Thursday, May 5, 2016

Have you ever wondered what your favorite authors are doing when they aren't writing those wonderful cozy mysteries that we love so much?

Do they have other jobs, hobbies, hidden talents?

Now you can find out!

Stop by the blog on Thursdays for delightful guest posts from our amazing authors! 

They're going to be sharing all sorts of things that they do when they're not writing.

Today's special guest author is 

Barbara Early
Beverly Allen

Barabra as Beverly is the author of the wonderful 
Bridal Bouquet Shop Mysteries.

So, what does Barbara do when she's not writing?

When I’m Not Writing...

What do I do when I’m not writing? Well, I have a variety of interests. Perhaps too many. I can’t recall the last time I was bored. When I’m not writing or reading, I love playing board games and watching old movies. I’ve done all kinds of needlework and other crafts, tried my hand in sewing and quilting, decorated cakes, gardened, canned my own jam, catered large dinners, built shelving and tackled all kinds of home improvement projects, and, of necessity, even dabbled in flower arranging. (That will be funny in a minute.) I’m more of a jack-of-all-trades and a dabbler than a master craftsman. I love trying new things. Oh, and because many of my activities can be accomplished sitting down, I’ve recently joined the Fitbit craze.

But what I think Lisa wants me to talk about is my latest obsession. I’m not even sure what to call it. It’s not quite scrapbooking, since there isn’t any scrapbook in sight. Maybe mixed media? Graphic arts?

But something odd happened when I got a Cricut for Christmas. If you’re not familiar with the device, think of it as a printer, but instead of printing, it cuts things.

Now, I really didn’t need another hobby. I originally wanted a cutter to perhaps aid in making promotional materials for my books. And it does that.
For example, I used it to cut out a bookmark in the shape of the toy soldier on the cover of the first book in my new upcoming series. And also to cut out small stickers for Scrabble necklaces as a giveaway at Malice Domestic.

But then I started to have a little fun.

See, the Cricut can cut more than paper, labels and cardstock. It can also cut vinyl—the same adhesive-backed vinyl that’s used to make outdoor signs, and this can be stuck to, oh, just about anything. And that’s where the fun begins:
First, I decorated my Kindle and phone cover with images I found online, celebrating my Nancy Drew and Doctor Who fandom.

Then I picked up some wall tiles from the hardware store and made a series of coasters featuring some of my favorite fictional detectives.

Then I dabbled in plates, adding quotes and illustrations from classic books.

And mugs and tumblers.

And tiles, yes flooring tiles from Lowes or Home Depot…

Vinyl can also be added to wood. But if you add vinyl to wood, paint the wood, and remove the vinyl…

Or make a vinyl stencil, put it on a canvas, paint, then remove the vinyl.

Or add the vinyl to paper. Or vinyl to a frame and use cut paper underneath.

And people seemed to like this at Malice Domestic. I cut stencils out of freezer paper, iron them to a scarf, and painted it with fabric paint.

Thanks, Lisa, for giving me an opportunity 
to share my new hobby!

Thank you for sharing with us, Barbara. 
I love everything, but that scarf is 

You can thank Barbara too by leaving a comment.

Another great way to say thanks is reading and reviewing Barbara books.

You'll love the Bridal Bouquet Shop Mysteries
under Barbara's pen name Beverly Allan.

Book One

As the co-owner of The Rose in Bloom, Audrey Bloom creates magnificent flower arrangements for brides to be. Though helping to plan a wedding can be stressful, it’s nothing compared to the groom turning up dead. 

A designer of eye-catching bridal bouquets—many of them based on the Victorian meanings behind each flower—Audrey Bloom is used to celebrations that end with happily ever after. In fact, every couple she’s worked with is still together, living in wedded bliss. But her perfect record is about to be broken.

Her childhood friend Jenny Whitney has reeled in the most eligible bachelor in Ramble, Virginia, and she’s hired Audrey to design the bouquet. But before Jenny can walk down the aisle clutching her blend of anemone, scabious, and pussy willow (a floral disaster in Audrey’s mind), the groom is found dead—sprinkled with bits of a bouquet. This is bad for business—not to mention for Jenny, who has become the prime suspect. So Audrey decides to do a little digging herself, hoping she won’t be the next 
Ramble resident pushing up daisies…

Book Two

Deadly thorns lurk among the roses in this Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery

Florist Audrey Bloom, co-owner of the Rose in Bloom, creates fragrant bouquets for brides. But when a wedding goes fatally wrong, it’s up to Audrey to sniff out a killer . . .

Everything is coming up roses for Audrey when her dazzling creations are picked to be featured on a wedding reality show. The hot series is filming an episode about a bride who’s bonkers for bells, and Audrey’s bouquets of campanulas, calla lilies, and Bells-of-Ireland are perfect for the bridal theme.
But Audrey’s debut quickly becomes a hothouse of trouble. Her ex, Brad, shows up as a crew member on the show, threatening her blossoming relationship with Nick the baker. To make matters worse, when one of the show’s hosts is found dead in the bell tower of a historic church, all the evidence points toward Brad.

Now Audrey needs to weed out the real killer before someone else’s chance at stardom is permanently nipped in the bud . . .

Book Three

In the latest Bridal Bouquet Shop mystery, florist Audrey Bloom creates an arrangement for a one-of-a-kind wedding, but ends up pruning a one-of-a-kind criminal…

As the co-owner of the Rose in Bloom Flower Shop, Audrey knows how to put together unique wedding bouquets, but this one takes the cake. The daughter of a local historian is getting married in a medieval-themed, hand-fasting ceremony, and Audrey is responsible for providing period-accurate blooms. 

But making sure she gets her roses right turns out to be the least of Audrey’s problems. Shortly after the vows are exchanged, the father of the groom suddenly drops dead. When Audrey discovers the man’s death stems from monkshood poisoning, it’s a clear-cut case of murder. Now, faced with a suspect list that rivals the guest list, Audrey needs to root out the toxic killer…

Be on the look out for 

Book 1 in the Vintage Toy Shop Mystery
by Barbara Early
Writing under her own name

Liz McCall grew up in a playful winter wonderland but it was never her dream to manage her father’s vintage toyshop. However, after he sank his entire police pension into the business, someone needed to help him turn his dreams into reality—and keep him from sneaking off to patrol the not-so-mean streets of East Aurora, NY.

The mood goes from nice to naughty when a nervous man, who was trying to have his antique toys appraised, is found in the shop with a lawn dart through his chest. Suddenly, Liz’s business plan is plunged into deep freeze, while she and her father find themselves toying with a cold-blooded killer who’s playing for keeps.

Now, it looks like Christmas might be cancelled for the neighborhood kids if Liz can't wrap up the case in Barbara Early's delightful debut Death of a Toy Soldier.

Pre-order now


Tuesday, October 11!

Barbara Early grew up buried in the snowy suburbs of Buffalo, NY, where she developed a love for all things sedentary: reading, writing, classic movies, and Facebook scrabble. She holds a degree in Electrical Engineering, but her penchant for the creative caused her to run away screaming from the pocket-protector set. She taught for several years in a Christian school before home schooling her daughter successfully through high school. Barbara cooks up cozy mysteries with a healthy dose of comedy and sometimes a splash of romance, and was a double finalist in the 2010 ACFW Genesis competition.

Facebook ~ Barbara Early

Facebook ~ Beverly Allen

As always, please leave a comment and 
let me know what you think!

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  1. Thanks, Lisa (and Barbara). I'm amazed at all the great ideas Barb has had, using her Cricut. Plus, I'm looking forward to Death of a Toy Soldier. Happy Thursday, to you.

    1. Thanks, Patricia! It's a great creative outlet for me. That sounds kind of odd since writing is creative. But novels require a large expenditure of time. Crafts are quick, and I can experiment and try new things. If they don't work out, I lose maybe a couple of hours.

  2. I enjoyed seeing Barbara's work as she posted it, however the new projects are so creative as well. Love the scarfs and charms. That was certainly a great Christmas gift; continue to enjoy it.

  3. I never knew you could do that much with a Cricut. Your creations are amazing. Thanks for the post, Lisa and Barbara.