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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Guest Blog & Contest with Juliet Blackwell

Well I have a mid-week treat for you all this week! Another author guest and another contest!!!

Hexes and Hemlines the 3rd in the Witchcraft Mystery Series came out last week and I am reading it right now and loving it! Juliet Blackwell is one of my favourite cozy writers because her books always have a paranormal element to them.

Enjoy her guest blog about Cozy mysteries and make sure you check out her books! Also enter the contest! Juliet is giving away a signed copy of Hexes and Hemlines!!!


Can Murder, and Magic, Ever Really Be “Cozy”?

The first time I pitched my book, long before I was published, the agent I was speaking to interrupted my halting spiel to ask:

Is it a cozy?”

“A what?” says I.

“A cozy. No gory scenes, no explicit sex, no one’s getting it on with a zombie dildo…” (actually, I added that last part. Artistic license and all that.) “In other words: would you be embarrassed if your mother read it?”

“Um…not really.”

“Then it’s a cozy.”

That was my introduction to the sometimes questionable term of “cozy mystery”. A lot of folks in the field object to the moniker, implying as it does that we’re not dealing with heavy stuff (some prefer “traditional” mystery, some “amateur detective” mystery…as is usually the case with labels, it’s hard to find one that everyone agrees upon). But ultimately, since all of us mystery authors are penning stories about murder and mayhem, it’s hard to think of some of us writing cozily.

Whether a victim is dismembered and lying in a pool of his own blood or prettily poisoned over a cup of tea in the library, the poor fellow’s dead. It’s the taking of a human life.

In a way, I think the lightness with which murder is treated by some of the “cozier” books out there is more disturbing than the dark and gritty noir thrillers. After all, homicide should be an inherently heavy subject.

That doesn’t mean there can’t be a lot of humor injected into the story. Hang around emergency personnel --be they cops, first-responders, emergency room medical workers—and you’ll hear a whole lot of morbid jokes. Black humor is a valuable psychological mechanism that allows humans to deal with sometimes inhuman cruelty.

So my books are considered “cozies” – sort of – because I don’t dwell on the gruesome aspects of carving up bodies, and I don’t have a lot of on-page sex. But I don’t think they’re necessary to my story: sometimes the implication is far more disturbing, and/or titillating, than explicit scenes. Remember the old saw about finally showing the shark in the movie Jaws? The creature was far more frightening when left to our imaginations. I mean come on, let’s face it, our minds are seriously twisted. That’s the beauty of reading: our imaginations come up with sights, smells, and sounds peculiar to us and our own fears and desires, images that no Hollywood producer would be able to create on screen.

Plus, since my Witchcraft Mystery novels feature a powerful natural witch, Lily Ivory, I’m even less cozy. When I set out to write about witchcraft, the last thing I wanted to invoke was the frivolous spirit of the old Bewitched television show. I’m not about cute witches that turn pesky neighbors into frogs.

(Okay, I’ll admit it, it was my *favorite* show when I was little, and I SO wanted to be Tabitha, or Samantha if she’d just dump that idiot husband of hers.)

But witchcraft is serious. Hundreds of thousands of people, mostly women, have been killed after being accused of dabbling in the “dark arts” – not only in Europe and Salem, but still today in many parts of the world. Throughout history powerful women healers have been associated with magical belief systems that are sometimes respected, and sometimes reviled. I draw on that very real and difficult history for my novels, and while I try to inject a lot of humor in my books (especially with Lily’s odd pseudo-familiar, a shape-shifting goblin/potbellied pig) I don’t pretend that Lily Ivory – or any natural witch—would have an easy time of it, even as the owner of a vintage clothing shop in San Francisco’s quirky Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.

Because after all, what’s so cozy about potbellied pigs, vintage clothing, murder, and magic?


In Hexes and Hemlines, powerful witch Lily Ivory steps into a murder investigation that has the police stumped: the leader of a local rationalist society is murdered amidst symbols of bad luck: a black cat, a broken mirror, on the thirteenth floor. As someone with special paranormal talents, Lily is in a unique position to help figure out whether the man’s death had anything to do with tempting the fates. And when the main suspect turns out to be someone Lily knows, and a friend is threatened by an evil practitioner, and an aging Satan worshipper enters the mix…a witch might be compelled to use magic to find the murderer before everyone’s luck runs out.


Nationally bestselling author Juliet Blackwell writes the Witchcraft Mystery series

Secondhand Spirits, 2009;
A Cast-off Coven, 2010;
Hexes and Hemlines, June 2011;
If Walls Could Talk launched the Haunted Home Renovation series in 2010;
Dead Bolt, the second in the series, comes out in December.

As one-half of the sister duo dubbed Hailey Lind, Blackwell wrote the Art Lover’s Mystery Series--including Agatha-nominated Feint of Art and the most recent, Arsenic and Old Paint (September; Perseverance Press). A former anthropologist and social worker, Juliet has worked in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France, and is now a painter in Oakland, California. She served two terms as president of NorCal Sisters in Crime.

Contact her through her website or join her on Twitter and on Facebook !


Contest Time!

Juliet is giving away a signed copy of her latest release, Hexes & Hemlines!

How To Enter

I am always looking for a good cozy! So let us know which ones you like to read!

No answer = No Entry

Earn more entries for each link you place about this contest on the net. You can post on Facebook, Twitter & MySpace but make sure you add links here for me to confirm your entries! However please do not make individual postings for each entry. Please post all your entries in one post.

Advertise Amberkatze's Book Blog on your site and get an extra entry for this and every other contest!

Amberkatze's Book Blog

You can also earn extra entries by emailing your friends about the contest. Just make sure you send a copy of your email or receipt to me at Amberkatzes_book_blog at gmx dot net.

Make sure you post your links here so I can confirm your entries.

Keep the contests going by using the Bookdepository.com and Amazon.com links/Banners below and around the site!

The Book Depository

The contest will stay open until Wednesday 22nd of June 2011 4pm CET and the winner will be picked by a randomizer. Entrants should check back to see if they have won. I do not hunt down winners and will pick new winners for any prizes not claimed within 7 days.


Aurian said...

What a great blogpost, I have certainly enjoyed reading the first two books in this series, and am looking forward to Hexes and Hemlines. An autographed copy would be so awesome!

I am a follower, and a subscriber, and I have a link to Amberkatze on my own blog.

I love reading cozy's, my favourites are written by Laura Childs, Maggie Sefton, Leann Sweeney and Joanne Fluke, but I got introduced to the genre by the recently deceased Lilian Jackson Braun and her The Cat Who-series.

LSUReader said...

Long before she gave us Sookie Stackhouse, Charlaine Harris wrote a cozy mystery series centered around a small-town librarian, Aurora (Roe)Teagarden. It was one of my favorites. Thanks for visiting.

Barbara E. said...

I like Shirley Damsgaard's Ophelia and Abby mysteries. Ophelia's a librarian who's also psychic and her grandmother Abby is a witch. Witches are a favorite, so Hexes and Hemlines is going on the wishlist too.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I have been reading Cozies for a number of years and it is so hard for me to decide on a favorite. I would say any by Maggie Sefton, Laura Childs, Deb Bake/Hannah Reed. Victoria Laurie.

I have not been able to read any of the books in this series, but did read If Walls Could Talk. I sure would love to win hexes and Hemlines.

I will be following this blog and will link to my FB page.

debbie said...

I like reading lisa harris and jill brock. They each have a good series.

Unknown said...

I would love to read the whole series. It sounds very good and interesting. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

SandyG265 said...

I like to read the Chocolate series by Joanna Carl and the Victoria Trumbull sereis by Cynthia Riggs.

Unknown said...


I really enjoy Shirley Damsgaard's witch series. Awesome interview!

JenM said...

I LOVE this series. Actually, I don't usually read cozies (or any kind of mysteries) but I think the reason I love this one is because it's more of a paranormal than a mystery to me and it's set in San Francisco, which is where I live.

I would recommend the Lucy Valentine series by Heather Webber (the first book is Truly Madly). It isn't really a cozy since the stories involve missing persons, not murders, but it's also got a paranormal element and it has that light touch and human interest element that seems to distinguish cozies.

Julie S said...

Thanks for the giveaway.
I'm currently reading Jaye Well's Sabina Kane series (first one is Red Headed Stepchild) and it's sorta cozy.

Dovile said...

I haven't read many mysteries, but I really liked Lilian Jackson Brown's The Cat Who series.

spamscape [at] gmail [dot] com

Amy said...

I don't read many Cozys, but the ones I consider cozy reads are books by Catherine Anderson, Nora Roberts.


Rita M said...

I'm a huge fan of Victoria Laurie's Psychic Eye Series.

clynsg said...

I like the Aurora Teagarden series, and the Dell Shannon books might fit into that category. That would be more because of the time that they were written, and if you do read them you would have to be able to overlook some of the very non-politically correct statements in them!

cgclynsg0 at gmail dot com

Andra Lyn said...

I like the Aurora Teagarden series as well :) Thanks for the chance to win!


Audra said...

I love the - THE CAT WHO Series.

Jessica @ a GREAT read said...

I personally love Victoria Laurie's 2 mystery series! The Psychic Eye one has Abby--a true psychic helping her FBI BF with cases and naturally there's usually a murder mystery to solve.

Her other one, The Ghost Hunter Mystery is my fave! MJ gets rid of ghosts that are bad and haunting people and now has her own TV show. She and her partner Gillie usually go to a location to do a ghost shoot, but then a mystery occurs. *In a way it reminds me of Scooby-Doo!

And those are my faves. I guess they're sort of cozy, they remind me of your mystery style of writing anyway!! :)

Have ad link thingy on my blog: a GREAT read

Email subscriber as well


Stephanie said...

I like Shirley Damsgaard's Abby and Ophelia series, Mary Kennedy's Talk radio mystery series, and Diana Killian's Mantra for Murder series.


Nicole C. said...

My favorite is the series by Joanne Fluke and Leslie Meier.


StyleVamp said...

I love cozy mysteries ...I recently read a series the Lucy Valentine novel by Heather Webber and I was completely hooked.

Thx for the awesome interview and Contest!!

Magaly Guerrero said...

It all depends on my mood, but when I want something light that makes me giggle I go for The Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich.

Dawn M. said...

I'm a Stephenie Plum fan, as well. She always makes me laugh. :0)

librarygrinch at gmail dot com

Kathy said...

There are several cozys that I like to read. Charlaine Harris - all her series. I used to call the Southern Vampire Series my paranormal Harlequins. I like Casey Daniels, Pepper Martin series. Shirley Damsgaard's Ophelia and Abby series. For mysteries, I like Tim Myers - any of his series.

Mardel said...

I haven't read a lot of "cozies". I did read a book by Heather Webber recently that might fall into this category....although she was getting a little happy about a man she met....Truly Madly was the name of the book, and it was the first in a new series. Other than that, it would be the Stephanie Plumb series.

I'd like to try Charlaine Harris' mysteries though. They sound interesting, as yours does also. :)

Sharon Stogner said...

This is one author I have on my list. These books look wonderful and I *love the covers!

I like Shirley Damsgaard's series Ophelia and Abby.

saturdaynightfever said...

I like the Sue Grafton books!


Anonymous said...

i love to read star trek books


Unknown said...

A read a great, cute and funny cozy mystery: Farm Fresh Murder by Paige Shelton. I can only recommend it!

Thank you for the great giveaway, Juliet's books sound so cute and funny :-)

stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

Unknown said...

I like to read Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum Series #17) by Janet Evanovich. garrettsambo@aol.com

susansmoaks said...

I love the hunger games.

susansmoaks at gmail dot com

Deborah Wellenstein said...

I really enjoy the Agatha Raisin books by MC Beaton.

dwellenstein at cox dot net

Sue said...

I really enjoy the series written by Shirley Rousseau Murphy that is kind of a cross between a cozy and a paranormal and has cats as main characters--Joe Grey is the primaray cat. Sounds cheesy, but it's really good.

parakiss25 said...

My cozy is another mby Julia Alvarez or Charles De Lint.