Friday, September 02, 2016

Now Available -- BLACK AND BLUEBERRY DIE (A Fresh Baked Mystery) by Livia J. Washburn

Today would have been my father's 89th birthday.  Paul B. Washburn passed away a little more than a year ago.  It seemed fitting that this book would come out on his birthday.  He was a great inspiration and help. He and my mother helped my husband James Reasoner and I build our first house so we could pursue this crazy writing dream.  We never had to worry about losing our home when a book didn't sell. I will forever be grateful to them both.  Also, growing up in a beauty shop gave me great material for this book.  They owned Paul's Beauty Shop and ran it together until my mother went back to school to get her teaching degree, and Dad went back to building airplanes at General Dynamics, which is what he was doing before he was a hair stylist.


In the latest from the nationally bestselling author of The Candy Cane Cupcake Killer, Phyllis Newsom returns with a blackberry and blueberry pie recipe that’s to die for…

It’s late summer in Weatherford, Texas and Mike Newsom’s childhood friend is sweltering in prison for a crime he claims he didn’t commit, murdering his wife. So instead of asking his mother to please stop investigating a murder, as he usually does, he asks her and Sam to please help his friend.

Danny Jackson, found guilty of beating his wife Roxanne to death at the ritzy hair salon where she works, was sentenced to prison for 30 years. His pleas of innocence fell on deaf ears, so it’s up to Phyllis to find what actually happened. She finds there are a lot of secrets and lies being told, and Roxanne was in the middle of them all.

Though Phyllis doesn’t want to get mixed up in another murder investigation, her son rarely asks for favors, and certainly not favors like this.  She has to untangle the lies and comb out the facts to find what happened that dark night. 

Includes recipes!

Author Q&A—Livia Washburn

1. What inspired you to set the series in Weatherford, Texas?

I grew up just down the road from Weatherford, in a small Texas town.  Weatherford is a major city in comparison.  Weatherford was just the right size where major crimes could reasonably happen, but still have small town attitude.

2. Which of the characters in the Fresh-Baked Mystery series is most like someone you know in real life?

All of them.  My mother was a teacher and this series was written with her and her teacher friends in mind, while using characteristics from some of my daughters’ teachers as well. None of the fictional characters are based on anyone in particular. It's more of a case of blending qualities from all of them. When I created this series my mother was the treasurer of her chapter of the retired teachers organization, and I wrote the first book honoring her.  Sadly dementia claimed her reading ability before the first book, A Peach of a Murder, was published.

3. Phyllis and her friends are avid bakers. Are you a baker in real life? What is your favorite kind of treat to make?

I’m a "by the seat of your pants" baker.  I learned to bake using a dab of this and a spoonful of that.  It was a real eye opener when I had to write down the exact amount I was throwing into the mix. It was very frustrating when I’d painfully measure everything until the last ingredient and realize I’d just tossed it in.  It meant I had to start over, carefully measuring each ingredient.  My favorite treat would be cookies and I especially enjoy the Oatmeal Delight cookies that were in Killer Crab Cakes.

4. Could you share a little with us about your writing process? Do you write from an outline or free form? How do you come up with ideas?

I always have an outline before trying to even write the first chapter. It’s difficult enough to keep up with the clues without trying to do that by the seat of your pants.  Just the opposite of baking.  Ideas come from reading, mixing fiction with non-fiction.  When my youngest daughter saw the poison book I was intensely going through, she informed me that if her daddy died of any mysterious ailment, she was telling the cops about my books. She was just kidding, I think.

5. What kinds of hobbies do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

I love to work with wood. When my husband and I first married, we built our home from the ground up.  When I say the ground up, actually it started below ground.  We dug the septic system with a shovel and a jackhammer.  Made the foundation with a small electric cement mixer, carrying the cement in a wheel barrow and buckets.  It’s amazing what you can actually do yourself when you try.

6. Who are some of your favorite authors? Do you have a favorite book or genre that you like reading the most?

I fell in love with food mysteries when I read my first Nero Wolfe mystery, and I enjoy the twists and turns Ellery Queen would put into a story.  Phyllis is a little of Ellery Queen, and Caroline has a bunch of Nero Wolfe in her.  The series I’m currently reading is the humorous Deadwood mysteries by Ann Charles.  I do enjoy the mix of humor, ghosts, and mysteries she put in this series. 

7. Is writing your dream job? Have you ever considered any other careers and if so, what are they?

Well of course it’s my dream job.  How many jobs can you do in your pajamas while daydreaming?  I enjoyed building houses.  I’ve helped family with their homes, too.  But unfortunately that can’t be done in your pajamas with a pair of Chihuahua/Min Pins curled up in your lap.  Who am I to deny the ankle biters a human bed?  I also enjoy helping other authors get published.  I started a small press business with a friend, Cheryl Pierson, and that has grown like a wildfire.  We just celebrated our 3rd year at Prairie Rose Publications and have had over 250 new releases. Below are a couple of my co-workers, Nora on the left, and Nicki on the right. They keep the UPS driver in fear for his life. (At least in their dreams.)

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