Guest Post

Guest Chick: Mary Lee Ashford

We’re thrilled to have the delightful and talented Mary Lee Ashford visit today as our Guest Chick! To celebrate the release of GAME OF SCONES, the first book in the Sugar and Spice Mystery series, Mary Lee is doing a GIVEAWAY OF a copy of the book (ebook or print, winner’s choice), plus a GAME OF SCONES T-shirt to one lucky commenter (Please include your e-mail address with your comment so author can contact the winner)! Take it away, Mary Lee!

I am so excited to be writing this new series as I’ve been a reader of culinary mysteries for years. I love the theme (and the recipes), but still for me a story is always about the people. Who are they? What makes them tick? Why do they make the choices they make? And where do they live? In this particular story, it was that last question that I spent a lot of time thinking about.

You’ve heard the saying attributed to Mason Cooley, “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” Stories are like that for me. I often travel without leaving my chair. So, when I was deciding on the setting for the Sugar & Spice Mysteries, I thought quite a lot about where Sugar and Dixie, the two main characters, should live. I wanted a town that was not too big – it’s just that kind of story – but big enough for a murder mystery or two without wiping the town off the map.

After a great deal of thought and inspired by my friend, Holly Jacobs, who shares her love of Erie with her readers, I decided to share my love of the Midwest and set the series in Iowa. St. Ignatius is a fictional town but it has many of the elements I love in the beautiful small towns around the Iowa. A central courthouse, a town square, unique little shops, and, well, shall we say, interesting characters. Writing about it has reminded me of all my home state has to offer, and I’m hoping it will be a town readers will want to visit again and again.

About the book:

After losing her job as food editor at a glossy magazine, Rosetta Sugarbaker Calloway—aka “Sugar” to her friends—isn’t sweet on accepting defeat and crawling back to her gossipy southern hometown. So when she has an opportunity to launch a community cookbook business with blue-ribbon baker Dixie Spicer in peaceful St. Ignatius, Iowa, she jumps at the chance to start over from scratch . . .

But as Sugar assembles recipes for the local centennial celebration, it’s not long before she’s up to her oven mitts in explosive threats, too-hot-to-handle scandals, and a dead body belonging to the moody matriarch of the town’s first family. With suspicions running wild, Sugar and Spice must solve the murder before someone innocent takes the heat—and the real culprit gathers enough ingredients to strike again.

About the author:

Mary Lee Ashford writes the Sugar and Spice series for Kensington, and also pens the Pampered Pets Mysteries as half of the writing team of Sparkle Abbey. She is the founding president of Sisters in Crime – Iowa and a current board member of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest chapter, as well as a member of Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death the RWA Mystery Suspense chapter, Sisters in Crime, and the SinC Internet group, Guppies. Her delights are encouraging other writers, reading, and enjoying her family, especially her six grandchildren. Learn more about Mary Lee and her books at:

Are there certain fictional towns you love to visit again and again? Real life locales, maybe vacation spots, you can’t wait to get back to? Comment below — and remember one lucky commenter will WIN a copy of GAME OF SCONES and a T-shirt! 

WINNER in the drawing for the GAME OF SCONES book and T-shirt is Christi King! Congrats, Christi!

50 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Mary Lee Ashford

  1. Personally, I’ve fallen in love with visiting small Southern towns. Like what you describe, they have the town square, courthouse, etc. Maybe there was a plan for how to build a city back then????? Looking forward to learning about your Iowa locations. Congrats on the new series.

    Liked by 3 people

      • Here in small town New England, they still call the squares “greens.” I think many started with sheep grazing in the middle, and the church and other buildings (homes/shops/meeting house)surrounding them.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love food mysteries! The scones on the cover have me wanting to make some now!
    I do love returning to the small towns and villages that mysteries have. It does make one wonder how there are people left in some of these, with all the murders!
    Thank you for giving away a copy of this new book and the shirt.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. What a delightful new series! Some years ago I took a solo car trip to north central Iowa to do research for a journal article on a transplanted ex-Civil War soldier from Vermont. I was amazed at how rural this part of Iowa is and how little changed from the 1800s. On another note, I’m wondering if you include a recipe for scones in the book and if so, whether they’re baked or cooked on a griddle like my Scottish grandma used to do. Best of luck!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I love the feeling of community that good cozies bring in each book but like you, it is the people I love the most. Having moved around the US in my youth, I can relate to the special feeling that small towns bring and love traveling to new ones through books. I am glad I already have my copy of Game of Scones. Now just have to find time to read it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I agree Jeanie, that small town feel is part of what I enjoy about cozies, but ultimately it’s the people that make the story for me. Hope you enjoy Game of Scones! I’ll be interested in what you think of Sugar and Dixie and some other characters in the story that I had fun writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. All the series I read, if well written, make me fall in love with the characters as well as the setting. It is through the books that I am able to travel all over the world without the expense and also without leaving my home. Thank you for the opportunity to enter the giveaway.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I would love to visit St. Ignatius! When I first moved to my area I visited a nearby town & was so excited because it looks just like the setting of a cozy mystery.
    turtle6422 at gmail dot com

    Liked by 2 people

  7. We always loved going to Mountain View, AR in the Ozark Mountains. It’s a very small town with population of less than 3000. It’s a town that still has the courthouse square where people gather to play horseshoes or just to sit and visit. It’s also the Folk Music Capital of the World with lots of music events from the pick “n” park to the concerts at the Folk Center. Whenever, we could slip away for a couple days, that’s where we wanted to go to unwind and relax. We loved it so much that last year we sold out and moved lock, stock and barrel to our favorite destination. We have never looked back and never regretted it. We love the area for natures beauty, the wonderful and friendly folks and that there is always something to do if you so choose. We are visited daily by numerous critters from eagles landing in the front yard to 8 deer in the back yard or a family of raccoons at the bird feeders that keep us delighted and entertained. As the guy said once on the Andy Griffith Show – We made it our hometown!

    I love to read stories both around areas I’m familiar with where I can try to find places I have been to, but I also love fictional towns where you can meet new folks and explore places as they might be.

    Thank you for the fabulous chance to win a print copy of “GAME OF SCONES” (which I’m dying to read) and an awesome t-shirt!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kay – Yes, horseshoes! I grew up in a small town and one of the things I’ve loved about writing this series is the chance to remember and revisit all of those things that are wonderful about small towns. Mountain View sounds like a great place!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I love that “cozy” feeling I get when I return to favorite characters and settings. Thanks for feeding my addiction. Congrats on the new series, looking forward to it! 💖🔎📚

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I am really looking forward to reading your book! Since I live in a big city surrounded by bigger cities, I love small town cozies. It’s hard to choose a fictional favorite, but one of my favorites is Wagtail, the town in the Paws and Claws series by Krista Davis. cking78503(at)aol(dot)com

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I love small town settings. I am so excited to read this series set in the midwest as I grew up in a small town in Central Illinois and still live near there.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Nothing beats a hot scone–preferably with strawberry jam and clotted cream slathered on top! Your new series sounds terrific, Mary Lee, and thank so much for joining the Chicks today! (Okay, now I have to go make something scone-like for breakfast…)

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I really love visiting Holland MI, it’s a small town on Lake Michigan and has a lot of charm. I like reading cozies set in small towns and in the Midwest. Love scones, looking forward to reading “Game of Scones”.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. there are so many “book” towns I want to visit – they all sound like fun, and I hate it when a series ends and I don’t get to read about it any more

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I love visiting Wagtail in book form and would love for it to be real. I love the small towns and villages in cozies. They are always so fun to visit. Thank you so much for the chance to win! kayt18 (at) comcast (dot) net

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Thanks so much for visiting us at Chicks today, Mary Lee–and telling us about your delicious-sounding new series. Can’t wait to read it, especially with scones! (Leslie, will you save me some?)

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Mary Lee, I am SO sorry I didn’t comment yesterday. I missed your post somehow. Congratulations on the new series! It sounds wonderful. I’m very much looking forward to it. And a “visit” to a charming village in Iowa. 😉


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