Cover Reveal – Biscuits and Slashed Browns

Edith, with some delightful news, and a giveaway!

I have, that is, Maddie Day has, a cover for Book Four in the Country Store Mysteries. The book is called Biscuits and Slashed Browns, and it takes place during maple sap season in Brown County, Indiana. The book releases January 30, 2018. It is, of course, available for preorder wherever books are sold, and preorders really help the author. I’m giving away an apron and a signed cover flat to one lucky commenter today (US aprononly)!

Here’s the cover blurb:

For country-store owner Robbie Jordan, the National Maple Syrup Festival is a sweet escape from late-winter in South Lick, Indiana—until murder saps the life out of the celebration . . .

As Robbie arranges a breakfast-themed cook-off at Pans ‘N Pancakes, visitors pour into Brown County for the annual maple extravaganza. Unfortunately, that includes Professor Connolly, a know-it-all academic from Boston who makes enemies everywhere he goes—and this time, bad manners prove deadly. Soon after clashing with several scientists at a maple tree panel, the professor is found dead outside a sugar shack, stabbed to death by a local restaurateur’s knife. When an innocent woman gets dragged into the investigation and a biologist mysteriously disappears, Robbie drops her winning maple biscuits to search for answers. But can she help police crack the case before another victim is caught in a sticky situation with a killer?

So, without further ado, I present the cover:

Biscuits and Slashed Browns

Don’t you love it? We have the bottles of syrup, the sugaring-off shack, the sap buckets, pancakes, biscuits, a little March snow left on the ground, even the slashing knife.

And on the bench sits Robbie’s cat Birdy. For those of you who didn’t hear, this Birdy is modeled on my real-life cat Birdy, and he died on June 6, just a few weeks ago. I miss him terribly, and am comforted that he’ll live on in this series.

BirdywithFLIPPED

Birdy, the cat in the Country Store Mysteries – literally, in this case!

Readers: To win one of my Edith Maxwell/Maddie Day aprons–which I save for extra-special giveaways–and a signed cover flat, tell me in the comments section what’s your favorite thing to eat using maple syrup. Pancakes? Maple sugar candy? A mapletini? Oatmeal? Maple bars? Dish, gang.

 

Guest- Kay Finch

News Flash: Dianne KC is our winner from yesterday. Congratulations, Dianne! Check your Inbox for an email from Alyssa.

Jessie: In NH where the weather is feeling like summer!

Several years ago I met the lovely and gracious Kay Finch where I have met so many fellow mystery writers over the years: Malice Domestic. We were seated at the same table at the Berkley Prime Crime dinner and she was a charming dinner companion. It is with great pleasure that I welcome her to the Wickeds today! Take it away, Kay!

Untitled-3My Split Personality

I recently enjoyed signing my third Bad Luck Cat mystery, The Black Cat Sees His Shadow, at Murder by the Book, Houston’s wonderful mystery bookstore. We had a fabulous turnout, and I signed dozens of books. Great day for a writer, right? I had fun, but I also have to admit that I enjoy being in the audience at a book signing more than I enjoy being in the spotlight. The truth is – a writer needs to have a split personality.

You might think the hardest part of writing a novel is the writing itself. Yes, the writing is a huge and time consuming and seemingly never-ending project. When someone tells me they want to write a book, these thoughts cross my mind: “Don’t start. Writing is like an addiction. You won’t be able to stop. You won’t have any free time. It’s much easier and more fun to spend your time reading.” But as hard as writing the book is, as far as I’m concerned that isn’t the hardest part of being an author.

When my first mystery was about to come out, I wished I could hire someone to stand in for me. A person who enjoys sitting alone in a room and writing a book is not the same person who relishes the marketing aspect of writing. I naturally choose to do things that keep me from being noticed. My natural instinct to remain anonymous began when I was a little girl. In the privacy of my bedroom, I wrote short mystery stories. No one knew about them except me. For fear someone might see the stories one day and read them, I decided to burn the pages. Today, that sounds ridiculous and embarrassing. To little me, it made sense.

I might sound like a semi-recluse, but I’m not. I work full-time as a family law paralegal and deal with many people who have more quirks than I do. I enjoy meeting people at book signings and other events once I get there. My personality is seriously split. I’m not only an author, I’m also speaker, paralegal, wife, grandma, sister, daughter, aunt, and friend. And don’t forget – I’m a little piece of each of my protagonists, too.

Readers: I’m happy to give away a copy of The Black Cat Sees His Shadow. To enter the contest, leave a comment about your favorite childhood pet and I’ll pick a random winner at noon tomorrow. Good luck!

Kay Finch

Kay Finch

Kay Finch is the National Best-Selling Author of the Bad Luck Cat Mysteries, Black Cat Crossing, The Black Cat Knocks on Wood, and The Black Cat Sees His Shadow. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the State Bar of Texas Paralegal Division. Kay lives with her husband and their rescue pets in a Houston suburb. Visit the author at kayfinch.com.

Guest: Alyssa Maxwell

Edith here, who can’t quite believe it’s almost July! I’m delighted to welcome my friend, name-mate, and fellow historical mystery author, Alyssa Maxwell (no relation) to the blog today! I love her Gilded Newport series, and you will, too. One lucky winner today will win a signed hardcover of the fifth book in the series, Murder at Chateau Sur Mer, which will be out in a month. (I wish I could win!) A bonus for me is that one characters is named Edith.

gildednewport

Here’s the book blurb: Covering a polo match for the Observer, society reporter Emma Cross’s job is to take note of the real players off the field—Newport’s well-bred elite. But the fashionable façade is breached when a woman in gaudy clothing creates a scene demanding to speak to the wife of Senator George Wetmore—until she is escorted off the grounds by the police.  The next morning, police detective Jesse Whyte asks Emma to meet him at the Wetmores’ Bellevue Avenue home, Chateau sur Mer, where the senator’s wife, Edith, has mysteriously asked to see her. Upon entering the mansion, Emma is confronted with a crime scene—the intruder from the polo match lies dead at the foot of a grand staircase.

To avoid scandal, Edith Wetmore implores Emma, a less well-heeled cousin to the illustrious Vanderbilts, to use her reporter skills and her discretion to investigate. When Emma learns the victim was a prostitute—and pregnant—she wonders if the senator was being blackmailed. As Emma peels back layers of deception and family secrets, she may have met her match in a desperate killer who will trample anyone who gets in the way…

I love it! Take it away, Alyssa.

Intertwined Histories

I’m going to tell you a secret, if you promise not to tell anyone. When I decided to write my Newport series, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t even know if I could pull off writing a mystery, and although I knew modern day Newport pretty well, I had tons to learn about the city in the Gilded Age.

I was positive about one thing: I didn’t want to fictionalize everything. I didn’t want to write about a city based on Newport, and I didn’t want to write about Newport itself but with fictionalized houses and families. If I couldn’t name actual people and places, what fun would it be?

You see, I felt I had a responsibility to everyone who lives there, and even to everyone who has ever visited Newport. I had to get it right, and I had to be so vivid that readers would say yes, I’ve been there; I swam there, walked there, explored there, etc. Because I understand the kind of hold Newport places on people; I know exactly how it reaches into your heart and makes you part of it. Newport of today is a very international place—at least during the summer tourist season—but the city’s history makes it so essentially and vitally American that Newport belongs to all of us, and those who have lived there or have visited for even a short time, feel a fierce and loving ownership of this very special place. (pictured: Clarke Cook House on Bannister’s Wharf)

ClarkeCookHouse

What do I mean by that? For one thing, there isn’t a period of American history that hasn’t left its indelible mark on Newport. And we literally see that history in its architecture as we move through town—colonial, federal, Civil War, shingle style, the palaces of the Gilded Age, and so on up to current times.

What makes Newport different from many other places is that as times and tastes changed, the old didn’t disappear but remained in use—to this day. It’s true living history, not replicated but alive and vital and constantly changing with each wave of people who pass through. In a way, there’s a bit of all of us in Newport. (Pictured: The Waves, built in the 1920s, now a condominium)

the waves

Then there’s my husband’s family, Newporters for generations back. For them, if for no one else, I wanted to capture the spirit of Newport, especially in my sleuth, Emma Cross—who is independent, determined, proud, hardworking, and gets her strength from the bedrock of Aquidneck Island.

Last summer, we were contacted by a Newport resident who, during renovations of his newly purchased house, came upon two large, framed photographs of my husband’s great great grandparents hidden away behind a wall in his attic. What made this even more exciting was that this house had been built by my husband’s great grandfather’s company, The Manuel Brothers, using materials, such as flooring and woodwork, reclaimed from Bellevue Avenue mansions the company had been hired to demolish. At about the same time, in the 1920s, the Manuel Bros. also demolished a mansion owned by Reggie Vanderbilt, who is a character in the series. What’s more, we believe my husband’s great grandmother, Honora Taylor Whyte, worked as a maid in one of the great houses when she first came to this country from Ireland. My father-in-law and my husband grew up in the same house in the harbor-side Point neighborhood, on same the street where I have set Emma’s childhood home.

manuel brothers

These are just a few examples, but you can see that Newport’s history and my husband’s history is intricately entwined. There could be no fictionalizing the city, or, for me and I think for many readers, the meaning would have been lost.

Readers: Join me for a visit to Newport! Is there a place you’re passionate about? Tell us about it in the Comments and enter for a chance to win a signed, hardcover copy of the 5th Gilded Newport Mystery, MURDER AT CHATEAU SUR MER!

amaxwellpinkAlyssa Maxwell is the author of The Gilded Newport Mysteries and A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries. She has worked in publishing as a reference book editor, ghost writer, and fiction editor, but knew from an early age that she wanted to be a novelist. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain and Ireland fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles of all kinds drew her to the mystery genre. She and her husband make their home in South Florida. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the Florida Romance Writers, Sisters in Crime, and Novelists Inc. You can learn more about Alyssa and her books, and find her social media links, at www.alyssamaxwell.com.

 

 

Wicked Wednesday: Movies that make you want to fall in love (again)

Okay, I admit this one is a little more obscure, with our “movies that make you…” theme, but what I’m looking for here are love stories. Wonderful, stories that sweep you up in the romance. Romances, historicals, and romantic comedies all count here. Go!

Jessie: I love You’ve Got Mail. There are so many great moments in that movie that I watch it at least a couple times each year. And I adore Love, Actually. It does such a great job of showing so many facets of the complex thing we all sum up with the single word, Love.

Julie: Does the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehie Pride and Prejudice count? Cause I’d put that on the top of my list. But if you want movie-movies, I really love When Harry Met Sally. Charming, funny, romantic. Sleepless in Seattle is also a favorite of mine.

Sherry: Oh, Julie, I love that version of Pride and Prejudice too! Colin Firth, be still my heart. That brings me to my choice Love Actually! I think I could have listed Love Actually in the last categories, laugh, cry, love. It hits every level of emotion. Maybe I’ll go watch it right now!

Barb: I’m a sucker for romantic comedies. Nora Ephron, Nancy Meyers, Richard Curtis–bring them on! It’s hard to pick a favorite. I love When Harry Met Sally. I love Four Weddings and a Funeral. I watch Love, Actually every Christmas season–preferably while doing something Christmas-y like writing cards or wrapping presents. I’m also a sucker for Nick Hornby novels made into movies, no matter how much they mess with the originals, which I also love: Fever Pitch, High Fidelity, and my absolute favorite, About a Boy.

Liz: I love When Harry Met Sally too, Barb! I haven’t watched Love, Actually in years – maybe I need to refresh my memory. This may sound totally cheesy, but there’s something about the Jack and Rose love story in Titanic that gets me every time. That whole right side of the tracks meets wrong side thing, I guess…

Dr-ZhivagoEdith: Dr. Zhivago. Does it get any more romantic than the Russian Steppes, Omar Sharif, and Julie Christie, with balalaika music in the background? Other than that, I’ll also vote for Sleepless in Seattle, even though I saw it a long time ago, and will bring Bridges of Madison County back in for a replay, even though I already used it in the movies-that-make-you-cry post last week.

Readers: Dish! Share your favorite romantic movies.

 

The Detective’s Daughter Goes on Retreat

Edith here. Our Accomplice, Kim Gray,who usually writes the Detective’s Daughter posts, can’t be here today, so I’m jumping in to share her virtual report of going on a writers’ retreat.

Kim, Annette Dashofy, Martha Reed, and I were invited by Ramona DeFelice Long to go on a week-long retreat at Clare House, a convent retreat house in Pennsylavania. None of us had any problem with jumping at the opportunity. I’d gone with Ramona and Kim last year and loved it. After we returned last week, Kim put up a few pictures and commentary on her Facebook page, so I’m drawing it together in a blog post for her!

The gathering spot for the animals’ breakfast.

AnimalBreakfast

Time for reflection.

TimeforReflection

Our doorbell.

OurDoorbell

The front entrance of my home away from home.

Front

A good spot to sit and think.

SitandThink

My companion on my walks these past seven days.

bunny

A great place to relax and write.

clarehouse

(Edith: The “Hermitages” referenced in the sign are five tiny cottages also on the grounds that one can rent. I haven’t been inside, but the web site says they are 17′ x 17′ and have all the essentials, including a mini-kitchen. Wow.)

Hermitage01enhanced

Our last dinner table set.

dinner

Edith: And a couple of mine, this one just before Ramona, Kim, and Martha set out to explore the Amish farmers’ market. It wasn’t all work!

ramonakimmartha

And my “office” in the room designated as the chapel.

Edith's desk

We all had a highly productive week interspersed by laughter, wine, meals, and of course, storytelling. And we Wickeds look forward to having Kim back next month with another tale of the Detective’s Daughter.

Readers: Where do you go to recharge, to think, to reflect, to get away from your usual setting?

 

 

 

 

Fun, Facts, and a Few Dead Bodies by guest Patti Phillips

I love Patti Phillips’ Kerrian’s Notebook and was curious about how and why Patti started it. Thank you Pattie for joining us today and filling us in!

Www.kerriansnotebook.com began over five years ago as a marketing tool for a novel featuring Homicide Detective Charlie Kerrian and his wife, Sheila. The idea was to introduce the public to the characters via the website before publication, and get the readership so involved that they would buy the book by the thousands. The original book was never published, but the characters became so popular that the readership responded warmly (and I might add with more than a little glee) to Kerrian looking for bodies everywhere and/or ways to kill people (on the page of course).

 

How many places can you find bodies? Apparently around every corner and under every bush. And that’s just for starters. The enthusiastic readers have been happy to suggest many ways that people can wind up very dead.

Take a look at “100 ways to die an unnatural death.” Wicked Cozy author, Edith Maxwell, contributed to that list with ‘cyanide salts in an almond cake.’ Wicked, indeed.

I love to cook, and it seemed logical to include recipes on the website. Charlie enjoys the same kind of food that my family does, so what you see on the recipe list are some of our favorite dishes. On the site, they are almost always cooked by Sheila and taste-tested by Charlie. In actuality, all are created and photographed by me. The exceptions are two guest posts by Canadian writer, Cynthia St-Pierre (co-author of The Vegetarian Detective series) and one from Chin Bawambi, an uber sports fan and foodie. Cynthia contributed a recipe for brownies and for Mediterranean Potato Salad. Chin contributed Jalapeno Peach Chicken. Please note: Nobody has ever died while eating at any of our houses.

Where do I get my ideas? Kerrian’s Notebook is loosely based upon my own life. If I attend law enforcement, gun safety, or self-defense etc. courses, I take photos and tell the world about the experiences. The family trips to Civil War battlegrounds pay homage to the men and women that fought to keep us free. The facts are double-checked by experts in the various fields and many writers use the details from my articles in their own work.

My golfing stories are light-hearted, but bodies have been known to pop up. Along with the occasional snake.

The stories are personal, the facts are real, even if the Kerrians are fictional.

When the deck guy tore down the old deck top, Kerrian asked if there was a body buried under it and showed photos. When a mouse was seen in the kitchen in the dead of night, Sheila shrieked, an exterminator arrived and the resulting article discussed why rat poison works.

 

From its gentler beginnings of looking for bodies under the floorboards, the website has evolved to include true crime and detailed information about first responders and law enforcement agencies.

 

A connection with Texas and the oldest law enforcement agency in the country, resulted in a series of three articles about the Texas Rangers. Every day, that series is ranked by Google in the top 10 for articles about the Rangers. I cover what they do, how to become one, and relate stories told by a real Texas Ranger I met while I lived in Texas. I could have listened to that Ranger and his wife for days. What a career he/they had!

The fans love The Visiting Detectives series. Guest writers can showcase their fictional detectives during a chat with Charlie and Sheila. We’ve had a time-traveling Sheriff, a psychic investigator, a newspaper publisher, and the vegetarian. The articles and characters couldn’t be more different, and always have links to the projects the writers like to feature. If you know anyone who would like to be a Visiting Detective, contact me (oops, Charlie & Sheila).  J

I knew that my second book would heavily feature fire, so discussions with a firefighter friend led to attending the Writers’ Police Academy where I concentrated on the firefighter strand of classes. Unhappily, around the time of the conference, a civilian friend of mine, along with 1500 other families, lost her house to a wildfire. The information gleaned at WPA became much more personal and focused what happened to her on the why and the how the fire moved so quickly through the tall evergreens. High summer temperatures in that part of Texas only added to the tragedy. Two of the articles appeared in my collection of short stories, “Kerrian’s Notebook, Volume 1” on Amazon.

Those articles led to others – how to become a firefighter; what a firefighter wears in order to stay safe, and sadly, immediately following a week-long course on Crime Scene Photography, the actual post-fire scene of my grandfather’s former house.

Firefighters have a dangerous job. It’s not just a matter of running into a house and grabbing someone from the closet and running back out again. There is zero visibility and the smoke fills the lungs and competes with life giving oxygen that humans should be breathing. In an active fire, firefighters have under five minutes to get in and get out. As we learned at WPA, a room can be fully engulfed in a minute and a half. 90 seconds, folks.

One of the regular readers (and fellow author) has requested that I do an article describing the types of fire trucks used while fighting a fire. Since I always take photos during the research, I think he really just wants to see fire trucks. J  That article will be coming soon.

Kerrian looks for bodies everywhere, but Patti has never found one anywhere on her property or at any friend’s house. She hasn’t checked out the ditch in the new rock slope, though. Hmmm…

Future stories?

“How many cherries will kill you?”

“Krav Maga – self-defense for the real world.”

“Fire trucks”

and many more. Join Patti & the Kerrians at www.kerriansnotebook.com for fun, for facts, and a few dead bodies.

Patti Phillips is a transplanted metropolitan New Yorker/north Texan, now living in the piney state of North Carolina.

Her best investigative days are spent writing, attending The Writers’ Police Academy, cooking, traveling for research, and playing golf. Her time on the golf course has been murderously valuable while creating the perfect alibi for the chief villain in her novel, One Sweet Motion. Did you know that there are spots on a golf course that can’t be accessed by listening devices?

Ms. Phillips (writing as Detective Charlie Kerrian) can be found at www.kerriansnotebook.com. Her book reviews can be read at www.nightstandbookreviews.com