.

These are the cohosts for this month: Simon Falk, Andrea Michaels, Shilpa Garg, Sylvia Stein, and Belinda Witenhausen.

Want to join? Click this link to sign up and help spread some happiness!