Tuesday, September 21, 2021

A Calculated Whisk - A Guest Post, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to turn over the blog to Victoria Hamilton today. Victoria pens the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series. A CALCULATED WHISK is the tenth book in the series and today is its release day!

Writing the Series:

A Calculated Whisk - Vintage Kitchen Mystery #10

By: Victoria Hamilton

It snuck up on me, did #10 of my Vintage Kitchen Mysteries. I hadn’t thought of A Calculated Whisk as a milestone while writing it. I was just engaged in the writing, in the story and the people and my familiar Queensville, Michigan world. It was like slipping on a cozy robe. I knew how Jaymie would think about an event. I knew who she’d go to for words of advice, what she’d do next.

And I guess that’s the lesson I take from writing #10 of the series… it’s enjoyable because it is familiar. Even as I’m struggling with the plot, or trying to work out the clues, at least the people are familiar. When I introduce a complication I know exactly how Jaymie would react, what she would do next, who she would go to.

But what else have I learned from writing ten books in a series?

1 – I have learned how to find ways to introduce a subset of victim/possible killer characters to each book, because obviously Valetta isn’t going to go off her rocker and start poisoning people, and no one is going to bonk Mrs. Martha Stubbs over the head. (I won’t allow it.) It isn’t as hard as it sounds… we all have so many circles of acquaintances. To whit… Jaymie works at the Emporium, and sometimes at the other stores in town. Her family has a cottage on Heartbreak Island, and she spends time there. She has friends she went to college with that she sees every summer. She has a stepdaughter in school, is a historical reenactor at the historic house, and serves tea at the Tea with the Queen event every May. All of these occupations and events involve different circles of people, and in all of them she is exposed to their circles of friends and acquaintances, so I can introduce a fresh pool of victims and suspects each time. And now, because of the publicity surrounding her, people even come to Jaymie for help.

2 – And following up on that, I learned a few books back that I needed to start a spreadsheet of character names, descriptions, and life details. I have a section for recurring characters, and a fresh section for each new novel. I didn’t do it soon enough and named two characters in two separate books virtually the same name… and no, I’m not going to tell you which character and where else she appears, but one of the Vintage Kitchen Mystery recurring characters has a doppelganger in another mystery I wrote. I’ve settled my mind that the two women are cousins and so their names are similar. You know how names run in families? Anyway, now I keep spreadsheets of characters for every series so I don’t do that again. I rarely make the same mistake twice. Why would I, when there are so many fresh mistakes to make?

3 - People are invested in the characters!! This is a good thing; it means that my readers see these people as more than characters, like acquaintances they get to catch up on every year or so (It’s been 2 years since Cast Iron Alibi came out! Wow… but to be fair, it’s been a pretty complicated two years for everyone, hasn’t it?) What that means also, though, is that my readers have their own set of hopes and dreams for my characters. I often get the question/suggestion from readers about Jaymie and pregnancy; is she ever going to have a baby? As much as I hate to dash hopes, I will say unequivocally that no, Jaymie is not planning to add to their family. It’s my decision, made for a number of reasons, but coming from my knowledge, also, of Jaymie’s character. Suffice it to say, she is very happy as wife to Jakob and mom to Jocie.

4 – I can always think of another story. Truly. You’d think after so many books – and ten in one series! – that I’d run out, but it’s not going to happen. Life throws ideas at me willy nilly. Read to the end of A Calculated Whisk and you will find not only a recipe (Yes, I included one at the end!!) but also a bit about the inspiration behind A Calculated Whisk. Life is too strange not to give me ideas.

So… I’m sure I’ll think of many more things I’ve learned from writing #10 in a series, but that will be for another day!

Thanks for having me, Kathy!

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About the Author:

Victoria Hamilton is the pseudonym of nationally bestselling romance author Donna Lea Simpson. Victoria is the bestselling author of three mystery series, the Lady Anne Addison Mysteries, the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, and the Merry Muffin Mysteries. She also writes a Regency-set historical mystery series, starting with A Gentlewoman’s Guide to Murder. Visit her website at victoriahamiltonmysteries.com.

Social Details:

Website: http://www.VictoriaHamiltonMysteries.com (Sign up for her newsletter for all the latest!)

On  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorVictoriaHamilton

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/MysteryVictoria

On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mysteryauthorvictoriahamilton/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/598635.Victoria_Hamilton

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/vintagekitchenm/_saved/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Victoria-Hamilton/e/B007T7LGAU

 

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Review

 


A CALCULATED WHISK by Victoria Hamilton
The Tenth Vintage Kitchen Mystery


Alicia Vance and her family have had their fair share of tragedies, including the accident that killed her husband. But was it an accident? Alicia seems to know something and Detective Vestry is keen to get Jaymie involved, thinking the women are friends, just like their daughters. Jaymie is hesitant, but seems to be making slow progress with the wary Alicia. Just when it seems that she's on the verge of confiding in Jaymie Alicia is murdered. Jaymie fears that her own family will now become a target, but her curious nature and a desire for justice means that she'll keep searching for the truth.

 

A CALCULATED WHISK is a story about family, both functional and dysfunctional. It's about the past encroaching on the present and never knowing what truly goes on behind closed doors. It's also about fitting in when you're different and learning and doing your best. 

 

There's quite a difference between the whole Vance clan and the almost too good to be true Müllers. The Vance and Hansen families have enough intermingling backstory to be a soap opera, or sadly an episode of 20/20. Jaymie has a lot to sort through while also writing her newspaper articles, working at her husband's junk store as well as the Queenseville Historic manor, and helping with domestic duties at home. I may be in the minority, but I'm not a huge fan of Jocie and felt too much time was spent dealing with children and not really moving the story along. I must admit though that part of their presence is integral to the plot. If you love children you'll be very happy with the way the series has progressed.


I like how Jaymie has friends of all ages, which also makes it easier to not only make more connections, but see various perspectives. I have always loved the idea of vintage kitchen items and can easily picture my own grandmother's items as the items in boxes, whisks and potato mashers, red wooden handles and all. They give a sense of nostalgia that warms the heart.


A CALCULATED WHISK is a multilayered mystery enveloped in family drama. In the end, friends and family come together bringing comfort and coziness in a world that isn't always kind.

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 A Calculated Whisk (A Vintage Kitchen Mystery) by Victoria Hamilton

About A Calculated Whisk

 
A Calculated Whisk (A Vintage Kitchen Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 10th in Series
Publisher: ‎ Beyond the Page (September 21, 2021)
Paperback 212 Pages 

In the new Vintage Kitchen Mystery from the author of Cast Iron Alibi, Jaymie Leighton Müller is confronted with two murders and the threat of danger far too close to home . . .

When a woman living under a cloud of suspicion for her husband’s death comes to vintage kitchen collector Jaymie Leighton Müller with a mysterious request, she’s not sure whether, or how much, to get involved. The police believe they have new evidence of foul play in what was initially ruled an accidental death, and the woman’s terrified they’ll try to pin the crime on her. Before Jaymie can decide whether to help her, though, the woman’s found murdered in the woods near Jaymie’s cabin.

Still unsure whether the woman was truly innocent in her husband’s death, Jaymie decides to get to the bottom of both murders. But as she digs deeper into the couple’s past and discovers a tangled array of long-buried wounds and family secrets, Jaymie begins to sense that danger is still lurking in the woods near her home. With a killer on the loose and her family in danger, Jaymie must uncover the culprit before she loses all she holds dear, including her own life . . .

Includes a vintage recipe!

About Victoria Hamilton

Victoria Hamilton is the bestselling author of several mystery series including the national bestselling Vintage Kitchen Mysteries and Merry Muffin Mysteries. She does, indeed, collect vintage kitchenware and bake muffins. She also writes the Lady Anne Addison Historical Mysteries. She drinks tea and coffee on writing days, and wine other times. She crochets (a little), paints (a little) and reads (a lot). A solitary being, she can be coaxed out of her writing cave for brownies and cat videos.

She started her writing life as Donna Lea Simpson, bestselling author of Regency Romances, paranormal historicals and historical mysteries, and still has a soft spot for the Regency period.  

You can find her online at:  

Website: http://www.VictoriaHamiltonMysteries.com (Sign up for her newsletter for all the latest!)  

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorVictoriaHamilton  

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/MysteryVictoria  

On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mysteryauthorvictoriahamilton/  

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/598635.Victoria_Hamilton  

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/vintagekitchenm/_saved/  

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Victoria-Hamilton/e/B007T7LGAU  

Purchase Links - Amazon - B&N - Kobo -  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Burden of Poof - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Julie Anne Lindsey back to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Julie Anne writes the Bonnie & Clyde Mystery series. BURDEN OF POOF is the first book in the series and was released last week.

JAL: Hi Kathy! Thank you so much for inviting me over to hang out a bit today! It’s so much fun that you’re sharing your blog with me! I’m excited to get started and chat about my new series! What a great opportunity!


Kathy: It's great to have you with us today. You start a new series with BURDEN OF PROOF. What led you to the world of used clothing? 

JAL: In BURDEN OF POOF, my heroine, Bonnie, and her kitty companion, Clyde, team up to open a second-chance shop in Bonnie’s hometown of Bliss, Georgia. I chose a second-chance shop for a few fun reasons.

First, I love the idea of turning castoff items into new creations. There’s something magical about giving renewed purpose to perfectly good things that have gotten a little battered, old, or out of style. Secondly, I think the shop is a great metaphor for Bonnie, who left home young and full of hope, but returned home facing 40 and newly divorced. She gets a new life, new purpose and a fresh jolt of joy in this series. Finally, I thought the shop was relevant to the small, rural farming community where Bonnie lives. There’s not a lot of money in Bliss, and shopping is somewhat limited. Having a store where folks can come in on a budget and leave feeling like royalty seemed just about right. Bonnie grew up on a flower farm, and is very aware of how much stretching the average paycheck gets. Now, she’s doing
something she loves and helping her community in the process.


Kathy: Do you tend to shop at second hand stores, giving clothes a second chance yourself?

JAL: I love estate sales and auctions. I’m not much of a clothing person, so I gravitate to places where I can find solid, well-made furniture and household items with style, beauty and craftsmanship. Most things are mass produced today to keep costs down, and I forget that, until I’m awestruck by the detail
and craftsmanship I discover in old homes and antique shops. I want it all!


Kathy: I love that Bonnie has a cat named Clyde. How did you decide to pick this criminal duo as the namesakes for your characters? 

JAL: As a cozy author, I never stop looking for fun or funny book and series titles. This idea came to mind while reading the Truly Devious young adult mystery series by Maureen Johnson. She references Bonnie and Clyde in a portion of the books, flashing back to that era, and I realized those names would 
work perfectly for an adorable cozy duo.


Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

JAL: This story was inspired by my love of rural, southern small towns, and the theme of finding a place to belong and thrive, regardless of circumstance. I wanted to see my newly divorced heroine come home to lick her wounds and discover it was a blessing. She is beautiful, wonderful and worthy. She has a brilliant future ahead of her and a furry best friend by her side. I hoped the story would give readers a sense of joy and hope.


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? 

JAL: I write about 6-8 novels a year, for four publishers, as three people, so time is everything. As a result, I’m a dedicated outliner. I know how many words I need, and how many chapters that requires. I outline thoroughly and aim to write a chapter a day. By keeping this schedule, I can accurately predict when I will be available to take on a new contract, even if it’s two years away. My agent and I often fill my writing calendar 16-18 months at a time.

Occasionally, the stories deviate from the outline, but overall, I’m pretty good at setting things up and staying on track for time management’s sake. Even if the characters take a detour from time to time.


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? 

JAL: I love the interaction portion of marketing, and I chat with my readers as often as possible, every day if I can! I have a special reader group on Facebook called COZY QUEENS where I post updates, take polls and share early news with fans and friends. I even dedicated this book to that group! We’re always looking for new members, so come on over 😉


Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books? 

JAL: Absolutely! 2021 has been my busiest year yet! Hold onto your hats! As many of you know, I write the Cider Shop Mysteries, and book 3, THE CIDER SHOP RULES, just released July 27th.

I’m also Bree Baker, and PARTNERS IN LIME, book 6 in the Seaside Café Mysteries released August 31st.

I write the Christmas Tree Farm Mysteries as Jacqueline Frost, and book 3, SLASHING THROUGH THE SNOW, releases October 12th!

I write romantic suspense for Harlequin’s Intrigue line, and I have two new releases coming this fall. KENTUCKY CRIME RING in late September and STAY HIDDEN in late October.

As for Bonnie & Clyde, you can expect three more new adventures from them this year including SEVEN DEADLY SEQUINS next month, BEATING THE WRAP in November, and EYELET WITNESS in December. If I stay on track, there will also be a secret project releasing before Christmas!

As a bonus, I’ve written a fun, FREE, downloadable prequel to the series, and you can see where it all began in WHEN BONNIE MET CLYDE, available here: https://outbound.julieannelindsey.com/g9UWwY7815kgbDCo

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Review


BURDEN OF POOF by Julie Anne Lindsey
The First Bonnie & Clyde Mystery

Bonnie gives new life to dresses, will she be able to create a new one for herself?

Still reeling from the bitter end of her marriage Bonnie Balfour is back in her hometown of Bliss, Georgia trying to make a go of her second chance dress shop. But all the flowers from her parents organic flower farm and love from her cat Clyde can't help when she finds Viola Abbott-Harrington dead under a pile of clothing donations. The new detective from Cleveland is certain that Bonnie is guilty of murder and Bonnie is determined to prove him wrong. Will she be able to find the real killer while making her shop shine? Or will a killer put her out of business...permanently?

BURDEN OF POOF is a story of proving you're good enough. Life isn't always kind, but it's the determination you have along with the choices you make that makes the difference. Bonnie is a sweet protagonist who's starting to get her gumption back. Looking for the good in others, she's more apt to find it, than not. The town of Bliss fulfills its Hallmark like setting with charming shops and townsfolk who know and care for each other. I am so intrigued by the bookshop and can't wait to learn more of its secrets. I love the whole concept of Sutton and her special plants. I'm a big fan of Judy. I wish Sutton would choose a plant for me! I'm also in love with Clyde, the incredibly dapper cat.
 
An idyllic town, charming characters, the spark of romance, and a fun mystery make BURDEN OF POOF a great start to a new cozy mystery series.

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Burden of Poof (Bonnie & Clyde Mysteries) by Julie Anne Lindsey

About Burden of Poof

Burden of Poof (Bonnie & Clyde Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Publisher: ‎ Cozy Queen Publishing LLC (September 15, 2021)
Paperback: ‎ 254 pages

An amateur sleuth named Bonnie and her kitty companion Clyde, with names like those, what could possibly go wrong?

Life hasn't sparkled too brightly for Bonnie Balfour over the past few years, but a heart-breaking divorce has brought her back to her small rural hometown of Bliss, Georgia, and things are starting to shape up.

The proud new owner of Bless Her Heart—a second chance dress shop and boutique on the town square—Bonnie thinks thirty-eight might not be too late for a fresh start in life after all.

Until a grouchy old widow turns up dead in a pile of donations meant for Bonnie’s shop, and the town’s new detective pins her to the top of his suspect list!

To save her shop, dream and reputation, Bonnie must coordinate clues and stitch together the truth about her innocence, but the unreasonably handsome detective and prying eyes of the local gossip mill are fast fraying her nerves.

When a series of anonymous attacks begin to hem her in, Bonnie fears the real killer is fixing to make her his next victim. Can this amateur sleuth measure up?

 

About Julie Anne Lindsey

Julie Anne Lindsey is an award-winning and bestselling author of mystery and romantic suspense. She’s published more than forty novels since her debut in 2013 and currently writes series as herself, as well as under multiple pen names, for Harlequin, Kensington, Sourcebooks and Crooked Lane Books.

When Julie's not creating new worlds or fostering the epic love of fictional characters, she can be found in Kent, Ohio, enjoying her blessed Midwestern life. And probably plotting murder with her shamelessly enabling friends. Today she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world. Learn more about Julie at julieannelindsey.com

Author Links: 

Website: https://www.julieannelindsey.com/  

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

 Cozy Queens Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cozyqueensjulieannelindsey  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulieALindsey  

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4692170.Julie_Anne_Lindsey  

Purchase Links - Amazon - B&N - 

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 17, 2021

Cold Snap - An Interview and Review

I'm pleased to welcome Codi Schneider to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Codi writes the Viking Cat Mystery series. COLD SNAP is the first book in the series and was released this week!

Kathy: COLD SNAP is a mystery, but it's also a fantasy adventure. Do you enjoy reading both genres?

CS: Yes, I absolutely love both genres and the majority of books I read fall into one of the two. The twists and turns of mysteries, and the world building and magic of fantasies, create the perfect elixir needed for me to fall in love with a story.


Kathy: The animals in COLD SNAP are so unique. Are any of them based on real animals you know?

CS: Bijou, the protag and narrator of COLD SNAP, is based on my own cat, Caska, and while she’s not a Norwegian Forest cat or a Viking, she’s my main muse (or mews, if you like). The border collie, Cork, is inspired entirely from my parents’ two collies, Buck and Sligo. My other characters are more of a mishmash of animals I’ve known in real life and ones I’ve imagined.


Kathy: I love Bijou's Viking lineage and how she brings it forward. Have you always been interested in Viking lore? Bijou is quite knowledgeable on the subject, were you prior to writing the book?

CS: I’ve always been drawn to Vikings and Norse mythology but I’m certainly no expert on Viking lore. This has made it a fun project to research and I’m looking forward to learning more!


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

CS: When I first wrote Cold Snap it was purely for my own pleasure/amusement and then I wasn’t sure how to categorize it! After some doing some research and taking advice from other writers/editors, the cozy mystery genre was clearly the best fit for this book. I love how the genre embraces small town/amature sleuth characters and how it allows for a lot of quirk and humor. I’m very happy to be a part of it.


Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

CS: I’ve tried my hand at a few different genres, and while so far I’ve been the most successful with cozy mystery, I’m still intrigued by others. I have some outlines for both a thriller and a fantasy that I’ll be working on in the future (along with more Viking Cat books of course!).


Kathy: Tell us about your series.

CS: When a murder shocks her peaceful mountain town, Bijou, a plucky house cat with a Viking spirit, must dive paws-first into solving the mystery before another life is taken—maybe even her own.


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

CS: I really love Bijou. There is something so amusing about plopping her into any situation, no matter how dramatic or benign, and then figuring out how she will react. I also love Skunk, the Pomeranian. I think her character helps to balance out Bijou. She’s the perfect sidekick, easygoing and willing to follow Bijou’s lead, but also smarter than anyone thinks and completely necessary to solving the mystery and keeping Bijou humble.


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

CS: I first got the idea when I read an article about real-life Viking cats. These brave felines sailed the world in longships, working as mousers for their human counterparts. I also find great amusement in watching my own cat and trying to decipher what’s going on in her head. Writing a story with a cat protagonist and from a cat’s point of view simply sounded fun.


Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

CS: I’ve dreamed of being an author for as long as I can remember so publishing has always been the goal (though I’d never stop writing even if publishing didn’t happen).


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

CS: What a tough question! Definitely J.K. Rowling, P.G. Wodehouse, and T.J. Klune. Now for an author who doesn't use their initials as a pen name. . . . Okay, Agatha Christie. Now that’s a dinner party!


Kathy: What are you currently reading?

CS: Two books: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (a classic I somehow missed out on until now) and A Light in the Sky by Shina Reynolds, a wonderful upcoming fantasy that will be released on November 9th.


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

CS: When I’m not writing or reading (or binging Netflix), I love getting outside and riding my Highland Pony, Sarge. I also love trail running, yoga, and swimming in nearby lakes. Traveling, too, is one of my very favorite things and I can’t wait to get back to it as the world opens up again.


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

CS: Bananas

Chips and Sadie’s salsa (Sadie’s is THE BEST)

Brown rice pasta

Red wine


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

CS: I’m currently working on book two of my Viking Cat series. I think Bijou has a lot of hot water to fall into and many new mysteries to solve.


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

CS: I love watching a story unfold, and often in surprising ways. I love befriending my characters (though some of them are far too unpleasant), and I really love the freedom of working from home.

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 Review



COLD SNAP by Codi Schneider
The First Viking Cat Mystery

Proud of her Viking heritage, Bijou Bonanno is a Norwegian Forest cat with an attitude. She happily runs a pet inn with her human, Spencer, and a Pomeranian named Skunk. When Eddy, a baker moving from California comes to stay, along with his two pets, Bijou senses a change in her clan. While she sympathizes with the terrified deaf mute rescue puppy, she is affronted with the man's other pet - a pig, at least until she learns of the pig's status in Viking lore. Soon cat, dog, and pig are working together-someone they know had been killed, and someone they love is missing.

COLD SNAP is a fantasy adventure wrapped in a mystery. With character names like Dirk Square Jaw and Bobi Pinn, who just happens to be a hairdresser, not to mention a pig named Hamlet, Gray Birch, Colorado takes on the appearance of a fantasy village. There's also the fact that the protagonist is a cat who knows her Viking lore and dons her imaginary helmet to take on foes. The format of the mystery is also unusual. The story opens with the discovery of the crime, but readers are unaware of the identity of the murder victim and though readers know the name of the other victim, we know nothing about him...yet. From this point the story backtracks and readers get to meet the varied characters, taking quite some time for the murder to occur, although other sinister events as well as snippets from police interviews keep the crime fresh in readers minds.

I absolutely adore Bijou. She's smart with decided opinions, yet she's able to admit when she's been wrong. In fact, I love all of the animals here, from boy crazy Skunk, to the intelligent and eager Hamlet, and poor little Fennec, as well as the guests of the Fox Burrow Pet Inn and their neighbors.

The first Viking Cat mystery gives plenty of laughs, but there are also heartbreaking moments. Indeed one incident leads me to question the cozy genre label, and still has me tearing up, especially as I remember last words, even though we never really knew this character.

COLD SNAP is a delightfully unique adventure mystery. Norse mythology and real world issues combine in an animal buddy story that tugs at the heart strings while also making you chuckle. I truly enjoyed this book and can't wait to read more about Bijou and her clan.