Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hilarious Real Life Excuses For Speeding.

I follow a blog called The Graveyard Shift (a must follow for anyone writing in mystery/suspense) and his post today was humorous. Enjoy! - Cynthia Hickey

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

New Cookbook Brings Old Memories

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In 2001 after I'd written a few chapters of  "Murder in Half Moon Bay," I attended a literary conference with a guest speaker by the name of Camille Minichino (AKA Margaret Grace) who was writing the Periodic Table mysteries at the time. Camille graciously signed one of her books for me, wishing good success with my writing. I was in awe! Today,  13 years later, we appear in a cookbook together called "Cozy Food." What could be more special?  
Another author, Sandra Balzo, has contributed a recipe to the new cookbook as well. Years ago when I asked a question on a forum, this lady also encouraged me with a few words. I'll be forever grateful. 

The third author I want to mention is our very own Traci Tyne Hilton. Traci, like the rest of our CMM authors is a sweetheart and a wonderful writer. I'm anxious to read what she added. 

In case you're wondering, I wrote recipes for Raisin Scones and Mock Devonshire Cream epitomizing "Queen of Afternoon Tea."  Check out the back cover for a complete list of cozy mystery authors and see if your favorites are included. You may want to purchase a copy to discover more cozy authors. Links are included with each recipe.
I hope you enjoy the collaboration by author Nancy Lynn Jarvis, another friend of mine. Until next time, I'll see you in my books.


~Nancy Jill 

Nancy Jill Thames was born to write mysteries. From her early days as the neighborhood story-teller to being listed on Amazon Author Watch Bestseller List, she has always had a vivid imagination and loves to solve problems – perfect for plotting whodunnits. In 2010, Nancy Jill published her first mystery, Murder in Half Moon Bay, introducing her well-loved protagonist, Jillian Bradley, and whimsical Yorkie, “Teddy.” She’s written seven books so far in The Jillian Bradley Mystery Series and is working on her eighth.

When she isn’t plotting Jillian’s next perilous adventure, she travels between Texas and California finding new ways to spoil her grandchildren, playing classical favorites on her baby grand or having afternoon tea with friends.

Member of Leander Writers’ Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW CenTex Chapter), and Central Texas Authors

To learn more about Nancy Jill visit these sites.
Twitter @mystriterdva

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Woolly Weegie The Way My Daddy Told It...Mostly

Now that The Woolly Weegie is with the Beta Readers I decided to share with you the original tale the way my Dad told it. Mostly. Okay it's been Cindyfied a bit, okay a lot, but Dad tended to vary it himself so I'm sure he would approve.

Yes the story will be included in the book, but I thought I would share a sneak peak. Prepare to be horrified! Or just entertained, whatever. So here it is, The original Woolly Weegie as told by B.W. Ragsdale. Enjoy...

One full moon night in the deep, dark woods…
“Will you stop,” the boy just shy of his 13th birthday grouched at his sister, “Why are you such a scardey tonight?”
 His sister, who had just turned 10 bit her lip, looking around the small cabin as if she saw danger everywhere.
“I can’t help it, there are noises.”
“It’s the woods, there are always noises. Raccoons, foxes, rats, even a bear on occasion. You should be used to it.”
“It’s different when Mama and Papa are here. I wish they hadn’t gone.”
The boy snorted impatiently. Truth be told he hadn’t exactly been happy himself to be left in the middle of nowhere with only his young sister for company. Also, there was a lot noise outside in the dark, and with only one loan light source it was unnerving.
But he wasn’t going to admit he was nervous. Not to his baby sister.
So he snapped, “Daddy had to take Mama to Laura Crabtree’s place because she was ailing. He thought he would be back before dark, but didn’t want to chance it with us along. He thought it would safer if we stayed here secured in the cabin. That wheel that broke last week must have given him…what was that?’
“Don’t scare me.”
“Shh,” the boy admonished.
Immediately his sister lowered her voice and asked, “What’s wrong? I don’t hear anything.”
“That’s what I mean. It’s quiet and it shouldn’t be. It’s like everything ran away, but why?”
The boy looked at the heavy wooden door and started towards it. His sister grabbed for him and held tightly to his arm shaking her head vehemently as she knew what he planned. Her brother released himself from her grip, and as she opened her mouth to protest he put his finger to his lips to shush her.
His sister obeyed, but she didn’t like it. Not one bit.
The boy walked towards the door and looked at it as if seeking reassurance. It was made of heavy wood with iron hinges keeping it in place. It should offer maximum protection, so why was he afraid it would not be good enough?
He put his ear to the portal but still heard nothing. Finally he squatted down and looked through the keyhole. For a moment he saw only darkness. Just as he was about to pull away, IT suddenly appeared!
The one-red eye of The Woolly Weegie!
The boy sprang back but knew he was too late. He had been seen and nothing would keep the monster out now. He and his sister were doomed!
The two children clung together as the thing began pounding on the door with ever increasing force. They watched helplessly as the heavy nails holding the door hinges in place began to come away from the wall.
They should have run and hid, but in the one room log cabin there was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. The door was the only way in or out.
Inevitably, the door fell forward, and the rushing air caused the loan candle flame to blow out. From the brightness of the full moon the children could see the huge hulking form which filled the doorway blocking their only hope of escape.
In a vain attempt to protect his sister the boy thrust her behind him, but it would all be for naught. The Woolly Weegie’s one red eye glowed in the darkness, and it looked directly at the children. There would be no mercy and no escape.
The monster lumbered forward and reach out towards the children with huge clawed hands.
The little girl screamed…

 (Cliffhanger Intentional)

Don't worry, I'll tell the way my Dad ended it. Eventually. If you are interested that is...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Cozy Poison ~ Monkshood

In my last article for Cozy Mystery Magazine, I wrote about Agatha Christie, one of our most beloved cozy mystery authors. For today's article I had planned to write about another classic cozy author, but then I awoke this morning with a different topic on my mind. Poison.

Clearly that isn’t a normal thought to have first thing in the morning, but as a cozy author, I’m always looking for interesting ways to dispatch the victims in my books. So far, I haven’t used poison as a weapon, but at the moment I’m looking for a way to kill a second victim in my current story. I explain all that so you understand why a middle-aged, Christian wife and mother woke up thinking about poison.

I don’t have a medical background, so any knowledge I have is dependent on research. However, Agatha Christie was trained as a pharmacy dispenser, and she had a vast in-depth knowledge of poisons. While considering my own book, I was looking over the uses of poisons in her books and found an interesting one—Monkshood. Even the name of the plant sounds shrouded in mystery. Christie used it in her book 4:50 From Paddington. I probably won’t be using it in mine, but the research was interesting, and I thought I’d share what I learned with our readers.

Monkshood has many varieties, including:  Aconitum napellus (wild monkshood), A. columbianum (western monkshood), or A. vulparia (wolfbane). The active component in Monkshood is aconitine, which can be ingested or absorbed through the open wounds or broken skin. There have been unsubstantiated cases of florists becoming unwell after simply handling the flowers.

Monkshood poisoning is horrific. Symptoms start rapidly and death occurs in ten minutes to a few hours. There is no specific antidote, although stomach pumping, forced oxygen, and heart stimulants can be used, sometimes successfully.

The first signs of aconite poisoning are almost immediate. Numbness of the tongue, throat, and face. Burning and tingling. These symptoms are followed by nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, prickling of skin, dimness of vision, weak pulse, low blood pressure, chest pain, giddiness, sweating, paralysis of the respiratory system, and convulsions.

The aconite creates an anesthesia that gradually spreads over the whole body, creating the feeling of ice in the veins. Although the effect is anesthetic in the body, aconite causes extreme pain associated with paralysis of the facial muscles. Paralysis of the heart muscle causes death. Unfortunately, the victim is conscious to the end of life.

Dr. G.H. Lamson
Plinius, a Roman naturalist, described Monkshood as a “plant arsenic.” It was once used to coat spears prior to hunting. It was supposedly a good way to kill a werewolf—if that sort of thing was needed. And, of course, it’s been used for murder. One well established case of murder with aconitine was in 1881 when Dr. George Henry Lamson used it to poison his brother-in-law. (Read more here.)

Monkshood can be mistaken for lettuce in a salad or radishes, but fortunately, it has such a distinctive and unpleasant taste, that rarely happens. That makes it a little harder to use in a cozy mystery.

Monkshood is a beautiful plant with foliage that’s as pretty as its flowers. It’s a perennial in zones 1 through 8 and blooms in late summer to fall. It dislikes heat, so does best planted in part shade. Yes, this gorgeous plant can be deadly, but so can many of the plants we use in our gardens.

Hmmm. Poisonous Beauty. . .that could be the name of a book, could it not?