Guest – Joyce Tremel

Edith here, delighted to welcome debut cozy mystery author Joyce Tremel to the blog. Take a look at this bio!Joyce Tremel 1

Joyce Tremel was a police secretary for ten years and more than once envisioned the demise of certain co-workers, but settled on writing as a way to keep herself out of jail. Her flash fiction has appeared in Mysterical-e, and her non-fiction has been published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Magazine. Her debut novel To Brew or Not to Brew is nominated for a 2015 Reviewers’ Choice Award for best amateur sleuth by Romantic Times. The second book in the series, tentatively titled Tangled up in Brew, will release late next year.

She’s going to give away a signed copy of To Brew or Not to Brew to one lucky commenter, too. Take it away, Joyce.

First, I’d like to thank Edith for inviting me to write a guest post (and Julie who asked me after Edith did!). This is one of my favorite blogs and I really appreciate the chance to be here—especially today. You see, tomorrow is my BIG DAY—the release of my first novel, To Brew or Not to Brew!

ToBrewOrNotToBrew finalWhen debut authors talk about the “roller coaster of emotions” that go with launching a book it’s one hundred percent true. Just in the past couple of weeks I’ve experienced elation, excitement, nervousness, and panic. Fortunately, all the negative emotions take back place to the positive ones. Part of the reason for this is because of the support from fellow writers.

Just like how you Wickeds stick together, I belong to a great support group of my own—the Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime. When I first joined way back in 2001 or 2002, I was a new writer. I’d dabbled with writing for years and finally decided it was time to take it more seriously. We didn’t have many published authors back then. Most of us were newbies. I was completely in awe of our president, Nancy Martin, who had numerous published novels (and now I’m on panels with her!). In the years since then, many of us have crossed the threshold into published authordom (I may have just made up that word!).

Joyce, Annette Dashofy, Jeff Boarts, and Martha Reed at Malice Domestic 2015.

Joyce, Annette Dashofy, Jeff Boarts, and Martha Reed at Malice Domestic 2015.

We’ve talked each other off the ledge after getting the umpteenth rejection from an agent, we’ve rejoiced for each other when short stories were published, and we’ve just about sung the Hallelujah Chorus when books were accepted for publication. I actually cried I was so happy when my good friend, Annette Dashofy told me her first book was going to be published. And I’m pretty sure I heard her scream from the next county when I emailed her that mine sold!

When I started writing this post, I had no idea what it was going to be about, but I kind of like where it’s gone. The writing community—especially the mystery community—is like one big family. Maybe it’s because we writers all experience the same highs and lows. We know exactly what it feels like to get that fiftieth rejection letter or when someone tells us they love something we’ve written. And readers are our extended family. Maybe they’re even the patriarchs and matriarchs. After all, what good is a writer without a reader?

I guess this is a pretty long way to say thanks to all my writer friends—Wickeds included. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Readers: Who is your extended family? Have you ever met a brewmaster? Ask Joyce a question about her debut experience! Remember, she’s giving away a copy of the book!

About the book: The Allegheny Brew House is a dream come true for Maxine “Max” O’Hara, who is preparing to open her own craft brew pub in a newly revitalized section of
Pittsburgh. But before she can start pouring stouts and lagers to thirsty throngs,
there’s trouble on tap. Suspicious acts of sabotage culminate in Max finding her
assistant brewmaster and chef  strangled in one of the vats. With a homicide detective for a dad, Max comes to criminal investigation naturally. And if someone is desperate enough to kill to stop her from opening, Max needs to act fast—before her brand-new brew biz totally tanks…

Black Friday Stew

Susannah/Sadie/Jane here, writing from her cabin high above a lake somewhere in the boondocks…

Hello, Wicked People! As my status may tell you, I’m not home in Connecticut for Thanksgiving. As long as there’s not too much snow, we travel to our cabin, where we watch the Macy’s parade (the only time we ever watch broadcast television there—not that that’s a big hardship or anything. We only get two stations.). We stay until mid-afternoon on Turkey Day, then head out to my mom’s house for a big dinner with my sisters and their families. After dinner, we break into two groups: the turkey coma victims and/or television special watchers, and the card players.

Doing the can-can-can on the deck, with the lake in the background

Doing the can-can-can on the deck, with the lake in the background

Since none of us are Black Friday shoppers, the next day everyone comes here, to Camp (yes, we think of it with a capital C). About ten years ago, I threw together a big, easy meal with the turkey leftovers, and Black Friday stew was born. We’ve been having it ever since. Today, I’m sharing the recipe with you.


Black Friday Stew

1 cooked turkey carcass (any size), meat picked off and refrigerated for later

1 onion

2 carrots

2 parsnips

2 stalks celery

1 bay leaf

Place turkey carcass in your largest stock pot. If you can, break up the carcass a bit so it will fit better. Add the vegetables and bay leaf. Cover most of the carcass with water, bring to a quick boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for at least three hours on medium-low heat. Allow to cool to a temperature that won’t burn you, then strain out the solids and discard. Measurements don’t have to be exact, but I usually end up with about 2 to 3 quarts of stock.

Place strained stock back into the cleaned pot and add:

2 cans of condensed cream of chicken soup, or 1 family-size can (straight from the can)

2 cans of creamed corn

1 can of drained niblets (or leftover corn from yesterday’s dinner)

Leftover gravy and mashed potatoes (if you have them)

Bring up to a slow simmer, and when the stew is hot, add about half a box of angel hair or spaghetti, broken up. Simmer until the pasta is cooked.

Serves a crowd (recipe is easily halved). Serve with buttered fresh-baked French bread—I use the Pillsbury kind that startles you when the tube of dough pops open. But any delicious roll or bread will do. Because what’s a few more carbs, right?

This is a very forgiving recipe. I’ve even added a bit of leftover stuffing and green bean casserole at the last minute, and it was quite tasty.

Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, I hope you all had a lovely Thursday and will have a peaceful weekend. Hugs from the boondocks!

Gathered Round

Jessie: In New Hampshire, feeling grateful that unlike last year on Thanksgiving, the snow has not yet started to fly.

One of the things I am grateful for this year is the sense of community built up around this blog. And nothing seems to reinforce the feeling of community like time spent together round a table, sharing stories, experiences and a good meal.

Since we can’t all be together the physical world today I thought it might be nice to imagine seeing all of you around a cyber table. I am imagining a gathering of all of those readers who comment and all of those readers who simply enjoy reading and nodding their heads quietly. I’d love for any of you to join in by mentioning in the comments which favorite food you would like to bring to the feast and maybe a thing you are thankful for this year.

I’m planning to bring my protagonist Dani Greene’s Maple Pumpkin Butter. Dani likes to beat it together with some cream cheese and use it as a dip for pretzels. It is also great on hot toast or spread between the layers of a cake. The recipe comes from my book, A Sticky Situation. Its main ingredient is pumpkin and it always makes me think of Thanksgiving every time I make it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Maple Pumpkin Butter

30 ounces canned pumpkin puree

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon each ground cloves and cardamom

Spray a slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. In a bowl combine all ingredients then add to the slow cooker. Cook on low setting for 6 hours or until the mixture is reduced to a thick, spreadable consistency.

Wicked Wednesday–Knit One, Purl Two

yarn4We’re celebrating the release of Sadie Hartwell’s Yarned and Dangerous. So Wickeds, here’s a question for you. Do you knit? If yes, tell us why. If no, have you ever tried? Done it? Success or no? What were the results?

Sherry: My mom had someone give my sister and I knitting lessons once upon a time. For years I moved the two needles with the twenty rows of not-so-neatly knitted pink yarn attached around the country with me. I don’t think I ever made it beyond knit to purl. I admire the dedication and concentration it takes to knit. Who knows maybe some day I’ll give it another try.

yarn1Liz: I’m hopeless at stuff like this. My mother had tried to teach me to sew and crochet, but I really just wanted her to leave me alone so I could read…

Julie: I do indeed knit. My grandmother taught me, and I’ve kept it up. In fact, I have rediscovered it lately–it is meditative. I have been mostly tackling hats and socks lately–quick projects. But I think I may work on a sweater for one of the nieces. PS, Sherry, we have a couple of trips coming up. Maybe I’ll teach you how to knit at LCC.

yarn2Jessie: I am a passionate knitter! I agree with Julie about its meditative properties. I keep a ball of yarn that I like the feel of and a pair of needles on my desk and whenever I get stuck whilst writing I just knit back and forth, making nothing at all. Something about it unlocks my brain. I also love how it is an entirely different sort of creative pursuit than writing and yet the two practices have so much in common. Each is built on one small unit, a stitch or a word, placed with other and another and another until you have created something wonderful to share.

yarn3Barb: My paternal grandmother was a fabulous knitter. I still have some of the things she made me, 35+ years after her death. She tried to teach me, but I have the manual dexterity of the six-fingered sloth. (They probably have great manual dexterity–but with six fingers. Which is how I type.) My sister-in-law, Ann Ross, however, is a tremendous knitter. She teaches and is an all-around knitting maven at GoshYarnIt, a yarn boutique in Kingston, PA. (She took these beautiful photos.) Ann coached me enough that I could put a knitting clue in “Bread Baby,” my Agatha-nominated short story. Julia knits in the next Maine Clambake Mystery, Fogged Inn, but not with good results, I’m afraid.

Edith: I learned to knit in high school. And promptly got kicked out of senior biology for knitting in class (there was some attitude attached to it, you can be sure). In the winter I always have a longing to knit, but since I only pick it up every five years or so, I kind of have to reteach myself. Made a couple of sweaters with spectacularly long sleeves for my sons when they were younger, and realized I really should just stick to scarves. I am a much better seamstress, though, in my defense!

Readers: Do you knit, crochet, needlepoint, sew? Do you like mysteries that incorporate these skills?

Happy Book Birthday, Sadie Hartwell!

Meet Coco, Josie's catLadies and Gentlemen, today we are celebrating the release of Yarned and Dangerous, the first book in Sadie Hartwell’s Tangled Web Mystery series. It’s a special occasion because Sadie Hartwell is our own Wicked Accomplice, Jane Haertel, aka, Susannah Hardy. That’s right, this hard-working author had her first pub this year, then earlier this month released Olive and Let Die, the second book in her Greek to Me Mystery series, and now her third book this year.

Here’s the low down on Yarned and Dangerous.

Time has not been kind to sleepy Dorset Falls, Connecticut, where an erstwhile resident is hoping to bring a tattered yarn shop back to life—but with a murderer on the loose, the whole town is in knots…

Josie Blair left Dorset Falls twelve years ago in hopes of making it big in New York City. But after earning an overpriced master’s degree and getting fired by a temperamental designer, she finds herself heading back to her hometown. Her great-uncle was injured in a car accident, and newly unemployed Josie is the only person available to take care of him. Uncle Eb’s wife didn’t survive the crash, so Josie is also tasked with selling the contents of her Aunt Cora’s yarn shop. But the needling ladies of the Charity Knitters Association pose a far bigger challenge than a shop full of scattered skeins…

Miss Marple Knits is one of the few businesses still open in the dreary downtown. Josie can’t imagine how it stayed open for so long, yet something about the cozy, resilient little shop appeals to her. But when one of the town’s most persnickety knitters turns up dead in a pile of cashmere yarn, Josie realizes there’s something truly twisted lurking beneath the town’s decaying façade…


Wickeds, wish Sadie a Happy Book Birthday!

Sherry: I don’t know very much about knitting but this sounds deliciously creepy! I love the sound of a town that’s decaying and the contrast of this wonderful yarn shop. Congratulations, Sadie!

Liz: I confess I’m not a knitter either but this series might convert me! Sounds great, Sadie. Wishing you a great launch!

Julie: Happy Book Birthday!! I am a knitter, and love yarn shop mysteries. Can’t wait to visit Miss Marple Knits, and get to know Josie!

Barb: I was lucky enough to get to read this in advance. Spoiler alert! I loved it. Here’s what I said. “A tale of murder and intrigue that will ensnare knitters and non-knitters alike. I couldn’t put it down.” You guys are in for a treat!

Jessie: I’m a passionate knitter and, of course, a lover of mysteries. What could be better than combining two of my favorite things? I’ve really been looking forward to this release!

Edith: I love the name of the yarn store! And got my own copy of the book yesterday from Sadie, complete with autograph. Top on the TBR pile. Congratulations, Sadie/Susannah/Jane.

Readers: Doesn’t this book sound awesome? Doesn’t anybody want to know about Sadie’s yarn skills? Ask her a question!

On Being Grateful

Edith here, perched in my second floor office watching the sun come up, somewhere north of Boston.

Yes, I know everyone and her fourth-cousin-once-removed is going to write about gratitude and thankfulness this week. I, too, am feeling exceeding grateful, but some of the reasons are a bit quirky. I’m going to try to explain as only a language geek can.AmericanHeritage

The root of the words grateful and gratitude is the Latin grātus: “pleasing, favorable.” According to my favorite (and well-worn) American Heritage Dictionary, the Indo-European root for grātus is gwere: “to praise aloud.” Which makes gratitude directly related to the words agreeable, congratulate, ingrate, and ingratiate. It’s also related via Celtic to bard: “he [sic] who praises.”

MommyDaddyYoungvert2Since I left my day job to write fiction full time two and a half years ago, money has been tighter than when I earned a plush salary writing technical manuals in high tech companies. But that’s okay – I know how to live on a shoestring. So the first people whose praises I want to sing are my late parents. Daddy was a high school teacher and our mom stayed home with us four kids until we were in high school ourselves. We had enough, but life was not luxurious. And I had a very happy childhood. I’m grateful I know how to scale back and live simply (I’m also grateful for being a Quaker, a faith which also stresses living with simplicity).

Many writers have a spouse or partner who is their first reader, who provides a valuable sounding board and helpful comments. Mine? IMG_2281Doesn’t even read fiction. Has no idea what I’m doing, really. He’s a dear, and brilliant in many areas. Commenting on fiction is not one of them. So I could be upset by that and wish for something different. Instead I find it agreeable to be left alone to type away on my books. Hugh is glad I’m happy (and that I’m starting to bring in a bit more cash) and that’s enough.

I  hope I don’t sound like an ingrate when I say I’m grateful the muse continues to be with FirstDraftDoneme. Friday I finished the first draft of my eleventh novel. I’d hoped to have it done by the day before Thanksgiving. Instead the last ten thousand words just poured out. Plot problems resolved themselves. Suspense, tenderness, even killing in self-defense – it almost wrote itself. I’m not sure if this happens because I’m getting better at it from experience or if I’m just channeling some creative spirit out there. I know I would not be able to write three books a year if this didn’t keep happening, and I’m way grateful for that.

We Wickeds talk a lot about appreciating each other – because it’s so true – so I’m not going to go on too long. But singing the praises of my closest author pals and congratulating them on their many successes is one of my favorite things to do. So I guess that makes us all bards.

What about you? Anything negative in your life that is really a blessing? Whose praises would you like to sing? Also – Happy Thanksgiving a few days early to all! We’re all grateful for having readers come to our cozy blog.

Welcome Author Karoline Barrett

Hello, Wicked People! Susannah/Sadie here, celebrating a release month with author Karoline Barrett. Let’s give her a Wicked Welcome!

 Act Like You’ve Been Here Before

A big thank-you to Susannah Hardy for inviting me to guest blog here on Wicked Cozy authors! I’m honored to be here since it’s one of my favorite blogs.

Bun for Your LifeLike so many writers, I’ve always been a reader, and in the back of my mind was the vague notion that someday I’d write a book myself. That “someday” didn’t happen until later in life. I’m not telling you exactly how much later, but as the saying goes, better late than never.

Bun for Your Life is my first cozy mystery and the first book in my Bread & Batter series. While it’s not my first published book, it’s the first one for which I signed a contract with a major publisher. You’d think I’d be thrilled to death about that. And, you’d be right, I definitely am! However, while I’m an optimistic, cheerful, and upbeat person most of the time, I began to be besieged with insecurity, especially as my Facebook world grew, and I connected with other cozy mystery authors who not only had multiple books out, but multiple series out, and wrote under more than one name.

As I set up a virtual book tour, participated in Facebook author events, arranged to do interviews and guest blogs I kept wondering, do I belong here? Am I a good enough writer? Are my books good enough? Do they have engaging plots? Enough mystery? Characters readers will fall in love with? Will the town I built make readers want to move right in and settle there? Am I as good as author so-and-so who has ten books out there? Blah, blah, blah went my inner voice.

Amidst all my angst, I remembered something my youngest son’s high school football coach said to him about sportsmanship, and winning games and championships: Act like you’ve been here before.

I thought about that and I decided it applied to me. What difference did it make that so far I only have two books coming out, one series, and one name under which I write? Does anyone really care? Apparently readers don’t. And so far, no blogger or book reviewer has said to me, “Um, wait. You only have two books coming out? Only one series? And you only write under one name? (insert maniacal laughter) Don’t think so.”

So, my insecurity was for naught. Every single author I’ve connected with on Facebook, and some in “real life” have been so incredibly supportive. Three well-known authors read Bun for Your Life and did blurbs for it—awesomely nice blurbs. Everyone who has hosted me on a Facebook event, or signed me up to guest blog, has been incredibly supportive as well. I’m pretty sure I’m treated the same as a well-established author with a bazillion books out there. I’ve made a lot of reader friends on Facebook, and my Facebook author page has gotten a lot of “likes.” Readers have pre-ordered my book, woo hoo!

KB pictureI hope to have many more books out and maybe another series, I’ve even picked out another name in case I need one, but for right now, I’ve pushed my insecurity aside and am enjoying the ride! I’ll close with this quote, which I love because it makes me feel better. I always think the insecurity is going to go away, but it’s always there. Only bad writers think they’re good. ~Harlan Coben

Good luck, Karoline! Here’s where you can connect with her: