Wednesday, February 1, 2023

A Birthday Weekend with the Gift of Murder #cozy #mystery #NewRelease

Authors are always being asked where they get their ideas for books. An idea can come from something as tiny as a word or as large as a world event. My story ideas tend to be on the tiny inspiration scale. On March 7, Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder will release worldwide. This is the first of the Chocolate Martini Sisters Mysteries I am co-writing with award-winning author Joyce Proell.

My idea came from a tradition I share with my sister. Twice a year we go to the Peacock Room in the Hassayampa Inn in Prescott, Arizona. On our respective birthdays, we buy each other a chocolate martini. We've met interesting characters, enjoyed talking to the bartender, imagined stories about other patrons. We jokingly called ourselves the Chocolate Martini Sisters. I loved the moniker which got my writer's brain spinning. I conjured mystery and mayhem around sisters who were amateur sleuths solving murders in an historical inn. I knew I had to write it.

But my forte has been suspense not mystery. Lucky for me I knew a great mystery author who happened to be my friend. I contacted Joyce Proell. I pitched her the idea, and she ran with it.

Twice a year, Emma and Nicole spend a relaxing weekend at the storied Dulce Inn in Wyatt, Arizona celebrating their birthdays. But this year, mayhem dwells while murder lurks giving the amateur sleuths plenty of opportunities to use their knowledge of all things mystery to solve the crime. 

Joyce lives in Minnesota and since I live in Arizona our brainstorming and creating is done via email. We alternate writing chapters and scenes. Joyce's scenes are written from Emma Banefield's point of view. My scenes are in Nicole Earp's point of view. Em and Nic are different in many ways, but their love of mystery and love for each other make their birthday weekends very special.

Excerpt from Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder

Nic stood in front of the dresser mirror. One last burst of warm air to her mane, and she switched off the hair dryer. After a quick brushing, she gave her head a shake and left her locks to hang loose on her shoulders. “I don’t know how you can’t jump to that conclusion,” she shouted at Em in the shower. “Jillian’s personality and motivations make her the prime suspect.” Her sister, always the cautious one, still had doubts about the hotel owner’s guilt in the murder. She held dangly yellow and silver earrings from her jewelry pouch toward the sunlight pouring in from the hotel room window. Glancing at her blouse on the bed, she liked the color combination. Inclining close to the mirror, she hooked them in her ears.

Em, now out of the shower, poked her wet head from the bathroom doorway. “I do think she’s a strong possibility, but we need more substantial facts. Throw me my robe, would you? And you might think about wearing one considering the curtains are wide open."

She glanced down at mostly skin. “I had a two-piece bathing suit twenty years ago that covered less than my underwear.” To appease her sister, she lifted the green and yellow blouse from the bed and slipped it on.

Robed, Em drifted into the room toweling her brown hair, the highlights of auburn and gold not yet shining with the dampness. “I’m jelly after that massage.” She lifted the hair dryer, and leveled her with a big, green-eyed there-you-go-again face. “You were all set on Chef Payne being the murderer earlier. Remember?”

She zipped her stone-washed, skinny jeans, and held her comment until Em shut off the dryer. “Yes, I admit he seemed a likely candidate. His abrasiveness, added to his drive to move to an exclusive restaurant in the valley, creates a volatile situation. The man appears to act out of angry passion in all manners of his life—under his chef hat anyway.”

“And you know this how?”

“I have my sources.” She grinned, feeling cocky. “At any rate, murdering won’t get him the review he wanted. More important though, I’m not feeling it anymore.” And she always trusted her gut over her sister’s analytical reasoning.

The first book in Chocolate Martini Sisters Mysteries will release March 7 and is up for preorder  here: AMAZON  as well as all Amazon sites. Reserve your copy to appear in your email on March 7. If you like print, the paperback is available for sale right now!

It’s a birthday weekend with the gift of murder. 

Recently widowed, Emma Banefield looks forward to a getaway birthday weekend with her free-wheeling sister, Nicole Earp, sipping chocolate martinis at the peaceful, historic Dulce Inn. When a rude stranger, a nasty food critic, and a madhouse of temperamental artists greet them, all hope for a tranquil weekend evaporates faster than dew on a hot desert morning. 

Overlooking the riotous atmosphere is doubly hard after Em discovers the body of a hotel guest, and a second murder affects Nic personally. Now, entrenched in a caper that pits them against a surly detective, they cozy up to a hotel staff hiding dangerous secrets to uncover clues to the killer. 

Using their smarts and love of all-things mystery, will the Chocolate Martini Sisters solve the crime ahead of the obstinate Chief Detective or find themselves trapped in the middle of a third murder?





  1. It's been so much fun writing Candy, Cigarettes and Murder with Brenda. Today I wrote the last chapter in the second Martini Sisters series titled Reading, Writing and Murder. Hope you enjoy the books. Joyce