Guest Post: Valerie Burns – TWO PARTS SUGAR, ONE PART MURDER

Good day, my bookish peeps. I’ve traveled to more than 25 states here in the US (and working on visiting more). I’m not a huge fan of living in small towns (I enjoy all of the cultural options found in larger cities/towns), but there’s nothing quite like the scenery found in cities and towns around the great lakes. I’m incredibly honored to welcome back to the blog, Valerie Burns (aka VM Burns), author of Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder. Ms. Burns will be sharing her thoughts on a coastal Michigan town that’s the setting in her latest series. I hope you’ll enjoy learning more about this fictional town and perhaps grab a copy of Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder so you can visit as an armchair traveler. Thank you, Ms. Burns, for joining us today. The blog is now all yours.

Where in the World is New Bison, Michigan?
by Valerie Burns

 

My new Baker Street Mystery series is set in the town of New Bison, Michigan. Never heard of it? That’s because it doesn’t exist. New Bison is a fictional town that I created based on the city of New Buffalo, Michigan. What’s special about New Buffalo? And, why use a fictional town?

New Buffalo is a small, quaint town, located 70 miles east of downtown Chicago at the mouth of the Galien River on Michigan’s west coast just north of the Indiana border. It’s also right on the Lake Michigan shoreline.

The state of Michigan is known for a lot of things, Motown Music, motor city, and home of one of the five great lakes, Lake Michigan. Over the years, the state has experienced its share of economic booms and busts. Many towns around Southwestern Michigan were once home to industries that supported Detroit’s automotive industry. However, as manufacturing migrated from the Midwest to the South and abroad, Michigan’s economy suffered. The state, and particularly Southwestern Michigan, was forced to reinvent itself. Home to one of the five great lakes and more than 129 lighthouses (44 of which are on Lake Michigan), Michigan exploited its natural resources (Pure Michigan if you’ve seen the commercials). Also important to the regional marketing is the fact that only forty nautical miles separate New Buffalo, Michigan from downtown Chicago. That’s 70 miles if you’re traveling by land. Lake Michigan, beaches, and small historic towns make Southwestern Michigan appealing, especially for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the Windy City. Lake Front property in Southwestern Michigan was also considerably less expensive than in Chicago, another point in Michigan’s favor.

Of the five great lakes, Lake Michigan is the second largest when it comes to volume, but the only one of the five that is entirely within the United States. Lake Michigan isn’t the cleanest of the Great Lakes, but clarity isn’t always a great thing when it comes to fish. Decades ago, the murky waters of Lake Michigan weren’t very appealing for swimming and kayaking, but the marine life thrived, and Lake Michigan enjoyed a robust $7-billion-dollar fishing industry. Concerted efforts to clean Lake Michigan and the emergence of invasive mussels which remove green algae (the base of the food chain), has devastated the lake’s marine life. Today, the shores of Lake Michigan have crystal clear water, clean sandy beaches, and quaint lighthouses, but the effects of the clean water on the fishing industry is yet to be determined.

When looking for a location for my new cozy, I felt New Buffalo was perfect. So, why did I change the name? I changed the name from New Buffalo to New Bison because I write murder mysteries. People will die here. The last thing I want for the town of New Buffalo, is to be avoided as dangerous. Although, there are no guarantees. Even Cabot Cove, Maine is a fictional city, the UK Daily Mail still labeled it as “The most dangerous place on earth…” (https://bit.ly/3zDrlPi). Cabot Cove, home to fictional author and amateur sleuth, Jessica Fletcher, had more than its share of murders, despite the lovely New England charm. Anyone familiar with Southwestern Michigan will recognize that New Bison is based on New Buffalo. I hope readers will be intrigued by descriptions of the quaint downtown, sandy beaches, beautiful Lake Michigan sunsets, and friendly locals. Pick up a copy of my new Baker Street Mystery, Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder, and get acquainted with New Bison, Michigan.

Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder (A Baker Street Mystery)
by Valerie Burns

About Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder

Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder (A Baker Street Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Michigan
Kensington Cozies (August 30, 2022)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1496738225
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1496738226
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09MZTN6YC

In this delectable new cozy mystery series, social media maven Maddy Montgomery’s perfectly ’grammable life has come undone, and she’s #StartingOver in a tiny town with one giant problem—a killer on the loose . . .

When Maddy Montgomery’s groom is a no-show to their livestream wedding, it’s a disaster that no amount of filtering can fix. But a surprise inheritance offers a chance to regroup and rebrand—as long as Maddy is willing to live in her late, great-aunt Octavia’s house in New Bison, Michigan, for a year, running her bakery and caring for a 250-pound English mastiff named Baby.

Maddy doesn’t bake, and her Louboutins aren’t made for walking giant dogs around Lake Michigan, but the locals are friendly and the scenery is beautiful. With help from her aunt’s loyal friends, aka the Baker Street Irregulars, Maddy feels ready to tackle any challenge, including Octavia’s award-winning cake recipes. That is, until New Bison’s mayor is fatally stabbed, and Maddy’s fingerprints are found on the knife . . .

Something strange is going on in New Bison. It seems Aunt Octavia had her suspicions, too. But Maddy’s going to need a whole lot more than a trending hashtag to save her reputation—and her life.

Purchase Links

About Valerie Burns

Valerie (V. M.) Burns is the author of the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series. Her first book, The Plot is Murder, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Debut Novel. She is the author of the Dog Club Mystery Series, the RJ Franklin Mysteries, a three-time finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and an Edgar Award-nominated short story. Her newest series, Baker Street Mysteries, will release later this year, and her Pet Detective Mystery series will release in 2023. Valerie is on the board of Sisters in Crime and the Southeastern Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. She is also a member of Dog Writers of America, Crime Writers of Color, and International Thriller Writers. She is a manager for a Fortune 100 company and a mentor in the Writing Popular Fiction Program at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. Born and raised in northwestern Indiana, Valerie currently lives in the southeastern United States with her two poodles. Readers can visit her website at vmburns.com.

Author Links

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/v-m-burns

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vmburnsbooks/

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16534140.V_M_Burns

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vmburnsbooks/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/vmburns

Website: vmburns.com

 

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

August 22 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

August 22 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

August 23 – The Mystery Section – GUEST POST

August 23 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

August 24 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

August 24 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

August 25 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 25 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 26 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

August 26 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

August 27 – The Book Diva’s Reads – GUEST POST

August 27 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

August 27 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

August 28 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 28 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 29 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT

August 29 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT

August 30 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

August 30 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 31 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

August 31 – Sneaky the Library Cat’s Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

September 1 – Mysteries with Character – REVIEW

September 2 – Baroness Book Trove – REVIEW

September 2 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE

September 3 – The Mystery of Writing – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

September 3 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

September 4 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT

 

Giveaway

This giveaway is hosted by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours and is for an Amazon gift card courtesy of Valerie Burns. Please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter or click here. Void where prohibited by law.

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Guest Post: V.M. Burns – KILLER WORDS

Good day, my bookish peeps. If you’ve been following my blog for awhile now, you’ve probably noticed that I adore hosting guest authors, especially authors writing in my favorite fiction genres (all of them). I feel that we get to know authors a bit better when they stop by and share with us and we also gain insight into their writings. It is always an incredible pleasure and honor for me to host these visits. Today, I’m very excited to welcome V.M. Burns, author of the “Mystery Bookshop Mystery Series,” including the latest release Killer Words (great title!). Ms. Burns will be discussing what she feels is the beauty found within cozy series. I’m going to grab a cup of chai (in my favorite bookish mug, of course), and will be kicking back to enjoy what Ms. Burns has to share. I hope you’ll enjoy it as well, follow the blog tour to learn more about this book, author, and series, and don’t forget to enter the tour-wide giveaway. Thank you, Ms. Burns for joining us today. The blog is now all yours.

The Beauty of a Cozy Series

One of the things I love most about cozy mysteries, is that they’re almost always presented in a series. Reading the next book in a series is like spending time with an old friend. Many genres don’t lend themselves to continuation in the same way that cozies do, but wouldn’t it be great if they did? Honestly, I can’t believe I’m the only person who would like to see what happens next in Pride & Prejudice to Elizabeth, Jane, and Lydia after they get married. And, what about Mary and Kitty? Do they get married and find their happily ever after? If Jane Austen wrote cozy mysteries, we might know the answer to those questions. Killer Words is the 7th book in the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series, and I’ve been pondering what’s so special about a series and why are cozy mysteries the perfect genre for series?

There’s no universal definition of cozy mysteries. However, there are some characteristics that most (if not all) have in common. Cozies are mysteries that feature an amateur sleuth and don’t have explicit sex or violence, and only minor (if any) swearing. That’s the part that almost everyone agrees on. Now, here are some elements that cozy lovers like to debate. The sleuth is often (although not always) a female. Cozies often take place in small towns or a contained environment, and cozies are often themed. There are exceptions to every rule, and I could rattle off at least ten mysteries that I would classify as a cozy that don’t check all of the boxes. But I would argue that one element that makes cozies perfect for a series is that they tend to be character driven. Readers pick up Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot books because we want to spend time with those characters. Christie’s plots were always great, too. But it was Miss Jane Marple with her knitting and village parallels to people from St. Mary Mead that I found endearing. Or the Belgium private investigator with his egg-shaped head, patent leather shoes, and elaborate moustaches that kept me wanting to find out what new mysteries he would use his “little grey cells” to unravel.

Horror and Thrillers are best suited for standalone books. Readers expect serial killers, terrorist, and bad guys to be dispatched in one way or the other at the end of the book. Romance readers expect a ‘happy ever after.’ However, it’s not uncommon to find romance trilogies with spinoffs of secondary characters. However, it’s rare to find a romance series where the same characters are the focus in multiple books.

Readers often ask if a series can be read out of order or if you should always start with the first book in the series. I’ve rarely found a cozy mystery that I couldn’t enjoy regardless of where the book falls in the series. Just keep in mind, characters in cozies aren’t stagnate. Unlike young adult books like Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys, the characters in cozy mysteries grow and evolve over time. If you want to follow the progression and see their evolution, then you should start at the beginning. Could you start Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone series in the middle and still enjoy it? Yes. But you’ll really appreciate the books more if you start with A is for Alibi and work your way through the alphabet. You’ll enjoy watching as Kinsey changes over time. And yes, I know Kinsey Milhone is a P.I. and the series isn’t a cozy. Remember, there are exceptions to every rule.

Killer Words is the 7th book in the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series. Readers who’ve followed Samantha Washington from the beginning, The Plot is Murder, will have the satisfaction of seeing Sam realize another of her dreams. Readers new to the series will meet Sam, her grandmother, Nana Jo, and the girls from the retirement village and will also get the satisfaction of seeing Sam realize her dream. Whether you’re new to the series or returning to spend time with old friends, give a cozy mystery series a try.

Killer Words (Mystery Bookshop)
by V.M. Burns

About Killer Words


Killer Words (Mystery Bookshop)

Cozy Mystery
7th in Series
Setting – North Harbor, Michigan
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Kensington Cozies (November 30, 2021)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1496728971 (paperback)
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 9781496728975 (paperback)
ISBN  : 9781496728982 (eBook)
ASIN  : ‎ B08Y65TD1X (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #Commission Earned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Apple Books | Barnes and Noble | Books-A-Million | Bookshop.org | eBooks.com | Google Play Books | !ndigo | Kobo eBook

Bookstore owner and mystery writer Samantha Washington comes to the aid of the cop who once arrested her own grandmother . . .

 

Sam and Nana Jo are back in sleepy North Harbor, Michigan, where Sam is eagerly awaiting the publication of her first book. In search of more immediate excitement, Nana Jo hits the casino with her fellow Shady Acres Retirement Village gal pals—but they get more than they bargained for when they witness Detective Bradley Pitt decking mayoral candidate John Cloverton.

 

As Sam well knows, mystery novels are full of brilliant detectives, genius sleuths, and hero cops. Detective Bradley Pitt—aka “Stinky Pitt”—is another story. In the past, the dull-witted detective has mistakenly accused members of Sam’s family for crimes they didn’t commit. Now, it’s his turn: when Cloverton turns up dead, he’s arrested. With his predilection for polyester, Pitt has been wanted by the fashion police for years, but Nana Jo knows her former elementary school math student would never commit murder—it doesn’t add up. Somebody’s framed the flatfoot to take a fall, and Sam and Nana Jo must step in to restore the reputation and good name of Detective Pitt.

 

About V.M. Burns

V.M. Burns was born and raised in the Midwestern United States. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Dog Writers Association of America, Thriller Writers International, is on the national board for Sisters in Crime. She currently resides in the warmer area of the U.S. with her two poodles. Readers can visit her website at http://www.vmburns.com

Author Links

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/v-m-burns
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vmburnsbooks/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/burnsvm
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vmburnsbooks/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vmburns
Website: vmburns.com

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

November 29 – Author Elena Taylor’s Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

November 30 – The Book Diva’s Reads – GUEST POST

November 30 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

December 1 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

December 1 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

December 2 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW

December 2 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

December 3 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 4 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 4 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

December 5 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

December 6 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

December 6 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

December 7 – Cozy Up With Kathy – CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 7 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

December 8 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 8 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

December 9 – Novels Alive – GUEST POST

December 9 – Nellie’s Book Nook – REVIEW

December 10 – Here’s How It Happened – REVIEW

December 10 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW

December 11 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

December 12 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT

Tour-wide Giveaway

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway by author V.M. Burns via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. This giveaway is for five (5) Amazon gift cards valued at $20.00 USD each. Winners will be notified by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours at the end of the giveaway period. Void where prohibited.

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