Blog

One of My Favorite Bakers

Because cozy mysteries and baking are a popular combination, I’d like to introduce you to one of my favorite bakers, Brooke. (My other favorite baker is Brooke’s sister, Allie.)

Brooke and her teacher.

Me: Brooke, why do you enjoy baking cupcakes?

Brooke: I enjoy cupcakes because they can be fun and creative, or you can make simple cupcakes. There is no right or wrong rule when it comes to cupcakes. Plus, this is an art I’m good at.

Me: Do you prefer to create cupcakes or eat them?

Brooke: I prefer to create. You can make fancy cupcakes or monster cupcakes, and it’s a lot of fun.

Allie in the background: I’d rather eat a cupcake.

Me: Do you prefer cakes or cupcakes, and why?

Brooke: Cupcakes because I can create more flavors, and I can add fillings.

Me: What kind of fillings?

Brooke: Crushed cookies and sprinkles are two of my favorites. But the cupcake needs to be cool enough or else it crumbles.

Brooke recently participated in Cupcake Wars. The kids were put in groups of two, and Brooke and her partner won. Congratulations, Brooke.

Isn’t this so cute with Cookie Monster eating a cookie?

I asked Brooke how she felt about serving her creations, and she told me it was fun to serve the cupcakes and watch people’s reaction. It makes her happy to give people fun food that tastes good.

Maybe in a few years Brooke and I can team up and write a cozy mystery with a theme of baking cupcakes. I’ll keep you posted.

Brooke, thanks so much for spending time with us and sharing your thoughts on baking!

Cozy Mystery Author Kim Davis

I’m delighted to introduce you to another cozy mystery author, Kim Davis.

Kim Davis

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Jackie! I’m celebrating my new release, cozy mystery Framed and Frosted, along with settling into having a new puppy in our home. While we doggie-sit our grand-doggie, Piper, several times a year (note: Piper is the dog model for my Cupcake Catering Mysteries covers) she’s now six years old and has a comfortable routine that works for me being able to sit at my computer and get work done. Now that we have Missy, a four-month-old mini Goldendoodle, I find that I’m chasing her around to keep her out of trouble almost all day long. My fitbit will attest to that fact! When I do find a moment for myself (i.e. she decides to take a nap) too many other chores and responsibilities crowd out my writing and blogging time. I also had a grand vision of Missy curling up next to me each evening while I read (generally to catch up on books to review for my blog) and sip a glass of wine… boy was I delusional, lol! It seems to be her super active time and by the time she crashes for the night, so do I.

That said, Missy is a treasured part of our home and as I was finishing up final edits for Framed and Frosted, I decided I just had to make Missy a part of the story and have her continue on in the series alongside Piper. It was too late to add her to the cover but I’m already dreaming up ways to include both Piper and Missy in the design, along with ways for them to keep my protagonist cupcake caterer Emory out of trouble! Now to only find the time to get those dreams down onto paper 😊

How adorable is Missy? And she’s grown so much.

Framed and Frosted, the third book in the Cupcake Catering Mystery series, finds cupcake caterer, Emory Martinez, working at a Laguna Beach society Fourth of July soiree, with her sister and their new employee, Sal. With a host who seems intent on accosting both catering employees and guests alike, things go from bad to worse when he accuses Sal of murdering his long-dead son.

As the crescendo of exploding fireworks overhead becomes the backdrop for cupcakes and champagne, a deadly murder occurs. Can Sal and Emory explain why the cupcake the host ate, after shoving a trayful of buttercream-frosted cupcakes onto Sal, resulted in his death? Or will the detective and guests alike believe that Sal is a murderer? Emory and her octogenarian employer, Tillie, whip into action to find out who framed Sal after he was frosted by the victim.

Includes recipes!

Friends, you can find Kim on her website and other forms of social media. https://kimdavisauthor.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Kim-Davis-Author-1532277473479031

https://t.co/H79DalpNwk?amp=1

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20202599.Kim_Davis

Kim, thanks so much for taking time to visit with us today.

Cozy Mystery Book Club

They Cozy Mystery Book Club has monthly discussions on You Tube hosted by Angela Maria Hart. Each month on the channel Books Are My Hart Angela and a guest host discuss a cozy mystery.

This month’s discussion is June 29 at 7:00 PM EST. Farm to Trouble by Amanda Flowers is this month’s book.

https://angelamariahart.us12.list-manage.com/track/click?u=2cd5ecb83fde59b7ea1d463ab&id=618a87a399&e=cec789ac4c

Angela can also be found on Instagram and Twitter where she supports authors and readers in fun ways.

Farm to Trouble

Recently, Angela held a Twitter Chat for cozy mystery readers and authors. I was selected to participate, and it was a blast. I enjoy meeting readers, and this was a great opportunity.

Angela is generous with her time and devotion. Here’s a link to get to know Angela better. https://t.co/FJPk4FXuUs?amp=1

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you at the next livestream Cozy Mystery Book Club on YouTube.

Howcatchem

Have you heard anybody say they prefer the ‘howcatchem’ type of mystery? Do you know what they mean?

It refers to an inverted detective mystery story. The crime is described or shown at the beginning of the story. The reader usually knows the guilty person from the beginning. The sleuth attempts to solve the mystery. Along the way the story reveals why the crime was committed.

An example of a TV show is Columbo. The show’s plot takes you along with Columbo as he solves the crime. The guilty party squirms, and the detective always gets his guy.

I don’t have any books to recommend in the category of howcatchems. I’ve watched Columbo and enjoyed his show. When reading though, I prefer whodunits. I enjoy trying to figure out who the killer is.

What about you? What’s your favorite type of mystery?

The Power of Dog Friendships

Sharee Stover has been a trusted friend for years. We’re in a critique group together, and we’ve survived many ups and downs. Sharee’s newest romantic suspense, Cold Case Trail, came out last week. Please welcome her today as she shares about dog friendship.

Friendships are powerful, whether with another human or with a beloved animal, they make all the difference. Science is repeatedly discovering people do much better, physically and emotionally, when they have close friendships. There’s something wonderful about having a supportive presence in good times and bad.

And while there is no replacing the importance of human friends, animals take friendship to a different level. They offer their love and companionship unconditionally, detecting emotions and offering understanding in a way no one else might.

When I wrote Cold Case Trail, I wanted to focus on two characters I’d introduced in my second book, Silent Night Suspect. State Trooper Trey Jackson and his K-9 Belgian Malinois, Magnum, had already found their place in my heart and imagination so bringing them to life again was mandatory.

My own dog, Niko, played a huge role in the development of Magnum. Niko is not a K-9 but don’t tell him, he kind of thinks he is. However, he is a member of our family and pretty much dictates the day with going in and out, daily walks, mealtime, etc. Still, he offers his affection and devotion without question, and we adore him.

Trey and Magnum have a long-developed relationship and when they step onto the pages of Cold Case Trail, they’re recovering from an injury. Well, Magnum is recovering. That’s the thing about their partnership though, when one is hurt, the other suffers as well. Isn’t that true of friendships? We bear one another’s burdens and share one another’s joys.

It’s imperative that Trey and Magnum work in synchronicity. This comes from hours, days, weeks, months, and years of daily interaction and training. They showcase many of their skills throughout the story and Magnum proves he is hero-material.

If dogs talked, life would be so much easier for their owners. Alas, as a dog owner I need to rely on the time and experience I’ve had with Niko to know what he needs or wants. A slam against the side of the bed means “get up”. A nose nudging my arm says, “pay attention to me”. I anticipate his needs and somehow, he does the same. If I’m sick or feeling down, Niko is beside me offering his comfort and protection. If I’m excited and happy, he joyfully wags his tail in agreement. Now, if I could just teach him to fold laundry…

He also detects things whether visually or by scent long before I do. He has capabilities I don’t possess so I trust him to watch out for us. If we’re out walking alone, I know Niko’s got my back. That’s not to say he won’t chase after a squirrel if given the option, he is a dog after all, but I find comfort in just having him with me.  

In all fairness, I must say that dogs aren’t the only ones that provide great friendship. So here’s a shout out to the cats, birds, guinea pigs, and other creatures who find their way into our homes and lives. Whatever the animal, there’s nothing comparable to the love of a pet.

Thanks, Sharee. I love hearing stories about our pets.

Isn’t Niko beautiful?

Following the clues

could be the last thing they do…

Temporarily working in the cold case division was supposed to mean less danger for state trooper Trey Jackson and his injured K-9 partner, Magnum—until they thwart an abduction. Now he must protect profiler Justine Stark, even as she blames him for her friend’s death ten years ago. Can he right past wrongs by finally solving the murder…and making sure Justine lives to find closure?

Sharee Stover

Colorado native Sharee Stover lives in Nebraska with her real-life-hero husband, three too-good-to-be-true children, and a ridiculously spoiled dog. A self-proclaimed word nerd, she loves the power of the written word to ignite, transform, and restore. She writes Christian romantic suspense combining heart-racing, nail-biting suspense and the delight of falling in love all in one. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, and Nebraska Writer’s Guild. Sharee is a triple Daphne du Maurier finalist, winner of the 2017 Wisconsin Fabulous Five Silver Quill Award, and her debut, Secret Past, won Best First Book in the 2019 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards. When she isn’t writing, Sharee enjoys reading, crocheting and long walks with her obnoxiously lovable German Shepherd. Visit her at www.shareestover.com.

Other ways to connect with Sharee and buy links:

Website: https://shareestover.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shareestover

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorshareestover/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shareestover/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/sharee-stover

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/shareestover

Buy Link Cold Case Trail:        https://amzn.to/33sXjhq

Amazon Author Page: https://amazon.com/author/shareestover

How Far Would You Go to Help Your Pet?

I’m not just asking from a monetary aspect. Our dog, Heinz, has torn his ACLs in both back legs. He could possibly have a tumor on his spine or a herniated disc. The vet assured us surigical options were iffy. It could help Heinz, or it could make the situation worse.

Doesn’t he look pitiful?

So what are we doing for Heinz?

We live in a raised house, so we now carry him outside everytime he needs to go out, which means we carry him inside too. Thank goodness he’s not a St. Bernard.

We don’t have any carpet in our home, and sometimes his back legs slide out from him when walking across the floor. So, what did we do?

This will not make HGTV or any decorating magazines, but we went to a two local stores looking for throw rugs. Only three of them match, and we like some better than others. We spread them out end-to-end and created paths for Heinz to walk on the carpets and not lose his footing. Mission accomplished.

He can walk from his bed to his food and to the door without slipping.

Is it tacky if you know it’s tacky? Is it tacky if you did it for the benefit of your beloved pet?

Maybe, but we don’t care.

I’d love to hear something crazy you’ve done for your pet.

Kate Lansing…What’s In A Name?

While we all know 2020 was a terrible year, I made friends through social media. Kate Lansing is one of my new friends, and she has graciously stopped by for a visit.

Kate is also a cozy mystery author, and I’ve enjoyed reading her books.

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a name? Yes, a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, yada yada yada. But in general, I’ve found that names carry weight. They can add depth to characters, offer an opportunity for humor, and bring fictional worlds to life.

For example, one of my favorite things to learn is what people name their pets. It’s like a snapshot of their personality and instantly tells me something about them. Are they foodies with a cat named Baguette? Comedians who dubbed their dog Horse? Or book nerds that celebrate their favorite wizard by constantly calling for Gandalf? (My cat’s name is Maple, btw, in case anyone else harbors similar curiosities).

So, in the writing of my Colorado Wine Mystery series, it figures I spent an inordinate amount of time coming up with names. For characters (Parker Valentine being the protagonist), Parker’s winery (Vino Valentine), her cat (Zin, short for Zinfandel, naturally), and the handcrafted varietals themselves.

For the fictional wines, I leveraged alliteration and the picturesque setting of Boulder, Colorado, while also **maybe** having a little too much fun with puns.

There’s the Chautauqua Chardonnay that becomes infamous in the first book, Killer Chardonnay, based on one of my favorite parks in Boulder, with hiking trails, climbing, and even an amphitheater (where I once heard Stephen King speak!).

Along those lines are the Pearl Street Pinot, based on the quirky outdoor mall, Mount Sanitas White, an ode to one of my favorite hiking trails, and even Ralphie’s Riesling, named after the local college’s mascot (go Buffs!).

In the second book, A Pairing to Die For, I introduced the Jail Break Red, a blend Parker perfects during harvest while simultaneously trying to prove her boyfriend’s innocence. And another personal favorite: What Happens in Viognier.

The third book in the series, Mulled to Death, comes out in October, and there’s a lot of attention on the Snowy Day Syrah, fitting since it takes place at a ski resort over a weekend getaway.

If you had your own winery, what would you name the varietals? Do you put as much thought into names as I do?

Author Bio: Kate Lansing is an award-winning short story author. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, daughter, and a chair-napping tabby cat named Maple.

Website: http://katelansing.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lansingkm/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lansingkm

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kmlansing/

Buy links for A Pairing to Die For:

Penguin Random House: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/621061/a-pairing-to-die-for-by-kate-lansing/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Pairing-Die-Colorado-Wine-Mystery/dp/0593100204/

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-pairing-to-die-for-kate-lansing/1137073696

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/a-pairing-to-die-for/9780593100202

Kate, thanks so much for stopping by. Our Westie is named Heinz. My young son named him after Heinz Ketchup and his favorite football player at the time, Hines Ward.

Meet Shaen Mehl

Shaen, thank you so much for joining us today.

When did you begin writing? Have you always wanted to write? I think I started writing as soon as I could hold a pencil, and I always knew that I wanted to be an author someday. I’m so very blessed to be working at my dream job every day now!

Do you have a pet? Does your lead character have a pet? I do! We have one outdoor cat, Tracy, and an indoor dog we adopted from a local shelter. Her name is Violet and she’s a chihuahua/dachshund mix. She’s gentle and sweet and the perfect pet to balance out our energetic boys!

The lead characters in Secondhand Chances live on the farmstead they inherited from their parents, so they have pets as well: dogs named Tink and Pal, a cat named Butterscotch, as well as goats and chickens. In my book, Pal plays a crucial role in the ladies solving the mystery… but you’ll have to read the book to find out how 😉

Is this book part of a series? Yes, Secondhand Chances is the final book, book 25, in the Mysteries of Lancaster County series. It can be read as a stand-alone book, but I’d recommend trying to read the other books in the series as well. They’re all written by well-known Christian Fiction authors, like Nancy Mehl, Kathleen Y’Barbo, and DeAnna Julie Dodson.

What’s the location and why’d you pick this spot for your story? The Guideposts’ editors conceptualized the series, so they chose where the book was going to be set. That said, I can see why they chose Lancaster County, PA! The town of Bird-in-Hand is so charming, and it’s been a wonderful setting to explore throughout the series.

Do you prefer the beach or the mountains? I like them both, but I’ve had more opportunity to travel to the mountains. One of my favorite family memories is when my oldest son was three years old, and my family went on a vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains. We rented a cabin with amazing deck views and spent most of the trip hiking and enjoying nature. It was wonderful. We’re hoping to get to the beach sometime later this year, to revisit one of my favorite places, Savannah, GA.

Savannah is one of my favorite places to spend time. Is there a place you’ve always wanted to visit? I would love to visit Ireland someday. My family history can be traced back to Italy, Scotland, and Ireland, and I think it would be incredibly meaningful to walk where my ancestors walked.

What’s your favorite sport? And or…What hobbies do you enjoy? I never used to consider myself an athletic person, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned I really enjoy hiking and running. I have a lot of hobbies– reading, writing poetry, cooking, organizing, and antiquing, to name a few. In the future, I’d love to learn French and watercolor painting. Plus, now that our boys are getting older, I’d love to travel more. I’m trying to talk my husband into packing up and RVing around the country for a summer or so!

I took French in high school and one year in college. I can read it better than speak it. I hope you enjoy learning French, and merci beaucoup for spending time with us today!

Friends, Shaen can be found on social media. Here are her links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorShaenLayle/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shaenlayle

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shaen_layle/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/shaenlayle/pins/

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/39CscDI

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/shaen-layle

Website: www.shaenlayle.com (blog is included on main page)

Newsletter Sign-up: www.shaenlayle.com/newsletter

Buy Links for Secondhand Chances: https://bit.ly/3rHmqXG

Shaen, thanks againg for visiting, and I’m looking forward to reading Secondhand Chances!

Grace Topping

I met Grace through our agent Dawn Dowdle. We’ve attended many Zoom meetings together, and she’s a delight!

Grace took time out of her busy schedule to visit with us today. Her new book Upstaged By Murder comes out later this month. Welcome, Grace!

Hi, Jackie. Thank you for having me on your blog.

When did you begin writing?

I’ve always been a fan of mysteries, particularly traditional and cozy mysteries, but I had never thought to write one—at least not since my feeble attempts in high school. It wasn’t until I attended Malice Domestic, a conference for fans and writers of traditional mysteries—mysteries written in the tradition of Agatha Christie or Murder She Wrote (without violence, sex, or bad language) that I thought of actually writing one.

I attended Malice for the first time with a friend who didn’t want to go alone. I had no idea what Malice was, but when I heard I would be able to meet some of my favorite authors, I couldn’t sign up fast enough. I discovered that the authors were ordinary people I could relate to and wondered if I could write a mystery too.

So the seed to become a mystery writer was planted at Malice. I soon discovered that I had a lot to learn. I spent a career writing pretty boring nonfiction like computer user manuals, but I didn’t know anything about writing fiction, particularly a mystery. The most valuable thing I did was sign up for an online course on writing mysteries through my local community college. Without that foundation, I probably would still be trying to find my way. As it was, my first book wasn’t published until ten years and 38 versions later. Every time I learned something new, I applied it to my work in progress. I’m so glad my earlier attempts didn’t get published.

Do you have a pet? Does your lead character have a pet? 

My husband and I don’t have pets, but we do a lot of dog sitting for our three grand dogs, which is always interesting when they are together (a cocker spaniel, a pit-bull blend, and a 110-pound Rhodesian Ridgeback). Initially, I didn’t include a pet in my series. At a conference, one of the readers in attendance asked me if I had any cats in my work in progress. When I said no, she abruptly turned and walked away without another word. Some cozy readers love pets in mysteries. You can be sure I went home and added a cat. Thus, Inky, my main character’s small black cat came into being. While it’s fun including a pet in a series, it also requires some thought. You have to have your main character caring for the pet and having someone watch it while she is away, or you are going to hear from readers or the ASPCA.

Is this book part of a series?

Upstaged by Murder is the third book in my Laura Bishop Mystery Series. It’s being released April 20, 2021. Laura is a professional home stager, so each book in the series focuses on her adventures and on home staging. I provide tips about home staging and decorating at the beginning of each chapter.

In cozy mysteries, the main character usually has a business or interest that is featured prominently in the series. When I decided to write a cozy, I needed to pick a business and find one that hadn’t been used a number of times already. One of the things I enjoyed was watching home staging shows on HGTV. I’d learned so much I even helped friends stage their homes. So I made Laura a home stager. Before the first book, Staging is Murder, was published, I contacted a home staging training and certifying organization in Texas. They offered to review my manuscript, gave me a few tips, and said I had gotten it right. That was such a relief. I didn’t want to receive letters from home stagers telling me that I didn’t know what I was talking about.

What’s the location and why’d you pick this spot for your story?

My series is set in a small fictional town in the beautiful Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. I live in Virginia, but I grew up in Pennsylvania. I based a lot of my setting on my hometown. That’s where my heart is. Small towns make the perfect settings since the main character knows lots of people there. I also have my characters frequently meet in their favorite coffee shop. That way they cross paths with people in town that they might not ordinarily come into contact with, and they get to hear lots about what’s going on in town. Just what you need for a mystery.

Do you prefer the beach or the mountains?

Given where I come from, definitely the mountains. And if the spot has rolling water close by, even better. I would pick rolling water, even a small bubbling brook, over the ocean.

So soothing and restful. Now that I’ve finished the latest book, I could use a trip to the mountains.

Social Media Links

http://www.gracetopping.com

https://www.facebook.com/GraceToppingAuthor

Grace can be found on Twitter as @gtoppingauthor

Buy Links

AMAZON:

https://henery.press/upstaged

BARNES:

https://henery.press/upstaged-b

KOBO:

https://henery.press/upstaged-k

Author Bio

Grace Topping is an Agatha Award finalist and the USA Today bestselling author of the Laura Bishop home staging cozy mystery series. She’s a recovering technical writer and IT project manager accustomed to writing lean, boring documents. Let loose to write fiction, she’s now killing off characters who remind her of people she dealt with during her career. She is the former VP of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, the Membership Guppy of the SINC Guppy Chapter, and a member of Mystery Writers of America.

Grace, thanks so much for stopping by. It’s been great getting to know you better.