How Did I End Up Here?

Suekey12 is the winner of I Know What You Bid Last Summer. I will send you an email!

With the release of every new book I reflect on the journey that led me here — the people who helped me along the way, the hands up, the people I’m grateful to. I was struggling with a topic to write about for this blog. So I turned to the Wickeds and Edith suggested writing about where the idea for this book came from. Interestingly the idea for I Know What You Bid Last Summer came from the Wickeds too.

A couple of years ago after I turned in the third book, All Murders Final, I was writing a proposal for three more books while we were having our annual Wicked retreat. I had two solid ideas for books which turned into book four – A Good Day to Buy and book seven – Let’s Fake a Deal. But for some reason I was struggling to come up with that third idea. Fortunately, I was sitting around with the Wickeds during a brainstorming session.

Jessie was the first one to suggest that Sarah do something with the school board and that they could be the suspects. She also mentioned doing something like a sports equipment swap. In the original proposal it said this: At the end of the summer Sarah is hired by the school board to run a charity event to raise money for extracurricular activities. While the pay is nominal Sarah feels like it will raise her profile in the area is she can pull I off without a hitch.

It was interesting to me that there’s no mention of sports equipment and that Sarah was getting paid. It also suggested an end of summer event which turned into an end of June event with no pay. I like to include a bit of humor to relieve the seriousness of the crime. And for some reason this time I wanted it to revolve around Sarah’s friendship with Angelo and Rose DiNapoli who own DiNapoli’s Roast Beef and Pizza. But what could she do for them? Angelo has a bit of an ego so what would be better than having him enter a lasagna bake off that he really wants to win?!

I felt like those two elements weren’t enough for a complete book. What could Sarah do that would involve a garage sale that she hasn’t done before? That’s when I dreamed up a difficult client who wants to do an over the top garage sale like the ones she’s seen in magazines and on TV. Since the customer is always right, Sarah goes along with it. Even Sarah has to admit the results are amazing. So that’s how I Know What You Bid Last Summer came to be.

I still have so many people to thank. I signed my first contract with Kensington on February 22, 2013 almost five years to the day from the release of this book. I’m so grateful to my editor, Gary Goldstein, and everyone else at Kensington who work behind the scenes from the art department to the marketing department and everything in between.

I can’t thank everyone but must thank the Wickeds, Sisters in Crime, my agent John Talbot, the very supportive crime fiction community, all the bloggers and reviewers that get the word out about books without compensation, readers – including all of you who stop by here. I’m so grateful to Barb Goffman for her wise guidance when she edits my books and to my beta readers Clare Boggs and Mary Titone. Mary also is my publicist and does so much for me.

And finally my family. My support system at home is amazing. Although my daughter is still a bit offended when a couple of years ago she asked what I wanted for Mother’s Day and I said for everyone to pretend I wasn’t home for a week – that was the looming deadline talking. My husband tells almost everyone he meets that I’m an author. My parents filled our house with books, took us to the library, and always let us buy a book at school book sales.

If not for all of this, I wouldn’t be publishing my fifth book today. There’s another fifth in my life this year — the WIckeds are celebrating our fifth anniversary of our blog this May!

Thank you for being with me on this lovely, wonderful, wild adventure of writing books.

Readers: Who do you brainstorm with? Or just say hi! I will give away a copy of I Know What You Bid Last Summer to a commenter.

 

 

 

 

 

Biscuits and Slashed Browns Book Birthday

Edith here, writing as Maddie Day from north of Boston.

But first – a special news break: Jessica Ellicott’s Murder in an English Village: A Beryl and Edwina Mystery (Jessica being our own Jessie Crockett) and my Called to Justice: A Quaker Midwife Mystery are BOTH nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel! The nods are cause for much celebration, and you, dear readers, will be hearing more about the nominations in the forthcoming weeks. In the meantime, Jessie and I are happy to accept accolades, toasts, and whatever else seems appropriate.

Now, back to today’s topic – also a cause for celebration…

Yes, it’s my book birthday! I’m so excited for the fourth Country Store Mystery to slide into the hands of eager readers.

Biscuits and Slashed Browns

For country-store owner Robbie Jordan, the Maple Syrup Festival is a sweet escape from late-winter in South Lick, Indiana—until murder saps the life out of the celebration. Robbie drops her maple-curry biscuits to crack the case before another victim is caught in a sticky and murderous trap.

Some pretty awesome reviews are already in:

  • “…wonderful culinary cozy mystery series … great characters, terrific local dialect, a charming setting … engaging mystery”
  • “…well-plotted and exciting story”
  • “…vivid characters and locales”
  • “…fast paced plot… just the right touch of romance … a delightful addition”
  • ” …suspenseful, dangerous climax wraps the story up for an exciting ending”
  • “…delicious recipes…”

I was amazed when I learned that Brown County, Indiana, has hosted a National Maple Festival, and I knew I had to use it in a book. The county is hilly and wooded and looks a lot like Vermont despite being quite a bit farther to the south, so it’s no surprise one of its products is high-quality maple syrup.

I hope you enjoy the story! Now I’m off to find a cake and a bottle of bubbly to celebrate.

Readers: Do you make the recipes in the back of foodie cozies like mine?  If so, which ones have you liked best? If not, why not?

Happy Book Birthday, Sheila Connolly!

Thankful for Our Readers Giveaway:  For a chance to win A Late Frost, leave a comment below wishing Sheila a happy book birthday or letting her know what you love about this series!

The Wickeds are excited to celebrate the book birthday of A Late Frost the eleventh book in the Orchard Mystery series by Wicked Accomplice Sheila Connolly! Here’s a little about the book.

The usually quiet town of Granford, Massachusetts, is even drowsier during the colder months. But this year it’s in for a jolt when Monica Whitman moves into town. She’s a dynamo who wants to make friends fast in her new home, and she throws herself into community activities. Meg Corey, now Chapin after her marriage to Seth Chapin, is intrigued by the new arrival, who has already sold the town board on a new, fun way to bring in visitors during the off-season: WinterFare, which will feature local foods (such as Meg’s apples) and crafts, as well as entertainment.

Tragically, Monica falls ill and dies after the event in what looks like a case of food poisoning. When all the food served at WinterFare has been tested, including Meg’s apples, it becomes clear that there’s a more sinister explanation for the older woman’s sudden demise.

Meg’s investigation uncovers a bushel of potential suspects, one of whom is rotten to the core.

Liz: Wow – the 11th installment! Congrats and happy book birthday, Sheila!

Edith: Way to keep a series going, Sheila. Congratulations! As always, I’m looking forward to reading this one – and then passing it along to my older sister Barbara, who is one of your biggest fans.

Barb: Congratulations, Sheila! Eleven. It’s hard to imagine. Best of luck for continued success.

Sherry: I love how you’ve continued to grow Meg as a character throughout the eleven (wowsa) books! Congratulations!

Julie: Congratulations Sheila! I remember the day you told us about this series. Now, wowsa. 11 books!

Readers: Tell Sheila what you love about the series, congratulate her, or ask her a question to enter to win a copy of the new book!

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Launch Day and Giveaway- Murder in an English Village!

Jessie: In New Hampshire where a recent storm has downed trees and ended the foliage season abruptly!

MURDER IN AN ENGLISH VILLAGEToday is the launch day for my seventh published novel. Seven. Seven whole novels! As I type this I am hugging myself with delight. How is life such a wonderment?

Not only is it the launch of a novel but it is the debut is a whole new series. I cannot tell you how much pleasure this new imaginary world has brought me! Murder in an English Village simply poured out of me with a flow I had never before experienced. It was magical. It was almost entirely fun.

I am utterly in love with Beryl and Edwina, the dual protagonists of this series. They represent the things I love, the things I am and the things I most long to be. They live in a time and a place I have so often imagined through deep dives into the magic of the Golden Age of Detection and the beguiling works of E.F. Benson and P.G. Wodehouse.

But it is more than that. It isn’t just the era and all its alluring accoutrements like soda siphons and Rolls Royce Silver Ghosts. It is the characters themselves with whom I am totally smitten. They feel so much like two sides of the same coin to me and I have loved tipping and tossing them this way and that. I love the way they play off each other and highlight the strengths or weaknesses of the other. I love how they each have expertise and preference. I love discovering what those things are.

Cards on the table, I really want to be Beryl when I grow up. Well, minus the string of ex-husbands. After all, I told my husband, before we married, that the only man I would ever consider leaving him for was Hercule Poirot. Beryl has no such compunctions which, not surprisingly, baffles spinster Edwina. I admire Edwina’s deep connection to place and understand her love of her gardens and her feeling of responsiblilty for the small creatures that live there like wild birds and families of rabbits.

I adore writing about gnarled jobbing gardener Simpkins and gossipy postmistress Prudence Rathbone. I wish I owned Beryl’s motorcar or Edwina’s hat collection. I would love to shop the High Street of imaginary Walmsley Parva with my wicker basket draped over my arm and Crumpet the dog capering along at my side snuffling at the hedgerows and generally making merry. I wish I could stop right this minute for a cuppa and a scone at Minnie Mumford’s Silver Spoon Tearoom.

And although it is all in my mind, I still cannot quite believe I get to spend my time with such delightful imaginary friends. I am even more astonished that others are able to visit with them too through the wizardry of books. I can only hope you enjoy it all as much as I do!

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Murder in an English Village! I’d love to hear about your favorite characters from books, your favorite historical era or your favorite part of your own job. 

 

Wicked Wednesday: Santa Claus Stories

purringFriends, we are still celebrating Liz Mugavero’s Purring Around The Christmas Tree release. A reminder about what the book is about:

To the townspeople’s delight, the annual lighting of the tree is a spectacular success. Unfortunately, Santa pulled up in his sleigh, DOA. At first Stan is sure it’s Seamus, her boyfriend’s uncle, inside the red suit. But the victim turns out to be an employee from the town’s Christmas tree farm. Rumor has it the deceased was a mean drunk with a soft spot for feral cats. Stan has no idea why he was dressed as St. Nick—or why he’s dead.

Meanwhile, Seamus, a jolly Irishman who comes to America every December to visit his pub-owner nephew, is nowhere to be found. Could he just be off on a Boston bar crawl? Or is something more sinister under the tree? Seamus was supposed to be dressing up and posing for pet pictures with Santa at the shop, but the dogs and cats might have to find another lap to curl up in if Stan doesn’t solve two mysteries soon. Or murder might be the only thing under the mistletoe this holiday . . .

The question this week–Wickeds, do you have a Santa Claus story you want to share?

Jessie: Huzzah, Liz! When I was a small child my mother would read me the story The Jolly Christmas at the Patterprints every year on Christmas Eve. It was the story of a family of mice who end up with Santa dropping into their cauldron of soup hanging over the fire. Quite the kerfuffle ensues. I now read it to my own children every Christmas Eve.

Edith: Congratulations, Liz! I can’t wait to read this new installment. When I was growing up we always read the old standard “Night Before Christmas” on Christmas Eve, and I continued that tradition with my sons. The poem has so many perplexing words and concepts for a child. “Threw up the sash” always made me feel a little queasy, as if Santa had eaten the sash to a dress and then vomited. And for years I thought he put a finger INside his nose – not a foreign concept at all to kids. Here are my sons (at 11 and 14) getting almost too old for the tradition.

2000Christmas

Sherry: Yay, Liz another new book! When my daughter was in second grade we were stationed in Florida and my husband traveled a lot. There was a movie on the Disney Channel that Elizabeth and I had watched about the tooth fairy. One night after I put her to bed, I sat in the family room reading. Elizabeth came out, put her hands on her hips, and said, “Tell me the truth is there a tooth fairy?” I told her no there wasn’t. She lectured me about lying and stomped back off to bed. A few minutes later she repeats the process, but this time asks about the Easter Bunny. Another lecture, more stomping. I sat there dreading what might come next, wondering why Bob was never home for these things. Sure enough Elizabeth comes back out, places her hands on her hips, and glares at me. “I don’t even want to know about Santa Claus,” she announced. Then she twirled around and went back to bed.

Barb: Congratulations, Liz. I LOVE your cover and can’t wait to read this new addition to the Pawsitively Organic Pet Food Mysteries. I love Christmas, and pretty much everything around it. My husband’s father’s family has a party every year on the Sunday closest to the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Santa comes and gives each kid a small gift to tide them over to the big day. I loved this tradition when my kids were small, and my granddaughter has participated the last few years. (With, I admit, mixed results.)

Julie: First off, HUGE congratulations Liz!! So happy for you!! When I was growing up, my father always took us shopping and out to lunch one day around Christmas, likely to give my mother some time to catch up with the holiday. One year, when we were really little we went to meet Santa. This Santa was tiny, thin, and had horn rimmed glasses. We would have nothing to do with him, insisted that this was NOT Sand, and my sister started weeping. So my father, who was always quick with a story, told us that we were right. It wasn’t Santa. It was too close to Christmas, so he sent two elves down to stand in for him. There were actually two elves in the suit. WHEW. Childhood memories were saved.

Liz: I love these stories! Thanks so much for sharing them, guys! And for celebrating my release with me! xo

How about you, dear readers? Any Santa stories you want to share?Save

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The End is the Beginning

WhispersOfWarningCover

Jessie: In New Hampshire, where she is sorry to say the leaves are starting to color up.

Today is the launch of my sixth book. To be honest, I am still not sure how I got here. It really does seem like just yesterday that I was sitting at the breakfast bar in my kitchen with tears streaming down my face, staring at the words “The End” typed on my laptop computer screen. But it wasn’t yesterday, it was sometime in January of 2008 and the book in question was my first one, Live Free or Die. And it wasn’t really the end. In fact, it was the beginning.

I hadn’t truly understood how much writing mattered to me until I burst into tears as I realised I was not going to be one of those people who had always wanted to write a book. I had become someone who had gone ahead and done so. I still cannot believe I wrote that one and haven’t quite believed my eyes whenever I’ve seen the words “The End” in front of me all the times that followed.

Since then, more books have reached the end and more bouts of weepiness have ensued. Every book has been a pleasure in its own way, including this second Change of Fortune mystery. I hope many of you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. But even more, I hope each of you will find a satisfying ending of your own that turns out to be a delightful new beginning as well!

Readers,  have you ever reached an end that was a beginning? In order to celebrate the release of Whispers of Warning I will give away a copy to one commenter! 

 

 

Turning Five

Edith here, luxuriating in the rebirth of life (finally!) north of Boston – salad greens, flowering shrubs, fresh eggs, book ideas, and so much more. Make sure you read to the end for a special giveaway.

Mulch Ado About Murder releases today! I am delighted that the Local Foods Mysteries has continued through book five. I originally conceived of organic farmer Cameron Flaherty way, way back in 1994. At the time I operated and co-owned the smallest certified organic farm in my county tucked away up here in the northeast corner of Massachusetts.

mulch-ado-about-murder

When A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die finally came out in 2013, it introduced Cam, her great-uncle Albert, the town of Westbury, and the cast of regular characters who have kept Cam company throughout the series. The book opens on June 1, the first day her CSA customers are coming to pick up their shares of the produce she harvested that morning: herbs, greens, asparagus, and more.

A Tine To Live A Tine To Die PB COVER

In Tine we meet the cast of continuing characters: Lucinda, the devoted Brazilian locavore. Felicity, a committed volunteer with a long gray braid and an infallibly cheery manner. Albert, of course, who gave Cam his farm. A younger volunteer, Alexandra, and the even younger girl scout Ellie who loves helping out. Plus State police detective Pete Pappas, who is back in every book but takes on an additional role in book two.

The books release once a year at the end of May, but book time is different. Til Dirt Do Us Part, the second book, takes place in early October.

Til Dirt do us Part Cover

One of Cam’s more difficult shareholders is murdered the day after a farm-to-table dinner and her stepson Bobby is wanted for questioning. Cam doesn’t think the hunky carpenter who rebuilt her barn is involved – but is he?

Farmed and Dangerous is the winter story, with a blizzard, someone murdered in Albert’s assisted living residence, Cam under suspicion because she provided the produce that was poisoned, and an apparent attack on Cam herself.

FarmedandDan

I was delighted Cam’s farm cat Preston finally appeared on a cover. He’s our senior cat here at home and he deserves his moments of fame.

Book four, Murder Most Fowl, was a fun one. I got to set a couple of scenes in a New England town meeting very much like the one I used to attend in West Newbury, which Westbury is closed modeled on.

Murder Most Fowl

The wasn’t fun for the murdered poultry farmer, of course, but I loved that Cam acquired chicks, and I learned about foxes, too. I got the murder weapon from a talk the Poison Lady (Luci Zahray) gave, and the book just came out in paperback.

And now we’re up to Mulch Ado About Murderbook five, where Cam’s peripatetic parents come to visit. Both of them are immersed in a good deal of trouble, and Cam gets to know them more intimately. Over the course of the series Cam has grown to know herself better, too. This nerdy introvert, a former software engineer, had no idea when she acquired the farm that growing and selling food would involve hanging out with people, not just vegetables. What blossomed in her is a realization that she likes it.

The story takes place right now, so the series has come around the full cycle of the farming year. I decided to celebrate by throwing a fifth birthday party on June 1!

LOCAl Foods birthday party

Come on over to the Facebook event page between 6:30 and 9:30 PM eastern time. Twelve authors, including many of the Wickeds, are going to pop in every fifteen minutes and each will have a giveaway to a commenter during that period. I have a slew of items I’ll give away, too.

prizes

And the grand prize is a signed set of all five books in hardcover. We’ll have virtual cake – carrot, of course – and bubbly, too.

But for today, let’s celebrate Mulched‘s release by me giving away one of my author aprons to a commenter here!