Ever wonder about the story behind some of your favorite book blogs? Well, you’re in luck, because once a month Chicks on the Case features an interview with a well-known book blogger. Our May spotlight is our good friend Kim McMahan Davis of Cinnamon & Sugar and a Little Bit Of Murder.
Please tell us about your blog. Why did you decide to write it?
When both of my granddaughters began school I felt like I had more time on my hands so I started thinking about a new hobby and was drawn to blogging. Given my obsession with all the recipes on Pinterest, I knew I wanted my own blog to be centered on food. I also have a love for mysteries so thought I’d share a tidbit of what I was reading once a week and create my own recipes to go with those blog posts. Then in the middle of one of my insomniac nights I finally came up with my blog’s name that tied those two ideas together: Cinnamon, Sugar and a Little Bit of Murder. Much to my surprise I began finding new-to-me cozy authors who had great stories and recipes in their books. A perfect match! Starting out I never thought an author would be willing to share their recipes but I’ve found them to be so very friendly and more than happy for me to use their recipes. As a result my blog has grown beyond my wildest imagination and I am truly grateful for the friendships that I’ve developed from those contacts!
Do you always share other authors’ recipes or do you develop and create your own? How do you come up with the recipes?
Along the way I have come across a book that I was smitten with (like Marla’s Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mysteries!) and wanted to share it on my blog even if it didn’t contain recipes. In those cases I find a reference to a meal or dessert the protagonist ate (everyone has to eat!) and I develop a recipe based on that. My system for developing recipes is to scour my many, many cookbooks, magazines, and Pinterest and see what dishes are comparable to what I wanted to make. Then I take components from each that I like and finally write my own directions.
I also type out my new recipe and cook the dish directly from it to make sure there aren’t any typos or omissions, and to make sure my directions make sense. Sometimes I have to cook the recipe a few times until it’s perfect. I’ve also had the pleasure of creating recipes that authors have featured in their books, which I find quite thrilling! However, given the amount of time it takes (sometimes 20 – 30 hours!) to not only develop a recipe, make it (and of course do all the cleanup), then photograph and video, edit, read, write and finally post to my blog, I’ve had to stop taking new books that don’t contain recipes. I don’t get paid for blogging and between the amount of time I spend on each blog post plus the cost of the ingredients, it just wasn’t making sense.
What are some of the challenges and/or successes you’ve experienced along the way?
I consider my blog a success given that people, other than my immediate family, read my posts! I am eternally grateful that it has allowed me to connect and make friends with so many people from so many walks of life. That in itself makes the work worth it! My biggest challenge is finding the time to do “it all” and realize my time constraints. Doing two blog posts a week takes me 30 – 40 hours of work. At this point, after becoming a published writer and trying to work on my next book, I really am trying to limit my blog posts to once a week. And mixed in to all my blogging are my granddaughters who I am committed to being involved with numerous hours each week… and my husband would remind me to not forget him either, lol!
Do you also post your reviews elsewhere (Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.)? Why or why not?
I consistently post my reviews to Goodreads, Amazon, Netgalley, Twitter and numerous Facebook groups. I realize how important reviews are to authors and I like to support them. I think as a reader, it shows the author appreciation for all their hard work by leaving a review.
What are some of the best experiences you’ve had related to your blog?
First and foremost the best experience has been the opportunity it has given me to connect to so many wonderful people: readers, the authors I showcase, and other bloggers. Secondly, my blog has given me a creative venue while challenging me to expand and grow in so many areas. Sometimes that growth is frustrating (I’m talking about you, WordPress!) and other times it’s a huge source of pride when I conquer the intimidating recipe that I thought I would massacre. I also had no idea how much fun I would have learning to style food and photograph the dishes!
What has been the most surprising thing about book blogging?
How close knit and supportive the mystery community is, especially the cozy mystery genre! Before I started blogging I would have assumed that the authors were all in competition with each other but that hasn’t been the case. Same thing with other bloggers: they/we are supportive of each other and I value their friendship. The authors and bloggers are truly some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet even if they like to write and blog about murder!
You’re not just a book blogger; you’re also a book author! Tell us about A Game of Deceit.
Before I started blogging I wrote a suspense novel, A Game of Deceit, a story about a father’s disappearance never solved, a mother’s secret taken to the grave, a daughter deceived… It actually took me over 17 years to finally see it in print since I’d start writing then decide I didn’t know what I was doing so would take a class then get busy and put it away for a year or two, then take another class, etc. I also got sidetracked by writing children’s magazine articles (and have had several published). But, I finally published A Game of Deceit last August. When I began writing the suspense there was an underlying cathartic basis for my story and it contains some darkness compared to cozy mysteries. When I started writing my blog my life had tremendously changed (for the better!) and I related more to cozy mysteries and their recipes, which is why I focus on the lighthearted side of the genre. I am currently writing a cozy mystery with a series in mind but am also thinking of a sequel for the suspense novel.
Finally, what advice would you give to new bloggers and to authors who would like to connect with book bloggers?
For bloggers: I would offer the advice that I’ve heard a hundred times given to authors: find the hook. Meaning find a unique way to do something that’s already been done. Check out and follow other bloggers. Also, as difficult as it is when life gets busy, stick to a regular posting schedule, then be patient. Success doesn’t happen overnight but if you inspire just one person to read a book then your blog post did its job.
For authors: Take a look at the blog and see 1) if the blogger has criteria on what they review and 2) if not, note what they focus on and what hook, if any, they have before contacting them. I’ve had requests to review Sci Fi for my blog before. I’m not sure what out-of-this-world recipes the authors thought I could come up with, lol! And lastly, most of the bloggers I know work hard without getting paid so it’s nice to have an author share the blog post that is promoting their book. It’s a win-win for both the blogger and the author!
Thanks so much for having me on Chicks On the Case! I appreciate the opportunity to talk about Cinnamon, Sugar and a Little Bit of Murder!
Kim Davis lives in Southern California with her husband, near wildfire country. During the Portola Hills fire in October 2007, she had to evacuate her two young granddaughters, one of whom has Rett Syndrome, as a wall of flames crept towards their home. Thankfully, due to the brave efforts of firefighters, their neighborhood was spared. She used that event as inspiration for one of the scenes in her suspense book.
In addition to authoring suspense novel, A GAME OF DECEIT under the name of K.A. Davis, she writes the Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder blog and has several children’s articles published in a variety of magazines. When not busy with her granddaughters, she can be found writing her next book and blog, baking, or working on her photography skills. Kim is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.