Kensington and Barnes & Noble Team Up Again for a Sale

Hi, Wickeds Fans (and Not Yet Fans)! From July 10 to August 20, just in time for beach reading, Kensington and Barnes & Noble are offering another Buy 3, Get the 4th Free Sale.

This time the books include two Wickeds first-in-series, Flipped for Murder, first in the Country Store Mysteries by Maddie Day, and Clammed Up, first in the Maine Clambake Mysteries by Barbara Ross. If you’ve been resisting the charms of these series, now might be the time to plunge in. Plus the sale includes books by Friends of the Blog, including Carol J. Perry, Devon Delaney, Alex Erickson, Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis and many others. (If we skipped you inadvertently, let us know in the comments.)

As always, we went in search of the endcap display for the sale out in the wild. Here’s Edith at the Newington, New Hampshire B & N near Portsmouth.

EdithandDisplayCrop

Barb is living somewhat B & N deprived in Maine. (There’s only one and it’s in Augusta.) But here are the books at the Framingham store in Massachusetts.

Edith: And here’s the full display in Newington. As you can see, every store displays them differently.

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If your store doesn’t have one set up, ask them! And if yours does have the end cap,  we wouldn’t mind if you rarranged our books to be top, front, and center. Just saying…. ;^)

Here’s a link to the Kensington page which shows all the books included in this round of the sale. (Scroll down once you get there.)

Here’s a link to the B&N sale if you’re buying online.

Readers: Happy shopping! Is there a book series you’ve been wanting to start? Let us know in the comments.

Alex Erickson: When the Not So Cozy Gets Cozy

News Flash: Diana Wunning is Alex’s randomly selected winner. Congrats, Diana! Please check your email. Alex will be contacting you.

Edith here, loving full summer north of Boston. Today I welcome a new guest, fellow Kensington Publishing cozy author Alex Erickson. He and I are going to have Christmas novellas published together in 2019 (along with Carlene O’Connor), so I thought I’d invite him over so we can all get to know him. He writes the Bookstore Cafe Mysteries, and his latest book is Death by Espresso. Don’t you love the cover?

EspressoBookstore-café owner Krissy Hancock has plenty to keep her occupied outside business hours, like preparing for her best friend’s wedding and solving a murder.

Krissy is meeting Vicki’s parents at the Pine Hills, Ohio, airport—it’s the least she can do as maid of honor, even if her relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Patterson is a bit strained. Besides, her own dad is coming in on the same flight. But there are a few additional arrivals, too. Her father’s brought a date—and the Pattersons, both actors, seem to have an entire entourage trailing behind them.

Uninvited guests are a headache—especially when one turns out to be, allegedly at least, the most important wedding planner in all the world. Though Vicki and Krissy have already made arrangements for a small, simple party, Vicki’s snobby drama queen mother has her own ideas. Cathy the wedding planner is raring to go, possibly energized by the chocolate-covered espresso beans she compulsively munches. But while the caffeine keeps her awake, it doesn’t keep her alive—and after Cathy chokes on an espresso bean after being hit in the head, Krissy has to find out who ended her supposedly stellar career . . .

Alex is giving away a copy of the new book to one lucky commenter here today, too (US and Canada only)! Take it away, Alex.

“You’re the wrong sex!”

I’ve heard it more times than I can count. Nearly every event I go to, someone comments on the fact that I’m a man writing cozy mysteries. While it’s not unheard of, some say cozies and men simply don’t go together.

I get it. You look up and down the aisle of authors signing their books, you do find a lot of women. I stand out. And when you sit back and look at my interests, I fit in even less.

BooksI grew up on Stephen King. That’s not exactly cozy reading. I also love my sci-fi and fantasy, both in book form and television. While I watch a lot of mystery and detective shows, many of them are of a darker, bloodier sort. Shows like The Killing. Shows like Dexter. These are not cozy.

And then there’s what I do for fun and to relax (when I’m not reading, of course.) I own a Playstation 4, an Xbox One (two in fact,) a Switch, a gaming PC, and most of them get used every single day. Even my work laptop can run most PC games at max settings. When I’m not reading or writing, I’m often found with a controller in my hands, talking to my friends through a headset.Board Games

While I also like board games, which could fit in with certain cozies, my games are quite a bit different than Monopoly.

Don’t even get me started on my music tastes. Let’s just say it isn’t very cozy.

So, how did someone who is more likely to be found at a Moonspell concert, or who spends hours playing Overwatch, or who watches shows depicting gruesome murders, end up writing cozy mysteries?

Pops

“Pops” mostly from Overwatch

Easy. I love telling stories. I enjoy making people laugh. When so much of what I do resides in the darker realm of entertainment, it’s good to get out and write something that doesn’t dwell on darkness. Sure, there’s murder, but it’s what I like to think of as “light” murder. Happy murder!

And sure, writing a female lead as a man has its challenges. Voice is important to the story. When I write, I focus on what the character would do, not what I would do in any given situation. That helps. I also subscribe to the idea that I don’t make this stuff up on my own; I’m transcribing for my characters.

While I might not spend a lot of time with traditional cozy hobbies, I am an animal person. And when it comes to cozies, sometimes, the animals are all that matters.

Alex_Erickson_8x10_BWReaders: Do you have any hobbies or interests that would surprise the cozy community? Are there any odd hobbies or themes you’d like to see in a cozy? Remember, Alex is giving a copy of Death by Espresso!

Alex Erickson has always wanted to write, even at a young, impressionable age. He’s always had an interest in the motive behind murder, which has led him down his current path. He’s always ready with a witty—at least in his opinion—quip, and tries to keep every conversation light and friendly. Alex lives in Ohio with his family and resident felines, who provide endless amounts of inspiration.

That Friend — Guest Laura Bradford

Sherry here welcoming author Laura Bradford back to the Wickeds. She’s an amazing writer and woman. This post touches my heart. And I hope you all go out and buy her new book Portrait of a Sister! Here is a bit about the book:

Katie Beiler was always the follower to her twin sister Hannah’s lead. That is until Hannah left their Amish upbringing for an English life—leaving Katie to find her own footing in a world that no longer looks as it once did . . .

Katie has always imagined her life being just like Mamm’s. It’s why she chose baptism and why she’ll soon marry Abram Zook. But ever since Hannah left, the only thing that truly makes Katie smile is the sketchpad in which she indulges her talent for drawing faces—a sin that, if discovered, could get her shunned by her family, her friends, and even Abram. Yet Katie sees her secret pastime as the only way to quiet a growing restlessness she’d just as soon ignore. That is until their Mamm’s untimely death brings Hannah back home to Pennsylvania, with a new outlook on life, a man she adores, and, soon, an invitation for Katie to visit her in New York City.

Suddenly, Katie is experiencing a freedom she’s never had, in a world she never imagined. She’s also spending time in the company of a fellow dreamer, someone who sees her as strong and brave and makes her laugh. But it’s when Hannah shows Katie’s drawings to a gallery owner that she truly finds herself at a crossroads between the only life she’s ever known and the powerful lure of an unfamiliar future.

Laura: When I sat down to write this post, I thought it would be about my transition from cozy mysteries to women’s fiction. After all, if one of my fellow cozy authors suddenly veered in a completely different direction, I’d be curious as to why/how.

But there’s another story tied to this whole transition that seems a better fit for Wicked Cozy Authors, a blog founded on (and run by) women who epitomize what it means to be true, supportive friends. Because just as Katie Beiler, the main character in Portrait of a Sister, is essentially nudged into discovering who she is/what she wants in life, Portrait of a Sister’s release this week is, in part, due to someone who nudged me.

First though, a little backstory (it’s a blog, not a book, right?)…

Of the thirty books I’ve written prior to Portrait of a Sisters release, twenty-six of them were essentially cozy mysteries. I love the small town, regular “jane” protagonist aspect of the genre for its relatability. The whodunit part was always fun to write, but the characters and their lives spoke to me most. Readers who took the time to write me notes about my books over the years, always commented about my characters, letting me know that what I felt while writing my mysteries, was the same thing my readers were receiving. And just like they wanted to know more about certain characters, so did I.

I think that’s when I really started thinking about women’s fiction. After all, I loved reading women’s fiction for the same reason I wanted to write it. Unfortunately, breaking into a completely different genre isn’t always easy. So after playing around with an idea or two, I put the whole women’s fiction idea on the back burner in favor of my contracted (read: paying) mysteries.

Or so I thought.

Sure enough, while writing the fifth book in my Amish Mysteries (in particular the pivotal character of Detective Jakob Fisher), I knew I could no longer ignore the urge.

Quick side note of explanation:  Detective Jakob Fisher was raised/baptized Amish and opted to leave to pursue law enforcement, thus severing all ties to his family. I explore his heartache to a degree in my mysteries, but I’ve always been fascinated by it on a different level.

 My fascination with his choice claimed its own corner of my brain, birthing a completely different character and her twin sister—characters that spoke to me at all hours of the day and night.

And then tragedy struck my household and everything turned upside down. My thoughts…my worries…my every brain cell was focused on my children. When a quiet moment presented itself, I was working on a deadline book, but really, I was drowning. Once in a while I could see the shoreline, but it was in someone else’s world, not mine.

Until the day I talked to Joe, that is. Joe is one of the truest, most genuine people I’ve ever known, and he is the complete definition of the word “friend.”  He knew what was going on, he listened, he spoke, he wiped my tears from 1200 miles away, and when I told him I felt as if I was drowning, he threw out a three-part life raft:

  • He worked out a word count schedule for me to follow to hit the two back-to-back deadlines. This sounds like a no-brainer, and it’s something I do with most of my books, but I was unable to think of anything during this time. His doing it for me helped. He broke it down into manageable chunks at a time everything seemed too big.
  • He encouraged me to take two weeks for myself before moving on to the third deadline. He said I needed to do something for me.
  • When all my deadlines were met, he said I needed to step away from the computer and live.

Thanks to his schedule and his support, I made the two back-to-backers. And his third suggestion? About the big break when all my deadlines were met? I took the entire summer off in 2017 (heaven, I tell you).

But it was that second suggestion that had me writing the proposal for Portrait of a Sister. Literally five days after I started, I sent the eight chapter/full synopsis proposal to my agent. No more than three hours later, she was on the phone with me, the emotion in her voice letting me know I’d hit the right note. By the end of that week, the proposal was sent to a handful of publishers and a bidding war of sorts began.

Yes, I wrote Portrait of a Sister.

And yes, it was a passion project in every sense of the word.

But it being out this week? That’s because of Joe. Because of his nudge. Because he knew I was drowning and he held out his hand.

That’s what friends do. ~Laura

P.S. A huge thank you to the Wickeds for inviting me to be here today, and for being living, breathing examples of the reality that no one person’s boat has to sink in order for someone else’s to float.

P.P.S.   Portrait of a Sister is now available in trade paperback and e-book. It is a “summer book club” pick for Mary Janes Farm Magazine and Southern Lady Magazine.  To learn more about the book, visit my website:  https://www.laurabradford.com/ , and hang out with me on my Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/laurabradfordauthor/

Readers: Have you had a friend step in and help you?

Bio: Laura is the national bestselling author of several mystery series, including the Amish Mysteries, the Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries, the Jenkins & Burns Mysteries, and the Tobi Tobias Mystery Series. Portrait of a Sister is her first women’s fiction novel. ​ A former Agatha Award nominee and recipient of an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, Laura enjoys making memories with her family, baking, and being an advocate for those living with Multiple Sclerosis.

Murder on Cape Cod Cover Reveal!

News Flash: Sheila Golding is the randomly selected winner of the author apron! Congratulations. Sheila, please send your mailing address to edith at edithmaxwell dot com and I’ll get the apron out to you.

Maddie Day here, otherwise known as Edith, at Barb’s Boothbay Harbor home with all the other main Wickeds on our annual retreat, and boy, is it ever lovely.

I’m using one of our occasional Saturday posts to share some exciting news. The preorder page for Murder on Cape Cod, complete with a special exclusive edition cover, is finally ready over at Barnes & Noble. This is book one in the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries, due out December 18, and I’ve been waiting to show you all this cover for a while. I’ll celebrate by sending one commenter a special author apron!

Here’s a little about the series, but you’ll be hearing more about it in coming months.

The series is set in the quaint fictional Cape Cod village of Westham, which is replete with a salt-water taffy shop, craft distillery, gourmet ice cream store, fudge shop, nautical-themed gift shoppe, bakery and cafe, sushi restaurant, lobster shack, and indy bookstore. The shops are bookended on each end by churches, with the town hall, library, and police and fire stations in the middle. Many of the proprietors are members of the Cozy Capers book group – a group that reads and meets to discuss one cozy mystery every week – as are the almost-due-to-retire police chief, the head librarian, and the town clerk. Unfortunately, murder starts popping up in and around the town’s shops.

Mac Almeida is our protagonist, a wiry thirty-six year old with short black curls, who owns and operates Mac’s Bikes, a bicycle repair and rental shop serving locals and tourists alike.  She lives in a tiny house behind the store. Her parents reside in the UU rectory, her half-brother and his little daughter live in a local lighthouse, and her baker boyfriend is just down the road, too. I’ve loved setting up these new characters and this fictional town.

So are you ready for the cover? Ta-da!

MURDER ON CAPE COD with sticker 1.5

I love it! As you can see, Murder on Cape Cod is an exclusive deal with Barnes & Noble for the first year, but after that Kensington Publishing will re-release it on all platforms. My agent and my editor were both excited about the unusual arrangement, and who was aprontenpercentI to say no? The books will have seaside-based recipes and lots of intrigue. Oh, and murder – on the bike trail in this book!

Readers: Who has been to Cape Cod and what do you love about it? If you haven’t, what’s your favorite waterside place to visit (or live)? I’ll send one of you an author apron!

A Very Very Very Fine House — Welcome Guest Kaitlyn Dunnett

Kimberley is the winner of Crime and Punctuation. Watch for an email from Kaitlyn.

We are delighted to celebrate Crime & Punctuation by prolific writer Kaitlyn Dunnett. It’s the first in a new series from Kensington. Kathy is giving away a copy (US only) to someone who leaves a comment!

Here’s a bit about the book: After splurging to buy her childhood home in the Catskills, recently widowed Mikki Lincoln emerges from retirement as a freelance editor. With her ability to spot details that others fail to see, it’s not long before Mikki earns clients—and realizes that the village of Lenape Hollow isn’t the thriving tourist destination it was decades ago. Not with a murderer on the loose . . . When perky novice writer Tiffany Scott knocks at her door holding a towering manuscript, Mikki expects another debut novel plagued by typos and sloppy prose. Instead, she finds a murder mystery ripped from the headlines of Lenape Hollow’s not-too-distant past. The opening scene is a graphic page-turner, but it sends a real chill down Mikki’s spine after the young author turns up dead just like the victim in her story . . .

Mikki refuses to believe that Tiffany’s death was accidental, and suspicions of foul play solidify as she uncovers a strange inconsistency in the manuscript and a possible motive in the notes. Then there’s Tiffany’s grandmother and husband, who aren’t exactly on friendly terms over the local area’s planned rejuvenation efforts . . . Unable to convince police that they are focused on the wrong suspect, Mikki must rely on her keen eyes to catch the truth hidden in Lenape Hollow. As she gets closer to cracking the case, only one person takes Mikki’s investigation seriously—the cunning killer who will do anything to make this chapter of her life come to a very abrupt ending . . .

My thanks to Sherry Harris and the other Wicked Cozy Authors for inviting me to blog here about my new “Deadly Edits” series. Crime & Punctuation, featuring amateur detective Mikki Lincoln, a retired-schoolteacher-turned-book-doctor, is in stores now in hardcover and ebook formats, with large print and audiobooks to come.

My grandparents’ farm

The first thing you need to know about me is that I’m sentimental about houses, especially those I lived in during significant periods of my life. When it comes time to create a home for one of my fictional characters, I almost always end up drawing a floor plan that bears a striking resemblance to someplace I knew well in real life. Years ago, when I wrote romance, I made use of my parents’ modular home in Florida and my grandparents’ farm in rural New York State, as well as houses I’d lived in myself. In the Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries, Liss and Dan’s house in Moosetookalook, Maine is loosely patterned on my other grandfather’s house.

My other grandparents’ house

My house 1960s

In the “Deadly Edits” series, Mikki Lincoln returns to her old home town after fifty years away and buys the house she grew up in. It not only looks just like the house I grew up in, it is located in the same place relative to other buildings in the village. I’d claim that it’s exactly like that house, except that I have no idea what changes various owners have made in the real place during the last fifty years. The house that Mikki moves into is what I imagine my house might be like today.

There are many advantages to using a familiar place as a setting. In this case, the most important one is that I can give Mikki the benefit of my memories. She knows what the house looked like back in the 1950s and 1960s and all the family stories that go with it. My father tore down the old barn in the back yard and used the wood to build a garage at the side of the house. So did Mikki’s. Mikki’s room as a teen was the one I had—right down to its own little balcony and a big, walk-in closet.

My house today

The reason Mikki sets up as a freelance editor has to do with the need to make repairs on the house. Her retirement income will only stretch so far! But since she has to have carpenters, plumbers, and electricians in the house anyway, and since she’s now going to sleep in the master bedroom, she opts to expand her former bedroom, making it into the office of her (and my) dreams.

I wish I had interior photos of the upstairs of my childhood home, but I do have have plenty of pictures of the living and dining room, thanks to holidays and birthdays. There are exterior photos, too, of both the front and the back of the house. What doesn’t really show are how close the neighbors are on both sides, something Mikki has forgotten during her time away and has to get used to again. Her memories of, shall we say “observing” her neighbors when she was young, weren’t hard to imagine. All I had to do was tap into my own memories.

As soon as she returns to Lenape Hollow, New York to live, Mikki reunites with a high school friend, Darlene, which meant I needed to design a house for her, too. I based it on my friend Leslie’s house, a place I visited so often that I knew it almost as well as I knew my own house. The school on Main Street is one I attended. The church is the church I went to. But I did run into one problem. I’d already transported my home town’s municipal building, containing the town office, the fire department, and the library, to Moosetookalook, Maine to use in the Liss MacCrimmon books. Fortunately, fifty years along, my old home town has both a new library and a new police station. So does Lenape Hollow.

I wouldn’t want you to think I’m not using my imagination to write this new series. There’s plenty that’s pure fiction, starting with the characters. And I think I can guarantee that there will never be any real murders quite like the ones Mikki comes in contact with in Crime & Punctuation and next year’s sequel, Clause & Effect. A setting comes to life when it’s based on a real place. Basing characters on real people or plots on real crimes? Nope. In those areas, it’s much better to make stuff up.

Readers: Do you have a favorite house you’ve lived in? Or one that means a lot to you?

Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of more than fifty-five traditionally published books written under several names. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries and the “Deadly Edits” series (Crime & Punctuation—2018) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in a Cornish Alehouse) as Kathy. The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” mysteries and is set in Elizabethan England. Her most recent collection of short stories is Different Times, Different Crimes. Her websites are www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com and she maintains a website about women who lived in England between 1485 and 1603 at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women

Cover Reveal for The Gun Also Rises

Kristin 5chadler is the winner of a copy of one of my books. Kristin watch for an email from me! Thanks to all of you who entered!

It’s always exciting to see your next book up for pre-order. I’m especially excited about The Gun Also Rises because it uses a real bit of history as part of the plot. But more on that on another day.

 

Here’s the blurb for the book:

TO RECOVER A PRICELESS MANUSCRIPT . . .
 
A wealthy widow has asked Sarah Winston to sell her massive collection of mysteries through her garage sale business. While sorting through piles of books stashed in the woman’s attic, Sarah is amazed to discover a case of lost Hemingway stories, stolen from a train in Paris back in 1922. How did they end up in Belle Winthrop Granville’s attic in Ellington, Massachusetts, almost one hundred years later?
 
WILL SARAH HAVE TO PAY WITH HER LIFE?

Before Sarah can get any answers, Belle is assaulted, the case is stolen, a maid is killed, and Sarah herself is dodging bullets. And when rumors spread that Belle has a limited edition of The Sun Also Rises in her house, Sarah is soon mixed up with a mobster, the fanatical League of Literary Treasure Hunters, and a hard-to-read rare book dealer. With someone willing to kill for the Hemingway, Sarah has to race to catch the culprit—or the bell may toll for her . . .

Thank you to the amazing team at Kensington for the great cover and back cover copy! And in case you missed it Kensington also did a fantastic job on Julia Henry‘s (it’s stunning) and Liz Mugavero’s (it made me laugh) new covers. Click on their names for a link to their posts. All three of our books come out on January 29, 2019! We will be celebrating here on the blog!

Readers: Fess up — do you ever buy a book based on the cover? I’m going to give away a copy of one of my books (your choice) to someone who leaves a comment!

 

Introducing Julia Henry!

By Julie, thrilled to be introducing the latest JH Author!


Pruning The Dead MMI am beyond thrilled to tell you all about the new series I’m writing as Julia Henry for Kensington. The Garden Squad series is set in Goosebush, MA, a fictional town on the South Shore of Massachusetts. Lilly Jayne is a widow in her mid sixties. Her best friend, Tamara O’Connor is a real estate agent in town. Ernie Johnson owns the town home and garden store. Delia Greenway was Lilly’s late husband’s student, and lives with Lilly. They take care of each other. Together these four friends garden together–the kind of gardening that “solves” town problems rather than beautification work. They also solve mysteries.

Here’s the cover blurb for the first book, Pruning the Dead:

Post-retirement aches and pains can’t prevent sixty-five-year-old Lilly Jayne from keeping the most manicured garden in Goosebush, Massachusetts. But as a murder mystery blooms in the sleepy New England town, can a green thumb weed out a killer?

With hundreds flocking to her inaugural garden party, meticulous Lilly Jayne hasn’t left a single petal out of place. But the picture-perfect gathering turns unruly upon the arrival of Merilee Frank, Lily’s ex-husband’s catty third wife. Merilee lives for trouble, so no one is surprised after she drinks too much, shoves a guest into the koi pond, and gets escorted off the property. The real surprise comes days later—when Merilee is found dead in a pile of mulch . . .

Lilly wishes she could stick to pruning roses and forget about Merilee’s murder—until her best friend and ex become suspects in an overgrown homicide case. Now, aided by the Garden Squad, an unlikely group of amateur crime solvers with a knack for planting, Lilly knows she has limited time to identify the true culprit and restore order to Goosebush. Because if the murderer’s plot isn’t nipped in the bud, another victim could be pushing up daisies!

I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying writing this series! Though it won’t be out until January 29, 2019, it is available for pre-order now. You’ll be hearing more about it in the next few months, but today I wanted to share the news, share the cover, and let you all know that the Wickeds are adding another author to the masthead!

Readers, how much do you love this cover? Isn’t it beautiful?