Rebecca Yarros | When Heroes go to War

I am first and foremost a military spouse. I’ve been married to this insanely hot Apache pilot for the last 14 years, and between our six kids, four duty stations, and juggling both our careers, there’s still nothing harder than the days I kiss him goodbye and send him to war.

I’ve sent him a total of four times. Twice to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. Iraq almost didn’t give him back. I’m still picking pieces of that country out of him, and probably always will.

As a military brat, I wrote FULL MEASURES, the first book in the Flight & Glory series, asking the question, “if my father had been killed in action when I was twenty, how would that have affected my outlook on love? On risk? On the military?”

In HALLOWED GROUND, the fourth and final book in the Flight & Glory series, I go back to Josh and Ember, and put their love and lives to the ultimate test by sending Josh to Afghanistan.

But how do you keep your hero and heroine connected when they’re on different continents, different time zones and different mindsets? The same way we military spouses do: Skype, love letters, and longing thoughts. Is it challenging? Absolutely, but the payoff is so worth it.

How do you make it realistic? By being brutally honest, raw, and unafraid to look at war through the eyes of love, to explore the ugliness of deployment and the beauty of homecoming. So I put what I knew of deployment into Hallowed Ground, the times I was scared, the times I missed him so much that I wasn’t sure I could breathe, the times I wanted to crawl through the computer screen just to steal a kiss from my husband. And for what I didn’t know…well, I went to the expert. My husband patiently answered every question I had, whether it was on living conditions, feelings, or radio chatter while flying. There’s no way that Hallowed Ground would be what it is if he hadn’t lent me his brain to pick.

It’s been two years since my husband returned from his last deployment and we know another looms. Funny that in those two years he’s been home, I will have published the entire Flight & Glory series. Kind of fitting really, that while the first is about healing from the trauma a deployment can bring, the fourth rips open that same wound. But that’s the reality we live with as military spouses—our lives are cycles of waiting for them to come home, then waiting for them to go again.

When it comes to sending a hero to war, I hope I got it right. I hope that if you’ve never sent the man you love to war, that you’ll read HALLOWED GROUND and come out with a peek at military love. If you’re like me—a military spouse—I hope your reaction is a simple head nod.

Because just like a romance novel, our lives aren’t always easy, but holding these men we love? That’s the happily ever after we fight for.

About Rebecca Yarros

Rebecca Yarros

Rebecca Yarros is a hopeless romantic and lover of all things chocolate, coffee, and Paleo. In addition to being a mom, military wife, and blogger, she can never choose between Young Adult and New Adult fiction, so she writes both. She’s a graduate of Troy University, where she studied European history and English, but still holds out hope for an acceptance letter to Hogwarts. Her blog, The Only Girl Among Boys, has been voted the Top Military Mom Blog the last two years, and celebrates the complex issues surrounding the military life she adores.

When she’s not writing, she’s tying on hockey skates for her kids, or sneaking in some guitar time. She is madly in love with her army-aviator husband of eleven years, and they’re currently stationed in Upstate NY with their gaggle of rambunctious kiddos and snoring English Bulldog, but she would always rather be home in Colorado.

Flight & Glory

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About HALLOWED GROUND

Hallowed Ground

There are some debts you can’t repay…

Josh Walker is loyal, reckless, and every girl’s dream. But he only has eyes for December Howard, the girl he has yearned for since his high school hockey days. Together they have survived grief, the military, distance, and time as they’ve fought for stolen weekends between his post at Ft. Rucker and her schooling at Vanderbilt. Now that Josh is a medevac pilot and Ember is headed toward graduation, they’re moving on—and in—together.

Ember never wanted the Army life, but loving Josh means accepting whatever the army dictates—even when that means saying goodbye as Josh heads to Afghanistan, a country that nearly killed him once before and that took her father. But filling their last days together with love, passion, and plans for their future doesn’t temper Ember’s fear, and if there’s one thing she’s learned from her father’s death, it’s that there are some obstacles even love can’t conquer.

Flight school is over.

This is war.

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Kat Martin | Glitz And Glamour

Behind the Scenes of a Lingerie Fashion Show.

One of the fun things about writing is the places your research takes you. In INTO THE FURY, Ethan Brodie, a bodyguard at Brodie Operations Security Services– BOSS,Inc, the guys call it–is hired to protect the models in the La Belle lingerie fashion when they receive threatening notes.

Ethan isn’t happy with the assignment. He’s been having trouble with his ex-girlfriend and he’s sworn off women. The last thing he wants is to travel with what he thinks will be a group of hot-bodied, air-head divas on a cross country tour.

Worse yet, he’s promised his cousin’s wife he’ll watch out for her close friend, Valentine Hart, one of the models on the tour. When one of the women is murdered, things go from bad to worse, with copycat killers, unruly fans, and millions of dollars in diamonds.

Ethan has his hands full, and of course, he is rapidly learning that being a lingerie model is a whole lot harder than he thought. And the women, including Valentine, are a whole lot smarter.

In order to get a feel for what a lingerie model–think Victoria’s Secret–actual does, I did a lot of research online. The fashions shows take hours of grueling practice and dozens of costume changes. The women can make up to eight thousand dollars an hour, but they earn every dime!

It’s a glamorous job but it requires an amazing amount of discipline, physical exercise, and a strict diet to keep their bodies in perfect shape. There is lots of travel, long days, and all the partying is a myth. Hangovers do not make for beautiful faces.

I had fun with the clothes, the brilliant colors, the extravagant fabrics–what little they actually wear! What woman wouldn’t love to look good in feathers, sequined thongs, and sky-high heels–especially if she winds up in bed with a hunky guy like Ethan Brodie.

I hope you’ll watch for INTO THE FURY and that you enjoy the glitz and glamour as Ethan is drawn into Valentine’s world.

And I hope you’ll watch for the next two BOSS Inc. novels, INTO THE WHIRLWIND and INTO THE FIRESTORM. Till then all best and happy reading, Kat

Take death threats against ten of La Belle‘s most beautiful lingerie models as they travel the country on a widely publicized fashion show tour, mix with macho bodyguards, throw in murder, mayhem, copycat killers, and millions of dollars in diamonds, and you have INTO THE FURY, Kat Martin’s newest Brodie novel.

Ethan Brodie goes head-to-head with Valentine Hart in this novel of intrigue, fast-paced action, and steamy romance.

 

About Kat Martin

Kat Martin

For New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin, a career in real estate led her down the road to romance.

Through real estate, Kat found her own perfect match–her husband, Western author Larry Jay Martin.

“We were on opposing sides of a transaction–I represented the seller and he represented the buyer,” Kat recalls.

A short time after the two became acquainted, Larry asked her to read an unpublished manuscript of an historical western he’d written. Kat fell in love with both the book and the author!

“It was quite a romantic story,” she admits. “I’d still like to see it get published.” Then, after doing some editing for her future husband, she thought she’d try her own hand at writing.

Kat moved on to become the bestselling author of over fifty historical and contemporary romance novels. To date, 15 million copies of her books are in print, and she’s been published around the globe, including Germany, Norway, Sweden, China, Korea, Bulgaria, Russia, England, Estonia, Lithuania, South Africa, Italy, Poland, Thailand, Portugal, Turkey, The Slovak Republic, Spain, Argentina, Estonia, Czech Republic and Greece.

When she’s not writing, Kat also enjoys skiing and traveling, particularly to Europe. Currently, she’s busy writing her next book.

Raines of Wind Canyon | Brodies of Alaska | BOSS, Inc.

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About INTO THE FURY

Into the Fury

A bodyguard, a bounty hunter, a P.I.–the men of Brodie Operations Security Service, Inc. are down for the job. . .

Sinners, whores, and sluts beware–your time is at hand: a faceless menace is threatening lingerie models on a cross country tour, and Ethan Brodie is there to defend and protect.

Ethan’s learned the hard way that beauty is no substitute for character. So even though Valentine Hart is one of the most breathtaking women he’s ever seen, he’s keeping his hands off and his eyes open. Or that’s what he tells himself.

Then one of the models is murdered, and the closer Ethan gets to the answers, the closer he finds himself to Valentine–and the hotter the pressure feels. There’s more to Val–more to the other girls–than he could have guessed. But one is keeping a secret that could kill them all.

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Penny Pike | DEATH OF A BAD APPLE

Cozy mysteries are as American as apple pie. That’s why I chose Apple Valley as the setting for the third book in my Food Truck/Food Festival mystery series. Although comfort food and murder don’t necessarily go together, there’s always a bad apple in every murder mystery wanting to make mincemeat out of some poor victim or two.

When Darcy Burnett, former restaurant critic, is greeted by the intoxicating fragrance of cinnamon, sugar, and baked apples coming from her Aunt Abby’s kitchen, she wants to know what smells so good. Her aunt, a former cafeteria lady, shares a bite of her latest comfort concoction, and informs Darcy she’s signed up her School Bus food truck to Apple Valley for the annual Apple Festival. And she invites Darcy and her son Dillon to come along. After Darcy reads over the festival promotional materials, she can hardly decline.

“Nestled in the rolling Sierra foothills of El Dorado County is a wonderland of apple orchards and farms, apple wineries and breweries, all waiting to bring apple lovers a variety of sweet, tart, and tempting apple treats. The area, known as Apple Valley, provides the perfect place for a fruitful getaway, where you’ll find everything from Apple-Cranberry Cake to Zucchini-Apple bread, all prepared from the freshest farm ingredients. While you’re there, be sure to sample such homemade specialties as Apple Crips, Apple strudel, Apple Bread, Apple Donuts, Apple Butter, Apple Cider, Caramel Apples, Bakes Apples, and everyone’s favorite—All-American Apple Pie. And don’t forget to enjoy the food tents and trucks, craft booths, and the A-MAZE-ing Hay Maze. Remember: An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away—as long as you buy your apples from an Apple Valley certified grower.”

Darcy’s looking forward to a quiet weekend in the country with Jake, the dream puff guy, who joins the group, along with Dillon, Aunt Abby’s computer hacker son. They’ll be staying at the Enchanted Apple Inn, a bed and breakfast farm, and enjoying apple wines, scooter rides, and a scarecrow contest. But even when it comes to something as classic as an apple, not everything in Apple Valley is in apple pie order. Somebody’s been upsetting the apple cart lately, and it’s let to murder. Apparently some Genetically Modified Organism—GMO—companies are trying to infiltrate the industry and they’re causing quit an uproar among the farmers.

Darcy’s reporter instincts kick in and she discovers there really is a worm in the apple industry—and it’s name is Frankenfruit. According to her research, this brave new world of apple modification is unlabeled and drenched in toxic pesticides, posing health risks not even considered.

While the controversy over these GMO fruits has raged for nearly a decade, when the GMO apples begin appearing on the shelves, the organic apples know they won’t stand a chance. Why? Because the GMO apple will “look” perfect. When Darcy learns there have been several fires at the apple farms in the area—including at the Enchanted Inn, she wants to make sure her aunt stays safe. Unfortunately, when one of the Enchanted Apple Inn’s guests dies right under Darcy’s nose. it’s up to her to figure out why the victim was murdered—and who done it—before another guest at the inn becomes the next victim.

Naturally, recipes are included!

About Penny Pike

Penny Pike

Penny Pike is the author of the Food Festival Mysteries, including Death of a Chocolate Cheater, as well as the Party-Planning Mysteries, including How to Dine on Killer Wine, under the name Penny Warner. She has published more than sixty books and is a winner of the Macavity and Agatha awards.

Food Festival Mystery

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About DEATH OF A BAD APPLE

Death of a Bad Apple

The latest deliciously appealing mystery from the author of DEATH OF A CHOCOLATE CHEATER…

Anxious to take a break from bustling San Francisco, Darcy and her Aunt Abby pack up the food truck and head for the apple festival at Apple Valley, California. Aunt Abby is sure her almond apple tarts will be a hit and Darcy wants to collect more recipes for her food truck cookbook.

But when a fellow guest at the Enchanted Apple Inn is pared-down—and the Inn’s owner ends up the prime suspect—Darcy must peel away the layers of the mystery. Because an apple a day certainly isn’t keeping the killer away…

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Victoria Laurie | The Last Harrah

Tuesday, January 5, marked the launch of A GHOUL’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER—the tenth and final book in the Ghost Hunter Mysteries. I thought that as the release day approached, I’d feel sad. Melancholy. Filled with regret.

But I feel none of that. Instead I feel tremendous joy, and truthfully my chest is near bursting with pride. This final book is my favorite of the series—not because of the plot or character development, but because it’s right. It’s just right.

While putting together the newsletter to announce the launch, my assistant—who does artwork—created a block of all the books at the bottom of the page, and as I was reviewing the newsletter, I found myself staring at that group of all ten books, eyes brimming with tears for a long, long time, thinking how wonderful it is to have been a part of their creation. There’s a whole world inside those three-thousand-plus pages. A world I built and labored over and brought to life. What a divine feeling it is to look at them and feel such a sense of pride and accomplishment.

And there is also that, with this final book, I know I’ve brought M.J. to the point where I can at last let her go. Where she can leave me to walk on her own. Where she no longer needs me in her life. I’ve never had children, but I suspect this is the way a mother feels when her daughter finally heads off to college.

As much as M.J. is a figment of my imagination, she’s still been very real to me, and I’ve carried her in my mind for a decade, worrying and fussing over her, giving her my all, nurturing her with tremendous care, and patience, and frustration, and irritation, and gratitude, and joy, and fear, and love—so much love—and now I don’t have to do any of that anymore.

She’s free.

And so am I.

Of all the things in my career that I’m proudest of, that, right there, is at the top of the list.

I’m sure there will be fans of the series who wish it could continue, but I’m hopeful that after they read the final chapter they’ll understand what it means to let M.J. go with satisfaction instead of sadness. I know I’ll always feel joy when I think of M.J., Gilley, Heath, Doc, Steven, and Teeko. And I don’t know how you could ask for a better ending than that.

Ghost Hunter

Psychic M.J. Holliday and friends hunt ghosts.

WHAT'S A GHOUL TO DO?

#1.0
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DEMONS ARE A GHOUL'S BEST FRIEND

#2.0
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GHOULS JUST HAUNT TO HAVE FUN

#3.0
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GHOULS GONE WILD

#4.0
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GHOULS, GHOULS, GHOULS

#5.0
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GHOUL INTERRUPTED

#6.0
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WHAT A GHOUL WANTS

#7.0
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THE GHOUL NEXT DOOR

#8.0
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NO GHOULS ALLOWED

#9.0
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A GHOUL'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER

#10.0
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About Victoria Laurie

Victoria Laurie

When I was in the 7th grade I took one of those career application tests – you know, the ones where you answer a bunch of questions and the results indicate what profession you’d best be suited for? Yeah, well my test results indicated I was best suited for a career as a government spy.

A SPY!

I think I had the coolest results in the entire class. :)

Needless to say, I did not follow that particular career path – or maybe I just took the more indirect route. In my thirties a very good friend of mine who is now one of the world’s most renowned psychic mediums suggested I stop ignoring my talents and dive right into the professional world of a psychic intuitive. On a lark, I did. And the results were pretty mind-blowing. Within just a few short weeks even I couldn’t deny it – so much of what I predicted for total strangers was coming true and I really had to accept the “gift” so to speak.

Over the years I’ve built a really fabulous clientele and all those experiences have helped me create the Psychic Eye Mysteries, the Ghost Hunter Mysteries, and – for children – Oracles of Delphi Keep. And along that way I discovered my true love – writing.

Writing is one of those passions that gets me out of bed in the morning and invigorates my day. I love spinning a good yarn, and when I feel I actually get it right – wow! There is no better feeling.

In fact, the other day I was kicking back after a looooong day of writing, which ended in the completion of a manuscript and I remember just marveling in the fact that I actually get paid to daydream! I can’t think of a more satisfying way to spend a life. And let’s face it – it’s a whole lot safer than working some covert operation. Although – I’m pretty sure the benefits might be better at the CIA. Still, I’ll stick to my daydreams…at least for now… :)

Psychic Eye | Oracles of Delphi Keep | Ghost Hunter

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About A GHOUL’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER

A Ghoul's Guide to Love and Murder

Medium M. J. Holliday battles demons in the tenth Ghost Hunter Mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of No Ghouls Allowed.

M.J., Heath, and Gilley, are back home in Boston, where their new film is sure to be a monster hit!  To promote the film, the studio is sponsoring a special exhibit of supernatural artifacts at a local museum. Unfortunately, Gilley—whose mind is engaged with wedding plans—gets talked into donating to the exhibit the very dagger that keeps the dangerous ghost Oruç and his pet demon locked down in the lower realms. Before M.J. can recover the bewitched blade, there’s a murder and a heist at the museum, and the dagger is stolen.

Now Oruç is coming for M.J. and her crew, and he’s bringing with him some fiendish friends from M.J.’s haunted past. She, Gilley, and Heath are certain to be in for a devil of a time. M.J. may even need to recruit a certain skeptical Boston detective to help stop the paranormal party crashers from turning Gilley’s wedding bells to funeral knells. . . .

Buy A GHOUL’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER: Amazon.com | Kindle| BN.com| iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

White House Chef Mystery Trivia!

To celebrate the ninth installment in the White House Chef Mystery series, I’ve come up with nine all-new trivia questions. Test your knowledge about Ollie and the gang for fun and bragging rights (answers below).

  • In STATE OF THE ONION, the First Lady must decide who to name as executive chef when Henry retires. There’s no doubt that Henry prefers Ollie succeed him, but who else is in the running for the top job?
  1. Martha Stewart
  2. Laurel Anne Braun
  3. Julia Child
  4. Buckminster (Bucky) Reed
  • HAIL TO THE CHEF is the second book in the White House Chef series, but many readers pick it up mistakenly believing it to be the first in the series (meaning: they haven’t read State of the Onion). What is the number one comment/complaint I’ve received via email from this group of readers?
  1. New readers don’t believe that an underground bunker exists in the White House
  2. New readers think that Marcel’s gingerbread White House is too big
  3. New readers have an issue with (fictional) President Campbell
  4. New readers don’t immediately realize that Ollie is female
  1. her brother and father
  2. her mother and nana
  3. her sister and cousin
  4. her twin nephews
  • There is an “oops” moment in BUFFALO WEST WING that occurs near the end of the book. While there is a logical explanation for the reappearance of a formerly lost item, that explanation isn’t provided on the page. What is the item in question?
  1. Ollie’s cell phone
  2. Ollie’s diary
  3. Ollie’s house keys
  4. Bucky’s favorite knife
  • Peter Everett Sargeant despises Ollie, yet he’s required to work closely with her in AFFAIRS OF STEAK. Someone close to the persnickety fellow plays a key role in the story. What’s the character’s name and how is he related to Sargeant?
  1. Doug, Sargeant’s cousin
  2. Ferdinand, Sargeant’s dog
  3. Milton, Sargeant’s nephew
  4. Frank, Sargeant’s son
  1. Ollie investigated a personal matter
  2. The story opened in Chicago
  3. Ollie took some vacation time
  4. All of the above
  1. It’s the first book of mine to feature the words “New York Times Bestselling Author”
  2. It’s mostly red
  3. There are four words in the title
  4. It’s a different size
  1. Plate of the Union
  2. War and Peas
  3. Need to know Basil
  4. Star Spangled Banana
  • Speaking of titles, although I really like FOREIGN ECLAIRS, I’d originally suggested something else entirely – a title I thought fit the storyline nicely. Berkley disagreed. What was my suggestion?
  1. White House Dressing
  2. A Bombe in Nation
  3. Bread of State
  4. A Salt on Freedom

ANSWERS:

  • b – Laurel Anne Braun is Ollie’s nasty (and sometimes comical) nemesis in this first book
  • d – I had quite a few people write to let me know that they believed Ollie to be male for the first chapter or so of the book
  • b – Ollie’s mom and nana make their first appearance in EGGSECUTIVE ORDERS
  • a – Ollie’s cell phone gets flushed but then later, she (miraculously) receives a text. What actually happened (though not explained in the book) is that the White House quickly replaced her lost cell. Oops!
  • c – We meet Milton in AFFAIRS OF STEAK. He’s Sargeant’s adult ne’er-do-well nephew.
  • d – All of the above. I loved this storyline because we got to know more about Ollie’s family and especially her deceased father. Most readers seemed to love it, too, though there were a handful who voiced their disappointment that Ollie didn’t spend more time at the White House during this installment.
  • a – Yay!!
  • d – The original title for this book could have been (ugh!!) STAR SPANGLED BANANA. Doesn’t that sound silly and slapstick? I despised the idea so much, I begged Berkley to drop it. Fortunately, they did. Whew!
  • b – As much as I lobbied for A SALT ON FREEDOM for several other installments (including Book #8), I believed A BOMBE IN NATION would have made an ideal title for :::ahem::: explosive Book #9. Berkley disagreed, but that’s okay. FOREIGN ECLAIRS is a great title, too.

Thank you so much for your interest in Ollie and the gang! I truly appreciate all your wonderful support over the years.

As you may know by now, FOREIGN ECLAIRS, the ninth White House Chef Mystery, will be the last one in the series that I write. Whether the series continues without me is anyone’s guess, but if you’re curious as to why I’m stepping away, I invite you to visit my blog

Best always,

Julie

About Julie Hyzy

Julie Hyzy

Julie Hyzy‘s first experience with food included flipping burgers and chopping onions at a neighborhood hot dog stand. She traded that experience for a job as a singing waitress at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour — but gave that up when she started college (and because she couldn’t carry a tune).

Over the years, she’s acted in community theater productions, appeared in television commercials, and crashed a previously all-male fraternity to become one of the first female brothers in Loyola University’s Chapter of Delta Sigma Pi.

Julie had dreams of becoming a writer, but family, friends, and frat brothers convinced her otherwise. Having held positions as junior officer at a downtown bank, office manager at an architectural firm, and financial advisor at a prestigious wealth management company, she realizes that the business degree was probably a good choice — but fiction is truly her passion. Now, with some well-earned life experience behind her, she’s delighted to finally be able to make writing a priority in her life.

White House Chef Mysteries | Manor House

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About FOREIGN ECLAIRS

Foreign Eclairs

White House executive chef Ollie Paras has served plenty of meals to foreign dignitaries from around the world. But someone is ready to serve her an ice-cold dish of revenge. . .

Things are about to really heat up for Ollie. News of a bombing and attempted breakout at a federal prison reveals that the brother of a terrorist she helped defeat is back with a vengeance. And after she gets mugged on her way home from work, the Secret Service won’t leave her side, fearing that she is now a target.

When a White House staff member is murdered, officials rush into action over a possible security breach. It may be time for Ollie to trade in her apron for a bullet-proof vest as she becomes part of a bold strategy to make sure this terrorist gets his just desserts. . .

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Jacklyn Brady | Cakes As Vintage Dresses

Thanks so much for inviting me to visit your blog today. I’m thrilled to be here and to talk a little about writing THE CAKES OF MONTE CRISTO.

The story takes place around The Belle Lune Ball, an annual high-society event sponsored by the Crescent City Vintage Clothing Society, and for which Rita and the crew at Zydeco Cakes are contracted. Not only is Zydeco obligated to make the cake for the event, but Rita—who is a trained chef—has agreed to cater the event, as well. That’s a first for the staff at Zydeco, but Rita believes they’re up to the task.

Evangeline Delahunt, who is in charge of the ball, is difficult to please, but finally approves a menu and a proposal to create five (yes, five) cakes that look like vintage dress cakes. With just a few weeks until the ball, and it’s all hands on deck to get the work done. But a mystery novel wouldn’t be a mystery novel without something to throw a kink into the works, and in The Cakes of Monte Cristo, that something is an accident and the discovery of a hidden treasure at Zydeco.

That hidden treasure comes along with rumors of an old curse, which lends excitement to the adventure. As usual, the staff at Zydeco is split between those who believe in the curse and those who don’t. We meet a few new characters, including Estelle’s niece, Zoey, and reporter Carlo Mancini, who proves to be a thorn in Rita’s side. But the biggest thorn just might be her mother-in-law and business partner, Miss Frankie.

I had a lot of fun researching vintage clothing and cake artists who have created some amazing works of dress-form cake art. Some of the cakes I found are breathtaking. I don’t have permission to share the images, but for a few examples click here … and here … and here … and here.

The art department at Berkley Prime Crime did a terrific job interpreting the cakes I described in the book on the cover. I couldn’t be more pleased with it.

Thanks so much for having me. I hope you and your readers enjoy the book.

About Jacklyn Brady

Jacklyn Brady

Jacklyn Brady is a pseudonym of award-winning, national bestselling author Sherry Lewis who writes across several genres. Along with her writing career, she has been teaching writing workshops for more than 20 years through Dancing on Coals Workshops for Fiction Writers.

Jacklyn writes the bestselling Piece of Cake mystery series set in New Orleans and featuring cake artist Rita Lucero. As Sammi Carter she writes the Candy Shop mystery series set in Paradise, Colorado featuring candy maker Abby Shaw, and as Sherry Lewis, she writes the Fred Vickery mystery series, as well as numerous contemporary and time travel romance novels.

Originally from Montana, Jacklyn spent several years living at the base of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. She now lives a block from the beach along Florida’s Emerald Coast. Yes, it’s a rough gig, but Jacklyn is determined to endure.

Piece of Cake

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About THE CAKES OF MONTE CRISTO

The Cakes of Monte Cristo

In the fresh new Piece of Cake Mystery from the national bestselling author of Rebel Without a Cake, a pastry chef becomes embroiled in a suspicious death as a mysterious curse casts a pall over an annual New Orleans ball.

Rita Lucero, co-owner of New Orleans’s Zydeco Cakes, is thrilled to be catering an annual ball held at the Monte Cristo Hotel. Designing the high-end desserts is her priority—until she stumbles upon a mystery long-buried at her shop. It’s an ornate ruby necklace, hidden underneath her staircase and rumored to be cursed.

After the gem’s appraiser suddenly drops dead and Rita herself is targeted by a menacing stranger, she’s no longer laughing at local superstition. Now with five cakes on order and an investigation into the necklace’s past revealing layers of unsettling clues, Rita has reason to keep looking over her shoulder while she’s frosting. Because any way you slice it, the next victim of the legendary curse could be her.

Buy THE CAKES OF MONTE CRISTO: Amazon.com | Kindle| BN.com| iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

Bailey Cattrell | Introducing the Enchanted Garden

DAISIES FOR INNOCENCE is first in the Enchanted Garden Mystery series and features Elliana Allbright, aromatherapist extraordinaire and owner of Scents & Nonsense. A thirty-something recent divorcee, Ellie has lived in Poppyville, California her entire life.

In fact, her great, great grandfather was one of the founders of the town – along with Pauline “Poppy” Thierry, the local madam in 1849. Originally settled in order to cater to the miners headed into the Sierra Nevada Mountains during the California Gold Rush, modern-day Poppyville is a tourist town chock full of Old West flavor and offering nearby hot springs, mountain biking, horseback riding, and fly fishing.

Ellie lives with Dash, her Pembroke Welsh corgi, in a super-efficient Tiny House at the back of the Scents & Nonsense property. The shop is guarded day and night by a Russian blue shorthair named Nabokov who regularly attracts clusters of blue butterflies when he ventures out to sun himself in the garden. By the end of the book, Ellie’s growing menagerie is joined by a beta fish named Leonard.

The space between Ellie’s home and work is packed with garden beds connected by winding stone paths. There are seating areas and cozy alcoves interspersed with fairy houses, gnome doors and miniature tableaus tucked in surprising nooks and crannies. An etched boulder in the center of the space declares it The Enchanted Garden, and over time it has gained a reputation as a place for children to come explore the tiny “fairy” worlds while their parents have a cup of tea and nibble on the cookies Ellie’s best friend, Astrid Moneypenny, brings into the shop each morning.

However, the Enchanted Garden also provides the flowers and plants Ellie distills down into custom “perfumes” that do more than just smell good. She learned about plants and their essences from her gamma, who left behind a dog-eared but beautifully illustrated garden journal and an ancient, copper alembic. An alembic is a kind of still (think moonshine), but much smaller and used for distilling essential oils.

Her whole life, Ellie always had a fine-tuned sense of smell, which, combined with a natural ability to know how scents can help other people, uniquely qualifies her to create her special perfumes. When Astrid calls it a superpower, Ellie just laughs, but it turns out Astrid might be more right than Ellie realizes!

In DAISIES FOR INNOCENCE, Ellie’s part-time employee, Josie Overland, confesses that she has been dating Ellie’s ex-husband for a month or so. Ellie is surprised and worried at this news, as she doesn’t want Josie to get hurt the same way she did. But when she finds Josie dead on the boardwalk in front of Scents & Nonsense the next morning, she is unable to convince Detective Max Lang that she had no motive to kill Josie. After all, Max and Ellie’s ex, Harris, are best friends, and Harris has painted Ellie to be a jealous shrew.

Fortunately, Max’s partner, Detective Lupe Garcia is open to looking for other suspects. Unfortunately, Garcia’s new to town, and so it’s up to Ellie and Astrid to ferret out the real killer. Ellie also gets help from members of the Greenstockings, her women’s business group, and Ritter Nelson, an old high-school crush who is back in town visiting his sister.

And then there’s the mysterious plant that sprouted under the birdbath the same day Josie was killed – a plant that grows faster than anything Ellie has ever seen and that she can’t identify anywhere except in her gamma’s journal. As she looks into the life of a woman she thought she knew while hunting for her murderer, Ellie waits for the chance to distill the strange plant’s heady essence – and whatever memories it might bring – for herself.

The book includes a recipe for Astrid’s Chewy Double Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut Cookies, aromatherapy tips, and essential oil blends for things like relaxations and concentration. There’s also the first chapter of BROWNIES AND BROOMSTICKS, the first of the NYT bestselling Magical Bakery Mysteries that I write as Bailey Cates.

Next up? SPELLS AND SCONES, the sixth Magical Bakery mystery, will release in July, 2016, and I’m currently working on the second Enchanted Garden Mystery, NIGHTSHADE FOR WARNING.

For more information about all my books, please visit www.baileycates.com.

About DAISES FOR INNOCENCE

Daises for Innocence

From Bailey Cattrell—who writes the New York Times bestselling Magical Bakery Mysteries as Bailey Cates—comes the first Enchanted Garden Mystery featuring custom perfume maker Elliana Allbright…

The Enchanted Garden behind Elliana Allbright’s perfume shop draws people of all ages with its fragrant flowers and lush greenery. But when the magical serenity is interrupted, it’s up to Ellie to sniff out a killer.

Ellie’s life has blossomed in Poppyville, California, since she opened Scents & Nonsense, a custom-made- perfume store. Her skills with aromas and botanical essences—some from her very own garden—seem almost supernatural. Her perfumes can evoke emotions, bring about change, or simply make people happy. Customers are flocking to the store to buy her wares or just to sit in her beautiful garden, sip tea and enjoy homemade cookies.

But she smells trouble when she learns that her part-time assistant Josie is dating her ex. And before she can tell the young woman to beware of his charms, she finds Josie dead in the Enchanted Garden. Now the prime suspect in Josie’s murder, Ellie must search for the real culprit in Josie’s past—because it’ll take a miracle to nip this problem in the bud….

Buy DAISES FOR INNOCENCE: Amazon.com | Kindle| BN.com| iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

Kelly Lane | Learn about Olive Grove Mystery Series

How the ‘Olive Grove Mystery Series’ Came to Fruition With Brief Backstory about Southern Olive Farming

Truth be told, the idea for my cozy mystery ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE, first in Berkley Prime Crime’s Olive Grove Mystery Series, began with my literary agent, John Talbot. I was putting the finishing touches on another cozy mystery proposal when John called to say that he had a great idea for a cozy, did I want to give it a go? There were just two caveats, he said.

First, I needed to have a proposal ready for him to submit to editors within a couple of weeks. Secondly, I needed to let him know within a few hours whether or not I’d take-on the project, or he’d contact another author. He explained that the series geared for the “culinary” cozy sub-genre featured a premise about “olive oil” with a California setting. Each book would include recipes.

Of course I jumped at the opportunity!

Still, the project was riddled with issues for me. For one, John’s idea for the California setting – where land and climate lend themselves perfectly for olive farming – was particularly problematic. An East-Coaster all my life, I’ve only visited California twice, and knew very little about what it’s like to live and work on the West Coast. Of course, I’d never been to an olive farm. And getting out to California to investigate olive farms wasn’t affordable or feasible in the short time I had to come up with a proposal.

Moreover, I considered myself a relative neophyte when it came to olive oil. Although I can cook, coming up with my own recipes – which I thought should be based on olive oil – was especially daunting. And by anyone’s standards I’m a total kitchen klutz – for example, regularly I burn myself … I even cut off my fingertip once!

We were pushing it.

On the plus side, I used premium extra virgin olive oils all the time in my kitchen. I’d written and published articles about the value, versatility and health benefits of olive oils around the home. And I knew that the olive oil industry was known for scandal and corruption since early Roman times – a perfect, built-in backdrop for murder!

So I started googling. Maybe, just maybe, someone was farming olives on the East Coast.

Eureka! I couldn’t have been more excited when I learned that a small group of Georgia farmers were just a couple of years into growing a brand-new crop of olive trees. Using jury-rigged blueberry harvesters, cold-hardy tree cultivars and newly developed super-dense planting methods, these farmers were busy producing Georgia’s first commercial offering of olive oil since before the Civil War. What a great story! Moreover, the story got even better when I learned that centuries ago, olive trees were plentiful in the southeastern United States.

According to my research, Portuguese and Spanish explorers brought olive trees to the New World more than 500 years ago. Two hundred years later, Franciscan missionaries established olive groves in the areas we know today as Mexico and California. During the 1590s Spanish settlers planted olive trees at missions in what is now southeast Georgia. In the 1700s, British colonists led by General James Edward Oglethorpe discovered these Spanish olive trees in the Georgia Colony. Olive trees were then planted in Savannah’s Trustees’ Garden.

Later still, Thomas Jefferson arranged for new olive plants to be shipped to America from Europe. He planted some at his Virginia home at Monticello and encouraged commercial olive growing in South Carolina and Georgia as well. Jefferson envisioned olive trees flourishing up and down the Southeastern seaboard. In fact, plantations on Georgia’s barrier islands – St. Simons Island, Sapelo Island and Cumberland Island – grew many olive trees for quite some time. Nearly six hundred olive trees planted by Nathaniel Greene on Cumberland Island remained productive throughout most of the nineteenth century.

Only it was not to be. Despite best intentions, folks in the Southeast were ignorant regarding planting methods and disease. In the case of Monticello, Jefferson’s trees were killed off by less-than-optimal native soils and climate. And the Civil War brought destruction for many olive farms and plantations. There were disagreements by garden caretakers that left trees neglected. In the case of the Savannah trees, squabbles and neglect lead to the eventual – and tragic – razing of olive trees so the land could be used for housing. Then after the Civil War, wealthy industrialists purchased old plantations to use as winter getaways rather than working farms, which resulted in more trees being overlooked and forgotten.

Still, as I live just minutes from Jefferson’s historic Monticello home in Virginia, I couldn’t help but think that my olive oil series was meant to be. In fact I was fascinated by this “new” Southern crop. And it was exciting to learn how Jefferson’s vision was – finally – taking hold.

So I continued my research and became an olive oil aficionado of sorts. The more I learned, the more I loved the topic. And a few weeks later, I’d created the fictional town of Abundance, Georgia, where Eva Knox and her family farmed a new crop of olive trees on the family’s antebellum plantation. My proposal for the culinary cozy “Olive Oil Mystery Series” was sent off and accepted by Berkley Prime Crime, just days after submission.

Only, my series proposal story wasn’t over yet. More than a year after my proposal acceptance, when ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE proofs came back for me to review, I saw for the first time that the publishing team had changed the series from a culinary series about “olive oil” to a setting-based series about an “olive grove” in the South. I was thrilled that the team at Berkley was as excited about the setting as I was. And soon, the “Olive Grove Mystery Series” would be hitting the presses. Now everyone’s dreams have come to fruition!

Kelly Lane is an author living on a farm near Charlottesville, Virginia. She has penned as a copywriter, journalist and worked as a business writer, editor and public relations consultant for Fortune 500 companies. Set on an olive plantation in Southern Georgia, ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE is the first book in Kelly Lane’s new Olive Grove Mystery series published by Berkley Prime Crime. Each book includes original recipes inspired by dishes in the story. Visit Kelly Lane at kellylanewrites.com.

About ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE

One Foot in the Grove

First in a delicious new mystery series about Eva Knox and her family’s Georgia olive plantation.

In the sweet Southern town of Abundance, Georgia, home of the Knox family’s olive farm, gossip isn’t the only thing that can kill you…

After leaving a man at the altar for the second time in her life, Eva Knox decides to head home to her family’s plantation to regroup and soak in some Southern charm. But hiding from her woes is a slipperier proposition than Eva imagined. For one thing, most people in town still haven’t forgiven her for leaving local boy Buck Tanner at the altar and hightailing it up north eighteen years ago. For another, a death on her family’s farm soon makes her the lead suspect in a murder case—and the sheriff investigating is none other than Eva’s old flame Buck.

With the police putting the squeeze on her, it’s up to Eva and her sisters, Pep and Daphne, to figure out who could have possibly left a dead body in their olive grove. And they’ll have to catch the greasy killer quickly—because it looks like Eva has been picked as the murderer’s next victim…

Buy ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE: Amazon.com | Kindle| BN.com| iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

Kelly Lane | Pets as Characters

How Beloved Pets Inspire My Cozy Mystery Characters

I never use names of any specific real people in my stories, However, I do use the names of some “real” animals and beloved pets from my life.

People who know me understand that – for better or worse – I’m a bit of a pet “magnet.” At one time, I owned more than 40 horses and ponies! Although the horse-count has gone down, today, my son, husband and I still care for a smaller number of horses, as well as goats, chickens, parrots, ducks, dogs, and cats. Moreover, during my lifetime there have been sheep, gerbils, hamsters, mice, koi, goldfish, box turtles, and even an 18-year-old newt.

We’ve purchased pets. We’ve adopted pets. We’ve found pets. Pets have found us. Some of these animals were born into the family. Some came to us as orphans or babies. Others, like many of the feral cats we’ve taken in (and had spayed and neutered), have been full-grown and even quite aged. Regardless, throughout the years we’ve forged many unique and emotionally rewarding relationships with these endearing creatures.

It seems fitting that one day a few years ago, after the loss of one of my most precious and cherished pets, I decided to honor him by lending his name to a character in one of my books.

In cozy mystery ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE, Eva’s Scottish mystery man, Greatwoods Plantation owner, Ian Collier, is named after my real-life beloved Border collie, Ian. Ian the Border collie was suave, smart and loyal. He went nearly everywhere with me and was a superb companion – although he hated thunder and lightening, and drove us crazy herding cats around the house! Still, I miss him every day.

Ian the dog and Ian the fictional man are similar in many ways, not the least of which is their handsome looks, fierce loyalty and trustworthiness, and the fact that always, each is on-hand for the women they adore.

And Ian is not the only pet memorialized in ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE. Fictional Ian Collier’s horse, Valkyrie, looks like, and is named in memory of, my real-life chestnut Oldenburg mare, Walkyrie. Like the name, Walkyrie was big, strong and brave. And gorgeous to boot! I still have Walkyrie’s daughter, her granddaughter and her great-granddaughter here on the farm.

Also named after a beloved pet, character Daphne Bouvier Knox’s namesake was a sweet, stray mutt – some kind of beagle cross – that my son and I found lost on a bridge down the road one evening.

And although Ian, Walkyrie and Daphne have all left this world, many pets still with us have inspired ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE characters. For example, Bambi, Angel and Winnie – all named in the book – are real-life horses in the field outside.

Still, the biggest “star” in the book from our home menagerie is one of real-life Daphne’s eight “surprise” puppies. Now several years old, her daughter, Dolly, a beagle-something and malti-poo cross, is everyway – in name, looks and persona – the inspiration for Eva Knox’s pup, Dolly. In fact, the Dolly illustrated on the cover of ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE is the spitting image of her real-life namesake.

The whimsical, fun image of Dolly on the cover of ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE embodies my hats-off to all my beloved animals, both from my past and my present. I hope readers will love and enjoy them as much as I do.

About Kelly Lane

Kelly Lane

Kelly Lane is an author living on a farm near Charlottesville, Virginia. In addition to her work as editor and “slush-pile reader” for a prominent literary agent, she has penned as a copywriter, journalist and worked as a business writer, editor and public relations consultant for Fortune 500 companies. Set on an olive plantation in Southern Georgia, ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE is the first book in Kelly Lane’s new Olive Grove Mystery series published by Berkley Prime Crime. Each book includes original recipes inspired by dishes in the story. Visit Kelly Lane at kellylanewrites.com.

Series: Olive Oil Grove

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About ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE

One Foot in the Grove

First in a delicious new mystery series about Eva Knox and her family’s Georgia olive plantation.

In the sweet Southern town of Abundance, Georgia, home of the Knox family’s olive farm, gossip isn’t the only thing that can kill you…

After leaving a man at the altar for the second time in her life, Eva Knox decides to head home to her family’s plantation to regroup and soak in some Southern charm. But hiding from her woes is a slipperier proposition than Eva imagined. For one thing, most people in town still haven’t forgiven her for leaving local boy Buck Tanner at the altar and hightailing it up north eighteen years ago. For another, a death on her family’s farm soon makes her the lead suspect in a murder case—and the sheriff investigating is none other than Eva’s old flame Buck.

With the police putting the squeeze on her, it’s up to Eva and her sisters, Pep and Daphne, to figure out who could have possibly left a dead body in their olive grove. And they’ll have to catch the greasy killer quickly—because it looks like Eva has been picked as the murderer’s next victim…

Buy ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE: Amazon.com | Kindle| BN.com| iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

Ashley Clark | Writing Compelling Characters in Short Story

When I got the contract for my first short story publication with Guideposts, I was thrilled. And then it hit me. I had an M.A. in creative writing, years of teaching experience, and several yet-to-be-published novels under my belt… and no idea what I was doing.

So I started with what I knew. The characters.

In “The Christmas Thief,” I wanted to show that people are not always who they seem, and everyone has a story. That sounds trite, I know. But as storytellers, I truly believe it’s our job to challenge to craft characters that surprise the reader, and perhaps more importantly, characters that challenge the reader.

This story highlights a homeless man who was once materially successful, and the pastor of a fancy church who does not react to the homeless man quite as you’d expect. I tried to dig deep into the question of what it means to live on both sides of the church walls.

As I found my main character searching for hope, I realized the story was coming alive because the character had. So here’s what I learned!

  • Give your character a compelling setting from which to thrive. I write southern fiction, usually southern romance, so it was natural for me to set my story in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Don’t shy away from character complexity. Consider ways that you can include opposites in your story. My main character had a successful past, a seemingly-hopeless present, and an unknown future. I also contrasted the wealth of Charleston with the poverty of someone living on the streets of it.
  • First dig into your character’s deepest hurts and dreams. Then construct a plot to challenge them. Does your character have an abandonment fear? Then someone should probably abandon him/her for character growth. Does your character fear change? Then change is just what he or she needs. Figure out the deep layers of your character so that you can then make the storyworld consistent with those elements.
  • Give each character a unique voice. Your voice as the author should color the whole story. But that said, each character should have a unique voice and perspective so that it’s clear who is saying what even without dialogue tags. Doing so will allow your story to be much more dynamic.

Character development is particularly important for short stories because we don’t have as many pages to build character as we do in, say, a novel. So take time to really delve into your characters’ layers before crafting the plot, and you’ll be glad you did! I hope this encourages you to write characters you love, and I know readers will love them too.

Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She’s dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She’s an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer’s loop. When she’s not writing, Ashley’s usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.

About A CUP OF CHRISTMAS CHEER

aa3d939f-6c7a-421e-93f2-481e7b1df6abA Cup of Christmas Cheer

Twinkling lights, the scents of cinnamon and pine, family gatherings, favorite carols from the heart. In the spirit of these cozy Christmas traditions, Guideposts is pleased to present A Cup of Christmas Cheer, a two-book set brimming with heartwarming fiction stories of faith and family set in Christmases past and present.

You are invited to enjoy two uplifting Christmas fiction collections that will flood you with the Christmas spirit and bring a smile to your face. As you delve into each well-crafted story, you’ll be swept away on a wave of glad tidings and good cheer as you are reminded of God’s unconditional love and ever-present care at Christmas and all throughout the year.

Affordably priced so you can easily give the set as heartfelt gifts, the messages of hope and faith in these extraordinary works of fiction deliver the truest gifts of the season. They will inspire all who read them as they bring home the joy of God’s presence at Christmastime.