A Wicked Welcome to Debra Goldstein **plus a giveaway!**

by Julie, summering in Somerville

I am delighted to welcome FOTW (Friend of the Wickeds) Debra Goldstein to the blog today so that we call celebrate the release of Five Belles Too Many tomorrow!

Really Wicked? Acts of Kindness.

by Debra H. Goldstein

Although I know that The Wickeds write “Wicked Good Mysteries,” I also know that behind the scenes, The Wickeds aren’t particularly wicked. In fact, they’re downright nice.

The first time I went to Malice Domestic, I knew no one. I happened to stand behind several Wickeds also attending the conference. They were patiently waiting to sign up for a banquet table. Turning to me and sensing my confusion, Edith Maxwell/Maddie Day suggested I join them at the table they signed up for. An act of kindness. Later, when I went to Crime Bake, their home state conference, I wasn’t quite sure why each was walking around with Dru Love’s head on a stick (she had won the honorary Wicked fan who wasn’t at the conference, so they brought her along), but I understood when they adopted/befriended me throughout the weekend. Another act of kindness. Later, Julie Hennrikus and I paired up for speed-dating at Malice Domestic, Barb Ross co-wrote three blogs with me, and Sherry Harris was my comic foil when we sat together at a Kensington signing where all my books had been lost so I could only give out swag and recommend her books. More acts of kindness.

What I’ve learned from all this is that behind-the-scenes people and actions may be far different than their monikers. That is part of the premise for my new book, Five Belles Too Many, which finds Sarah involved in the behind-the-scenes world of a reality TV show which is offering five finalists the opportunity to win a perfect Southern wedding. Although her age is the same or close to four of the finalists, Sarah is drawn into the show when her sixty-plus-year old mother, the fifth finalist, is required, like the other finalists, to have a chaperone.

Not wanting to bother any of her friends and because Sarah’s twin, Chef Emily, works at night, Mother Maybelle “enlists” Sarah. It’s bad enough that Sarah must juggle her day job and take care of her own furry pets, RahRah and Fluffy, but the show contracted for rooms for the belles and their chaperones at her all-time nemesis, Jane Clark’s, bed and breakfast. Despite Sarah’s protests, her mother assures Sarah that she can survive the few hours a night she’ll have to be at Jane’s Place, especially since she’ll be sleeping. What neither Mother Maybelle nor Sarah foresaw was that on the very first night they’d find the show’s producer dead, with Jane, blood on her hands, leaning over him.

This situation forces Sarah, who has been involved in solving several murders in Wheaton, Alabama, to face a dilemma. She hates Jane. Jane is the bimbo that broke up Sarah’s marriage, forced her to go from a life of luxury to an efficiency apartment, tried to steal RahRah, the Siamese cat that was the only thing she got out of her marriage, and has been a consistent thorn in her side, but Sarah doesn’t think Jane is a murderer. One part of Sarah wants to avoid helping Jane, but Sarah’s loyalty and fear for her mother’s well-being prompt her to get involved before Mother Maybelle or any of the other contestants are permanently eliminated from the competition.

Will her decision prove to be an act of kindness or the beginning of something wicked?

Rather than telling me something else that is wicked, for a chance to win a copy of Five Belles Too Many, please share an act of kindness either by a member of The Wickeds or that someone has done for you.


Judge Debra H. Goldstein writes Kensington’s Sarah Blair mystery series (Four Cuts Too ManyThree Treats Too Many, Two Bites Too Many, and One Taste Too Many). Her short stories, which have been named Agatha, Anthony, and Derringer finalists, have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, Mystery Weekly, Malice Domestic Murder Most Edible, Masthead, and Jukes & Tonks. Debra served on the national boards of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and was president of the Guppy and SEMWA chapters. Find out more about Debra at https://www.DebraHGoldstein.com .

ABOUT Five Belles Too Many:

When Sarah Blair’s mother participates in a reality show competition for brides in Wheaton, Alabama, things get a little too real as a murderer crashes the wedding party . . .

Sometimes Sarah’s mother, Maybelle, can be higher maintenance than her Siamese cat RahRah. Maybelle and her friend, Mr. George Rogers, have been chosen to be one of five couples competing for a small-town “perfect” wedding and dream honeymoon on a Southern Belles reality show—and guess who has to be chaperone. Even more vexing, the producers have decided to put up the crew and participants at the restaurant/bed and breakfast owned by Sarah’s nemesis Jane Clark.

But when someone turns up dead with Jane kneeling by the body with blood on her hands, she goes from being Sarah’s chief rival to the police’s chief suspect. Neither Sarah nor her twin, Chef Emily Johnson, can stand Jane—still, they don’t think she’s a murderer. The producers vow the show must go on, but to protect their mother and the other contestants, Sarah vows to find the true killer before someone else gets eliminated . . .

49 Thoughts

  1. Congratulations on your upcoming book release. Looking forward to reading it. The writing community showed acts of kindness when I had my medical crisis, and that I’ll never forget.

    1. The writing community, especially the mystery community, truly is the best! Thanks for the congrats on the new book. Looking forward to visiting Dru’s Musings tomorrow.

  2. Welcome back, Debra, and congratulations on the new book! You have showed kindness to so many, including by being President of the Guppies and then staying on and helping both newcomers and long-timers in that group.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Edith, you are one of those I want to grow up to me – what you juggle between volunteering and writing amazes me.

  3. The most recent kindness was when someone that had recently became a friend gave us some tulip bulbs. Hubbys 92 year old mom recently went to her heavenly home. Anyone that’s went through such an event knows that emotions are running high. All the flowers that come in are usually dead and in the trash before the mind is fully functional.. She waited until after things settled down to pay a visit. It’s then that she brought us the bulbs with a picture of what they will be. She remembered in our conversations that purple was both Mom’s and my favorite color. Then she told us that when they pop up next spring after a dreary and blah colored winter that they will remind us both of Mom. She also said that like the flowers, Mom had went through the blah side of earth and was now blooming in heaven with her maker. Her words and actions were greatly appreciated as well as her timing.

    Can’t wait for the opportunity to read “Five Belles Too Many”! It’s been on my TBR list since you first told us about it. Thank you for the chance to win a copy!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Kay,
      Thank you for sharing your story. Losing a mother, at any age, is never easy, but to have the gift of flowers that will bloom each year is a heavenly reminder. Good luck on winning Five Belles. I’m very excited about this book.

  4. Your book sounds like such a fun read! And I’m glad to hear the Wickeds were kind to you, although it comes as no surprise! So many people have been kind to me in my lifetime, but I think especially my friend (since passed) who left several boxes of food and home supplies on my doorstep many years ago when I was a divorced, struggling, single mom. It was such a blessing and so was she!

    1. Sounds like your friend came through at just the right time… and it sounds like as hard as things were, you’ve come to have many blessings in your life. Thanks for stopping by today.

  5. There’s been so many acts of kindness towards me from any number of authors since I entered the fringes of the book world.

    Edith Maxwell and Ingrid Thoft offering to take part in my local library’s mystery book club (pre-pandemic) when we read one of their books. Hank Phillippi Ryan introducing me to authors she’s interviewing, sitting for an interview with me and even mentioning me a couple times in signing event speeches she did.

    That’s just a trio of examples off the top of my head but there has been plenty of authors who have gone beyond the simple “sign my book and say thanks for reading” encounter. And it is always greatly appreciated.

  6. My daughter streamed Downton Abby: a New Era so I could watch it! My daughters are always very sweet to me!

  7. Two of my friends came over and helped me purge the second floor of my house, helped me work through emotions to put items into donate, gift and garbage piles. They also helped taking the donated items to different places. So blessed.

  8. Welcome back, Debra! It’s so odd to read your post this morning! For some reason right after I woke up, I was thinking about the first time I went to Malice and didn’t know anyone. I was waiting in line to go to the restaurant and author Lee Harris, turned started talking to me, and invited me to join her and her friend for lunch. That moment of kindness taught me a lot about how to act as an author. And I remember that day when we met you in line. What a treat that turned out to be. I love the premise for this book and look forward to reading it!

    1. Sherry, I thought you did it instinctively. You have always been the most gracious author. I still chuckle though when we sat next to each other and I got to recommend your books but give people my swag (as insane as I felt, you kept me calm when they announced my entire box of books had been lost — and it was my first Sarah Blair mystery which was debuting that weekend)!

  9. There are so many people, including many of the Wickeds, who were so friendly and kind when I was just starting out – and who continue to be so – that I can’t even start to name them for fear I’d leave someone out.

    Congrats on the new book!

    1. Thanks for the congrats. It is such a warm community, but the Wickeds have a special place in my heart. It is funny, I feel like I know them all, though the reality is I know 4 well, 1 so-so, and one not at all … though I hope my paths cross more with the two I don’t know as to be a Wicked, you have to be a special kind of person.

  10. Yea! Looking forward to reading Five Belles, and the cover if fabulous!

    Acts of kindness in the writing community, too many to mention, including yours. It’s a fact, writers, especially mystery writers, are generous with time, resources, and well, kindness.

    1. I understand the mystery community is one of the most generous of all writing communities.
      Thank you re: the cover. I love it! and thanks for your kind words.

  11. Welcome back to the Wickeds, Debra! And best of luck with Five Bells Too Many. After returning to mystery conferences this year after two years away, the thing that has constantly struck me is the kindness of mystery readers and writers. As Lawrence Block has said, “Nobody had to fail so I can succeed.”

    1. What a great quote. I’m also appreciative of your kindness = sharing blogs and giving me pointers over breakfast … good luck with your new book tomorrow, too

  12. I’m particularly grateful for your kindness, Deb, in welcoming me to my new city and sharing writerly insights. Congrats on the new book, I’m looking forward to reading it!

  13. Oh, this looks like such a good book! TBR pile just grew. I met Julie at a tea festival she was speaking at and she was so gracious. Edith and Jessie have spoken via Zoom to my book club (even when Edith was so sick – she didn’t want to disappoint ). This meant a lot to me as I was the newest member of the group. Charming folks one and all. If that’s wicked, I’ll take it. 🤗

    1. Glad to hear Five Belles Too Many has been added to your TBR pile (would be glad to zoom to your book club from Alabama ). Edith always comes through (and Jessie, too)… so I am sure they did a great program.

  14. I have been doubly blessed by the Wickeds! I received a paperback copy of Batter Off Dead from Maddie Day/Edith Maxwell and also a paperback copy of Murder Through the English Post from Jessica Ellicott. These books have whetted my appetite for both the Berly and Edwina Mysteries and The Country Store Mysteries, and now I am beginning to read the rest of the books in both series. It’s a slice of heaven on earth!

    1. There isn’t a bad book in the Wickeds collection —– pick each author and read through them and you can’t go wrong. Of course, I’d like it if you tried Five Belles, too.

  15. Years ago, I was working in a company that did not value reading and I felt very alone in my love of reading. I was discussing this with a friend and she asked if I had ever rear “84 Charing Cross Road”. I told her no, and a bit later she gifted me with a copy of the book. At the time it was just the solace I needed. Thank you for the giveaway!

  16. A sweet act of kindness is when my husband and kids do the dishes without me asking!

    Thanks for the chance! Love the book cover!

  17. My first Malice, I spent a lot of time with the Wickeds as well. It was nice to have a group of people to eat meals with and hang out between panels. I was sorry I didn’t get to spend as much time with them the next year. I’d gotten to be an “on the stick” winner before that, too. (No need to enter me in the contest.

  18. Congratulations on your new release. I’m looking forward to reading the book. One year my friend asked me to come over for dinner which happened to be a surprise birthday party. I was so surprised!

  19. You all have been awesome to offer wonderful giveaways. You each have fabulous newsletters that let us as readers get a glimpse into your lives. Thank you.

    1. Debbie,
      Most of us find it a great way to interact with our readers on a more personal note….and because we are grateful for our readers.

  20. When my daughter was in the children’s hospital about a month ago with appendicitis. I was touched by the compassion shown to her by the nurses and doctors in both the ER and the hospital. My daughter was very nervous because it was both her first surgery and stay in the hospital and they cared about making things easier on her. I was really thankful for their kindness.

  21. While at the June 21st Zoom meeting for Debra H Goldstein’s read-a-long for Four Cuts Too Many, I learned about Sarah Blair Mystery series. Five Belles too Many looks like another fun cozy mystery with a cat on the cover. Clever.

    1. Thank you. The Read-A-Long Book discussion for Five Belles Too Many is going to be at 7 CST/ 8 EST on July 26. One can leave a reply here for a zoom link and study guide or register through my website https://www.DebraHGoldstein.com Glad you came and learned about the series… and that you left a message today.

  22. Hey Deb, my mind was fuzzy and I wrote save the date in my calendar for July, but got excited. An act of kindness someone did for me was a prayer from an author after my mom died. Last fall was difficult with 3 relatives passing away in 17 days. Prayers and just listening always help soften the day.

  23. Congrats! I am a fan of this series! I love it when my son video calls me so I can “chat” with my 8 month old grandson!

    1. I know how important and wonderful that can be. When I had covid a few months ago and was too sick to leave my room, a friend made two dinners that she dropped off so my husband would be able to eat and I could have something if I felt up to it.

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