Sunday, February 19, 2023

Sticks and Stones and a Bag of Bones - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Heather Weidner to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Heather writes the Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mystery series. STICKS AND STONES AND A BAG OF BONES is the first book in the series and was released last month.

Kathy: STICKS AND STONES AND A BAG OF BONES takes place during Mermaid Bay's Christmas in July celebration. Does your town have Christmas in July festivities? Do you enjoy a bit of Christmas in the summer? 

HW: We don’t a summer Christmas festival. I wish we did. I love Christmas, so I am always buying decorations throughout the year.

Kathy: Jade Hicks owns a Christmas shoppe in this quaint resort town. I love browsing Christmas stores no matter the time of year and was sad when I learned one nearby had closed. Are you a fan of Christmas Shoppes? Is there anything particular you look for in these stores? 

HW: I am. And I have to stop if I see a Christmas shop while we’re on vacation. Did I say I loved Christmas? I put up 5-6 trees every year, and they’re each themed. I have a toy tree, a bear tree, and then the others are themed by color. Lately, I’ve been buying beach and mermaid decorations for this series and vintage trailers for my glamping series.

Kathy: Jade has a French Bulldog named Chloe. Are you a Frenchie fanatic? What makes this breed the perfect one for your series? 

HW: I love dogs. My stories always have a fuzzy sidekick, and I love bull dogs. They are such a fun breed. I have two crazy Jack Russell terriers. But a guy I work with has a Frenchie (who has her own Instagram account). She provided the antics and fun and served as the model for Chloe. What first drew you to cozy mysteries? I started my mystery habit with Nancy Drew and Scooby-Doo, and they were gateways to all the classics. I read thrillers and suspense, too, but I always come back to the cozies. I like that an amateur sleuth solves the crime. I like the interesting jobs the characters have and the cool towns where they live.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres? 

HW: I have one private eye series that’s a traditional mystery. She’s fun to write, too because she gets in way more trouble than I do. I also write short stories that are also mysteries. I have a couple with a little bit of paranormal, and one that’s noirish and quite dark with creepy dolls.

Kathy: Tell us about your series. 

HW: Mermaid Bay is the place I want to live and work. It’s a sweet little town that prides itself on preserving its heritage. The inhabitants are quirky and fun. And Jade owns a Christmas store. A dream job!

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

HW: I love them all. Lorelei is fun to write because she’s sassy and doesn’t care what others think. Peppermint Patti is also fun. She’s bubbly and joyfully enthusiastic. And I can’t forget about the fuzzy friends. Chloe and Neville the Devil Cat are frenemies, and their antics always make me smile.

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

HW: I love cozy mysteries. I wanted to have a Christmas store and a neat location. I grew up in Virginia Beach, and I miss the ocean. It was a great place to grow up, and even though it’s much bigger than Mermaid Bay, it’s my inspiration for beach life.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work? 

HW: I have always loved mysteries and writing. I finally decided to submit a story to an anthology in my writers’ group, Sisters in Crime, and that was my first publishing credit. My Delanie books were my first published novels (though not the first books I wrote).

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

HW: That’s tough to narrow it down. Let’s go with Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, P. D. James, and A. A. Milne (the Winnie the Pooh author wrote one mystery for his father).

Kathy: What are you currently reading? 

HW: I love to read. I just finished Delia Owens’s WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING. Now, I’m reading Ellen Bryon’s WINED AND DIED IN NEW ORLEANS.

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

HW: I love to travel and take pictures. We live in a wooded community on the reservoir, and I love to go on walks with the two crazy Jack Russells and also paddle kayaks around the lake.

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

HW: Chocolate, Iced Tea, Dr. Pepper, Ketchup

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

HW: I have 4 books that are coming out in the Jules Keene Glamping series, and I have 2 more coming out for this series.

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

HW: I love talking to readers about books and mysteries and writing.



The First Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mystery series
The Christmas in July festivities at Mermaid Bay make Jade Hicks's spirits bright, after all, what better way to promote her year round Christmas shop. A pall comes over the community when a jogger trips over a bag of bones that washed up on the beach and threatening notices are hung around town warning people to stay away from the festivities. The hope that everything is a prank ends when cranky bookstore owner Emory Jessup is found dead behind the hot dog stand. Who's behind the ominous goings on in Mermaid Bay? Any why? Jade is determined to find out. 

I love Christmas! The decorations, the gift giving, it all makes me happy so I was very pleased to see a new mystery series with a year round Christmas shop. I'm not a fan of the heat, so I can easily picture myself going into 'Tis the Season to cool off and at least dream of winter. However, it took me a while to get into the story. The writing didn't flow and things progressed quite slowly. The characters were pleasant enough. Jade makes a fairly likeable protagonist and I do like her relationship with the Sheriff. I really liked Amy. Of all the characters, she's the most dimensional and the most real. Eventually, I did get caught up in the story and enjoyed seeing Jade piece everything together.

STICKS AND STONES AND A BAG OF BONES combines Christmas and beach living in an enjoyable start to a new series.


 Sticks and Stones and a Bag of Bones: A Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mystery by Heather Weidner

About Sticks and Stones and a Bag of Bones

Sticks and Stones and a Bag of Bones: A Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mystery
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Setting - Virginia
Level Best Books (January 17, 2023)
Print length: ‎ 277 pages

When a beat-up suitcase full of bones washes up by the pier, the residents of the quaint resort town of Mermaid Bay are whipped into a hurricane-sized frenzy over the gruesome find in the middle of their Christmas in July festivities. The holly jolly mood retreats like the tide with everyone wondering who was in the suitcase.

Christmas shoppe owner, Jade Hicks, wades into the fracas when voodoo dolls and mysterious notes and posters about impending doom start popping up all over town, threatening to destroy the economy of a community that lives and dies by tourist dollars. Then tensions crest when the prickly bookstore owner is found strangled to death with a string of holiday lights.

Jade and her French bulldog Chloe, have to solve the crime before anyone else gets hurt and her business and the festival are forever tainted. Sticks and Stones and a Bag of Bones is the first in the Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mysteries cozy series.

About Heather Weidner

Through the years, Heather Weidner has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. She writes the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries, The Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries, and The Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mysteries.

Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Deadly Southern Charm, and Murder by the Glass.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Sisters in Crime – Chessie, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Author Links: 

Website and Blog:  





Amazon Authors:  






Purchase Link - Amazon 

 a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Kathy, thanks so much for letting me and the Mermaid Bay gang visit your blog!

  2. Christmas and a Frenchie. How wonderful!