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Recipe: Valentine’s Day Cocoa Cake

February 14, 2017

This recipe was originally titled “February Cocoa Cake,” but since it is from Southern Missouri, I’m guessing the “February” was a nod to Valentine’s Day and not the cold. It’s cold there in February, but not Wisconsin or Montana cold…

Anyway… CHOCOLATE! Gotta have it for Valentine’s Day, right?


Valentine’s Day Cocoa Cake

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • cold water
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water

Cream the shortening salt, sugar and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa and 1/3 cup of cold water. Then add to the creamed mixture.

Alternate adding another cup of cold water and the flour to the mixture, mixing as you do. Set aside.

In separate bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy and add sugar.  Continue beating until stiff.

Fold egg whites into batter.  Add dissolved baking soda.

Pour into lined baking pans… rectangle or round, whichever look you are going for, and bake at 350 degrees until top springs up or toothpick inserted comes out clean. (approximately 40 minutes for a 9 x 13 inch pan)

When cool, ice with the following:

Fudge Frosting


Love the look of this cake stand, although I have been on the lookout for a covered cake stand for AGES. (from Amazon)


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cook sugar, water, salt, chocolate and corn syrup over low heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cover pan for 2 to 3 minutes to dissolve any sugar on sides of pan. Uncover and continue cooking until reaches soft ball stage. Remove from heat, add butter and cool to lukewarm. Add vanilla and beat until easy to spread. If needed add small amount of hot water to thin.

Frost your cake and enjoy!

Also…. if you’re spending your Valentine’s Day alone, check out Lucy and the Valentine Verdict. A slice of chocolate cake and an evening with Lucy… not a horrid way to spend your Valentine’s. 🙂



Deadly Valentines… cozy mysteries for your Valentine week.

February 4, 2017

I don’t know about you, but I love a read with a theme, and holidays offer some of the best themes. Parties, dressing up, gifts… lots of opportunity for fun, love, and mystery.

So for this upcoming Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d put together a selection of Valentine-themed cozy mysteries for you to try.

deadly-valentineMy first pick is Deadly Valentine by Carolyn Hart. This is book 6 in her Death on Demand series. In it, mystery bookstore owner, Annie Laurance, gets an invitation to her neighbor’s Valentine Day masked ball. … a masked ball. Need I say more? You know all kinds of fun and trouble will come with that. As I said, this is book 6 in the series. You can start right here if you haven’t read any of the other Death on Demand books, but I think once you do, you’ll want to go back and read more. It is one of my favorite cozy mystery series.

Valentine Murder by Leslie Meier finds main character Lucy Stone baking Valentine-themed cupcakes for her kids. But while the kids may have a fun sugar-packed holiday, Lucy’s is a lot less sweet. She arrives at her first board meeting of the newly-renovated library and discovers the librarian dead in the basement. Soon she is one of just a handful of suspects. Not how she’d wanted to spend her day. (Valentine Murder is book 5 in the Lucy Stone Mystery Series.)

In Death of a Chocoholic by Lee Hollis,  food columnist Hayley Powell has given up on Valentine’s Day and romance. She just wants to dive into the box of gourmet chocolates gifted to her by chocolatier Bessie Winthrop. However, when Bessie turns up dead in her kitchen Hayley is convinced the “heart attack” was not from natural causes. (Book 4 in the Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery Series.)

Dusty Deals Mystery Holiday Novella, Lucy and the Valentine Verdict

Chocolate too rich for you? What about some cheese this Valentine’s Day? Agatha Award Winner As Gouda as Dead by Avery Aames offers love and murder. Cheese shop owner Charlotte Bessette is all geared up for her wedding, but when a body is found on her fiancee’s farm, things get just a tad off track. Not that Charlotte is going to let a killer ruin her perfect day.

And, finally, if you haven’t read it, I’ve put my own Valentine’s Day cozy mystery novella on sale for the month. Lucy and the Valentine Verdict takes Lucy and Peter on a Valentine murder mystery weekend with Kiska coming along for the ride. Get it for only 99¢.
Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Smashwords

Have a favorite to add? List it in the comments!

99 Cent Cozy Mystery Book BUNDLES

January 11, 2017

I was wandering around Amazon today and found three cozy mystery book bundles for 99 cents each. One for $1.99. And, of course, I wanted to share. 🙂

Hope there’s something great in this batch.

99 cents 99 cents
99 cents $1.99

Free & Bargain Cozy Mystery eBooks!

January 9, 2017

I love a bargain. I’m guessing you do too. 🙂 If so check out the books below. And I’d love to hear if you enjoy them! Let me know in the comments.

Click on the covers to go to Amazon. (Many should be the same price at other booksellers.)

All free or 99 cents at time of posting. Things change… check price before you buy.

Who Would You Cast as Lucy in a Movie

May 31, 2016

I’ve joined Wattpad. Not familiar with it? It’s a site where writers, both professional and amateur, share their writing for free.

Right now I’m sharing the first book in the Dusty Deals Mystery Series, Loose Screw and they have this fun feature where you can “cast” your characters.

So, what do you think? Who should play Lucy? Peter? Rhonda? And, of course, Betty?

I’d love to hear your ideas.

Oh, and check out my place at Wattpad.

3-Book Bundle on Sale for 99 Cents!

May 27, 2016
Loose & Lethal: Dusty Deals Mystery Series Box Set books 1 - 3

To celebrate the release of book 5 in the Dusty Deals Mystery Series (Loose Lips), I’ve put the 3-book bundle of the first three volumes on sale for only 99 cents!

This is a great deal that I’ve only offered once before.

You can get it now at most booksellers.

Amazon| Barnes & Noble |iTunes | Google Play |Smashwords | Kobo

In other news… uh Book 5 is FINALLY out. If you missed that announcement, you must not be signed up for my newsletter. Time to fix that! 😉

But here are the deets…


A mystery is brewing in Helena, Montana, and amateur sleuth Lucy Mathews is in the center of it… again.

An ex-reporter turned antiques shop owner, Lucy prides herself on being a true and loyal friend. So, when she discovers a new coffee kiosk is stealing business from a friend she is determined to help.

But, things are never that simple. At least not for Lucy.

The “Cuties” running the kiosk are a tad too cute for a group of do-gooding ladies. Kiska, Lucy’s Alaskan malamute, downs a bakery’s worth of cupcakes. And no one seems willing to help Lucy get the collectibles she needs to win the upcoming downtown window decorating contest.

Then, of course, just when Lucy thinks she can’t take any more… she lands on top of yet another dead body.

And this time more than one of Lucy’s friends is at the top of the suspect list.

Murder, antiques, romance. How will Lucy balance it all?

Amazon | iTunes | Smashwords|Google Play | Kobo |
Barnes & Noble

Hope you enjoy it!

April Winners!

May 15, 2014

The New to You Book winner is Dawn Frazier! Congrats, Dawn. You win a backlist title from Lynn Cahoon.

And the monthly winner of a $5 Amazon Gift Card is… Brooke Boos! Congrats, Brooke and thanks for subscribing to my newsletter.

Want to be entered to win a prize this month? Leave a comment on this month’s New to You Book Interview and sign up for my newsletter. (Resign up if you have before.)