Positive conversations with old and new friends. I'd love for you to join me on my back porch.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Patriotic Movies



July 4 always fills me with pride for our country. It's been a tough year, but we've weathered tough years before.

For fun, I thought it'd be nice to share some patriotic movies and quotes.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: “Liberty's too precious a thing to be buried in books. Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say: I'm free to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn't, I can, and my children will."

“When you pull on that jersey, you represent yourself and your teammates; and the name on the front, is a hell of a lot more important, than the one on the back.” Kurt Russell in Miracle.


Even The Muppet Movie chimes in with, “Patriotism swells in the heart of the American bear.”

How about "Top Gun" with Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer? Did you cry? Did you cheer? It definitely deserves to be mentioned. 

What about "Good Morning Vietnam" with Robin Williams?

Denzel Washington won an Academy Award for his performance in “Glory.” It also starred Morgan Freeman, Matthew Broderick and is about the United State’s first all African American regiment, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.


If you need a break from the heat this week, why not take time to watch a patriotic movie?

Wherever you are, I hope you have a safe and happy Fourth of July! 










Friday, June 26, 2020

Release Day for Dog-Gone Dead

Thanks to all of you who've joined me on my writing journey. I appreciate your support, and I'm so excited to announce Dog-Gone Dead is now available.

It's available in paperback and e-reader. If you're interested, here are the links.

Thanks so much, and I hope you have a great weekend!


Barnes & Noble: https://tinyurl.com/ycf7765c 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Bells, Tails, & Murder by Kathy Manos Penn

I recently met Kathy, and I'm excited to welcome her to my back porch. Kathy is a reader and author of cozy mysteries, and she's an animal lover. Kathy graciously answered some questions.

Kathy and Banjo

Who doesn’t love hanging out on comfy porch?  Thanks for the invitation to drop by. My husband and I added a screened porch to our home in Georgia ten years ago, and this time of year, you can find me there most mornings with Banjo and Puddin’.  Only after a relaxing hour or so drinking coffee and reading the paper do we three head upstairs to my office to write.

These two are my muses and inspire the personalities of the dog and cat in my Dickens & Christie cozy mystery series: Bells, Tails & Murder and Pumpkins, Paws & Murder plus a third book due out in August. Of course, they helped me answer the interview questions too. 





How did you choose the Cotswolds for the setting of your books?
I’ve been an Anglophile my whole life, and I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t reading books set in England—from historical fiction to mysteries. When I majored in English, I always chose British literature courses first. And finally, after I retired, I got to visit England—for three weeks.  The week we spent in the Cotswolds was my favorite.
It helped that I took copious notes while we traveled, mainly because I write a weekly newspaper column. You can find the columns I wrote about our trip to the Cotswolds, Dartmouth, and Oxford on my website (https://kathymanospenn.com/category/this-and-that/.) When I decided in 2019 to write cozy mysteries, those notes came in quite handy.
Tell us more about Banjo and Puddin’.
Banjo is a 70-pound lovable lugger—part Great Pyrenees, part Golden Retriever, and part Australian Shepherd—but his personality is pure GP. That means he’s a bit of a layabout, a gentle giant who wants nothing more than to be touched by anyone who comes near him.  Like Dickens in my books, he lives for belly rubs, and he’s a Mama’s boy who rarely leaves my side. Dickens is a dwarf GP, and you can’t just go out and find one. They’re anomalies. I googled mini Pyrs, thinking that would be the right size dog for my character, only to discover there was no such thing. That’s how I stumbled across dwarf Pyrs.
Now, Puddin’ is a feisty calico cat who rules the roost around here. Christie, in my books, started out as a calico, but honestly, it was tough to find pics of calicos to use for my covers, so she turned into a black cat. Since she’s named for Agatha Christie, black is probably more fitting. Puddin’ spends lots of time in my office—atop my desk or curled up in the file drawer—just like Christie.  And, like my fictional cat, Puddin’ expects a puddle of milk in her bowl when I get my coffee and is very picky about her dabs of wet food.
Bailey
Puddin




Banjo


Do the people in your real-life show up in your writing?
Absolutely! They say write what you know, and I do. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. I do have two sisters, and though exaggerated, their personalities are recognizable. Belle, the octogenarian who’s one of the main character’s friends, was inspired by a ninety-year-old friend who never slows down.
As for Leta, the protagonist, like me, she’s Greek and she’s a retired banker. Her cooking, the books she reads, her addiction to Words with Friends—all of those traits come from me as does her love of bicycling. I had to laugh when my editor inquired about Leta’s age. She thought Leta was probably in her 50s and wasn’t sure she’d be bicycling if she was.  That cracked me up, and I sent her a photo of me and my husband cycling in the Greek Islands—when I was in my 50s. We’ve also cycled in France and the Netherlands, though Greece was by far the most challenging.
By the way, my real-life husband is very much alive and none too pleased that I’m a widow in the books. I keep reminding him I say lovely things about Henry, Leta’s husband, and all those compliments are references to him.
Do you write with a theme in mind?
I don’t know that I’d call it a theme, but there are certain things that I plan to always include in the books. My real-life girlfriends are hugely important to me, so the camaraderie among Leta, Wendy, and Belle plays a big part in the series. I don’t belong to a book club, but I’m an avid reader, and each book includes a scene at the Book Nook, the village bookshop. When a book is read by the book club, you can be assured I’ve read and enjoyed it. And you’ll notice that books and authors are mentioned throughout. That’s the way conversations go with my girlfriends here in Atlanta.
Who’s your favorite author?
Louise Penny is at the top of my list, and I was fortunate enough to hear her speak at a small college in North Carolina. I read two-three books a week, so the names on the list shift around, but I adore Deborah Crombie, Elly Griffiths, and Jacqueline Winspear. Of course, except for Louise Penny’s books set in Canada, all the rest are set in England. And, yes, I’ve read lots of Agatha Christie and am addicted to Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot on PBS. My description of Agatha Christie’s summer home in book two comes from the visit I made there when I visited Dartmouth in 2018. What a treat that was!
What’s the most meaningful thing a fan has said about your books?
The statement that made me glow was from a woman who said that Belle reminded her of her grandmother.
After that, I’m delighted that two things show up time after time in my reviews. One is that readers appreciate the relationship among the friends in the books and that the women are well-rounded and intelligent.  One review described them as “full-throated.” Another is that people are pleasantly surprised they love the talking animals, that they add an interesting element to the book. Yes, Dickens & Christie talk to Leta, and she understands them. She’s the only person who does.
Any parting words to leave with us?
Of course!  We writers always have words.  First, thanks again for the invitation. And, second, I hope your readers will grab a copy of Bells, Tails, & Murder and get to know Leta and her friends—including the four-legged ones!

Kathy, thanks so much for stopping by! 


BELLS, TAILS, & MURDER
A Cotswolds village, a grieving heroine, two furry sidekicks . . . and a murder!
Life can change in a heartbeat . . .Tragedy propels Leta Parker to pursue a lifelong dream to leave Atlanta and retire to the Cotswolds. When her dog Dickens stumbles across a dead body—Leta’s inner Nancy Drew is awakened. One call to her friend Wendy is all it takes to get the retired English teacher and her mum involved in solving a murder.
Two whipsmart retirees, one spunky senior citizen, and a feisty dog and cat are on the case.
Who better to unearth clues in the village? Even Dickens and Christie get in on the act gathering intelligence from their four-legged friends. You’ll be captivated as this unlikely team of sleuths ferrets out a long-buried secret—a scenario that would make any BBC cozy mystery producer proud. 
And don’t miss the Greek Salad recipe in the back!
Purchase the books on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084X6546S
Meet the author

Picture Kathy Manos Penn sitting serenely at her desk surrounded by her four-legged office assistants. Happily retired from corporate America, she’d never considered being an author until a friend suggested she write a cozy mystery.

As a child, she took a book everywhere—to family dinners, to doctors’ offices, and of course to bed. Years later, a newspaper article inspired her to put pen to paper and submit her thoughts to the editor. Before she knew it, she was writing weekly columns and blogs—in addition to her demanding day job. Then came a book co-written with her dog. As she says, “Doesn’t everyone do that?”

Now, she’s writing cozy animal mysteries featuring a dog and cat who converse with their owner. If a dog can write a book, surely animals can communicate. Naturally, her office assistants help with the dialogue. And, yes, they’re angling to be listed as co-authors.

For a special treat, listen to Kathy’s interview on the It’s a Mystery Podcast.

Visit her website for information on the Dickens & Christie cozy mystery series—photos, blogs, a map of Astonbury, and more. To stay up-to-date on book news and releases, sign up for her newsletter.



Find Kathy on these social media sites:

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Bagel & Brew in Waco, Texas

I recently met William Hoyt in Waco, Texas. He's a Waco native and has found his career selling bagels and schmear. Trey is super friendly and outgoing and just a real joy to be around.

We met Trey early on a Friday morning in front of Pinewood Coffee Bar. (I had an amazing latte at Pinewood.)



I ordered a blueberry bagel with strawberry and peach schmear. The bagel was huge and they applied a generous amount of delicious schmear.

It was the best bagel I ever ate.


Thanks Trey for a delightful breakfast. Every time I visit Waco, I'll eat a an amazing bagel from Bagel & Brew.


Friends if you're in Waco and spot William Hoyt's food truck, be sure to stop for an unforgettable bagel!


Thursday, June 11, 2020

Dog-Gone Dead Available for Pre-Order

The second book in A Low Country Dog Walker series is Dog-Gone Dead, and it's up for pre-order as an e-book right now. COVID-19 has affected so many life issues, and the people who print books are way behind schedule. I'll update you on when it's available as a paperback.

I'm not complaining because there are so many more important things in the world these days than my book getting printed.

I hope you enjoy reading, and I'd like to share a little about Dog-Gone Dead.

Andi Grace is back with no intentions of solving another murder. Until. She and her best friend, Juliet, find a dead body early one morning. As she solves another mystery, you'll meet new characters, relationships will grow, and Andi Grace will learn how to face fear.


Here's the blurb:

Who’d have thought mulch could cause such a stink?


Low Country dog walker Andi Grace Scott is happy to score some free mulch from one of her brother’s landscaping jobs—until she discovers the dead body buried beneath the bark.


Worse, her brother’s landscaping tools were used to commit the murder. Once the police arrest her brother and seem happy to have “caught their man,” Andi Grace has no choice but to track down the real killer. She’ll risk everything to prove her brother’s innocence. Even if it means turning over every rock in town.



If you love small-town coastal life, dogs, and strong heroines, you’ll love Dog-Gone Dead.



Here are the ebook links:

Barnes & Noble: https://tinyurl.com/ycf7765c 









Monday, May 25, 2020

Cannonball Jellyfish

Before moving to the coast, I knew getting stung by a jellyfish was painful. I researched what to do for a jellyfish sting. Take Benadryl and wash the area with ocean water. If you can rinse the area with vinegar, it's even better but who takes vinegar to the beach?

If you've heard urinating on a jellyfish sting is a cure, it's not. This so-called treatment can actually worsen the injury. The urine can trigger the stingers to release more venom. 

There are a variety of jelly fish. The can be small or huge, and they come in different shapes. Most have nematocysts in their tentacles which are tiny stinging cells. A sting can be painful and even life-threatening. Proceed with caution if you're stung. 



The most common jellyfish I come across in South Carolina are the cannonball jellyfish. Most of the time I see them washed up on the beach, but if I come across one in the ocean, you better believe I'm getting out of the way.





If you visit a Carolina beach, keep your eyes open. I'm sure you'll see a jellyfish.

Take care my friends and stay safe!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Justice Undercover by Connie Queen



Hello everyone.

Jackie, thank you for inviting to your back porch for a visit. I appreciate the opportunity to be with you today.

Even though it’s May in Nebraska, the trees are just now blooming. I don’t have a back porch, but if I did, this would be my view. Meet Nash, my Great Dane.






The image Back Porch Reflections bring to my mind are peace and family. What a great title for a blog, Jackie!

I come from a large, close-knit family. We had our share of laughs, debates, went to Church together, loved singing in the car, and us kids were competitive in just about everything we did. Growing up, mom was a great cook and eating meals together was just a part of life.

In Justice Undercover, my Love Inspired Suspense debut, the heroine Kylie Stone is part of a big and boisterous family. Two years prior as a US Marshal, someone tries to kill her, and she’s forced to fake her own death and goes rogue undercover. This takes a huge toll on Kylie, and when she learns her mom has cancer and is about to have a risky surgery, Kylie’s desperate to return. Her greatest fear is her mom will die without knowing Kylie’s alive. While dodging bullets, Kylie and Texas Ranger Luke Dryden are in a race to capture a killer and find their way home before it’s too late.


Justice Undercover will be in Walmart on June 3rd and is available for pre-order now.

Connie thanks so much for taking time to stop by. 

Readers, Connie has graciously agreed to give a copy of Justice Undercover to one lucky commenter. (For US residents only.)

Connie can be found on social media at the following places.

Website: conniequeenauthor.com
Twitter: @conniesuqueen
Facebook: queenofheartthrobbingsuspense





Saturday, May 2, 2020

Sharee Stover's German shepherd Niko

Sharee Stover is a friend of mine who writes romantic suspense. Many of you know I have a German shepherd in Bite the Dust. So I've grown fond of German shepherds, and Sharee is going to share about her dog and a little bit about her new book Untraceable Evidence.

This is Niko, my 100 lbs. German Shepherd who we are convinced, is actually part cat. Seriously, he has more cat mannerisms than dog ones. But he’s a faithful friend willing to wake me before dawn every morning for our walk/run regardless of the weather. He’s a great guard dog, especially if you’re a threatening leaf fluttering past the window. And he loves to play ball but refuses to give it back unless you’re willing to bargain the ball for something better. Thus, we have to take two balls, one for him to catch and hold onto, until we can negotiate with the other one. Niko is also afraid of the dark. So, there’s no way he’s going outside to do his business once the sun goes down unless you accompany him with a flashlight. True story. With all his quirkiness, Niko is still the best dog I’ve ever had. He’s great with people and he is very low maintenance…provided he gets a morning and afternoon walk.


Sharee, what is the farthest east in USA have you traveled?
I’ve had the wonderful privilege of visiting NYC, Washington, D.C., North Carolina, and Florida.

Do you have a favorite beach? It can be in California or foreign country or wherever.
Clearwater, Florida is by far my favorite. The water is warm and beautiful and there are dolphins!!!

I always get excited when I see a dolphin. What's your new book about? 
Untraceable Evidence is the first of three books in my ATF Agents series.





Scientist Ace Steele is hired by the ATF to develop a top-secret project named Ghost—a 3D printer gun that uses frangible ammunition. The components are comprised entirely of plastic, making the gun untraceable via metal detectors. The ATF is certain a mole exists who is working with a local militia. The militia’s leader will do anything to get Project Ghost. 

If you want to connect with Sharee, you can find her on social media. Here are the social media and links to buy her book:


Buy link for Silent Night Suspect: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1335232532
Buy link for Untraceable Evidence: https://amzn.to/2SrYfhn

Sharee, thanks so much for joining us on my back porch! 

Stay safe and well my friends! 


Monday, April 6, 2020

DIY No Sew Face Mask Easy and Quick for Anyone



For those of us who don't sew and don't have material on hand, this is a possible way to make a face mask.
What do you think?

Friday, April 3, 2020

Be A Light (Lyric Video)

I've been meeting my critique group online for coffee each morning for about two weeks. For different reasons this morning we all were a little down.

We shared our concerns and prayed. We also discussed how music can help us keep our eyes on God. In case music helps lift you, I'd like to share this song with you by Thomas Rhett.

Stay safe my friends!



Friday, March 27, 2020

Stay Home Stay Safe

If you're like me, you can't quit watching the news. Over and over we're asked to stay home if we can.

Many in my family work in health care. Tim, Bill, Scott, and Chris. They don't have the freedom to skip work or work from home. The best way we can help those on the front lines is to pray for them and stay home.



Please friends, stay home.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

What Are You Focusing On These Days?

Shay Vaughn is a friend of mine, and she gave me permission to share this with you.


This was heavy on my heart this morning and I just had to share.
God is trying to show us something. Hear me out...
- Yesterday Italy woke up with low pollution and saw clean water in their canals and fish in them for the first time in almost 60 years.
God wants us to know he is making something NEW!
Though we may be fighting through the worst, Gods got this. He is bringing the world together by isolating everyone. He’s trying to get us to slow down and focus on the truly important things in life like your family and spending time doing some #selfcare.
Yes, that sounds crazy, but it’s true.
Though some are taking extreme advantage by stockpiling, most communities are coming together to make sure everyone is fed, being educated and offering childcare if their parents are still at work.
Communities are singing from their balconies in unison while being completely separated. This is what God wants of us. He wants us to lend a hand to our neighbors whether it been next door or across the world.
Some may disagree but this is what I’m seeing and it is amazing that God is turning this tragedy into his mighty work.
We may not be able to have church, but that is not stopping us. There is now a Tik Tok Church and it is reaching so so many. He is showing us all the good in this world!
Satan is driving this world apart!!!! It’s amazing our resilience is everyone just works together and does their part. That includes the fortunate and unfortunate. It may not be over and many have lost loved ones and I pray for those families but trust in him because he’s got this!
This came from my devotion this morning:
Whenever you find yourself overwhelmed by life, you always have two choices: you can focus on your circumstances, or fix your eyes on Jesus. If you choose to look to Jesus above everything else, you will begin to see that the storms you face are not nearly as powerful as the Savior choosing to walk through the storm alongside you.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭56:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:33-34‬ ‭NIV‬‬
“If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name—the Lord your God— the Lord will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses. He will bring on you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you. The Lord will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed. You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left but few in number, because you did not obey the Lord your God.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭28:58-62‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Birthplace of Sweet Tea



I recently learned South Carolina is the birthplace of sweet tea. I hope you enjoy this charming video about the tea plantations and the history of this beverage that has been talked about and sung about. It's part of our culture.


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Bite the Dust


Years of dreaming, praying, and lots of hard work have led to my first cozy mystery being published by BelleBooks. It's the first book in A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery series.

Here's the back cover blurb:

One steamy South Carolina morning, Low Country dog walker Andi Grace Scott discovers a client’s dead body. Police quickly decide she’s the prime suspect. Horrified, she knows she’ll have to turn detective if she’s going to convince them they’re barking up the wrong tree.

Proving her innocence could be a tall order. The local police never solved the hit-and-run that killed her parents; Andi Grace isn’t sure they’ll solve this crime either…not when they have a convenient suspect—one caught with the possible murder weapon in her hand. She’ll have follow every clue and call in every favor, even if that puts her in danger.

I've been asked to speak and sign books at Wesley Village in Wilmore, KY. If you're in the area on April 8 at 1:15, I'd love to meet you.

I'll also be signing books April 15 at The Lakes at Litchfield in Litchfield, South Carolina. I'm not sure about the time, but if you're interested I'll let you know.


While writing is hard work, it's also a joy. 

Through this journey I've been encouraged by my family and many good friends. 

Philemon 1:7 says, "Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people."




Monday, March 2, 2020

Sweetgrass Baskets

We got our first sweetgrass basket for a wedding gift. We knew it was a pretty basket, but we didn't understand the tradition and history of a sweetgrass basket. The baskets are a Gullah tradition.



West African slaves began weaving these baskets from bulrush which is a strong but supple marshgrass. The original purpose was to winnow rice from chaff on plantations.




Many people display these beautiful works of art in their homes. If you'd like to have a sweetgrass basket for yourself, they can be found at the Charleston City Market and many of the gift stores in South Carolina. There are many roadside stands where artisans sell baskets.





Monday, February 24, 2020

All Y'all Might Enjoy Carolina Treet at Your Next Cookout

You means one person.

Y'all means two people.

All y'all means three or more people. This was new to me because I thought y'all meant two or more people.

Years ago when I moved to Georgia, I learned pulled pork was the only barbecue worth eating. It took us a while to find our favorite barbecue place because my husband enjoys a sweeter tomato based sauce.

South Carolina has a barbecue association who says Germans came to our state with mustard. One of the favorite barbecue sauces here is mustard-based with vinegar and spices which gives South Carolina barbecue a zingy flavor.

One year on vacation, we discovered Carolina Treet Cooking Barbecue Sauce. It's perfect for grilling out pork chops. We used to stock up on Carolina Treet when we vacationed, but now that we live in South Carolina, we can buy it whenever we want to cook out.




Monday, February 17, 2020

Lowcountry or Low Country

A Low Country Dow Walker Mystery series is set in, you guessed it, the Lowcountry area of South Carolina.

I've been familiar with the term Lowcountry for years, but I've been confused if it's one or two words.

Here's what Merriam-Webster dictionary says..

Low Country
 geographical name
variants: or Lowcountry \ ˈlō-​ˌkən-​trē  \
Definition of Low Country (Entry 2 of 2)

low-lying region along the Atlantic coasts of South Carolina and Georgia


To celebrate the release of Bite the Dust, in the next few weeks, I'll share Low Country terminology with you. I hope you enjoy these pictures of my little slice of life in the Low Country. 








Patriotic Movies

July 4 always fills me with pride for our country. It's been a tough year, but we've weathered tough years before. For fun, I ...