Thank you for visiting the blog. It is a pleasure to get a chance to meet you and talk about the new book.
Thank you for hosting me on your site with my latest Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery, Bonbon with the Wind. I love visiting with bloggers and readers. Y’all are the greatest!
Before we get into the good stuff…the book let’s get acquainted.
So I am guessing you’re a Chocolate lover since the series revolves around a Chocolate Shop but do you have any other little guilty pleasures?
You’re right. I’m a chocolate lover through and through. I indulge in at least a little piece of chocolate every day, preferably for breakfast. As for other guilty pleasures, while I don’t drink alcohol, I do drink Coke and other sodas, but mostly Coke. The bubbly drinks feel good on my throat. I’m trying to cut back by not buying them. My family says I should. But I do love to sip on a carbonated soda in the middle of the day.
You might gasp when I tell you this but I don’t drink coffee! Do you like coffee are
you Star Bucks girl?
I’m not gasping. Nope. Not me. I don’t drink coffee either. I have never learned to like it. I do, however, enjoy tea. A strong black Tea in the morning, green tea in the afternoon, and herbal tea in the evening. Starbucks is another guilty pleasure I do enjoy. But just occasionally. I’ll order a chi tea latte, which tastes like a hot milkshake. Yum!
Do you have a furry companion that helps you write or maybe causes a little mischief when you’re engrossed in writing?
My collie mix, Rosie, keeps out of my way when I’m writing. She’s really not interested in what I’m doing on the computer and considers the entire business a complete bore. Suki, my tiger-striped Siamese point kitty, on the other hand, loves it when I sit down to write. If it’s chilly out, she’ll sit on my lap and sometimes put her paw on my arm, making typing a challenge. In warm weather, she’ll perch on the back of my desk chair and watch my progress over my shoulder. It can be quite intimidating, since cats can be so judgmental. I sometimes get the feeling that she doesn’t approve of how I’m giving Stella, the little dog in the Southern Chocolate Shop Mysteries, a bigger role than Beauregard, the hairless cat in the series.
Let’s have some fun…would you rather write in the mountains, on the beach or at home (describe home)
Definitely, the beach! I lived on Folly Beach for twenty years and wrote full-time there since 2001. I loved writing on the beach. If I got stuck, I’d go for a walk or a swim or would simply stare out the window and watch the waves. I do miss it. What I don’t miss, however, is that the salt air would corrode the power lines (and everything else). The frequent power outages did get in the way of my writing flow sometimes.
On the other hand, there’s less to distract me now that I live in suburbia. My office window looks out at other houses. Two of my neighbors also work from home. I sometimes glance at their houses and remind myself to get off Facebook and back to work!
I’ve never spent much time in the mountains. It seems chilly up in the mountains. I do like warm weather, but if someone was to invite me to spend time in a mountain cabin, I suppose I could pack extra sweaters.
If you could go anywhere in the world to write where would go?
Ah, this is a hard one. I love warm tropical weather. So, do I want to go to a tropical island? Or perhaps I’d like the liveliness of city life. If that’s the case perhaps I’d like to write in New York City of London or even Paris. I would love to be near a train line that could whisk me off on spur-of-the-moment adventures.
But honestly, my writing takes me so many places in my mind. All I really need is my trusty laptop and a comfortable chair. And some quiet. I can write at a coffee shop if it’s not too noisy, but I prefer to write in the quiet of my home.
Do you have a favorite t.v. or movie character that solves crimes?
Have you watched Lucifer on Netflix yet? It’s now one of my all-time favorite crime shows. Psych is another all-time favorite. But Lucifer is fun because it imagines what happens if the devil took a holiday and moved to LA. He’s all about punishing people, so he finds criminals, solves murder mysteries so he can mete out proper punishments for those who are doing wrong. Both Psych and Lucifer are crime shows that don’t take themselves too seriously. When I turn on the TV, I want a break from the real world and to simply be entertained.
I am so glad your touring again with Great Escapes. What is your favorite part about book tours?
As a writer, I spend so much time writing the book and when I’m done, I move on to the next book. What I love most about book tours is that they give me a chance to take a breath and have an extended party for my newest release. I’ve fallen in love with each and every book I’ve written. They are all so special to me. Taking them on a book tour is the cherry on top of the long and bumpy path to publication.
How did you choose the location for the Chocolate shop?
The Chocolate Box is located on Camellia Beach in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. It’s a fictionalized version of Folly Beach, South Carolina where I lived for twenty years. Folly Beach is a quirky, artsy small beach town. There’s no flash or glamour, only down-to-earth Folly-ness. I had long wanted to include my love of my beach town in a book series and when I came up with the Southern Chocolate Shop Mysteries idea, I knew that I’d finally found a book series worthy of the town. I hope that my readers fall in love with Camellia Beach and come to appreciate a less-developed island as much as I have.
Did you have to do any special research while developing the story line?
Well, let me think. The series is set in a chocolate shop. So, I had to eat chocolate, a wide variety of chocolate. I had to learn how to make chocolate from the bean and then I experimented with combining flavors to make tasty chocolate treats worthy to be sold at The Chocolate Box.
Yes, I did this on purpose. When I was thinking about series that I wanted to write, I decided I should write about something that I not only love, but that I obsess over.
As a result of this series, however, I’ve become a terrible chocolate snob. Only high quality chocolates for me, please. There’s no comparison to the richness and depth of flavors that come from gourmet bean-to-bar chocolates. They taste like mini-vacations to South America since the beans take on the flavors of the land where they are grown.
Mass produced candy bars, while can be fun to eat, only provide the taste buds with a single note of flavor. There really is no comparison between the two kinds of candy bars.
I just couldn’t wait to get into the book and learn more about Penn! Is she an experienced sleuth or more on the side of reluctant sleuth?
This is the fourth book in the series, so Penn is becoming quite comfortable with the sleuthing skills. While not trained to solve mysteries, when she sees a mystery, Penn cannot help herself. She has to do something to help those affected find justice.
I read that Bonbon with the Wind is the 4th book in the series. Can you tell us how Penn may have changed from the beginning of the series?
Penn has improved—at least I hope readers think she has. In the first book of the series, Penn was a hot mess. Her love life was in shambles. She’d lost her job. And her best friend had recently been murdered. She trusted no one (including herself) and expected the worst of everyone.
As Penn solves each mystery, she learns more and more about herself. Plus, she’s learning the value of trusting those around her.
In Bonbon with the Wind, however, she’s grown to the point where she feels like she can take a leap of faith and trust her friends. Unfortunately, this turns out to be one of the worst decisions she’s ever made. Nothing is ever easy for poor Penn.
Where would Penn take a dream vacation?
Penn has found a paradise in Camellia Beach. I don’t think she’s in a hurry to go anywhere else anytime soon. But if her beau, Harley, were to whisk her away on a spur-of-the-moment holiday, which she would hate, she wouldn’t mind going to a tropical resort where she could laze around sipping on sweet drinks bedecked with tiny umbrellas.
What is your favorite scene in the book?
I loved watching the islanders come together as a true community after the hurricane had passed. This scene was based on real events that occurred after Hurricane Hugo devastated Folly Beach years ago. Everyone on the island came together and worked together to rebuild the island. As a result, the community grew stronger. People who were once strangers began to look out for each other. I really enjoyed being able to retell how hard times can bring out the best in people.
What do you think Penn’s favorite scene would be?
Penn would definitely like the ending of the book above everything else. With the hurricane hitting her beloved island, the murder, and the media attention her shop suddenly started to receive, she really gets put through an emotional wringer in this book. I think she breathed a deep sigh of relief when it was all finally over.
Can you give us a bit of a sneak peek of what you’re working on now?
I’m currently working on the second book in my new series, the Secret Bookroom Mysteries. When a small-town librarian sets up a secret bookroom in her newly modernized library, she discovers that protecting the printed word harder than she’d ever imagined. In fact, it’s murder.
The first book in the series, The Broken Spine, comes out with Berkley Prime Crime September 2020.
In the second book, A Perfect Bind, Trudell Becket, the town of Cypress’s book-loving librarian, has found herself in a bind. Someone is breaking into the secret bookroom she’s set up in the basement of the community’s new state-of-the-art bookless library. But the thief isn’t taking anything. Trudell can’t report the crime, since she’d have to tell those outside the Secret Bookroom Society about her illicit library and risk losing the collection of printed books. Those books are her passion, her life. She wants nothing more than to protect them, even if it means taking on criminals on her own.
This book is scheduled for publication with Berkley Prime Crime September 2021.
Thanks so much for chatting today. Best wishes with the new book and the tour!
Thank you so much for having me! It was great fun chatting about my love of chocolate, reading, and my favorite place in the world—the beach. I invite everyone to visit The Chocolate Box and take some time enjoying the soothing sounds of the waves on Camellia Beach.
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