Welcome, Devon Delaney and a Giveaway

by Barb, loving being back in Maine

Devon Delaney’s cozy, culinary mystery Expiration Date releases on April 24, (my anniversary!). I recently met Devon at the Kensington Cozy-con here in Portland and learned about her amazing success at a fascinating hobby–cooking contesting.

Devon is giving away a copy of Expiration Date to one lucky commenter below.

Take it away, Devon!

If someone had told me my life’s journey would lead me from teaching computer education and Lego Robotics to cooking contesting, then on to writing cozy murder mysteries I would have had a much easier time convincing my father the money he invested in my liberal arts college degree was money well spent. Admittedly, cooking contesting isn’t a degree offered in any schools I’m aware of, but the highly successful twenty years I’ve been involved in the hobby is an education in of itself.

Making the leap from competing in cook-off contests to authoring a cozy murder mystery series may not make sense to most, but to me it’s a perfect evolution of my beloved hobby. In the dictionary the definition of contest is battle, contend and compete. The cooking contests I compete in have taken me from coast to coast. At each venue I meet the most wonderful home cooks. But I never mistake my fellow competitor’s outward warmth as a weakness. Each wants to crush me and every other contestant to get that grand prize. Even though I have yet to encounter a murder at one of my cook-offs, my powers of observation have tuned in to a few salty scenarios when battles got heated. The notion of how far events could escalate occurred to me one day when a friend casually remarked, “I’d kill to be able to cook like you.” A series was born.

That being said, the main character in my series, Sherry, is a compilation of myself and other cooks I know. She is flawed. She finds herself in situations she doesn’t necessarily wish to be in. She makes the most out of the unusual talents she isn’t fully aware she possesses. I might have a more comedic, and probably inappropriate, approach to life’s serious moments than Sherry, but I have hopes she’ll loosen up as she realizes she can’t control every aspect of her life despite her efforts to do just that. Like me, she has her fingers in many pies. From canning her own produce to working at her family’s hooked rug store her day is a busy one, but her favorite pursuit remains battling in cook-offs showcasing her best recipe.

In the meantime, Sherry continues to cook and compete, flourishing with each victory. Her new and unintentional hobby as amateur sleuth lands her in some very precarious situations that only her experience in the contest kitchen could have prepared her for.

Devon’s Bio

I am a wife, mother of three, accomplished cooking contester and a recent empty nester. I taught computer education and Lego Robotics for over ten years prior to pursuing writing. Along the way I have been handsomely rewarded for my recipe innovation over the last twenty-plus years. Among the many prizes I have won are a full kitchen of major appliances, six-figure top cash prizes and four trips to Disney World. I have also won the grand prize in a national writing contest for my ‘foodie’ poem “Ode to Pork Passion.” Combining my beloved cooking contesting with my enthusiasm for writing was inevitable. My author website can be found at: www.devonpdelaney.com

Expiration Date, A Cook-Off Mystery

Sherry Frazzelle lives a busy life in her quaint coastal Connecticut town. Her passion is competitive cooking and she has the trophies to prove how serious she is when she cooks for a prize. When her prepared pork tenderloin dish is the last food a contest judge tastes before he expires, she must put aside her spatula long enough to clear her good name and find the killer before he strikes again. The deeper her involvement in the investigation, the higher the heat soars in the contest kitchen. Will the competition become so unsavory, she isn’t able to get herself off the chopping block?

Readers: Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Expiration Date. Did you know competitive cooking was a thing? (I mean aside from Top Chef and the Food Network.) Would you like to try it? Doesn’t the world of cooking contesting sound like ripe ground for a cozy mystery series? Or just say “hi” for a chance to win.

Guest Post- Tina Kashian!

 

Breaking News! The winner of Tina’s giveaway is Kay Garrett! Kay please contact Tina at tina@kashian.com to receive your book!

Jessie: In New Hampshire, hunkered down under a foot of fresh snow!

I had the very great pleasure of meeting the sparkling and lovely Tina Kashian last year at the Sisters in Crime Breakfast at the Malice Domestic conference. We began chatting, as one always does when surrounded by other mystery enthusiasts, and during the course of conversation we realized we shared a publisher. So, of course, I asked her to visit here at the Wickeds as soon as her book was out. The time has come so I hope you will join me in welcoming her here today! 

I love to cook, but I wasn’t born a good cook. It’s a skill that I’ve practiced and grown to Hummus and Homicide - Final Coverenjoy. I also love all different types of cuisine—Mediterranean, Italian, Chinese, and a good American cheeseburger. My mother, on the other hand, was a talented cook. She could taste a dish, then replicate it without a recipe. My parents owned a restaurant for thirty years and food was an important part of our family. I’d often come home from school to the delicious aromas of simmering grape leaves, stuffed peppers and tomatoes, and shish kebab.

But I am more like my heroine in my debut cozy mystery, “Hummus and Homicide.” Lucy is the only person in her family who can’t cook. Her mother, Angela, is a chef, and her father, Raffi, grew up knowing how to grill the perfect shish kebab. Since returning home to Ocean Crest at the Jersey shore and her parent’s Mediterranean restaurant, Kebab Kitchen, Lucy is determined to learn how to prepare a meal. She’s receiving cooking lessons from her mother. We’ll see how it goes…

As for me, I have fond memories of watching my mother in the kitchen. I’d stand by her side with a pen and paper in hand and scribble detailed notes. She never used a recipe. I’d ask, “How much of that?” She’d say a handful or a pinch. It drove me nuts! Our handfuls were not the same. Years later, my mother passed away. When I try to prepare her dishes, they never seem to come out just like hers. Maybe it’s the memory I’m holding onto more than the taste of the food.

Tina Gabrielle Author PhotoBut I am writing down my recipes for my two young girls. No more handfuls or pinches of anything. If my girls decide to make a dish, then I’d like them to have a recipe to follow.

I’m excited about the release of “Hummus and Homicide.” I also had great fun coming up with the other titles—Stabbed in the Baklava (September 2018) and One Feta in the Grave (February 2019). All the titles are puns on food and reflect the light and funny feel of the cozy mysteries.

So, readers, what is your talent or favorite hobby? Did you have to work at it or was it natural? Please comment for a chance to win a copy of “Hummus and Homicide.” Ebook or print (U.S. only). Your choice!

Cover Reveal-Murder Flies the Coop!

GIVEAWAY WINNERS: Congratulations Sheryl Sens and Kara Leigh! You each won a copy of Murder in an English Village! Please email me at jessie@jessiecrockett.com with your mailing address so that I may post them off to you this week!

Jessie: In New Hampshire where my head is spinning from the rapid changes in temperature!

The writing life involves a lot of waiting. Waiting for ideas and characters to form in the mind. Waiting to hear from agents and editors. Waiting for reviews to come in. Waiting for the release date for a book.

But there are things that keep me from going stir crazy while I am doing all that waiting . I write the next book or research a new series. I have also learned to celebrate all the milestones along the way, which is what I am doing here today. I am absolutely delighted to tell you that the cover and back matter for my second Beryl and Edwina mystery, Murder Flies the Coop is available to share! I have loved working on this series and spending time with the two protagonists and have been chomping at the bit to post a cover reveal here on the Wickeds.

 

Here is the back cover copy:

One would hardly call them birds of a feather, but thrill-seeking American adventuress Beryl Helliwell and quietly reserved Brit Edwina Davenport do one thing very well together—solve murders . . .
 
Sharing lodging in the sleepy English village of Walmsley Parva has eased some of the financial strain on the two old school chums, but money is still tight in these lean years following the Great War. All of Beryl’s ex-husbands have proven reluctant to part with her alimony, which is most inconvenient.
 
So when the local vicar—and pigeon-racing club president—approaches them with a private inquiry opportunity, the ladies eagerly accept. There’s been a spot of bother: the treasurer has absconded with the club’s funds and several prized birds.
 
Beryl and Edwina hope to flush out the missing man by checking his boardinghouse and place of employment at the coal mine. But when they visit the man’s loft, they find their elusive quarry lying in white feathers and a pool of crimson blood, stabbed to death—the only witnesses cooing mournfully.
 
After a stiff gin fizz, the ladies resume their search for the missing funds and prized birds—and now a murderer. Beryl and Edwina aren’t shy about ruffling a few feathers as they home in on their suspects. But they had better find the killer fast, before their sleuthing career is cut short . . .

Murder Flies The Coop

Readers, I would love to know what you do to keep your spirits up while waiting for things in your lives. Writers, how do you deal with the long tail of publishing? I would love to celebrate my cover reveal by sending a copy of the first Beryl and Edwina Mystery, Murder in an English Village to two commenters who post today!

 

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. 

 

It Never Gets Old

Jane/Susannah/Sadie here, enjoying a cool breeze and a hot cup of coffee…

This week I’m ecstatic that my fifth novel, A KNIT BEFORE DYING, is now out into the world. You’d think I’d be less excited this time around, but nope! It’s just as fresh and new and amazing and scary as when FETA ATTRACTION released a couple of years ago. I can say, though, that I think this one is the best, most complicated mystery I’ve ever done. Shhhh! It’s my favorite among my book children, even though we’re not supposed to play favorites, right?

So to celebrate the new book and the approach of autumn, when soft yarnish things and cozy mysteries are exactly what we need to settle ourselves in for the months ahead, I’m giving away two copies of the first book in the series, YARNED AND DANGEROUS. 

Just leave a comment below, telling us either what book(s)you’re reading now (if you’re like me, you have several going at once), or tell me about your pets. Brownie points if you’re reading a book by a Wicked or a Wicked Accomplice, or you own or have owned a tuxedo cat, but neither thing is required, LOL! The giveaway closes at 11:59 p.m., EST, on August 31, 2017. Good luck, and big hugs to all you wonderful writers and readers!

 

While the cats are away…

EDITED TO ADD: The winners of the two advance reader copies are ASHLEY CATE and TOMEKA. Please contact me through my website, http://www.sadiehartwell.com and let me know where to send your books. Thanks, everyone, for playing along!

Jane/Sadie/Susannah here, holding down the fort while the other Wickeds and Accomplices are at Malice Domestic…

This will be my second year in a row missing the cozy-fest known as Malice Domestic. Last year, I was in St. Louis at a robotics competition with my son. And this year, because I started a new job, my vacation time was limited. But you can bet I’ll be cheering on all the Wickeds in the quest for the elusive Agatha Award!

So while everyone else is gone, why don’t we have some fun? I just got a box of advance reader copies of A KNIT BEFORE DYING, book 2 of the Tangled Web Mysteries that will be releasing officially on August 29. And I think today would be a pretty good day to give a couple away, don’t you?

Here’s the blurb:

A new business might add some much-needed charm to downtown Dorset Falls—and draw tourists to Josie’s yarn shop. But when someone gets murdered, a close-knit community could come undone . . .

Shop owner Josie Blair is finally settling into the pace of living in Dorset Falls, Connecticut. Between running Miss Marple Knits, jumpstarting a blog, and handcrafting items with the help of her knitting pals, Josie’s too preoccupied to worry about her past in New York. And thanks to Lyndon and Harry, the owners of the brand-new antique shop next door, she has another project in her midst—repurposing a box of vintage crocheted doilies adorned with the most curious needlework . . .

But before Josie can formally welcome her neighbors, she discovers Lyndon on the floor of his shop stabbed to death by a rusty old pair of sheep shears. Police have pinned Harry as the killer, but Josie isn’t so sure. Now, she’s lacing up for another homicide investigation—and no eyelet or stitch can go unexamined, lest she herself becomes ensnared in the criminal’s deadly design . . .

Leave a comment below, telling me what your favorite thing to do is when you have a free morning or afternoon all to yourself, and I’ll choose two winners randomly. Good luck!

Edited to add: You must comment by 11:59 p.m. today, April 27, to be eligible to win. Winners will be posted tomorrow, so check back.