Guest Ellen Byron plus #giveaway

Edith/Maddie from north of Boston in the middle of June, happily writing and gardening her brains out.

And also super happy to present my dear friend, the talented and hilarious Agatha-Award-WINNING Ellen Byron with Bayou Book Thief, her brand-new first book in the Vintage Cookbook Mysteries. I can’t wait to dive into this series! One lucky commenter will win a copy of the book.

Here’s the blurb:

Twenty-eight-year-old widow Ricki James leaves Los Angeles to start a new life in her birthplace of New Orleans after her showboating actor husband perishes doing a stupid internet stunt. Ricki’s career dream comes true when she joins the quirky staff of Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, the spectacular former Garden District home of late bon vivant Genevieve “Vee” Charbonnet. Ricki is excited about turning her avocation – collecting vintage cookbooks – into a vocation by launching the museum’s gift shop, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware. Then she discovers that a trunk of donated vintage cookbooks doesn’t contain books – it holds the body of a cantankerous Bon Vee employee who was fired after being exposed as a book thief.

The skills Ricky has developed ferreting out hidden vintage treasures come in handy for investigations. But both her business and Bon Vee could wind up as deadstock when Ricki’s past as curator of a billionaire’s first edition collection comes back to haunt her. Will Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware be a success… or a recipe for disaster?

Let Me Entertain You

Contrary to my ubiquitous presence on social media, I’m not comfortable tooting my own horn. Yet with so much of book promotion falling on the author’s shoulders these days, toot I must. To counteract my discomfort, I figured out a way to go all in with my promotional efforts by calling them exactly what they are: shameless shilling.

The idea to go with blatant honesty came to me when I was trying to figure out how to engage readers in the pre-order campaign for A Cajun Christmas Killing, my third Cajun Country Mystery. After joking I was one step away from wearing a sandwich board to herald the book’s release, an image appeared to me.

And thus my Shameless Shilling Campaigns were born.

The goal with each (relentless) marketing campaign is to entertain rather than annoy. I figured the best way to accomplish this is to let my potential readers in on the joke. Given my background in comedy, I have very few boundaries and even less shame. The upside of this is I have no problem making myself the foil of the campaigns, like when I turned a photo from a past New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival into a Shameless Shill. I even gave myself a tiara in this one…

No one is safe from my efforts, as my husband found out when I asked-told him I’d love to use a wedding photo from our 1994 New York wedding reception as part of the campaign for Here Comes the Body, the first book in my Catering Hall Mysteries, which I write under the pen name “Maria DiRico.” How could he say no when the series is literally set at the venue where the reception was held? (Spoiler alert: he couldn’t.)

My daughter’s Halloween costumes – with her permission, of course – offered wonderfully punny possibilities for the Murder in the Bayou Boneyard campaign.

I faced a dilemma when I had to promote a second Christmas-themed mystery, this one for the Catering Hall series. I couldn’t repeat myself… Or could I???

Sometimes the themes come easily, but sometimes they don’t. With the campaign for Bayou Book Thief, I suddenly had my first case of shameless shilling-block. I struggled to find a catchy angle that would both amuse and intrigue readers. In an act of desperation, I turned to my Bitmoji app – which rewarded me with so many cheesy kitchen-related avatars I was able to create six graphics instead of my usual four. Here’s one of them:

I hope readers get as much of a kick from following my campaigns as I get from creating them. If not, well… I don’t have another release until 2023, so enjoy the break!

Readers, what kind of author promotion works best for you?

I’ll send one lucky commenter a copy of the new book!

Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty Awards for Best Humorous Mystery. Bayou Book Thief will be the first book in her new Vintage Cookbook Mysteries. She also writes the Catering Hall Mystery series under the name Maria DiRico. 

Ellen is an award-winning playwright, and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like Wings, Just Shoot Me, and Fairly Odd Parents. She has written over two hundred articles for national magazines but considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart. She blogs with Chicks on the Case, is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, serves on the national board for Mystery Writers of America, and will be the 2023 Left Coast Crime Toastmaster. Please visit her at

PURCHASE LINK: Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron: 9780593437612 | Books

65 Thoughts

  1. I love your Shameless Shilling (or Proud Promotion) campaigns! Very creative and fun!

  2. I love seeing the memes you come up with for your shameless shilling campaigns. I have no problem with recycling them for the next book either. Keep up the good work!

  3. Congratulations on your latest book, Ellen! Your promotion strategy is a keeper — thanks.

  4. Congrats, Ellen! I’m looking forward to reading Bayou Book Thief!

    As for the campaign – love it- it’s funny, creative, and effective. I always click on the link!

  5. Congratulations on your book release. I love your promotions because you can see the effort you put into it to make is presentable and enticing to seek out your books.

  6. Ellen, three cheers on your new release! I love your shilling campaigns. They always make me laugh, which is the best advertising in my book.

    1. I love the Shameless Shilling Campaigns! They are what Drew me to check out the Catering Hall Mysteries. I love how you use humor to let the world know when you have a new book coming out.

  7. Ellen, I’ve enjoyed your shameless shilling and in my modest way am trying to emulate it. I just have to learn to photoshop! Congratulations on all the fun!

    1. Judy, that’s awesome! Thank you. I have no idea how to use Photoshop. I use Canva, which I love. I highly recommend trying it.

  8. Love the memes, Ellen. You look as if you are having so much fun doing them, that I want to read your books to join in the fun. And you never disappoint.

    1. Ginny! You made my heart sing. I do have fun making up my campaigns. It’s like I’m channeling my late Mad Man dad. And if they’re engaging you and directing you to my books, whoo hoo! AND to say I never disappoint? That will get me through the day!

    1. I never really thought about what kind of promotion works best for me. If it’s a new series by an author that I already like and read, I hear about it through her e-mails and I am always open to read additional books that are written by her. You don’t need to do anything outrageous to get me to read your books if I already like you! Yes, I do like you, Ellen, and I have enjoyed your Cajun Country mysteries ever since I first encountered them. Please keep on writing!

      1. Patricia, thank you so much for the insight – and the compliment. I WILL keep writing and I hope you enjoy the new series!

  9. Congratulations on the new series, Ellen. I get a kick out of the advertising technique you have developed. You make me smile and chuckle out loud when I see you in a sandwich board sign or whatever else you may come up with. As far as tooting your own horn, you know what they say….
    It ain’t bragging if you can do it, pardner! And believe me, you do it!

  10. I add my congratulations to the ever growing list! I really like direct email/newsletters for author promotions.

    1. Thank you! And so glad you like the newsletters. I put a lot of working into mine. I want it to be fun for readers. I always share a bit from my life as well.

  11. Love your shameless shilling! It always makes me smile. I look forward to this new book. Congratulations!

  12. Congratulations on your new series. I can’t wait to read the book, I love the New Orleans setting. I really like your Shameless Shilling campaign, very creative.

  13. I get a kick out of your promos! They definitely help me remember the various titles to preorder or buy!

  14. Your promotions are always so funny! Love when authors do shameless shilling, helps me remember the titles to preorder!

    Thanks for the chance!

  15. LUV your Cajun Country books, as you know. 🙂 There will be a promo for your series old and new coming up on NBR soon.

  16. Shameless Shillings! Love it! I also enjoy when authors join a Twitter grouping or Facebook discussion, along with other authors, discussing their new releases and their writing life.
    Vintage cookbook theme is really intriguing. Best wishes on your launch!

  17. Those are fun promotions. I usually find out about new books either from Goodreads, a publisher email or an author email. It is fun to see the promotions, but it does not push me one way or another in purchasing the book. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

  18. An excerpt from the first chapter is always helpful – reminds me of what the series is about and where we are in it. I also enjoy newsletters and FB groups with information on new releases.

  19. Your shameless shilling campaigns are great! They are fun and creative. I like fun and eyecatching advertising. It makes me want to check out more of what the book is about.

  20. I enjoy your exciting book promotions. A book or two always makes a great prize in a promotional campaign.

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