For the Love of Reading

By Sherry — Home from a chilly Northern Florida to a freezing Northern Virginia

I have a lot of things to thank my mom for, but probably none more than my love of books. We had lots of books in our house. We made weekly trips to the library from the time I was really little. Then the bookmobile started coming to a park an easy walk from our house once a week.

Mom would read a chapter of a Bobbsey Twin book to my sister and I every night. But she had a devious plan which was to get us to read on our own. I was a bit more of a reluctant reader than my sister. The plan worked because who could stand to wait until the next night to find out what was going to happen next.

There was a large collection of Bobbsey Twin and Nancy Drew books in our house. When there was a book fair at school we were each allowed to pick a few books. Oh, the joy! My second grade teacher wasn’t the best so I fell behind with my reading compared to my peers. Thankfully, I had a third grade teacher who noticed. She took to giving me extra books to take home to read out loud to my mom. And my mom always made time for me to do that. Soon I was back on track and have been a voracious reader ever since.

My dad loved to read too and as we grew up we were always trading around mysteries and thrillers. I remember us all reading the Deadly Sins series by Lawrence Sanders. And books by Sidney Sheldon. There’s an image in one of them I still can’t get out of my head.

My mom is a big fan of cozy mysteries and an avid reader of our blog. She’s introduced me to as many authors and series as I have to her. Years ago it was Lillian Jackson Braun and Dorothy Gilman, more recently Joann Fluke and Diane Mott Davidson. I’ve, of course, introduced the books by all the Wickeds and so many other friends. (A signed book makes a great gift!)

It’s something we will always share.

Readers: Who instilled a love of reading in you?


Cover Reveal — Guest Debra Sennefelder

We are delight to welcome back Debra Sennefelder and share the cover of her debut book The Uninvited Corpse! It’s available for pre-order here. It comes out March 27, 2018 from Kensington Publishing.

Thank you Wicked Cozy Authors for inviting me to reveal the cover of my debut novel, The Uninvited Corpse. I’m beyond thrilled to here today and I’m so excited to have the cover my book. It’s truly a dream come true.

Here is the back cover copy for  the first book in the Food Blogger Mystery series: Leaving behind a failed career as a magazine editor and an embarrassing stint on a reality baking show, newly divorced lifestyle entrepreneur Hope Early thought things were finally on the upswing–until she comes face-to-face with a murderer . . .

Hope’s schedule is already jam packed with recipe testing and shameless plugs for her food blog as she rushes off to attend a spring garden tour in the charming town of Jefferson, Connecticut. Unfortunately, it isn’t the perfectly arranged potted plants that grab her attention–it’s the bloody body of reviled real estate agent Peaches McCoy . . .

One of the tour guests committed murder, and all eyes are on Hope’s younger sister, Claire Dixon–who, at best, saw Peaches as a professional rival. And suspicions really heat up when another murder occurs the following night. Now, with two messy murders shaking Jefferson and all evidence pointing to Claire, Hope must set aside her burgeoning brand to prove her sister’s innocence. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer intent on making sure her life goes permanently out of style . . .

I had a blast writing The Uninvited Corpse. For as long as I can remember I always wanted to be an author. I had visions of spending my days writing scenes, chapters and hitting bestseller lists. Silly childhood dreams, right? I discovered mysteries beyond Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, cozies in particular when I found the Miss Marple books. I was hooked.

Fast forward a few more years and I was browsing in the local bookstore of my new hometown after I married and I found the Faith Fairchild mystery series by Katherine Hall Page. Once I read The Body in The Belfry I knew what I wanted to write. Then I discovered Valerie Wolzien, Diane Mott Davidson, Claudia Bishop and so many other wonderful writers. Then life happened and I stepped away from fiction writing. I eventually started a food blog, The Cookbook Diva. In that space I was in control of everything – content, schedule, promotion. No one was editing me. No one was rejecting my work. I loved it. I enjoyed sharing my recipes, I enjoyed the blogger community and I really enjoyed spending time in my kitchen. But over time I felt that tug of something that was missing. What was missing was fiction writing. When I really thought about it I couldn’t see myself in ten years from then still writing a food blog but I could see myself as an author.

One weekend I decided to pull out my idea file (writers usually have thick folders of ideas for books) and I started thinking up plots and characters. I slowly got back into the writing community, found my critique partner, mystery author Ellie Ashe, and set forth to write a novel. I knew my amateur sleuth would be involved with food somehow. I considered several options and the one that seemed the best fit was food blogger. I had experience with that world and it was something different for the cozy world. Once I was well into the first draft of The Uninvited Corpse I made the decision to shut down my food blog and focus entirely on fiction writing. I’m so glad I did because I’m exactly where I should be writing novels.

Thank you for sharing my cover reveal with me today!

Readers: What is your favorite thing about culinary mysteries? Or what is your favorite thing about finding a new series?



Wicked Wednesday: When Did You Decide on A Career in Crime?

WW Life of CrimeOn Wednesdays the Wickeds all weigh in on a specific topic. Today’s question: when did you decide to write crime fiction instead of another genre?

Jessie: I’m not sure it was a conscious decision. I love the structure of mysteries and the way they both reveal and conceal as part of the experience. The first chapter book I ever read was The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore and have been an avid fan of the genre ever since. It seemed only natural to write what I have always loved.

Liz: I’ve been a “fan” of crime my entire life – or should I say obsessed with it? Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden were my staple reads as a kid. My grandfather was a detective, and though he tried to spare my young ears from gory details, I was fascinated by his work. And I always had an affinity for reading about serial killers and true crime. When I started writing, it made sense to explore the subject matter that most interested me.


Edith and part of her garlic crop, circa 1993

Edith: I grew up reading mysteries. About twenty-two years ago I was home with my sons running a small organic farm and teaching childbirth classes. I was reading all the cozy mysteries I could get my hands on: novels by Katherine Hall Page, Susan Wittig Albert, Diane Mott Davidson, and others. My younger son went off to kindergarten, and for the first time in eight years I had every morning to myself. My husband at the time said, “You like reading mysteries so much, why don’t you write one?” Doh! Light bulb moment. He probably thought I’d actually make some money at it almost immediately. Wasn’t that a sweet and oh-so foolish idea? But hey, I dove in and have never looked back.

Barb: Thanks to my mother, I happened to be in possession of the first book I ever wrote.LightningIt’s about a boy named Billy, who wants a horse named Lightning. It’s really more a tale of longing than a mystery, thought there is one mysterious part where Billy’s father goes off in search of Lightning.

At first, Billy’s mother is bereft.

Lightning-1But then, immediately when you turn the page, she is so over it.

Lightning-2I was aware when I was little the grownups in my life found this passage hilarious, but I was much older before I understood why.

Anyway, Billy’s father makes it back.

Lightning-3Note that they all live. They don’t live happily ever after. Even as a child I had a horror of over-promising.

Lightning-4It took quite a while to get from Lightning to my life in crime, but I’m glad I did.

IMG_4945Sherry: I love your story, Barb. Because my parents were big mystery and thriller readers, I grew up reading them so writing them was natural. Like Jessie, I started with the Bobbsey Twins. Mom would read a chapter a night knowing that my sister and I would want to read more. I spotted these at a thrift shop last spring.

Julie: Years ago I took a class at Grub Street. I was writing a very boring story, trying to figure out how to solve that issue. During breaks and before class I would talk to one of the other writers, and we’d talk about what we were reading. I had just discovered Elizabeth George, and was raving about her books. One week I was lamenting the lace of narrative arc in my story. In other words, nothing happened. She said to me “I notice whenever you talk about books, your eyes light up when you are talking about mysteries. Why don’t you turn it into a mystery?” Sure enough, I killed someone off and the story got a lot more interesting. I read Nancy Drew as a kid, devoured Agatha Christie during my teenage years, and have always enjoyed the genre. Writing mysteries made me a lot happier than other writing I’d done. I’m just sorry it took me so long to figure that out!

Fellow writers, when did you decide to write mystery fiction? Readers, when did you decide that was the genre for you?

No Reservations about Food and Mysteries

Posted by Barbara Ross, working on her big front porch overlooking the harbor in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, on about the most beautiful Monday ever

Hi All–The Wickeds’ friend and mentor Lucy Burdette has guested before. (You can read the prior interviews here and here.) Today, we’re honored to have her on the actual release day for her latest Key West Food Critic Mystery–Fatal Reservations. I love this series!

Take it away, Lucy.

Fatal ReservationsLUCY BURDETTE: I was asked to participate on an alumni panel a few weeks ago that asked this question: Is America food-obsessed? Looking at the world of mystery readers and writers, I’d say a definite yes. When I first began writing the Key West mysteries, I knew that I was joining a long tradition of cozy foodie mysteries. I’d been a fan of Diane Mott Davidson’s popular series about an amateur sleuth/caterer in Boulder CO since her first book was published. And since then, the field has mushroomed with wonderful foodie novels, including of course, several Wicked Cozy writers.

But I was feeling my way with food in books. My first series character (Cassie in the golf lovers mysteries) was no foodie—her best and only recipe was hot dog casserole. Rebecca Butterman in the advice column series was an excellent cook, though far from a professional chef. But her home-cooked meals comforted friends in trouble, calmed her own nerves, and served to distract people while she grilled them (sorry!) for information. My third character, Hayley Snow, is a food critic as well as a good cook. In other words, food is a huge part of her life, as well as her livelihood.

Are readers buying these books for the recipes? I don’t think so. (Some of the fans I hear from don’t cook at all.) My theory? They are drawn to the community and the sense of connection that they find in foodie mysteries. As I did while reading about Diane Mott Davidson’s caterer, they like to imagine sitting in the characters’ kitchens and eating their food. And that’s the kind of character I’ve tried to write—a woman who loves food, but loves her family and friends even more. When someone’s in trouble, like her tarot-card-reading pal Lorenzo in FATAL RESERVATIONS, Hayley’s first instinct is to feed them. This doesn’t always solve the problem, but her friends always know she cares. Here’s an example of how she thinks, as she’s deciding to make nocciolato fudge for her beleaguered pal:

fudgeandcookiesIt was the kind of treat that read: “You deserve this lump of sweetness. We love you. We’re so, so, so sorry.” Half frozen oatmeal raisin cookies simply couldn’t do the same job. They couldn’t shoulder the same emotional load as organic hazelnut fudge sprinkled with pink sea salt.

Readers, are you a fan of foodie fiction? Whose kitchen table would you like a seat at?

About FATAL RESERVATIONS: In the sixth Key West Food Critic mystery, Hayley Snow’s beat is reviewing restaurants for Key Zest magazine. But she sets aside her knife and fork when a dear friend is accused of murder…

Hayley Snow looks forward to reviewing For Goodness’ Sake, a new floating restaurant that promises a fresh take on Japanese delicacies like flambeed grouper with locally sourced seaweed. But nearby land-based restaurateurs would rather see their buoyant competition sink. Sent to a City Commission meeting to cover the controversy, Hayley witnesses another uproar. The quirky performers of the daily Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square are struggling to hold onto their performance space. And this fight has renewed old rivalries between Hayley’s Tarot-card reading friend Lorenzo and a flaming-fork-juggling nemesis, Bart Frontgate. Then Frontgate is found murdered. If Lorenzo could read his own cards, he might draw The Hanged Man. He can only hope that Hayley draws Justice as she tries to clear him of murder.

Fatal Reservations is on sale today. You can buy it wherever books are sold.

picketfenceauthorsmallAbout the author: Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib) is the author of 14 mysteries, including FATAL RESERVATIONS, the latest in the Key West series featuring food critic Hayley Snow. Her books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She’s a past president of Sisters in Crime. Lucy blogs about food and mysteries at Mystery Lovers Kitchen ( and Jungle Red Writers ( You can also find her on Facebook (, Twitter (, Instagram ( and Pinterest (

Recipe for Hayley’s fudge:

Recipe for Cassie’s Hot Dog Casserole:

Wicked Wednesday: Lessons from Cozies

On Wicked Wednesdays, we all chime in on a topic. This week, what cozy series have you learned from? What has made that enjoyable?

Julie: Two series come to mind. First of all, Elizabeth Peters Amelia Peabody series. It is about Egyptologists at the turn of the last series. Really fun, funny, and I felt like I was learning about the scientific methods of the time. And then, when I went to Egypt, I brought Barbara Mertz‘s book Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphics. Interesting, since Barbara Mertz and Elizabeth Peters were one and the same person.

The other series is Kate Carlisle’s Bibliophile series. I love learning about book binding, and the frame she has put around the series.

Jessie: I know I’ve mentioned her before but I love all the series by Charlotte MacLeod. Her books are lessons in silly fun that is balanced by well developed, meaningful relationships between people. Her characters are funny but they way she treats them celebrates who they are and the lives they live in a way that shows the regard she has for them.

bouillon_paper_smallEdith: Many years ago, when I realized I wanted to write a mystery novel, I was reading Katherine Hall Page‘s series, featuring caterer Faith Fairchild in a fictional Massachusetts town; Susan Wittig Albert‘s China Bayles herb shop series, set in Texas; and Diane Mott Davidson‘s Goldy Bear Catering Mystery Series. I drew lessons about writing a foodie cozy from all of these and kept them in the back of my mind, I guess. They all feature a WholeEnchiladafemale protagonist with a quirky female buddy. The amateur sleuth is courageous, funny, and an entrepreneur, and either at the start or later in the series they all have children at home, which I did at the time (and still do, blessedly, just not at home!). Who knows, my protagonists Cam or Lauren might acquire a child or two one of the these days!

Sherry: I came across Clare O’Donohue’s Someday Quilts Mystery Series because she was one of the authors on a panel I moderated at Malice. In the Double Wedding Ring, the characters, plot, and setting all were fully developed and felt real. I have several old quilts that my grandmother made. One of them is a double wedding ring. It was interesting to read about modern day quilt and pattern making while reading a great mystery.

billionaireblendBarb: I always mention Cleo Coyle’s Coffee House Mysteries. I love the way she turns Greenwich Village and the community around the Village Blend Coffee House into perfect cozy setting. Her characters are diverse and interesting and the back story (and how it plays out in the present) is fabulous.

I also learned a lot from three Maine-based series: Kaitlyn Dunnett’s Liss MacCrimmon Scottish Mysteries, Sarah Grave’s Home Repair is Homicide Series and Leslie Meier’s Lucy Stone Mysteries. At first I was a little intimidated to jump into their ranks, but now that I have I realize what an inspiration these books are.

Readers, your turn: What cozy series have you learned from? What has made that enjoyable?