As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles (A Food Lovers’ Village Mystery): Interview with Author Leslie Budewitz

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Erin is one smart cookie, but can she keep the holiday spirit—and herself—alive till Christmas?

In Jewel Bay, all is merry and bright. At Murphy’s Mercantile, AKA the Merc, manager Erin Murphy is ringing in the holiday season with food, drink, and a new friend: Merrily Thornton. A local girl gone wrong, Merrily has turned her life around. But her parents have publicly shunned her, and they nurse a bitterness that chills Erin.

When Merrily goes missing and her boss discovers he’s been robbed, fingers point to Merrily—until she’s found dead, a string of lights around her neck. The clues and danger snowball from there. Can Erin nab the killer—and keep herself in one piece—in time for a special Christmas Eve?

Includes delicious recipes!


Leslie, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential! Can you tell us about your protagonist, Erin?

Erin Murphy runs the Merc, a local foods shop in her family’s hundred-year-old grocery in the heart of the village of Jewel Bay, Montana. She’s half Italian, as you can tell by her name, and deeply committed to the village, local business, her friends and family, and justice. Like a lot of Montana kids, she left the state for a few years, then returned. It still surprises her to realize that while she was gone, her hometown changed. But then, so did she.

In AS THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE CRUMBLES, Erin meets another woman returning to her hometown after years away and feels an instant connection. She’s determined to forge a friendship, despite what some locals, and the woman’s own parents, say about her. She’s busy at the Merc, village headquarters for holiday food and gifts. And she’s getting married on Christmas Eve.

What could go wrong?

How much alike are you and Erin?

Like Erin, I grew up in Montana, left, and returned. I’m enjoying exploring that theme, a common one, through the experiences of a younger woman. Like her, I’m obsessed with food and enjoy cooking and entertaining. Erin shares my habit of spouting odd lines of poetry or from a play, my love of cats and cookies, and my commitment to my community. Although her mother Fresca and I aren’t much alike, I suspect that if I met Erin, she would feel like a daughter to me.

Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?

Oh, definitely! That’s part of their appeal to me as a writer, and I hope, part of their appeal to the reader.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?

I’ve thought of it, but never done it because if I disliked someone that much, I wouldn’t want to spend six months and 300 pages with them!

How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

The village of Jewel Bay, Montana is closely based on the town where I live, though I’ve changed the street names and most of the businesses. A few are simply too cozy, too iconic, to mess with, so I’ve kept them alive, with the owners’ permission—Red’s Bar, the Playhouse, and the Jewel Inn would all be easy to identify if you strolled the streets with me. There’s a touch of wish fulfillment in my fictional town—a lovely green belt we lack around the bay, which we do have, a library and community center we hope to get soon, and a bakery I’m glad doesn’t exist because I would drop in far too often!

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

Honestly, I don’t know! I don’t use actors as models for my story people, and couldn’t begin to cast the finished project! Occasionally, I picture someone I know when I start creating a character, but they evolve so much as the story unfolds that no one would ever recognize them on the page.

What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

It’s actually the same piece of advice: Do whatever works. It’s the best because it gives a writer permission to find her own way, and the worst because it can give her an excuse to stay stuck in a rut. Writers are often told they must write every day. When I started, I was practicing law full-time, sometimes more. I just didn’t have the brain power to write every day, so I wrote on Fridays and Saturday mornings—and finished three manuscripts that way. But when my work schedule changed, I chose to develop new writing habits and now I do write nearly every day. I’ve always been a planner, but when I couldn’t see the middle of a book in advance, despite knowing the ending, I let myself start anyway, trusting that I would discover what happened in those chapters along the way. Following a radically different process was terrifying, but for that book, it worked. And now, because I’ve been willing to explore other processes, other options, I’ve got more writerly tools in my box.

Thank you for letting me introduce myself to your readers. It is such a gift to be trusted with someone’s most valuable assets: their time and attention. I am grateful to be able to explore the world through storytelling—and it’s the readers who make that possible.


About The Author  

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician, and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model, and avid bird-watcher.

Connect with her on her website, http://www.LeslieBudewitz.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

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Character interview and giveaway: Pick and Chews: A Barkery and Biscuits Mystery by Linda O. Johnston

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Carrie Kennersly tries to help her veterinarian boyfriend when he’s under suspicion of murder…Is he a keeper, or should she let him go off-leash for good?
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“Clearing out the Clutter”: Guest Post by Lida Sideris, Author of Murder Gone Missing

Newly minted lawyer Corrie Locke has taken a vow of abstinence. From PI work, that is. Until her best friend Michael finds his bully of a boss stabbed in the back after confronting him earlier that day. Michael panics, accidentally tampering with the crime scene…which could lead the cops to Michael instead of the real culprit. He turns to Corrie to track down the killer. She doesn’t need much coaxing. Her late great PI dad taught her the ropes…and left her his cache of illegal weaponry.They return to the scene of the crime, but the body’s missing. Racing against time, Corrie dredges a prestigious Los Angeles college in pursuit of clues. All she finds are false leads. Armed with attitude and romantic feelings toward Michael, Corrie dives into a school of suspects to find the slippery fugitive. Will she clear Michael’s name before he’s arrested for murder?


Clearing Out the Clutter by Lida Sideris

Most writers are goal setters. We have to be to reach “The End”. One vital goal should be added to every list: Clear away the clutter. I don’t mean the type of clutter sitting haphazardly in the top of your closet where you toss sweaters, T-shirts, and random pieces of clothing. Or the books, paperwork, and notes that pile up under your bed…oops, that’s me I’m talking about. The clutter I’m referring to is housed in the same small space for all of us: the six or so incredible inches between our ears.

When our garbage cans are full, we empty them. When our puppies need to learn proper manners, we train them. So why not do the same with our minds? It’s a bit more difficult because we can’t physically view the content of our minds as we can with overflowing rubbish and doggy poop deposited beneath the kitchen table.

When I pay attention to my thoughts, I’m sometimes appalled by the trivial content. Why did I spend so much time on today’s Twitter news? Really? Or why did I feel impatient with the bagger at my neighborhood grocery store who placed the potato chips at the bottom of my bag followed by the milk? Such negative thinking wastes valuable time. I should have focused on how grateful I am to have such a valuable little market close to my home and patiently assisted the bagger which would have made me forget any minor irritation.

Excess clutter leaves little space for the “how wonderfuls!” to exist. When trivial thoughts clutter the mind, it’s important to take note and switch gears to replace mind-clutter with thoughts that bring contentment. I replace those cluttering thoughts with thoughts of my loved ones, my home, my wonderful human and animal friends, my garden and so on, sketching in the little details and providing plenty of adjectives.

Clutter prevents progress. Imagine trying to walk across a room stacked with piles of chairs, cardboard boxes, and spare tires. You’ll be in a sweat and sporting a few bruises before you make it through. So it is with the messy mind. But it doesn’t have to be. We can take control.
We can’t keep two opposing thoughts in the mind at once. One set drives the other out. For instance, if your mind is completely occupied with an unselfish desire to help another, you can’t harbor worry at the same time. It takes a bit of practice to unclutter the mind, but think of all the space you’ll have to arrange and fill with excellent thoughts.


 About The Author 

Lida Sideris is an author, lawyer and all around book enthusiast. She was one of two national recipients of the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America scholarship for her first novel, MURDER AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERSMURDER GONE MISSING is the second book in the Corrie Locke series. Like her heroine, Lida worked as an entertainment attorney in a movie studio. Unlike her heroine, she keeps her distance from homicides. To learn more about Lida, please visit her website: www.LidaSideris.com

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New First-in-Series: Confessions of a Red Herring by Dana Dratch

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As a reporter, she’s used to covering the news.
Now she’s the headline.

Alex Vlodnachek has been a reporter for 12 years, a P.R. rep for three months, and a murder suspect for all of 24 hours. When her agency’s double-dealing CEO is stabbed, scheming co-workers cast the new redhead as a compelling red herring. The story is media catnip—especially her salacious nickname: Vlod the Impaler.

Even Alex has to admit she looks guilty.

Out of a job and under suspicion, Alex is running low on cash, when she’s visited by a second disaster: her family. Soon her tiny bungalow is bursting with her nearest and not-so-dearest. To keep herself out of jail—and save what’s left of her sanity—Alex returns to her reporting roots. She goes undercover to reclaim her life, break the story, and unmask a murderer. Pretty much in that order.

What she doesn’t know: The killer also has a to-do list.
And Alex is on it.


About The Author 

Dana Dratch is a former newspaper reporter and current personal finance writer. When she’s not finishing Seeing Red—the next Alex Vlodnachek mystery—you’ll spot her byline on a host of top news sites. You can learn more about her mysteries at ConfessionsofaRedHerring.com.

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New Teddy Bear Shop Mystery (with giveaway): Bear Witness to Murder by Meg Macy

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As autumn air settles into the quaint small town of Silver Hollow, there’s nothing more popular than Sasha’s teddy bears—and murder in cold blood . . .

Silver Bear Shop and Factory manager Sasha Silverman is cozying up to the fall season by hosting Silver Hollow’s Cranbeary Tea Party, the opening event of the village’s Oktobear Fest—a too-cute celebration themed around teddy bears. She barely has a moment to agonize over the return of her former high school rival, Holly Parker, whose new toy and bookstore in town could spell big trouble for the Silver Bear Shop and her cousin’s small bookstore . . .

But when Sasha discovers Holly’s shop assistant dead with a knife plunged in her body, the unpleasant woman suddenly looks like a real backstabber. So does Sasha’s ex-husband, rumored to have rekindled the fiery extramarital affair he once had with the victim. Now, before a gruesome homicide case takes the fun out of both the Fest and her personal life, Sasha must identify the true culprit from a daunting suspect list—or risk becoming as lifeless as one of her stuffed bears . . .


About The Author  

Award-winning mystery author Meg Macy lives in Southeast Michigan, close to Ann Arbor, Chelsea, and Dexter — the area she chose for the setting of her new “Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear” cozy mystery series for Kensington. She is also one-half of the writing team of D.E. Ireland for the Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins Mystery series; two books have been named Agatha Award finalists. Meg’s first published book, Double Crossing, won the 2012 Best First Novel Spur Award from Western Writers of America. She’s a graduate of Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program. Meg loves reading mysteries, historicals, and other genre fiction, and also enjoys gardening, crafts, and watercolor painting.

 

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Cover Reveal: The Gold Pawn by L.A. Chandlar

The Gold Pawn

November 1936. Mayor La Guardia’s political future buckles under a missing person case in New York City. Simultaneously, Lane unravels devastating secrets in the outskirts of Detroit. As two crimes converge, judging friends from enemies can be a dangerous game . . .

Finally summoning the courage to face the past, Lane Sanders breaks away from her busy job at City Hall to confront childhood nightmares in Rochester, Michigan. An unknown assailant left Lane with scattered memories after viciously murdering her parents. However, one memory of a dazzling solid gold pawn piece remains—and with it lies a startling connection between the midwestern tragedy and a current mystery haunting the Big Apple . . .

Meanwhile, fears climb in Manhattan after the disappearance of a respected banker and family friend threatens the crippled financial industry and the pristine reputation of Lane’s virtuous boss, Mayor Fiorello “Fio” La Guardia. Fio’s fight to restore order leads him into more trouble as he meets a familiar foe intent on ending his mayoral term—and his life . . .

Guided by overseas telegrams from the man she loves and painful memories, only Lane can silence old ghosts and derail present-day schemes. But when the investigation awakens a darker side of her own nature, will she and New York City’s most prominent movers and shakers still forge ahead into a prosperous new age . . . or is history doomed to repeat itself?

Ready . . .

 

 

 

 

 

Set. . .

 

 

 

 

 

Reveal!!!

 

 

 

 

Coming September 25 from Kensington Books!

Pre-order your copy today!

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About the Author

L .A. Chandlar is the author of the Art Deco Mystery Series with Kensington Publishing featuring Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and a fresh take on the innovation and liveliness of 1930s New York City. Her debut novel, The Silver Gun released August 29, 2017, and the sequel, The Gold Pawn, will release September 25th, 2018. Laurie has been living and writing in New York City for 16 years and has been speaking for a wide variety of audiences for over 20 years including a women’s group with the United Nations. Her talks range from NYC history, the psychology of creativity, and the history of holiday traditions. Laurie has also worked in PR for General Motors, writes and fund-raises for a global nonprofit is the mother of two boys, and has toured the nation managing a rock band.

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New paramedic mystery, giveaway, and character interview: Uneasy Prey by Annette Dashofy

Enter to win a signed print copy (U.S. only)

Enter to win a signed print copy (U.S. only)


On the way to the emergency room, an elderly woman regains consciousness long enough to inform paramedic Zoe Chambers that her fall down the basement steps was no accident. Before she can say more, she succumbs to her injuries, launching Zoe and Police Chief Pete Adams into the investigation of a burglary ring targeting the area’s vulnerable senior citizens.


Zoe—in spite of Pete’s objections—takes it upon herself to act as protection detail after the con men, disguised as water company employees, set their sights on Zoe’s beloved former landlady. It’s a decision that eventually puts Zoe in harm’s way.

With Zoe already recovering from one close call, Pete must race against time to stop the crime ring—and a dangerous killer—before they strike again.


Character Interview: Zoe Chambers

Zoe, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

I’ve been a paramedic since I was 23 but before that I wanted to be a veterinarian!  Unfortunately, I was a horrible student in high school and in college, so that was not to be. Next, I thought I wanted to be a firefighter until Ted and Sylvia Bassi steered me toward EMS. I’ll be forever grateful they did because it’s a much better fit.

Who’s your favorite character in Uneasy Prey?

You’re probably expecting me to say Pete. I love Pete, but we disagree more than we agree. So, I’m going to say Sylvia. She’s a mother hen to just about everyone in Vance Township including me.

Is there any character you don’t get along with so well?

My mother. Absolutely, my mother. Why? We’re polar opposites in most matters. I was my daddy’s girl, and when we lost him when I was eight, neither of us handled it well. Mom remarried, and she and Tom moved to Florida when I was fifteen. I chose to stay behind, claiming I wanted to finish school here but the truth was I didn’t want to deal with her “diva complex” any longer. She’s high-fashion, and I’m t-shirts and barn boots. I think I’m a huge disappointment to her.

Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author?

Annette’s okay. She “gets” me. I do wish she’d dress Pete in tighter jeans, but I guess I can’t have everything. And although she’s a vegetarian, she hasn’t made me give up my cheeseburgers and bacon!

What’s next for you?

I seem to have come into possession of a rundown farm. I have no idea how I’m going to come up with the money to make it livable for me and my horse. Maybe I need to ask Franklin Marshall to give me more duties (and more pay!) in the Coroner’s Office. (Cry Wolf, the 7th Zoe Chambers Mystery is scheduled for a September 2018 release!)

 


About The Author  

Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE, published by Henery Press, was finalist for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel and for the David Award for Best Mystery of 2014. LOST LEGACY, was released in September 2014 followed in April 2015 by BRIDGES BURNED, which has been nominated for the Agatha for Best Contemporary Novel.

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New Bed and Breakfast Mystery plus giveaway: Clues in the Sand by Terry Ambrose

enter to win a copy PLUS a Starbucks gift card!


To Rick Atwood’s dismay, the police find a body on the beach near his Seaside Cove B&B. The dead woman held a pottery shard from an ancient rice bowl, which the cops believe is a clue to her murder.

The chief suspect is Flynn O’Connor, a female archaeologist known for her hatred of treasure thieves. Trouble is, Rick’s daughter Alex sees Flynn as a role model and will not believe her friend is a killer.

Alex pressures her dad as only a ten-year-old can to prove Flynn is innocent. The mayor is also making demands—for Rick to stay out of the investigation. With his daughter and the mayor at odds, Rick sees trouble brewing. He knows too well how much Alex loves sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. Especially when there’s murder involved.

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Character Guest Post by Alex (Age 10)

Hey Journal,

I gotta go soon because we’re having a luau here at the B&B! Daddy said we were gonna spend the afternoon sipping umbrella drinks and watching the sunset. Okay, I’m only ten, so I don’t get a real umbrella drink. I get the kid’s version. But, here in Seaside Cove we have palm trees and we have a beach, so it’s almost the same as what we’d get at a real luau, right?

Now that me and Daddy own the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast and are living here, we can’t take a big vacation. Marquetta’s worked here for so long she could totally run this place on her own, but Daddy says that wouldn’t be fair. That makes me happy because I’d like her to go with us if we do go to Hawaii.

Marquetta ran the B&B after Captain Jack died. She did that for a long time before me and Daddy moved here. I didn’t think I was gonna like Seaside Cove, but when I met Marquetta, I totally fell in love. She’s gonna be my new mom someday. I just have to get her and Daddy to realize it. My plan to get them together is starting to work. They both like each other a lot and maybe someday they’ll stop acting so lame!

For the luau, Daddy ordered the makings for this stuff called shave ice. We got coconut and macadamia nut and pineapple syrups, plus a couple other flavors. According to Marquetta, this won’t be authentic because we don’t have a machine to shave the ice, but we can use a blender and it will be close!

Today I’m wearing my first grass skirt. Daddy wanted to buy one for Marquetta, too, but she said she wouldn’t wear hers unless he wore one too. Me and Marquetta thought that was funny, but Daddy didn’t think so.

It’s kinda fun getting an afternoon off. Between being in fifth grade, helping around the B&B, and finding a killer, my life has been totally hectic. After we moved from New York, Daddy said we were gonna settle into a nice little town where not much happened. That sounded totally boring to me. Then, I heard about all the treasure around here.

The treasure hunters are getting closer to the old Manila galleon that sunk off the coast. Miss O’Connor, she’s the lady archaeologist who’s staying here, told me all about those old ships and how hard the journey was. It’s awesome that one sunk off our coast!

Anyway, I thought having all those treasure hunters around would be super interesting, but it was even better than that because they keep getting murdered! That gives me and Daddy killers to find. I’ve told you how he doesn’t like me to help him find the clues, but between you and me, Journal, he needs my help. That’s why I’ve gotta get him and Marquetta together soon. I can’t keep splitting my time between helping them see the obvious, finding killers, and fifth grade. Something’s gotta give, Journal.

I just looked out my window and Daddy’s out on the patio with Marquetta. They look super happy right now. Someday, this is all gonna work. I just know it!

Gotta go,

Alex

PS I guess that should’ve been aloha.

 


About the Author

Terry Ambrose is a former skip tracer who only stole cars when it was legal. He’s long since turned his talents to writing mysteries and thrillers. Several of his books have been award finalists and in 2014 his thriller, “Con Game,” won the San Diego Book Awards for Best Action-Thriller. He’s currently working on the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery series.

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New Southern Mystery: Southern Discomfort by Caroline Fardig

Southern hospitality meets deadly deception in the start of a charming new mystery series from the USA Today bestselling author of the Java Jive novels.

Quinn Bellandini loves her life in Savannah, Georgia, where she runs her grandfather’s B&B with her sister, Delilah. From baking fresh scones and serving up grits every morning to ensuring the guests see the best of their historic city, Quinn can’t imagine doing anything else—even if it means dealing with nuisances like the occasional malfunctioning commode. But when Quinn drops by the local restaurant owned by her friend Drew Green, and stumbles upon a murder, her whole world comes crashing down.

Drew’s brother was always a little surly, but Quinn can’t imagine that someone disliked the prickly chef enough to kill him. The police, on the other hand, don’t believe that Quinn was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Before her guests can even digest the next morning’s gourmet breakfast, Quinn learns that she and Drew are suspects.

Drew thinks they should do some investigating of their own. Quinn is pretty sure she’s better suited to playing hostess than amateur sleuth. But with Delilah as her cynical sidekick, Quinn starts looking for the real killer—before she gets put away faster than you can say “sugar.”


About The Author

CAROLINE FARDIG is the USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR of the Java Jive Mysteries series and the Lizzie Hart Mysteries series.

Fardig’s BAD MEDICINE was named one of the “Best Books of 2015” by Suspense Magazine. She worked as a schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

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Six Feet Under (A Kenni Lowry Mystery) by Tonya Kappes. With character interview!

Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth. And let me tell you, this broth is in trouble. Get ready for a Southern showdown.

The residents of Cottonwood, Kentucky are sent into a tizzy when the Culinary Channel comes to town to film an episode of Southern Home Cookin’ with celebrity chef Frank Von Lee.

Especially Sheriff Kenni Lowry.

Her mama’s award-winning chicken pot pie is what brought Frank to town, and they don’t make hair in the South bigger than her mama’s ego after the news.

When Frank Von Lee is found dead from food poisoning and the most likely culprit is Mama’s chicken pot pie, Kenni’s poppa, the former sheriff, comes back from the Great Beyond to assist in the investigation.

But nothing’s prepared Kenni for such a personal tie to a case, and she finds herself pushing the limits of the laws she’s sworn to protect.

This book’s so delicious it’ll make your mouth water and leave you hankerin’ for more.


Character Interview

Vivian, welcome to Island Confidential! Can  you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

I’m a smidgen of a perfectionist. I know. . .my friend’s jaws will drop because I’m so selfless and caring and seem a bit carefree. I like things to go just so and I have a hard time letting go when they don’t. Now, I’m gonna trust that this is just between me and you because I don’t want any unruly rumors out there that I’m bragging on myself, because I’m not. Around these parts, rumors are ramped.

Who’s your favorite character in Six Feet Under?

Definitely my daughter, Kenni. I mean…Sheriff Kendrick Lowry. She’s been elected twice now. Did you hear that she’s dating the hunk deputy of her’s? Finn Vincent. Oh my. I’ve said too much. She might not like me telling you that but deep down, I know that she’s just over the moon. Over the moon!

Is there anyone you have a conflict with?

Everyone loves me and I love them. I’m not saying that I don’t have a few disagreements with some people and right now I don’t have time to be worried about anyone because the Culinary Channel is coming here to film me and my little famous chicken pot pie. See, everyone loves me.

Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author?

She could put on some lipstick when she’s talking to me. I never understood why Tonya doesn’t live up to her southern roots. She really should get a bath and clean up before she goes to work. It’s not pretty.

What’s next for you?

I’m gonna be famous! My chicken pot pie is going to be tasted by the famous Chef Frank Von Lee. He’s going to make me famous. Youwhoooooo, Hollywood, here I come!


About the Author

For years, USA Today bestselling author Tonya Kappes has been publishing numerous mystery and romance titles with unprecedented success. She is famous not only for her hilarious plot lines and quirky characters, but her tremendous marketing efforts that have earned her thousands of followers and a devoted street team of fans.

 

For years, USA Today bestselling author Tonya Kappes has been publishing numerous mystery and romance titles with unprecedented success. She is famous not only for her hilarious plot lines and quirky characters but her tremendous marketing efforts that have earned her thousands of followers and a devoted street team of fans.
Sign up for her newsletter on her website at Tonyakappes.com .

Visit Tonya:
Facebook at Author Tonya Kappes,
https://www.facebook.com/authortonyakappes

Kappes Krew Street Team
https://www.facebook.com/groups/208579765929709/

Website
tonyakappes.com

Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4423580.Tonya_Kappes

Twitter 
https://twitter.com/tonyakappes11

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https://www.pinterest.com/tonyakappes/

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