Guest Winnie Archer, plus #giveaway

Edith/Maddie here, still digesting Thanksgiving north of Boston!

New Flash: Kathy Laweryson is the lucky winner of Winnie’s giveaway. She’ll be writing to your email address, Kathy. Congratulations!

I’m so happy to welcome author Melissa Bourbon, aka Winnie Archer, who has a new holiday book out and a giveaway – after you read her delightful post about her annual tamale-making party.

Here’s the blurb for A Murder Yule Regret:

Freelance photographer and Yeast of Eden bakery assistant Ivy Culpepper has just scored the job of a lifetime shooting the Dickensian dress-up X-mas party thrown by It Girl film actress Eliza Fox…until an unwanted guest appears.

A holiday costume party in the sleepy coastal town of Santa Sofia could be just the boost Ivy needs for her fledgling photography business. At the party, Ivy enters a Victorian fantasy come to life, all courtesy of the fabulous Ms. Fox. Ivy gets to play shutterbug while hanging with Scrooge, Marley, the Cratchits, and more classic Dickens characters.  But what begins as the best of times turns out to be the very worst for one of the party guests—a tabloid journalist with more enemies than Ebenezer himself.
When the man’s body is found sprawled across the jagged rocks below the house, the fingers begin pointing at Eliza. Meanwhile, Ivy gets roped into helping prove the starlet’s innocence. Her festive photos are now official evidence—and the Ghosts of Christmas Present could mean the party for Eliza is over, once and for all.

Our Tamalada

Everyone has their favorite holiday and season. My favorite season has always been winter. I’m much more of a sweater/jacket/blanket/boots/slippers girl than I am a swimsuit/shorts/flip flops person.

I got married on December 30th, because I wanted my wedding to be during the winter.

This love of winter naturally lends itself to loving the Christmas season. It’s less about the day, and more about the activities surrounding the holiday.

As a family, our happiest tradition is our annual tamalada. This is a tamale-making party. We gather together at our home with friends and family and make dozens upon dozens of tamales. My daughter used to joke, saying, “Do your friends know they’re coming to this party to work?”

It’s true. It’s a work party. We make masa. We make the fillings. My husband even says that the way I make everything now is better than how his mom makes it. That is a high compliment since he tells it like it is, and his mom is an excellent cook.

We’ve added our own types of tamales to the mix. Where my husband, Carlos, grew up with just the traditional pork tamales, we now make chicken mole, bean and cheese, and sometimes other unique specialities.

Our friends come and learn about our family’s tradition, partake in the making, eat the tamales once they’re cooked (and the pozole and other goodies), and everyone leaves with a dozen or two tamales to take home.

Because of my love to the season, writing a holiday-themed mystery was SO much fun! I got to tap into my love of Dickens and A Christmas Carol, the brisk winter on the California coast, and the magic of the season (minus the murder, of course).

In my next holiday mystery, I’ll bring in our tamalada tradition!

Happy holidays, and happy reading!

Readers: Have you ever had tamales? Do you have a favorite flavor? What is one of your holiday traditions? Winnie/Melissa will send one commenter a copy – print or digital – of Murder in Devil’s Cove, the first Book Magic mystery.

Melissa Bourbon is the national bestselling author of more than twenty-five mystery books, including the Book Magic mysteries, the Lola Cruz Mysteries, A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series, and the Bread Shop Mysteries, written as Winnie Archer. She is a former middle school English teacher who gave up the classroom in order to live in her imagination full time. Melissa lives in North Carolina with her educator husband, Carlos, and their two dogs, a pug, Bean, and a chug, Dobby. She is beyond fortunate to be living the life of her dreams. Learn more about Melissa at her website,, on Facebook @MelissaBourbon/Winnie ArcherBooks, and on Instagram @bookishly_cozy.

54 Thoughts

  1. I love any kind of tamale that is made, and I leave the making of them to you and others. 🙂 Having been a professional photographer in one of my past lives (I’m old so I’ve done a lot of things), I’m sure I would love a cozy mystery about a photographer.

  2. I have never tried tamales. I’m not one that likes to try new things unless someone who knows my tastes very well can convince me that I would like it. Thank you for this chance at your giveaway! pgenest57 at aol dot com

  3. I belong to a mystery readers book club. At one meeting we did a mystery game with a Hispanic theme and the two hostesses made tamales for the food. This is the only time I’ve had them but they were very good. What a wonderful tradition to make your own. Congratulations on your upcoming release.

    1. Thank you, Dianne! I love tamales, and our homemade ones right after they come out of the steamer are SO good!

  4. Tamales are big in Arizona. I like most of them except when they put an olive in the center, which is traditional.
    I like black beans in mine.

    1. I love the olives! BUT our favorites are actually chicken mole and bean/cheese. I really could leave the traditional pork behind.

  5. I first had tamales when I lived in California at a Mexican co-worker’s home. They were delicious but I remember I was very confused with the husk wrapping – was I supposed to try to eat it?? Haa! They even heated up their tortillas right on the stovetop! So much fun to participate in different culture’s customs! Your book sounds great with the Dickens theme, love the cover.

  6. I have never tried tamales but they have always intrigued me. I love the idea of getting people together to share a tradition like this.

  7. Welcome back! What a fun party. When we lived in Massachusetts we used to go to a restaurant in Cambridge that had the most delicious tamales I’ve ever eaten. Now I’m hungry! Congratulations on the new book.

  8. One of the blessing of being an old Army brat was living on military bases surrounded by about every nationality you can think of. Mom’s love of being in the kitchen lead her to learn from the best on how to make dishes from just about every nationality – including hot tamales. Pork was always our favorite and being gringos ours were made on what the “teacher” called the baby level of heat. Through the years, we have increased that heat level as our taste buds demanded more.

    One of my favorite traditions was combining Mom’s love of baking with her love of people. We would cook for several days making several types of cookies, fried pies and candies. Oh the parties for decorating the cookies or mearuing out the ingredients were fun and often shared with other family members or my friends. Then we would assemble goodie boxes to be delivered to friends, those handicapped and the elderly. There was no here’s your box and go. It was a time to visit and genuinely find out how they were doing. I later learned that sometimes the visit itself was the biggest gift of all. I am thrilled to say that I continue this tradition to honor my Mom’s memory and for the sheer joy it brings to me. There’s nothing like sharing the bounty of one’s kitchen and giving a bit of yourself along with the goodies. I just wish we all of us could carry that caring and giving spirit all year long.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Kay, I love your tradition! You have inspired me. We can’t invite all our neighbors to our tamalada…it would get too big! But I think we’ll do something similar to your tradition <3

  9. I’ve loved tamales since I was a kid in California. My parents used to buy canned ones, if you can believe that. My favorites are the huge South American ones wrapped in banana leaves and green chili and cheese tamales a co-worker in SoCal used to make. So, so good!

  10. We don’t have many good Mexican restaurants here in Ottawa (Ontario). But I have eaten tamales once when I was on vacation in southern California. It probably was the traditional pork tamale but I would have liked to have eaten a chicken mole or another unique flavoured tamale. And I have eaten pozole when on holiday in Santa Fe, NM. Your tamalada tradition looks like a lot of fun with yummy results.

  11. Happy Day After Thanksgiving!!! First, I must buy and start reading “A MURDER YOU’LL REGRET”…I love the cover, the catchy title, and what you have told us about the book. Definitely my cuppa!! I want to be a part of your family even if just for the tamalada. I’ve heard friends describe the fun (and lots of work), but nobody I knew ever invited me to participate 🙂 Your photos are priceless, showing everyone having a blast making the tamales. I love tamales, and it is difficult to select a favorite, but I make an executive decision, and declare….Ceese, tomatillo and chiles! Have a beautiful Christmas season, and may your home and family be blessed in abundance. Luis at ole dot travel

    1. Luis, thank you for stopping by! Our tradition is my favorite event of the entire year. It’s a lot of work prepping, but so much fun. I hope you enjoy the book! Happy holidays!

  12. I’ve tried tamales but only in restaraunts – they are really good! My holiday cooking tradition is to bake gingerbread houses to decorate and giveaway to friends!

    1. Oh! We did a gingerbread competition last year. We worked in pairs. It was another super fun holiday activity. Happy holidays!

  13. I’ve never had tamales, it’s not something you really see here. It’s only recently I’ve even heard of them but I’d be interested to try. Our family food tradition is making and decorating cutout cookies and making candies.

    1. I’ve never really made much candy. That’s something I’d love to try. Happy holidays!

  14. What a fun family and friend idea, a tamale making party! I have not ever made tamales, but I read Gary Soto’s picture book, Too Many Tamales, many times to children in my job as a librarian. In the book which is richly illustrated by Ed Martinez, a ring is lost while making the masa. Did that ever happen at one of your parties? Best of luck with your book, it sounds like a good read.

    1. I have read that book so many times, too! We’ve never had a lost ring situation, thankfully. Happy holidays, and I hope you’ll give the book a try!

  15. I am from Mexico, and the only thing I miss about the Tamales from there is the machaca & green olives version.

  16. I have had tamales 🫔 Living 8n Chicago, I have some Mexican friends who would make tamales every year, especially around Christmas. My favorite is pork tamales.

    1. The pork is the traditional. Now that we’ve branched out, I really favor the chicken mole and the bean/cheese. They’re all good, though!

  17. Hi, your book sounds like a great read, and I love your book title! Wow, how fun your tradition of a tamalada. When I was very young and living with my parents, we would all make tamales every Christmas Eve, my dad would start with preparing the masa , my mom would get the pork meat ready and she would also prepare the ingredients that were needed to add to the masa that was for the sweet tamales. We were 6 siblings plus our parents and one of our grandmothers would also help. Tamales are delicious and they are very time consuming but very well worth it. Well, I did not keep this family tradition, but one of my brothers did except for the past 2 years or so. I do make sure to get some tamales from a tortilla factory we have here in town , because I do make sure to have a tamale during the Christmas holidays. Just the other day our son in law(who’s name is also Carlos) made some tamales, he had our 15 year old granddaughter and our 13 year ol grandson making tamales right along with him and I am very proud to tell you that they did a Great job making them, they were chicken tamales and they turned out delicious, it has been a very, very long time since I had tamales that tasted this good. My favorite tamale are the pork tamales. I enjoyed reading your post, Thank you, brought back so many great memories for me, so I thank you. Have a great weekend and stay safe.

  18. I Love Tamales….Cheese, pork, green chicken. My husband loves sweet tamales 🫔. I am Mexican, so it is a must. But living in Ohio is hard to find good Tamales.

  19. Thanks for this great post, Melissa/Winnie. Tamales are my supreme comfort food. I grew up in southern California a very long time ago, and my mom would serve tamales out of a can (even those, I loved). In high school, our cafeteria was a covered outdoor area with picnic tables and a window where you could buy lunch. It gets a little cold (not by New England standards, of course!) in the winter, and a freshly made hot steamed tamale was just about perfect to warm up with while eating outdoors. Now I order one whenever I am at a Mexican restaurant.

    Can I come to your tamalada next year, please?

  20. Our family loves tamalas and my son buys from food trucks if he finds one. I have never made any. Your tamalada party sounds so fun . Yum!!

  21. Your tamalada sounds like a great time! I have had tamales. In fact, my parents made them for Christmas dinner a couple years ago. They were yummy!!
    Looking forward to one of our holiday traditions—going as a family to cut our Christmas tree this weekend.

  22. No I haven’t had tamales.
    One of my favorite traditions is one I started. I found Omaha Steaks tried their food on my family making them the “guinea pigs” They loved the food so from then on, I buy Omaha Steaks packages for my parents and both my sister’s families(I have two sisters). They loved it so much they ask for it each year. So that’s 6 people bought for. It’s easy, delicious, practical and the best part Omaha Steaks makes and sell more than steaks.
    Book looks fantastic. Would love to read and review in print format.
    Hope I Win

  23. We used to be able to buy homemade tamales from an aide at my school. So yummy!

  24. Growing up in South Texas we ate a lot of tamales and I have also been to Tamaladas and then made them myself with my husband. We love juicy, greasy Pork tamales. A friend Nena in Mercedes, Texas made the best. You just can’t find them anymore that good and now we live in Georgia and they make these huge Tamals with too much Masa and mostly chicken and dry. One of our favorite meals. We have ordered from Texas and they are not that good and shipping is too expensive. Our tradition is making black eyed peas to eat for New Years to have good luck. We don’t put the tree up until after Thanksgiving, have our family star on top, open presents on Christmas Eve and don’t like tree after New Year’s Eve.

  25. I’ve only had a bite of one tamale. It was rip-your skull-out-hot! (As in spice) I can’t do spice, so I gave it to my mom. I think I’d love one that’s tame (lame) LOL! Our tradition is baking Hungarian pastries for days. We’re all slowing down these days, but there are always tons of goodies around. All diets are off for Christmas week.

  26. No, we have never made tamales. We bake as a family sometime in December. We give cookies and pumpkin bread as gifts. We also cook Kielbasa on Christmas Eve. That is a tradition of my husband. I also read the Christmas story from Luke 2 from the Bible on Christmas Eve. Thank you so much for sharing.

  27. I learned about Tamales as a holiday tradition this year. It looks like a fun time assembling them with friends and family.

  28. I haven’t had them in decades, but I used to buy them in a jar for not very much and warm them in a skillet (this was in the days when there were microwaves only in fast-food restaurants).

  29. I like tamales, never made them though. Usually a friend or a family member makes them for us. Love the book cover, so excited to read the book! Thanks for the chance!

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