Kay Garrett is the winner of Valerie’s giveaway! Look for an email from her. I’m delighted to welcome back Valerie Burns! Not only is she an amazing, prolific author, she gives time back to the writing community. I’m so glad Valerie could join us today!
Thanks, Sherry Harris and all of the Wicked Cozy Authors for inviting me to spend time with you all today.
FROM IDEA TO BOOK PLOT
People often ask me where I get my ideas for my books. My answer is that I get ideas everywhere. So, I thought I’d take you along on the journey I went through from the seed of an idea to a plot for my newest Baker Street Mystery, Murder is a Piece of Cake.
I love the Olympics. In fact, I’m the type of person who puts the fan in fanatic. In 2023, we’re in between the winter and the summer games, but publishing is slow. So, this book was completed and turned into my publisher in early 2022 while I was still immersed in figure skating, ice hockey, and curling (no idea how it works, but. . . I watched). My main character, Maddy Montgomery, isn’t an athlete, unless shopping or posting to social media ever become Olympic events. #FastestFingersOnACellPhone. Maddy has inherited a bakery from her great aunt Octavia. The terms of the will stipulate that Maddy must stay in New Bison, Michigan, run the bakery and keep Great Aunt Octavia’s 250 lb English Mastiff, Baby, for one year in order to inherit. Like most champion athletes, Maddy had obstacles to overcome to achieve her goal. Her biggest obstacle was the fact that she can’t bake. Still, she didn’t let that stop her. She agreed and with the help of her new friends, she’s making it work. Now, how do I get Maddy into a competition? WHAT IF Maddy had to not only compete, but win a baking contest?
Contests are hot right now. You can’t turn on the television without landing on some type of competition. Not only are there singing and athletic competitions, but there are plenty of cooking and baking competitions. From The Great British Bake Off to Chopped, baking/cooking competitions are popular. So, now I just had to figure out how to put Maddy in a competition. That birthed the New Bison Spring Festival’s Baking Contest.
Great, so I have the setup. But what could motivate a woman who can’t bake to enter a baking contest? Her motivation would have to be something strong. Enter, C.J. Davenport. Davenport is a wealthy business mogul who breezes into New Bison, Michigan and announces his intention of opening another bakery across the street from Baby Cakes. You don’t need to be a financial wizard to realize that the small town of New Bison isn’t big enough to support two bakeries. WHAT IF Davenport isn’t just opening a bakery. WHAT IF he’s hiring a master chocolatier and pâtissier from Belgium? Now, that’s what I call “stacking the deck.” But, is that enough motivation for Maddy? Let’s amp up the stakes. WHAT IF C.J. Davenport is the husband of Maddy’s friend and tenant, Sheriff April Johnson? WHAT IF the only way Maddy can help her friend and save Baby Cakes Bakery and Baby is to enter that competition and win? It’s a winner-take-all baking competition.
That’s it. That’s how I got the idea and formed it into a plot. Next, I just had to write it. Pick up a copy of Murder is a Piece of Cake to find out how it turns out.
Readers: Do you enjoy watching baking competitions? Have you ever entered one? Let me know in the comments. One commenter will be randomly selected to win a copy of Murder is a Piece of Cake. 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 June 27th. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, June 28th. Valerie is on the road today so it may be a bit before she responds!
A Bit About the Book: With small town New Bison’s Spring Festival just around the corner, the pressure is on Maddy to continue her late great-aunt Octavia’s legacy. That means scoring the top prize and transforming Baby Cakes into Southwest Michigan’s must-visit bakery, even though her inexperience in the kitchen brings nightmares of humiliating tagged photos and scathing reviews.
There’s another reason for lost beauty sleep. A second bakery is opening in town under the ownership of CJ Davenport, a shrewd investor with a reputation for sabotaging anyone who gets in his way. And savvy, flashy Maddy tops his list. It’s a sticky spot to be in—more so when Davenport turns up dead with a Baby Cakes’s knife stuck in his back.
Maddy’s whole life just went from #thriving to barely surviving. Now, supported by the crafty Baker Street Irregulars and her new boyfriend, she must find the courage to face off against a killer who could very well get her name trending for the first and last time . . .
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, Baker Street Mystery series, and the soon to be released Bailey the Bloodhound Mystery series. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She is also a mentor in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction MFA program. Connect with Valerie at: