Friday, October 1, 2021

Murder at the Christmas Cookie Bake-Off - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Darci Hannah to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Darci writes the Beacon Bakeshop Mystery series. MURDER AT THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE BAKE-OFF is the second book in the series and will be released next week.

Kathy: In MURDER AT THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE BAKE-OFF Lindsey Bakewell enters the town-wide cookie bake off. If you were to enter a Christmas cookie competition, what kind of cookie would you enter?

DH: This is such a tough question, because there are so many delicious Christmas cookies, especially those that are family traditions and handed down through the generations. Can you tell I love cookies? While I truly love Lindsey’s Lemon-Ginger Sandwich Cookies, and Bradley Argyle’s Turtle-Topped shortbread cookies (the recipes are in the book!) I’m going to say that if I had to enter a cookie in a bake-off it would be a buttery thumbprint cookie with a local tart cherry jam in the center and topped with a drizzle of icing. I’ve been working on the recipe for such a cookie, and it’s delicious! The key is finding the perfect cherry jam!


Kathy: I really enjoy holiday themed mysteries. Does adding a holiday to the mix make things easier or more difficult?

DH: Until MURDER AT THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE BAKE-OFF, I had never written a holiday mystery before, and I have to say that I was more nervous about writing this mystery than my previous mysteries. That was because Christmas is hands-down my favorite holiday, and I really wanted to do it justice by striking the right tone and including all the relevant themes that I’m drawn to in a good Christmas tale—family, nostalgia, atmospheric, traditional Christmas trappings, hope, redemption, and a touch of magic—all while staying true to the voice of the Beacon Bakeshop Mystery series. I thought about this novel a lot before I started writing it. Then one day I was hit with the idea of a town-wide Christmas cookie bake-off, and the story just took off from there. Starting it was more difficult, but writing it was so much fun because I was steeped in the spirit of Christmas every day!

Kathy: Lindsey has a lot of Christmas time stress. Do you also strive for a picture perfect December?

DH: I’m laughing here because I’m definitely the Clark Griswold of my family. I do have a driving need to throw the perfect Christmas for my family and friends. I love Christmas and want to embrace the magic of the season as much as I do. Yet try as I might, reality usually slaps me in the face at some point and I throw my hands in the air. However, that being said, we’ve always managed to have a memorable, if not perfect, Christmas.


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

DH: I honestly never thought that I’d write a cozy mystery. I started my career by writing historical fiction, which I really loved. I was lucky enough to have two books published by Ballantine Books, but while I was writing my third novel, I was told by my agent that the publisher wasn’t going to pick it up. She advised me to write something else. She thought I’d be a good mystery writer, and since I loved reading cozy mysteries, that’s what I did. I wrote a funny, modern mystery with an amateur sleuth. Little did I know that I had written my first “cozy” mystery. I love the genre and am learning so much about it every day. I’m so glad I wrote that first cozy mystery!


Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

DH: I started out writing historical fiction, and really love that genre, but I’m now concentrating on cozy mysteries. My historical fiction is considered romantic suspense, and is known for its engaging characters and a strong sense of place. It’s also a touch gothic with slight paranormal elements. My first novel, THE EXILE OF SARA STEVENSON, was published in 2010, followed by THE ANGEL OF BLYTHE HALL, in 2011. They’re both a lot of fun, so if you’re interested in reading these, please visit my website where you can learn more about them.


Kathy: Tell us about your series.

DH: THE BEACON BAKESHOP MYSTERY SERIES follows Lindsey Bakewell, a young woman living in New York City, who catches her celebrity chef fiancé cheating on her. She immediately brakes up with him, goes home, drinks some wine, and buys a lighthouse on the internet. The next morning when she realizes what she’s done, she decides to leave her lucrative Wall Street career for Beacon Harbor, Michigan. There she renovates her lighthouse and opens her dream bakery, The Beacon Bakeshop.

THE VERY CHERRY MYSTERY SERIES is about Whitney Bloom, a former advertising executive who is desperately trying to get her job back in one of Chicago’s largest advertising agencies, when she receives a phone call from her mother stating that the manager of the Bloom family cherry orchard has been found dead. When she learns that her father is the prime suspect, Whitney leaves Chicago and heads home to Cherry Cove and to the iconic Cherry Orchard Inn, a bed and breakfast run by her parents. There Whitney will call on her two best friends to go head-to-head against the town’s only policeman, in a race to find the real murderer.


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

DH: I really like all the characters in the BEACON BAKESHOP MYSTERY SERIES, but if I had to pick just one, it would be Wellington, Lindsey’s giant, loveable, Newfoundland dog. I love dogs, and Welly is not only adorable, but he loves baked goods too. Besides, he just brings that unconditional love to the story that you can only get from a dog.


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

DH: Not a specific inspiration, per se, but I’ve always been drawn to lighthouses. They’re usually standing in stunning locations, and the views from the lightroom looking out over the water are always amazing. I’m also fascinated with the history of lighthouses and love visiting them and learning the local lore. I really liked the idea of putting a modern bakery in an old lighthouse. When I went to visit the Point Betsy Lighthouse in Frankfort, Michigan, I was thinking about the new cozy mystery series that I wanted to write. I took one look at the lighthouse and knew that I had found the perfect setting for my series. Although the town of Beacon Harbor that I write about is fictitious, it is loosely based on Frankfort and the Point Betsy Lighthouse.


Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

DH: Since I was already a published author of historical fiction and had worked with Random House, I knew that if I was going to switch things up and write cozy mysteries that I wanted to do it the traditional way. It wasn’t an easy transition, mind you. I ended up getting a different agent, but I’m so happy that I did.


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

DH: That’s an easy one! I would choose the authors whose work has inspired me to dream and to write, and who have had the greatest impact me as both a reader and a writer. I would love to have dinner with M.C. Beaton, Diana Gabaldon, Dorothy Dunnett, and Patrick O’Brian.


Kathy: What are you currently reading?

DH: I’m currently reading a delightful mystery by Kim Davis called CAKE POPPED OFF, which is book 2 in her Cupcake Catering Mystery Series. I’m craving cupcakes right now just thinking about it!


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

DH: I really love the outdoors, so when I’m not writing, reading or baking, I try to sneak away every day for a hike with my dogs, Ripley and Finn. I also like working with them on obedience training, which keeps them on their toes. When I’m not with the dogs, I love to kayak with my husband and sons. We also love to ski, golf, and try all sorts of new adventures together. They can really push me to my limits! My indoor hobbies include renovating my house out of necessity! I’m a big DIYer and we always seem to be in the middle of some big project. I also like to sew when I get the chance or play my piano (when no one is listening). One of the new hobbies I have is making baking videos. I really enjoying making them and hope to get better as I learn more about the editing software I’m using. Since life is full of new opportunities and challenges my motto is to embrace what’s before me. Sometimes it works out; sometimes it doesn’t. One thing’s for sure, it keeps life interesting.


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

DH: Well, that would be butter, eggs, tart cherry juice, and flavored coffee creamer.

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

DH: It seems that I always have plans for future books. What’s not always certain is whether or not they’ll get published. However, I am excited to share that there will be a 3rd book in the Beacon Bakeshop Mystery series. It’s called, MURDER AT THE BLUEBERRY FESTIVAL, and it will be out in August of 2022.


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

I really love the process of telling a story and connecting with readers. There’s no greater joy for an author than to know that there are readers out there who really like what you do. It just makes your soul sing with gratitude. It also makes you realize that you’re doing exactly what you were meant to do. Not all of us can be brain surgeons, teachers, or astronauts, you know. In a small way it’s nice to know that we too have a part to play in society, even if it is just telling stories. 

**********************************************************************

Review


MURDER AT THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE BAKE-OFF by Darci Hannah
The Second Beacon Bakeshop Mystery

Lindsey Bakewell wants a perfect Christmas, starting by decorating her bakery and lighthouse and preparing to host her parents and best friend for the holiday. To up the holiday stakes, Felicity Stewart, self appointed Christmas Queen, declares that there will be a Christmas cookie contest with all shop owners creating a signature cookie, culminating in televised bake-off. Lindsey wonders how she'll ever get everything done, especially without an assistant baker. A Christmas miracle arrives in the form of Mrs. Nichols, but competition brings out the grinches, as well as a smarmy celebrity food critic. The climax of the bake-off isn't the naming of the winner, however, but a murder! Now, in order to salvage the perfect holiday, Lindsey and her friends will search for a Christmas killer.

With themes of family, fidelity, and good old fashioned Christmas spirit, MURDER AT THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE BAKE-OFF is a mystery to get you into the holiday mood. By the second chapter I was dreaming of my own perfect Christmas, dreading problems that might arise, and wishing I had some hot chocolate and a veritable cornucopia of Christmas cookies.

I really enjoyed the camaraderie of the characters, working together and simply enjoying spending time with each other. I especially love Wellington and his antics. I could just picture the scenes in my head and he always made me smile. I absolutely adore Mrs. Nichols. What a delightful addition to the cast of characters. I was loving every moment of the book until the ending neared. Though fun and exciting, the confrontations with the suspects were a bit outrageous and the references to mental disorders a bit cavalier.

With nods to the Great British Bake-Off and a certain resident of the North Pole, MURDER AT THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE BAKE-OFF is a fun holiday mystery that will leave you believing in the spirit of Christmas and the joy of eating holiday cookies!

*********************************************************************

Murder at the Christmas Cookie Bake-Off (A Beacon Bakeshop Mystery) by Darci Hannah

About Murder at the Christmas Cookie Bake-Off


Murder at the Christmas Cookie Bake-Off (A Beacon Bakeshop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series
Publisher: ‎ Kensington (October 5, 2021)
Mass Market Paperback: ‎ 304 pages

Tucked away inside an old lighthouse in Beacon Harbor, Michigan, bakeshop café owner Lindsey Bakewellis ready to make her first Christmas in town shine bright. But her merry plans crumble fast when murder appears under the mistletoe . . .

 With the spirit of the holidays wafting through the Beacon Bakeshop, Lindsey thinks she has the recipe for the sweetest Christmas ever—winning the town-wide cookie bake-off. Unfortunately, striving for a picture-perfect December in Beacon Harbor is a lot like biting into stale shortbread. Low on staff and bombarded by visits from family, Lindsey can barely meet demands at work, let alone summon the confidence to face fierce competition . . .  

Self-appointed Christmas know-it-all Felicity Stewart is determined to take the top spot in the bake‑off, and she’s not afraid to dump a little coal in everyone’s stocking to do it. Just as the competition heats up, everything falls apart when the judge is found dead—and covered in crumbs from Lindsey’s signature cookie!

 Solving a murder was never on Lindsey’s wish list. But with her reputation on the line during the happiest time of the year, she’ll need to bring her best talents to the table in order to sift out the true Christmas Cookie culprit.  

Includes Delicious Recipes!

About Darci Hannah

Cozy mystery author, Darci Hannah, is a native of the Midwest and currently lives in a small town in Michigan. Darci is a lifelong lover of the Great Lakes, a natural wonder that inspires many of her stories. When Darci isn't baking for family and friends, hiking with her furry pals, Ripley and Finn, or concocting her next cozy mystery, she can be found wandering around picturesque lakeside villages with her hubby, sampling baked goods and breaking for coffee more often than she should.

Author Links: 

Website: https://www.darcihannah.com 

 Blog: https://www.darcihannah.com/blog  

Recipes: https://www.darcihannah.com/recipes  

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

Instagram: @authordarcihannah  

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3155399.Darci_Hannah 

 Purchase Links: Amazon B & N BAM 2 Dandelions Bookstore

*********************************************************************

For a chance to win a copy of the book with a cookie cutter and bookmark OR some other Christmas Cookie themed prize leave a comment on this post no later than 11:59pm Eastern on Saturday, October 2, 2021 sharing your favorite Christmas cookie. Be sure to leave your e-mail address so that I can contact you should you win.

75 comments:

  1. Kathy, thank you so much for this lovely post and for having me on your inspiring blog!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. My favorite Christmas cookie is Gingerbread. I absolutely love the cover and can't wait to read it! 3labsmom(at)gmail(dot)com.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooo, I love gingerbread too! And they make the entire house smell like Christmas when you're baking them! Thanks for replying!

      Delete
  4. My favorite Christmas cookie is also gingerbread! I love decorating the houses every year! My email is Claire.denning.11@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. There is nothing that says Christmas like a decorated gingerbread house! Wonderful!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. My favorite is a sugar cookie :) not with too much frosting though

    ReplyDelete
  7. My favorite Christmas cookie is Spritz cookies, that use the cookie press and squeeze out Christmas themed shaped.
    - Bonnie Jean Weinman

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bonnie Jean WeinmanOctober 1, 2021 at 10:55 AM

      I forgot my Email address. bonnieweinman@gmail.com

      Delete
    2. My grandma and mom made those every year and I love them! I leave the Spritz making to my mom for now, but someday that honor will fall to me!

      Delete
  8. My grandpa always says he “never met a cookie he didn’t like”. I have to agree !! But, my favorite is just good old fashioned chocolate chip.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love your grandpa's saying! I feel the same way too. And really, can anyone refuse a chocolate chip cookie? They're the best!!

      Delete
  9. Would love to read this! And, I love old fashioned sugar cookies! Biszemom@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Melissa! And great choice in cookies!

      Delete
  10. I love Mexican wedding cakes. Melt in your mouth! My mom and I used to make them and they bring back good memories.

    ReplyDelete
  11. My husband makes the most delicious triple chocolate cookie. He adds the powdered sugar for that snowy effect. Christmas cookies are great anytime of year! Thank you Kathy for hosting this great giveaway. Love you Darci!

    megscozycorner@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am excited to read some of your books and I cannot wait to try some of your recipes. I have a friend who lives in Adrian Michigan and my husband and I have been doing some research into what we want to do when we go to visit him. Even going so far as to connect with local Girl Scout troops in a effort to give my daughter a chance to experience some unique opportunities.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. P.S. my email is spd80986@gmail.com

      Delete
    2. Thank you, Shawnda! That sounds like a great trip! If you have a chance, drive up to Frankenmuth. It's a Bavarian village with a huge year-round Christmas store in it!

      Delete
  13. My favorite cookie is a cookies and cream flavored cookie I discovered a few years back. I have been including it on my cookie platters each year since discovering it. cherierj(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooo, these sound so good. I'm going to have to google that to see what they look like! Thanks!

      Delete
  14. I enjoyed the interview. I love sugar cookies, in various Christmas themed shapes. I also discovered Snowball cookies a couple of years ago. I LOVE those as well.

    kvmatlock(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you enjoyed the interview, Kim! Sugar cookies are a Hannah family favorite. I've never made snowball cookies though. They sound fabulous!!

      Delete
  15. This sounds like such a good book and Christmas mysteries are some of my favorites.
    kozo8989(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Alicia! I'm a sucker for a good Christmas book or movie as well!

      Delete
    2. CONGRATULATIONS! you are the comment that Random.org picked.

      Delete
  16. i love making my late grandmothers recipe for cream cheese spritz cookies!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds so yummy! Isn't it funny how our grandmothers made the best cookies? I still remember my grandma's spritz cookies. I ate way too many of them! Thanks!

      Delete
  17. My mother's recipe for frosted nutmeg logs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have never heard of this cookie, but it sounds amazing! I bet they're delicious!!

      Delete
  18. My favorite Christmas cookie is Frosted Sugar Cookies. :)

    farmermomwife at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love Gingerbread cookies.

    Kit3247(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  20. My favorite Christmas cookie is Peanut Butter cookies or Thumbprints

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My grandma made the best peanut butter cookies, and I have to agree! I also love thumbprint cookies! I just made a video with recipe included on my favorite Cherry Thumbprint cookies. It will be up on my website on the 5th!

      Delete
  21. My favorite Christmas Cookie is Peanut Butter cookies or Thumbprints.
    My email address is
    rainbowsofhappinessceo@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  22. I love a cookie called a Butterfinger Cookies. It is similar to Chocolate Chip, but has toffee pieces instead. Wendy
    clarksrfun at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds fabulous! There's something so yummy about chocolate and toffee together!

      Delete
  23. I'm boring...My favorite cookie is Chocolate chip, so it is a year round cookie 🍪 😋

    strgth4yu(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's not boring at all. You're just a classic! Who can resist a fresh out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie? No one I know!

      Delete
  24. So exciting, I am looking forward to reading this! My favorite holiday cookie are spritz!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oops, adding JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com
      Thanks!

      Delete
    2. Thank you so much! And spritz are a Christmas classic! Great choice!

      Delete
  25. My favorite Christmas cookie is Pfeffineuser. I do not think I spelled it correctly.
    MarilynDKC[at]aol[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My German grandmother used to make those and they were a Christmas staple. I love traditional Christmas cookies!

      Delete
  26. My favorite Christmas cookie is Pepperidge Farm's sugar cookie with green and red sugar topping.
    MarionMPC[at]aol[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well how can you go wrong there! They're delicious!!

      Delete
  27. My favorite Christmas cookie is the old fashioned Pffenueiser.[spelling?]
    JoanEC128[at]aol[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great choice! They're so pretty on the cookie plate, and they go great with coffee!

      Delete
  28. My Mom's walnut sugar cookies.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  29. My favorite Christmas cookie are Real Good Unbaked cookies - almond bark, peanut butter, peanuts, Rice Krispies, and mini-marshmallows. Jlsxstitch (at) gmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never heard of these, but they sound heavenly!

      Delete
  30. I have an Amish Sugar Cookie recipe that I love to make at Christmas. I have some cookie stamps that I use. Thanks for the chance! almaj80(at)suddenlink(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These not only sound delicious, but beautiful as well! Love it!

      Delete
  31. I like frosted sugar cookies. lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They're not only delicious, but beautiful as well! Great choice!

      Delete
  32. I love Seven Layer cookies as well as sugar cookies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes!! We make those every year, and I could eat the whole pan! Great choice!

      Delete
  33. I love periwinkle cookies. At least I call them that. They have a cherry on top.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never made these, but they sound yummy! I'm a sucker for anything with a cherry on top!

      Delete
  34. my favorite Christmas cookie is whichever cookie is in front of me at the moment! I love them all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great answer! That's the best part about Christmas cookies, the variety! I totally agree.

      Delete
  35. My favorite Christmas cookie is just a warm sugar cookie right out of the oven.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I love the title. Congratulations on the new book. I don't have a Michigan author yet in my collection.

    ReplyDelete
  37. My grandma made peppernut cookies every Christmas. They were perfect with coffee!
    beachglass2@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  38. I have a pretty Christmas mold and make shortbread cookies every year. I pack them in Christmas tins and give them as gifts.

    ReplyDelete
  39. My favorite Christmas cookie is the one my mom always made. A peanut butter cookie with a Brach's chocolate star on top. Pretty and yummy! ckmbeg (at) gmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete