Wicked Wednesday: I Know What You Bid Last Summer

News Flash – Marla B wins Leslie Karst’s new book! Leslie will be contacting you, Marla.

It’s another Happy Book Release Wicked Wednesday! We’re so happy Sherry’s fifth Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery came out yesterday. Here’s the blurb for I Know What You Bid Last Summer:

When it comes to running a successful garage sale, Sarah Winston believes in doing her homework. She also believes in giving back. But when she agrees to manage an athletic equipment swap, she doesn’t bargain on an uncharitable killer. The day of the event, the school superintendent is found dead in the gymnasium. Suddenly the murder suspects are the school board members—including the husband of a very difficult client who’s hired Sarah to run a high-end sale and demands she do her bidding. In between tagging and haggling, Sarah studies the clues to see who wanted to teach the superintendent a lesson. But as she closes in on the truth, the killer intends to give her a crash course on minding her own business . . .

In I Know What You Bid Last Summer, Sarah’s sleuthing takes her to a bowling alley. The bowling alley has candlepin lanes along with the more common ten pin bowling. And much to Sarah’s dismay, it is also Cosmic bowling night with strobe lights, loud music, and a disco ball. Wickeds, have you ever bowled? Candlepin? Ten pin? Or, gulp, Cosmic?

Edith: I have bowled a few times. Big balls in California in high school, candlepin up here on the North Shore. I am NOT good at ball sports. Too much enthusiasm, too little aim and control. So we won’t talk scores, not that I remember them. And these days the lights and sound of Cosmic anything? No thank you! That said, I can’t wait to read about Sarah’s next adventure.

Barb: Congratulations, Sherry! I can’t wait to read I Know What You Bid Last Summer. I have bowled when the opportunity presented, or more accurately when it couldn’t be avoided. I don’t know why I’m reluctant. I’ve enjoyed it whenever I’ve done it. There was a bowling alley with both ten pin and candle pins one town over from us when my kids were growing up. Lots of fun birthday parties for their friends there. Happy memories.

Jessie: Congratulations, Sherry on another release! I am not really an enthusiastic  bowler. Maybe it is because the shoes don’t have heels… I have done it as a kid for birthday parties and that sort of thing. When my own children were small we went on occasion. One of my kids bowled a great game once when he was very small by tossing the ball down the lane with glee and landing on his backside each turn. It was a delight to watch!

Julie: Huge congratulations Sherry! I can’t wait to read the book! I have bowled. I am not good at the big balls, but I used to be pretty good at candlepin. I really enjoy the social aspects of bowling, and have a few friends on leagues. If I had the time, I might be tempted. And yes, I’ve bowled in neon alleys, and with rock and roll. Is that cosmic?

Sherry: Thanks everyone! I have never been candlepin bowling. The first time I went bowling when I was about ten I dropped the ball, it rolled down the middle, and I got my first strike! I did a bowling league one year with the Spouses Club and my team took first place. I practiced a lot so I didn’t let down the general’s wife who was an ace bowler!

Readers: Bowling experiences? Thumbs up or down on the sport?

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.






Wicked Wednesday: Biscuits and Slashed Browns

BiscuitsToday we are celebrating Maddie Day’s Biscuits and Slashed Browns release! A reminder about the book:

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?

In honor of the newest Robbie Jordan adventure, let’s talk about breakfast, Wickeds. What is your favorite “eating out” breakfast?

Jessie: I don’t have a specific favorite place for breakfast. What I do favor is breakfast in beautiful hotels. I love to sleep in and then head down to a restaurant in the hotel about an hour before they stop serving. I like to ask the waitstaff for a carafe of coffee and then let them know they needn’t worry about me any further. I sit with a notebook and a stack of postcards and nibble and people watch. It is a bit of a travel ritual for me. I’ve done it in Orlando, Vegas, San Francisco, NY, China, Iceland, Brazil, and in the U.K.

Sherry: Jessie, that sounds like a fabulous way to spend a morning. Congratulations on the new book, Edith. I love to order something more complicate than we would make at home. Sigh, with my cooking skills that’s almost anything. It’s a great time to try something new, especially regional dishes. I have to say I tried fried toast in England and it wasn’t my favorite!

Barb: I love diners. For any meal, really, but especially for breakfast. My two favorites in Portland are Becky’s and the Miss Portland. Favorite orders: Omelet with cheese, ham and onions, or blueberry pancakes with syrup and bacon. I’m making myself hungry just typing this.

Liz: I love diners too! And I especially love when I find a diner that has food I can eat 🙂 Omelets are usually my go-to, with mushrooms and spinach, and home fries. And coffee. Lots of coffee!

Julie: I love breakfast, and could happily eat it for every meal. I am an Eggs Benedict fan. I usually order it, since I never make hollandaise sauce at home. Lately, the S&S (a favorite local spot) has expanded on my go-to with Eggs Oscar. Poached eggs on potato pancakes, topped with asparagus and crabmeat. And, of course, the sauce. So. Good. That said, I’m also a pancake fan, and if I’m in a diner I always ask about the special.

Edith: Thanks for helping me celebrate, Wickeds! For breakfast out, I often order crispy  hash browns, which are so hard to make at home, with a fried egg. Like Julie, though, I don’t make hollandaise sauce at home, and I once had a California Benedict with avocado to die for.

Readers, help us celebrate this book birthday by sharing your favorite breakfast!

Wicked Wednesday: Our 2018 Books!

Wicked Wednesday!We Wickeds were busy in 2017, and 2018 will be proof of that. Friends, what books under which names will be released when?

Liz: Cate Conte’s second Cat Cafe Mystery, Purrder, She Wrote, will be out next August. The 7th Pawsitively Organic Mystery, Murder, She Meowed, will be out next fall/winter sometime – no pub date yet!

Sherry: I Know What You Bid Last Summer the fifth Sarah Winston Garage Sale mystery releases on February 27th! And I think The Gun Also Rises (book six) will come out at the end of December. Like Liz, I’m waiting to hear for sure.

Barb: Yule Log Murder, the holiday novella collection by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and me comes out October 30, 2018. Steamed Open, the seventh Maine Clambake Mystery, comes out December 25, 2018.

Edith: Biscuits and Slashed Browns, Country Store Mystery #4, comes out in six days (written as Maddie Day)! The third Quaker Midwife Mystery, Turning the Tide, releases on April 8, followed shortly by my short story, “A Divination of Death” in Mystery Most Geographical, the Malice Domestic anthology which releases at Malice at the end of April. Mulch Ado About Murder, Local Foods Mystery #5, comes out in paperback June 26. And Death Over Easy, Country Store Mystery #5 (also written as Maddie Day), will be out at the end of July. Yes, it’s a busy year for me.

Jessie: I am looking forward to the release of the paperback version of Murder in an English Village in August. The second Beryl and Edwina Mystery, Murder Flies the Coop, launches a month later, at the end of September. And, I have plans to finally make the second Granite State Mystery, Body of Water, available. Look for it between June and August!

Julie: In 2018 I will have one book coming out–the next in my Theater Cop series, With A Kiss I Die. It will come out on September 8.  Can’t wait for you all to read Sully’s next adventure!

Writer friends, tell us about your 2018 books! Reader friends, any 2018 titles you’re particularly looking forward to?

Ten Years Later

Released January 9th, 2018

2018 marks the tenth anniversary of the publication of my first book. Not the first book I wrote—there are a few in a drawer (or on a disk) that may never see the light of day. Many a Twist, the sixth book in the County Cork Mystery series, has one foot in the “before” and one in the “now.” One of the first books I ever completed, in 2001, became the core of the series, which first appeared in print in 2013. It was the place—a small village in West Cork—that survived many revisions, while characters and story lines changed over the years. Until I finally got it right.

Mystery writers are great people. They share information about writing and publishing, they congratulate you on your successes, they commiserate about your rejections (because they’ve had their fair share too, even the Big Names), and they support you all the way. Those of us who write cozies (like the Wickeds) are deceptive: we are generally friendly, pleasant, not-young women, but in our books we kill people. Regularly. (To the best of my knowledge, none of us has ever killed someone in the real world.)

But our books are not about killing, they’re about solving the killing and finding the killer and bringing him (or her) to justice. That’s a good thing. Our characters do what they believe is right, sometimes putting themselves at risk. And our readers know they will prevail in the end.

Most of us set our series in small towns, or small communities within larger towns—places where people know each other and look out for each other. Since the first time I saw it, West Cork has always seemed to be a prime example of that: people remember your family, going back three or four generations, maybe a century. And not just names and places, but personal details. One person in the area told me recently, looking at me, “The Connollys were always tall.” (If you haven’t met me, I’m close to six feet tall if I wear shoes.) Long memories!

I wanted to play off that in Many a Twist, where some of those long memories help to solve the death. But at the same time, there are secrets from the past that reach into the present, and no one had put those pieces together until the recent death occurred.

Old and new, side by side. Three-thousand-year-old stone circles next to wind turbines among the old hedgerows. It can be unsettling. But it’s also a very welcoming place, especially if you’re a Connolly and can point and say, “yes, my grandfather was born just over the hill, and his parents were married in the ruined church over there.”

Many a Twist answers a number of questions that have been winding through the earlier books in the series—you can’t have readers demanding, “stop hinting and tell us what really happened!” Characters should grow and explore new things—but that doesn’t mean they’re going anywhere but forward. In the County Cork series they’ll all be back (along with some new faces), and I want to see what they’ll be doing next. I hope you readers do too!

The book is available at all the usual places!

Guest Victoria Thompson and Giveaway!

Jessie: In New Hampshire where the leaves have mostly rattled off the trees and the winter birds have returned to the feeders.

Today it is my  very great pleasure to welcome Victoria Thompson to the blog! I met Victoria several years ago at Malice Domestic. She is as charming and personable in life as she is in her writing.

 Victoria Thompson is the author of the bestselling Gaslight Mystery Series. Her new book, City of Lies, is the first in her new Counterfeit Lady Series, which releases on November 7. To celebrate, she’ll give away a signed hardcover copy to one commenter here today (US entries only).

ThompsonVictoria-CityofliesLooking for Inspiration…

I’m very excited that City of Lies will finally be released into the wild! I’d been wanting to write a second historical mystery series for a long time, and I’d been doing a lot of research on the early twentieth century, hoping for inspiration. During that process, I learned a lot about the Women’s Suffrage Movement, and I realized that when my own mother was born, women didn’t have the right to vote in America! It was that recent! I also learned that many women endured beatings and imprisonment to earn females the right to vote. I’d never heard about this in history class, and no other women I spoke with had either. I wanted to tell this story, but how could I make it more interesting than a dry history lesson? That’s when I decided to add a less than honest heroine, a dashing hero, and a dastardly villain.

Every woman wears a mask…

Every woman has, at one time or another, hidden who she really is in order to get along or get ahead. Elizabeth Miles has made a career of it, however. As a con artist, her job is cheating rich and greedy men, but when she cheats the wrong man, she ends up running for her life.

Elizabeth finds temporary safety by getting herself arrested with the Suffragists who have been demonstrating outside the White House for months. This gets her away from Thornton for the moment, but she and the other women are sentenced to three months of hard labor at a workhouse were they are starved and abused. Much to her own surprise, Elizabeth bonds with these women and learns to respect them while they are imprisoned, and she emerges a new person.

Out of the frying pan, into the fire…

Elizabeth may feel like a new person, but Oscar Thornton still wants to kill her. How can she escape him and still keep her secrets? Because her new friends would lose all respect for her if they knew who she really was, and the man she has come to love can’t even bring himself to tell a lie. How can she trick them into helping her pull off a con that will save her life without losing everything she has learned to value?

The more things change, the more they stay the same…

Elizabeth’s experiences in City of Lies are based on real historical events that happened in November of 1917, exactly 100 years to the month when the book is being published! In 1917, society was changing, and women were fighting to be taken seriously, to be valued, and to have a seat at the table. A hundred years later, women are still fighting for the very same things. Elizabeth lived in exciting times and so do we. I hope you enjoy reading about her adventures, which are not so very different from our own.



Edgar® and Agatha Nominated author Victoria Thompson writes the Gaslight Mystery Victoria Thompson photoSeries, set in turn-of-the-century New York City and featuring midwife Sarah Brandt. Her latest, Murder in the Bowery, was a May 2017 release. City of Lies is the first book in her new Counterfeit Lady series, a November 2017 release from Berkley. She also contributed to the award winning writing textbook Many Genres/One Craft. Victoria teaches in the Seton Hill University master’s program in writing popular fiction. She lives in Illinois with her husband and a very spoiled little dog.

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.