Guest Amy Pershing plus #giveaway

Edith/Maddie writing from north of Boston a week ago, so who knows what the weather is like today.

Weather, schmether – it doesn’t change my warm welcome for my fellow Cape Cod mystery author buddy Amy Pershing, whose brand-new Cape Cod Foodie Mystery is out today! I love this series, and I know you will, too. If you happen to be on or near the Cape on Monday, July 11, please stop by our joint signing at the fabulous Titcomb’s Bookshop at 2 pm that day.

A Traditional (sort of) Fourth of July Celebration

You would think that an author writing about Cape Cod, famous for its summers of sand and sea and sunshine, would set all her books in that season. You would think. But you would be wrong.  In the world of cozy mystery publishing, the season in which a book is set is often the season in which the book is planned to be published. And so my first Cape Cod Foodie mystery, A SIDE OF MURDER, which came out in February, was set during the spring, and the second, AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR, which was launched in November, was (surprise!) a Christmas book. Nonetheless, both were great fun to write, in part because it was a joy to share the quieter beauty of the Cape in the “off season.” But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t happy when with my latest, MURDER IS NO PICNIC, I finally got to write about the Cape in the “high season.” And over the Fourth of July, no less!

For most of my life I have celebrated the Fourth with my family in a small Cape Cod town. There, as in many small towns across America, the Fourth is celebrated with three unshakeable traditions: the parade, the picnic, and the fireworks. 

The day always starts with the parade down Main Street, which has remained much the same through the years (well, except for the hot harbormaster, see below). Here’s the hometown procession as described by our heroine, the Cape Cod Foodie herself, Samantha Barnes:  

We cheered loudly for the Nauset Sailing Club’s homemade float bearing its traditional Sunfish sailboat with a red, white, and blue striped sail and, as was traditional, the club’s youngest sailor at the helm. We oohed and aahed at the Uncle Sam on stilts and clapped along with the high school marching band playing John Philips Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.” And we totally lost it for the Shawme Manor float, a long flat-bed truck on which a dozen older ladies and gentlemen were doing an enthusiastic Electric Slide led by none other than Jillian herself. But best of all, in my opinion, was the Harbor Patrol’s Grady-White being towed on a trailer behind the Patrol’s Ford Explorer. The boat was draped with red, white, and blue bunting, and at the helm was the hottest harbormaster on Cape Cod (and maybe the world) waving to his adoring (on my part anyway) fans.

After the parade, comes the best part of the day– the picnic. A real Fourth of July picnic with fried chicken and potato salad and, of course, apple pie. But one summer my sister Megan broke with tradition and baked a blueberry buckle… dense, moist, studded with berries, topped with a crispy, buttery, brown sugar crumble. I’ve never forgotten it. So I guess it’s no surprise that Sam is thrilled at the thought that the World’s Best Blueberry Buckle might be making an appearance at her Fourth of July picnic:

Clara Foster was maybe going to teach me how to make the blueberry buckle of my dreams? In time for the Fourth of July picnic of my dreams? Because, for me, the Fourth of July is all about the picnic. Okay, and the fireworks. And the parade down Main Street. But mostly the picnic. Which this year, Jenny had decided for me, was going to be a BYOL (bring your own lobster) clambake and would now, maybe, just maybe, conclude with the best blueberry buckle in the world.

Well, needless to say, it’s not that simple. It never is with Sam and the gang. Unfortunately, Clara Foster meets a sad end fairly quickly (but not before she shares the secret of buckle success with Sam). Also on the down side, Sam misses the Fourth of July fireworks — those breathtaking, enormous, ever-expanding chrysanthemums in the night sky — out of consideration for her faithful pooch, Diogi:

That night I opted out of the Fair Harbor fireworks display. Not because I don’t like fireworks. I love fireworks. Diogi, on the other hand, considers loud booms fair warning of the coming apocalypse, which he then prepares for by cowering in Aunt Ida’s claw-foot bathtub.

But all is not lost.

 Jason, who also loves fireworks, had opted to stay with me and my lily-livered dog. Because that’s the kind of guy he is.

After all, there are many different kinds of fireworks …

Readers: Do you have a favorite Fourth of July tradition or memory? (Mine might be my mother’s stars-and-stripes knee socks.) Please do share them in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of MURDER IS NO PICNIC!

Amy Pershing, who spent every summer of her childhood on Cape Cod, was an editor, a restaurant reviewer and a journalist before writing the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries, including A SIDE OF MURDER — which Elizabeth Gilbert called “the freshest, funniest mystery I have ever read” — and AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR — which Kirkus Reviews gave a starred review, saying, “A delightful sleuth, a complex mystery, and lovingly described cuisine: a winner for both foodies and mystery mavens.” Kirkus also gave another starred rave to the latest book in the series, MURDER IS NO PICNIC, saying, “A clever, empathetic, and totally believable heroine sets this fine cozy above the competition.”

Buy: MURDER IS NO PICNIC

Website: AmyPershingAuthor.com

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70 Thoughts

  1. Congrats on your book release. My favorite moment is playing outside with sparklers and watching the fireworks light up the dark skies.

  2. Congratulations on your new book! At one year’s fireworks display, when our sister was very young, my brother and I convinced her that the celebration was all for her (July 4th) birthday. We played it up the entire evening to – from the perspective of our kid-sized brains – make her birthday special. I love the fireworks every year, but that’s my favorite July 4 memory.

  3. One year the small town in MA that I am from had a carnival with rides and even a band to celebrate the 4th of July weekend. I went with my best friend Debbie and we were on Ferris Wheel and when the fireworks started they stopped the rides. When they stopped the Ferris Wheel we were on the very top and I am not a fan of heights. I made such a fuss that they turned the ride back on to let me off. Debbie and I watched the firework from the solid ground. Thank you so much for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

  4. Oh, definitely the fireworks! Growing up,, my family would go into the “big city” (not really, but compared to our small town, it seemed like it), have a picnic on the banks of the river, and wait for them to begin. I kept the same tradition up with my kids and still get totally awed watching them now! As I get older, I find I appreciate the history of the holiday more and more.

    1. I think you’re absolutely right, Kathy, about appreciating the holiday more and more. Maybe it’s sharing the tradition with our children that gives it such a big space in our hearts.

  5. Hi Amy, I’m really looking forward to the third book in the series. I’ve enjoyed the first two and I have no doubt MURDER IS NO PICNIC will be just as entertaining.

    I don’t know that I have a particular favorite 4th of July memory. It’s been a long time since I’ve even bothered marking the day other than enjoying the fact that I have the day off from work.

    As for the July 11th signing at Titcomb’s that you and Edith are doing together, I’m not sure that I’ll be able to make it but I’m definitely going to try.

  6. Congratulations, Amy! My grandfather always bought a box of sparklers. After dinner, dominated by things grown in his own vegetable garden and fresh corn on the cob, I remember lighting them and dancing around their backyard. Then we’d go watch the fireworks put on by the town.

  7. Congratulations on another fabulous release!

    For me July 4th brings back memories of homemade ice cream, watermelon and grilled burgers. I’ve never been much into the noisy fireworks. Love the pretty nightly displays that can be observed from a distance. Being an Army brat living on base where most individual fireworks were prohibited wasn’t a problem for me.

    The funniest memory of this holiday for me was the time we arrived for the family gathering at the park and Dad unknowingly parked the front passenger tire on someone else’s still simmering coals. Back then there were fire pits. You just built a charcoal area and before you left you were suppose to put it out. The previous folks there I guess were in a hurry and instead of make sure it was out had only covered it with a bit of dirt hiding what was underneath. Well Dad jumped back in the car when we smelled burning rubber and moved the car. The tire wasn’t flat, it was drivable and we were lots of miles (states even) from home. So no harm done other than almost giving Dad a heart attack, so we enjoyed the day, great food and being with family. Few days later with vacation time ending, we started the long trip home. Before getting home, the tire went flat. The attendant kept shaking his head saying he’d never seen a tire do that before. We all grinned. It was a family running joke to make sure you watch where you park and to check all tires for smoldering before you lock the car and walk off.

    Thank you for the fabulous chance to win a copy of “MURDER IS NO PICNIC”! Shared and hoping to be the fortunate one selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  8. We don’t have a 4th of July celebration in town. As a kid we had to drive to the next town to see the fireworks or sometimes we could just see the top from our house. But for years now there’s a neighbor across town that sets off fireworks for the 4th (and other holidays too). Her husband was a truck driver and would get the good fireworks on his way through Missouri. Everyone in town looks forward to a good show.

  9. My favorite Fourth of July memory is going to the symphony and then seeing fireworks afterwards.

    1. Out in PA, where we sometimes spend weekends, they do an outdoor symphony on the Fourth where they light off fireworks at the end while they play the William Tell Overture. It’s fantastic!

  10. My favorite 4th of July tradition is to watch movie version of musical 1776 and then go to town for fireworks

  11. We always had sparklers to play with, and we’d go to the same section of town every year for the fireworks.

  12. To be honest, I haven’t really liked the Fourth of July for many years. The fireworks have gotten so loud almost like professional grade and they shake the house. And no little bottle rockets anymore. Huge balls of flame fly through the sky threatening to set our house on fire. Our old dogs were terrified and wouldn’t go outside to pee. And since the fireworks went on all day and night for three weeks, that became quite a problem. And my nerves were shot. Now that my poor dogs are dead, our city passed new laws limiting the days and times for fireworks and the last couple years they only lasted a few days and a few hours each day. I sure hope that keeps up. Maybe I can start enjoying the holiday again instead of dreading it.

  13. Congratulations on your third thrilling book, Amy! The book has been shipped by Amazon, but not yet received…oh, the wait!!!! The only tradition we have in our household is to watch the fireworks in San Diego County from our terrace, which is high on a mountain, and we can see countless fireworks. My wife and I just loved your first two books, and tried your coconut eggnog, which was delicious (Is it time for eggnog yet?..Aw, shucks…not yet). We are looking forward to my reading MURDER IS NO PICNIC aloud, changing all the voices 🙂 Thak you for sharing your wonderful writing skills with us eager readers!!! luis at ole dot travel

    1. You read my books OUT LOUD?! That is so great! And I’m so glad you and your wife are enjoying the Cape Cod Foodie. Hope you love MURDER IS NO PICNIC!!!

  14. I absolutely love this series! So glad there is another book to read. Two unexpected Fourth of July memories. Once, while driving across country, we saw some fireworks off the road a half mile. We turned in to enjoy a small town festival. Great fun. Once, we lived in a small town which had a licensed fireworks displayed who put on a private show in his yard. We were invited. No crowds, just pleasure.

  15. Congratulations on your book birthday, Amy!

    Favorite memories – oh, yes! I was a member of my school’s marching band (drum majorette and drill team – I completely lack musical talent) so we marched in the Fourth of July parade every year. So much fun because our fireworks were launched from the town football field and marching bands got field space. Talk about up close and personal!

    1. … and scary!!! But really, what is a Fourth of July parade without the high school marching band? And what is a high school marching band without the drum majorettes and drill team? 😉

  16. Congratulations on the new book, Amy! A private gold club not far from us used to have a fireworks show. Since we weren’t members, we’d sit across the street and enjoy the show. Our kids were little back then, and we all had a great time!

  17. Yay for book three!!! Love this series!!!
    My fondest memories of watching Fireworks was win I still lived at home. Mom and Dad would take us to a town park about twenty minutes away and we would sit on the hill and watch the Fireworks. Great memories!!!

  18. Our most consistent 4th of July tradition is putting our US flag in our large front bay window.

  19. Congratulations on your new release! I remember doing sparklers on the 4th and go to watch the fireworks as kids. I still like watching the fireworks and I’m lucky enough to be able to see them from my deck.

  20. My dad had a pair of red,white and blue shoes that he wore all summer. Loved his style.

  21. Congratulations on the new book! Can’t wait to read it! My Fourth of July memories include a family picnic at the lake with lots of extra family. These later years, as we all grew up, we have had a family gathering near the Fourth, if I am in town to see family. Living many states apart we haven’t gotten together in awhile. Not this year, maybe in 2023!

    1. Oh, our far-flung families! My eldest lives in Singapore (!) so it’s been a long time since we’ve all been together on the Fourth, too.

  22. The series is a great addition to the cozy scene and I was delighted to review the first two books on Nightstand Book Reviews. I’m looking forward to reading #3!

    4th of July has always been about the picnics and the fireworks for us, along with Grand-daddy’s ‘nothin’ like it’ home grown watermelon.

  23. When I was a kid we used to sit on the grass at the side of the highway at the end of our street and watch the fireworks

  24. Besides the fireworks, it has always been about the food. Fried or barbecued chicken, ribs. potato salad, deviled eggs. brownies and lemonade or pina coladas. Just thinking about it is making me hungry. I will also wear something red, white and blue and sometimes I will decorate.

  25. I remember my dad making popcorn on the stove. He would put it in a big paper bag to bring to fireworks, for us to snack on.

  26. Going to my sister and brother in law’s house for a barbecue feast and fire works. July 4th is also my other brother in law’s birthday so it is a double celebration. Thank you for this chance!

  27. Congrats on the book release! My fave 4th tradition is sparklers and crafting a watermelon whale just like my dad taught me.

  28. Happy book birthday! As a child, we would always to to my aunt and uncle’s house for a cookout. My Mom was one of eight children. We would have about four of her siblings there. It would be a fun time with cousins as well as sparklers. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

  29. We always went to the 4th of July parade in the next town. My uncle was the rescue squad captain and we would clap and cheer loudly. We loved sitting on the curb and caught lots of candy too.

  30. I have childhood memories. The extended family met in our backyard and watched the fireworks.

  31. First off, I love your series, and I really appreciate that you include recipes!! I usually make a cheesecake decorated with strawberries and blueberries, like a flag, to take to the annual family picnic.

  32. It is usually foggy here in July, but one year I was in Boston and was taken to see their music and fireworks. Amazing (but too hot for me!)

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