A Chance Interview with Susan Wittig Albert

Every now and then I go for broke—take a chance that the biggest names in the industry will answer my requests for an interview. I’ve never been disappointed. 😉 Like a few months back when I asked Susan Wittig Albert to sit down at the Cozy Corner and answer a few questions. She quickly responded and was open and candid with my sometimes-nosey questions. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did!

About Susan Wittig Albert

Susan Wittig Albert

Susan Wittig Albert is the award-winning, NYT bestselling author of Loving Eleanor (2016), about the intimate friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok; and A Wilder Rose (2014), about Rose Wilder Lane and the writing of the Little House books.

Her award-winning fiction also includes mysteries in the China Bayles series, the Darling Dahlias, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries she has written with her husband, Bill Albert, under the pseudonym of Robin Paige.

She has written two memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place, published by the University of Texas Press.

She is founder and current president (2015-2017) of the Story Circle Network and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters.

China Bayles | Darling Dahlias | Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter

WEBSITE | PINTEREST | GOOGLEPLUS | GOODREADS | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

Kym: Welcome to the Cozy Corner, Susan! Congratulations on reaching the 25 book milestone with your China Bayles Mysteries. (That doesn’t include the short stories with China that are an added bonus for readers along with all your other novels!) Did you ever think you would write so many books about one character?

Susan: A long-running series wasn’t on my radar back then (1992). I had written Nancy Drew mysteries, and Nancy had been around since 1930. But adult mysteries featuring women sleuths (PIs and amateurs) were a relatively new thing, and I don’t think any writer could have predicted how far they might go.

Kym: On your website, it clearly states that your Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter mystery series was only meant to be eight books. Have you set a stopping point for the China Bayles series as well?

Susan: I chose eight books for the Cottage Tales because I was interested in a particular 8-year period in Beatrix Potter’s life: 1905-1913, from the year she bought her farm in the Lake District to the year she married her country lawyer. But China will go on as long as readers enjoy her adventures and as long as I have the energy to discover new ideas for her mysteries. I can see several new projects on China’s horizon.

Kym: Looking back, what changes in China would you have least expected when you started the series in the early 1990’s?

Susan: Wow. Interesting question! I originally had in mind a character more like Kinsey Milhone, unattached, with no children. But once the series had gone past four books, I had to start thinking about a long-term arc for the characters’ development—and for China, of course, that meant some sort of long-term commitment to McQuaid. In addition, the real region in which the fictional Pecan Springs is located has undergone massive development, which has affected the storylines of the books in important ways.

Another thing I couldn’t predict was the interest in herbs and plants. This seemed like a small niche when I wrote that first book, and I wondered if it was transitory. But readers’ interest in plants has continued to grow, and that has influenced the direction of the series.

A third huge change I could not have predicted in 1992 was the Internet, which completely altered the way the books are researched, written, distributed, marketed, sold, and read. Just one quick example: the Web offers me research resources that expand the development of plot, setting, characters—and make the books deeper and richer and much, much more interesting. This is a truly significant issue that deserves more attention than I can give it here—just want to note that this is major, major.

Kym: In THE LAST CHANCE OLIVE RANCH, you dedicate the book to your husband and talked about your efforts to grow olives in the Texas Hill Country. How are the olives coming?

Susan: Not very well, I’m afraid. We’re just out of a 5-year drought that affected our irrigation here. Now that we have a new, deeper well, I could do a better job with the olives—especially because climate change is producing warmer winters. But my initial plantings didn’t do so well. :-(

Kym: Did your ‘olive ranch’ inspire a little bit of your latest novel, or was there something else?

Susan: My olives, not so much. I was more interested in learning about the fraudulent marketing schemes that produce “bad” (adulterated) olive oil. There were several big stories on that topic in the news at the time I was writing that book. The olive industry in Texas is growing, and that was part of what pushed me into writing the book. It’s predicted that, in a few years, olives will be as important to the Texas economy as grapes/wine. Who knew?

Kym: You wrote two Nancy Drew mystery novels in the 1980’s under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene by yourself and three co-authored with your husband Bill. (I may have to go back and read them!) Can you tell us what that experience was like?

Susan: Bill and I also wrote books in the Hardy Boys series, too. From that experience, I learned what it’s like to write formulaic fiction and to work with editors who want you to stick to the predictable formula, since that is what sells those books. I also had to learn to write quickly and write to editorial expectations. If you don’t, you don’t last long. I also learned quite a bit about the publishing and agenting business—that’s proved helpful later, as I moved into adult fiction and now into indie publishing.

Working with Bill helped me to be a better listener and to be willing to work with ideas that didn’t originate with me. When you’re writing with another person, it helps to check your ego at the door.

Kym: You’ve written countless books in the young adult/middle grades fiction genre. Have you experienced a difference in the reactions of youthful readers/fans compared to fans of your adult-age novels? Do you have fans from your young adult books who’ve graduated to your adult-age novels?

Susan: Back in the day (this was in the late 1980s) there was very little fan interaction with young adult readers. The editors would sometimes forward fan letters, but I worked in about a dozen different series over five or six years, and never once went on tour. And since I was writing under a variety of series pseudonyms (Carolyn Keene, Franklin W. Dixon, Susan Blake, etc), readers then don’t know me now.

I do often meet readers who have been China fans from the beginning, though—and we always share a good laugh at being a whole quarter of a century older now than we were then!

Kym: I know I find it challenging to work alongside my husband for one project on the house, yet you and your husband, Bill, have written as a team under the pseudonyms Robin Paige, Caroly Keene, Susan Blake, Franklin W. Dixon (Hardy Boys), and Nathaniel Payne. How did the two of you make it work? What was the biggest challenge?

Susan: I’ve been writing all my life. When I married Bill, I had already written a dozen books, all of them (except for one Russian translation) written alone. Bill had co-written many computer projects, so he had some background in collaborative work. But both of us had to consciously learn how to make the best of the other writer’s ideas, how to plan the work and manage our team time, and how to deal with the physical text (this was long before Track Changes). Overall, the biggest challenge was learning how to use both our skills to best advantage to make each book better than the one before. As I look back over the 12-year Robin Paige series, I’m glad to say that those books got better (and the work got easier) as the series went on.

Kym: Your research is phenomenal—from your historical mysteries to your historical fiction novels, like your latest—THE GENERAL’S WOMEN, which released March 7th, 2017, I am amazed at the amount of research you put into your work. What book/individual was the hardest to research and why?

Susan: That’s hard to say, really, because each project has been unique and uniquely difficult. But for me, that’s the real payoff—the exciting part of the work. Some examples:

I didn’t know anything about Medicare and hospice fraud when I started BLOOD ORANGE (China Bayles #24), so I had to figure out what the best research sources were and how to find them.

When I began planning THE GENERAL’S WOMEN,, I was intimidated (overwhelmed, really) by the massive amount of material available on Eisenhower; I had to learn what was important and how to whittle it all down. For Kay Summersby’s post-war life, on the other hand, there was very little: I spent a LOT of time doing research in American newspapers (and learning how to access online newspaper archives).

For LOVING ELEANOR, I had to travel to the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library and read selectively through 3,300 letters—plus the biographical material on the Roosevelts.

Kym: What can we look for next from you?

Susan: China will keep on keeping on: #26 (QUEEN ANNE’S LACE ) will be published in April, 2018. The 2019 book (#27) will be DEVIL’S TRUMPET. I’ve decided to move the Dahlias series from my traditional publisher to my own indie imprint, Persevero Press. I’m working on the first of three more books in that series, to be published later this year or early next. In addition, I have two more biographical/historical novels up my sleeve: one of them involves Gertrude Bell, who worked in British intelligence in the Middle East before, during, and after WW1. Another project involves the women around FDR.

Kym: Can you tell our readers how to reach you on social media?

Susan: My website: www.susanalbert.com . You’ll find my links to my other sites (blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) there.

Kym: Thank you for joining us at the Cozy Corner!

Susan: Thanks for including me!

Kym: Tell Bill I love his turning!

Susan:He says, “Thank you!”

Until next time, get cozy and read on!

Kym Roberts
Kym Roberts is a retired detective sergeant who looks for passion, mystery and suspense in every book she reads and writes. She can be found on the web kymroberts.com, on Facebook at Kym Roberts (author) and on Twitter @kymroberts911. Fatal Fiction, A Book Barn Mystery is available now and . A Reference to Murder and Perilous Poetry available for Pre-order!

THE LAST CHANCE OLIVE RANCH by Susan Wittig Albert

China Bayles

The Last Chance Olive Ranch

In this exciting new mystery from New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert, China Bayles fears for her husband’s life as an escaped convict targets him…

Max Mantel, the killer McQuaid put away years ago, has busted out of the Huntsville prison and appears to be headed for Pecan Springs. McQuaid knows there’s only one way to stop the vengeful convict—set a trap with himself as bait.

China wants to stay by her husband’s side and keep him from harm. But McQuaid insists that she get out of town and go to the Last Chance Olive Ranch, where she’s agreed to teach a workshop on herbs.

When China and her best friend arrive at the ranch, she learns the owner, Maddie Haskell, has her own troubles. She inherited the ranch and olive oil business from the late matriarch, Eliza Butler, but Eliza’s nephew is contesting the will.

While China throws herself into helping Maddie, McQuaid’s plan backfires when Mantel executes a countermove he never saw coming. Now McQuaid’s life is not the only one at stake—and this time may really be his last chance…

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: April 4, 2017, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425280034 / eISBN: 9780698190283]

Late night calls always lead to trouble….

Cozy Corner | Spring is HERE!

It’s almost here! Can you feel it? Can you smell it in the air? Well, you can definitely see it in all the fresh new cozies popping up everywhere! Take a moment in your day to stop and savor the mysteries—they’re bright, they’re charming, and they’ll lead you on an exciting chase for a killer.

AND THEN THERE WERE NUNS by Kylie Logan

League of Literary Ladies #4

And Then There Were Nuns

The national bestselling author of The Legend of
Sleepy Harlow
returns to South Bass Island, where the
League of Literary Ladies has to find out who’s killing off
nuns.

B and B owner Bea Cartwright has taken on
the responsibility of taking meals to ten visiting nuns, who
are on retreat at the Water’s Edge Center for Spirit and
Renewal on picturesque South Bass Island on Lake Erie. But
the peace of the retreat is shattered when one of the nuns
is found at the water’s edge—murdered. And when a second nun
is killed, Bea and the other members of the League of
Literary Ladies—Chandra, Kate, and Luella—start to wonder
about eerie parallels with the Agatha Christie mystery
classic, And Then There Were None.
 
Since Bea has the trust of the sisters,
the local chief of police asks her and the other Literary
Ladies to interview each of them. Expecting a confession may
be asking for a miracle, but Bea hopes she can at least find
the killer before another nun gets crossed off the guest list…

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: March 1, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425282953 / eISBN: 9780698407282]

KERNEL OF TRUTH by Kristi Abbott

Popcorn Shop Mystery #1

Kernel of Truth

An all-new Popcorn Shop Mystery bursts on the scene,
featuring gourmet popcorn entrepreneur Rebecca Anderson and
her poodle Sprocket.

Opening a gourmet popcorn
shop was never on Rebecca Anderson’s bucket list. But after
a failed marriage to a celebrity chef, she’s ready for her
life to open up and expand. She has returned to her hometown
of Grand Lake, Ohio, with her popcorn-loving poodle Sprocket
to start a new business—naturally called POPS. As a
delicious bonus, Cordelia “Coco” Bittles, a close family
friend who has always been like a grandmother to Rebecca,
owns the chocolate shop next door, and the two are thinking
of combining their businesses.

But when
Coco’s niece, Alice, discovers her on the floor of her
chocolate shop, those dreams go up in smoke. The local
sheriff thinks Coco was the victim of a robbery gone wrong,
but Rebecca isn’t so sure. As suspects start popping up all
over, Rebecca is determined to turn up the heat and bring
the killer to justice in a jiffy!

Mystery Cozy | Mystery Culinary [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: March 1, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425280911 / eISBN: 9780698193857]

Read KERNEL OF TRUTH- you won’t regret it!

MRS. JEFFRIES WINS THE PRIZE by Emily Brightwell

Mrs. Jefferies #34

Mrs. Jeffries Wins the Prize

Mrs. Jeffries is back in the New York Times
bestselling Victorian series, perfect for fans of Downton
Abbey.

NIPPED IN THE
BUD

The ladies of the Mayfair
Orchid and Exotic Plant Society are known for a bit of
friendly rivalry, but the backstabbing has never been
literal—until now. When Hiram Filmore, an orchid hunter and
supplier, is found dead in Mrs. Helena Rayburn’s
conservatory, Inspector Witherspoon is called in to weed out
a murderer.

When it comes out that Mrs.
Rayburn and her flowery friends knew each other from long
ago, Mrs. Jeffries begins to suspect that there’s more to
unearth about this case than meets the eye. Now she, along
with the rest of Inspector Witherspoon’s household and
friends, will have to dig up the past to figure out which
gardening gentlewoman had a grudge worth killing for…

A Mrs. Jeffries Mystery

She
keeps house for Inspector Witherspoon . . . and keeps him on
his toes. Everyone’s awed by his Scotland Yard successes—but
they don’t know about his secret weapon. No matter how messy
the murder or how dirty the deed, Mrs. Jeffries’ polished
detection skills are up to the task . . . proving that
behind every great man there’s a woman—and that a
crimesolver’s work is never done.

NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED!

Mystery Historical | Mystery Cozy [Berkley, On Sale: March 1, 2016, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425268117 / eISBN: 9781101624357]

RIPE FOR MURDER by Carlene O’Neil

Cypress Cove #2

Ripe for Murder

From the author of One Foot in the Grape—a new
full-bodied Cypress Cove mystery that is certain to delight,
even if one wine lover is about to expire…

Penny Lively loves running her family’s winery, but to keep
business growing, she needs to find a way to attract more
guests. When she’s approached to invest in a new train line
through wine country, Penny and her intoxicating winery
manager, Connor, hightail it to a lavish resort to hear the
details. Unfortunately, her neighbor’s daughter, Chantal, is
also there, swirling up trouble by flirting with the married
investors—and with Connor too.

When one of the investors’ wives is murdered, Chantal, who
was seen fighting with the woman, is the prime suspect.
Chantal may be a sour grape, but she’s no killer. So Penny,
who’s become a sleuthing connoisseur, starts sniffing out
the real suspect—and discovers that her fellow potential
investors have been savoring more than their share of deadly
secrets…

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: March 1, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425274026 / eISBN: 9780698154346]

Until next time, get cozy and read on!

Kym Roberts is a retired detective sergeant who looks for passion, mystery and suspense in every book she reads and writes. She can be found on the web at kymroberts.com, on Facebook and on Twitter. Look for her newest release, FLIRTING WITH THE DEVIL, A Noble Pass Affaire Novella available now.

Something Sweet with Sandra Bretting

Missy Dubois is the definition of southern charm in the small town of Bleu Bayou, Louisiana. She’s got sass and spunk, with a style everyone wants—and Sandra Bretting has brought her to life in a most entertaining way with her Missy Dubois Mystery series.

I was elated when Ms. Bretting agreed to sit down in our Cozy Corner and chat for a spell.

Kym: Welcome to the Cozy Corner, Sandra!

Sandra: So glad to be here, Kym. I love your blog!

Kym: Your first Missy Dubois Mystery, MURDER AT MORNINGSIDE, was released last summer by Lyrical Press. What captured your attention about Missy?

Sandra: She reminded me of someone I met a long time ago who hailed from Louisiana. Missy is fearless: she follows her heart instead of her head. She’s not always prudent, but she’s always interesting.

Kym: Missy is quite the hatmaker, how did you develop the knowledge about her trade?

Sandra: Books, books and more books. I’ve always loved hats, but now I know how to piece one together. I also visited a hat shop in New Orleans that makes custom hats to order. (I’d use the word “bespoke,” but that word is wwwaaayyy too popular right now.)

Kym: LOL, have you been known to don a few fancy hats? (If so, do you have a pic to share?)

Sandra: I have. One of my favorites is a hat I brought with me on a family trip to Paris. Since we visited in July, I went with a paper straw hat with a pinstriped hatband. Kinda jaunty, don’t you think?

Kym: That’s awesome, I love it! In your second Missy Dubois Mystery, SOMETHING FOUL AT SWEETWATER, our resident hatmaker has outgrown the current location for her store, Crowning Glory. She finds a steal of a deal in the Sweetwater Mansion that’s up for sale. Did you model this mansion after a famous mansion?

Sandra: It’s more an amalgamation of the pretty mansions I’ve seen on the Great River Road. All have grand columns and wraparound porches, and some even have widows’ walks, which I find fascinating.

SOMETHING FOUL AT SWEETWATER by Sandra Bretting

Missy DuBois #2

Something Foul at Sweetwater

Louisiana hat maker Missy DuBois is making a name for herself veiling Southern brides-to-be with her sophisticated designs. She’s also gaining a reputation for unveiling murderers . . .

Missy is shocked when she sees the asking price for the Sweetwater mansion . . . in a good way. With business thriving at Crowning Glory, it would be nice to set up shop surrounded by alabaster columns and gleaming mahogany. The Southern connections only deepen when it turns out the real estate agent is Mellette Babineaux, a college classmate and sorority sister. But when Missy drags her best friend Bo along to the mansion for a second look, they barely make it past the live oaks before they discover Mellette’s dead body in a shed.

Now, for the sake of her college friend, Missy finds herself investigating everyone from a superstitious Cajun caretaker to a Rolls Royce-driving billionaire—and finding that lots of closet space can mean lots of skeletons, too . . .

Mystery Cozy [Kensington, On Sale: December 20, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781601837158 / eISBN: 9781601837158]

Kym: Tell us about Bo. Who would you put in the role as Missy’s best friend?

Sandra: Bo is tall, dark and handsome, but he doesn’t necessarily think so. I’d probably pick someone like Ryan Gosling (I love his crooked smile) and make him dye his hair for the part.

Kym: He would fit perfectly in the role. How did you get comfortable writing with a Cajun accent? It’s one thing to understand it, it’s quite another to put it on a page and have readers unfamiliar with the rhythm and fluidity of the accent be able to actually hear it as they read?

Sandra: I’ve met several people with Cajun accents (I live in Houston, so we’re next-door neighbors with Louisiana Cajun country), and sometimes even they can’t understand each other. It’s a very guttural dialect; almost as if the speaker is swallowing her words. I also watched videos of people on YouTube, which is a great source for anything audiovisual.

Kym: Youtube has become a vast resource center! You grew up on the West coast, went to school in the mid-west, (go Mizzou!) and ended up working in Texas. How has living in the different regions of the United States, developed your writing?

Sandra: I think it’s given me a better ear for how people actually speak. I grew up in Southern California, where every sentence tends to end on the upswing. It’s that sunny California vibe that’s a cliché for a reason. Here in Texas, my friends speak more slowly; they’re not in a rush to get on with it. I think it’s helped me develop characters that are more realistic.

Kym: You’re a reporter by day, and a novelist by night. Is it difficult to switch hats?

Sandra: Not really, because I’m lucky enough to write feature articles for the Houston Chronicle. As with books, there’s a clear beginning, middle and end, and usually an inciting incident that kicks everything off. Working for the paper has exposed me to some very interesting people, while writing books has made my newspaper reporting more lively.

Kym: You’ve written two intriguing stand-alone mysteries, UNHOLY LIES and BLESS THE DYING, two titles that I absolutely love! Can you tell us a bit about them?

Sandra: UNHOLY LIES was my firstborn, so it’ll always hold a special place in my heart. It’s about a small-town reporter (like they say, “Write about what you know”), who investigates the death of a local church organist. Turns out the woman had been having an affair with her pastor, so I got to explore a lot of juicy things about leadership and conscience. BLESS THE DYING takes place in a hospital, and its involves a cop who’s poisoned in a very matter-of-fact way.

Kym: In January, you expanded your family to include, Chance, an adorable rescue from the pound who’s become your series mascot. How has his training gone? Has he brought new challenges to your writing schedule?

Sandra: Ah, Chance. Gotta love him. Here’s a picture of the little guy, since I can’t resist that puppy face. His training has gone…well, let’s just say it’s been interesting. We might have to repeat our puppy class at Petsmart. If anything, he’s helped me as a writer, though, because now I don’t look insane when I take walks and talk to myself about plotlines.

Kym: What can we expect next from you and Missy?

Sandra: The next book in the Missy DuBois Mystery series debuts in May. It’s called SOMEONE’S MAD AT THE HATTER, and this time the danger turns personal for Missy. Thankfully, my publisher wants at least three more books, so I get to hang out with Missy and her friends for a while.

Kym: Where can our readers find you on social media?

Sandra: My website is www.sandrabretting.com and my Facebook page is SandraBrettingBooks/ I love to hear from readers, and I welcome any and all questions.

Kym: Thank you for joining us at The Cozy Corner Sandra!

Sandra: It’s been my pleasure, Kym. Thanks for the interesting questions!

Kym Roberts

Kym Roberts is a retired detective sergeant who looks for passion, mystery and suspense in every book she reads and writes. She can be found on the web kymroberts.com, on Facebook at Kym Roberts (author) and on Twitter @kymroberts911. Look for her cozy mystery release, Fatal Fiction, A Book Barn Mystery available for a limited time for just 99¢. A Reference to Murder and Perilous Poetry available for on Pre-order now!

My Mission: Peachy Cozies to Blow You Away

As a reader, book covers catch my eye. As a writer, titles draw me in. My three features this week were complete head-turners that had me hooked at first sight. From the natural born enemies of MISSION IMPAWSIBLE , to cozy southern charm of WAR AND PEACH, to the wispy fresh breezes of the Oregon shore in BLOWN AWAY, I was completely captivated from cover to cover.

Expand your horizons, and get cozy with three winning mysteries.

MISSION IMPAWSIBLE by Krista Davis

Paws and Claws #4

Mission Impawsible

From the New York Times bestselling author of Murder Most Howl comes the fourth Paws & Claws mystery…

In the pet-friendly town of Wagtail, Virginia, there’s no love lost when Holly Miller meets her match in a murderer…

Holly and her grandmother, Oma, are working their tails off to prepare the Sugar Maple Inn for an upcoming matchmaking event for pet owners. While Holly has no interest in pairing up, Oma plans on playing Cupid and finding someone to warm her reluctant granddaughter’s heart.

Unfortunately, one man Holly does meet is cold—dead cold—and he has a personal letter from Oma in his pocket. As suspicion is cast over the inn’s guests, Holly—with the help of her furry friends, Trixie the Jack Russell and Twinkletoes the cat—must fetch the real killer, or she may soon have a date in court.

Delicious recipes for owners and pets included!

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: February 7, 2017, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781101988565 / eISBN: 9781101988572]

WAR AND PEACH by Susan Furlong

Georgia Peach

War and Peach

The author of Rest in Peach serves up another bite of Southern charm in the latest Georgia Peach mystery.

Nola Mae Harper is too busy restocking the jars of preserves and chutney flying off the shelves of her shop, Peachy Keen, to keep up with all the gossip about the upcoming mayoral election, but she does know the debate is sure to be a real barn burner.

Local farmer Clem Rogers claims he has a bombshell that could take small business owner Margie Price out of the running. But before Clem can reveal his juicy secret at the debate, his actual barn goes up in flames—with him inside of it. The town casts its vote against Margie, but Nola isn’t convinced the hardworking woman is capable of murder. Now to clear Margie’s name Nola will have to work fast under pressure, before Margie gets taken in by the fuzz…

INCLUDES RECIPES!

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: February 7, 2017, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425278963 / eISBN: 9780698184862]

BLOWN AWAY by Clover Tate

Kite Shop Mystery

Blown Away

In the all-new Kite Shop Mystery series set in the beachside community of Rock Point, Oregon, kite shop owner Emmy Adler gets swept up in a murder investigation.

Emmy is finally living her dream. She’s moved to the coastal town of Rock Point, Oregon, and is starting a kite business. Strings Attached features her own unique designs, inspired by everything from Picasso to Matisse’s colorful cutouts. Her spirits are soaring sky-high the morning of the grand opening—until she stumbles upon a dead man washed up on the beach.

The body belongs to local chef Miles Logan, and the gash across his chest indicates he’s been murdered. The sheriff suspects Emmy’s best friend, Avery, who used to date the chef. Emmy is sure Avery would never hurt anyone, but her pal doesn’t have an alibi for the night of the murder. With Avery’s freedom and the fate of her kite shop up in the air, Emmy takes it upon herself to follow the string of clues and solve the murder before the real killer takes flight.

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: February 7, 2017, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425283547 / eISBN: 9780698410275]

Until Next time, get cozy and read on!

Kym Roberts

Kym Roberts is a retired detective sergeant who looks for passion, mystery and suspense in every book she reads and writes. She can be found on the web kymroberts.com, on Facebook at Kym Roberts (author) and on Twitter @kymroberts911. Look for her cozy mystery release, Fatal Fiction, A Book Barn Mystery available for a limited time for just 99¢. A Reference to Murder on Pre-order now!

Cozies for the Dead of Winter

January is one of those months I find myself snuggling up in front of the fire with a good book instead of doing my grocery shopping. A good cozy mystery beats bundling up in layers and driving to the grocery store feeling like the Michelin Man stuffed inside a clown car any day. And if it means my family has to eat frozen pizza again, so be it. They’ll survive until the temperature rises, or at least until I’m done with my book.

If you need an excuse to do the same, I have three mysteries that will have you pointing to the freezer when your hubby asks, “What’s for dinner?” Check these out, they’re worth the dirty looks.

ASSAULT AND BERET by Jenn McKinlay

Hat Shop Mystery

Assault and Beret

Allons-y to Paris for more hats and homicide from the New York Times bestselling author of Copy Cap Murder!

London milliner Vivian Tremont and her American cousin and partner, Scarlett Parker, tip their caps to their beloved shop on Portobello Road in Notting Hill and set off for Paris, where Viv can’t wait to teach a hat-making class. But she has another reason to travel to the City of Light: to find the man she impulsively eloped with years ago and have their marriage annulled.

William Graham is not only handsome and charming, but he also has a glamorous job as an insurance investigator who works with priceless pieces of art, most recently a small Renoir that has been discovered in a junk shop. But when both Will and the masterpiece suddenly disappear, it’s up to the ladies from London to follow the trail of clues. They’ll need to hold on to their chapeaux, however, because someone is a master in the art of deception…

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: January 3, 2017, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425279595 / eISBN: 9780698187818]

BETTER OFF THREAD by Amanda Lee

Embroidery Mystery Series #10

Better Off Thread

Santa finds himself in a stitch of trouble in the tenth in the series from the national bestselling author of The Stitching Hour

Marcy is busy helping her customers make hand-crafted ornaments at her embroidery shop, the Seven-Year Stitch. But despite the yuletide bustle, when her friend Captain Moe asks for her help, she can’t refuse—especially when the favor is to play the elf to his Santa for sick children at a local hospital. Despite the ridiculous outfit, Marcy finds herself enjoying spreading cheer—until the hospital’s administrator is found murdered.

Although the deceased had plenty of people willing to fill her stocking with coal, evidence pins the crime on Moe. Now it’s up to Marcy, with the help of her police officer boyfriend Ted and her Irish Wolfhound Angus, to stitch together the clues to clear Moe’s name—before someone else winds up crossed off Santa’s list for good…

Mystery Cozy [Berkley, On Sale: December 6, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780451473851 / eISBN: 9780698186521]

THIRD TIME’S A CRIME by Diana Orgain

Love or Money Mystery #3

Third Time's a Crime

Ex-detective Georgia Thornton returns to reality TV in the third mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of A Second Chance at Murder

POOL YOUR RESOURCES…

After two hit reality TV shows brought ex-detective Georgia Thornton into America’s living rooms, audiences can’t get enough of her quest for love and justice. Now producers have come up with an all-new show set in a haunted castle in Golden, California. Georgia and nine other contestants will need to solve the mystery of a young woman who disappeared at the castle in 1960.

Except there’s one rather substantial problem waiting for everyone when they arrive: a groundskeeper is found drowned at the bottom of the castle’s empty pool. Now Georgia and the other contestants will need to work together, because there’s a different sort of game afoot—and it’s not one they can afford to lose…

Mystery [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: January 3, 2017, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425271704 / eISBN: 9780698140172]

Until Next time, get cozy and read on!

Kym Roberts

Kym Roberts is a retired detective sergeant who looks for passion, mystery and suspense in every book she reads and writes. She can be found on the web kymroberts.com, on Facebook at Kym Roberts (author) and on Twitter @kymroberts911. Look for her new cozy mystery release, Fatal Fiction, A Book Barn Mystery available now.

The Best of 2016

It’s almost time to sing Auld Lang Syne and as I reflect over the blogs I’ve posted for 2016, I realize what an amazing year I’ve had on the Cozy Corner. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to interview authors whose experiences and careers are as varied as the mystery genre they write. Many thanks to Fresh Fiction and the generous writers who’ve graciously given me their time. But most of all, to the readers who click on the Cozy Corner to find out what’s new in the genre—thank you for making the past year awesome!

Take a moment and think about your best moments this year: The stranger who did something nice without a second thought. The store employee who went out of her way to help you. Remember that lunch you had with your colleagues. That movie you shared with your friends. That special night with the one you love. And don’t forget all those wonderful books that kept you up late at night, even if you did pay the price the next day. 😉

There are so many good things to reflect on from 2016. Forget the bad, yet be mindful of how you can make a difference in someone’s life today and tomorrow. Our journey is about our humanity. Share yours this season and look to 2017 with the enthusiasm it deserves—there are so many great stories we have yet to listen to, to see, to hear, to share—to live.

Here are a few of my favorite moments for 2016:

  • February 2016 CC Dragon about her Helena Morris Mystery series—I adore this!
    Helena Goes to Hollywood

    Kym: I Love Helena’s nickname—Hel—what made you give her that name and how does it fit her?

    CC: Oh, it fits her. Hel isn’t afraid of anyone. She’s a martial arts instructor with multiple black belts. She can take care of herself and her sister (who has a stalker). She’s not your standard cozy mystery heroine…she was married to an FBI agent so she’s pretty fearless and connected. She packs a gun but doesn’t need it to beat up bad guys or punch a rock star who gets out of line.

  • March 2016 Interview with Darcie Wilde (aka Sarah Zettel to cozy mystery readers) about her Rosalind Thorne Mystery, A Useful Woman—One of my favorite cozy authors!
    A Useful Woman

    Kym: This series is set in nineteenth century London. What drew you to that time period.

    Sarah: I am a fan of Jane Austen, of course, and I admit I love Regency Romances, especially the great Georgette Heyer, and, as I’ve said I write Regencies myself. All this led me to do a lot of research on the time period, which in turn led me to the phenomenon of “silver fork novels,” which were a genre that got really popular around 1825. I started reading them, and found them a gold mine of cool ideas that were just waiting to be turned into novels.

  • June 2016 Lorraine Bartlett (aka Lorna Barrett) TITLE WAVE, from her Booktown Mystery series. She has so many cozies—she rocks!
    Title Wave

    Kym: In my opinion secondary characters are the heart of a cozy and you’ve outdone most with Angelica. What is it about her that makes you like her as an author?

    Lorraine: I love her. She’s the sister I never had. I could write about her for the rest of my life and never grow tired of her. When the first couple of books came out, I got a lot of complaints about her. I had a master plan for her, but I couldn’t pull it off in only one book; that wouldn’t have been realistic. She’s extremely complex, and kept a number of secrets from Tricia for a long time. It wasn’t so much that she wanted to keep Tricia in the dark about her past (and present), but that Tricia was so used to dismissing her sister as frivolous that she wasn’t open to knowing the truth about Angelica. Tricia always saw herself as the “successful” sister, to find out she wasn’t as successful in life as she thought, was quite a revelation.

  • August 2016 Mary Kennedy, A PREMONITION OF MURDER, her Dream Club Mystery series—seriously a dream come true!
    A Premonition of Murder

    Kym: In your series, Ali and Taylor along with the rest of the dream club, solve homicides by interpreting dreams. Some readers love the possibility of the concept being transferred into real life; while others are skeptical. Do you believe dreams could be used to help police solve crimes?

    Mary: I wish I knew the answer to that! I know there are cases in which psychics supposedly helped the police solve crimes, but I think these cases are mostly anecdotal. Taylor (the very pragmatic sister with the MBA) was initially very skeptical about whether clues in dreams could really be relevant to crime-solving, but as the series progresses, she is becoming a convert. Ali, of course, believes fervently in the power of dreams to shed light on events in our waking lives. And she is convinced that clues in dreams really do help solve murders.

  • October 2016 with Rhys Bowen, Her Royal Spyness Mystery series—I LOVED this interview!
    The Twelve Clues Of Christmas

    Kym: That would be an incredible visit! Is there a book in the Royal Spyness series that stands out for you, whether it be because of something that was going on in your life at the time you wrote it or a crime that really resonated with you at the time?

    Rhys: I have to say that I loved the Twelve Clues of Christmas, not only because it was recreating my fantasy English country house Christmas, but because it was such a challenge to fit in all of the twelve clues and make them believable.

  • December 2016: Charli Rae Warren—the leading lady in my Book Barn Mystery series and newest release, FATAL FICTION—because we have so much fun together;)
    Fatal Fiction

    Kym: “Today I have the pleasure of sitting down with Charli Rae Warren in her hometown of Hazel Rock, Texas for an interview. Charli is a kindergarten teacher who came back to Hazel Rock after a twelve-year absence! She’s also an imaginary friend of mine who lurks in my brain and messes with my hair.”

    Charli: “I beg to differ, you’re the one who’s constantly messing up my hair.”

Until next year, Happy Holidays! Now, get cozy and read on!

**Giveaway Alert!**

Look for my Holiday Giveaways on Fresh Fiction and enter for your chance to win a Princess pin—because that’s the only way you’ll want to cuddle up with an armadillo;)

Kym Roberts

Kym Roberts is a retired detective sergeant who looks for passion, mystery and suspense in every book she reads and writes. She can be found on the web kymroberts.com, on Facebook at Kym Roberts (author) and on Twitter @kymroberts911. Look for her new cozy mystery release, FATAL FICTION, A Book Barn Mystery available now and her romance release MISTLETOE AND LACE, The Hard Men of the Rockies Anthology from the authors of ChickSwagger.com!

Getting Cozy with Charli Rae

Kym: “Today I have the pleasure of sitting down with Charli Rae Warren in her hometown of Hazel Rock, Texas for an interview. Charli is a kindergarten teacher who came back to Hazel Rock after a twelve-year absence! She’s also an imaginary friend of mine who lurks in my brain and messes with my hair.”

Charli: “I beg to differ, you’re the one who’s constantly messing up my hair.”

Kym: “That’s because it’s so beautiful; I’m a little jealous.”

Charli: “Really?”

Kym: I roll my eyes. “No, I just like messing with you.”

Charli: “That’s not very nice.” Kindergarten teacher stare.

Kym: Laughing. “That’s not going to work on me Charli, I’ve seen a lot meaner faces in my day than yours.”

Charli: “So, get to the point. Why did you bring me to The Cozy Corner—other than to mess with me?”

Kym: “I thought readers would like to hear a little bit about you, after all, your story releases December 6th.”

Charli: “Already? Wow, it seems like it was just yesterday that you were slapping me on a piece of paper, then scratching me out, and then building me up—only to tear me back down again.”

Kym: “It was kinda fun, wasn’t it?”

Charli: “You’re a masochist.”

Kym: “What does that make you, if you’re sitting here talking to me?”

Charli: “Okay, okay. You got me there.” She leans in with a devilish smile on her face. “So, who do you want to talk about?”

Kym: “Cade?”

She doesn’t fall for my innocent suggestion. She shrugs.

Charli: “He’s my ex-high school sweet heart. The town mayor, who happens to be up for re-election.”

Kym: Holding my up hands in surrender. “Stop. You got me. As hot as Cade is, the last thing I want to talk about is politics.”

Charli: Smiling like she won.

Kym: “What about Mateo?”

Charli: Choking on some imaginary object. “Mateo?”

Kym: “You know, the sheriff?”

Charli: “I think, I remember the man who put me in handcuffs.” She shivers and rubs the back of her head.

Kym: “Please. Don’t act like it was the first time you wore steel bracelets.”

Charli: Crossing her arms over her chest. “Seriously? You’re going to go there? I was a teenager.”

Kym: “I never wore that style jewelry when I was a kid.”

Charli: “Oh, you just wear them now…for fun?” She waggles her eyebrows.

Kym: “You’re crossing the line, Charli.”

Charli: “What line?” Looking down at the concrete floor of her family store, The Book Barn Princess. “I don’t see a line.”

Kym: Plugging my nose. “What is that smell?”

Charli: She smiles again, like payback is in order. “Don’t you recognize Princess’s perfume?”

She’s getting a little too much pleasure out of my discomfort, so I decide to even the score and have Princess rub her armadillo odor all over Charli’s pantleg.

Charli: “Fuzz buckets! That’s not fair, you know I’ve come to love the stinky little girl!”

Kym: “Maybe you should have given her a bath before I arrived.”

Charli: She reaches down and scratches the little creature’s ears. “It’s been a long day. Dad and Scarlet and I have been working on a special piece of book art.”

Kym: “Really? Are you making something for me?”

Charli: She smiles again, and when Charli smiles everyone notices. “You’ll have to be nicer to me in the next book.”

Kym: I decide it’s time to strike a deal, I want that book art. “How about I give you some Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream?”

Charli: “Do I get to—”

Kym: “Don’t give away the secrets Charli, our readers haven’t even had a chance to read your debut novel, Fatal Fiction yet and A Reference to Murder doesn’t come out until May of 2017.”

Charli: “Fine, but I get to do it, right?”

Kym: “The bowl is waiting for you.”

Charli: That devilish look returns to her eyes. “And my—”

Kym: “Ah, ah, ah…” Wagging my finger back and forth. “Don’t say another word about the ice cream. But I will tell you, that you’ll enjoy it…immensely.”

Scarlet walks in looking like a voluptuous red-headed Grace Kelly.

Scarlet: “O.M.W. I should have known she’d make you late!”

Kym: “Hi, Scarlet. What’s Charli late for?”

Charli: “Don’t tell—”

Scarlet: “Her hair appointment.”

Scarlet has a way of blurting things out. She’s brilliant, but her mouth gets her and everyone else in trouble. And I can’t help it. I love messing with Charli’s hair.

A bat flew down from the barn loft and somehow tangled itself up in Charli’s hair.

I grin. Charli tries to be brave, but she screeches. Princess jumps straight up in the air before scurrying off and Scarlet freezes in disbelief, before her hands attach to her hips and she demands I intervene.

Scarlet: “Kym Roberts, that’s not very nice.”

Kym: “You’re right.” The bat disappears and Charli stands there breathing heavy. Her eyes roll upward like she can possibly get a glimpse of the mess I’ve created.

Charli: “Thanks a lot. It was a blast sitting down and spending time with you—”

Before she gets too riled up, I decide to send another wrench her way. The front door to The Barn swishes open and the little bell dings, signaling the arrival of a customer.

Cade: “Princess? Mateo and I were looking for your dad—”

Scarlet grabs Charli’s arm and shoves her out the side door before the two hunky men I love, can see her. Drat the woman.

Scarlet: “He’s upstairs in the loft, Cade! Charli isn’t here. I’ll see you later!”

And the two women disappear out the side door of The Barn; Scarlet to the rescue once more.

Scarlet constantly makes me happy for creating such a loveable character in the series. I mean, it’s good to have a best friend in your corner, right? It makes life pretty darn cozy.

FATAL FICTION by Kym Roberts

Book Barn #1

Fatal Fiction

When kindergarten teacher Charli Rae Warren hightailed it out of Hazel Rock, Texas, as a teen, she vowed to leave her hometown in the dust. A decade later, she’s braving the frontier of big hair and bigger gossip once again . . . but this time, she’s saddled with murder!

Charli agrees to sell off the family bookstore, housed in a barn, and settle her estranged dad’s debt—if only so she can ride into the sunset and cut ties with Hazel Rock forever. But the trip is extended when Charli finds her realtor dead in the store, strangled by a bedazzled belt. And with daddy suspiciously MIA, father and daughter are topping the most wanted list . . .

Forging an unlikely alliance with the town beauty queen, the old beau who tore her family apart, and one ugly armadillo, Charli’s intent on protecting what’s left of her past . . . and wrangling the lone killer who’s fixin’ to destroy her future . . .

Mystery Cozy [Lyrical Press, On Sale: December 6, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781601837318 / eISBN: 9781601837318]

Be sure to pick up a copy of Fatal Fiction, A Book Barn Mystery today! Happy Holidays!

**Giveaway Alert!**

Look for my Holiday Giveaway on Fresh Fiction and enter for your chance to win a Princess pin—because that’s the only way you’ll want to cuddle up with an armadillo;)

Until Next time, get cozy and read on!

Kym Roberts

Kym Roberts is a retired detective sergeant who looks for passion, mystery and suspense in every book she reads and writes. She can be found on the web kymroberts.com, on Facebook at Kym Roberts (author) and on Twitter @kymroberts911. Look for her new romantic suspense release, Red Lace, A Hard Men of the Rockies Mystery available now and her romance release Mistletoe and Lace, The Hard Men of the Rockies Anthology from the authors of and upcoming mystery release, Fatal Fiction, A Book Barn Mystery available now and her romance release Mistletoe and Lace, The Hard Men of the Rockies Anthology from the authors of ChickSwagger.com!

Small Press Cozies for Cyber Monday

What better way to celebrate Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, than by featuring a few of my favorite e-book authors and publishers! I find it very appealing to help self-published authors, indie publishing houses and smaller publishing houses who focus on the e-reader (two are also available in print format) while being rewarded with murdously fabulous mysteries! From a recent release, to a current release, I then finished with a soon-to-be released e-book that you’re sure to enjoy. Don’t miss these great gifts for cozy fans this holiday season!

BAD KITTY by Elisabeth Crabtree

Hatter’s Cove Gazette Mystery #5

Bad Kitty

The hundredth anniversary of the Hatter’s Cove Catastrophe Winter Games has just begun and reporter Kat Archer has been ordered to get a heartwarming story of Hatter’s Cove residents and their feline companions competing in a quintessential Hatter’s Cove tradition.

However, what she actually gets are stories of jealousy, lies, cheating and, by the end of that night, murder.

Almost everyone chalks the death up to a tragic accident caused when the victim tripped over Mrs. Claws, the two-time reigning champion, while descending the stairs.

Kat on the other hand is convinced the woman was murdered and is determined to get an invitation to Canary Island in order to investigate.

She just hopes the Gazette’s resident rat catcher can help her score an invitation to the exclusive island before the
killer strikes again.

Mystery Cozy [Author Self-Published, On Sale: September 30, 2016, e-Book, / ]

MELE KALIKIMAKA MURDER by Aimee Gilchrist

Aloha Lagoon Mysteries #5

Mele Kalikimaka Murder

From bestselling cozy mystery author Aimee Gilchrist comes a holiday Aloha Lagoon Mystery of ho, ho, homicide!

The only thing that Aloha Lagoon Resort manager Charlotte Conner hates more than her employees working on “island time” is Christmas. It isn’t just the over commercialized tripe, but it’s also the fact that once-upon-a-time her Christmas would-be wedding went up in spectacular flames. Now she has to share the hated Hawaiian holiday with her twin sister (the one responsible for Charlotte’s ruined vows), Alexander Cho (the one currently responsible for destroying Charlotte’s peace of mind and libido), and the body of one very dead assistant.

Aloha Lagoon’s police department can’t find anyone else with a better motive for killing Charlotte’s assistant than Charlotte herself, so now it’s up to her, Alex, and her irritatingly ever-present twin to hunt down the real murderer before Charlotte spends her Christmas in a jail cell for a Mele Kalikimurder she didn’t commit. This is one holly-jolly holiday that just might end up deadly!

Mystery Cozy [Gemma Halliday Publishing, On Sale: November 29, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 2940153774879 / eISBN: 9781943587582]

SOMETHING FOUL AT SWEETWATER by Sandra Bretting

Missy DuBois #2

Something Foul at Sweetwater

Louisiana hat maker Missy DuBois is making a name for herself veiling Southern brides-to-be with her sophisticated designs. She’s also gaining a reputation for unveiling murderers . . .

Missy is shocked when she sees the asking price for the Sweetwater mansion . . . in a good way. With business thriving at Crowning Glory, it would be nice to set up shop surrounded by alabaster columns and gleaming mahogany. The Southern connections only deepen when it turns out the real estate agent is Mellette Babineaux, a college classmate and sorority sister. But when Missy drags her best friend Bo along to the mansion for a second look, they barely make it past the live oaks before they discover Mellette’s dead body in a shed.

Now, for the sake of her college friend, Missy finds herself investigating everyone from a superstitious Cajun caretaker to a Rolls Royce-driving billionaire—and finding that lots of closet space can mean lots of skeletons, too . . .

Mystery Cozy [Kensington, On Sale: December 20, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781601837158 / eISBN: 9781601837158]

**Giveaway Alert!**

Look for my Giving Thanks Giveaway on Fresh Fiction and enter for your chance to win a signed copy of my Dead Man’s Carve mystery, all proceeds of my Tickled to Death Mystery go to wounded veterans.

Until Next time, get cozy and read on!

Kym Roberts

Kym Roberts is a retired detective sergeant who looks for passion, mystery and suspense in every book she reads and writes. She can be found on the web kymroberts.com, on Facebook at Kym Roberts (author) and on Twitter @kymroberts911. Look for her new romantic suspense release, Red Lace, A Hard Men of the Rockies Novella and upcoming mystery release, Fatal Fiction, A Book Barn Mystery available for pre-order now and her romance release Mistletoe and Lace, The Hard Men of the Rockies Anthology from the authors of ChickSwagger.com!

Getting Cozy and Giving Thanks

Getting Cozy and Giving Thanks

November is an important month for our country. It’s a month of freedom and expression. It’s a month of giving thanks to the men and women who’ve served our country in the military. And it’s a month to celebrate the unity between the Pilgrims and Native Americans—a spirit of giving that is the core of America’s foundation. I’d like to give thanks to the many authors who’ve visited the Cozy Corner this year and shared their talent and heart-filled stories that give so many readers a break from the pressures of the daily grind.

This week we have three special authors who’ve gone one step further in the spirit of giving, and have shared three great recipes for you to add to your holiday feast. Three different tastes, three different cultures coming together to bring your family a cozy holiday feast. Enjoy!

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE GUACAMOLE by Rebecca Adler

Taste of Texas #2

The Good, the Bad, and the Guacamole

Tex-Mex waitress and part-time reporter Josie Callahan is about to serve up some Lone Star justice in this spicy Taste of Texas Mystery from the author of Here Today, Gone Tamale.

Tourists are pouring into the town of Broken Boot for the annual Homestead Days Music Festival. Opening the celebration at Two Boots dance hall is smooth-talking country singer Jeff Clark, the ex-boyfriend of Josie’s best friend, Patti Perez. When the charming Clark woos Patti onstage in an attempt to rekindle some sparks with his old flame, Josie fears her friend will end up as just one more notch on the singer’s guitar strap.

To impress her editor at the Broken Boot Bugle, Josie and her Chihuahua, Lenny, pursue the singer to Patti’s house, hoping for an interview. Instead, they discover Clark facedown in a bowl of guacamole with a bloodied guitar at his side. With Patti suddenly a murder suspect, Josie must use her reporter skills to find out who had a chip on their shoulder—before the killer double dips….

Mystery Culinary | Mystery Cozy [Berkley, On Sale: November 1, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425275948 / eISBN: 9780698166721]

Simple Guacamole Recipe

Be careful handling jalapeños. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling and do not touch your eyes or the area near your eyes with your hands for several hours.

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice or lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • ¼ cup of diced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons jalapeño peppers, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
  • a dash of black pepper
  • ½ ripe tomato, seeds and pulp removed, diced (optional)
  • tortilla chips

Directions

  1. Cut the avocados in half. Remove seeds. Carefully score
    the inside of the avocado with a blunt knife and scoop out
    the flesh. Place in a bowl.
  2. Mash the avocado with a fork. (Guacamole should be
    chunky.)
  3. Sprinkle with lime (or lemon) juice and salt.
  4. Add the diced onion, jalapeños, cilantro, and black pepper.
    Peppers vary individually in their hotness. Start with a half of one pepper and add to your desired degree of hotness.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. Refrigerate until ready
    to serve. Refrigerating tomatoes can hurt their flavor. If you want to
    add chopped tomato to your guacamole, add it immediately
    before serving.
  6. Serve with tortilla chips

Variation

For a quick guacamole take a ¼ cup of salsa and mix it in with your mashed avocados.

I hope you’ll visit Josie, Lenny, and their family in Broken Boot real soon. And don’t forget to stop in at Milagro to try some of the best Tex Mex in the Southwest. Adiós, amigos!Rebecca Adler

OLIVE AND LET DIE by Susannah Hardy

Greek to Me Mystery #2

Olive and Let Die

The second Greek to Me Mystery from the author of Feta Attraction

As manager of the Bonaparte House, a historic landmark and Greek restaurant in upstate New York, Georgie Nikolopatos knows her local legends—and her traditional Greek recipes are to die for.

Between her soon-to-be ex-husband Spiro coming out of the closet and her budding romance with Captain Jack Conway, Georgie’s life is beginning to feel like a soap opera.  And that’s before a surprise visit from her estranged mother Shirley, better known as soap star Melanie Ashley. But the dramatic family reunion takes a chilling turn when another long-lost relative turns up dead.

Just outside Spiro’s new restaurant, Georgie and Melanie find the body of Doreen Webber—a cousin Georgie never knew she had. With Spiro’s partner Inky on the list of suspects, Georgie begins to wonder what else her mother may be hiding. Is the dead- broke diva capable of murder?  She’d better find out before someone adds a new twist to the family plot.

Includes delicious Greek recipes!

Mystery Culinary [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: November 3, 2015, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425271667 / eISBN: 9780698140097]

All-Purpose Greek-Style Seasoning

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried dill
  • 1 tsp. dried mint
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place (I use a cute glass jar with a tight fitting lid). Shake or stir before using in recipes.
  2. This delicious seasoning can be used in many ways:
  3. Mix a teaspoon or two with olive oil and lemon juice for a delicious Greek Vinaigrette to top salad or steamed green beans or broccoli
  4. Mix 2 tsp. with 2 T. olive oil and brush on chicken before baking until juices run clear. For a deeper flavor, brush the mixture between the chicken skin and flesh, then bake.
  5. Cut 2 pita breads in half (to make four circles), then cut each circle into six triangles. Place on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet. Mix 2 tsp. seasoning with 2 T. olive oil and brush lightly on each triangle. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes, or until crispy and lightly browned. Keep an eye on them, as they go from perfect to burned very quickly. Enjoy with Tzaziki (see Olive and Let Die or the author’s website susannahhardy.com for the recipe).

This Greek-style seasoning mix has many uses, flavoring main dishes, appetizers, and snacks. Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but this is the secret to many of the wonderful savory dishes Georgie serves at the Bonaparte House in Bonaparte Bay, New York. Enjoy! –Susannah Hardy

KNEADED TO DEATH by Winnie Archer

Bread Shop

Kneaded to Death

Everyone swears by Yeast of Eden, the Mexican bread shop in town. But tonight, the only thing on the menu is la muerte . . .

Struggling photographer Ivy Culpepper has lots of soul-searching to do since returning to seaside Santa Linda, California. That is, until the thirty-one-year-old enters a bread making class at Yeast of Eden. Whether it’s the aroma of fresh conchas in the oven, or her instant connection with owner Olaya Dias and her sisters, Ivy just knows the missing ingredients in her life are hidden among the secrets of Olaya’s bakery . . .

But Ivy’s spirits crumble when a missing classmate is suddenly discovered dead in her car, riddled with stab wounds. Even more devastating, the prime suspects are the Dias sisters themselves. Doubting the women could commit such a crime, Ivy embarks on a murder investigation of her own to prove their innocence and seize the real killer. As she follows a deadly trail of crumbs around town, Ivy must trust her gut like never before—or someone else could be toast!

Mystery Cozy [Kensington, On Sale: February 28, 2017, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781496707727 / eISBN: 9781496707734]

Gruyère and Black Pepper Popovers (16)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups all-purpose
  • ¾ cups Gruyère cheese, cut into small cubes.
  • Grated Gruyère cheese on top just after baking.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450̊ and place the rack in the bottom third of the oven. Place a dot of butter in the bottom of each muffin or popover cup and allow to heat in the oven while you make the popover batter.
  2. Use a small saucepan to warm milk at medium heat. It should be hot, but do not bring to a boil. Remove from the heat.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the salt and black pepper until smooth. Stir in the warm milk.
  4. Add flour to the egg mixture. Combine. The batter should be the consistency of cream. A few lumps are okay!
  5. Remove the muffin pans from the oven. Spray the pans generously with nonstick cooking spray. Pour about ⅓ cup of the batter into each of 16 muffin cups or into the popover pan. Place several cubes of cheese on top
    of the batter in each cup. 6. Reduce the oven temperature to 350. Bake the popovers until the tops puff up and are golden brown, about 40 minutes. Remember, do not open the oven door while baking. You don’t want the popovers to collapse!
  6. Turn onto a wire cooling rack right away to preserve the crispy edge of the popovers. Using a sharp knife, pierce the base of each popover to release the steam. Sprinkle grated Gruyère over finished popovers, if desired, and serve immediately.

This recipe was inspired by Jodi Elliott, owner and chef of Foreign & Domestic Food & Drink in Austin, Texas. Stop in and see her!—Winnie Archer (Misa Ramirez)

**Giveaway Alert!**

Look for my Giving Thanks Giveaway on Fresh Fiction and enter for your chance to win a signed copy of my Dead Man’s Carve mystery, all proceeds of my Tickled to Death Mystery go to wounded veterans.

Until Next time, get cozy and read on!

Kym Roberts is a retired detective sergeant who looks for passion, mystery and suspense in every book she reads and writes. She can be found on the web at kymroberts.com, on Facebook at Kym Roberts (author) and on Twitter @kymroberts911. Look for her new romantic suspense release, Red Lace, A Hard Men of the Rockies Novella and upcoming mystery release, Fatal Fiction, A Book Barn Mystery available for pre-order now.

A Royal Interview with Rhys Bowen

I’m very excited to have one of the leading historical cozy mystery writers here at the Cozy Corner. She’s polite and funny, hard-working and talented and vastly loved throughout the world of mystery writing. Please welcome Rhys Bowen!

Kym: Hi, Rhys, welcome to the Cozy Corner!

Rhys: Hi Kym. Nice to be here!

Kym: You started your career writing children’s picture books and then young adult books under the name Janet Quin-Harkin. What did you like most about those two genres?

Rhys: I’ve always loved children’s books. I suppose I like the playfulness, silliness and the complete belief in a world of good and evil with no gray areas. YA books, when I wrote them, were not so dark and mine were usually funny high school stories, similar in many ways to Lady Georgie’s adventures.

Kym: Do you have a favorite picture book or young adult book that has more meaning to you? Or one that was more popular with your own children?

Rhys: Well, I wrote a book called Ten Boy Summer, a spoof on romance that sold half a million copies, so I’d have to like that one. And one of my picture books, Septimus Bean and His Amazing Machine was made into a play at the Unicorn Theater in London this year. I went to the opening performance and it was such fun. It’s the first time I’ve seen my work on stage and I really enjoyed it.

septimus summer

Kym: Wow! That is sooo cool! I hope it comes stateside;) You’ve been nominated and received multiple awards for your writing, including several Agatha Awards for best novel and best historical mystery. Which award shocked you the most and why?

Rhys: My first nomination was for the Barry Award for my second mystery. Someone emailed me and said, “Did you see this?” and it was a list with me, Michael Connelly, Jeffrey Deaver, Ian Rankin and a couple more men. I thought it was a joke and was not amused. Then I found out it was true. So yes, totally gobsmacked, as we’d say in UK. And the first Agatha was a huge thrill. I don’t know how I made my way up to the stage and how I didn’t drop the teapot. Frankly, every award since has felt amazing and special.

Kym: LOL, I think everyone can relate to that fear of breaking a teapot! I’m glad you got the opportunity but refrained from letting it shatter. :-) You were born in Bath, England then moved to Australia and then to the United States. What do you miss most about England? Do you feel like you’re returning home every time you write a new book in the series Your Royal Spyness Mysteries?

Rhys: Oh yes, I love spending time with Lady Georgie so that I’m back in my home environment. What do I miss most? I think it’s a time more than a place, a simpler time when people would meet in the village pub and life was slower and safer. I do go back at least once a year and stay with my sister-in-law in her fourteenth century manor house. That really is like stepping back in time.

Kym: That would be an incredible visit! Is there a book in the Royal Spyness series that stands out for you, whether it be because of something that was going on in your life at the time you wrote it or a crime that really resonated with you at the time?

Rhys: I have to say that I loved the Twelve Clues of Christmas, not only because it was recreating my fantasy English country house Christmas, but because it was such a challenge to fit in all of the twelve clues and make them believable.

Kym: Your heroine in the Royal Spyness Mysteries, Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, is a quirky, funny woman who is forced to become self-sufficient. What do you like most about her? What do you like least?

Rhys: I think in many ways she is me at the same age: horribly naïve, vulnerable, a tad clumsy when nervous. I like the fact that she doesn’t give up, against all odds. Sometimes she annoys me because of her lack of self-confidence. She can’t believe that Darcy would choose someone like her. She doubts her own attractiveness.

Kym: Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie is bound by etiquette because of being thirty-fifth in line for the British crown. Do you have some personal knowledge of the type of societal pressures Georgie experiences? (I love the nickname Georgie!)

Rhys: Oh, yes. I married into a frightfully upper class British family. I had a father-in-law who was reputed to have said, when a cousin wanted to marry a man who owned a shop, “Stop the bans. No trade in the family.” I use family sayings and interactions all the time. I suppose I notice them more because we don’t live in that world. Lots of funny nicknames in the family!

And pressures? I had a boyfriend when I was in college. He was also from a high level of society. I was definitely middle class. His mother was horrible to me and I couldn’t understand why. I had perfect manners, I dressed well, I could fit into any level of society. It was years later when I realized the truth. My family had no connections that could help my boyfriend in his career. He was a law student and she wanted him to rise to the top of his profession. How silly. Luckily I didn’t marry him!

Kym: What makes Georgie’s fiancée, Darcy O’Mara, so appealing to you as a writer? (Another great name, with an Irish twist!)

Rhys: Well, the name to start with. So many people have asked me whether the Darcy in the name was inspired by Jane Austen. Oh yes, I say. Every time I picture him I see Colin Firth coming out of the lake with his wet shirt on! I love that he’s sexy and not quite safe and we don’t quite know what he does for a living… which side of the law he’s on. Definitely a gorgeous rogue.

Kym: We all love a gorgeous rogue;) In your latest Royal Spyness Mystery, Crowned and Dangerous, Darcy’s family must sell the family castle they can no longer afford to keep. Did you base this on real-life financial issues families throughout Europe face regarding the upkeep and expense of inheriting such a magnificent piece of history?

Rhys: So many families lost everything in the crash of ’29 and one thing that affected many aristocratic families were the taxes on the estate. They are called Death Duties and when someone died the value of the estate was taxed. This tax was so high that landowners were often forced to sell or divide up the estate. It was after WW2 that the big houses became impossible to maintain because nobody wanted to be a servant, and the cost of heating the house shot up.

Kym: You also write the Molly Murphy Mystery series about a young Irish immigrant living in the early 1900’s who’s fled her homeland only to land on the shores of Ellis Island and be accused murder—and hence her life as a private investigator is born. The series follows her through her courtship with NYPD captain Daniel Sullivan, their marriage and the birth of their son. What makes this couple so identifiable to readers?

Rhys: I think Molly mirrors the typical immigrant experience and the struggles they went through alone in a new land. They have also been through huge ups and downs as a couple and have really succeeded against all odds. I think both my detectives have this strong innate sense of justice and desire to make things right that makes them so appealing.

Kym: Readers love the historical context of your books. What is it about the early 20th century that you love the most? What is the hardest part about writing a story of that time period?

Rhys: I am attracted to the first half of the Twentieth century because in many ways it is close our own experience. If you went to Molly’s New York or Georgie’s London you would not feel out of place. There was electricity, there was a modern feel and yet in some ways it was so backward. Women couldn’t vote. In NY they couldn’t own property. They could be beaten by their husbands. And the Thirties? What an interesting time to write about. The world had gone through one major war and yet society had not completely changed. Communism and fascism were fighting for control of Europe. There was great poverty but still people who owned yachts on the Med. And then there is the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Simpson who are such fun to write about!

Kym: I adore the titles for your Evan Evans Mysteries, specifically Evan Above, Evan Help Us, and most of all, Evan and Elle and Evan to Betsy. Will Evan ever return to your writing desk?

Rhys: I hope so one day. I’ve been so busy, juggling two series that I’ve had to put Evan to one side. However, the series has been optioned by CBS Television, so if it becomes a TV series, I am sure I’ll want to write more books.

Kym: OMG, that would be awesome! Can you tell us what’s in store for Georgie and Darcy? Molly and Danny?

Rhys: I have finished next year’s Royal Spyness mystery. It comes out next August and is called On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service. It takes Georgie to Italy and some real spying is involved.

I’m in the middle of the next Molly book. It will be a Christmas book for 2017 and is called The Ghost of Christmas Past. No supernatural elements are involved but rather an old tragedy comes back to haunt the holiday.

And in the new year I’ll have a big announcement about an upcoming book, so stay tuned!

Kym: What a tease! We’ll definitely be watching for that big announcement! Where can our readers find you on social media?

Rhys: Mostly on Facebook: www.facebook.com/rhysbowenauthor I post almost daily.

Sometimes on Twitter @rhysbowen

And I do have a website www.rhysbowen.com with a button to contact me.

Kym: Thank you for joining us at the Cozy Corner!

Rhys: Thank you, Kym. It was fun visiting with you.

**Giveaway Alert!**

Look for my Giving Thanks Giveaway on Fresh Fiction and enter for your chance to win a signed copy of my Dead Man’s Carve mystery, all proceeds of my Tickled to Death Mystery go to wounded veterans.

Until Next time, get cozy and read on!

Kym Roberts is a retired detective sergeant who looks for passion, mystery and suspense in every book she reads and writes. She can be found on the web at kymroberts.com, on Facebook at Kym Roberts (author) and on Twitter @kymroberts911. Look for her new romantic suspense release, Red Lace, A Hard Men of the Rockies Novella and upcoming mystery release, Fatal Fiction, A Book Barn Mystery available for pre-order now.

About Rhys Bowen

Rhys Bowen

Rhys Bowen is the New York Times Bestselling Author of the Royal Spyness Series, Molly Murphy Mysteries, and Constable Evans. Winner of the Agatha Best Novel Award and nominated for the Edgar Best Novel Rhys’s titles have received rave reviews around the globe.

Rhys Bowen was born in Bath, England, of a family that was half Welsh, half English. She was educated at London University and then began her career with the BBC, where she became a drama studio manager. She had made up stories all her life. While working on a boring play she decided to write a play of her own. With the bravado of a 22 year old she marched into the office of the head of BBC drama and handed him the script. Two days later he summoned her and told her that they were going to produce the play… Rhys has never looked back.

The British climate forced Rhys to escape to Australia where she worked for Australian Broadcasting before meeting her future husband, a fellow Brit who was on his way to California. So Rhys packed up again and found herself in San Francisco where she settled and has lived ever since, raising four children.

Finding nothing like the BBC in San Francisco, Rhys turned to writing children’s books under her married name, Janet Quin-Harkin. Her first picture book was an immediate success and won several awards. More picture books followed, then her agent asked her to write a book for young adults. This was a turning point in Rhys’s career. Her first young adult novel was an instant hit. By her third she was selling half a million copies. Many more popular YA novels followed until Rhys decided she had said all she wanted to say about teenage love and angst, and she turned her real love—mysteries.

The sort of books she loves to read are those with a great sense of time and place. So she considered where to set a series of her own and chose the mountains of North Wales, where she had spent many happy childhood vacations and used her grandfather’s name as her nom de plume. Constable Evan Evans was the hero of these novels that took place in a tiny fictitious village in Snowdonia. The series was well received from the start. The second book, Evan Help Us, was nominated for a Barry Award. Evan’s Gate achieved the ultimate success when it was nominated for the Edgar best novel—the highest prize in mysterydom.

But it was a chance visit to Ellis Island that made Rhys start thinking in a new direction. The spunky and not always wise Molly Murphy came into her head, fleeing from Ireland and finding herself implicated in a murder on Ellis Island in the first book, MURPHY”S LAW. This book won the Agatha Best Novel award, plus three others. Every subsequent book in the series has received awards, nominations and glowing reviews. Book eleven, HUSH NOW, DON’T YOU CRY, was published in March 2012 and went straight to the New York Times bestseller list.

Never one to rest on her laurels Rhys reacted to the gloom and doom of real life by creating a second heroine—this one aimed to amuse. She is Lady Georgiana, 34th in line to the British throne but utterly penniless and struggling to make her own way in the cruel world of the Great Depression. Her Royal Spyness was a bestseller, nominated for many awards and instantly endeared readers to her heroine. The following books have all received award nominations. The 2011 book, Naughty in Nice started off with a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and was then nominated for an Agatha, Bruce Alexander and RT Reviews award. The audio version is also nominated for an Audie. In April 2012 it won the Agatha Award for best historical mystery.

As well as novels Rhys has written many short stories, including an Anthony winner. She is an ex chapter president of Mystery Writers of America and appears in Who’s Who in America. When not writing she loves to travel, sing, hike, paint, play her Celtic harp and spoil her grandchildren.

Royal Spyness | Molly Murphy | Constable Evans

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