Welcome Back Guest Valerie Burns! #Giveaway

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.


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 . . .

Buy Link—- 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, 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:

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

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

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

55 Thoughts

  1. Maddy has a lot of challenges in front of her, Valerie! Congratulations on the new book.
    I’ve never entered a cooking competition, but my older sister won one sponsored by a funeral home. She sent me the prize, an apron labeled “Drop Dead Delicious!”

  2. My Mom entered a baking competition at our church. She made pies, one to be judged and then afterwards they had a bake sale. She got a ribbon but I don’t remember for what place or even what kind of pie. I was just a kid but she always made great pies. My favorite was coconut custard. Congrats on your new book! Thank you for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

  3. Congrats on the MURDER IS A PIECE OF CAKE. It sounds delicious. No baking competitions for me, but I do make a chocolate, chocolate chip cookie that once got me out of a speeding ticket! Well, to be fair, the trooper had already decided to let me off with a warning, it would have been a first offense. The cookies were a thank you.

  4. Oh I love baking competitions! GBBO, plus the American Bake Off, and alllll the holiday baking ones. I’m afraid I’m not talented enough to enter one, but I can definitely follow a recipe lol! Congrats on your new book, it sure sounds like a fun read!

  5. Congratulations on your upcoming book release. I don’t watch baking competition nor have I entered one.

    1. Thanks, Dru Ann. I enjoy watching the extreme competitions (i.e. Bake a haunted house in an hour) competitions. Some are really fun.

    1. Adrienne, I’m so impressed. If you do enter a competition, please let me know how it goes. I would love insider information. 🙂

  6. Big time congratulations on the new book, Valerie! I really like the less drama-filled cooking shows like GBBO, The Big Brunch, and The Great American Recipe. Cheers!

    1. J.C., Thank you. I guess there are cooking shows and competitions for every mood. Occasionally, I’ll admit to enjoying the drama. Shh. Don’t tell anyone.

  7. Congratulations on another book! I love watching The Great British Baking Show. I’d never enter one though. Those people are amazing.

  8. I love watching baking competitions! I watch them every chance I can get. I’ve never been to a baking competition. That would be so much fun though! Thank you for the chance! Love your books.

  9. Yes! I don’t watch much TV any more but I used to watch cooking competitions. I’ve never been in one though.

  10. YES. I love watching baking competitions, especially The Great British Baking Show and the Kids’ Baking Championship on Food Network. Congratulations on the new release!

    1. Autumn, Thank you. I am amazed by the Kids Baking shows. Truly amazing creations at such young ages. Remarkable. Thanks for sharing and good luck!

  11. Welcome back dear Valerie! I absolutely loved your first book because it is truly “cozy”, and the characters (especially Baby) are delightful (except whodunnit), quirky and so believable. We became fast friends! Now, the second adventure starts tomorrow, and the ride promises to be thrilling! YES, we watch so many cooking shows…We even made friends with the winner, chef Jaine Mackeviecz, who was the winner of the JULIA CHILD CHALLENGE. She lives near us, and we invited her and her husband to come pick tropical fruits at our ranch last year. We learn so much about cooking and baking, and have fun recreating what appeals to us. Valerie…please continue to delight us readers with many more “mad Maddie” cozy mysteries. May you be always inspired!!! Luis at ole dot travel

    1. Luis, you are so kind. Thank you so much. It thrills my heart to hear that readers enjoy my books. WOW! I’m impressed that you know someone who won the Julia Child Challenge! That’s amazing. I’ll be they have great stories and great food, which is a wonderful combination. Thanks again and good luck!

  12. No I don’t like watching food contests & never entered one but I do like reading books about them. I know it sounds odd but reading about them is totally different and interests me more than to watching one or actually being in one.
    Book sounds like a a great read & would love to read book in print format

    1. Crystal, I can understand enjoying reading about things vs watching them on television. I would never even consider entering a competition. That would be terrifying. Good luck in the giveaway!

  13. Welcome back to the Wickeds, Valerie! I am a huge Great British Bake Off fan. Best of luck with Murder is a Piece of Cake. I love the cover!

  14. YES to being entered to win a copy! I would love the opportunity to read and review it.

    Yes I’ve entered a baking contest once. It was at a fair baking contest. Being my first time, I made sure to get a copy of the rules which told how much room you were allowed (which was only like 14” square), number of items to submit, etc. So pulled out my special and very nice small serving plate so it would fit in the allowed space, bought the lacy plate toppers, found a round table mat perfect for my plate to accent it and went to backing. I was very happy with what I had put together for my submission. The day of the contest I showed up with good vibes – until I saw the other seasoned contestants entries. No one stayed in the supposedly allowed space. They had large candlesticks, vases of flowers and other decorations. And here I thought we were in a baking contest. I know presentation was important but …….. Then the one judge barely sampled anything on just a few of the entries. I didn’t win, but that isn’t what disappointed me. It was not following the rules and the lack of actual food judging that really made it a bad experience. Love the TV food contest. I’ll just stick to those and the ones I can read about.
    2clowns at arkansas day net

    1. Kay, that sounds disappointing, but you were brave to enter the competition. What a great accomplishment. I appreciate the kind words, too. Good luck!

  15. congrats on the new book. I haven’t entered a competition and don’t have a tv so haven’t watched any.
    fruitcrmble AT comcast DOT net

  16. Yes…I’d love to win a book! Love VM Burns’ books…make me laugh & forget the cares of the world…

  17. Yes I have completed in cake decorating for years. I enjoy watching cooking competitions on TV too

    1. Candy, that’s awesome. I have competed in canine obedience and agility, but nothing food related. So, I’m impressed. Good luck in the drawing.

  18. Congratulations on the new release. OMG, I watch all the different cooking competitions on TV. From the Baking Championships to the Holiday ones and even Crime Scene Kitchen. I love them all.

    1. Shawn, Thank you! I have never heard of Crime Scene Kitchen, but I’m going to look it up right now. Thanks for the tip. Good luck in the drawing.

  19. Welcome back to the blog, Valerie. I do love watching all sorts of baking shows, and my nieces and I love watching Nailed It. Not the sort of baking competition you’re discussing, but hey. Congratulations on the new book. And I LOVE the new headshot.

    1. Julie, Thank you so much! I love hanging out with the cool kids! You Wicked Cozy Authors (and your fans) are amazing. Thanks for hanging out with me. Glad you liked the new headshot. I figured it was time. 🙂

  20. I have never entered a baking contest. I enjoy watching cooking shows but not contests – too tense for me.

    1. Gram, I wonder how the contestants can handle the pressure. They must have nerves of steel. Tense is right! Thanks for commenting and good luck!

  21. I do enjoy watching baking championships on TV, especially the ones on The Food Network. I’ve never entered a baking competition, I’m not that good of a baker. YES!

    1. Dianne, I don’t think I have the skills or the nerves to actually enter a baking competition, but they are fun to watch. I especially love the Food Network shows for the holidays. Thanks for the comment and good luck!

  22. YES! cherierj(at)yahoo(dot)com I do enjoy watching baking and cooking competitions. I do enjoy cooking and baking but I wouldn’t want to enter a competition because it is just too much pressure.

    1. Cherie, I agree with you about the pressure. Besides, I love to bake for myself and my loved ones, but when I see the creativity that some of the contestants have, I realize that I am not in the same league. Fun to watch though. Thanks for the comment and good luck!

  23. No. I do not watch much television. I occasionally will watch a Hallmark Movie and Mystery. I have never been in a baking contest. Thank you for the opportunity. God bless you.

  24. I’ve been enjoying watching Crime Scene Kitchen. I haven’t been in a baking competition, but I was part of a Chili Cook Off and won.

  25. I would watch the baking competition shows occasionally, even the kids’ baking competitions – they are so creative!! No, I don’t think I’m a good baker – hubby does all the baking. I like how you get the inspirations for writing this “Murder Is A Piece Of Cake”! – I love watching Olympics games (summer & winter)!

  26. I love to watch the Food Network and any competition on there. The recent baking ones are great.

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