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