Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Paris Dreams and Lovely Surprises

By: Beatrice Matthews

From: The Cumberland Creek Mystery Series
Author: Mollie Cox Bryan
Book 4 Title: A Crafty Christmas 

So a few years ago, I went to Paris.  I was 81-years-old and figured if I didn’t go then, I might not ever go. It was a dream trip for my late husband and myself that we never got the chance to take. At the risk of seeming a bit woo-woo, I thought the trip could be very life affirming. And it was—but in surprising ways.
Oh, I loved Paris! It was affirming in all the ways I expected—the art, the food, the history, and the sheer beauty of the city. I wan't really surpassed by any of that. It's what I expected and more. 
But here is the surprising thing: I had an affair with a younger man. To make a long story short, he tracked me down and is now living with me in Virginia. Quite the scandal in my small town. For the most part, folks love my Jon, though I have to admit we’ve had some settling in problems. But who doesn’t?

So now, we’ve decided to head back to Paris together so that I can meet his family and do Paris with him—which will be a whole new experience, I’m sure. I’m very much looking forward to the trip. Other than taking care of some official visiting visa business, the rest of our days there together will be a dream. Unless I don’t get along with his relatives. I suppose there’s that possibility… But maybe since I don’t get along with MOST people in Cumberland Creek, I will find my tribe in Paris with Jon’s family. Who knows? Life is adventure. The older I get, the more precious it seems. But let’s not get precious about it. Let’s keep moving, keep adventuring. Onward!

Check out Mollie Cox Bryan online:
Twitter: @MollieCoxBryan

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A pinch of murder -- ASSAULT & PEPPER #bookgiveaway

By Pepper Reece from ASSAULT AND PEPPER, first in the Spice Shop Mysteries by Leslie Budewitz
March 3, 2015 (available for pre-order now)

Chapter One
An herb is a fresh or dried leaf. A spice is a dried plant part—a bud (cloves), bark (cinnamon), root (ginger), berry (peppercorns), seeds (fennel), or even stigma (saffron). The same plant may provide both—fresh or dried cilantro leaves are the herb cilantro, while the dried seeds are the spice coriander.

“What does autumn taste like? How does it smell?”

Even as I asked, the questions seemed utterly ridiculous. This was already shaping up to be one of those glorious September days in Seattle that make you think the weather will never change, that the sky will always be a pure cloudless blue, the leaves on the trees a painter’s box of green, the waters of Elliot Bay calm and sparkling.

I’ve lived here all my forty-two years, and I still get fooled.

But as the owner, for the last ten months and seventeen days, of the Seattle Spice Shop, it was my job to think ahead. Fall would be here in less than a week, by the calendar. And by my nose. I really could sense the difference right about this time of year. The annual run on pickling spices for the last cukes would soon give way to cider mulling mixes. And before long, our customers would be asking for poultry seasoning and scouting for Christmas gifts.

“The taste,” I repeated to my staff, gathered around the butcher block worktable in our mixing nook, “and smell of fall.”

Sandra fanned herself with a catalog from the kitchen shop up the hill and peered over the top of her reading glasses—today’s were leopard print. “Fall, shmall. It’s seventy-six degrees out.” Spot-on to most Seattleites, but my assistant manager is one of those native Northwesterners who thrive in a narrow temperature range. Anything above seventy-two and she sweats; below forty-five, she shivers. And complains, cheerfully. A short, well-rounded woman of sixty with smooth olive skin, pixie-cut dark hair, and lively chocolate brown eyes, she came with the place, and I say daily prayers of gratitude that she stayed.

“Apples,” Zak said. “Applesauce, apple butter, spiced apple cake. Plums in brandy. Plum pudding. Fruit cake.” Zak had been my first hire after I bought the shop. Six-two and almost thirty, with muscular shoulders, he’d seemed an unlikely candidate for employment in a retail spice shop in Seattle’s venerable Pike Place Market. But I’d been desperate and he’d been earnest. And he pleaded for a weekday job so he could rock the nights and weekends away with his band.

Plus he’s my ex-husband Tag’s best friend’s nephew, and I have to admit, Tag Buhner isn’t always wrong about people.

Do you associate particular smells with the seasons? 

Thanks to my publisher, Berkley Prime Crime, I'm giving away 8 copies of ASSAULT AND PEPPER, on Goodreads -- contest ends midnight, January 28. 

Leslie Budewitz is the national best-selling author of DEATH AL DENTE, first in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries set in northwest Montana, and winner of the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and the sequel, CRIME RIB (2014), from Berkley Prime Crime. ASSAULT & PEPPER, first in her Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries will debut in March 2015.

Also a lawyer, Leslie won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction for BOOKS, CROOKS & COUNSELORS: HOW TO WRITE ACCURATELY ABOUT CRIMINAL LAW & COURTROOM PROCEDURE (Quill Driver Books), making her the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. 

For more tales of life in the wilds of northwest Montana, and bonus recipes, visit her website and subscribe to her newsletter.   Find her on Facebook: LeslieBudewitzAuthor or on Twitter @LeslieBudewitz

Monday, January 26, 2015

It's Always Something

by Lucille Mazzarella
from Peg Cochran's Lucille Series

Yo, Lucille here.  I’ve got two things that mean a lot to me—my family and my faith.  The family’s been through a lot, but somehow we always get by.  I wanted to share some of my favorite patron saints with you—I find that praying to them helps because it takes my mind off of things—like the fact that the police are sniffing around asking questions about a murder.

10. Saint Aldegundis, patron saint against sudden death.  Because my brother-in-law's body suddenly dropped out of the confessional at church, and I’m pretty sure he's dead.

9. St. John Nepomucene, patron saint against indiscretions. Because it's highly unlikely that the family can be persuaded to keep their mouths shut.

8. Saint Marguerite Bourgeous, patron saint against impoverishment.  Because my mother's QVC addiction is sure to send us to the poor house.

7. St. Catherine of Siena, patron saint against temptation.  Because Detective Richie Sambucco is hot even if my Frankie is hotter.

6. St. Catherine of Alexandria, patron saint of unmarried girls.  Because Bernadette is pregnant and not married.

5. St. Catherine of Sweden, patron saint against miscarriages.  Because I can't decide if I want St. Catherine to protect Bernadette from a miscarriage…or arrange for one.

4. St. Margaret of Antioch, patron saint of falsely accused people.  Because the police are saying my Frankie did it, and I know that isn't true.

3. St. John of God, patron saint of heart patients.  Because being held at gun point by a murderer is certainly going to give me a heart attack.

2. Beatrice da Silva Meneses, patron saint of prisoners.  Because someone is going to jail—that's for sure.

And my number one favorite patron saint:

1. St. Jude, patron saint of lost causes.  Because Bernadette is pregnant and unmarried, her boyfriend is in jail, my husband might be playing around, my best friend could be a murderer, and I’ve gained ten pounds thanks to my latest diet.

You can read more about Lucille in Confession Is Murder and Unholy Matrimony, currently only $.99 at all ebook retailers.  And in Hit and Nun--the latest installment in the series.

 Available Now

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Bringing the Music Back

By Timothy Reilly, from Sheila Connolly’s An Early Wake (County Cork Mystery #3)

I’m not from West Cork, but it was the music that brought me here. I’d better explain that, I’m thinking. You see, I’m Timothy Reilly, and I’m a student at Trinity College in Dublin, getting my degree in music history, and to finish that I need to write a research paper. I wanted to do something about contemporary music and how it relates to traditional music—you know, where the old affects the new.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of some of the bigger groups and singers, like U2 and Enya and even Glen Hansard, who went and won himself an Oscar prize for a song of his a while back. But the music tradition in Ireland goes back farther and goes deeper—we’re a people who like to sing, and sing together.

The more research I did, the more often I kept hearing about this place called Sullivan’s, in the middle of nowhere in West Cork, and I figured I should check it out. Before term started I borrowed a car and drove down there, and found out that the guy who had made the music happen, going back years, had died no more than a few months before I got there. Bad luck, I thought.

But the more I talked to people, the more I realized that people around there remembered the way it was, and it got me to thinking that maybe it could happen again. I had to explain the history of it to the new owner, Maura Donovan, but she thought it could work, and if it was only for the one night, no loss. So I started pulling together players, and other people, like this amazing guy called Old Billy, helped, and by the time we were done, we’d put together a really grand evening of the music.

Too bad someone died, one of the old musicians who had come back to Sullivan’s to play with his mates for one more session. His last, I guess, in more ways than one.

But we got past that, and I think Maura Donovan has made up her mind to keep the music going. I hope so. I found out more than I ever expected from that night, and let me tell you, it’s something special.

An Early Wake will be released on February 3rd. You can find it at:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Is There A Cure For The Mid-Winter Blahs?

by Maddie Briggs, cookie creator and capturer of criminals.
Visit Olivia Greyson and me in Cookies and Scream, our latest sleuthing adventure.

Yes, of course there is a cure for the mid-winter blahs. Thank you for asking. Here, have a cookie. There, you see? Almost any bad mood can be lightened with the help of a decorated cutout cookie. My other favorite mood lifter is sleuthing, but at present we—me and Livie, my best friend and business partner—are between murders. Chatterley Heights, Maryland, is a small town. I have to accept that murders will be few and far between.

But back to cookies… Right now it is 3:27 a.m., and I feel cozily warm baking lemon cutout cookies in the Gingerbread House kitchen. Livie and I run this store, which is filled with cookie cutters and all things cookie. If I can’t have a juicy mystery to liven up the gloomy days, at least winter is a great time to bake lots of— Excuse me, the kitchen phone is ringing. At 3:27 a.m.? I wonder…


“Livie? What are you doing up at 3:27 a.m.?”

“The wind is howling outside my bedroom window. I couldn’t sleep, so I started reading one of those old mysteries my mom brought over. Now I really can’t sleep.”

“I don’t know, Livie. Much as I adore baking, I’d love a mystery about now. What are you reading?”

The Bat, by Mary Roberts Rinehart, which might have been the wrong choice.”

“Oh, dear. You might never sleep again. One of the original Nancy Drew mysteries might have been a safer choice.”

“No kidding,” Livie said. “I keep hearing strange noises outside, but I can’t put this book down.”

“I had the same reaction when I read The Bat,” I said. “I loved it. Hey, why don’t you finish the book down here in the kitchen? You could read the suspenseful parts out loud to liven up my mood. I could use some company and a bit of vicarious excitement. The kitchen is warm and cozy, plus there are cookies—and, of course, my comforting, if somewhat bored presence.”

Livie didn’t respond, but I wasn’t concerned. I figured she was looking for her slippers. Livie is not a multi-tasker. I silently counted to ten. The phone remained eerily silent, but it didn’t go dead. Then I heard a whoosh sound, like wind through an open window.

“Livie? Not that I’m nervous, but… On your way downstairs, would you mind checking the doors and windows? Just as a precaution, you know?” I waited for her reassuring affirmative but heard only a strange crackling sound. Then silence. “Livie?”

That’s when the phone went dead. I hung up and parked myself on a kitchen chair to wait. There had to be a rational explanation. Livie was forever forgetting to charge her phone. Maybe it just chose a bad time to conk out. But where was Livie?

At that moment, the front doorbell rang. Had Livie remembered to lock the front door when she closed up for the night? I opened the kitchen door, then ran across the sales floor and into the foyer. The front door was locked after all. I unlocked and cracked it open. A sliver of sharp wind hit my face. No one was there.

I heard the kitchen phone ring and raced back across the sales floor. What if someone had found an open window, sneaked inside, and kidnapped Livie? This could be a ransom call.

The ringing stopped just as I reached for the phone. Then I heard two slow knocks on the door leading out to the alley. I spun around as the door edged open. I’d parked my car in the alley. Could I have forgotten to lock the door when I came inside?

I grabbed the nearest weapon I could find, a metal spatula. A gloved hand reached through the open door… followed slowly by tousled auburn hair and a very familiar face.


“Hey, Maddie.” Livie slid through the door and closed it behind her. “I took your advice and made sure all the windows and doors were securely locked. Now, my friend, I have just one question.” Livie gave me a wicked grin. “Was that enough excitement for you?”


Visit Virginia at:

Friday, January 23, 2015

No place like home for the holidays or why I’m glad it’s January

By Jill Gardner from If the Shoe Kills, book three of the Tourist Trap Mystery series by Lynn Cahoon.

Pour me another cup, I’m not quite awake yet. Wait, that’s my job. I’m Jill Gardner, owner of Coffee, Books, and More. We’re located in South Cove, just off Highway 1 in central coastal California. 

My morning shift here in the coffee shop is almost over and I’ve had a great day.  Of course, I measure the success of my shift in the amount of reading I’m able to complete in between customers. My Aunt Jackie, on the other hand, measures success in the number of sales. I think my way is better.

I don’t know about you, but I’m so glad the holidays are over.  It was a crazy time in South Cove. Especially after I found Ted’s body in his classic cherry red Mustang. However, I’m starting the story in the middle. You need to know why Ted was here in the first place.

You see, Mayor Baylor contracted with Work Today, the work experience program Ted managed in Bakerstown. And, as with most of the mayor’s bright ideas, he put me in charge of finding work sites for ten participants. My shop could only handle one ‘intern’ as Ted liked to call them so I had to go begging for sites. I even talked my neighbor, the one who owns The Glass Slipper, into joining in the fun.

Then Ted got mean and controlling, and I thought Toby, the noon barista (and part time deputy), was going to deck him. Sure, like I couldn’t handle a bully. Sometimes men just don’t know when to back off. And there I go, telling you the story all out of order. Instead of me messing things up, why don’t you check out If the Shoe Kills where my writer has a detailed blow by blow of the entire event? 

Me, I’m heading out to the beach with Emma for our daily run. I need time to clear my head after a long shift at the coffee shop. Emma wants to find some dead fish to roll in. Hopefully, only one of us will get our wish.

If you stop in South Cove, make sure you visit my shop. I’ll even treat you to a cup of coffee. But before you go, tell me, are you happy it’s January? Or do you wish the holiday season would never end?

See you soon,

USA Today and New York Times best-selling author Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho native. If you’d visit the town where she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small town life. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and four fur babies. You can connect with Lynn on the web at Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Page

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Written in the Stars

By: Kelly Greene
From: Maple Mayhem
Author: Jessie Crockett
Series: The Sugar Grove Mysteries

Yesterday, Mercury went retrograde. That makes now until February 11 the perfect time to redecorate, renovate, review and refine. It is not a good time to start new projects, travel or purchase vehicles or technology items. It is never a good time to ignore advice from your mother. Which is exactly what my daughter Celadon decided to do when I reminded her to reconsider purchasing a new cell phone.

Honestly, she couldn't have chosen a worse thing to buy. Not only is it technology, it is communications technology. Even though she knows how I feel about such things she decided to swing into the local gadget center on our way back from a trip to the fabric store. I tried to tell her when she screeched to a stop in the parking lot that it was a bad idea but she never was one to listen.

It was far too cold to sit in the car so I followed her in and just shook my head while she asked questions about one phone after another. She didn't seem happy with any of them but she finally settled on one that could do everything under the sun except play badminton at an Olympic level. Two hours after arriving we headed back out the door with her new phone clutched in her mittened hand. At least it was until she stepped on a patch of black ice on the sidewalk. She went one way and the phone went another, straight into a puddle of slush. She hadn't even bought a protective case for the poor thing.

As Celadon stomped back into the store for a new phone I heard her grumbling under her breath about bad luck. But I raised her better than that. She had to know it was simply written in the stars.

Readers, do you believe in the influence of planetary movements on human experience? Have you ever had a classic Mercury retrograde experience?

Jessie loves to connect with readers on FaceBook, Twitter and especially Pinterest.