Friday, July 31, 2015

Fudging the Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm so pleased to welcome Daryl Wood Gerber back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Fudging the Books, the fourth in her Cookbook Nook Mystery series will be released next week!

Kathy: Pirates come to town in Fudging the Books. Are you a fan of pirates and pirate movies?

DWG: Yes, there’s something about pirates…they’re big, brassy, fun. I know, in real life, pirates are BAD! Really bad. But in movies and books (I’ve enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean series and old-style movies with pirates), they seem to fulfill a fantasy about the wild life, going to sea, and being free. Let me share an excerpt when Jenna and Bailey are climbing a rock wall. Note: FUDGING THE BOOKS does not involve “real pirates.” Pirate Week is a fun romp in Crystal Cove where folks dress up like pirates, climb rock walls, go whale watching, and take in Pirates of Penzance or hunt for missing gold doubloons.

Here’s the excerpt (remember that Jenna used to be an advertising executive):

Halfway up the climbing wall, Bailey glanced at the costumed crowd below and said to me, “Why do you think people romanticize pirates?”

I told her about a commercial campaign we did at Taylor & Squibb. It was for Habañero Spice, a product from the Caribbean, and involved a horde of Johnny Depp look-alike pirates. “My boss said people glamorized pirates because pirates lived by their own rules. People forget about the violence pirates did and still do.”

Here’s another excerpt, an inner thought for Jenna:

I recalled asking my aunt why Pirate Week was such a big lure, because pirates were notoriously not nice people. She said the intent of Pirate Week wasn’t for one minute to suggest that real, honest-to-goodness pirates were in any way, shape, or form worth emulating, but the image of swaggering pirateness was fun and exciting and, in her words, harmless. The Pirates of the Caribbean movies were a success because being a pirate looked like a blast.

Kathy: Who is your favorite swashbuckler?

DWG: Errol Flynn. I mean, I like Johnny Depp, but Errol Flynn had a swagger that was something to behold. Handsome as all get out. Those dimples. Yipes! And as Robin Hood? Wow. Yes, definitely my favorite.

Kathy: I love fudge and generally make it every Christmas to give as gifts. Are you a fudge fan? Do you have a favorite fudge flavor?

DWG: I love fudge. I used to make See’s fudge and give it as gifts at Christmas, too. Talk about butter and sugar and deliciousness! Oh, yum! As far as my tastes, I’m a purist. I like dark chocolate fudge. I will eat other styles. I like salted caramel fudge—a lot—but I truly love dark fudge, no nuts.

Kathy: You already had a successful series out when you began to publish the Cookbook Nook Mystery series. Is it easier to produce a second series, once you have the idea behind it?

DWG: It’s easier to write, period, when you have the idea and you know the characters, the setting, and the plot. I like to work with structure. I’m not a seat-of-the-pants writer, so I plot things out. Yes, I might diverge from my original idea (consider it a road map and short day trips are okay), but I like knowing where I’m going. It was NOT easier trying to sell myself as Daryl Wood Gerber to fans of Avery Aames. It has taken a long time to teach people that Daryl and Avery are one and the same. Why did I have a pseudonym? Because my publisher came up with the idea of the Cheese Shop Mysteries and hired me to write them. I was, as yet, unpublished, and jumped at the chance.

Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Jenna Hart?

DWG: In the 5th book, which will come out August 2016, Jenna is in for some big surprises. She will still be in charge of The Cookbook Nook and the Nook Café, and she will still be learning how to cook, but there are some eye-openers for her! Can’t share more than that. Love? Yes, maybe, okay, yes. Definitely love. But more!

Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

DWG: Krista Davis had arranged for a number of authors to do a book signing at a culinary bookshop in Occoqwan, Virginia the day before the Malice Domestic Conference. At the time, I was only writing as Avery Aames. The moment I arrived at the village where the shop was located, I fell in love. When I walked into the store, I was bowled over. I wanted to buy/own everything in the store. Cookbooks, fictional books that involved food, salt- and pepper-shakers, potholders, aprons, foodie puzzles. It was a foodie/culinary mystery lover’s paradise, and I knew I had to write about it. I went home and crafted three chapters and a bible for the series and sent them off to my agent, who loved what I wrote and pitched the series to my editor. She, too, is a foodie, and got it right away. Sadly, the store is now closed, but its memory lives on in The Cookbook Nook.

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

DWG: I have a new Cheese Shop Mystery coming out in February 2016, FOR CHEDDAR OR WORSE. It’s a fun story where a group of cheese experts gather at an inn in Providence. I think Dame Agatha would approve of the storyline. There’s also the 5th in A Cookbook Nook Mystery series coming out in August 2016. The title has yet to be determined, but a Wild West Extravaganza is coming to town, and the book will feature barbecue and grilled foods. Yum! I like the titles A SIZZLING TALE and GRILLING THE SUBJECT. We’ll see if the publisher likes either. They usually enjoy my titles. After that, there is a lot in the works for me. My agent is trying to sell a new mystery series as well as a suspense novel.


Agatha Award-winning and nationally bestselling author DARYL WOOD GERBER writes the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, set in the fictional coastal town of Crystal Cove, California. As Avery Aames, she also writes the Cheese Shop Mysteries, set in quaint Providence, Ohio. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote”. She is married, loves to cook, and has a darling, frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky. Visit Daryl or Avery at


Daryl has offered to giveaway a book to one of the commenters. Your choice of the first three Cookbook Nook Mysteries: FINAL SENTENCE or INHERIT THE WORD or STIRRING THE PLOT. Please leave your comment, as well as an e-mail address, on this post no later than 11:59 pm Sunday, August 2, 2015.



Fudging the Books by Daryl Wood Gerber
The Fourth Bookshop Nook Mystery

It's February and chocolate and pirates have descended on Crystal Cove, California. Jenna Hart is coating the Cookbook Nook in chocolate by featuring chocolate themed cookbooks, displays, and tasty, chocolatey treats to eat! Friend, candymaker, and cook book author Coco gives a talk and book signing replete with her own entourage, her vibrant editor, an unpleasant copyeditor, and dashing photographer. There are some interesting undercurrents going on, undercurrents that soon become deadly.

In this, the 4th Cookbook Nook Mystery, Gerber gives us a variety of suspects, most quite unlikeable. There's the persnickety copyeditor who seems to be horning in on everything, the victim's brother who seems almost buffoonish yet malicious at the same time, the fitness nag, and the, well, dashing Dash. And although it seems impossible, could the friend Jenna and Bailey are protecting actually be guilty?

Motives, both seen and unseen, drive the story and the characters. While Bailey's character went down in my estimation due to her ignorance and attitude towards cats, I found a new character to admire in Hershey; a cat who knows what he wants and how to get it! Fudging the Books combines pirates, chocolate, friendship, and food into a fun mystery that also shows us, like Hershey, it's fine to be independent, but good to be there for others when trouble appears.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Currently Reading...

I was just about to start A Dish Best Served Cold by Rosie Genova last week and this week I'm just about to finish this book, the third Italian Kitchen Mystery. A storm is brewing on the Jersey Shore and soon Vic Rienzi finds herself in its midst. An old family friend, who also happens to be a dissolute, unwanted semi-nuisance, tells Vic he has stories to tell for her mysteries, but before he is able to tell anything he is found dead. Is he simply a victim of the hurricane, or a victim of someone who needed his silence? While most people believe his death was merely an accident, Vic and her sister in law start following a lead Stinky Pete gave; the name of Vic's great uncle. Vic and SIL soon uncover a family history with mob connections...connections that might still be alive with a desire to remain undetected.

Italian Recipes Included

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Spotlight - Drop Dead Punk

Drop Dead Punk

by Rich Zahradnik

on Tour July 2015


Coleridge Taylor is searching for his next scoop on the police beat. The Messenger-Telegram reporter has a lot to choose from on the crime-ridden streets of New York City in 1975. One story outside his beat is grabbing all the front page glory: New York teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, and President Ford just told the city, as the Daily News so aptly puts it, "Drop Dead." Taylor's situation is nearly as desperate. His home is a borrowed dry-docked houseboat, his newspaper may also be on the way out, and his drunk father keeps getting arrested.
A source sends Taylor down to Alphabet City, hang-out of the punks who gravitate to the rock club CBGB. There he finds the bloody fallout from a mugging. Two dead bodies: a punk named Johnny Mort and a cop named Robert Dodd. Each looks too messed up to have killed the other. Taylor starts asking around. The punk was a good kid, the peace-loving guardian angel of the neighborhood's stray dogs. What led him to mug a woman at gunpoint? And why is Officer Samantha Callahan being accused of leaving her partner to die, even though she insists the police radio misled her? It's hard enough being a female in the NYPD only five years after women were assigned to patrol. Now the department wants to throw her to the wolves. That's not going to happen, not if Taylor can help it. As he falls for Samantha--a beautiful, dedicated second-generation cop--he realizes he's too close to his story. Officer Callahan is a target, and Taylor's standing between her and some mighty big guns.
Drop Dead Punk is book 2 in the Coleridge Taylor Mystery series.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Series: Book 2 in the Coleridge Taylor Mystery series.
Published by: Camel Press,
Publication Date: ~ Aug. 15, 2015
Number of Pages: 254
ISBN: 978-1603812092
Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

The great headlines of other newspapers were always to be despised. Not today.
The three ancient copy editors were on their feet, with Copydesk Chief Milt Corman in the middle. Taylor stopped his walk through the newsroom to find out why. If someone had made a mistake, it must be a colossal one to get those fat asses out of their seats. He looked over Corman’s shoulder. The copy chief held the Daily News. It was that day’s edition, Oct. 30, 1975. The 144-point front-page headline screamed up from the page.

Corman rattled the paper violently. “That’s a work of art. Tells the whole story in five words. He gave the city the finger yesterday.”
Jack Miller, one of the other old farts, moved back to his seat. You could only expect him to stand for so long. He settled into his chair for another day of slashing copy. “What do you expect from our unelected president? Veepee to Nixon. Goddamned pardoned Robert E. Lee two months ago.”
“Didn’t pardon him. Gave him back his citizenship.”
“Same thing. The barbarians are running the country and now they’re at our gates. We’re the biggest, most important city on the planet, and he’s going to leave us hanging to get himself actually elected to the job.”
Corman flipped open the paper to the Ford speech story across pages four and five. “Just listen to this bullshit. ‘I am prepared to veto any bill that has as its purpose a Federal bailout of New York City to prevent a default.’ He blathers on about using the uniform bankruptcy laws. On and on and on. How do you police the streets and pick up garbage under the uniform bankruptcy laws? A Federal judge trying to run the whole damn city? Chaos.”
“Ford’s from Grand Rapids.” Miller shook his big round head. “He doesn’t know from anything about this place. He’s talking to all the flatlanders—a nation that hates us.”
“Will you listen to this at the end? ‘If we go on spending more than we have, providing more benefits and more services than we can pay for, then a day of reckoning will come to Washington and the whole country just as it has to New York City. When that day of reckoning comes, who will bail out the United States of America?’ He’ll kill this city to keep his job.” Corman looked from the paper to Taylor. “You’re the crime reporter. Why don’t you go after this? Write the story about the man who murdered New York.”
Taylor laughed. “You can’t kill New York.”
“Rome fell.”
“Rome wasn’t New York. You know this is the same political bullshit. Made up numbers and budget magic and threats from Washington. New York will still be here long after. It’s a great headline, though. You guys should try writing ’em like that.”
He left the horseshoe copy desk before they could protest that wasn’t the style of the New York Messenger-Telegram. He knew all too well the three of them would kill to be headline writers at the Daily News. That paper wasn’t perpetually on the verge of failing like the MT.
Taylor gave New York’s financial crisis about thirty seconds more thought as he wound his way around the maze of the newsroom. To him, the crisis was background noise. The city had become a dark place since the Sixties decided to end early, round about 1968. Crime lurked in the darkness, and he covered crime. He was too busy with New York’s growth industry to pay attention to the mayor’s budget problems.
Heroin everywhere.
Corruption in the police department.
Buildings in the South Bronx torched by the block.
Those were the stories he went after, not failed bond sales and blabbering politicos. Problem was the damn financial story had pushed everything else off the MT’s front page. Taylor hadn’t had a decent story out there in three weeks. He needed the quick hit of a page one byline, needed it particularly bad this morning. The cops had called him at home last night. Not about a story this time. They’d arrested his father, reeling drunk in his underwear outside his apartment building. Taylor had been up until three a.m. dealing with that mess. A good story—a good story that actually got decent play—and a few beers after to celebrate. Now that would pick him up. For a day or two at least.
Make the calls. Someone’s got to have something. Now that Ford’s had his say, there must be room on page one.
He’d almost slipped past the city desk when Worth called out his name. Taylor tried to pretend he hadn’t heard and kept going, but Worth raised his high-pitched voice and just about yelled. Taylor turned and went back to the pristine maple-topped desk of City Editor Bradford J. Worth, Jr.
“I’ve got an assignment for you.”
That was always bad news. “Haven’t made my calls yet.”
“Doesn’t matter. Need you down at City Hall.”
Taylor brightened. Crime at City Hall. A murder? That would be big.
“What’s the story?” He sounded enthusiastic. He shouldn’t have.
“You’re to go to the pressroom and wait for announcements. Glockman called in sick.”
“C’mon, Worth. Not babysitting. You’ve got three other City Hall reporters.” Who’ve owned the front page for weeks.
“They’re all very busy pursuing the most important story in this city’s history. Your job is to sit at our desk in the pressroom and wait for the mayor to issue a statement on Ford’s speech. Or the deputy mayor. Or a sanitation worker. Or a cleaning lady. Anybody says anything, you phone it in. Rumor is they’re working on using city pension funds.”
Worth’s phone rang, and he picked up. “Yeah, I’m sending Taylor down. No, he’ll do for now.” He set the receiver lightly on its hook. “You’ve been down in the dumps since your friend Laura left us. Was it her going or the fact she got a job at the New York Times? Because you’ll never get there, not with the way you dodge the biggest stories.”
“Hey, you and I are both still here.”
Worth frowned. Ambition rose off the man like an odor as strong as the cologne he wore. He’d made city editor at thirty without ever working as a reporter. Everyone knew he wanted more, and to him, more meant the New York Times. He’d almost been as upset as Taylor when Laura Wheeler announced she had the gig, and Worth wasn’t the one in love with Laura. He had been sure he was leaving next.
“Both here, but I’m the one doing his job. Now get to City Hall.”
“You have to be able to find someone else.” Exasperation through grit teeth. “Crime is big for this paper.”
“I decide what’s big.” He picked up the phone, dialed an inside extension, and showed Taylor his back.
Sitting at City Hall waiting for a press release was the perfect way to ruin Taylor’s day, something the city editor liked doing so much it had become a bad habit.
Taylor arrived at his own desk to find the other police reporters gone, probably making their rounds.
The desk that had been Laura’s reminded him of her—of her dark brown eyes, her black hair, her beautiful face. She’d left an aching emptiness inside him. They’d lasted a month after she’d moved to the New York Times, and then she’d broken it off. She said she realized the only thing they had in common was the MT. She hadn’t been mean about it. And she wasn’t wrong. The paper had been their life during the day and their conversation at night. He wondered if it also had to do with his age, 34, and where he was—or wasn’t—in life. He pushed his hand through his short brown hair. He’d even found himself considering his thin, angular face, something he’d never done before. Was that it? Laura was beautiful. Taylor couldn’t think of a word for what he was.
He recently heard she’d started dating a guy on the foreign staff, Derek something. He wondered how old Derek was. Late twenties and optimistic, he guessed, unbowed by life. From a good family too, probably. It was always going to end. So why did it hurt like this?
Truth was Taylor had been living with emptiness for years before he met her. Over that time, he’d gotten used to it, let the job fill his life. Only, having her and losing her made him understand how much he disliked this lonely hole inside.
Really should leave right away.
The black phone in front of him was too much temptation. Worth couldn’t see Taylor from the city desk. He picked up the receiver, pushed the clear plastic button for an outside line, and dialed the number for Sidney Greene at 1 Police Plaza. Greene was perhaps the most discontented, dyspeptic minor civil servant Taylor had ever encountered. He leaked stories not to expose injustice or right a wrong, but to screw his bosses. He simply loved watching them deal with the chaos he created by tipping off Taylor.
“Anything up?”
“Oh, a real shit show. Officer down.”
Taylor flipped open a notebook. Even in the midst of this dark age of drugs, muggings, and homicides, a police officer murdered was still a big story. A page one story. “Where and when?”
“Avenue B and East Eighth, just in from Tompkins Square Park.”
“What happened?”
“That’s all I can do for you. They’re doing the headless chicken dance down here. You’ll be ahead of the others if you get to the scene quick. Not by much, though.”
Taylor left the newsroom for the Lower Eastside. He’d check for press releases at City Hall after visiting the scene of the cop’s murder. Worthless would have his head if he missed even one minor announcement. Screw it. Taylor couldn’t ignore a big story. A real story.
He hustled from the subway across the blocks to the crime scene. The day offered near perfect New York fall weather, with the air crisp and clear, tingling with energy. He unwrapped a stick of Teaberry gum and stuck it in his mouth. The temperature had dropped from yesterday’s high of 70 and would only make it into the mid-fifties today. Jacket weather—Taylor’s favorite. Not so hot he broke into a sweat on a good walk, and cool but not cold—he wasn’t fighting the brutal winds of winter that blasted down the avenues. Easy weather put New Yorkers at ease. He could sense it as he walked. More smiles. Sidewalk trees even showed off muted reds and gold. Taylor knew it was nothing like the color upstate but it would do.
Taylor’s press pass got him inside the cluster of patrol cars guarding the ambulance. A couple of fire engines had also rolled to the scene, which was a dilapidated brownstone with half its windows boarded, a missing door, and a huge hole in the roof. The place was a true Lower Eastside wreck in a neighborhood where hard luck meant you were doing pretty well for yourself.
Taylor climbed the cracked front steps. A “Condemned Building” sign was nailed to the open door. The first floor had few interior walls, only piles of rubble from when the roof had come down, bringing chunks of the next three floors with it. The smell of must mingled with the stink of garbage. Two uniformed and four plainclothes police stood around a uniformed body sprawled across a pile of plaster chunks and wood slats in the middle of what was once probably a living room. Off to the right in the front corner was a second body, guarded by no one.
Seeing an opportunity, Taylor moved closer to the body in the corner. The man, young and apparently startled by death, had taken one shot to the chest and one in the leg. Blood soaked a black T-shirt printed with big white letters Taylor couldn’t read unless he adjusted the man’s leather jacket, which was also covered in blood. The man’s heart must have pumped his life’s blood out in minutes. Faster maybe. His right hand was on his stomach and clutched a green leather purse with a gold chain strap. Taylor knew better than to touch anything. Instead, he leaned in and was met by the iron and musk odor of blood. The top of the man’s hand was tattooed with a spiral pattern, an eye at its center. The fingers were inked with the bones of a skeleton, like an X-ray of what lay beneath the dead man’s skin.
The face was young—twenties, probably early twenties— bony and pale, with a tattoo of a spider web that started below the shirt line and crept up his neck to his chin and right ear. His hair was short and spiky, in the punk style—as was his whole look. Many of them had recently moved into this neighborhood to be near the punk rock club CBGB and the other bars that were the heart of the punk rock scene. Many were squatters.
“Don’t touch nothin’.” A short chunky cop with a gold badge in his belt walked over.
“I’d never do that, Detective.” Taylor rose from his crouch.
“I’m very sorry about the loss of an officer.”
“Yeah, thanks. And who the fuck are you?”
“Taylor with the Messenger-Telegram.” Taylor tapped the laminated pass.
“The Empty, huh? Read it sometimes. At least you’re not the fucking Times. I hate those pricks.”
Five years since the New York Times interviewed Serpico and broke the story of massive corruption in the NYPD, and the paper was still on every cop’s shit list. At the time, Taylor had gone crazy trying to follow the Times’ scoops. He’d admired what the Times had done and hated being behind on such a big story. He didn’t need to tell the detective that, though. It was fine with him if the man liked the Messenger-Telegram. Taylor himself liked cops, the honest kind at least. When he’d started at the paper, police reporters were almost cops themselves. Or adjuncts, at least. They helped the police, publicizing successes, ignoring failures and drinking in the same places. Not anymore. Trust had been lost, and it wasn’t going to be won back anytime soon.
What happened?”
“This jamoke holds up a woman for her purse when she comes up from the subway at Astor Place. Officer Robert Dodd and his partner give chase. The mugger runs across St. Mark’s Place, through the park and into this hole. They exchange shots. Both are killed. At least that’s what we can figure so far.”
“Dodd’s partner?”
“Couldn’t keep up. Poor Dodd was stuck with a meter maid. When little Samantha Callahan gets here, they’re both dead. What’s the point of having broads patrolling if they can’t back you up?” Lights flashed across the detective’s jowly face. He looked out the glassless window at the car pulling up. “Assistant chief. I’ve got to make sense of this for him.”
Taylor jotted down the name on the detective’s plate, R. Trunk. He dug out a business card and handed it to the detective. “Anything more comes up, call me. We take care of cops at the MT.” Laying it on thick never hurt. “Dodd’s a hero. His story should be told right.”
“Yeah, we’ll see. Your paper may not be awful. Doesn’t mean I trust you. Now get out of here. We got work to do.”
Trunk turned as another plainclothesman walked up. “Still haven’t got the kid’s gun.”
Well, find the fucking thing. Assistant chief ’s going to be on us like stink on shit.”
That was odd. If Dodd took out the mugger, the man’s gun would be right here somewhere. It couldn’t have walked away on its own. Taylor put that detail in his notebook. Anything odd always went in the notebook. He walked a wide arc toward the door to get a quick view of the dead officer. Dodd was a complete mess. He had to have been shot in the face. Taylor couldn’t make out the nose, the eyes, anything in the gore and blood. That meant he had to have shot the mugger first.

Author Bio:

authorRich Zahradnik is the author of the Coleridge Taylor Mystery series from Camel Press. Last Words is the first novel in the series and was published Oct. 1, 2014. Drop Dead Punk will come out Aug. 15. He was a journalist for 30-plus years, working as a reporter and editor in all major news media, including online, newspaper, broadcast, magazine and wire services. He held editorial positions at CNN, Bloomberg News, Fox Business Network, AOL and The Hollywood Reporter, often writing news stories and analysis about the journalism business, broadcasting, film production, publishing and the online industry. In January 2012, he was one of 20 writers selected for the inaugural class of the Crime Fiction Academy, a first-of-its-kind program run by New Yorks Center for Fiction. He has been a media entrepreneur throughout his career. He was the founding executive producer of, a leading financial news website and a Webby winner; managing editor of, and a partner in the soccer-news website company Goal Networks. Zahradnik also co-founded the weekly newspaper The Peekskill Herald at the age of 25, leading it to seven state press association awards in its first three years. Zahradnik was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, and received his B.A. in journalism and political science from George Washington University. He lives with his wife Sheri and son Patrick in Pelham, New York, where he writes fiction and teaches elementary school kids how to publish the online and print newspaper the Colonial Times.

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Let's Meet Joanne Phillips and Flora Lively & a Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Joanne Phillips to Cozy Up With Kathy. Joanne writes the Flora Lively Mystery series. Flora Lively and a Date with Death is the second book in the series.

Kathy: Aside from taking place is Great Britain, what makes a mystery quintessentially British?

JP: I think Flora herself is very British – there is this innocence about her, along with a nosy almost ‘busybodyness’ that finds her embroiled in all sorts of mysteries and adventures before she knows what’s hit her! My other favourite aspect of these mysteries is Flora’s love/hate relationship with American Marshall. He drives her crazy, not least of all because of the way he teases her about her Britishness! But she kind of loves to be driven crazy by him. Then there are the mysteries themselves, in the tradition of Agatha Christie and M.C. Beaton. A Date With Death reflects this British flavour most of all, with the action taking place in an old country house, and a very Christie-esque denouncement at the end.

Kathy: Are you inspired by the great British detective authors such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers? Have they influenced your writing?

JP: Very much so, in terms of plot structure and tone. My characters, however, are more contemporary, and the books blend the charm of a more old-fashioned kind of mystery with the modern day problems a young and feisty amateur sleuth might face.

Kathy: I'd love to live in a glamorous country house, as long as I had staff to look after it! Would you enjoy that lifestyle, or perhaps a weekend party at one?

JP: I’d enjoy a weekend party there, but not if Flora was around - I’d be pretty sure that a dead body would soon follow! Yes, I think I would have done well if I’d been born into that lifestyle, with staff of course. I’m very good at finding things to do with my time, and very very good at delegating!

Kathy: In Flora Lively and a Date with Death the priceless Infanta Tiara is stolen. Is this tiara based on an actual historical piece?

JP: No, it was entirely made up. I do remember an early episode of Blackadder (British Comedy), where there was a character called the Spanish Infanta, and the name stuck with me. When I needed to think of a piece that would fit in with the Spanish film crew theme and be a draw for a thief, the idea of a beautiful tiara arrived in my mind.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

JP: I can blame author Edie Claire for that. I read the first in her Leigh Koslow series, Never Buried, and I was hooked. But there was a sense of already knowing the genre, but not knowing what these books were called. I’ve always loved mysteries, but can’t stand gore or upsetting themes. Finding that these books were being written right now - and that you didn’t have to stick to the traditional mysteries of the last century - was a landmark moment for me.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

JP: Yes - I write romantic comedies and women’s fiction, and I’ve also just completed a Masters degree in creative writing where I wrote a literary novel. I don’t think I could ever confine myself to one genre as a writer, any more than I could as a reader.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

JP: Flora inherited her family removal business when her parents died; she also inherited Marshall, her father’s hand-picked manager. In book one, Flora befriends an old lady she moves into a retirement village, and ends up solving the mystery of the dreaded ‘third floor’. I already have five books planned out for the series, which will see Flora’s character grow and develop, along with her relationship with Marshall. A Date With Death sees Flora reunited with her best friend, Celeste, who has been travelling and arrives home with a Spanish film crew in tow. Marshall and Celeste hate each other on sight, and soon Flora has her loyalties torn, as well as her sleuthing skills stretched. Although the mysteries drive the plot, all the books revolve around relationships and conflict. It’s just how I like to write.

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

JP: I love writing about old people, so I think Joy from book 1 is one of my favs. In A Date With Death I really enjoyed writing Alberto, the Spanish director - he is a larger than life character, and they are always fun. And Marshall, of course. I suppose I’m a little in love with him.

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

JP: Not really, but Flora Lively came to me as a character - a diminutive woman managing a traditionally male removals company. The idea for the mystery series followed.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

JP: I have always loved writing, and aged 38 I’d already completed 3 novels, one of which had gained a lot of interest from an agent. Having my daughter held things up for a while, but when the Kindle boom started to hit I realised I wanted to be part of the new indie movement. I’m a control freak anyway, so self-publishing really appealed to me.

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

JP: I’m lucky to be friends with one of the authors I admire, so I’d invite Linda Gillard first. And then, Anne Tyler, Carol Shields, and my mum, who is also an author. I think we’d have a great time.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JP: The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice

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

JP: I love crocheting and knitting, and quilting. Obviously I love to read, and I like going for long walks, listening to audiobooks on my phone.

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

JP: Chocolate - 85% cocoa solids, very dark and bitter! Chilled wine - always Pinot Grigio. Lots of salad because I’m on a health kick just now. And cereal bars for when I need a snack.

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

JP: Yes, most definitely. The next book in the Flora Lively series will be called The Sign of Seven and I’m really looking forward to making a start.

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

JP: Being able to work from home! And just doing what I love to do. Even if I couldn’t earn money from writing I’d still write. I can’t help it. It’s just what I am.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Spotlight - Macaroni and Cheese

I'd like to shine a spotlight on another great July release. Macaroni and Cheese by Christine Wenger is the 4th book in the Comfort Food Mystery series, set in my neck of the woods!

From the back cover:

In the latest from the national bestselling author of Diners, Drive-ins, and Death, Trixie Matkowski finds herself in hot water after a killer gets cheesed off at a celebrity chef...

When the library roof collapses from the harsh winter weather, diner owner and comfort food chef Trixie Matkowski decides to organize a mac-and-cheese cook-off to raise funds for repairs. Priscilla Finch-Smythe, famous TV chef and former Sandy Harbor resident, is not only available to judge the contest-she's offering an appearance on her show as the grand prize.

Trixie hopes that winning first place in the cook-off will help boost publicity for her Silver Bullet Diner. But when another winner is announced and Priscilla is later found frozen in a snowbank, Trixie starts getting attention from the police instead. Now she'll have to noodle over this mystery before everything really goes to pot....

Home-style recipes included.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Currently Reading...

I'm about to dive in to A Dish Best Served Cold by Rosie Genova. This book is the third in the Italian Kitchen Mystery series and will be released August 4th. I haven't started reading yet, but I'll share what I gather from the back cover. While Vic and her family are preparing for the Casa Lido's 75th anniversary an old family friend stops by with hints of an old family mystery. The restaurant's party brings more than revelry and remembrances-it brings a full fledged hurricane and even more surprises!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Spotlight - Much Ado About Felines & Giveaway

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on Much Ado about Felines by Kathi Daley. This book is the 4th in the Whales and Tails Mystery series and was released July 15th.

The Whales and Tails Mysteries is a cozy mystery series set on Madrona Island, a fictional island within the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington State. As a fourth generation islander, Caitlin Hart is struggling to make her way as the economy and culture of the island evolves toward a tourism based industry. Cait lives in a cabin on her aunt's oceanfront estate where she helps her aunt run Harthaven Cat Sanctuary. When she isn't working with the cats, she helps best friend Tara, operate the coffee bar/bookstore/cat lounge they own, named Coffee Cat Books.

In the fourth installment in the series, the body of a long time island local is found buried in her own grave. Cait and the gang set out to investigate the strange occurrence and along the way they uncover the truth about the mysterious man who arrived on the ferry every week and is followed everywhere he goes by a black and white cat.

Kathi Daley is giving away a copy of Much Ado about Felines to one lucky reader. Simply leave a comment on this blog post no later than 11:59 pm EDT on Wednesday, July 22, 2015. Be sure to leave your e-mail address so that I may contact you should yours be the lucky comment chosen by!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Guest Post - An Interview with June Heal

Interview With June Heal

By Tonya Kappes

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in the small town of Locust Grove, Kentucky with my widow mother, who died young. Darla, my mom who had me call her by her name, made homeopathic cures out of our home, selling them at a local flea market. I took over the flea market booth after her death and realized my cures were a little more potent than Darla’s. That opened a whole new world where I found out that my father was a wizard and I was a witch.

2) What has been your favorite adventure?

I have to say that out of the entire Magical Cures Mystery series, I loved finding out my true heritage and moving to the magical village of Whispering Falls.

3) What is your favorite treat?

Oh! Easy! Ding Dongs are my go to favorite treat. In fact, my good friend Raven Mortimer, owner of Wicked Good Bakery, makes a to-die-for replica of the Ding Dong and calls it June’s Gems.

4) If you could have a different ability, what would it be?

My friend, , he is able transport himself anywhere. I think that would be cool to do.

5) You have two familiars. Which one is your favorite?

Are you really asking me this question? I could never answer that. I do love how Mr. Prince Charming, my fairy god cat, brings me real silver charms for my charm bracelet to keep me protected.

I could do without Madame Torres’s smart alec mouth, but she’s great in keeping me safe by telling me future events. They both have a special place in my life.

6) Are you and Oscar ever going to get married?

I hope so! We have finally set a wedding date for All Hallow’s Eve. I hope you can come!

7) What is your favorite potion?

I have to say that I love the Gentle June’s Stressless Lotion that is sold nationally in the Head To Toe Works stores. The magic is in the bottle. Since it’s sold nationwide and I can’t read everyone’s real stress and give them a special potion, I put the spell in the bottle. When the customer picks up the bottle, the bottle gives them the stress free feeling and answers they are seeking.

8) What do you see in your next adventure?

That is easier said than done. I’m trying to tie the knot with Oscar and become Mrs. Oscar Park. I have a good gut feeling that things aren’t really going to go as planned since both our Aunts are butting heads about family rituals. Since he’s from a wizard family and I’m a witch, there are different wedding rituals. Oscar and I just might run off!

A CHARMING FATALITY is the seventh novel in the USA TODAY Bestselling Magical Cures Mystery Series.

For years, USA Today bestselling author Tonya Kappes has been self-publishing her numerous mystery and romance titles with unprecedented success. She is famous not only for her hilarious plotlines and quirky characters, but her tremendous marketing efforts that have earned her thousands of followers and a devoted street team of fans. HarperCollins and Witness Impulse is thrilled to be publishing this insanely talented and wildly successful author in her hilarious and spooky Ghostly Southern series. Be sure to join Tonya’s newsletter and receive a free ebook download!

Purchase links:


Barnes and Noble







Friday, July 17, 2015

Spotlight - Spellcasting in Silk

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on Spellcasting in Silk by Juliet Blackwell. The Witchcraft Mystery series is just about my favorite series and I'm excited to read this latest entry. Just released last week, Spellcasting in Silk is the 7th book in the series.

From the back cover:

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Vision in Velvet comes more spooky sleuthing with Lily Ivory, vintage boutique owner and gifted witch....

Lily would like nothing better than to relax, enjoy her friends, and take care of business at her store, which is booming, thanks to San Francisco's upcoming Summer of Love Festival. But as the unofficial witchy consultant to the SFPD, she is pulled into yet another case.

A woman has jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, and her apparent suicide may be connected to a suspicious botanica in the Mission District. When the police investigate the shop, they ask Lily to look into its mysterious owner, whose granddaughter also appears to be missing. As Lily searches for the truth, she finds herself confronted with a confounding mystery and some very powerful magic....

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Currently Reading...

I just started reading Fudging the Books by Daryl Wood Gerber. This book is the 4th in the Cookbook Nook Mystery series and will be released in August.

It's February and chocolate and pirates have descended on Crystal Cove, California. Jenna is coating the Cookbook Nook in chocolate by featuring chocolate themed cookbooks, displays, and tasty, chocolatey treats to eat! Friend, candymaker, and cook book author Coco comes to town to give a talk and book signing replete with her own entourage, her vibrant editor, an unpleasant copyeditor, and dashing photographer. There are some interesting undercurrents going on...I don't trust that copyeditor! I'm only on page 36, so we'll have to see what happens!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Review - Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes & Giveaway


Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes by J.A. Lang
The Second Chef Maurice Mystery

A country manor, a raging snowstorm, a mysterious stranger, and plenty of wine: ingredients for a perfect murder!

Chef Maurice and his good friend, restaurant critic Arthur Wordington-Smythe, are visiting Bourne Hall for a dinner and wine tasting hosted by wine collector Sir William Burton-Trent. A handful of other guests including a Californian director turned vineyard owner, the granddaughter of a French wine family and her English husband, a wine critic, and an elderly relative make up the party. Things are not quite as jovial as they seem, however. When the cook discovers Sir William is locked in the wine cellar and won't respond to her knocks and calls, she fears the worst.

In the Chef Maurice Mystery series we see a return to the golden age of detective fiction. More than the setting of a small village in the Cotswolds filled with unique characters, Lang follows many of the "rules" set out by these great authors, and does so in a natural manner. Lang is true to the rules of fair play. J.A. lays out the clues and the reader has as much opportunity to solve the case as Chef Maurice. A.A. Milne, in his rules for detective fiction, stated "There should be a Watson: it is better for the detective 'to watsonize' than soliloquize".* In Arthur Wordington-Smythe we find Chef Maurice's Watson. The golden age authors were quite fond of locked room mysteries. In Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes we get the special treat of having a locked door mystery within a closed room mystery! The victim is found in a locked wine cellar while our suspects are pretty much stranded in a country manor house.

J.A. Lang puts a smile on my face. Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes is a fun clever novel. As a wine lover I quite enjoyed the focus on wines in this book and found the wonderful  descriptions of food compelling as well as the different ways food is used. Food helps to solve one mystery and is also used to barter. In addition to Chef Maurice (my new gastronomical hero) and the murder mystery, we also have the conundrum that is the relationship between Patrick and PC Lucy. What is she hiding? Is there another man? Should he be worried? Then there's the great fun that kitchen commis Alf brings. And I can't forget the wonderful Hamilton. I love that pig and the way Chef Maurice treasures him. Lang has created a world where I want to visit. With hints of farce that keep me smiling and, above all, a finely crafted mystery, Lang has written a great book in her most wonderful series.

* Milne's rules were published in a reprint of his only detective novel The Red House Mystery. For more information see Martin Edwards, The Golden Age of Murder HarperCollinsPublishers Great Britain 2015.

Go to J.A. Lang's website: to enter this great giveaway!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Caught Read-Handed - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Terrie Farley Moran back to the blog. Terrie writes the Read 'Em and Eat Mystery series. Caught Read-Handed, the second book in the series, was released this past week.

Kathy: In Caught Read-Handed a new library volunteer has earned the name "Tanya Trouble". Have you ever had to deal with a Tanya Trouble?

TFM: Tanya Trouble. Oh my! We’ve all dealt with a Tanya Trouble. Bossy. Opinionated. Gives orders like a general, particularly when she’s not in charge. Yep. I guess I’ve met her a time or two. And you probably have, too.

Kathy: Library sales can be such fun. Do you attend local library fundraisers and events?

TFM: For city kids, the public library is like a second home. I was fortunate enough to spend my childhood within walking distance of the Bronx regional center of the New York Public Library. I spent many an afternoon or evening there. Libraries keep kids out of trouble. As an adult I have attended fundraisers with fabulous guest speakers. (James Patterson comes to mind.) I’ve also attended countless lectures, concerts and plays at the library as well as classes in things like Yoga and Chinese brush painting. I am a huge supporter of libraries and I guess it shows.

Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

TFM: I was inspired to write Caught Read-Handed by the old “what if?” About a decade ago I was getting out of my car in a library parking lot near my daughter’s house and a car door slammed and startled me. I looked around. A man was walking into the library. I assumed he was the door slammer. And I began “what if”ing. What if a story character was in a parking lot and someone slammed a door, and when the character looked over, she thought she recognized the man but on closer inspection he wasn’t who she thought he was. That was the seed. When I was putting the proposal together for the Read ’Em and Eat cozies, I expanded that seed into a plant and now, grown at last, Caught Read-Handed is a full and flowering garden.

Kathy: You won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel at Malice Domestic this year for Well Read, then Dead, the first book in your series. Congratulations! Has winning that award changed anything about your writing? Or your life?

TFM: Thanks so much. Winning the Agatha Award for Best First Novel was a grand and glorious event for me. It hasn’t changed my writing because my goal has always been to write an entertaining book, one that mystery readers will love. I struggle to reach that goal with every book and short story I write. As to changing my life, well, the Agatha teapot sits on the breakfront in my dining room. If anyone walks near it, I find myself saying, “Be careful. Watch the teapot.” I guess the message is: “If you are going to fall, knock into a piece of furniture and break your neck, please do so in the living room.”

Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Sassy and Bridgy?

TFM: I am delighted that in the third book, tentatively titled Read Sky in Mourning readers will have a chance to meet “the moms”. Sassy’s and Bridgy’s mothers come for a visit. Let’s just say Sassy’s mom adds to the mix of quirky characters, while having Bridgy’s mom around presents quite a challenge for Aunt Ophie. They are sisters after all!

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

TFM: Well, with Caught Read-Handed released this month, I suspect the third Read ’Em and Eat mystery will be released sometime in the summer of 2016.

I do have exciting news. I recently co-wrote Parchment and Old Lace with the magnificent Laura Childs. It is the thirteenth book in her scrapbooking series and will be released in October 2015. I always have a great time reading Laura’s books so it was a real joy for me to join in writing one.



Agatha Award recipient Terrie Farley Moran is the author of the beachside Read 'Em and Eat cozy mystery series including Well Read, Then Dead and Caught Read-Handed. Her short mystery fiction has been published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and numerous anthologies. She has been short-listed twice for Best American Mystery Stories. Terrie’s web address is She blogs at and can be found on Facebook



Caught Read-Handed by Terrie Farley Moran
The Second Read 'Em and Eat Mystery

While dropping off a book donation at the local library Sassy sees a familiar face, but a closer look reveals it's not the man she thought it was, her former boss. Before she can continue into the library itself she hears a caterwauling, and the man rushes out of the library he had just entered. The carrying on came from a trouble making volunteer, who seems to be there only to placate her rich husband and give headaches to the librarian and patrons. However, when Tonya "Trouble" is found murdered the deputies zoom in on this homeless veteran who so recently had an altercation with her as a person of interest. Sassy can't believe this man, who looked haunted, not predatory, could possibly murder anyone, and when she discovers his name, she realizes he must be the brother of her former boss. With the real murderer still on the loose and a lawyer who seems more slimy than the giant anaconda threatening Bow and the small animals of Fort Meyers, Sassy and the gang at the Read 'Em and Eat Cafe delve into the thick of things once again!

The importance of friends, family, and community is at the heart of Caught Read-Handed. Joining together, despite differences, for the betterment of all can be seen not only with Sassy, Bridgy, and Aunt Ophie, but with Alan and his family, the group of veterans, and the whole of Fort Myers Beach. While delivering an entertaining mystery, Moran also touches on an important societal issue, military veterans suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

The subject of homeless veterans and PTSD is treated with respect. There is however, one error that I must mention. In a later part of the book we hear about the family visiting their relative, who is currently in a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, while he is in restraints. A patient would never be allowed to have visitors while in restraints, at least according to the mental hygiene laws in my state. I have to believe that the laws must be similar in this regard in Florida.

Although distracting for me, the above mentioned issue did not effect the story which presented as a well structured mystery filled with fun characters in an inviting location. The relationship between Miguel and Bow is wonderful and I look forward to reading what the future holds for everyone in Fort Myers Beach, Florida!

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