Sunday, January 31, 2021

Aloe and Goodbye - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Janice Peacock back to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Janice has a new series out. Aloe and Goodbye is the first book in the Ruby Shaw Mystery series.

Kathy: In Aloe and Goodbye, Ruby Shaw is forced to move from New York to Arizona after witnessing a murder. I’ve moved across the country and back myself. Have you ever made a big move?

JP: This is going to sound funny, but I almost had a big move. My husband, Jeff, was offered a job transfer to Maui for a year, and we decided to go for it! After months of preparations, packing, and moving furniture to storage, we were ready—until my husband’s boss called to say that there had been a re-organization at the company. Jeff was no longer able to transfer to Hawaii. We were crestfallen and not just because we couldn’t move. I’d packed everything, and the house was empty with all our furniture and possessions in storage—it had been an enormous endeavor. But you carry on, right? One thing I’d always wanted to do was get the hardwood floors refinished in our house. This was my lemons-to-lemonade moment: Having an empty house was the perfect opportunity. After the floors were shiny and scratch-free, we moved back in—it felt good to be home, even if we never left! I got rid of a lot of junk that had been piling up in the garage and closets, making it all the better once we settled back in. More good news: Since Jeff didn’t transfer to Maui, we have gotten to take a few trips there with his work footing the bill!


Kathy: Ruby meets many characters in her new town of Paradise, including Derek, who adds ghostly tidbits to his history tours. I love history tours, especially ones involving spirits. Do you enjoy historical ghost tours?

JP: I do! One of my favorites is the Underground Tour in Seattle. I went on this tour with friends a few years ago when I was researching one of my books in the Glass Bead Mystery Series, called To Bead or Not to Bead. The Seattle Underground is fascinating—the modern city of Seattle was built on top of the old town. Some of the original streets and buildings remain, and the tours guide you through the tunnels. It’s fascinating and spooky, and there are some great stories about all the unsavory things that have happened underground over the years!

Growing up, I lived in Southern California near Knott’s Berry Farm. There was—and probably still is—an Old West Ghost Town. One of my best childhood memories is going to Knott’s and looking at all the old-timey buildings—a saloon, post office, and a jail, among others. It wasn’t a real ghost town, of course, but it certainly made an impression on me as a child. It would be fun to return to Knott’s to see what memories it brings back for me and what inspiration I might get for my next book in the Ruby Shaw Mystery Series.

Kathy: Ruby also meets a cook who is passionate about succulents and cacti. While they aren’t my favorite plants, I do like them. Are you a fan? Do you have a favorite succulent? Do you own any?

JP: I am a fan of succulents, especially their unusual shapes and colors. Forgive the pun: I think succulents have grown on me. I like them better than I once did. The ones called “Hens and Chicks” are my favorite. They have a round rosette-shaped plant (the hen) in the middle, and tiny plants (the chicks) sprout up around it. I live in Northern California, and as long as I make sure I protect my succulents from the occasional frost, they do well here. I’m not as big of a fan of cacti, though we do have a row of prickly pear cactus against a fence that is growing quite nicely. The lobes from that plant came from a cactus at my father-in-law’s house. I think it’s incredible that you can slice of a piece of cactus, put it in the ground, and ta-dah! Within a matter of weeks or months, you’ve got a new plant. 

Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this series?

JP: I visited Jerome, Arizona, a few years ago and was smitten with this unusual small town. It clings precariously to the side of a steep hill. Jerome’s main street has a switchback in the middle of it. It’s a former ghost town—that’s all I needed to know. I knew it would be an excellent setting for a cozy mystery series. The other inspiration for the Ruby Shaw mysteries was the town of Jacksonville, Oregon, where I recently bought a vacation home. It was a mining town, like my fictional town of Paradise, Arizona, and is such a quaint little town—I love it there.

Ultimately, though, the Ruby Shaw Mysteries’ inspiration was this: What if you could no longer do the thing you loved to do? If you were a writer, imagine not being able to write ever again? That is Ruby Shaw’s situation. The main character in Aloe and Goodbye, Ruby, loved to paint and was well known for her artistic skills. After entering the witness project program, she could no longer be an artist. The US Marshals were worried that she could be identified by her painting since her style was so unique. Ultimately, Ruby finds a new way to be creative with gardening. This new hobby allows her to spend time with a handsome farmer, who teaches her about succulents and cacti.

Kathy: When it comes to writing, I understand there are two 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?

JP: I’m a pantser. I really would like to be more of a plotter, but I found I get bogged down in the planning, and then I never get around to writing, if I spend time outlining my story. So, I plunge ahead with writing, knowing who died, who killed them, and why. I have some basic ideas of the story arc, but I let my creativity go and see where it takes my characters each time I write. I admit this technique is not the quickest way to write a book. I hope that I get to be a better plotter so I can release more books a year.

Kathy: Authors must do a lot of their marketing, especially for a new release. What’s your favorite part of marketing your work? What do you dislike about marketing?

JP: I love blog tours! I like to talk with bloggers and their readers. Recently I’ve been learning about Amazon advertising and have been enjoying that a lot. It’s a challenge and something entirely new. So far, my advertising efforts have been succeeding, which means more readers are discovering my books.

The main thing I don’t like about marketing is more of a general complaint about having too many things to do at one time. I used to be pretty good at multi-tasking, but I seem to have more trouble doing it with each passing year. So, I’d say the thing I dislike about marketing is that it means I can’t write as much as I want and that my focus is often shattered by all the things a self-published author has to do.

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

JP: I’m focusing on Born to Bead Wild, Book Five in the Glass Bead Mystery Series right now. I’d put that novel aside for much of last year while I finished Aloe and Goodbye. Born to Bead Wild is about Jax O’Connell, the main character of the series, and her friend Tessa, a feisty Italian mom of three, who head to an artist retreat in a forest on the Olympic Peninsula. Jax’s neighbor and former beauty queen, Val, has been hired to work at the camp as their cook. When a man who has been evaluating the camp’s safety turns up dead, Jax and Tessa look for the killer, while Val tries to keep from poisoning the guests with such delicacies as vegan quinoa loaf. Once I complete Born to Bead Wild, Ruby will be back for a new adventure in Paradise!


 Aloe and Goodbye: A Southwestern Small Town Cozy Mystery (Ruby Shaw Mysteries) by Janice Peacock

About Aloe & Goodbye

Aloe and Goodbye: A Southwestern Small Town Cozy Mystery (Ruby Shaw Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Publisher: Vetrai Press (December 7, 2020)
Paperback: 228 pages

New Yorker Ruby Shaw arrives in a hillside town in Arizona with a brand-new name, a duffel bag on her shoulder, and her daughter, Allie, at her side. Before arriving, Ruby witnesses a murder that lands her in the witness protection program. That decision means she’s gone from being a successful artist to being a nobody in a postage-stamp-sized town called Paradise—a name that doesn’t fit the former ghost town. Even though their new digs are a little shabby, and there may be ghosts haunting the town, they are optimistic about their new lives, that is, until a neighbor turns up dead.

Having just arrived in town, living next door to the victim, and without an alibi, the community members are suspicious of Ruby. A local deputy befriends her, but the deputy still points to her as the culprit each time they find a new clue. If matters weren’t bad enough, Allie is having trouble fitting in at her new school, and Ruby can’t seem to hold down a job.

As they settle in, they meet the quirky inhabitants of Paradise: Bette—the chatterbox café owner, Flora—Allie’s eccentric babysitter, and Derek—who runs local history tours, which he jazzes up with ghost stories of questionable veracity.

Ruby’s life improves when she meets a handsome cook at the local café who is passionate about succulents and cacti, and may feel equally passionate about her. Even though Ruby and Allie want to stay in Paradise, a US marshal has other ideas, as he threatens to move them to a new town after Ruby gets mixed up in the murder investigation. Ruby must find the killer before she and Allie lose their new home or even worse—their lives.

About Janice Peacock


Janice Peacock is a cozy mystery author who specializes in craft and hobby mysteries. She loves to write about artists who find new ways to live their lives and perhaps catch a criminal or two in the process. While working in a glass studio with several colorful and quirky artists, she was inspired to write the Glass Bead Mystery Series. The Ruby Shaw Mysteries, which are set in a small hillside mining town, were inspired by her trips to Jerome, Arizona, and Jacksonville, Oregon. When Janice isn’t writing about amateur detectives, she wields a 2,500-degree torch to melt glass and create one-of-kind beads and jewelry. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and an undisclosed number of cats. Visit Janice online at  

Purchase Link - Amazon    


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Friday, January 29, 2021

Egg Shooters - A Review & Giveaway


EGG SHOOTERS by Laura Childs
The Ninth Cackleberry Club Mystery

With a plan to surprise her fiance at work, Suzanne Dietz is the one surprised when a masked gunman comes into the emergency room killing the security guard after robbing the pharmacy. With the Sheriff investigating truck hijackings as well as drug robberies, which now include a murder, Suzanne, egged on by friends and victims alike, decides to investigate. Could the two young men next door be involved? What about rumors of a survivalist camp or the new slick businessman the mayor is showing around town? Suzanne continues to plan and execute events for the Cackleberry Club, helping to serve up wonderful dishes, but will her eggstracurricular meddling find her in more danger than she can manage?

EGG SHOOTERS highlights some current societal issues, namely drug addiction. Among other things it shows how pervasive it is and how far people will go to get drugs. I enjoyed puzzling over the disparate crimes and wondering if they were connected, and if so, how?

As usual, Suzanne is overcome by her desire to investigate and throwing caution to the wind gets involved in all manner of escapades. If you're able to willingly suspend your disbelief, you'll find the action exhilarating and fun. Realistically, her behavior is rash and implausible, bordering on ludicrous. Taking everything with a grain of salt, I gladly followed Suzanne and Toni, although I was tsking as I did. I really enjoyed the final confrontation with the killer which was truly unique.

This ninth book in the Cackleberry Club Mystery series is a fast paced mystery fueled by food and friendship. EGG SHOOTERS is jam packed with intrigue, adventure, and fun.


 Egg Shooters (A Cackleberry Club Mystery) by Laura Childs

About Egg Shooters

Egg Shooters (A Cackleberry Club Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 9th in Series
Publisher: Berkley (January 26, 2021)
Hardcover: 304 pages

A murder in the local hospital is raising everyone's temperature in the latest book in the New York Times bestselling Cackleberry Club series.

Suzanne Dietz co-owner of the Cackleberry Club Café is visiting her fiancée, Dr. Sam Hazelet when a masked gunman bursts into the emergency room. He shoots two people and would probably have done more damage had Suzanne not brained him with a thermos full of chili. Still, the gunman manages to escape.  

Now the ladies of the Cackleberry Club are determined to find the killer before he finds them.

About Laura Childs

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fundraising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.

The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.

The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

Laura’s Links: 

Website –  

Facebook –  

Purchase Links Amazon B&N Kobo Google Play IndieBound  


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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Currently Reading...

I just finished reading Egg Shooters by Laura Childs. This book is the ninth in the Cackleberry Club Mystery series and was released yesterday.

With a plan to surprise her fiance at work, Suzanne Dietz is the one surprised when a masked gunman comes into the emergency room killing the security guard after robbing the pharmacy. With the Sheriff investigating truck hijackings as well as drug robberies, which now includes a murder, Suzanne, egged on by friends and victims alike, decides to investigate. Could the two young men next door be involved? What about rumors of a survivalist camp or the new slick businessman the mayor is showing around town? Suzanne continues to plan and execute events for the Cackleberry Club, helping to serve up wonderful dishes, but will her eggstracurricular meddling find her in more danger than she can manage?

Sunday, January 24, 2021

How Does Writing Fantasy Prepare You to Write Spy Thrillers? - A Guest Post

I'm happy to welcome Jason Maurer to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Jason is working to introduce Danish author Tobias Bukkehave to the English-speaking world. Tobias's first novel, FOR KING AND COUNTRY, has just been translated into English.

How does writing fantasy prepare you to write spy thrillers?
By Jason Maurer

How does writing fantasy prepare you to write spy thrillers?

It’s an odd question, I know, but bear with me. I ask it because it’s the path that an author I’m working with—Tobias Bukkehave, a Danish author and screenwriter—has followed in his writing career. He wrote two fantasy books for children about a boy named Elmer Balthazar and then abruptly changed tack with the gritty but relatable espionage novel FOR KING AND COUNTRY (Kongetro), released earlier this year in Danish and forthcoming (with your help) in English.

I’m a fantasy writer myself—though I’m far from a stranger of the cozy village mysteries of G. K. Chesterton and Agatha Christie—but Bukkehave has converted me to the shadowy hygge of Scandinavian thrillers, where as much time is spent relishing characters’ consumption of coffee and pastries as laying out the insidious plots and personal betrayals so intrinsic to the genre. His cinematic yet distinctly Danish approach to thrillers, coupled with his career, got me thinking—does writing fantasy prepare you for writing about spies?

I’d say so. The twists and hidden connections that wend their way through spy thrillers, which show us that we can’t trust anything or anybody, aren’t so different from the more overt twists to the nature of reality in fantasy. Those are about hidden connections, too. Embodying the corrupting force of power in a golden ring, say, or the melting pot of the United States in a clash between new and old gods. They’re about showing that we can’t trust our perceptions of how things are either.

Characters are another (albeit more obvious) connection. What turns people onto fantasy, in my experience, isn’t the presence of dragons, magic, and the like, but rather having that one character who worms his/her way into their heart, who opens the floodgates of possibilities. Bukkehave’s Tom Cortzen did that for me, made me care about the rules of the game. But with genre fiction, it’s a balancing act, too. You want them to feel real but larger than life, empathetic but odd, familiar but exciting.

That brings me to my final point: escapism. Both fantasy and espionage are about at once taking you away from the familiar and about telling you what that familiar is. By subverting the commonplace—whether it’s by showing us the hidden powers governing our societies or the hidden worlds in our wardrobes—both genres help us dive into somewhere new but familiar, somewhere from which we can safely withdraw anytime but also somewhere that teaches us a little about the place we’re returning to.

Bukkehave’s approach to the spy thriller feels exciting and new, perhaps because he brings to it what I love about fantasy. But it also feels like a world that even veteran thriller lovers would get swept into, one that pushes the hard truths about living in our world even as it teaches us not to trust everything we see…


First Lieutenant Tom Cortzen is back in Denmark, even though he swore he’d never return—not after what happened in Iraq. Even worse, it’s to attend the funeral of his father, Rear Admiral Richard Cortzen, for whom everything began and ended with God, king, and country. But even as he says his goodbyes, Tom receives a tap on the shoulder from an old soldier friend: Denmark needs him. A top Iranian programmer has been murdered and his Danish girlfriend has disappeared. While such a case wouldn’t normally impinge on Denmark’s security, the military intelligence envoy to the Middle East seems to have been murdered by the same shadowy mercenary group—and he just so happened to have been Tom’s old friend. Divided between serving a country that betrayed him and honoring his friend, Tom begins a pulse-pounding adventure that will lead him from the rich sprawl of Dubai back to the regal stonework of Copenhagen. With unmistakable inspiration from writers such as John le Carré, Jan Guillou, and Jens Henrik Jensen, and from TV and film series like Homeland and Jason Bourne, Tobias Bukkehave débuts as a writer for adults with FOR KING AND COUNTRY, a high-octane spy thriller on the abuse of power, international conspiracy, and nationalism in a world where borders are increasingly being tightened.

Buy Link

We're working hard to get FOR KING AND COUNTRY sold to an English publisher. If you're interested in the book, please let us know by sending an email to, as every little bit helps!
Tobias Bio

Tobias Bukkehave was born in Svendborg, Denmark, in 1980. He débuted in 2018 with the children’s novels The Journey to Arkadia and The Threat from Kragoria, both about a young boy called Elmer Baltazar. The Journey to Arkadia was nominated for the Orla Children’s Book Prize. Bukkehave also works as a screenwriter for film and television. He lives in Copenhagen with his partner and two children.

Jason Maurer Bio

Jason Maurer was born in New Hampshire, raised in Vermont, educated in Scotland, found love in Finland, and found a life in Sweden. He’s currently completing an MA in media and communications at Malmö University and interning at the Danish marketing company He’s written two short stories and is finishing a novel.