by Julie, still summering in Somerville for as long as I can
I’ve been blessed to get to know Valerie through my work at Sisters in Crime. She is the current grants liaison, and spends a lot of time coordinating different programs and taking care of details. This is on top of her job, and her writing schedule. I am so glad that she’s visiting today to talk about the launch of her new series, and her 16th novel!
Thanks, Julie and all of the Wicked Authors for inviting me to spend time with you all today.
The Joy/Fear of Starting a New Series
For the past couple of months…okay, maybe more like six months, I have been on an emotional roller coaster. Why? Because I launched a new series. Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder, is the first book in my new Baker Street Mystery culinary cozy mystery series. It’s not my first book launch. I’ve been blessed to have three other series. In fact, this will be my 16th book release. By this point, I should be over the nerves, right? WRONG! Launching a new series is a time of joy, but also fear, at least for me.
Why would launching a new series, after three others, make me fearful? Honestly, it’s sort of like a first date. Remember the 102 questions that popped in your mind back in the pre-pandemic years when people actually went out on dates? Will he like me? Will I like him? What should I wear? Does this outfit make me look fat? Will he call me? Is he a serial killer? Stalker? How long before I realize he’s insane?
Writing a new series has that same type of feel. It’s that same uncertain nervous excitement and energy. Will readers like it? What should I wear to the book signing? Zoom event? How long before readers realize that…well, that’s enough of that. You get the picture. Just because readers liked Sam and Nana Jo (Mystery Bookshop Mystery series) doesn’t mean they’ll like Maddy and her 250 lb English mastiff (Baker Street Mystery). Starting a new series can feel like taking a step off a cliff into the unknown. A friend who reads a lot of mysteries once told me she doesn’t read new series unless there are at least six books. Ugh. The series has to start somewhere. What if readers are waiting for book #6 before starting book #1 while publishers are waiting for book sales on book #1 before determining if they will continue the series? Yikes. Ever wonder why so many writers drink? It’s the nerves. Although, I’d rather eat than drink, but that’s another story.
So, why do we do it? Why subject yourself to this torture? That’s where the joy comes in. Launching a new series is much like giving birth (so I’m told). For months, maybe years, an author lives with characters in our heads. Some of us hear their voices (nope, not crazy- just writers). We become intimately acquainted with the characters that we write about to the point that we can tell you their likes and dislikes. We know what they would order in a restaurant. We even know how they would dress for a book signing. For me, getting these characters out of my head and onto the pages of a book is a relief. It’s also a joy to watch the seed of an idea, a character, or a place evolve into something tangible, and real. New Bison, North Harbor, and St. Joseph aren’t just fictional places. These become real places where people live and love, and if you write murder mysteries, these are places where people die. There’s nothing to compare to seeing your idea go from something intangible to something that you can hold in your hands. Your book baby is out in the world.
If you’re curious about the people, and places that have floated around in my mind for the past couple of years, check out my new Baker Street Mystery series. Meet Maddy and Baby in Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder. Bake a Thumbprint Cookie or a loaf of Lemon Zucchini Bread, and figure out Whodunit.
Readers: Do you like to try new series at book one? Or, do you prefer to wait until there are a few books in the series before you give it a try? Let me know in the comments. One commenter will be randomly selected to win a Kindle copy of Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder. To be entered in the giveaway, please type YES in the comments and include your email address. The giveaway is open to everyone (regardless of where you live) until midnight on September 4th. The winner will be announced on Monday, September 5th.
TWO PARTS SUGAR, ONE PART MURDER
When Maddy Montgomery’s groom is a no-show to their Livestream wedding, it’s a disaster that no amount of filtering can fix. But a surprise inheritance offers a chance to regroup and rebrand—as long as Maddy is willing to live in her late, great-aunt Octavia’s house in New Bison, Michigan, for a year, running her bakery and caring for a 250-pound English mastiff named Baby.
Maddy doesn’t bake, and her Louboutins aren’t made for walking giant dogs around Lake Michigan, but the locals are friendly and the scenery is beautiful. With help from her aunt’s loyal friends, aka the Baker Street Irregulars, Maddy feels ready to tackle any challenge, including Octavia’s award-winning cake recipes. That is, until New Bison’s mayor is fatally stabbed, and Maddy’s fingerprints are found on the knife . . .
Something strange is going on in New Bison. It seems Aunt Octavia had her suspicions, too. But Maddy’s going to need a whole lot more than a trending hashtag to save her reputation—and her life.
About the author
Valerie (V. M.) Burns is an Agatha, Edgar, and Anthony Award-nominated author. She is the author of the Mystery Bookshop, Dog Club, RJ Franklin, and Baker Street Mystery series. Valerie is on the board of the Southeastern Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. She is also an adjunct professor in Seton Hill’s WPF program. Connect with Valerie at: