Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Currently Reading...

It's been a busy week (month and more) and sadly, I haven't devoted enough time to read. Hence, I'm still reading A Second Helping of Murder by Christine Wenger. I am really enjoying this second outing with Trixie Matkowski. I admit to having a bit too much on my plate at the moment, but hopefully, I'll make more time to read.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Spotlight - A Second Helping of Murder

I'd like to shine an Easter Spotlight on A Second Helping of Murder. This book is the second in the Comfort Food Mystery series by Christine Wenger and was just released on the first of this month.

From the back cover:

Trixie Matkowski is warming up to running her family's diner in the small town of Sandy Harbor in upstate New York. But the only thing more demanding than serving people piping hot comfort food twenty-four hours a day is getting to the bottom of a double homicide...

Trixie fondly remembers summers as a child spent visiting the shores of Lake Ontario. Not much has changed-there are still vinyl booths at the Silver Bullet Diner, families eating home-cooked comfort food, and days of swimming in the lake.

But before Trixie can say "Order's up, " someone's summer is abruptly cut short.One of the cottage residents is found dead, and Trixie suspects the crime might be related to an unsolved disappearance in the picturesque town's past.

As Trixie works with Deputy Ty Brisco to solve both mysteries, their shocking discoveries will shake up the small town. And when word gets out that she's on the case, Trixie's in trouble-after all, the murderer won't spare her life just because she makes a killer corned beef sandwich...

Includes delicious home-style recipes.

Friday, April 18, 2014

An Interview with Melissa Bourbon & Giveaway


I'm pleased to welcome Melissa Bourbon to the blog today. A Killing Notion, the fifth in her Magical Dressmaking Mystery series was just released this month.


Kathy: Harlow Jane Cassidy is a unique woman with a unique name. How did you decide upon her name, and the fact she's a descendent of Butch Cassidy?

MB: I love tying in historical elements in my books, or things that make a story or a character just a little bit meatier. I’ve always loved the lore of Butch Cassidy and Sundance, and one day it just popped into my head that Harlow should be a descendent of Butch’s. That meant I needed to create a slightly alternative history, which was so fun.


Kathy: Harlow has an amazing ability to design and sew clothing. What about you? Can you sew?

MB: I can! My mother taught me when I was in fifth grade. I made my first dress with some of her leftover fabric that year. I still love to sew, although I don’t have the time to do it much anymore. I hope to get back to it, and I do create little projects when I’m able.


Kathy: I love paranormal mysteries and was delighted as this aspect came to light in the first book in the series, Pleating for Mercy. Why do you think paranormal mysteries are so popular?

MB: A little bit of magic makes the world a better place! Those magical elements are what I wish the world had, sometimes. I think people respond to that charm and that special something that’s indefinable but makes us feel a little bit more.


Kathy: Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever had a ghostly encounter? Or witnessed other paranormal activity?

MB: I’m not sure if I do or not. Sometimes I’d say the answer is a definite yes, but at other times I’m not sure. I’ve never experienced anything like that myself, but I love the idea that the past and present can live together in a special way.


Kathy: If you had a magical gift, what do you wish it could be?

MB: I love Harlow’s gift, so I’d choose that one. To be able to help people realize their dreams and desires would be incredible.


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

MB: I’ve always loved mysteries, so when it came time to write a book, the mystery was the natural framework I turned to. My books are very character driven, but the mystery drives everything forward, which is fun.


Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

MB: I’ve written 2 romantic suspense novels. They both have mystery/suspense elements, so they’re still right up the same ally.


Kathy: Tell us about your series.

MB: A Magical Dressmaking mystery series features Harlow Cassidy, a descendent of Butch Cassidy. She comes home to Bliss, Texas and runs Buttons & Bows, a dressmaking shop. In her spare time, she helps solve a few murders! There’s a fantastic cast of characters, and the female relationships are an important element in the series. These relationships play an important part of all my books. In the Lola Cruz mystery series, the family relationships are huge.


Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

MB: I love Meemaw (as so many people seem to!). And of course, I relate to Harlow and she’s the inspiration for everything. I think I’m most like her…or vice versa.


Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

MB: When I first wrote Living the Vida Lola, I knew I wanted to share this character I’d come to love so much. That started the path to publication and I’ve loved every bit of it (even through the ups and downs). There’s nothing I’d rather do. The characters are part of me, and I love spending time with them as I write their stories.


Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

MB: That’s tough! Margaret Mitchell, Jane Austin, Agatha Christie, and Shakespeare. It would be one interesting dinner party!


Kathy: What are you currently reading?

MB: I just finished The Orphan Train and The Perfume Collector, both really excellent books! I love women’s fiction, upmarket literary fiction, and such. Right now I’m deciding what to read next (after my revisions for A Seamless Murder, book 6, are done).


Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

MB: I love reading, of course, sewing, yoga, cooking, and recently took up boxing (via a class), which is killer, but I love!


Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

MB: Frozen chocolate chip cookie dough (homemade), soy sausage links, baba ganoush, and gluten free everything! Two kids with celiac disease mean we have lots of wheat free/gluten free things in the house and do a lot of cooking from scratch.


Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

MB: I’m working on revisions for book 6, A Seamless Murder, and am plotting books 7 and 8 right now. I also have plans for the 4th Lola Cruz book. Always busy!


Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

MB: I love creating worlds that other people want to read about. To get to spend my time with characters like Harlow and Lola make my days so fun. I also love being able to have the flexibility to work and be with my kids and family. Being a writer is fantastic!

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If you'd like a chance to win a digital copy of Pleating for Mercy, the first in the Magical Dressmaking series or Living the Vida Lola, the first Lola Cruz Mystery just leave a comment on this blog post no later than Monday, April 21 at 11:59pm EST. Please include your e-mail address so that I can contact you should you win, as well as which of the 2 books you'd select! Be sure to also enter the Rafflecopter contest below!





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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading A Second Helping of Murder by Christine Wenger. This book is the second in the Comfort Food Mystery series. Trixie Matkowski continues to run the Silver Bullet Diner as she prepares for the summer season to begin in Upstate New York, her first season as the owner of the lakeshore cabins she stayed in when young. Things get off to a rocky start when the body of a teen aged girl gone missing 25 years earlier is found, a girl that stayed in Cottage 8 of Trixie's Sandy Harbor Housekeeping Cottages. Then Trixie's first renter arrives; a particular man who specifically wants Cottage 8 for the whole summer; a man who winds up murdered. Is there a connection? Trixie is determined to find out. Recipes are included.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Food Truck Talk-an Interview, Review, and Giveaway!

Joyce and Jim Lavene, also known as J.J. Cook, have returned to Cozy Up With Kathy to talk about names and their recently released book, Death on Eat Street, the first in their new Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mystery series.


Kathy: You write many different series under a few different names. How do you decide which pen name goes with which series...and why so many different ones?


JC: Authors don’t gladly take on pen names – in most cases. It’s seems especially unimportant in our digital society where our signatures are barely dry on a contract before reviewers and websites know what pen name we’re writing under. But publishers still like to use them. Pen names are supposed to give readers a fresh perspective on the author, and separate their books, if they write a lot like we do.

It’s a real problem for authors, who have to promote very hard to tell their readers that this other name belongs to them. While the people involved with the business of writing pick up very quickly, readers are sometimes slow to follow.

Our pen name – J.J. Cook – came about because we write three or four mysteries a year for Berkley Prime Crime. It was a way of distinguishing between those series, and the books we write as Joyce and Jim Lavene.

At Simon and Schuster, it is a way of distinguishing between their mysteries that we write, and the Berkley mysteries (and Harlequin and Amazon mysteries).

J.J. Cook writes the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mysteries and the Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mysteries for Berkley. Ellie Grant writes for Simon and Schuster’s Gallery Books imprint (pie shop mystery).

We’ve also written romance under the names Joye Ames and Elyssa Henry because the publishers wanted us to have one, feminine name.

It’s all part of being a professional writer. It may be confusing for readers sometimes, but websites such as Cozy-mystery.com and Fantasticfiction.co.uk – and an author’s website – can show a reader the many names most writers have written under. Our website, www.joyceandjimlavene.com has all of our books, and all of our names.


Kathy: Zoe decides to work from a food truck since her diner is not fit for customers yet. Food trucks seem to be all the rage these days. There's even a food truck competition show on TV. Are there lots of food trucks in your area?

JC: Yes! We have really good food trucks in the Charlotte, NC area. We were able to visit with several of them – even spend the day with Ollie’s Onions – you’ll see one of our main characters named Ollie in Death on Eat Street. It was very helpful to really experience all the hard, fast work and food prep that goes with running a food truck.


Kathy: Do you have a favorite type of food truck fare?

JC: We really loved Ollie’s Onions because he makes a deep-fried onion as his main dish, just as Zoe makes biscuit bowls. It is surprisingly not greasy and delicious. I wish I could tell you how he makes it, but that is his secret recipe. We found many food trucks have secret ways of preparing their food. Ollie also makes really good fries of almost every variety, and to-die-for hushpuppies.


Kathy: While Zoe is having some issues with her food, her biscuits are spot on. Are you able to make a perfect biscuit?

JC: I am definitely NOT Zoe Chase! I bake a little at Christmas, but otherwise my food is mostly on the go. I had a wonderful aunt who made the best biscuits. I gave her recipe to my son, Christopher, who is a pizza chef and loves to play with food. He improved her recipe, and helped us write the one you’ll find in the back of Death on Eat Street for deep-fried biscuit bowls.


Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for this series?

JC: Our inspiration for this series was our daughter, Jeni, who said ‘Why don’t you write a food truck mystery?’ We had never been to a food truck until then, but she had, and loves them. We couldn’t have written this series without her!


Kathy: When it comes to writing I understand there are 2 general camps-plotters, who diligently plot their stories, and pansters, who fly by the seat of their pants. Are you a plotter, a panster, or do you fall somewhere in between?

JC: We’re a little of both, and it changes with each book. We have written lengthy outlines and synopses so we both understand what we’re doing. When there are two of you writing together, as my husband and I do, you have to make sure you’re on the same page. Some books seem to need that, while others seem to write themselves. I don’t know what the difference is, but we roll with it.


Kathy: Authors are required to do a lot of their own marketing, especially for a new release. What's your favorite part of marketing your work? What do you dislike about marketing?

JC: Our favorite part about marketing our work has always been going out and meeting with readers at bookstores and other events. Writing is a lonely occupation, and you spend a lot of time without feedback. Hitting the road, as we are with Death on Eat Street, is always refreshing. We’re still a little nervous on TV and radio, but we’re working on it!


Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

JC: Of course! In May, the seventh Peggy Lee Garden Mystery – Lethal Lily – will be out. In August, the sixth Missing Pieces Mystery will be out. In November, the next pie shop mystery (Ellie Grant), Murderous Mince, will be out. In December, our new series, the Retired Witch’s Spell book will be out with the title – Spell Booked – under Joyce and Jim Lavene.

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Review

Death on Eat Street by J.J. Cook
The First Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mystery

In Mobile, Alabama Zoe Chase has decided to follow her dreams. After getting passed over for promotion yet again, she cashes in her 401(k), and buys a run down (although dilapidated may be another word) diner. The diner is not yet fit for customers so she uses a food truck to sell her biscuit bowls; food, both savory and sweet, served in her signature biscuit bowl. Business isn't good, however, and then she finds a fellow food truck owner, with whom she recently had words, dead in her food truck. What can make matters worse? Being a "person of interest", discovering her boyfriend is a louse, overbearing, wealthy parents...unfortunately for Zoe, the list could go on.

In their latest release Joyce and Jim Lavene, writing as J.J. Cook, bring the food truck into the world of cozy mysteries. Filled with diametrically opposed characters: the overbearing, wealthy parents and the good-hearted, eccentric uncle, the "bad" girl with the good heart, the troubled lawyer, the homeless men who help, and the protagonist herself, the poor little rich girl who decides to live the life she chooses, Death on Eat Street is a solid start to a new series. Zoe is charming, albeit a little naive, or perhaps it's just her rosy, positive outlook. However, I believe we may need her to show us that rosy hue as things are somewhat grim in Zoe's new neighborhood.

This first Biscuit Bowl Food Truck mystery brings the food truck into the realm of the culinary mystery and I'm pleased with its presence, as it joins the diners, B & Bs, and assorted food shops as a place to enjoy food as well as solve murders! I also really want to eat a biscuit bowl, I'm thinking of strawberries and cream for me, what about you?

Recipes are included.

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If you'd like a chance to win a print copy of Death on Eat Street leave a comment here telling us what you think about food trucks or give us a new dish that Zoe should serve in her biscuit bowls. Be sure to leave your e-mail address so that I can contact you, should you win. This is a quick contest too-make sure you leave your comment by 11:59 EST Monday night, April 14, 2014 to qualify.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading A Dollhouse to Die For by Cate Price. This book is the second in the Deadly Notions Mystery series and will be released May 6, 2014.

Daisy Buchanan discovers a dollhouse that will be a perfect gift for a young friend, after a little restoration. BUt Daisy gets more than she bargained for with this purchase. There must be something more than meets the eye to this dollhouse. A dollhouse fanatic tries to buy it from her at a price much higher than its value, then someone tries to steal it! When Daisy finds the fanatic dead, electrocuted by one of her own dollhouses, she can't help but look into the crime. Unfortunately, she also has to look for a new location for her store, Sometimes a Great Notion, as she has a new landlord who wants to raise her rent threefold!

Household tips and recipes included.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Organized Winner!

Congratulations Linda Rima-you are the winner of the Ritter Ames giveaway!