Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading A Killer Read by Erika Chase.This book is the first Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery. This intriguing debut features Lizzie Turner, a reading specialist who is involved in many after work activities, including a book club; the Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society. A stranger interrupts the club's first meeting, then is murdered. When members of the club come under suspicion they do some sleuthing on their own. A reading list is included, but sadly, I don't see any recipes. I really want some of those cheese straws!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Joyce and Jim Lavene Visit Just in Thyme!

I'd like to welcome Joyce and Jim Lavene to Cozy Up With Kathy as part of the Thyme To Die Book Tour.
Kathy: You write as a team. How does that work? Does one person work more on the plot while the other writes the actual words?

J & J L:We actually write together real-time. Our computers are networked together (Jim used to do this for a living) and we both see what’s going on. We tell the story to each other while one of us types until we have the whole rough draft. Then we revise. We both work on plot, dialogue and everything else together. Jim IS better at details and Joyce IS better at dialogue.

Kathy: As readers, whose voice do we hear when we read, Joyce's or Jim's? Or does it change depending on the book or series?

J & J L: We’ve worked very hard for there not to be any difference – there should only be one voice when people write together.

Kathy: Peggy Lee is a botanist who runs a garden shop. Do you like to garden?

J & J L: We both like to garden and have been Master Gardeners. We don’t have as much time as we used to (wouldn’t want anyone to see our yard right now after a book tour), but we still enjoy coming up with new projects.

Kathy: It's been a while since we heard from Peggy Lee and I, for one, am delighted that she's back. What kept her away for so long?

J & J L.: Thanks! Berkley decided not to publish more books in that series after 2009. We were both still working day jobs and didn’t have time to explore creating more than the books we put out for our print publishers each year. Last year, we were able to quit those day jobs and decided to try bringing Peggy back. We’ve had hundreds of letters and emails asking about her. We brought out a novella, Buried By Buttercups, last year and readers seemed to enjoy it. So we brought out a full-length novel this year.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

J & J L: The puzzle – solving it and peeking through the blinds to get there. We both grew up reading mysteries. We still enjoy figuring out what happened and why it happened.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

J & J L: We have written romance, science fiction, fantasy, and even a western.

Kathy: Tell us about your series. I know you have a few!

J & J L: Sheriff Sharyn Howard Mysteries – our first series set in a small town in NC that is corrupt. These twelve books were originally hardbacks but are now being issued as paperback and ebooks.

Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries – Peggy Lee is a botanist and a garden shop owner in Charlotte, NC. She’s snoopy and knows everything about plants and botanical poisons.

Renaissance Faire Mysteries – Jessie Morton is an associate history professor who solves crime at a Renaissance Faire in Myrtle Beach, SC. along with her boyfriend, hunky bailiff Chase Manhattan.

Missing Pieces Mysteries – These books are set in Duck, NC and the protagonist is the mayor of the small town. She has the psychic ability to find things that have been lost. This leads to all kinds of trouble.

Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mysteries – These are written under a pseudonym, J.J. Cook, and feature fire chief Stella Griffin who is aided in her work by the ghost of a former fire chief in Sweet Pepper, TN.

Pie in the Sky Mysteries – written under the name Ellie Grant, will be out in September 2013. A high-powered businesswoman comes home again after ten years when she is accused of embezzlement and helps her aunt build up her pie shop business while solving crimes.

Biscuit Bowl Mysteries – are set in Mobile, AL and feature a woman who has a biscuit food truck whose bestseller is the fried biscuit bowl. The first book in this series will be out April 2014.

Retired witches Spellbook Mysteries – takes place in Wilmington, NC. A group of witches want to retire and move to Boca but they have to find three young witches to replace them and give them their spellbook which has been stolen. Debuts December 2014

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

J & J L: That would be like asking which of our kids we love best. Each character is special and has a special place in our hearts. Some are more difficult – some come out easy. But we love them all!

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

J & J L: Usually it’s something we’ve seen or heard. Or it’s someone we meet. It starts a buzz in your head and you can’t let it go until you write it.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

J & J L: We were running an office supply business as our kids were growing up. We thought about what we’d like to do when the kids were gone and decided we wanted to try our hand at publishing after years of writing. Our first book, a Silhouette Romance, was published in 1999 with six books following that same year. We now have written and published more than 65 books.

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

J & J L: Emily Dickinson, though she probably wouldn’t come. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Jules Verne. Edgar Rice Burroughs and Edgar Allen Poe.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

J & J L: Jim is reading Ender’s Game and I am reading Monterey Mischief – Fine Art and Murder by Henry Simpson.

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

J & J L: We enjoy gardening, watercolor, driving back roads, photography and tinkering.

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

J & J L: Chocolate. Cherry Pie Filling. Peanut Butter. Celery.

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

J & J L: The next book in the Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries is Deadly Dahlia (2014). Pie in the Sky Mysteries – Plum Deadly (September 2013). In the Renaissance Mysteries – Murderous Matrimony (November 2013). Missing Pieces – A Finder’s Fee (October 2013). Sweet Pepper – Playing with Fire (January 2014)

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

J & J L: Being able to work with our best friend and stretching our imaginations as far as we can stretch them!

Thanks for the interview!

Kathy: So glad you could visit!

Be sure to follow this link to be part of the Cozy Mystery Book Reviews and Book Tours Giveaway-Enter to win a $25 gift card or $25 Paypal cash!

Mr. Tea & the Traveling Teacup Book Tour

As part of a book tour I'd like to shine a spotlight on a new book and series: Mr. Tea & the Traveling Teacup is the first in the Madeline's Teahouse Mystery Series. It involves a two sisters reuniting and starting a business together, a possible haunting, a psychic macaw, and more than one mystery!

Here is the official author biography: "Leslie Matthews Stansfield is the author of Mr. Tea & the Traveling Teacup, the first book in the Madeline’s Teahouse series. She is the author of a previous book, Windsor Locks, on the town she lives in. She grew up in Delmar, New York, and credits her friends with developing her imagination. Leslie is a graduate of University of Hartford and recently received her Masters’ degree from the University of Phoenix in Educational Leadership. She is a math tutor in a public school as well as the Christian Education Director of her church. She is currently working on her second book in the Madeline’s Teahouse series. She has four children and eight grandchildren and lives in Windsor Locks, Connecticut."

Want more details about the book? Here's a synopsis from the author:
After the death of their mother, sisters Terry and Karen Sutter, turn their childhood home into a teahouse. It’s a dream come true, but the dream begins to resemble a nightmare when teacups start crashing to the floor in the middle of the night. Could the teahouse be haunted? There’s a list of possible ghostly candidates: the prior owner who is rumored to have left behind a buried treasure, two spinster neighbors who disappeared without a trace over forty years ago, or perhaps it’s Terry and Karen’s own mother trying to communicate with them. Karen, the older sister, thinks running a haunted teahouse might be fun, until the sisters come home one night to find the attic stairs covered in a trail of what appears to be blood. Is it a ghost or a warning? The teahouse’s new mascot, a psychic macaw, may provide some unexpected clues, but the sisters will encounter many more surprises before they solve this mystery.

Check out the book on Amazon. Learn more about Leslie Matthews Stansfield at her Facebook page.

Be sure to leave a comment. Cozy Mystery Book Tours, the host of this tour, will be giving away THREE (3) Kindle copies of Mr Tea and the Traveling Teacup by Leslie Matthews Stansfield to three random commenters during the tour.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading That Old Flame of Mine by J.J. Cook. This book is the first in the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery Series. Recipes and information about peppers are included. J. J. Cook is actually the team of Joyce and Jim Lavene who have written several mystery series.

I'm thoroughly enjoying this one. Stella Griffin comes from a family of firefighters. She needs a break from Chicago due to a cheating boyfriend and a firefighting injury so heads to Sweet Pepper, Tennessee to get their volunteer firefighters into shape. Sadly, their first real fire reveals the death of Stella's new friend. Stella is also plagued by pranks-she isn't ready to believe that the cause is a former Sweet Pepper Fire Chief...who happens to be dead!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Grannies, Guns & Ghosts Book Tour-An Interview with Madison Johns

I'd like to welcome Madison Johns, author of the Agnes Barton Mysteries. Grannies, Guns and Ghosts is the second book in the series with Armed and Dangerous being the first.

Kathy: Do you believe in ghosts?
MJ: I believe in the possibilities of ghosts. I just haven’t seen one first hand.

Kathy: Why do you think Senior Sleuths are popular? Or do you think that they're not popular?
MJ: I think they are popular, but maybe not the most popular. This is definitely a growing genre that isn’t oversaturated as of yet. Readers love the idea of senior aged characters solving crimes.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
MJ: They are not graphic and humor based so what’s not to love. It’s the one genre that is branching out.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
MJ: I also dabble in romance.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.
MJ: My series depicts two senior aged ladies digging up clues with enough laugh out loud antics to make James Bond blush.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
MJ: Eleanor Mason, she can say anything or do anything. She also gets the best lines.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
MJ: I used to work at a nursing home and the residents pretty much inspired all the characters and the series. What I wanted to do was take them out of the nursing home and let them run lose in a town.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
MJ: I knew it was a great idea and it was unique. When I finished editing I swear I got the chills. My series was written for the baby boomers, but many readers are much younger.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
MJ: 1. Janet Evanovich (I’m a huge fan of hers.) 2. Lisa Jackson (I love her thrillers.) 3. Johanna Lindsey (I grew up reading her books.) 4. Kat Martin (I love her romances.)

Kathy: What are you currently reading?
MJ: I’m currently reading Montana by Debbie Macomber.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us? 
MJ: I love to play basketball with my kids. I also love to camp and go fishing.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
MJ: Diet Coke, milk, animal crackers, and popcorn.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
MJ: I’m working on a third installment of my series. This time around my ladies are going to Florida for the winter.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
MJ: I love the interaction with readers. I love when they message me and tell me how much they love my books. I also interact with readers on Facebook.

Kathy: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
MJ: Thanks for asking some great questions and for having me on your blog.

Cozy Mystery Book Tours, the host of this book tour, is having a giveaway! You could win a $25 or Paypal cash. The link to the giveaway is here:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Heard it Through The Grapevine by Lizbeth Lipperman. I was lucky enough to win an autographed copy of this book! I'm thrilled that I did and am loving it. Heard it Through The Grapevine is the first book in A Dead Sister Talking Mystery. However, this is not the author's first cozy-using the name Liz Lipperman, she writes the very funny Clueless Cook Mysteries.

In Heard it Through The Grapevine we meet Lainey Garcia, a woman at a crossroads. She plans on leaving her lover when a new job opportunity arises, but before she can pursue that she learns that her estranged sister has died. Lainey returns to Texas and meets up with her other sisters only to discover that she can see, and hear, her dead sister...who, it turns out, was murdered.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Reagan Summerside Talks Weddings

Hi Reagan Summerside here to talk weddings. The good, the bad and the deadly

You know that old saying, always the bridesmaid never the bride, well I’ve been both. The bride part didn’t take proven by the fact that I caught Hollis, my husband and the hound of Savannah, doing the horizontal hula with Cupcake right there in his office. That was some staff meeting, all right.

The last wedding I attended I came to deliver a bowtie to the groom as he misplaced his. The good part of that wedding was the cake was delicious. The deadly part was that the groom wound up dead in five tiers of icing and fondant, the ugly part was that my BFF, Chantilly, the groom’s ex got accused of the murder.

Round tables decked out in peach-tone wedding linens with white flower arrangements of roses and forget-me-nots dotted the room and Doreen-the-wedding-planner lay crumbled in a heap on the floor.

“Oh dear Lord!” I starting for Doreen but stopped in my tracks because Simon was there too. He was face down in his very own five-tiered wedding cake with a silver cake knife sticking out of his back.

Chantilly shouldn’t have been at the wedding in the first place of course but she and her UPS truck just sort of wound up there.

“You shouldn’t be here,” I said to Chantilly as she swiveled round in the driver’s seat of her UPS van. White icing and cake crumbs smeared her lips and a glob of raspberry filling dripped down her chin. A pink butter cream rose stuck to the front of her brown uniform blouse. “Dear God in heaven! You went and ate the wedding cake!”

“One slice,” she mumbled around a mouthful. “Who’s going to miss one little old slice? The freaking thing is five tiers high. It took three Cakery Bakery employees and the owner Delta Longford herself to lug it in. They even made GracieAnn Harlow stand on a ladder to get the bride and groom thing on top.”

Chantilly held up a chunk of mangled pastry. “This here should be my wedding cake, except for the pink roses. This should be my wedding day, my wedding colors of creamy-peach and blue-morning-rain. Simon is my man. We were engaged! How could he marry someone else!” Chantilly wailed, a tear sliding down her cheek and cutting a path across a white icing smear.

Hopefully none of the weddings you’ve attended were like this one with the groom dead as Lincoln right there in his own cake.

What do you think is the best part of a wedding? The cake? The first dance? The saying I Do? What are your favorite wedding colors? Favorite locations…destination weddings, church weddings, garden weddings?

Let me know and I’ll give away two Killer in Crinoline tote bags from the answers.

Hugs, Reagan

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Mr Tea and the Traveling Teacup by Leslie Matthews Stansfield. I'm finding the book a little slow going, but I love Mr. Tea! This book is the first Madeline's Teahouse Mystery. Be sure to check back; I'll be interviewing the author May 26th!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Get Bowled Over by Victoria Hamilton

I'd also like to welcome Victoria Hamilton to the blog today. Victoria pens the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries of which Bowled Over is the second entry.

Kathy – I’ve heard some debate as to location of a series. Some say that readers (at least US readers) are less likely to buy a book set in Canada than one set in the US. I don't understand that; perhaps because I grew up on the US/Canadian border. Heck, I'm more familiar with Toronto than New York City. In fact, I've never been to NYC! You live in Canada, but strategically placed your story in Queensville, Michigan-right on the border. Was this your decision, or your publisher's?

VH – I know what you mean… I don’t really care where a book is set, as long as it is well written and interesting. However, it was my decision and demanded somewhat by the marketplace. I desperately wanted to become a published author in the cozy market, and knew my odds would be better if I set my series in the US. But I purposely created a town close to where I live in Canada. I grew up going to the beach (Lake Huron) and knew lots of Michanders and Ohioans growing up, so it felt like home to me. I also created Jaymie Leighton’s family to sort of straddle the border in a way; her sister and grandmother live in Canada.

Kathy - In addition to collecting vintage kitchenware, Jaymie also collects cookbooks. I collect cookbooks too, although I rarely cook from them. What about you? Do you collect them and if you do, do you actually try the recipes?

VH – I do collect them, but I more often cook from my mother’s old recipes and tried and true ones of my own, as well as others I find on the internet.

Kathy - Jaymie is able to take old recipes and make them accessible to modern day cooks. There is a definite skill to that. Are you able to do that as well? 

VH – Oh, sure! I love reading old recipes and figuring out what a ‘medium’ oven, or ‘top milk’ is. It’s an insight into how people cooked then, kind of a view into the past. 

Kathy - Do you enjoy old fashioned recipes, modern ones, or combinations?

VH – I like comfort food recipes, and I really enjoy reading old recipes that were published in the newspapers, or handwritten on recipe cards! I use all kinds of recipes… I’m an old-fashioned kind of cook in that way. But most often, I have to admit, I make soups, stews, chili and sauces with no recipe at all.

Kathy - Do you have a favorite piece of vintage kitchenware? A dream piece?

VH – The kitchen cabinet pictured on the cover of A Deadly Grind has to be my favorite piece! It is beautiful and useful… two great features.

Kathy - I love the fact that you have a differently abled pet in the series. How did Hoppy come about?

VH – I get choked up when I see stories about amputee pups or cats. I’m a sucker for that kind of thing. Hoppy just kind of happened… I didn’t really plan it out, I just knew that Jaymie had a Yorkie-Poo with three legs named Hoppy, and a crabby tabby named Denver. I have no idea why he is called Denver.

Kathy - What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

VH - I love the ‘world creation’ aspect a lot. I had so much fun creating Queensville, Michigan, and imagining the history of a town on the St. Clair with the heart shaped island in the middle, divided between the world’s two best national friends, Canada and the US. I like that aspect of other cozies, as well, but I also like the cozy sub-genre’s focus on the mystery, not the grotesque homicide itself. I’m not a fan of gore.

Kathy - You write in other genres as well. Would you tell us about that.

VH – I have been a writer quite a while and got my start in Regency romances. I happily wrote those for six years, and then wrote a paranormal (werewolf) historical romance trilogy set in Germany and England, then a historical romantic mystery trilogy set in England, the Lady Anne mysteries, all under my ‘real’ name, Donna Lea Simpson. I loved every moment of it!

Kathy - Tell us about your series. (Please describe your series in a sentence or two.)

VH - Vintage Kitchen Mysteries: Homebody Jaymie Leighton collects vintage kitchen collectibles and cookbooks, and now it appears that she collects mysteries, too, and solves them! With the aid of her intrepid three-legged Yorkie-Poo and snoopy best friend Valetta, she solves murders which happen with alarming frequency in Queensville Michigan. She also verbally spars with handsome Detective Zachary Christian, and tries to figure out her relationship with sweet-natured multi-millionaire Daniel Collins!

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

VH – I love Valetta… she’d definitely be my friend in real life… snoopy, smart, and yet with a big heart.

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

VH - Oooh… love this parlor game. 1) Jane Austen: No brainer. I’d like to know what she would think of her current favor in the public. 2) Sue Grafton: I’d like to pick her brain. 3) Stephanie Barron: Ditto. 4) M. C. Beaton: I love her books and think she’d be fun to talk to!

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

VH – Which ones? LOL. I do a lot of crafts, especially cross stitch. I’ve been working on a big cross stitch of a Hoosier-style cabinet for years! I’ve started crocheting again, and love to make bead jewelry. I cook and read and play Hidden Chronicles far too much!

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

VH – Hmm… pasta, canned tomatoes, salad veggies, yogurt.

Kathy - I know you have a new series coming up, could you tell us about all of your different series and their plans for the future?

VH –

Vintage Kitchen Mysteries: Freezer I’ll Shoot, Book 3, is out November 5th of this year, and it has been renewed for books 4 & 5… I’m so pleased about that!

Merry Muffin Mysteries: Bran New Death (I put down the wrong title in my bio - L) is Book 1 and comes out September 3rd. I am so looking forward to this book’s release. I’m excited about the series and hope readers love it as much as I do. My heroine, Merry Wynter, inherits a castle (Yes, a castle) in Upstate New York near a weird little town called Autumn Vale. She visits to try to sell it, but finds it infested with huge holes on the property, and then discovers the dead body of a guy she threatened at the bottom of one of them! Merry bakes muffins – coincidentally my favorite thing to bake, too - and I’ll feature at least one muffin recipe at the end of each book.

Teapot Collector Mysteries, written as Amanda Cooper: Tempest in a Teapot comes out in June of NEXT year, 2014. I love teapots and teacups, so this series was just such a good fit, and I’m so happy about it. I’ll talk more about it as the time approaches.

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

VH – Of course I love to write, and can’t imagine a day without it, but one thing I really enjoy is connecting with readers. I’ve been fortunate to have books published, now, in the genre I have always loved so much, and hearing from readers what they like about the book, or what touched them, or their own stories about their collections, or places they’ve been… that is the best! Icing on  a tasty cake.

Kathy - Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.

VH – Thank you so much for having me. It’s always fun to talk about writing and my mystery series!

This interview is part of The Fantastic 4 Cozy Mystery Book Tour Giveaway. Visit the Cozy Mystery Book Tour Page where you can learn how you may just win a Kindle Touch, cozy mystery books, gift cards, and more!