Maggie Pill

The Most Entertaining Cozy Author You Never Heard Of!

Monday, November 30, 2015

30 Days of Christmas--Day 6*: The Perfect Gift

Many of us start looking for the perfect gift around this time. (If you're one of those people who's had your shopping done since July 12th, I still love you.) There are lots of ways to go about finding things to make those around us happy, but I've been thinking of something you might not have considered.

Why not give people the right to be different from you?

Consider if you will how much stress--family, community, national, and international--would disappear if we didn't insist on being right.

Football fans call rival teams terrible names, and their fans must be stupid if they cheer for them.

Men and women make nasty jokes about the other gender's supposed weaknesses.

Kids take note of the differences between them and conclude Not Like Me means bad. I don't think they come to that belief on their own.

Internet philosophers speculate on the oddness--and therefore the wrongness--of this person or that group.

People of different cultures are lumped into one category and labeled as wrong without the slightest attempt to understand that their system works for them, and besides, individuals within the culture aren't exactly alike any more than we are. (I never go commando when I go clubbing--oh, wait--I never go clubbing. Still, that's the view some around the world have of Americans.)

And politicians? Their view has to be correct because, well, it's us against them. So vote for me and I'll put all those wrong people in their place.

What if for Christmas we gave everyone the right to think and act differently from what we as individuals call normal, as long as they aren't harming others?

What if for Christmas we didn't judge? I think I read somewhere God's supposed to take care of that.

BONUS: Because you made it this far into my philosophical rant, I'm posting a recipe to try:

Pecan Bark

1 cup unsalted butter (I used salted and it worked fine)

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

24 graham cracker squares

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Line a 10x15 inch cookie sheet with foil and lightly grease the foil.

Place crackers on the sheet in one layer.  Sprinkle pecans evenly over the top and set aside.

Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add brown sugar and stir until mixture boils.  Boil for one minute.

Pour mixture evenly over crackers & pecans.  Bake for ten minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately place hot cookie sheet in the freezer.  After 1 hour, remove and break back into pieces.  Needs no refrigeration.    

*In case you're wondering, I'm taking Sundays off, so there's no Day 5

Saturday, November 28, 2015

30 Days of Christmas-Day Four

Barb's Christmas Memories

I remember Christmas. We always went to our grandparents’ house for dinner. The times I remember best were when Faye and I were around eight and nine. Our cousins were all boys, and they lived in faraway Muskegon, so we seldom saw them. They were rough-and-tumble types, and I never enjoyed their company much, though Faye was always willing to play Monkey in the Middle or King of the Hill with them.

Dad and Uncle Marv, the sons-in-law, sat in the living room, smoking and swapping stories with Grandpa Lemmon. Mom, Aunt Marilyn, and Grandma worked together in the kitchen, each preparing her signature dishes. Grandma cooked the turkey, filling it with spicy stuffing and making delicious gravy from the drippings. Mom liked to do the salads, and I would help her clean and slice vegetables for tossed salad, pasta salad, potato salad, broccoli salad, and fruit salad. Aunt Mar was the side dish expert, and she’d bring a squash to roast, her famous brown-sugar beans, and some new recipe she’d gotten from her recipe-card club.

I remember bits and pieces of the men's conversations, mostly about agriculture or the hunting season just completed. The women talked of their children and the small irritations of mice in the house and stains on the linen tablecloth. Mom encouraged me to join in, but I preferred to listen, peering into the world of adults. I could never see my future as one of them, cooking for a dozen people and chatting about curtains.

Did I despise their small-town lives and homey talk? Never. I loved feeling part of those dinners, though I knew even then it was not be the life for me. I didn’t feel they were wrong. I was the one who was different, because I didn’t long for a kitchen to cook in or children to tend. Still, I loved watching them. They knew who they were. They knew what they were. Christmas was my chance to observe, though it often felt as if I were watching an alien species.

Friday, November 27, 2015

30 Days of Christmas-DAY THREE

Here's our first contest of the 30 Days of Christmas. It's a test of how well you know my books (and that other woman's too).

Answer the five questions. Send your answers by email to If you get them all right, you'll be entered to win the book of your choice by Peg or Maggie in e-book or print format.

1. What is Loser's hometown?

2. What type of hat does Seamus always wear?

3. What is Rory Neuencamp's job title?

4. How did Simon Maldon meet his future wife?

5. What does Sarah Leigh do for a living?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

30 Days of Christmas-DAY TWO

Today I'm challenging you. Tell me: Is your pet on Santa's Naughty List or his Nice List?

A sentence is fine.

A paragraph is better.

A photo is awesome.

This is Burt. He's on the Nice List because he's so patient with his little pet girl.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

30 Days of Christmas-DAY ONE

We'll start with a giveaway--How's that for getting in the Christmas spirit?

I have 2 copies of Peg's historical mystery, HER MAJESTY'S MISCHIEF, in large print to give away. If you have someone on your Christmas list who needs/prefers large print, here's a chance to get them Book #4 of the Simon & Elizabeth series.

What do you do?

If you're signed up for my newsletter, just say so in the comments below and I'll put your name in the drawing for one of the books.

If you're not signed up for my newsletter, you can sign up below.

  (You might want to know that I only send a newsletter when I have a new book coming out, and I'll   never give your name/email to anyone else.)

If your name is drawn I'll contact you and you can decide if you want the book mailed to you or directly to the person on your gift list (personalized, of course!.

Once you're signed up, you'll also be eligible for freebies I plan to send out after Christmas, so you can get a print book or try out that new e-reader you're going to get from Santa!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Starting November 25, you'll want to check this blog every day. I'm planning 30 Days of Christmas, a countdown to the holiday that is sure to make you merry. (Peg and I are collaborating)

Pet Stories
Character-Written Posts
Author Spotlights
...and anything else we can think of!

So starting Wednesday, Nov. 25th, check here every day for something to warm your heart and boost your Christmas spirit!

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Deer Camp Widow's Pledge

Hubby left for deer camp on Tuesday, and I told him, "When you get home, I'm going to have the new book done."
But Tuesday I had some errands to run. Plenty of time to do it later.
Wednesday I had a lunch date with a friend. Did some shopping. Didn't feel much like writing when I got home.
Thursday was a dinner date with another friend. I did a little writing in the a.m. but couldn't really settle in.
Friday was Career Day at a local school. Then I drove up to see my MinLaw and did a little more shopping.
The weekend was spent with my son, who came up to hunt. (Yes, people from downstate come here to hunt and people from here go farther north. I can't explain it, but I guess it's like the thrill of shopping at a new mall, even though it has the same stores as every other mall you've ever been in.) That was great, but I didn't get much writing done even after he left because FOOTBALL.
So my husband called last night and in the conversation asked if the book was done yet.
"Not quite," I replied.
Like maybe two more pages than I had on Tuesday???
Today's the day to really hit it, so this post is finished!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Things about Dogs

They never judge.
They forgive, even when you pull their tails.
If you want to play with a toy, okay, they will too.
When you laugh, it makes them happy.
If you don't want the rest of that cookie, they'll take care of it for you.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Maggie Goes to Magna

Magna Cum Murder is a mystery lovers' convention held each year in Indianapolis, IN, the last weekend of October. It's organized by Ball State University's Kathryn Kennison, who's a little dynamo seen everywhere, making sure things are going well for everyone. Since it's held at the beautiful Columbia Club on Monument Circle, literally in the middle of Indy, there's plenty to see as you walk around the hotel and the downtown. Since it was Halloween weekend, we saw some strange sights, like a Pedal-bar full of witches (sorry, I didn't get a pic of that one) and a wedding in the hotel grand room with most of the guests in full costume. (How would you like to have Beetlejuice at your wedding?)

The weekend was spent discussing mysteries, both on formal panels and informally in corners of the hotel. Guest of Honor was William Kent Krueger, who is one of the best mystery writers out there today. He's from Minnesota, so many of his themes speak to Michigan people.

This year I spoke on strong female protagonists and spooky mysteries. Peg took the lead on the spooky topic, since the Dead Detectives are hers. I had my say about tough women, and I was particularly glad to be able to answer an audience member's question: "Don't female lead characters have to be young, attractive, and good at martial arts?"

Retta would argue that a person can be attractive after "young" is no longer applicable, and Barb would certainly take issue with the whole question. I'm so pleased that the Sleuth Sisters books do well, because we need to recognize that women over fifty can still be interesting and do interesting things. I never wanted my Sleuth Sisters to be the snoopy old lady type, but they aren't in the Supergirl category either. They're real people to me, and it's gratifying when readers feel the same way.