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.

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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?

Wicked Wednesday: Malice Edition

NEWS FLASH: Reine Harrington Carter won The Immaculate! Marian will be contacting you, Reine. Congratulations!

The Wickeds did Malice last weekend. Malice Domestic is an annual fan convention in Bethesda, Maryland. We’ve all been several times, but haven’t all been there together for a couple of years. Panels, banquets, dinners, meetings, catching up with friends and laughs, lots of laughs. You’ll  be hearing a lot about the weekend in the next few weeks, but for this Wicked Wednesday, here’s the question. What is your favorite Malice Memory of 2016?

Edith: Can I have three? I got to listen to two of my very favorite authors be interviewed as honorees and later get my picture with each. Katherine Hall Page was the Lifetime Achievement awardee – and she’s one of the reasons I write the kind of mysteries I do. Victoria Thompson was this year’s Guest of Honor – and she also writes about a historical midwife solving crimes. And then the great Margaret Maron moderated Julie’s Best First Novel panel, the panel she has moderated every year – and brought us all to tears with her farewell ending remarks, because she is retiring from the business. Three awesome, talented, productive women. Truly a Malice to remember.

IMG_8871Sherry: I have to share three also. Getting to see people I only see at conferences and catching up with them is first! I’m going to have Leslie Budewitz withdrawals since we’ve been at five conferences together in the last six months. Second, I signed next to the amazing Charlaine Harris — what a thrill and she is lovely! And third, I’m still new enough at this author thing that when someone asks me to sign a book I want to leap up and hug them.

Liz: Every moment at Malice is a fabulous memory. Just being able to be on a panel and sign books that people have bought is a fabulous feeling. Seeing old friends and meeting new ones is the best part of the weekend, and of course enjoying two of the Wickeds being nominated was fabulous! And agree with Edith – Julie’s panel moderated by Margaret Maron was unforgettable.

 

dinner with friends

Pre Malice Dinner: Wickeds, Accomplices, Friends

Jessie: I loved the interviews with both Victoria Thompson and with Hank Phillippi Ryan. It was such a pleasure to hear about their careers and the plans they have for the future.  I also love being surrounded by all the positive energy that always fills the conference.

Barb: Seeing friends, especially the people I only see once a year is a definite. Malice-Go-Round was a blast. I remember what a deer-in-the-headlights I was the first time I did it. Also, so wonderful, the third New Author Breakfast including a Wicked in a row–Liz, then Sherry, then Julie. So cool!

Julie: Being nominated for Best First Novel was wonderful. I can remember the first time I went to Malice, and walked in the hotel alone, seeing groups of friends (authors I knew and admired) sitting together, laughing and talking. I wasn’t jealous as much as I could never imagine sitting on one of those couches, laughing. Yet, here I am, living my dream, seeing friends, meeting new ones.

 

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Dead in Good Company

Edith north of Boston, try to enjoy the heck out of the end of summer.

About two years ago a member of Sisters in Crime New England posted a call for DeadinGoodCompany-Front_sm_2submissions. Leslie Wheeler said somebody was soliciting essays for a collection with a theme of Mount Auburn Cemetery. The collection was to be titled Dead in Good Company, which was the title of the essay written by Kate Flora, one of the goddesses of the New England chapter.

I used to spend a lot of time in Mount Auburn. Birdwatching. Strolling with a beau. Exploring gravestones. Stopping in on my bicycle commute from Cambridge to Waltham and back. I also attended a memorial service there for  one of my father’s cousins, who died way too young at age seventy a few years ago.

John Garp Harrison, on the other side of the lens.

John Garp Harrison, on the other side of the lens.

Mt. Auburn, on the Cambridge/Watertown line, is a really special place for me, and I’d experienced a number of firsts there. What did I have to lose by writing up a non-fiction, non-mystery piece? So I submitted my essay, “My First Time,” which was accepted by the organizer and co-editor, John Harrison. I polished the piece a bit, with John’s suggestions, and began to wait.

It took a long time for John and his co-editor, Kim Nagy, to get the book out, but it was worth the wait. The cover is gorgeous and and the wildlife photography within is stunning. The list of contributors is also impressive, including friends like Hank Phillippi Ryan, Ray Daniel, Sandra Lee, Katherine Hall Page, and Leslie, of course, as

Leslie Wheeler and me, with our copies of the boo

Leslie Wheeler and me, with our copies of the book (and am I short, or what?)

well as former mayor Ray Flynn, the noted lawyer Alan Dershowitz, and many more.

The book is out now, and yesterday the editors, the authors, their families and friends, the cemetery folks, and all the spirits who inhabit Mount Auburn gathered in the Bigelow Chapel to celebrate the book’s release. The two editors spoke, as well as local mystery authors Bill Martin and Gary Goshgarian (aka Gary Braver), Steve Barnett, president of the cemetery, and radio and TV personality Upton Bell. Steve elaborated on the history of the cemetery – how it inspired others to create parks and green places of refuge – and John

Mt. Auburn Prez Steve Barnett introduces the event.

Mt. Auburn Prez Steve Barnett introduces the event.

Harrison touched on its importance also as a refuge for animals, birds, and plants.

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Bookseller Dick Haley, expertly managing the signing

The authors signed like mad, everybody ate and drank, and I had a chance to stroll the lovely grounds afterwards. (I was sorry not to see Hank, Kate, Katherine, or Ray there, but hey, it’s summer.)

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An enormous sugar maple. Every tree is labeled.

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Sisters in Crime New England author Susan Cory was in the audience.

2015-08-09 14.15.58

Tons ‘o food!

Bill Martin and Gary Braver

Bill Martin and Gary Braver

SandraBill

Authors Sandra Lee and Bill Martin

UptonJohn

Upton Bell and John Harrison

Readers: Have you been to Mt. Auburn cemetery?  What’s your beautiful place that brings you peace? And if you write fiction, do you ever dabble in non-fiction?

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?

Stick with the Wickeds Contest!

We are so excited that this year all of the Wickeds will be able to attend the

Malice 2013, with Liz on a stick.

Malice 2013, with Liz on a stick.

Malice Domestic Conference in Bethesda, MD. At many conferences one of us is missing and we console ourselves by bringing her along on a stick.

IMG_2538

Liz and Edith with a grand dame of New England cozy mystery, Katherine Hall Page, and Sherry on a stick at Bouchercon 2013.

To celebrate 100% attendance we have decided to run a contest to take one reader along with us — on a stick. Maybe you’d like to have as much fun as Barb Goffman did at Crime Bake last November.

If so,  just leave a comment on anything we post on the blog between Friday, April 18 (today) and Tuesday, April 22. We will announce the randomly selected winner on Wednesday, April 23.

Barb starts the morning with a cup of coffee.

Barb starts the morning with a cup of coffee.

All we will need from the winner is their photo emailed to us by Saturday, April 26 along with a list of favorite authors attending Malice. We will introduce your stick figure self to as many of them as possible and ask for them to autograph your back.

But you can’t win if you don’t enter so why don’t you leave a comment below telling us which famous author you’d love to meet?

 

Wicked Good Reads: Crime Bake Authors

We’re all headed to the New England Crime Bake tomorrow. Here are some of the books we’re planning to read by authors attending the conference. Tomorrow we’ll try to post live, and will do a report on Monday. Stay tuned!evil-days-new-lg

Edith: I plan to acquire, have signed, and read as soon as possible both Jessie’s Drizzled With Death, since I’m late on that one, and Julia Spencer-Fleming’s new Through The Evil Days. I love her series and can’t wait to dive in.

Liz: Me too, Edith! I finished Drizzled With Death on a recent business trip and loved it – now I just need Jessie’s signature. Love Julia Spencer-Fleming and the Clare/Russ series also. And, I have Daniel Palmer’s Stolen in my to-be-read pile also.

stoneColdcoverSherry: I’m looking forward to reading the Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold anthology by Level Best Books. It’s a book full of short stories set in New England. Perfect reading for those long winter nights! I am also looking forward to A Skeleton in the Family by Leigh Perry (aka Toni L.P. Kelner).

Barb: I need two, too. Katherine Hall Page’s The Body in the Piazza and Linda Barnes The Perfect Ghost. I’ll also be reading Through the Evil Days. I love that series.

Jessie: There are three that I am itching to acquire, complete with autographs: Lucy Burdette’s Topped Chef, Michael Nethercott’s The Seance Society and Hank Phillippi Ryan’s The Wrong Girl. It looks like a great season for reading!

Julie: I am moderating a panel on YA mysteries, and really enjoyed reading the books. They included Peter Abraham’s Echo Falls series (Down the Rabbit Hole is the first one), Kate Burak’s Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things, Beth Kanell’s Cold Midnight, and Kim Harrington’s The Dead and Buried.