Sunday, August 18, 2019



Peace and quiet is underrated.

After her last brush with murder, Larklyn Davis is relieved to be spending her time with the talented new horse at her stables instead of tripping over body parts. While she’s trying to figure out why her newest horse has lost his mojo, she’s also puzzling over her relationship with the brooding, uncommunicative Detective Brecken Wilson.

But then, disaster strikes, and both Lark’s reputation and business are on the line. Once again she finds herself pulled into a murder case and in close proximity to the handsome detective. Throw in a dashing veterinarian plus a matchmaking town, and Lark’s life spins out of control. As clues pile up and all evidence leads back to her barn, Lark gets saddled up to solve another mystery.

Who knew life in Barrow Bay would stir up so much trouble?

Book Details:

Title: Stir Up

Author’s name: Annabelle Hunter

Genre: Cozy mystery

Series: Lark Davis Mysteries, book 2

Publisher: Independent (July 1st, 2019)

Print length: 258 pages

On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours



A few of your favorite things: read, ride, write. Oh, and eat.
Things you need to throw out: all the shoes that I love, but are too worn out to wear anymore. 

Things you need in order to write: no one asking me to do something for them.
Things that hamper your writing: children, but they are a really cute hamper, so I don’t mind.

Things you love about writing: creating stories.
Things you hate about writing: the characters not listening to my direction and making me go rewrite the outline. Again.

Hardest thing about being a writer: editing.
Easiest thing about being a writer: talking about books for hours and dissecting other people’s writing so I can learn to be better. 

Things you love about where you live: constant sunny weather.
Things that make you want to move: constant sunny weather (picture vampire here).

Things you never want to run out of: coffee.
Things you wish you’d never bought: coffee

Words that describe you: awkward.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: awkward. I’m starting to worry about my answers to these questions.

Favorite foods: crepes, BBQ pork buns, BBQ, chocolate, creme brulee, bread pudding, ice cream, pho, hummus, kabobs, baba ganoush, sushi… you get the picture. I like food.
Things that make you want to throw up: broccoli. It’s evil.

Favorite smell: orange blossoms.

Something that makes you hold your nose: skunk.

Something you’re really good at: reading.

Something you’re really bad at: riding horses, not that it stops me.

Something you wish you could do: get my tense right when I write. Oh! Or spell.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: make brownies. It’s evil. And so good.

Something you like to do: sleep in.

Something you wish you’d never done: frequently that answer is ‘open my mouth and comment on something’ but I’m out of examples right now. But very rarely am I witty in person and that tends to be on the top of my regrets list.

Last best thing you ate: dumplings. 

Last thing you regret eating: dumplings … I’m still too full.

Things you’d walk a mile for: food. Friends. The band Queen . . .
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: horror movies.

Things you always put in your books: romance. I can’t help myself. 

Things you never put in your books: horror.

Things to say to an author: I love your work. 

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: ‘You know, your work would be better if…’ Although, I would change your name. And probably write down the comment for further rumination.

Favorite places you’ve been: England.

Places you never want to go to again: downtown LA. I hate the parking. And the drive. Did I mention the parking? Oh, and I should mention the parking.

Favorite things to do: Writing.
Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: Editing. FYI - it doesn’t work. My brain makes me go back and finish it anyways.

Things that make you happy: My friends and family
Things that drive you crazy: See above. I’m seeing a trend.

Most embarrassing moment: Too many to mention. I’m an all-star on being mortified of the things that come out of my mouth. 

Proudest moment: My first review. Five stars. I cried for like a half hour I was so happy.

Best thing you’ve ever done: Made sure I listened to other people and really heard what they’re saying.

Biggest mistake: Taking their opinions as fact or getting angry instead of listening and trying to find out why they thought that.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: published a book. 

Something you chickened out from doing: Horse shows. I’m such a wuss. I told you I was never ready. 


Annabelle Hunter is a stay-at-home mother who writes in whatever time her children give her. She is the author of Leg Up and Number’s Up. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two children, and various pets. 

Connect with Annabelle:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:


Friday, August 16, 2019



Dallas private eye Ed Earl Burch is an emotional wreck, living on the edge of madness, hosing down the nightmares of his last case with bourbon and Percodan, dreading the next onslaught of demons that haunt his days and nights, including a one-eyed dead man who still wants to carve out his heart and eat it.

Burch is also a walking contradiction. Steady and relentless when working a case. Tormented and unbalanced when idle. He’s deeply in debt to a shyster lawyer who forces him to take the type of case he loathes -- divorce work, peephole creeping to get dirt on a wayward husband.

Work with no honor. Work that reminds him of how far he’s fallen since he lost the gold shield of a Dallas homicide detective. Work in the stark, harsh badlands of West Texas, the border country where he almost got killed and his nightmares began.

What he longs for is the clarity and sense of purpose he had when he carried that gold shield and chased killers for a living. The adrenaline spike of the showdown. Smoke ‘em or cuff ‘em. Justice served -- by his .45 or a judge and jury.

When a rich rancher and war hero is killed in a suspicious barn fire, the rancher’s outlaw cousin hires Burch to investigate a death the county sheriff is reluctant to touch.

Seems a lot of folks had reason for wanting the rancher dead -- the local narco who has the sheriff on his payroll; some ruthless Houston developers who want the rancher’s land; maybe his own daughter. Maybe the outlaw cousin who hired Burch.

Thrilled to be a manhunter again, Burch ignores these red flags, forgetting something he once knew by heart.

Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it. And it might just get you killed.

But it’s the best lousy choice Ed Earl Burch is ever going to get.

Book Details:

Title: The Best Lousy Choice: An Ed Earl Burch Novel

Author: Jim Nesbitt

Genre: Hard-boiled crime thriller

Series: An Ed Burch Novel, chronologically set between the first two books.

Publisher: Spotted Mule Press (July 9, 2019)

Print length: 347 pages

On tour with: Partners in Crime Book Tours



Things you need in order to write: Like Faulkner said: “My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey . . ..” I write on a laptop, but I edit from the printed page, so paper is a must. Bourbon or Tennessee whiskey, a good cigar and a ribeye are other must-haves. Make mine medium rare.
Things that hamper your writing: Milo, my 18-year-old cat. He likes to nap on my lap while I’m writing on my laptop. Nice work if you can get it. When he thinks I’ve ignored him for too long, he walks across the keyboard. Other entanglements: a demanding day job, advancing age that reduces my energy level, and a growing intolerance for music while I write. Lyrics get in the way of the words I’m trying to coax out of my head, but music is a fine thing while winding down from a long writing session or gearing up for one.

Things you love about writing: I have to disagree with Dorothy Parker’s line: “I hate writing; I love having written.” Writing is damn hard work and there’s no silver-bullet substitute for keeping your butt in the chair and pounding away for hours at a time — or staring at the screen or thin air when the words won’t come. But when the muse takes over and the words flow, when you’ve just etched a great scene or a stretch of snappy, killer dialogue — or, even better, when a character just elbows their way to the surface and takes over the book — it’s a sweet payoff for all those butt-numbing hours.
Things you hate about writing: When that fickle muse jilts you and it feels like you’re chipping away at a granite wall with a tiny rock hammer. When the demands of the day job or other duties keep you out of that chair when what you really need to be doing is writing — that creates a fierce guilt that tops anything the Baptists or Catholics can dish out.

Things you never want to run out of: bourbon or Tennessee whiskey, cigars, red meat, and good books.
Things you wish you’d never bought: a gas-powered weed eater, a smart phone, an exercise bike, ties, and suits.

Words that describe you: loyal, honest, smart, talented, witty, proud, resilient, resourceful, fierce.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: reckless, stubborn, temperamental, talky, cynical, caustic.

Favorite foods: steak, smoked pork butt and beef brisket, huevos ranchero con verde sauce, Cuban sandwiches, ropa vieja, oysters, mussels, pecan pie, banana pudding, grilled snapper and grouper, fried chicken, fried catfish, fried shrimp.
Things that make you want to throw up:  snails and sushi.

Favorite music: I’m a musical omnivore, and like everything from 20s and 30s jazz to rockabilly, blues, R&B, jump blues, rock, Tex-Mex, ranchera, conjunto and Western swing.
Music that make your ears bleed: techno, death and thrash metal, rap and hip-hop.

Favorite beverage: George Dickel Tennessee whisky on the rocks. Close second: a well-made mojito.

Something that gives you a pickle face: anything with gin in it.

Something you wish you could do: rebuild a car or aircraft engine.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: play the piano.

Last best thing you ate: Cuban sandwich with black bean soup.

Last thing you regret eating: late-night pizza with extra tomato sauce — heartburn city.

Things to say to an author: Your book was so addicting I stayed up until 2 a.m. to finish it — gave it a five-star review the next day.

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: Why do you give your characters such weird names — can’t you just call them Joe or Sheila? Or: Why do you spend so much time describing the scenery — I already know what the sky, the mountains or a couch look like.

Favorite places you’ve been: Cuba, the Keys, Wales and West Texas.

Places you never want to go to again: Albany, New York followed closely by Gary, Indiana.

Favorite books: The Time It Never Rained, by Elmer Kelton; Red Harvest, by Dashiell Hammett; The Long Goodbye, by Raymond Chandler; Bordersnakes and Dancing Bear, by James Crumley; American Tabloid, by James Ellroy; The Drowning Pool and The Chill, by Ross Macdonald; Devil In A Blue Dress, by Walter Mosley; A Walk Among The Tombstones, by Lawrence Block.

Books you would ban: I would never ban or burn a book, but I would remainder any and all self-help and diet books, with prejudice.

People you’d like to invite to dinner: Sean Connery, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Rosie Flores, Marty Stuart, James Ellroy, Lawrence Block, Willie Nelson, Helen Mirren, Marcia Gay Harden, Lewis Black, Craig Ferguson, Dr. James Andrews, Neal DeGrasse Tyson, Jeff Bridges, Tommy Lee Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Marcia Ball, Holly Hunter, William Weld
People you’d cancel dinner on: Donald Trump, Al Sharpton, Ted Nugent, Ann Coulter, Whoopi Goldberg, Taylor Swift, Florida-Georgia Line and Alex Jones.

Favorite things to do: drive my 1972 Cutlass Supreme convertible with my wife; smoke a great cigar while sipping bourbon or Tennessee whiskey, pilot a vintage aircraft.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: give a PowerPoint presentation, skydive, Christmas caroling, dancing, go to a soccer game, climb onto a roof, look down from a precipice, clean out the gutters or the garage.

Biggest lie you’ve ever told: told a drunk I was Jerry Garcia and signed an autograph as Jerry.

A lie you wish you’d told: that I’m a Texan instead of a Pennsylvanian.

Best thing you’ve ever done: marry my wife.

Biggest mistake: marry my first two wives.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: dump a motorcycle to avoid colliding with a car.

Something you chickened out from doing: skydive.


Burch slipped through a thick snarl of gawkers, glad-handers, gossips and genuine mourners going nowhere fast in the vestibule of Sartell’s Funeral Home, nodding and smiling like the prodigal returned to the paternal table.
To ease his passage toward the chapel where Bart Hulett’s charred corpse was surely hidden in a closed casket, he patted the passing shoulder, shook the hand thrust his way and mouthed the “good to see you” to the stranger’s face that smiled in mistaken recognition. Baptist reflexes from a long-ago boyhood, handy for the preacher, pol or low-rent peeper — remnants of an endless string of God Box Sundays he’d rather forget.
The chapel was packed and the well-mannered buzz of polite stage whispers filled the room, triggering another Baptist flashback — the hushed sanctuary conversations of the flock anticipating the opening chords of a Sunday service first hymn.
Ten rows of hard-backed dark wooden pews flanked each side of a center aisle leading to a low lacquered plywood platform topped by a glossy Texas pecan wood casket with burnished brass lugs and fixtures. Two blown-up photographs in fluted gilt frames faced the mourners, standing guard at each end of the casket — a colorized, wartime portrait of a young Bart Hulett in Marine dress blues and visored white cover at the foot; a candid of Hulett and his blonde wife on horseback at the head, their smiling faces goldened by the setting sun.
Behind the pews, five rows of equally unforgiving aluminum folding chairs, all sporting the durable silver-gray institutional enamel common to the breed, stood as ready reserve for the overflow of mourners. The pews were filled and a butt claimed every chair — a testament to Bart Hulett’s standing as a fallen civic leader and member of one of the founding families of Cuervo County.
No cushions in pew or chair. Comfort wasn’t on the dance card in this part of West Texas. The land was too stark, harsh and demanding, intolerant of those seeking a soft life of leisure. And Baptists damned dancing as a sin and kept those pews rock hard so you’d stay wide awake for the preacher’s fiery reminder about the brimstone wages of sin.
Dark blue carpet covered what Burch’s knees told him was a concrete floor. Flocked, deep-red fabric lined the walls, brightened by a line of wall sconces trimmed in shiny brass that reflected the dimmed light from electric candles. Two brass candelabras hung from the ceiling, bathing the chapel in a warm, yellow glow. Heavy, burgundy velour drapes lined the front wall and flanked the rear entrance and the opening to a sitting room to the left of the casket.
The total effect was meant to be plush, somber and churchly, yet welcoming. Don’t fear death. It comes to us all. Just a part of the great circle of life and God’s eternal plan. Let us gather together and celebrate the days on earth of this great man who has left us for his final reward.
But Burch wasn’t buying the undertaker’s refried Baptist bill of fare. To his eye, the drapes, the wall covering and the brass light fixtures looked more like the lush trappings of a high-dollar whorehouse than a church, an old-timey sin palace that packaged purchased pleasure in a luxury wrapper. All that was missing was a line of near-naked whores for the choosing and a piano man in a bowler hat and gartered shirt sleeves, tickling the ivories while chomping a cigar.
Nothing more honest than a fifty-dollar blow job from a working girl who knows her trade.
Nothing more bitter than the cynical heresy of a backslidden Baptist sinner.
Nothing more useless than a de-frocked cop still ready to call out the hypocrisy of a church he thought was just a dot in his rearview mirror.
Burch cold-cocked his bitter musings and wiped the smirk off his face. He grabbed a corner at the rear of the room and continued his chapel observations. He tried to settle into the old routine. Relax. Watch and wait. Keep the eyes moving and let it come to you. Don’t force it.
But the watcher’s mantra wasn’t working.
Couldn’t shake the feeling that eyes had been on him while he juked and doubled back through town earlier in the day and that eyes were on him now. Couldn’t blame the demons for this. He was still cool and calm from that special cocktail he served himself before leaving the ranch. That meant the sixth sense was real, not a figment of his nightmares. And he was far too old a dog to ignore it.
Burch took a deep breath and let it out slow, just like he did at the rifle range before squeezing off the next round. His heartbeat slowed. He felt himself relax. The uneasy feeling was still there, but it was a small sliver of edginess. Do the job. Watch and wait. Keep the eyes moving. Let it come to you.
From the chapel entrance, a thick line of mourners broke toward the right rear corner of the room and angled along the wall opposite Burch before bending again to crowd the closed casket, leading to a small knot of Hulett family members standing next to the photo of Bart and his dead wife.
Stella Rae was playing the head of household role, reaching across her body to shake hands with her left because her right was burned, bandaged and hanging loose at her side, the white tape and pinkish gauze riding below the rolled-back cuff of a navy cowgirl shirt with white piping and a bright red cactus blossom on each yoke.
She was wearing Wranglers too new to be faded and pointy-toed lizard-skin boots the color of peanut brittle, her dark blonde hair swept back from her oval face and touching her shoulders. The warm light from the candelabras picked up the slight rose tint of her olive skin and the flash of white from her smile.
A beautiful woman putting on a brave front. A woman custom-made to be looked at with lustful intent. Burch didn’t need imagination to mentally undress Stella Rae Hulett. He had seen her at her carnal best while staring through the telephoto lens of a camera as she fucked her lover in a dimly lit motel room. He had his own highlight reel of her taut body stored in his brainpan.
But his mind was on the charred chain in the bed of Gyp Hulett’s pickup, his eyes locked on the bandaged hand dangling at her side. How’d you really burn your hand, missy? Where were you when your daddy died?
Jason Powell stood behind her, looming over her right shoulder, the protective hand of a lover on her upper arm as he nodded to each mourner paying respect as Stella Rae shook their hand. Gotta give the guitar picker some credit. Looks like he’s in it for the long haul.
To Stella’s right stood a young man in jeans, boots and a red brocade vest over a crisp, white shirt and a bolo with a silver and onyx slide. His round face was pale and pockmarked, his hair black and wiry. Burch guessed he was looking at Jimmy Carl Hulett, Bart Hulett’s only son.
Jimmy Carl looked like a sawed-off version of his ancient cousin, Gyp, minus the gunsight stare, the wolf smile and the Browning Hi-Power on the hip. Which was another way of saying the boy had more than a few dollops of bad outlaw blood running through his veins, but none of the lethal menace.
The younger Hulett looked uncomfortable shaking the hands of mourners, his eyes shifting but always downcast, his head nodding with a nervous jerk, the overhead glow highlighting a slight sheen of sweat on his forehead. Between handshakes, he wiped his hawk’s beak nose with a dark blue bandana.
He looked like a man who needed a drink.
Or a spike of Mexican Brown.
Burch knew the look. Saw it a thousand times as a Dallas street cop. Telltales of a junkie. A loser. A Hulett in name only. A weak link who would sell his soul for his next fix. Or sell out his daddy. How bad are you hooked, boy? Who has his claws in you besides your dealer? Malo Garza? Needle Burnet? Or another player to be named later?
Burch tucked these questions into his mental deck and resumed scanning the crowd, ignoring that edgy sliver, keeping a slight smile on his face — just a prodigal looking for old friends and neighbors. Damned tedious work, standing in the corner of a whorehouse chapel, watching and waiting, working a cop’s most hackneyed routine — hitting the victim’s funeral.
His feet and knees started to ache. Never cut it walking a beat again. He ignored the pain and kept his eyes moving. He wasn’t expecting a lightning flash of sudden insight or the appearance of a beady-eyed suspect wearing their guilt like a gaudy neon sign. That only happened on Murder, She Wrote and Angela Lansbury didn’t fit in with this West Texas crowd.
Burch was looking for smaller stuff. Dribs and drabs. A pattern. A sense of how people caught up in a case fit together — or didn’t. A loose thread. An odd moment. A step out of line or time.
A facial tic or look. Like a Hulett with the junkie’s sniffles.
A mismatch. Like a beautiful woman with a burned and bandaged right hand.
A shard. Anything that caused his cop instincts to tingle, triggering questions he needed to ask. He found two. Small kernels, granted, but grist for the mill.
He kept his eyes moving, looking for more of something he wouldn’t know until he saw it. Minutes dragged by, grinding like a gearbox with sand in it. The line of mourners grew shorter. The pain moved up to the small of his back.
The sliver grew into a sharp stab of warning. Eyes were on him. Felt rather than seen. He shifted his gaze to his right, keeping his head still. Across the center aisle, at the near end of the last row of chairs, a gaunt brown face with thin black hair turned to face the front of the chapel. Before the turn, Burch saw intense, dark eyes studying him — the watcher being watched.
Both knew the other was there so Burch took his time studying the man’s profile. Thin, bony nose, hair brushed back dry from a receding widow’s peak, black suit with an open-collar white dress shirt. The man quit pretending he hadn’t been made, turning to look at Burch with a slight smile and close-set eyes that flashed a predatory interest.
Burch returned the stare with the dead-eyed look of a cop and burned an image for his memory bank.
Who are you, friend? Another Garza hitter? Jesus, Burch, that isn’t what the narcos call their gunsels. Get your head out of the 1940s. Sicario — that’s it.
What about it, friend? You another of Malo’s sicarios? Or are you outside talent? Maybe that specialist Bustamante talked about. Maybe a freelancer working for Malo’s competition. Or the Bryte Brothers.
You the eyes I feel watchin’ me? Why the sudden interest? Those two shooters I smoked friends of yours?
Movement up front caught Burch’s attention. Gyp Hulett, hat in hand and wearing a black frock coat straight out of the 1890s that wasn’t in the truck cab during the ride to town, parting the sitting room drapes. The old outlaw walked up to his younger cousins in a bow-legged stride, whispering to each, then beckoning them to follow him as he retraced his steps.
Burch glanced back toward the gaunt Mexican. Gone. A sucker’s play if he followed. Burch slid out of his corner perch and along the back row of chairs to get a better look at the sitting room entrance. Gyp parted the drapes to let Stella Rae and Jimmy Carl enter.
Through the opening, Burch could see Boelcke standing next to a tall man with a thick, dark moustache, an inverted V above a stern, downturned mouth, echoed by thick eyebrows. He had ramrod straight posture and was wearing a tailored, dark gray suit, a pearl gray shirt and a black tie. Black hair in a conservative businessman’s cut, light brown skin and an aquiline nose gave him the look of a criollo, the New World Spaniards who ripped the land of their birth away from the mother country.
Malo Garza, paying his respects in private. Gyp Hulett swept the drapes closed as he ducked into the room. Burch braced himself for the bark of a Browning Hi-Power he hoped he wouldn’t hear and marveled at the high hypocrisy of Garza showing up at the funeral of a man he wanted dead.
Took balls and brass to do that. Matched by a restraint Burch didn’t know Gyp Hulett had.
“Bet you’d like to be a fly on the wall in that room.”
For a split second, Burch thought he was hearing the voice of Wynn Moore’s ghost. Then he looked to his right and met the sad, brown eyes of Cuervo County Chief Deputy Elroy Jesus “Sudden” Doggett.
“Wouldn’t mind that one bit. Imagine it’s quite the show. Lots of polite words of sorrow and respect. Lots of posturing. Lots of restraint. Have to be considerin’ one man in there would like to kill the other.”
“That would be your client, right? The ever-popular Gyp Hulett, gringo gangster of the Trans-Pecos.”
“Can’t tell you who I’m working for, Deputy. You know that’s confidential.”
Doggett’s eyes went from sad to flat annoyed and his voice took on a metallic edge.
“That ain’t no secret, hoss. Not to me or anybody else who matters around here, including the other big
mule in that room. And that man probably wants to kill you.”
“Malo Garza? The man don’t even know me.”
“That’s a point in your favor. If he did know you, he’d put you out of your misery right now.”
“A big dog like him? He’s got more important things to worry about than lil’ ol’ me.”
“You don’t know Malo Garza. Anybody pokin’ his nose anywhere near his business draws his personal interest. And believe you me, that ain’t healthy.”
“Ol’ Malo might find me a tad hard to kill. I tend to shoot back. If he wants a piece of me, he’ll have to get in line.”
Doggett paused. His eyes turned sad again. When he spoke, the edge was gone from his voice.
“Listen to us — two guys talkin’ about killin’ at a great man’s funeral. Let’s step outside for a smoke and a talk.”
“Unless this is the type of talk that follows an arrest, I’d rather stay here and watch the floor show.”
Doggett chuckled.
“Don’t have that kind of talk in mind right now, although the man I work for just might. This’ll be a private chat between you and me.”
“Thought we had a meeting tomorrow. You are the hombre that had that trustee give Lawyer Boelcke that invitation to Guerrero’s, right?”
“Right. Things change. Come ahead on. I’ll have you back for the next act. It’s one you won’t want to miss. Star of the show. Blue Willingham, shedding crocodile tears for Bart Hulett. He won’t show up until Garza’s done paying his respects.”
Nothing like dancing the West Texas waltz with bent lawmen, lupine outlaws, patrician drug lords, gaunt killers and Baptist undertakers with bordello tastes.
In three-quarter time.
Excerpt from The Best Lousy Choice: An Ed Earl Burch Novel by Jim Nesbitt. Copyright © 2019 by Jim Nesbitt. Reproduced with permission from Jim Nesbitt. All rights reserved.


Jim Nesbitt is the author of three hard-boiled Texas crime thrillers that feature battered but dogged Dallas PI Ed Earl Burch — The Last Second Chance, a Silver Falchion finalist; The Right Wrong Number, an Underground Book Reviews “Top Pick”; and, his latest, The Best Lousy Choice. Nesbitt was a journalist for more than 30 years, serving as a reporter, editor and roving national correspondent for newspapers and wire services in Alabama, Florida, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Washington, D.C. He chased hurricanes, earthquakes, plane wrecks, presidential candidates, wildfires, rodeo cowboys, migrant field hands, neo-Nazis and nuns with an eye for the telling detail and an ear for the voice of the people who give life to a story. His stories have appeared in newspapers across the country and in magazines such as Cigar Aficionado and American Cowboy. He is a lapsed horseman, pilot, hunter and saloon sport with a keen appreciation for old guns, vintage cars and trucks, good cigars, aged whiskey and a well-told story. He lives in Athens, Alabama.

Connect with Jim:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter Goodreads

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, August 14, 2019



The Allies and the Nazis are in a deadly race to develop the ultimate weapon while supersonic V-2 rockets rain down on London. Madeleine Toche and Berthold Hartmann, the German super assassin who taught her to kill, search for the secret factory where Werner von Braun and his Gestapos masters use slave labor to build the weapons as the bodies of the innocent pile up. The Allied ground forces push towards Berlin while the German SS fight savagely for each inch of ground.

Finding the factory hidden beneath Mount Kohnstein, Hartmann contacts his old enemy, Winston Churchill and summons Madeleine to his side. While she moves to bring the mountain down on her enemies, Hartmann leads a daring escape from the dreaded Dora concentration camp to continue his revenge against the monsters who ruined his beloved Germany.

Together with the Russian Nachtlexen, the Night Witches, fearsome female pilots the race tightens as the United States and the Germans successfully carry out an atomic bomb test.

Germany installs an atom bomb in a V-2 pointed towards London, while the US delivers one to a forward base in the Pacific. The fate of the Second World War and the future of mankind hangs in the balance.

Read the first chapter at Booksie and don’t forget to give it a like!

Book Details:

Title: Wolves at Our Door

Author: Soren Paul Petrek 

Genre: Historical/Action/Adventure 

Publisher: Editions Encre Rouge/Hachette Livre (May 2, 2019) 

Print Length: 319 pages

On tour with: Pump Up Your Book


A few of your favorite things: I like good food, time spent with family and friends, movies and of course reading books!

Things you need to throw out: a storage facility full of everything, junk, bikes, old papers . . .

Things you need in order to write: laptop for clicking away and doing research.

Things that hamper your writing: getting too busy with my day job. I’m a trial attorney.

Things you love about writing: the joy that I bring to my readers as reflected by their thoughtful reviews.

Things you hate about writing: bad reviews, but you can’t please everyone. All writers get them.

Things you love about where you live: It’s a small bungalow, in a quiet neighborhood near restaurants and entertainment
Things that make you want to move: Our sons grew up and have moved on. This is my last move. If I ever move again, it will be in an urn.

Favorite foods: I do the cooking at home. Anything with fresh ingredients, really good BBQ is hard to beat.

Things that make you want to throw up: Coconut is the ONLY thing I can’t stand. I tell my friends and family who love it, coconut is not a food… it’s bark.

Favorite music or song: classic rock.

Music that make your ears bleed: death metal.

Favorite beverage: Coca-Cola it’s not good for you, but sometimes only a coke will do it.

Something that gives you a pickle face: coconut water: AKA ‘Bark Juice.’

Favorite smell: Baking bread.

Something that makes you hold your nose: All things associated with waste treatment plants. Somebody light a match!

Something you’re really good at: cooking and writing.

Something you’re really bad at: everything mechanical or that involves directions.  #1 If it can’t be fixed with a sledgehammer, it can’t be fixed, #2 Never give Soren the map.

Something you like to do: zipline.

Something you wish you’d never done: Ridden any ride at a county fair.

People you consider as heroes: Winston Churchill, FDR, my parents.

People with a big L on their foreheads: Hitler, Stalin, all celebrities who came to fame through “leaked sex tapes.”

Last best thing you ate: steak.

Last thing you regret eating: coconut hidden in a cookie. Sometimes the sneaky so-and-so’s try to hide it in frosting. You can’t hide chunks of bark.

Things you always put in your books: some humor and a humanitarian reminder.

Things you never put in your books: my personal opinions. Who cares, I write fiction.  However, none of my characters like coconut . . .

Things to say to an author: don’t over-describe me, let the reader use their imagination.

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: You’re a hack!

Favorite places you’ve been: Provence, South of France, London. I’ve lived in both.

Places you never want to go to again: Milan (Italy).

Favorite books: All Quiet on the Western Front. The author was there fighting.

Books you would ban: None, although Mein Kompf could have a sub-title Rantings of a Lunatic.

People you’d like to invite to dinner: Steven King and his wife.

People you’d cancel dinner on: Kim Jong un.

Things that make you happy: dinner with family.

Things that drive you crazy: most government agencies.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: write a book and send it out into the world for all to read and criticize.

Something you chickened out from doing: I kept dodging my colonoscopy, but they finally cornered me and . . .


Helga Miller shut the door to her small flat in Saint-Omer. With seagulls reeling and crying in the sunny morning sky above, she felt as though she were on vacation. She loved the quaint architecture of the homes, the small shops, and the produce market. Things were scarce, but it was late summer, and the local produce was in. Fish was always available, and she had developed a fondness for it. She could smell the sea and loved the warm sand and relaxed atmosphere at the beach. It was as if there wasn’t even a war.

I’m not on holiday, she told herself, but it’s my first time out of Germany, and I’m not going to waste it. She’d wanted to help with the war effort, and now she had her chance. Even after the invasion, everyone back home still thought Germany would win—Hitler told them so, and the propaganda films left no doubt. Why wouldn’t she believe it as well?

Smaller than some of the other women she worked with, Helga prided herself on being athletic and trim. She went for long walks and did calisthenics daily. Her long hair, which she kept tucked under her hat while on duty, was dark, as was the hair of many people from Bohemia in southern Germany. She wasn’t much interested in the men she worked with. Older and serious, they paid little attention to her except to bark orders. They bored her. She liked the young soldiers stationed in the town and at her worksite. They were exciting and fun-loving, and girls like her from home were scarce.

Helga had been recruited right out of university, and while she knew that as a non-soldier, she would never be much of a threat to anyone, she was eager to work on such an important program. The big projects had political or military applications. The project she was working on combined mining and construction. It was unique.

She was on her way to La Couple, where she worked as a mining engineer. Helga knew the fighting was close, but the enemy army was still many miles away. She didn’t think about it much, but when she did, she had to admit it was a bit thrilling. Neither did she think often of the intended use of the facility once complete. At work she concentrated, paying no attention to the fact that rockets launched from there would fall on major cities—and their civilian populations. Allied bombs were falling on German cities, targeting military installations and civilians alike. She hoped the completion of the facility would stop those raids and help Germany win the war.

 Helga walked toward the train station where she would catch the short ride to her worksite. She disliked the frumpy white coveralls she wore, but they, like everything else, were mandatory. She felt as though she were dressed in a sack. How would she ever catch a man’s eye while wearing a tent?

She turned a corner and crossed over the car park toward the train station. It was a squat wooden building consisting of dirty windows, a ticket booth, toilets, and a kiosk that sold newspapers, cigarettes, and whatever sweets were available at a given time. Helga made her way over to the short line to buy a ticket for the next train. She noticed a young woman ahead of her with a mane of curly black hair cascading down the middle of her back. She didn’t have to see the woman’s face to know that she was beautiful; the way she held herself left no doubt. Oh, to have curls like hers . . . Helga fingered the correct change in her pocket and had it ready when she got to the window. She smiled at the man behind the glass. He gave her the same indifferent look he gave all the passengers, French and German alike. She was sure he’d been there before the war and would be there when it was over. His job was simple and didn’t require any conversation.

A rush of wind announced the arrival of the train. Helga moved forward onto the platform and waited for it to come to a stop. It was a tired old commuter train that had covered the same miles of track for years. With petrol scarce, people got around on foot, bicycle, or, for longer distances, train.

After waiting her turn to board, she found an empty seat in the middle of the car. Among the passengers who brushed past her was the young woman with the beautiful hair. Helga snuck a peek at her dark and angular, almost Gypsy-like, face; the lovely girl was almost certainly from the south. She watched men steal glances as she passed. She felt a twinge of jealousy. No man had ever looked at her that way; it wasn’t fair.

The train pulled out of the station and picked up speed. The windows were down, and the warm breeze carried a hint of salt from the ocean. The smell of seaweed and surf wafted through the car, carrying out cigarette smoke and lingering smells. Helga could stay in a place like this forever. With the weekend coming, she was planning to go down to the beach with another girl from work. Two days in the sun, a chance to chat with some young men, drink some local wine, have some fun. There were always young German soldiers about, on leave.

Excerpt by Soren Paul Petrek. Copyright © 2018 by Soren Paul Petrek. Reproduced with permission from the author. All rights reserved.


Soren Petrek is a practicing criminal trial attorney, admitted to the Minnesota Bar in 1991. Married with two adult children, Soren continues to live and work in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Educated in the U.S., England and France, Soren sat his O-level examinations at the Heathland School in Hounslow, London in 1981. His undergraduate degree in Forestry is from the University of Minnesota, 1986. His law degree is from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota (1991).

Soren’s novel, Cold Lonely Courage won Fade In Magazine’s 2009 Award for Fiction. Fade In was voted the nation’s favorite movie magazine by the Washington Post and the L.A. Times in 2011 and 2012.

The French edition of Cold Lonely Courage (titled simply, Courage) was published January 2019, by Encre Rouge Editions, distributed by Hachette Livre in 60 countries. Soren’s contemporary novel, Tim will be released along with the rest of the books in the Madeleine Toche series of historical thrillers.

Tuck Magazine has published several of Soren’s poems, some of which have been included in Soren’s book of poetry, A Search for Solid Ground.

Connect with Soren:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Instagram

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |

Monday, August 12, 2019



Crishell "Shell" McMillan sees the cancellation of her TV series as a blessing in disguise. The former actress can now take over her late aunt's pet shop, the Purr N' Bark, and do something she loves.
While getting the shop ready for re-opening, Shell is asked to loan her aunt's Cary Grant posters to the local museum for an exhibit. She finds the prospect exciting―until a museum board member, who had a long-standing feud with Shell's aunt, votes against it. When she discovers the board member dead in the museum, Shell becomes suspect number one. Can she, her Siamese cat Kahlua, and her new sidekick―her aunt's Persian Purrday―find the real culprit, or will her latest career go up in kitty litter?

Book Details:

Title: The Time for Murder is Meow

Author: T. C. Lotempio

Genre: cozy mystery

Series: Pet Shop #1

Publisher: Midnight Ink

Date Published: August 8, 2019

Print length: 312 pages

On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours



If you could talk to someone (living), who would it be and what would you ask them?
Definitely Nora Roberts aka JD Robb! And I’d ask her, “How in the world do you find the time to write all those books!”

If you could be anything besides a writer, what would it be?

I would either own a bookstore or a pet shop!  I love animals, so maybe a bookstore that also sold pets?

If you could meet any author for coffee, who would you like to meet and what would you talk about?
I would meet with Laura Childs, but for tea not coffee LOL. I would love to discuss mysteries with her and where she gets her idea from; also how she manages to keep poor Theo in clothes. That poor girl ruins at least two outfits in every single book!

If you could choose a fictional town to live in what would it be and from what book?
Cabot Cove from the Murder She Wrote series. I think Jessica could use some assistance solving all those murders!  Plus, I’ve always had a secret crush on Dr. Hazlett!

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?

OMG, well, I’m relocating to Arizona next year, but if I could afford it, I’d love to live on Maui! I vacationed there years ago in a condo and just loved it! There’s nowhere in the world like Hawaii. I heartily recommend visiting it at least once.


5 favorite possessions:
    •    my Nancy Drew first printings with internals
    •    my Judy Bolton first printings with internals
    •    my Perry Mason hardcover collection
    •    my Jim Shore Grinch carrying the Christmas Tree figurine
    •    my gold cross that belonged to my father

5 things you need in order to write:
    •    comfortable chair
    •    music playing on my stereo
    •    notepad
    •    sharp pencil to jot down notes
    •    ROCCO my cat, lying at my feet and making a general nuisance of himself

5 favorite places you’ve been:
    •    Maui, Hawaii
    •    Phoenix, Arizona
    •    London, England
    •    Disney World
    •    Disneyland   

5 favorite books:
    •    Gone with the Wind
    •    The Thorn Birds
    •    Little Women
    •    Jack and Jill
by James Patterson
    •    Loves Music, Loves to Dance by Mary Higgins Clark  

5 favorite authors:
    •    James Patterson  
    •    Mary Higgins Clark
    •    Agatha Christie
    •    Cleo Coyle
    •    Erle Stanley Gardner


What’s your all-time favorite place?
Maui, Hawaii.

What’s your all-time favorite movie?

Gone with the Wind.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
People who lay on the horn and pass you on the right when you’re driving.

What’s the loveliest sight you’ve ever seen?
Sunset on Maui – there’s nothing like it.

What’s your favorite ice cream?

What’s your favorite hobby or past-time?

What’s your favorite movie snack?

What’s one thing you never leave the house without?
My keys, LOL.

What is the wallpaper on your computer’s desktop?
Different cats.

What movie genre do you prefer: drama, comedy, action, adventure, thriller, or horror?

Thriller and horror – a tie.

What do you collect?
First edition girls series books. (Nancy Drew, etc.)

What book are you currently working on?
I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.  

What’s your latest recommendation for:

Food: Sushi!
Music: Anything by Barry Manilow (Yes, Barry Manilow!!!!)
Movie: Annabelle
Book: James Patterson’s Target
Audiobook: Same
TV: Dancing with the Stars! Or Grey’s Anatomy!


T. C. LoTempio (Clifton, NJ) is the national bestselling author of the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime. Her cat, Rocco, provides the inspiration for the character of Nick the cat. She also writes the new Cat Rescue series from Crooked Lane.

Connect with the author:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  

Buy the book:


Saturday, August 10, 2019



Piper and Samantha are in heaven. Well, close. After winning a contest to raise the most money for human trafficking awareness and prevention, Piper and Sam are rewarded with a long weekend at the O Heavenly Day Spa. When mysterious notes start appearing everywhere, things get uncomfortable. When spa treatments go awry it is starting to get dangerous. A threatening message in Piper’s closet convinces Piper and Sam that they have to find out who is behind all of these disasters before someone gets hurt. Is it Broussard the stuffy concierge? Gladys, the sweet old lady who decided to join them for the weekend? When the smoke alarms go off and the spa erupts into panic, the chaos separates the friends and Piper stumbles into trouble. Will her friends be able to help her in time?

Book Details:

Title: Rest, Relax, Run for Your Life

Author: Katherine Brown

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Series: Ooey Gooey Bakery Mystery, book 1 

Publisher: Independently Published (March 1, 2019)

Print length: 280 pages

On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours 


Hey there! Thanks for letting me come say hi today. My name is Katherine Brown, and I live in Texas. I love words and weaving them together to create stories and books. I also love to read. I read fiction the majority of the time, with one or two non-fiction books thrown in every year or so. I read cozy mystery, chick lit, paranormal, witchy and werewolves, you name it. My Kindle is running out of space, and I’m constantly looking for new places to put bookshelves in my home. My husband built me several beautiful ones inset in the wall already.

Besides tons of books, my bedroom is cluttered with a ridiculous number of spiral and composition notebooks, big and small. I’m jotting down story ideas, random bits of dialogue that are witty but have no story to go with yet, poems, and about a million fun titles for books that I haven’t begun to write yet.

To answer the age-old question, yes, I’ve actually always wanted to write. Since childhood. My parents can vouch for that and they are still some of my biggest fans. My sister is only an email away and I bounce ideas off of her frequently. There are so many things I love about writing. I love telling stories that entertain people and keep them guessing. I enjoy the freedom of allowing words to flow onto the page; I don’t plan out my books down to the last detail. I barely plan the beginning, middle, and end. I do brainstorm and jot down a list of things that need to happen but then the characters take over and I am able to simply write, often being as surprised as the readers at what happens next. For example, Chef Fabio started speaking with a French accent in the book and I had no idea he would be French when I added him. It is fun, to make something come to life and rewarding when others tell me they enjoy it or ask when the next book will be completed.

One of the most difficult things about writing, for me, is deciding on the ending. I don’t even like to read blurbs because I want to be totally surprised. When I write, I find it difficult to “know” the end rather than just be surprised. I know. Weird. Still, I’ve found a happy medium of planning enough to create good storyline while still leaving enough empty space to not know all of the details. I work through the problem with my characters as we go.

Just like reading, when writing I get to be all of the characters. I can make them familiar, or I can use them to vicariously experience new things and that is thrilling. All of the fun and adventure without any of the actual pain and danger to fear. When people tell me that they don’t like to read, it is the one thing I can’t imagine.

Summer has arrived and with it a pretty big disruption to my writing schedule because of all the things we have planned. Let me share a typical work day with you. The alarm for my husband to go to work blares between 4:45 and 5 in the morning. I get up alongside him and turn my laptop on as I head to brush my teeth. For the first hour or two, I check emails and maybe update my mailing list and do business operations. Plus checking to see if I’ve earned another thirty-five cents or not. Then after taking our daughter to school, I settle in with water or green tea and a bowl of peanut butter / oats / honey / dark chocolate chips for a good three to five-hour writing session. Twenty to thirty minutes of TV while I eat some lunch, then maybe mow the yard or do other outside things. I usually push for another hour of writing or editing before it is time to get my daughter from school. With that, I’m able to get around 50,000 words in a month MOST months, though not every time. Things come up. Life happens. For the most part, it is a system that works for me and that I can be productive with. I think that my favorite book to write in my Ooey Gooey Bakery Mystery series might be book 3 Bake, Eat, & Be Buried which is now out for pre-order. One of the most fun scenes that had me laughing out loud was when Gladys shows up to the bakery with a bag of “supplies” for herself, Piper, and Sam. The things that woman found shopping online!

Thanks for letting me share a little about me today. I hope that if you decide to check out the books, that you enjoy them. I love reader feedback.


Katherine Brown is a Texas girl, a lover of books, and a weaver of words. Her first official publication was of two children’s books in 2017, which has now grown into five books of the School is Scary series; however, she likes to think her career as a writer started when she sold her parents newsletters of articles about school and poetry for fifty cents per copy as a pre-teen. Married to a wonderful husband and mom of a smart, spunky stepdaughter, Katherine enjoys spending time with family and reading as many new books as she can get her hands on. Her YA series, the Ooey Gooey Bakery Mystery series, is ramping up in 2019 with book 1 released in March and book 2 was released June 1, 2019.

Connect with Katherine:


Buy the book:

Wednesday, August 7, 2019



For as long as she can remember, “Toady” wanted nothing more than to play football.  But for Toady, the love of football is bittersweet – because Toady’s given name is Christine. She’s a girl, and girls “can’t” play football. Despite her exceptional abilities, she watches bitterly as the boys play on the high school team and win scholarships. Reluctantly, she gives up her football dream and moves to New York City – where she finds that life is full of surprises. Christine learns of a group of women playing flag football and, before long, they have the opportunity to become part of a professional women’s tackle league. But the challenges to women playing football remain intense. Finding a coach who isn’t abusive is a struggle. Rallying team spirit is an endless quest. Add to that the loss of her one true love, the devastation of the September 11 attacks, and the sudden death of one of her players, and her dream seems doomed. Does Christine have the guts and the stamina to spite the odds?

Sports icon Billie Jean King says “Black & Blue will strike a chord with anyone who grew up before Title IX, but its poignancy and appeal go beyond that.” A story of empowerment loosely based on the author’s own life, it will inspire anyone to pursue their dreams.

Book Details:

Title: Black & Blue

Author: Andra Douglas

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: BookBaby (July 2019)

Print length: 296 pages


Andra, what’s the story behind the title of your book?

Black & Blue are the team colors of the New York Sharks – the football team I played on and owned. They are also the colors of bruises; something football players get in games and what female football players get fighting for the chance to play.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
I am a retired VP/Creative Director in the Entertainment Industry. I am currently a mixed media fine artist. (

Who are you?
I am constantly reinventing myself. I have so many interests and so little time. I still want to be a certified wine sommelier and learn how to create a delicious cabernet in California. And maybe a pilot. As of late, I am most comfortable calling myself an author. It feels right.

Where’s home for you?
New York City and Florida. I am peacefully comfortable in either place.

Where did you grow up?
Zephyrhills, Florida on a cattle ranch. Which is also the setting of the early chapters of my book.

What’s one thing you wish your younger writer self knew?

Take more notes!

What’s your favorite line from a book?

It’s actually from a song by the Counting Crows: “Plain old Jane told the story about a man who was too afraid to fly so he never did land.”

How did you create the plot for this book?
It created itself. Life imitates art? Art imitates life? I wrote the book because it’s a wonderful story of women’s empowerment that I watched unfold through the years. I began writing short pieces, little shards of the humor, joy and heartbreak that was common in my life and on the team. It was very cleansing to me. The plot more or less revealed itself as I wove the snippets together—controversial, athletic, witty and fresh—a story of women powering through significant, life-altering obstacles and, in the end, finding their ‘home’ and their voices.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

Yes, all of the characters are. In several instances, I’ve combined several personalities into one character but all are taken from real people.

Is your book based on real events?
Yes. It is loosely based on my life experience as a girl who wanted to do more in life than society thought appropriate. My sojourn to NYC and the Sharks adventure is my personal story, but ultimately the book is about women everywhere who are told ‘no’ but do it anyway. Football is the vehicle but I hope it gives voice to every woman who has ever felt suppressed or stifled.

Are you like any of your characters? 
Yes. Christine is basically me. She is named after my mom who was a brilliant woman who was held back by the times she lived in. She encouraged me to live a ‘big’ life and bravely supported my interests even when they weren’t quite aligned with society’s norms for a girl. I think she lived somewhat vicariously through me. We had fun.

Do you have a routine for writing?
No. I write whenever the creative spirit moves. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and have some thoughts that I get up and write down before they disappear—and they quickly do! If I am driving down the road and feel some words coming to mind that I like, I’ll pull over and write them in a journal I keep in the car.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I prefer writing in a quiet setting. I have a cottage in the Hamptons and have done much of my writing there. I also rented an adobe in Santa Fe one winter and found that to be a good place for the creativity to flow.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
I was told that reading my book was an emotional roller coaster; that the reader laughed one minute and cried the next. I try to put a lot of emotion into my writing so this was great to hear.

What are you working on now?
I am just starting my second book called Changing Cadence. It’s a sequel to Black & Blue but focuses on a time in my life when I was facing major, but inevitable changes: the selling of the team that I’d had for 20 years; my parents passing; my athletic body betraying me; friends and teammates battling cancer, etc. Yet in the midst of these monumental life shifts, the Sharks embark on their last season of existence and put together the ‘Grand FINale’ which turns out to be the most magical year yet!


Andra Douglas is a native of central Florida and a graduate of Florida State University and Pratt Institute. A national champion athlete in rugby and women's tackle football, she was the owner of the New York Sharks Women's Pro Football team for nineteen years and is the founder of the Fins Up! Foundation for Female Athletes, a non-profit to benefit at-risk teens. In addition to her love of football, Andra is a professional artist and served as a Vice President/Creative Director at Time Warner for many years. Today, she lives with her parrot, 'Pie' in New York’s Greenwich Village where she creates mixed-media artwork.

Connect with the author:
Website  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:

Monday, August 5, 2019



Former magazine editor “Sugar” Calloway’s life has taken a delicious twist since she launched a community cookbook publishing business with blue-ribbon baker Dixie Spicer. Now these amateur sleuths must solve a small-town murder—without getting burned.

Sugar and Spice Cookbooks’ newest project is a fundraiser organized by the St. Ignatius Crack of Dawn Breakfast Club, famous for their all-you-can-eat biscuits and gravy events. But when a group member is found dead, Sugar and Spice’s priorities change from raising dough to figuring out who put murder on the menu.

The return of former badboy Nick Marchant has stirred the town’s gossips too. Add a few grudges and some old-fashioned greed over a land deal into the mix, and it’s a recipe for mayhem. And when someone serves up a second helping of murder, Sugar and Spice need to sift the guilty from the blameless, or their next breakfast may be their last . . .

Book Details:

Title: Risky Biscuits

Author: Mary Lee Ashford

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Series: Sugar & Spice Mysteries, book 2

Publisher: Kensington Books
 (July 9, 2019)

Print length: 252 pages

On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours




If you could talk to someone (dead), who would it be and what would you ask them?
It would be my father and I would ask him about his family. I’m the youngest child of a youngest child and so that makes for interesting family dynamics. My grandparents were gone years before I was born and no one really talked about them when I was younger. Now most of my parents’ generation is gone. And I so wish I’d asked more questions about their lives: what their parents were like, what was life like for them, what did they like to do. I have so many questions and no one is left to ask. My advice to the generation growing up now is talk to your grandparents about their lives. Maybe, if you can talk them into it, you could even do a video interview. You’ll be glad that you did!

If you could be anything besides a writer, what would it be?
If I had to choose another career, I’d be a bookstore owner. A small little bookstore with a coffee shop on the side. I can’t imagine anything better than waking up and heading to work someplace where I’m surrounded by two of my favorite things – coffee and books! I know that it would be a lot of hard work. My parents were small business owners, so I realize that I wouldn’t get to just sit around and talk books and have coffee with the customers. But still, I would love the atmosphere and helping people find the books they’re looking for. And maybe some they weren’t.

If you were on the Amazon bestseller list, who would you choose to be one before and one below you?
I’d have to pick G.A. McKevett and Laura Levine. I’ve read these two authors’ mysteries for years, and I can’t imagine a bigger honor than to share list space with them. Though their mysteries are quite different, in both cases the books are automatic buys for me as soon as a new book comes out. 

Laura Levine’s books remind me of the classic movie madcap comedies of the past, where anything that can go wrong for the heroine does. But Jaine, who is such a likeable (and relatable) heroine manages to survive and to solve the mystery. G.A. McKevette’s books on the other hand, feature a tougher heroine. Though Samantha is still someone I can picture myself hanging out with. I love her no-nonsense attitude and adore the rest of the characters in the book. A new book always feels like a return to old friends.

For me, the most important element in any fiction I read is the characters. And I feel these two authors absolutely bring their characters to life. 

If you could choose a fictional town to live in what would it be and from what book?
What an interesting question! I immediately thought of a particular series of books when I first read the question. Then I thought of so many other wonderful settings in books I’ve read. The Low Country, Key West, Montana, Quebec  - so many possibilities. However, I eventually I returned to my first thought.

I’d have to pick the quiet village of Carsely from M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin mysteries.  Located in the Cotswolds, an area in south central England known for its rolling hills and quaint villages, Carsely seems to me to be the perfect spot. I grew up in a very small town in Iowa and there are times I miss that pace and that small-town feel.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
If I could live anywhere, it would be right where I live now. I love the Midwest! There are certainly times I don’t love the winters, but even then, it’s pretty and a great excuse to stay inside with a good book.

Another reason I wouldn’t want to move anywhere else, is that I have six wonderful grandchildren who all live close by. And being a grandma, is crazy fun! 


5 favorite possessions: 
    •    the ring my husband and sons gave me on my fortieth birthday. It’s an unusual ring, gold with diamond baguettes, and a very unexpected gift. They were so excited to give it to me and I’m not easy to surprise. But I was surprised!
    •    a tea cup from my childhood. It’s a small tea cup with purple flowers on one side. I lost my father at a young age. He and I used to drink tea together when I was little and this was the cup I always used.
    •    the poster from my first book signing. It was such a long and hard-won journey to that first publishing contract. The book launch and signing was done at the Des Moines Public Library, and we had a wonderful turnout. Family, friends, and fellow writers turned out to celebrate and seeing that poster brings back that memory.
    •    a box of family photos. Here’s where I confess that they’re in a box because I’ve been trying to get them sorted and in albums for years. Those photos represent our family’s history and I would be heartbroken if I lost them.
    •    my wedding ring. My husband and I have been married forty-two years and he's my biggest fan. He has always supported my writing and believed in my dreams. 

5 things you need in order to write:  
    •    my computer
    •    notebook
    •    pen
    •    coffee
    •    chocolate

5 things you love about where you live: 
    •    Close to my family
    •    Strong arts community
    •    Short commute
    •    Culturally diverse
    •    Midwest nice

5 things you always put in your books:  
    •    a strong protagonist.
    •    great friendships, friends that become like family.
    •    at least one unusual and fun character
    •    a dog or a cat – usually both
    •    a secret

5 favorite places you’ve been:

    •    Salisbury, England
    •    New York City, New York
    •    Sausalito, California
    •    Laguna Beach, California
    •    Honolulu, Hawaii



What’s your all-time favorite movie?
Force 10 from Navarone. An amazing cast, a great plot, a bang-up cast. Boom!

What’s your all-time favorite library?
Winterset Public Library, Madison County, Iowa. Because of access to the public library growing up, I began a life-long reader.

What’s one thing that very few people know about you?
I received a birthday card on my fortieth birthday from Davy Jones of the Monkees

What’s your favorite time of day?
Late night. I love when the rest of the house is quiet and it’s just me and the cat.

What’s your favorite meal?
Chicken Spiedini.

What’s your all-time favorite place you’ve visited?


What’s your favorite vacation spot?
Anywhere near the ocean, but my current favorite spot is Pass-a-Grille, Florida.

What’s your favorite thing to do?
Hang out with family.

What’s your favorite snack?
Olives and cheese.

What’s your favorite beverage?
Coffee with iced tea a close second.

What’s your favorite quote?
“No is not an answer. No is a clue.” I don’t know who said it but would love to know so I can properly credit it when I repeat it. I heard it on a late-night talk show and wrote it down, but unfortunately, I didn’t write down who it was that was being interviewed. It was someone from the tech field, but it applies to so many other endeavors. Like writing.

What’s your favorite social media site? Would you rather tweet or post on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest . . .?
I enjoy the interaction on Facebook and love that we connect from far and wide over common interests.

What is the wallpaper on your computer’s desktop?
Beach scene from our last trip to Pass-a-Grille

What’s your all-time favorite place in your town?
Sculpture Park, Downtown Des Moines.

What book are you currently working on?

Just turned in Book 3 in the Sugar & Spice series – The Quiche of Death

What’s your latest recommendation for:
Food: Truffle fries
Music: Rick Hale
Movie: The Lion King
Book: Now That You Mention It by Kristin Higgins
TV: Songland
Netflix/Amazon Prime: Shakespeare & Hathaway


Mary Lee Ashford is a lifelong bibliophile, an avid reader, and supporter of public libraries. In addition to writing the Sugar and Spice series for Kensington Books, she also writes as half of the writing team of Sparkle Abbey, author of the national bestselling Pampered Pets mystery series from Bell Bridge Books.

Prior to publishing, Mary Lee won first place in the Daphne du Maurier contest, sponsored by the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA, and was a finalist in Murder in the Grove's mystery contest, as well as Killer Nashville's Claymore Dagger contest.

She is the founding president of Sisters in Crime - Iowa and a board member of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest chapter, as well as a member of Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death the RWA Mystery Suspense chapter, Sisters in Crime, and the SinC internet group Guppies. 

She loves encouraging writers and is a frequent lecturer and workshop presenter for writers' groups. Mary Lee has a passionate interest in creativity and teaches a university level course in Creative Management to MPA candidates, as well as presenting workshops and blogging about creativity.

She currently resides in the Midwest with her husband, Tim, and Sparkle, the rescue cat namesake of the Sparkle Abbey pseudonym. Her delights are reading and enjoying her two sons and daughter-in-laws, and six grandchildren.

Connect with Mary Lee:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |   Instagram  |  Pinterest  |  BookBub 

Buy links:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  Apple Books