Guest Blogger: Denise Swanson


Book clubs have been around for a long time, but in the past few years, they seem to be popping up everywhere. It seems to me that books clubs became more visible and appeared cooler when Oprah started her club. Ms. Winfrey’s stated purpose was to get more people reading, or if you already were a reader, she hoped you would become more ardent about books. The novels she selected were often challenging, and I admit, I didn’t enjoy a lot of them. But she dared her club’s members to read between the lines, which I was more than willing to do.

As a writer, I’m often asked to speak to various book discussion groups. So when one such group, the Stepping Out Book Club, suggested that my next book should center around a book club meeting, I thought, yes, yes it should.

My sleuth, Devereaux Sinclair, owns Devereaux’s Dime Store, an old-fashioned variety store that she has opened up to various community groups. In Dead Between the Lines, my March book, the Shadow Bend version of the Stepping Out Book Club hold their monthly meeting in Dev’s store and someone doesn’t make it home alive.

When I decided to write about murder in a book club, I researched the popularity of these groups to try to figure out why so many people were forming and/or joining book clubs. Was it to share ideas or for the social interaction or was it just an excuse to drink wine and eat chocolate? As a reader, I knew that this type of group was every bookworm’s dream party. Or was it?

Theoretically, a book club would be a place where you could openly express your views of the book, what you liked or disliked about it, and delve into the book’s true meaning. As a psychologist, I was fascinated with the possibilities. What would happen if the group passionately disagreed? Book clubs often consist of many different kinds of individuals and they discuss some topics that could become extremely inflammatory. There frequently is an assortment of ages, social backgrounds, and educational levels. This kind of situation is fertile ground for heated debates and hurt feelings.

As I mulled over the idea that members could become fevered over a disagreement, it dawned on me that a guest author could stir up the situation even more. Especially an arrogant, supercilious jerk. Perhaps a writer who felt he was smarter or more sophisticate, or just plain superior to the book club members—not that I’ve met any authors like that. Still, once the idea started bouncing around in my imagination, I couldn’t get rid of it until I wrote the story.

Are you a member of a book club? Have you ever attended a meeting with a speaker who was so obnoxious you wondered if he or she would make it out of the gathering alive?


Series: A Devereaux’s Dime Store Mystery, #3
Publisher: Obsidian
Released: March 4, 2014

Opening an old-fashioned five-and-dime shop in her small Missouri hometown has been a great change for Devereaux “Dev” Sinclair. But when she hosts a reading group there, she learns that bad writing can mean life or death.

To keep her new business in the black, Dev opens up her shop to local clubs. But in the first meeting of the Stepping Out Book Club, the speaker storms out after members attack his poetry’s sexism and scorn for small towns. Later that night, the poet’s body is found outside Dev’s store.

Dev can’t afford for the murder to close her down, so she does a little stepping out of her own to investigate, with help from her two sexy suitors, Dr. Noah Underwood and Deputy U.S. Marshal Jake Del Vecchio. But when the killer threatens Dev, they will have to use every trick in the book to solve the case before she becomes the final chapter in this murder mystery….

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Guest Blogger: Duffy Brown

PearlsAndPoisonCOZY CRAZY

Cozy Mysteries are everywhere, just look around. Oh, they may not be labeled cozies but they are. A cozy mystery is the mystery without the blood, guts and gore. It’s Sherlock Holmes, Murder She Wrote, White Collar. It’s Castle and not Criminal Minds or those CSI shows.

Why are so many viewers and readers into the cozy thing? I think it’s a rebellion to all the violence around us that just weighs us down. When we turn on TV or read a book we want to escape. A lot of shows out there just scare the crap out of us and we are already scared. Just pick up a news paper.

That doesn’t mean we want mindless trivia, we still want to be surprised, we just don’t want to be shocked and disgusted and saddened. Bring on the cozies. No whack ‘em and hack ‘em stories with blood guts and gore everywhere but some fun. Remember that? When was the last time you laughed out loud over a book? Couldn’t wait to pick up a book to get back to the fun.

Who doesn’t love seeing Becket and Castle together solving crimes? Or the new BBC’s new Sherlock. That Sherlock is young and sexy and Dr. Watson is to die for. Then again I have a crush on Sherlock so I give him credit for everything mystery. Cozies deal with BFFs and getting the job done. White Collar has Peter and Neal. I love male friendships, the no man left behind attitude.

Cozy books deal with jobs we all want. There are books where the characters quilt, knit, make wine, cheese, wedding dresses, bake pies, dream up recipes and make fudge for everyone.

And then there’s the settings. Who would not want to live in Cabot Cove? Most mysteries are set in small towns and if they aren’t they’re set in the small area of a big city. Stephanie Plum is in the burg of New Jersey. I set my Consignment Shop Mysteries in Savannah. It’s like a character in the book. Settings matter.

I think my love of cozies started back in the day with Nancy Drew. I read The Secret of the Old Clock in the sixth grade, not exactly Mad Men era but close. I loved that Nancy Drew was smart and caring. I really loved that she was smarter than the guys. I wanted to be Nancy! Reading Nancy Drew was great for mystery and the ego. Nancy was self-sufficient and took charge of her destiny. It planted a seed that took root in enjoying mysteries and life.

So there you have it…why everyone is snapping up cozy mysteries or watching them on TV. Have you read one lately? Watched one? The new Sherlock? White Collar? Elementary? Let’s talk mysteries and why we love ‘em. Whats your new cozy mystery?


Series: A Consignment Shop Mystery, #3
Publisher: Berkley (Prime Crime)
Released: March 4, 2014

It’s election time in Savannah, Georgia, and Judge Guillotine Gloria—aka Reagan Summerside’s mom—is neck and neck in the polls with Kip “Scummy” Seymour. But the already dirty campaign is about to get downright filthy—with one candidate getting buried six feet under…

With her strong opinions and knack for getting into trouble, Reagan is not an ideal volunteer for her mother’s alderman campaign. Plus, she’d rather be running her consignment shop, the Prissy Fox, and eating doughnuts with her dog, Bruce Willis. But when her mother’s opponent, Kip, is found poisoned and her mother is pegged as a suspect, Reagan nominates herself as lead murder investigator.

Reagan is intent on finding Kip’s killer and clearing her mother’s good name, but she soon finds herself on the bad side of Kip’s enemies-turned-suspects. This time, no amount of costumes and makeup can keep her inconspicuous and out of danger. Because the closer Reagan gets to the truth, the hotter things get…

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Guest Blogger: Lucy Arlington

One of my favorite kinds of books to read is a cookbook. Reading a recipe allows my mind to envision the dish it will produce, almost taste and smell it too! I love to see the photographs and can picture myself making whatever delectable cake or casserole or cookie is depicted. To me, reading a cookbook allows me to dream about food without consuming the calories!

In light of that, it seems like a foregone conclusion that I would give my character, Lila Wilkins, a murder to solve that involves cookbooks, chefs, and food. My love of food is certainly evident Lila’s personality. She loves to cook and is an avid fan of the celebrity chefs she sees on television.

In “Books, Cooks, and Crooks,” Lila gets to meet some of those chefs. They are clients of A Novel Idea Literary Agency, and have come to Inspiration Valley for a food festival. Lila and the agency have organized a celebrity chef event, cooking demonstrations, cookbook giveaways, and even a culinary writing contest.

But before the festival gets underway, one of the chefs dies in a kitchen explosion. When it becomes evident that this was a murder, Lila is determined to help her boyfriend, Police Officer Sean Griffiths, figure out which of the agency’s clients is a killer.

“Books, Cooks, and Crooks” is the third mystery in the Novel Idea Mystery series, set in the idyllic town of Inspiration Valley in the foothills of North Carolina. Other books in the series are “Buried in a Book” and “Every Trick in the Book.”

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About the Author:

Lucy Arlington is the nom de plume for the writing team of Sylvia May and Ellery Adams. As an amalgamated personality, she is an avid reader, cook, and gardener. If she had her way, she’d divide her time between preparing delectables in her kitchen, traveling the globe on her scooter, and sitting in a comfortable chair with a cup of coffee and a paperback until her legs cramped. Lucy is devoted to her husband and children – especially when they ply her with chocolate and gift cards to bookstores. Lucy’s third novel, “Books, Cooks, and Crooks” has just been released. Her first two novels in the Novel Idea Mystery Series, “Buried in a Book” and “Every Trick in the Book” were both New York Times Bestsellers. Visit her website at

Sylvia May is the author of “The Unraveling of Abby Settel” and the soon to be released “Breathing Space.” Visit her website at

Ellery Adams is the author of Books By the Bay Mysteries and the Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries and the forthcoming Book Retreat Mysteries. Visit her website at