Hi. Barb here. Julie, Sherry and I met author Jenna St. James at the Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Weekend back in April. Jenna is a terrific, high-energy, fun person and we invited her to come tell us about her mysteries.
The latest is Murder on the Vine: A Sullivan Sisters Mystery. Bookstore and bar owner, Jaycee Sullivan, figured it was just another day when her pastry chef sister, Jax, asked her to help deliver chocolates to a local winery. However, the discovery of a dead body was anything but typical for Jaycee. When it looks like the girls will be questioned further about the murder, Jaycee decides to do some snooping around of her own. When the hunky new detective in town, Mike Connors, demands Jaycee keep her nose out of the investigation, she decides to take matters into her own hands. With the help of Gramps, a retired Army colonel, her mom, and Tillie, a former trapeze artist and contortionist, Jaycee picks up the investigation gauntlet and runs. Between numerous wine tastings and hilarious stakeouts, Jaycee must ditch a certain detective and bring down the killer before Jax is next in line.
Take it away, Jenna!
I decided to write the Sullivan Sisters Mystery series as a way to honor my grandfather, a WWII veteran who passed away almost nine years ago. Like the Gramps in this series, my own grandfather could sometimes be a little curmudgeonly (ha!), but he was also a kind man who loved his family…and John Wayne! Not long before he died, I stayed with him and my grandmother for a couple weeks. He and I would pretty much sit all day and watch John Wayne movies one after the other. I’d like to think if my grandpa were still alive, he’d love the characters and setting I developed in his honor.
My immediate family—dad, mom, sister—all still live in Sonoma County, CA. I’m the only one that left and is now living in the Midwest. Not only did I write this series for my grandpa, but writing this series also allows me to feel closer to my family. My real-life sister is a lot like the sister, Jax, in that she loves to boozy bake. I also have other real-life friends, Heidi and Bridget, who make an appearance in every book.
I always tell people there are three “ingredients” I put into every book I write—whether it’s the Sullivan Sisters series, the Ryli Sinclair series, or the new series I’m writing with my stepdaughter, Maddy—and that is: The older generation will teach the younger generation, family/friends are important, and you’ll always find some sort of a positive military presence.
Building the Future
My sixteen-year-old stepdaughter, Maddy, has been one of my BETA readers for a while now. Recently she asked if we could write something together. I’d had a series idea I was playing around with and intended to start writing in 2020. When Maddy said she wanted the protagonist to be in high school, I thought I was going to have to come up with a whole new series concept. But after tossing around ideas, I realized if I just took the series I was going to write and bring the main characters (protagonist has two sidekicks) back to when they were in high school instead of in their early twenties, I could (hopefully) pull it off. So that’s what we did! Maddy is a fabulous artist on top of being a tremendously talented writer…so she went to work sketching the town as I worked on trying to take the girls back to their senior year of high school. We worked together on the plot, and then since this was Maddy’s first cozy novel, I did most of the bulk writing of each chapter. Using Google Docs, she’s then put in her part or made any changes she wanted for each chapter. We did this chapter by chapter until we had Seaside and Homicide completed. We are very proud of this co-authored series and plan to have Book 2 out by Christmas.
A question for readers and a giveaway: I have boozy dessert recipes in the Sullivan Sisters Mystery series. What recipe(s) from other culinary cozy books have you tried? I’ll send a signed copy of Murder on the Vine to one commenter!
Jenna writes in the genre of cozy/paranormal. Her humorous characters and stories revolve around over-the-top family members, creative murders, and there’s always a positive element of the military in her stories. Jenna currently lives in Missouri with her fiancé, stepdaughter, and myriad animals. She is a former court reporter turned educator turned full-time writer. She has a Master’s degree in Education, and an Education Specialist degree in Curriculum/Instruction. She also spent twelve years in full-time ministry.
That’s a wrap, folks! A winner has been chosen and notified. Thanks for commenting.
Welcome, Jenna! I do sometimes make the recipes in books, and boozy baking sounds right down my alley. ;^) I love that you wrote a series with your teenager. All the best for your books, and thanks for visiting the Wickeds.
I’ve seen those beautiful pies you make. They always look amazing!
Not much of a baker so haven’t tried any receipes from books.
I’m not a very good cook. I’d MUCH rather bake any day! Lol. My family likes to tease me and say they’ve eaten a lot of charcoal over the years! But put some sugar, eggs, and flour down and I can go to town! Ha!
I’ve tried recipes from Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mysteries.
I taught for many years before writing full time. I’d invite a group of single teachers over for dinner once a week and after dinner I’d bring out a boozy dessert for them to vote on. Some were FABULOUS, some were good, and one was so bad we all ran to the side of the back deck to spit it out! Lol. I hope you enjoyed YOUR recipes from the Coffeehouse Mysteries!
I’ve tried some western baking recipes from books and discovered a couple of new favorites! I’m looking forward to reading Seaside and Homicide!
Western baking recipes…that sounds interesting!! And thanks for reading Seaside and Homicide!
Jenna it was so fun to get to meet you in person! And I’m so excited about your new series with Maddy! The cover is stunning. I hope our paths cross again soon.
Thank you! It honestly was exciting for me, as well. I love following you guys over on the East coast!
I haven’t tried any recipes from books. Thanks for the giveaway.
You’re welcome! And thank you for always sharing my book releases on your Facebook page!
I make peach cobbler from one of Joann Fluke’s books
Well, if you are looking to “jazz” it up with a little extra something-something, I have a boozy peach crisp in book 4 of Sullivan Sisters, Tea Leaves, Jealousy, and Murder!😉 Lol. But I will agree, her recipes are delicious!
I love that you are writing a book with your stepdaughter. What a very nice thing to do for both of you.
I have never followed a recipe from a book, but I have often taken ideas from them and adapted them to my own tastes. And, of course, I often end up eating something similar to what I’ve read. I’m so suggestable!
Signature recipes…that’s the best part of baking!! OK, and sometimes the worst part of baking…I’ve had some duds! But I love taking recipes and tweaking a few ingredients to make it my own. You go, girl!!
I have done several cookie recipes(chocolate chip and banana chocolate chip and frosted ginger cookies) from the Joanne Fluke books. They were great.
I’m hearing that a lot this morning! I agree, her recipes are delicious!!😁
We’ve connected in the past. Hi from another Sonoma County former resident. I moved south but stayed in CA.
I’ve tried some desserts from Joanne Fluke’s books, but they are the only culinary recipes I’ve tried, and it’s been years since I made them.
Hi, Mark!! Guess what? I’m sitting in my mom’s living room in Rohnert Park right now typing this response! Lol. Later today we are going to Bodega Bay and having lunch at Fisherman’s Cove… my favorite place to eat!!
Fluke’s recipes are a popular response. I, too, have tried some. Delicious!
I haven’t tried any recipes from books yet. There are a few that I plan to try at some point though.
Good for you!! I’m all about culinary cozies with recipes. Huge perk for me: desserts from other countries!!
If I see one for a dancing bear, then I will make one.
Challenge accepted!! Lol
I’ve made a number from Joanne Fluke’s cookbook. I made pretzel salad from one of Joyce Tremel’s books. I keep books that have what look like good recipes but don’t always get around to making them.
I love that!! Everyone needs a “someday” pile of books with recipes!
I’ve made several from the Joanne Fluke books. The Doc’s oatmeal morning cookies are a favorite around here.
Fluke’s recipes have been winners all day! I love oatmeal cookies, too!😍
I always have good intentions of trying recipes I like from the books I read, but it never seems to happen.
I get that! I honestly do. I’m bad with magazines. I’ll keep them thinking I’ll whip up some of their recipes…and never do!
I enjoy reading books with recipes in the back, but I have never tried making any of them!
❤ Kind of like watching the cooking channel. I have a friend who loves watching the cooking channel, but she never makes anything. She just like to watch them cook/bake.
Is your detective named for Mike Connors the actor? He played tough guys on TV back in the 1960s.
He’s not. Truth, I am not a TV watcher. I WANT to be… James even bought me the Hallmark package. But I just can’t sit down and do it. Lol.
I have tried many of the Diane Mott Davidson & Joanne Fluke recipes along with others. My favorite is from Davidson- death by chocolate cookies. Thanks for sharing.
That sounds WONDERFUL!
I tried a pumpkin muffin recipe and my niece loved them so much that when they were having a bake sale so asked me to make those. I don’t remember what book it was from.
That’s a great story!! Thanks for sharing.
I collect the recipes but admit I haven’t tried any yet. Boozy baking would be popular with my family, thought!
It’s popular in my family, too. LOL. My sister and I are always texting each other new boozy recipes to try.
I’ve tried Cleo Coyles recipes and Joanne Flukes they turned out delicious. Banana bread and scones.
Cleo Coyle has awesome recipes I tried a few and Joanne Fluke too. Cookies and scones plus coffee drinks.
I live alone, so, tempting as they are, I just read the recipes and do not usually try them.
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