Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A Stewed Observation - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Karen C. Whalen to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Karen writes the Dinner Club Mystery series. A Stewed Observation is the fourth book in the series and was released last month.

Kathy: The Dinner Club Murder Mystery series features members of a dinner club. Have you ever been a member of such a group? What does it entail?

KW: I’ve been a member of a dinner club group for about ten years. Between six and eight of us meet once a month. The idea is to try out new gourmet recipes together with wine pairings and put on an attractive table presentation.

Kathy: The Gourmet Dinner Club travels to Ireland in A Stewed Observation. What's your favorite Irish delicacy?

Even though I named the book “Stewed,” my favorite is Shepherd’s Pie

Kathy: The group stays in a castle. I have always dreamed of living in a castle. What about you. Are castles the stuff of dreams or nightmares?

KW: I don’t know how private individuals own castles because the upkeep would be backbreaking. Also, modernization is expensive. But all the same, there are so many castles in Ireland, it’s wonderful that people do buy them and restore them.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

KW: Agatha Christie introduced me to the cozy. Although the subject is murder, this genre always makes me feel uplifted. The mystery is solved by a protagonist I feel could be my best friend. It’s a safe world to visit, in spite of the protagonist inserting herself into a dangerous situation. She will prevail! And if she can, then I can, too.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

KW: No, although my son and I are plotting a dystopian. Who knows? Maybe we will write it someday.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

KW: In the dinner club series, amateur sleuth Jane Marsh is always game to try new things now that she’s in the empty nest stage of her life, including joining an exclusive dinner club. Stumbling across dead bodies has also developed into one of her hobbies. Using paralegal skills honed at her job in a Denver law firm, she knows how to conduct an investigation. But her suspicious mind collides with her trusting nature as she stirs up trouble while serving up one dinner party after another.

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

KW: Other than the protagonist, my favorite character in my books is her sidekick Olivia Ladner, a status-seeking, snarky socialite, who always seems to have the best lines and makes me laugh.

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

KW: I’m inspired by my dinner club friends. Some of the situations in the books actually happened. Once I drove a friend down a pedestrian path by mistake, almost driving into a wedding photoshoot. Yes, I really did. That story was too good not to include in book three. Also, my husband and I love to travel and Ireland is one of our favorite countries. That trip inspired A Stewed Observation.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

KW: Writing is telling a story. Telling implies someone else is hearing it, although many writers say they are only writing for themselves. But telling a story, to me, involves a hearer of the story. Publishing makes the story come alive, knowing someone will read it, understand it, and hopefully enjoy it.

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

KW: Only four, hmmmm. I love the classics, including Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemmingway. Also, I’ve read Laura Ingalls Wilders Little House series over and over. But, the authors I would invite are my current favorites, M. C. Beaton, Janet Evanovich, Joanne Fluke, and Craig Johnson.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

KW: Craig Johnson’s The Western Star (Longmire series)

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

KW: I love, love, love to ride my bike just about anywhere, and another favorite hobby is to hike in the Rocky Mountains.

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

KW: Half-n-half (for lattes), beef bouillon paste (in the jar), butter, and onions.

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

KW: I’m working on the seventh and last book in the dinner club mysteries. A new series is brewing in my mind, a little edgier and not so cozy. My goal is to start that next year.

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

KW: When I finish a scene that really works, that seems natural and flows, that says exactly what I want it to say, that makes me laugh. One where I’m not aware of the words on the page, but instead I can picture the scene in my mind as it unfolds. There’s no feeling like that.


A Stewed Observation (A Dinner Club Murder Mysteries) by Karen C. Whalen

About the Book

Cozy Mystery 4th in Series  
The Wild Rose Press, Inc (August 6, 2018)  
Print Length: 214 pages
The Gourmet Dinner Club travels to Ireland to enjoy Irish cuisine while staying at a medieval, ivy-covered castle. Jane Marsh hopes Dale Capricorn will ask her to marry him at this romantic dream destination. But her plans are put on hold when the elderly castle owner becomes violent, a club member restrains him, and he collapses and dies. The police believe the mysterious death is murder and begin to suspect one of the club’s members. Dale leaves for home on a business emergency, and as the lone single gal in the club full of couples, Jane is thrown into the company of Griffin O’Doherty, the handsome Irishman who stands to inherit the castle. Jane must prove her friend’s innocence by solving the crime. Which of the sweet-tempered Irish could be a callous killer?

About the Author

Karen C. Whalen is the author of a culinary cozy series, the “dinner club murder mysteries.” The first four in the series are: Everything Bundt the Truth, Not According to Flan, No Grater Evil, and A Stewed Observation. The first book in the series tied for First Place in the Suspense Novel category of the 2017 IDA Contest sponsored by Oklahoma Romance Writers of America. Her books are similar to those written by cozy authors Jessica Beck and Joanne Fluke. She worked for many years as a paralegal at a law firm in Denver, Colorado and has been a columnist and regular contributor to The National Paralegal Reporter magazine. She believes that it's never too late to try something new. She loves to host dinner clubs, entertain friends, ride bicycles, hike in the mountains, and read cozy murder mysteries.

Author Links:
Website - http://karencwhalen.com
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/whalenkarenc  
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/whalenkarenc  
Twitter - https://twitter.com/whalenkc  
GoodReads- https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15891729.Karen_C_Whalen  

Purchase Links: Amazon The Wild Rose Press iBooks

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 24, 2018

Meet Calamity Barnstable - A Guest Post and Review

I'm pleased to welcome Calamity Barnstable to Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Callie on the pages of the Marketville Mystery series by Judy Penz Sheluk. PAST AND PRESENT is the second book in the series and was released last week.

Martha “Calamity Jane” Canary: This Cabinet Photo with Letter of Transmittal from the Wyoming Photographer sold for $26,290 at Heritage Auctions in May 2011. Courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Hey there, 
My name is Calamity Doris Barnstable, but if you have any common sense at all, you’ll call me Callie, mostly because that’s the only name I’ll answer to. I mean, seriously, who names their kid Calamity? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way, since my parents, Abigail Osgoode Barnstable and James (Jimmy) Barnstable named me after Calamity Jane, the Wild West legend…not the manly looking Calamity Jane you might find in nineteenth-century cabinet cards and the like. No, my mother’s Calamity Jane was much more like the romanticized Doris Day version in the 1953 movie of the same name, which is how I ended up with the middle name of Doris. In fact, if you are looking for a belly laugh, you absolutely must watch this YouTube video clip from the movie, Doris riding sidesaddle and singing Secret Love along the way.

                                                     Calamity Jane movie poster, 1953.

Anyway, my life in Toronto was going along pretty well. Sure my call center job in the fraud unit of a major bank was pretty dull, but it paid the bills and my life was uneventful. Maybe uneventful isn’t what a 36-year-old single woman is looking for, but I was done with meeting two-timing men. Can you believe one of them dumped me on Valentine’s Day?

Then, one day, my quiet life turned upside down. My father was killed in an occupational accident and he left me a house in Marketville. MARKETVILLE. The sort of commuter town better suited to a couple with two kids, a cat and a collie. Even worse, I was expected to find out who murdered my mother thirty years before—a woman I had no recollection of, who my father never spoke about, and in a house I hadn’t known existed. What can I say? I moved to Marketville.

That was my first “case,” if I can call it that, though in my files I refer to it as Skeletons in the Attic. The mystery of my mother solved, thanks to some fine investigative work on my part (she said, humbly), I decided it was time to form my own company using the knowledge I’d gained in the previous months: Past & Present Investigations. Surely there were other people with old, cold cases the authorities not longer cared about?

My first case involved a woman looking into her grandmother, Anneliese Prei’s, murder in 1956. It sounded perfect. I had a team: my business partner, Chantelle Marchand, who specializes in genealogy, a self-proclaimed psychic with a knowledge of tarot, and a retired research librarian. We had it covered.

Here’s the thing—Anneliese Prei’s past had a way of winding into my present, and not in a way anyone, least of all me, could have predicted.



Website/Blog: http://www.judypenzsheluk.com

Facebook: https://business.facebook.com/JudyPenzSheluk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JudyPenzSheluk

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8602696.Judy_Penz_Sheluk

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Judy-Penz-Sheluk/e/B00O74NX04

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/judypenzsheluk/

Audible: https://www.audible.com/author/Judy-Penz-Sheluk/B00O74NX04



PAST & PRESENT by Judy Penz Sheluk
The Second Marketville Mystery

Although the conditions of her father's will have been fulfilled, Callie Barnstable is unwilling to go back to a 9-5 job. Taking what she's learned from investigating her mother's disappearance, Callie has opened up Past and Present Investigations. While not a private investigator, Callie and her friends create a team to investigate missing persons from the past-cold cases no one else is interested in pursuing, aside from the client. A referral from a team member gives Past and Present it's first case. Although it's a new beginning, Callie can not get rid of the skeletons in her own attic as her past and the client's intertwine. Will Callie discover more than she wanted to know? 

PAST & PRESENT is a fascinating mystery with more intertwining appendages than an octopus trying to juggle!

What I find particularly intriguing are the various methods Callie and the team employ to conduct their research. The author must have spend so much time herself, studying these minute details, but details that are intrinsic to the plot and bring such verisimilitude to the story.

I love that the characters have faults and show them. Callie can be snarky, especially when she feels others are slighting her. Friends answer back in kind. Callie worries about the Barnstable curse when it comes to relationships, yet she tries to make a go of it with Royce. These characters are real and their deep characterizations make it easy for readers to become emotionally involved. I was seething as much as Callie at some of Corbin's actions.

I enjoy the subtle paranormal influence here. The use of tarot cards...and the results the postings achieve as well as the skeptical use of psychometry

PAST & PRESENT illustrates how the past is never truly behind us, rather it colors our present and future. This second Marketville Mystery is an intricately plotted intriguing story that is rich in detail with an ending that left me pleasantly surprised and eager for the next installment.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Meet Catherine Bruns - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Catherine Bruns to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Catherine writes the Cookies and Chance Mystery series. Crumbled to Pieces is the sixth book in the series and will be released Tuesday!

Kathy: Not only does Sally Muccio own a bakery, you include recipes in your Cookies and Chance Mystery series. Do you like to bake? If so, what's your favorite thing to make?

CB: I love to bake, especially cookies and cheesecake, which happens to be Sally’s favorite as well. What a coincidence!

Kathy: Sally has to deal with a lovable, but decidedly kooky family. Do you have a similar family dynamic?

CB: You mean “nutsy cookie,” like Grandma Rosa would say? :) No, my family is nothing like that. Sally’s dad is modeled slightly after my own father who passed away 17 years ago but that’s where the similarities end. I do think that everyone would love to have a Grandma Rosa in their lives, though.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

CB: I’ve always loved writing and reading mysteries. When I wrote my first novel five years ago, I didn’t even know it qualified as a cozy until an agent told me, lol. I guess it was meant to be.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

CB: I’ve just started work on my first non-cozy. Details are a secret for now!

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

CB: Sally runs a novelty cookie shop in Colwestern, New York with her talented and somewhat colorful best friend, Josie Sullivan. The shop’s trademark are the homemade fortune cookies they serve to customers, free with every purchase. The messages are featured in every book and all seem to come true in some shape or form. As you can see from Tastes Like Murder’s cover, they’re not always positive ones!

I also write the Cindy York mysteries about a “married with children” real estate agent who finds dead bodies while selling houses. My other series (for now) is the Aloha Lagoon Carrie Jorgenson culinary mysteries. Carrie is a waitress who flees to Hawaii to escape a bad home life. She takes a job working at the Loco Moco Café and finds her miserable boss dead on her first night of work.

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

CB: Oh wow, that’s like trying to pick a favorite child. Maybe Josie because she’s outspoken and so different than me.

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

CB: Not really. There’s lots of bakery cozies out there, such as Joanne Fluke’s series which I’ve never even read. I wanted to have a little of everything in this series—realistic and loveable characters, a touch of humor and romance, plus some suspense as well.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

CB: I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was eight years old. It was the natural next step for me after finishing my first novel, although I wish I hadn’t procrastinated about it for so many years.

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

CB: Oh, it’s so hard to pick only four! Laura Ingalls Wilder because I loved her books as a child (and still do), Agatha Christie because of her brilliant mind, Janet Evanovich for the ability to make me laugh with every Stephanie Plum novel and Sue Grafton for her amazing plots. I’m so happy I did have a chance to meet Sue before she passed away.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

CB: Unfortunately, my reading time is very limited these days. I’m currently listening to “The Woman in the Window” on Audible and just getting to the really good part!

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

CB: I work a full-time job and spend evenings and weekends writing and editing. But when I do have free time I love to watch live theater performances, bake and read.

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

CB: Half and half, whipped cream, yogurt and eggs. Can you tell I’m a fan of dairy products? :)

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

CB: Yes! The Cookies & Chance series will have two more books out in 2019. I am also extremely excited to announce that I have a new series debuting from Sourcebooks next summer. The Italian Chef Mysteries stars Tessa Esposito, a prominent cook and recent widow along with her mischievous Tuxedo cat, Luigi. Tessa discovers that her husband’s tragic accident was, in fact, not an accident. She goes to work in the local pizza parlor to learn the truth and gets more than she bargained for.

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

CB: I love interacting with readers and the ability to create my own fictitious world.


Crumbled to Pieces, the sixth book in the Cookies & Chance series, releases on September 25th.

In need of some quick dough, full-time baker and sometime sleuth Sally Muccio decides to rent the vacant apartment over the bakery to a friend of her grandmother’s. Allegra Fiato is nothing like Sal’s darling Grandma Rosa, though. She’s mean, dishonest, and harboring a deadly secret.

When the elderly woman is mowed down in a hit and run, it quickly becomes obvious this was no accident. Grandma Rosa asks for Sal’s help to find the killer which involves a last-minute trip to Vegas crashed by Sal’s crazy parents, stolen fortune cookies, and a mysterious missing
locket. To add more spice to the mix, a loved one makes a startling admission to Sal that shocks her to the very core. Suddenly, Sal’s world is in danger of crumbling around her. Can she put the pieces back together in time before the killer makes her the next victim?

*Recipes Included!* Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2tSe4jU

To celebrate the new release, Catherine’s publisher has put Tastes Like Murder, first book in the Cookies & Chance series, on sale for just 99 cents until the end of the month! Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/29tKURt


Places to find Catherine:

Author Page: https: //www.facebook.com/catherine.bruns5
Website: http://catherinebruns.net/
Newsletter Sign-up: http://catherinebruns.net/newsletter_bruns/newsletter.html

If you’d like to stay in touch, please check out my author page or sign up for my newsletter. I always feature lots of recipes and fun giveaways. http://catherinebruns.net/newsletter_bruns/newsletter.htmlIf you’d like to stay in touch after the party, please check out my author page or sign up for my newsletter. I always feature lots of recipes and fun giveaways. http://catherinebruns.net/newsletter_bruns/newsletter.html

Catherine’s Cozy Readers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/241834706420330/

Bookbub: https://bit.ly/2BQhiLk

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2e11pas


Catherine Bruns has graciously offered a giveaway to one lucky reader. She will provide an ebook copy (through Smashwords) of one of the first three books in the series - either Tastes Likes Murder, Baked to Death or Burned to a Crisp. Or, if the reader prefers, they can have an audible download code for Tastes Like Murder. Keep in mind the audible codes don't work outside the U.S. In order to qualify simply leave a comment on this blog post no later than 11:59pm EDT Monday, September 24, 2018. Tell us what most interests you about the Cookies and Chance series. Be sure to also tell us which e-book you'd choose if you won, or if you'd pick the audible version. Also include an e-mail address so that I can contact you should your comment be chosen. Good luck!