Guest Chick: Leslie Budewitz

The Chicks are tickled to welcome back Agatha award-winning author pal Leslie Budewitz as our guest chick today! The sixth entry in Leslie’s wonderful Spice Shop Mysteries, Peppermint Barked, is just out. And she is giving away a fab swag package to one lucky commenter on today’s blog! Take it away, Leslie!

Killing it on the village streets

“When people get arrested in your books,” said my reader’s son, maybe twelve, at the Bigfork Festival of the Arts earlier this month, “do they go to Food Court?”

Author Leslie Budewitz manning her booth at the annual festival in her town

And that, dear readers, is why I love my booth at the annual Festival held in my town. (You’ve been there, if you’ve read any of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, and you’ve been to the Festival in Crime Rib, second in the series.) It’s certainly not getting up at 6:00 a.m., unloading my packed-to-the-gills Subaru on the sidewalk, waiting for the magic toll of 7:30, wrestling with the broken leg on the canopy, sitting in the August heat (and some years, the smoke), then taking it all down at 4;30 and repeating the ritual the next day.
No. It’s the readers. I love selling books, and making a nice bank deposit on Monday is great. But honestly, truly, it’s so much more than that.

It’s talking about mysteries with a ten-year-old whose favorite Agatha Christie novel is And Then There Were None, and who was very happy to tell me why. No question that she’s old enough for my cozies—they’re perfectly clean, of course, but most of the characters are adults—and she jumped up and down when I inscribed it to her. “For Finley. Stories are the spice of life. Enjoy.”
It’s talking with the eighteen-year-old about the thriller she’s writing. “For Elizabeth,” my alter ego Alicia wrote in her copy of Bitterroot Lake. “May your stories be thrilling— and true.”
It’s seeing the woman in the wheelchair whose disability also limits her speech, but not her enjoyment of a good mystery, or of getting her picture taken with me each summer.

For all its pleasures, my little town in NW Montana lacks a bookstore. (I remedied that problem in the fictional village.) So, to meet readers and get my books in their hands, I’ve had to be creative. It started when my first book came out and the owners of a local gallery asked me to launch it at the opening of an exhibit they planned to call “Bigfork in Paint and Print.” The exhibit was a great success, running each summer for five years, until the gallery moved. The local art center stepped in.

My cozies have a foodie theme, so the local kitchen shop is a natural partner, and both the Village books (which include a kitchen shop) and Spice Shop mysteries are perennial hits there. Their biggest seller, though — go figure—has been my moody suspense novel with three layers of mystery reaching back nearly a hundred years. I make it a habit to stand by the fudge counter to sign books when I bring them in — and inevitably, the savvy saleswomen spot the tourists who love to read and sell the books right out from under me. Such
fun!

But the Festival — oh, my. I loved it as a local long before I became a published mystery author. And after ten years of setting up that canopy and draping tables with blood-red cloths, I love it even more. I love the women with their lists who know just which books they need. The summer people who say “We weren’t here last year so I’m behind—what’s new?” The tourists who say “It’s set here? I’ve got to have it!” The men who tell me my books are the perfect way to unwind. I love telling the festival-goers about my books, but also asking what they read and who they recommend. I love hearing the parents say to the kids as they turn away, “Now you’ve met a real author.” I love the sweet response when readers ask about my pen name and I tell them it honors my mother and grandmother.

It’s a treat to participate in the life, the artistic life, of a vibrant, creative community. To help another woman struggling with her canopy. To watch younger artists finding their way. To be part of a village that values what I do.
Plus, you never know when you’ll hear your new favorite joke.


Author Leslie Budewitz

Leslie Budewitz is a three-time Agatha Award winner and the best-selling author of the Spice Shop mysteries, set in Seattle, and Food Lovers’ Village mysteries, inspired by Bigfork, Montana, where she lives. The newest: Peppermint Barked, the 6th Spice Shop mystery (July 2022). As Alicia Beckman, she writes moody suspense, beginning with Bitterroot Lake and continuing with Blind Faith (October 2022). Leslie is a board member of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime. Connect with Leslie on Facebook and through her website.

Swag!

Readers, what’s your favorite way to meet authors? Is there an arts festival you love? Talk to us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win a packet of Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen recipe cards and a pad of library card sticky notes from our guest chick, Leslie Budewitz, aka Alicia Beckman. (U.S. addresses only are eligible for the drawing.)


41 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Leslie Budewitz

  1. I’ve only met 2 authors and they both were at libraries. I would like to go to a book fair. They have a big one in Ft Myers but so far I’ve had prior plans and then there was covid. Maybe I’ll get to the next one. Thank you for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Libraries rock, don’t they? Here’s hoping you get to the next Ft Myers book fair! (Isn’t that where Terrie Farley Moran set her Read ‘Em and Eat series? Close to there, I think!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve met several authors over the years at special events and summits. A pleasure hearing how writers bring their creative works to life. I also enjoy meeting authors through their posts, and Leslie’s article brought to mind all the creative ways writer’s can get their books in front of readers. Thanks for the inspiration, Leslie!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Magical is the word! The only drawback is that I don’t get to browse the booths except the ones closest to me!

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  3. Our local library had, before COVID, an annual event called “Stewin’ with the Mysteries”. It was held at the Old, Publick House restaurant in the Tap Room.(The restaurant was built in the 1700s)
    Each year a different Mystery or True Crime author would come, share a meal of stew, salad and dessert, and then speak to us about their latest book, writing process etc. They would have books to sell and sign and it also gave us a chance to get to know them. I was most thrilled to meet Dorothy Cannell. She sat at our table and we chatted for quite a while with our book club before giving her talk. I really hope the library starts up the series again. Who knows, maybe we will meet YOU someday!
    Carol

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love the Public House, Carol! I’ve been going there since I was a tiny girl (um, not in the 1700s). Didn’t know about the book event. Will be on the lookout for its return!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lisa, in the past it was held in January or February. Not much happens in Sturbridge, MA in the winter. It was great fun on a chilly winter evening.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that joke, Leslie!

    I went to a local festival for the first time last weekend. It was such fun spending a couple hours talking to readers, including a woman who said, “I don’t read mystery, but you have the best covers and titles.”

    Liked by 6 people

    1. So glad you gave it a shot, Liz! At my very first event, I met a woman who only came to support local artists, and bought my first book even though she didn’t like mysteries. She is now one of my biggest fans, comes to every event, and has become a devoted cozy mystery reader. So you never know!

      Liked by 3 people

  5. We don’t have big authors coming around here, but there is an independent bookstore a half hour away that has a few local authors give talks and presentations sometimes. There’s an artworks festival coming up next week in that town as well, so that’s usually when more local authors come.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I met a favorite who is actually a friend. Her writing career is separate for me, I care about the person. Stayed with her and a mutual friend for about a week. Took in the sights. It was wonderful! I fangirl out when I want to, the rest of the time, she’s just my friend. It’s a cool balance. But god help the person that leaves my author friends bad reviews… I’m armed with denture grip and I bite on behalf of my buddies! 😜

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  7. Leslie, this sounds like heaven! That’s the drag of being in a big city – we have nothing like this. I don’t even enjoy taking a booth slot at the Los Angeles Festival of Books because you have to act like a midway barker to try and get the attention of anyone, and most people are doing that thing where they’re desperately trying to avoid eye contact. I was thrilled this year when Malice conflicted with it and I had an excuse not to go!

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  8. These days I meet most authors virtually, but nothing is better than meeting authors in person. I’ve been to readings at colleges, bookstores, libraries and at Malice Domestic. The most recent was at a graphic novel panel at my local bookstore, had a wonderful chat with Alex Segura who writes a mystery series set in Miami as well as comic books and graphic novels. A memorable reading was at my Alma mater a number of years ago. I took a class to hear Lorna Goodison, a Jamaican poet, read from her work. My shyest student found her courage to ask the author a question and received a thoughtful response. As we went through a receiving line of professors and the author, several professors greeted me warmly and the students were very impressed!😉

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  9. I remember helping my mom at the leather working booth at Arts in Action, an art fair in Los Angeles back around 1969, and it’s still one of my fondest memories–all the interesting people who’d come to our booth and create beautiful belts, pouches, and other items. So your book booth sounds like good fun, indeed!

    Congrats on the new release, and thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today, dear Leslie!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Delighted to be here, LK! You’ve reminded me how much I enjoyed tagging along with dad, a furniture sales rep, when he showed his customers around at the Furniture Markets and helping a neighbor art prof at the student gallery. My dad did a lot of woodwork after he retired and he and my mom did some fairs, but sadly, I never got to help out.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love your books! All of them!
    I adore the idea of having authors selling their books at unusual places. Sure, doing it at a bookstore is good, but the unusual brings in new people. Foodie stories at a foodie festival. Craft stories at the craft/hobby fair. Stories about house repairs, design,gardening, etc at a home improvement show? Or what about at the Christmas craft fairs when I was a kid? That would have been a blast. Wedding mysteries at wedding venue shows!
    There are so many options. If the authors just thought about it and could talk the sponsors/organizers into it. It could bring more people overall to the event and new readers to the authors!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are so right. The atmosphere of fairs and festivals like that is so much fun — people come ready to take something home!

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  11. Leslie, thanks so much for hanging out with us today on the Chicks! Bookstores and libraries are always fun venues for authors! But, for “My Fair Latte,” in which the protagonist is a barista, I held a signing event at my favorite local coffee house. It was great fun, and some friends ordered coffee and hung out with me!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love that — I bet you didn’t even need the caffeine to get a jolt! I did a signing at the local kitchen shop and had fun chatting with customers and joining in the conversations as the saleswomen offered tastes of their oils and vinegars. Love the foodie talk!

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  12. Leslie, I am a “country mouse” author also–and I know I’d run right up to your booth, even if I didn’t know you or your fabulous books! (I would also love to have someone help me with an EZ-up, ha–they are not very “ez.”) We have farmers markets here in NH every Saturday morning–and often, during the summers, on other days as well. Towns hold them on different days so there is a “circuit”–and the summer visitors/residents love them. I used to enjoy attending the New York Fair and Brooklyn Book Festival, and someday I swear I’ll make it to the festival in Boston. I do remember enjoying the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The challenge with only doing one event a year is that we figure out the Not-So-EZ, then forget it a year later! Those big book festivals sound heavenly to me!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Your festival sounds charming and well-run, Leslie! When I wrote for kids I did tons of fun events—usually for homeschoolers—and the kids were always precocious and fun to chat with. Our CO Authors League always has a huge booth at a convention center at a holiday mart in November. That’s always fun too.

    Congrats on another great book!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. What a great post! Those connections are priceless.

    One of my favorite ways to meet authors is at our library’s yearly author event. It’s a great combination of reading, trying to absorb writing tips and tidbits, and rubbing elbows with authors at the coffee station.

    Huge congrats on the latest and thanks for hanging with us!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Hi Leslie, libraries, writers conferences, the Art Fest in Big Fork, where I was so happy to meet you recently… I rambled on to you about getting back to writing and having a hard time transitioning from non-fiction to fiction writing. You listened with empathy, gave encouragement. It was just for a few minutes, but felt like I was talking with an old friend. Thank you. I look forward to seeing you again, along with Debbie and the other mystery writers, this weekend in Big Fork.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Melissa, I missed this comment when you first posted it, but I do remember speaking with you — it’s always a pleasure to encourage other writers!

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      1. Thank you Leslie, appreciate that. I also enjoyed hearing you and the other three mystery writers last weekend talk about your craft. So great seeing the support you all had for each other’s writing, as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. So glad you came! Debbie Burke, Christine Carbo, and I have known each other for years. Mark Leichliter is newer to the valley and to mystery writing but he fits write — er, right — in!

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