Please help me welcome author Lora Lee to the blog today 🙂 She’s talking food and also sharing her latest release Bringing in the Thieves–Joyful Noise Mysteries Book 1.
First off I have to congratulate Lora Lee on her amazing cover. I love it!
Also, don’t forget after Lora Lee’s post and reading her blurb and excerpt, please take a minute to enter her fabulous giveaway. The link is at the end of the post.
Take it away Lora Lee…
SPECIAL FOOD FOR SPECIAL (or not) OCCASIONS
Before I talk about food, I want to say thank-you today to Christine’s Words for participating in the book tour for my cozy mystery, BRINGING IN THE THIEVES and also thanks to Buy the Book Tours for making the event a special one.
And speaking of special events, (clever lead-in, don’t you think?) do certain occasions call for special food favorites in your home? What triggers those fond memories in your life – a special dish your momma, grandma, aunt or friend made? Was it a holiday celebration, a birthday or maybe a family reunion?
At our house, Thanksgiving always means turkey and all the trimmings. I love the aroma of roasting turkey wafting through the house. Christmas begins with oyster stew for breakfast – something this Texas gal doesn’t like to eat, but learned to make it for her Yankee hubby. Fourth of July means grilled burgers, potato salad and strawberry shortcake. All standard holidays with pretty regular food, right?
But what about those ordinary times that don’t rate a red letter day on the calendar? The non-holidays that hold memories of mouth-watering desserts or main dishes. My momma’s pecan pie made every day special, and when my siblings and I managed to visit her at the same time, it wasn’t unusual for us to eat pecan pie for breakfast, too. Special memory of a red-letter time that wasn’t on a holiday. Do you have any special food memories to share here?
In BRINGING IN THE THIEVES, Book One in the Joyful Noise Mystery series, my protagonist, Frankie Lou McMasters, has one of those routine days until her plate of favorite lemon bars turns a meeting with the church deacons into a flying food disaster. Not the best way to introduce her plan for organizing a teen choir to the men’s group. Neither is discovering a body in the baptistery. Will Frankie Lou find the killer and celebrate with lemon bars or will she be spending her next special event behind bars of a different kind? Life in Ruby Springs, Texas, hasn’t been the same since Frankie Lou moved back to town.
Frankie Lou’s back and Poppy’s madder than a wet hen.
Create a church choir filled with teenage misfits?
Over Poppy’s dead body.
Minister’s daughter Frankie Lou McMasters has come back to Ruby Springs, Texas with her daughter, Betsy, eleven years after running off to marry the town bad boy. Her mild notoriety as a bad girl is prime gossip for her childhood enemy, Poppy Fremont, now choir director of Faith Community Church–where Frankie Lou’s daddy, now retired to Florida, was the preacher.
When Frankie Lou comes to the deacons with a request to add a youth choir of at-risk teens she’s been coaching, Poppy throws a fit. A few hours later, Frankie Lou finds her dead in the baptistery pool. And Poppy’s not playing possum.
Frankie Lou sets out to clear her name as the main suspect, and tries to locate the real killer. Could he be sexy Joe Camps, the father of one of her teen singers? In the meantime, her momma shows up from Florida to take charge of Frankie Lou’s life. Bless her heart.
I knew the minute I read the church bulletin that I was fixin’ to be Southern-fried and plated-up in front of God, the Faith Community Church deacons, and eventually the entire community of Ruby Springs, Texas, sure as my name’s Frankie Lou Birmingham McMasters.
My well-meaning landlady, Nettie Bloom, had decided to announce my proposed church project without asking me if I wanted her to. I had just scheduled a meeting with the deacons about it, not given them any details about the idea. I hadn’t spoken it aloud to anyone but Miss Nettie. But now there it was in print, along with Miss Nettie’s usual assortment of misplaced phrases and Mrs. Malaprop word choices. Miss Nettie had been editing the church’s newsletter, News From The Pews, for a good many years, but I’d noticed her memory getting a little tangled lately.
NEWS FROM THE PEWS
FAITH COMMUNITY CHURCH
100 Blessings St.
Ruby Springs, Texas
As we wait for the selection of a full-time pastor, we welcome back interim minister, Reverend Matthew Whitlaw to the pulpit next Sunday at Faith Community. His morning sermon will be Jesus Walks on Water followed by Searching for Jesus in the evening.
For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
Members of the Weight Watchers group will meet Monday at 5:30 P.M. for weekly weigh-in. Please use large double door at the side entrance to the annex. The Low Self-Esteem Support Group will be using the back door.
Prior to prayer meeting Wednesday evening a bean supper will be held in the church hall. Special music will follow.
Until further notice, please give massages to the church secretary, Lovey Muchmore. She will then give massages to the newsletter editor who will share the details in our newsletter.
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: A NEW CHOIR FOR TEEN SINNERS IS BEING FORMED AND WILL COMPETE IN THE SLUMBER FUN AT THE CITY PARK NEXT MONTH. For more information on sinning contact Frankie Lou McMasters at Doc Adderly’s Animal Clinic.
N. Bloom, Newsletter Editor
Truth be known, there were certain people who weren’t exactly thrilled by my return to the town where my daddy, Reverend Frank Birmingham, occupied the pulpit at Faith Community before his recent retirement to Florida. I’d been gone from Ruby Springs eleven years, but it seems those certain people have the combined memory of a herd of elephants. One in particular: Poppy Rose deHaven Fremont, Faith Community’s choir director.
I grabbed my tote, made a quick call next door to Miss Nettie’s house, where my eleven-year-old, Betsy, was staying for dinner, then headed for the church. It was a hot spring night and bound to get hotter.
Help me, Lord, Miss Nettie and that newsletter are gonna get me killed one way or another.
The unexpected appearance of Poppy Rose deHaven Fremont in the church’s conference room confirmed what I’d feared all along. My notoriety as the shamefully irreverent preacher’s daughter hadn’t been forgotten, even after an absence of more than a decade. Any hope of getting the deacons to approve my request had just been deep-sixed. Well, horse pucky!
There she was, the Queen of Mean, flapping her collagen-plumped lips faster than a whipporwill’s tail in a windstorm while seven deacons stared in wide-eyed amazement.
I shook my head in disbelief. What in the heck had she done to herself? Those puffy lips weren’t the only recently enhanced body parts, either. Poppy Rose was a walking, talking endorsement for the modern wonders of plastic surgery and extreme weight loss. My monthly house rent couldn’t begin to touch the high-dollar cost of that hot pink linen skirt and knit top clinging to her curves closer than a coat of paint from Howard’s Hardware. Talk about extreme makeover, her body had been nipped and tucked in places I didn’t even want to think about. Yikes!
A brief, but uncomfortable, sting of envy zapped me so hard I could almost hear momma saying, “Pretty is as pretty does, Frances Louise.” A die-hard fan of Downton Abbey, she never called me Frankie Lou when she was in her Lady Louisa mood.
Poppy Rose teetered toward me on nose-bleed high stilettos, her over-enhanced boobs leading the way. Oh boy, here it comes, I thought, wondering if escape was possible. Had she seen the bulletin?
“Well, Ah declare, Frankie Lou.” Her words dripped so much toxic sweetness it made my teeth ache. “Here y’all are, stirring up trouble just like old times. You haven’t changed a bit, bless your heart.” She smiled, the bright flash of Hollywood-white teeth threatening to blind me on the spot.
I flicked a wayward strand of my straight black hair behind one ear. Now, truth is, I don’t give a horse’s patoot about fashion, but does Starbucks know she’s got her Texas-big hair whipped up like a mocha latte with caramel swirls?
“Why, hello, Poppy Rose,” I said, sucking in my tummy and sticking out my 34B girls like they were Double Ds. Hey, I have my pride, but there’s no way I would ever let anyone slice and dice my body for the sake of “perfect.”
According to Miss Nettie, Poppy Rose married into big money three years ago after meeting her future husband on a singles cruise. Miz Parvis Fremont turned her brand-new wealth into a mighty fine shopping career.
The impressive Fremont mansion and its extravagant interior adornments is the town’s only claim to fame. Miss Nettie said Poppy Rose consulted a designer from Italy for the elaborate decorating, and the place got written up in some big architectural magazine. That bit of information teased my curiosity, but I’m not likely to ever be invited to the Ruby Springs’ wonder home. In the first place, I wasn’t even invited to the nuptials. Wouldn’t have gone anyway, since the ceremony took place during my prolonged self-exile in Austin. I understand that show-of-the-century shindig cost a cool half-million dollars, all paid for by the groom, of course. There was even actual dancing at the reception over at the town community center, something never done before in Ruby Springs. Yes indeedy, Poppy Rose finally snagged herself a wealthy spouse. Kind of sad he died so soon. Or was it? Looking at her now, I’d say she wears her hot pink widow’s weeds just a little too perky.
You can’t be a preacher’s kid and raise a little hob without some serious repercussions. Yes, ma’am, that’s the gospel truth. Lora Lee’s JOYFUL NOISE mystery series for Bell Bridge Books, sheds a little light on just how serious those consequences can be when Frankie Lou Birmingham McMasters returns to her hometown of Ruby Springs, Texas after ten years in hopes of putting some shine on her tarnished reputation, but finds herself in the middle of murder and mayhem instead.
Though author Lora Lee insists the series isn’t about her in any way, shape or form, she does admit to being a real-life P.K. (that’s preacher’s kid, in case you didn’t know.) She was born in Texas and her Southern blood runs deep. Her daddy told her any place below the Mason-Dixon line was part of the South, including the Lone Star State.
Since living in West Michigan most of her married life, she’s lost some of her Texas twang, but once in awhile, a might could and a y’all or two slips into her conversation with her critique partners. They love her, anyway. So does her husband of fifty-plus years and their children. With a current family count of twenty-three, get-togethers often resemble an old time revival when they all gather for fun and food.
Lora Lee is a member of Romance Writer’s of America, Mid-Michigan RWA, Sisters-in-Crime, RWA’s specialty chapter Kiss of Death and is currently published in contemporary romance. She is also a proud graduate of the Grand Rapids Citizens Police Academy.
When not writing or trying to keep up with her ever-growing family, she enjoys reading, music and travel.
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