Guest Ellie Alexander #giveaway

Edith here, happy to welcome Ellie Alexander to the 2021 blog. She has a new Bakeshop Mystery out, and she’ll send one lucky commenter a signed copy of Chilled to the Cone.

Take it away, Ellie!

Blurring Facts and Fiction

Thanks so much for inviting me on the blog today as we step into this new year. I don’t know about all of you but last year feels like a strange blur, like a mashup of fiction and reality, which in many ways parallels my writing and that of so many other mystery writers. When we sit down to pen a new story we have to set aside some semblance of reality. After all, what’s the likelihood that a pastry chef (or any other cozy sleuth) would ever be invited on a crime scene or for that matter be able to piece together the gruesome clues of a murder before the professionals? I’m going to say quite unlikely. But, isn’t that the gift of escaping into a cozy? We get to set aside the real world and venture into quaint villages and charming locales while helping our favorite amateur sleuths bring right to the world. To me that is exactly the salve for the soul that reading provides me.

One of my favorite parts of writing mystery series is getting to bring touches of fact into my fiction. My Bakeshop Mysteries are set in the very real Ashland, Oregon, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where the stunning Siskiyou Mountains stretch as far as the eye can see and where it’s not unusual to find someone dressed in pantaloons quoting Shakespeare in the center of the plaza or spot deer frolicking in Lithia Park.

Writing about a real place provides me with endless inspiration, from the artisan shops and restaurants to the Elizabethan theater, the welcoming community, and the gorgeous landscapes of the lush Rogue Valley, I’m never at a loss for ideas. And, I enjoy getting to bring the place that I call home to life on the page and introducing the beauty of Ashland to readers.

There is one glaring error when it comes to blurring the lines of fact and fiction though, and that is the murder of course. The 12th book in the series, CHILLED TO THE CONE just released and in the two years since Juliet Capshaw (my pastry chef turned crime solver) has been home the body count has piled up. Sweet, little Ashland is murder central. If I were writing about a purely fictional place that might not be a problem, but since Ashland is indeed real I feel like my books should come with disclaimer that explains that while Ashland is even more charming than I could possibly describe, the murders are one-hundred percent fiction.

If you come visit there’s a good chance you’ll see flocks of wild turkeys or bump into an actor dressed in Shakespearean garb, but you don’t need to worry about crazed killers lurking in dark alleyways or have to fear that your latte might be laced with poison.

So here’s to a new year of cozy reading filled with an abundance of fiction and a few fun facts mixed in.

Readers: What about you? Do you enjoying blurring facts and fiction when reading? I’ll send one of you (North America only) a signed copy of Chilled to the Cone and a cone sticker!

Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. She is the author of the bestselling Bakeshop Mystery and Sloan Krause Mystery series. Ellie loves hearing from readers and interacting with them on social media, you can connect with her and find her on social media here: http://www.elliealexander.co

75 Thoughts

  1. Most definitely! Isn’t that what fiction is – a diversion from reality into a fun place where crimes are always on the nasty people and not friends, relatives and those well respected and where the crimes are always solved in a timely manner and not drug out for years and possibly never solved?

    :Congratulations on the release of “Chilled to the Cone”! It’s been on my TBR list since it was first mentioned. I’m ready to dive back into the scenes and people in Ashland and follow Jules’ next adventures.

    Thank you for the chance to win a copy. Shared and hoping to be the very fortunate one selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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  2. Congrats on the new release! This is one of my favorite series! I love to discover that places the author have written about are real. I remember, as a child, reading the Betsy-Tacy series and being dumbfounded that Deep Valley was a real place! I think a real place lends a nice background to the story and can build up a nice fan base. And if course, some places that are fictional, I want to be real!

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  3. Now I want to go to Ashland!

    Congratulations on the launch of your latest. Chilled to the Cone sounds delicious – and as for Ashland’s rising murder count, well it’s all part of the ambience!

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  4. Congratulations!! I think that is what makes your books so amazing. I love how they bring Ashland to life, even though the murders are not real, it’s still fun to imagine they are while reading the books. For me it is all part of the experience. You have captured Ashland in such a way that I have already spoken to my husband about taking a trip there at some point when it’s safe to travel again and really be able to take in the experience. Thank you for allowing me to want to go someday.
    lilyanngill56(at)gmail(dot)com

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  5. Hi Ellie, congrats on the new book coming out!

    While I haven’t read this series, I’m glad to say that I finally discovered your Sloan Krause series in the last part of 2020 and absolutely loved it. When I wrote up my Best of Article, I made a point of mentioning that it was my favorite “new-to-me” discovery of the year. I haven’t read the fourth book yet, but I blazed through the first three books in very little time.

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  6. Ellie, I know how you feel. My Laurel Highlands series is set in the very real, very lovely Laurel Highlands and I sometimes feel like I’m doing the place a disservice by planting bodies everywhere.

    Congrats on the new book!

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  7. Ellie! It’s great to see you here and congratulations on the new book. I renamed the town of Bedford, MA to Ellington for my garage sale mysteries. Ashland sounds and looks amazing!

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  8. I love what I have seen of Oregon, from the shore to the mountains and the Columbia River Gorge. Someday, I’d like to see Ashland for myself as well. I love this series. Thanks for the chance to win.

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  9. Ellie,
    I have wanted to visit Ashland in person for a while, and these stunning photos make my wanderlust ache for the time when we can freely travel again. I am glad that the murder spree in Ashland is purely a figment of your imagination.

    I have enjoyed the Torte Bakeshop series from the beginning, as well as your newer brewery mysteries and the ones you wrote under your true name.

    I read a digital ARC of Chilled to the Cone but would love the chance to win a hard copy.
    grace dot koshida at gmail dot com

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    1. Hi Grace, so great to see you here! I feel you on wanderlust right now. It’s so hard not to be able to travel, but I guess the upside is books. I know I’m reading about far away locales and dreaming about actually getting to visit one day.

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  10. Congratulations on your new book, Ellie. I think it’s cool when the lines between fact and fiction are burred. If it’s a good story it compels me to read and keep reading whether there’s a tinge of reality or not.

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  11. Elle, you are a fine ambassador for your town and I think at this point we all want to go to Ashland (and hope to bump into a Shakespearian character). Yes, I read fiction for that very reason…to get away from real life and live in a place conjured up by the author with characters that are believable in situations that are whimsical and relate to real life in a fanciful manner. When I read non-fiction I want the truth and “nothing but the truth;” however, cozy mysteries continue to be that escape from reality and the “nothing but the truth” notion…at least for me! Good luck with your new book and continued series, may the “mystery murders” occur in them and take us all away from real life for a while anyway!

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  12. Ellie, I love to travel and I find that cozies set in wonderful places like Ashland have helped me get through this past year. The Ashland tourist board should put you on their payroll – we’re all dying to go there! Congratulations on the new book and thank you for sharing these terrific photos.

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  13. Welcome to the Wickeds, Elle. It is great to have you here. I have turned the real Boothbay Harbor into Busman’s Harbor, however, whatever it’s called the murder count is still too high for any village in coastal Maine. For all of coastal Maine for that matter.

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  14. Congratulations on new your new book! It’s such a fun series and I can’t wait to read it! It is so much fun to be able to escape to Ashland and love when facts are blurred with fiction.

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  15. I definitely enjoy the blurring of fact and fiction. I like reading books set in places I’m familiar with and see how fictional characters interact with places I know. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is something I’ve wanted to attend for years, hope to be on the west coast at the right time to visit your lovely setting!

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  16. Hi Ellie, Congratulations on your new Book, I Love the Title and I love the book cover! Your book sounds like a Great read! Thank you for sharing about it. I love fiction and some truth mixed in when I read. Have a Great week and be safe.

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  17. Congratulations on the release of Chilled to the Cone. I love the way your series blurs between the real and fictional worlds. You describe Ashland so well, and I would love to visit Ashland one day. It sounds beautiful! Thanks for the chance.

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  18. I absolutely enjoyed the blurred lines between fact and fiction. It’s why I pick up fiction.

    The timing is perfect. I started the second in the series this morning.

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  19. Just finished Chilled to the Cone, absolutely loved it. Currently reading Without a Brew. Love your characters in both series…. Write faster, but seriously thank you for the entertainment you provide.

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  20. Congrats on book #12! I’m not familiar with this series, but I sure am ready to be introduced. I love books set in real places, especially if I know the place. Guess it’s time to plan a trip to Oregon!

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  21. Congratulations on the new book! I cannot wait to read it! I love your series set in the Northwest. I haven’t been to Ashland, but have been to Leavenworth and Portland. I love how fact and fiction are blended in your writing. Thanks for a chance to win!

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  22. Congratulations on the release! I can’t wait to read it, and hope someday when we can travel again that I can make it to Ashland to see it in person. Yes, I love a blend of fact and fiction. I think it makes the book all that more interesting.

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  23. Your books definitely make me want to visit Ashland, it sounds beautiful! I admit, I spend a lot of time day dreaming about story lines around my own town. “If murders happened here on a regular basis, THIS place would be the perfect crime scene!” lol.

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  24. I love when real places are used in fictional books!! I love being immersed in a story and it’s easier with a bit of realness thrown in.
    Thank you!

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  25. I love your books!! I’ve read most of them and your new book is my next one to read! I would love to win it!! Someday I also want to come to Ashland! It sounds like a great place and I would love to meet you!! Thanks for writing!!

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  26. I enjoy reading about other places and I feel the love you put into crafting your setting. I learn about the real-life parts and it makes me want to visit. The fictional aspects complement the characters and story and bring it to life.

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  27. Hi! I liive on the east coast in Massachusetts.
    Fact or fiction really doesn’t matter but if it is real, I would prefer a heads up like you give. I also feel like your characters are real, as if you may come across them on the street and become friends.
    Thank you for the opportunity to give one of your book babies a warm and loving home.

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  28. I live in the middle of nowhere in northern Arizona. I have antelope playing in the back twenty acres stayin near our horses. Then there’s the coyotes that wake me in the middle of the night just before the train goes through. That is all real, what isn’t is the murder in the bakery of the local grocery store, the murder weapon given to me by the district manager, so I enjoy using real places also.

    With that said, you have done great with the blurring of the lines between reality and fiction. I now know can visit Ashland and relate to your books easily while knowing that I can stand in the park and watch the stars without worrying that an assailant will conk me over the head with a branch from a tree. Might get attacked by a buck quicker from the crime stats of the town. Then you have food. What is there not to like about your books? I definitely wouldn’t turn down a signed copy of the book. It can go on the shelf with my other signed books (after I read it of course) and the collectors editions I have.

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  29. This sounds like a great book to add to my collection of books. What is there not to like? A picturesque town, food, and a common ordinary person solving cases. Makes me think that we all could do that if we were like her. I’ll admit to liking the blurring of reality with fiction. It gives you a great place to relate to with a totally fictional story. One of the reasons Dan Brown has such a following…real places with fictional character and events that ‘could’ happen.

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  30. I love this book series!!! And I cannot wait to read this book!!

    I really enjoy when fact and fiction gets blurred — I love learning more about the places where my mysteries are set.

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  31. These photos are so beautiful! I went on your virtual tour on Facebook a week or so ago, so it’s good to see these pics – I’m the one who requested a Shakespeare session with your dad! 🙂

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  32. I really enjoy stories that take place in real places. Since I rarely travel, it lets me enjoy new places from the pages of a book. Despite all the murder and mayhem, I think Ashland is such a cool place and I love visiting there in your books!

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  33. Ellie, I am halfway through “Chilled to the Cone” and have been craving coffee flavored ice cream! I love reading cozy mysteries where reality is blurred by fiction and the towns are quaint and full of community spirit, love and bloodless murder. Happy new year! Reba

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  34. Thanks for the chance on winning a copy of your new book. You’re a “new to me author”. I haven’t read anything of yours yet.
    I don’t mind reading a book that’s mixed with facts and fiction..I think lots of books are like that. I love the photos of the town..looks so interesting.
    Thanks again! Carol in Michigan

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  35. Happy New Year and congratulations on your new release. I do enjoy the blurring of fact and fiction in cozies. Love the series. Looking forward to reading “Chilled To The Cone”.

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  36. Ashland and the Shakespeare Festival have been on my bucket list for many years. I’ll have to try your books to allow me to virtually travel there. That’s why I love this group… New places to visit!

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  37. Love this series. Ashland is a place I would love to visit. I enjoy reading about new places, real and fiction. Just keep writing.

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  38. Congrats on the new book!
    As a avid reader of mystery, crime thrillers and police procedurals, I often suspend disbelief because really, how many murders can happen in a small town? Often the main character, unless law enforcement, would never be asked to help or tasked with solving a crime.
    I do enjoy reading books that are set in real places. It adds to my list of places I’d like to visit.

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  39. First, I want to say how much I love this series. Ellie. It was one that hooked me on cozy mysteries. To answer your question, I love when a story takes place in a real town, city etc. Of course you have to blend fact and fiction, or everyone would move away from the murder capital

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