A Wicked Welcome to Valerie Burns **plus a giveaway**

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.

Buy Links—- Amazon, B&N

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:

Website: http://www.vmburns.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vmburnsbooks/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/v-m-burns

70 Thoughts

  1. I’ve entered more series in the middle than at the start, usually due to an ARC. So long as there is no BDSM, other torture, or horror, I’m willing to give it a try.

    1. Barbarakay1, that’s awesome. It’s great to be open minded. I think you’ll find a lot of gems you might miss otherwise. Thanks for commenting.

  2. YES
    I enjoy starting a new series when introduced if it sounds interesting or is by an author whose other series I’ve read. Speaking of which, I miss the Dog Club series!
    All the best to you with your newest series!

    1. Jeanie, thank you so much. There are days when I miss the Dog Club Mystery series, too. I think of a funny southern saying and jot it down. Who knows, maybe Lilly Ann and Dixie will make a reappearance some day. 🙂

  3. YES
    I love starting a new series with the first book. It sets the tone and the relationship between me and the characters. Having read this book, I love Maddy and Baby.

    1. Dru, I love starting a series at book #1 too. Thanks for the support and I am so glad you like Maddy and Baby.

  4. Welcome, Valerie! I loved your book, as you know. And I get what you’re talking about. I have a new series starting next year with all the same fears!

    I love starting a new series with book one. Then when it takes off -as I’m sure this one will – I feel like I got in at the ground floor.

    1. Edith, I guess that fluttering feeling at starting a new series will never leave (sigh). It’s such a bizarre dynamic, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

      Thank you so much for reading the early copy of Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder, and for the great blurb. That meant a lot to me. Thanks for letting me share with the Wickeds, today.

  5. Hi Valerie and congratulations on the start of a new series for you!

    Generally, I like to start a series at book one if at all possible. Even when I “discover” a series after it has been running for a while, I still prefer to start at the beginning and then move forward until I catch up.

  6. I love to start a series with Book 1. If the book/characters are intriguing, I want to meet them from the beginning – like making new friends. Guilty confession: sometimes I wait to start a series until 2 or 3 or more books are out so I can binge read! Can’t wait to meet these new friends!

    1. Mary, I admire your patience. Binge reading is fun, but I find it hard to wait when I get a new book. Although, you can’t tell from my TBR pile. 🙂

  7. Congrats on the new series, Valerie!

    I have started a series in the middle, usually because I received an ARC or maybe a book as a gift. But if I like it, I always go back to the beginnging. I want to see it all unfold.

    1. Liz, Thank you. I will do the same thing when I do start a book out of order. I love watching how the characters develop and change from book to book. Plus, I don’t want to miss one little bit of the wonderful details.

  8. Congratulations on the new series, Valerie! I have no doubt readers are going to love it. Three cheers to you!

  9. Congratulations! I do like new series, especially if I’ve already bought books by the author and like their style. I know I will like this series for that reason.

    1. Karen, thank you. I agree. When I find an author I love, I feel sure I’ll like their other books.

  10. Congratulations on the new series, and welcome back! I think you’ve perfectly described how writers feel about first books! And thank you for all of your hard work on the SinC board. It was a pleasure working with you on the Pride Award.

    1. Sherry Harris, thank you so much for the kind words and support. And, thank you for allowing me to share some time today with the Wicked Cozy Authors and your fantastic supporters. I’ve loved working with you on the SinC Board. It was my great to get to help other authors through the fantastic programs like your legacy project. It’s not often that I get to giveaway money. 🙂 Thank you!

  11. YES! I do like to start at the beginning of a series. That being said, I have started more series further in because it’s at the release of a new book in that series and the story sounds really good. I buy that book or I win that book, like it and buy all the books that preceded it and every one that comes afterwards. Congratulations on your new series. I’d love to win a copy.
    Laurie(dot)anismom2@gmail(dot)com

    1. Laurie, I like to start at the beginning, but will do the same thing (buy the interesting middle book and all the previous ones). I suppose its how my TBR pile got so large. Thank you so much for the kind words. Good luck!

  12. Yes. I like starting with book one. I love the cover of this new series.
    I had requested it from my library, and received it digital copy on your book birthday.
    Turns out, it was only on Libby, so I went to Barnes & Noble and ordered a copy.

    1. Deborah, I’m glad you like the cover. I love it. I’ve been so fortunate to have gotten great covers for all of my books. Thank you for being persistent and for ordering TWO PARTS SUGAR, ONE PART MURDER from Barnes & Noble. I hope you enjoy it.

    1. Barbara, Thank you so much for allowing me to come. I love spending time with the Wickeds. Looking forward to Bouchercon next week. Thanks.

  13. I look forward to this new series because I love your writing. Like some others here, I prefer starting with the first book, but if for whatever reason I start later in the series, if I like it enough, I’ll order all the earlier books and read them in order. So,
    YES ginnyjc@yahoo. com

    1. Ginny, thank you so much. I appreciate hearing that you have enjoyed my writing and previous books. Thank you. I do the same thing when I start a series in the middle. 🙂 I hate the idea that I might have missed something. FOMO? 🙂

  14. I like to experience a book one. Especially if I have read the author before (yes I follow Sam and Nana Jo).
    I am currently reading Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder. Love!! Maddy and Baby are great. I will be finishing today after staying up way too late with it last night
    There will be a book 2, right?
    Love your writing!

    1. Janet, you made my day. Thank you for the kind words. Sorry for keeping you up late last night (not really). I hope you enjoy the book and yes there will be at least 2 more. Fingers crossed I get to keep writing more Maddy books with Maddy and Baby. It warms my heart to know you enjoy Sam and Nana Jo, too. BTW the next Mystery Bookshop Mystery will come out in December. 🙂

  15. Yes! ljbonkoski@yahoo.com. I like starting a new series with book one. I always like to read books in order, if I can. Congratulations on the new series. I am intrigued and interested in reading this one.

    1. Lori, Thank you. I like starting with book #1 also. I think most of us do, but I admire folks who can start wherever and just read. Thanks for the kind words and good luck with the drawing.

  16. Hi, yes, I like starting a new series from book one. I don’t mind the wait for the next book to come out. Congratulations on your new series. (not entering this giveaway as I don’ read ebooks at all, I am not tech savvy, but thank you.) Have a great weekend.

    1. Alicia, Thank you for leaving a comment and for the well wishes. I wasn’t a fan of eBooks at first either. However, I have learned to appreciate them after I discovered I could download a free Kindle Cloud Reader app and didn’t have to have a special device, and also the ability to make the font size bigger. The older I get, the larger that font size gets. 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend.

  17. I love to jump in with book one. However, I’ll confess I buy book 1 and then it winds up sitting on my shelf until books two and three (or more) are out before I actually read it. (No need to enter me in the giveaway.)

    1. Mark, you have remarkable patience. I have to say, when I buy a new book, I can barely wait until I get home before I am ready to start reading. Thanks for leaving a comment. Have a great weekend.

  18. YES. I’ve done it both ways. Usually like to start at beginning, but if I’m gifted a book, or reading one for book club, I’ll go back to the beginning and start all over!

    1. Janet, I love to read from the beginning. But, I’ve learned to be flexible. I just hate missing things. I will also go back and read the other books in a series if I start in the middle.

  19. Count me in as someone who dives in with book 1 and follows through – if I somehow end up with a later book in the series first, it’s back to book one for me, and I re-read the my introductory book again. Love following the threads!

    1. Kait Carson, You are not alone. I think most of us will go back to the beginning and reread the entire serious to get caught up. I hate missing anything from an earlier book that might come up again later.

  20. I am in the middle of reading so many cozy mystery series that I usually wait until there are 2 or 3 books in a new series before I start it. I figure if I read the first book when it comes out I will have forgotten the characters and the setting in the two years interval before the second one comes out. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t made a note of the new series and if I’m not in the middle of too many series when #2 comes out, I will start book #1. I know that doesn’t help an author but I can only keep so much info in my head at a time.

    1. Dolblohm, I think authors are happy to know readers are willing to read a book whenever they get it. I’m amazed at people who can read multiple books. You’re impressive.

  21. Yes! cking78503(at)aol(dot)com

    If it’s a new-to-me author and the synopsis sounds good, most of the time I will start a new series as soon as Book 1 comes out. If it’s an author I’ve read before, I will always start a new series as soon as Book 1 is released.

    1. Christi, Thank you for the comment. It is helpful to learn reader behavior. Thanks for the intel and good luck in the drawing!

  22. Congratulations Valerie! I’ve been hearing real good things about this one. Can’t wait to read it 😀

  23. I got out of the habit of following series — so much stuff to read, and I’m so easily distracted — so I’m happy to pick up a book at any point in the series. And most mysteries don’t have the kind of complicated backstory and worldbuilding of, say, the Wheel of Time, so it’s not hard to start mid-series.
    Best of luck with this one.

  24. YES I need to read the series in order, but I’m fine with either starting when the 1st book is published or waiting until a few books are in the series. ddddfacebook05 at gmail.com

  25. I like to do both, but no matter, I want to start at Book one and see how the character develops and interacts. It is kind of fun, to buy and save them and then binge read, but then I come out with withdrawal pains until the next one comes out.

  26. I almost always start with book one , even if there are a number of books already in the series. I already have “Two Parts Sugar, One part Murder” and promising myself to start tomorrow afternoon (I’m a clergywoman, so there is that sermon first) Congratulations on the new series! I’m sure I will love it just as much as the others.

  27. YES! I always start with book one in a series. Even if there are already multiple in the series. Love finding new authors that way.
    Thanks for the chance! Would love to read and review!
    jarjm1980(@)hotmail(dot)com

  28. Absolutely have to start with book 1. I’m looking forward to reading this series from Valerie. I loved her dog series set in Indiana and then Tennessee. I’ve purchased this book in audiobook format!

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