Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway ~ SPRINKLES OF SUSPICION by Kim Davis

Sprinkles of Suspicion (Cupcake Catering Mystery, #1)
by: Kim Davis
Series: Cupcake Catering Mystery
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Publisher: Cinnamon & Sugar Press
Amazon | Paperback | Goodreads

One glass of cheap California chardonnay cost Emory Gosser Martinez her husband, her job, and her best friend. Unfortunately, that was only the beginning of her troubles.

Distraught after discovering the betrayal by her husband and best friend, Tori, cupcake caterer Emory Martinez allows her temper to flare. Several people witness her very public altercation with her ex-friend. To make matters worse, Tori exacts her revenge by posting a fake photo of Emory in a compromising situation, which goes viral on social media. When Tori is found murdered, all signs point to Emory being the prime suspect.

With the police investigation focused on gathering evidence to convict her, Emory must prove her innocence while whipping up batches of cupcakes and buttercream. Delving into the past of her murdered ex-friend, she finds other people had reasons to want Tori dead, including Emory’s own husband. Can she find the killer, or will the clues sprinkled around the investigation point the police back to her?

Hi Kim. Welcome to Read Your Writes Book Reviews. How are you?
Thanks so much for having me on Read Your Writes Book Reviews! I’m coping with the troubling events our world is experiencing and am so glad I love to read as much as I do. It’s kept me entertained while we wait to see what happens next. I hope you and your readers are staying safe and healthy!

Please tell me about Sprinkles of Suspicion and what readers can expect from it and the rest of your Cupcake Catering Mystery series.
Sprinkles of Suspicion features protagonist Emory Gosser Martinez. Her marriage is dissolving, she’s lost her job and her home, and she’s accused of murdering her best friend. Naturally, as the clues point toward her guilt, she finds herself trying to clear her name. My goal in Sprinkles of Suspicion is to show a character growth arc in Emory and continue it throughout the series while providing a mystery to solve. She is naïve and insecure starting out but as the dead bodies start piling up and her cupcake catering business takes off, she learns to be a strong, independent woman. From personal experience, sometimes it takes a defining moment to find yourself and start believing in yourself. Fortunately, my catalyst wasn’t finding a dead body! I also love to bake tasty treats so I use Emory and her sister’s catering companies to create recipes and I include those recipes in the book for readers to try.

Can you tell me a little about Emory and some of the secondary characters in the series?
Emory is an accountant turned cupcake caterer. On top of that she assists her twin sister, Carrie, with catering jobs when she’s not tracking down a murderer.

Some of the other secondary characters are:
Tillie Skyler, an octogenarian, provides a job and a home when Emory needs one. Along the way, they become good friends.

Randall Burke is the victim’s cousin and a fledgling member of a country-western band. He also has a mysterious past.

Tori Carlton is Emory’s best friend until she tries to steal Emory’s husband. Emory is accused of killing Tori after their brawl is witnessed by several people.

Stan and Steve Miller are brothers and stoner dudes. They live in the apartment above Tori and might know more than they’re letting on.

Piper is Emory’s adorable 1-year-old rescue Golden Labradoodle mix pup. Piper was modeled after my grand-puppy and in fact, we used the picture of our own Piper for the cover.

How did you go about creating your characters? Did you have any inspirations?
As far as Emory goes, I think she has a little bit of my personality and definitely a lot of my love for baking and feeding people. Tillie is based on a neighbor who loves her gimlet cocktails, but I totally embellished Tillie’s personality. The rest of the characters are figments of my imagination while individual quirks are a conglomeration of observing people over the course of my life.

When you sat down to write the story, did you already know who the killer was and why they did it, or were you taken by surprise?
I’m one of those writers who writes by the seat of my pants, so no, I had no idea who the killer was going to be. I wrote about 3/4 of the book and decided I had to make a decision so I could finish the story. I had two choices of who the villain would be. It took a couple of days for me to decide on who to pick since I liked both of the characters and wanted them around for future books.

If Emory was a real person and I could sit down and talk with her, what do you think she would say about you?
She’d probably tell you that I need to start writing more adventures for her to star in and spend less time in the kitchen baking up new cupcake recipes!

Thank you so much for your time and for answering some questions for me.
It was a pleasure being on Read Your Writes Book Reviews! Thanks for having me!

One glass of cheap California chardonnay cost me my husband, my job, and my best friend. Unfortunately, that was only the beginning of my troubles.

I slowly regained consciousness when a cold nose nuzzled my ear and then a warm, wet tongue licked my cheek. I squinted against the sunlight streaming through the small window as I tried to open my eyes, but they stopped at the halfway mark. My head pounded even more from the bright light. My face was pressed into my guest bathroom’s chilly white subway-tile flooring, and my entire body ached. I shivered when I realized I was still dressed in a sheer blouse and teeny-weeny leopard-print skirt. The ensemble had been an unwanted early birthday gift from my best friend, Tori. I groaned with the effort of trying to remember what had happened the night before but was rewarded only with brief, fleeting flashes of memory.

Piper, my golden Labradoodle, nudged my face again and whined. I couldn’t remember how I’d gotten home and had no idea how I’d ended up sleeping on the bathroom floor. I hoped my husband, Philip, hadn’t come home from his graveyard shift yet. I raised my left arm and squinted at the blurry numbers on the watch sitting on my wrist. Seven thirty. Philip would have come home an hour ago, and I prayed he’d gone straight to bed and hadn’t seen me.

Piper whined again and walked into the hallway, trying to tell me she wanted her breakfast and time outside. A moan escaped my lips when my head and stomach started feeling like they were on a Tilt-a-Whirl ride. I crawled to the sink, pulled myself up, and washed my face and mouth. Looking in the mirror, I decided my wild red hair needed a stiff brush to calm the frizzies. Piper nudged my foot with her nose and whined again, but I ignored her. Red, puffy eyes peered back at me, but what made me want to lunge for the commode was the purple, almond-shaped bruise on the side of my neck. A love bite? How in the heck did I get that?

Uh-oh. I suddenly remembered sapphire-blue eyes that made me feel warm and fuzzy. Randall. Tori’s mysterious cousin who I hadn’t even known existed until last night. How would I explain Randall to my husband when I couldn’t explain him even to myself? It would be worse if he saw me in these party clothes.

After I removed the sheer black blouse and hid it between the extra towels in the vanity cabinet, I yanked a fluffy pink bath towel off the bar and wrapped the towel around me. I hoped I could sneak into the laundry room and get dressed, preferably in something that went with a scarf wrapped around my neck, before Philip noticed me. Nope, that wouldn’t work. A scarf in August would make him even more suspicious.

The carpeted hallway muffled my tippy-toe walk while my dog practically danced beside me. When the sliding glass door that led to our condo’s patio and the postage-sized patch of grass that was part of the unit opened, Piper raced past me. The fringe on my towel caught on her collar, and suddenly, my dog became Piper the Super Dog, complete with a pink cape. I, on the other hand, was left standing in broad daylight, wearing nothing but a small lacy black bra and miniskirt that had inched up over my ample derrière. I didn’t need one of my neighbors seeing my lack of clothing over the half walls that surrounded our small piece of land. Why did Tori think she should give me this outfit? And how had she managed to talk me into wearing it to meet Randall? The image of his face pinballed around my head as I slunk back down the hallway. Why had Tori invited him to go out for drinks with us?

I eased the accordion laundry room doors open. I paused when one of them squeaked, then rummaged through the laundry basket sitting on top of the washer. Dirty clothes would be better than these party clothes when it came time to face Philip, my husband of seven years. After getting dressed in capri-length yoga pants and a very wrinkled, slightly stained T-shirt, I tiptoed to the kitchen and opened the cupboard, looking for antacids and pain relievers.

My head screamed, and my stomach threatened to send me running back to the bathroom. Once I popped the pills, I hunted for my purse and my emergency stash of concealer. Maybe Philip’s drowsy state and the dim lighting in the bedroom would cause him to overlook my new bruise, especially if I had enough makeup on it.

I finally found my purse hidden behind the sofa. My mind struggled to remember how it got there, but the only thing I remembered from the night before was drinking a glass of chardonnay with Tori. Oh yeah, and Randall. I would dearly love to forget he was there. My hand went to the love bite. Tori would know what happened. I needed to call her.

While I tried to cake on the concealer, Piper came back in, without her Super Dog cape, and nudged my hand with her slightly muddy nose. Breakfast time. I cut open a package of lamb-and-brown-rice dog food and dumped it into her ceramic dish. The sloppily painted dish made me smile. I remembered taking my towheaded, preschool-aged nieces to the ceramic painting store and their efforts to make Piper’s food and water bowls as colorful as possible.

After refreshing her water dish, I tiptoed back down the hallway to the half-closed master bedroom door. I slid my head into the crack and waited for my eyes to adjust to the dim light, since the blackout roman shades had been pulled down. My stomach flip-flopped when I saw our bed hadn’t been slept in. In fact, my husband, with his short wavy-black hair, was nowhere to be found. I rushed back to my purse and pulled my phone out. Had Philip left a message for me? Nothing.

Perhaps he had to work overtime and couldn’t call me. It happened once in a while, so I didn’t worry too much. Actually, I was a bit relieved, if I were honest with myself, since I needed to figure out what I’d done last night before I felt ready to face Philip. The niggling doubt that, instead of working, my husband and his partner, Officer Amy Doyle, were having an affair swirled around my brain. I had no proof, just suspicions that something or someone was tearing our marriage apart. Randall was someone I didn’t need to think about right now.

I quickly called Tori’s cell number, hoping she’d be able to tell me how I got so drunk that I blacked out. I rarely drank more than a glass of wine and had two at the most, since more than that gave me the world’s worst hangover. One party during my senior year of high school cured me of binge drinking. I had a very low tolerance for pain and suffering.

Her sultry voice, an imitation of Marilyn Monroe, announced I had reached her voice mail. “This is Tori, and you know what to do. Ciao, baby.”

I hung up without leaving a message.

Tori never, ever missed answering her phone and slept with it even when she had a boyfriend in her bed. I found it annoying when we were together and I was trying to carry on a conversation, but several times in the recent past, I was grateful she answered my call when I needed to dissect Philip’s inattention or his more frequent hurtful remarks. I wouldn’t take her advice, though. She had told me repeatedly to move on and find someone new. Perhaps that was why she had introduced me to Randall.

I waited a few minutes and called Tori again, this time leaving a message. “Tori, it’s Em. Call me as soon as you can.”

I started to get worried, letting my imagination run away from me. What if Randall had drugged us or tried to poison us? I shouldn’t let my mind wander like that, but then again, I couldn’t explain my blackout. What happened last night? After a cup of hot herbal tea and a slice of dry toast, I called Tori. Again, I reached her voice mail. Something was definitely wrong.

After giving Piper a new chew toy and telling her to be a good girl, I grabbed my purse and headed to the garage. I needed to make sure Tori was safe. When I walked into the garage, the empty space where my car should have been gave me pause. What had I done with my Honda Accord? Oh, yeah, I had left it in the parking lot where I worked as an accountant when Tori picked me up for drinks.

I eyed my rusty beach cruiser and sighed. Five miles from Huntington Beach to Tori’s house in Costa Mesa on a bike wasn’t that far unless you were already in agony. But that was what friends did for each other, and I was becoming certain Tori needed my help.

As I pedaled, I huffed and puffed while sweat dripped down my cheeks, and I cursed myself for not thinking to bring a bottle of water. When I climbed off my bike, I stood with wobbly legs at the end of Tori’s block. Her four-plex building was located six houses down from the corner where I had stopped, and I saw her red Mini Cooper parked in her driveway. My husband’s white Tahoe SUV was parked right behind it.

I wasn’t a Peeping Tom, or a Peeping Jane, if that was what they called women who peered into other people’s windows, but I knew I would have to resort to that if I wanted to find out the truth. I really wanted to think Philip was there because something bad had happened to Tori. But wouldn’t he have called me if that were the case?

Other images sprang to mind of Philip and Tori not making eye contact when all three of us spent time together, acting like they were ignoring each other. And the bottle of perfume he had given me for Valentine’s Day this year was Tori’s fragrance. A wife knew when another woman was on her husband’s mind, but how could I have been so blind thinking it could be Officer Amy Doyle? Why did Tori do this to me?

I looked up and down the street to make sure no one saw me, then tiptoed across the dying grass bordering a cracked cement walkway. I ducked under a withered ficus tree that barely provided any shelter from the hot morning sun. The tree grew next to her unit’s front window. Even though it wasn’t a good hiding spot, it was the best I could find.

I looked up and down the street again and observed no one. It was very quiet for a Saturday. I turned, stood slowly, and pressed my nose against the dusty screen and held in the sneeze that tried to erupt. I quickly ducked back down and almost cracked my head on the windowsill. My husband reclined on Tori’s sofa, which faced the window I had peeked into.

Worried he might have seen me, I waited a moment before cautiously peeking back in. Philip had his eyes closed. I stretched up onto my tiptoes and saw perfectly proportioned, size-two, platinum-blonde Tori in an intimate pose with my husband that would, unfortunately, be forever burned into my brain. I wished I could unsee it. But it was too late for that…

A sudden puff of wind swirled and caused one of the branches from the tree to hit the window with a loud clunk. I squatted down, but the wind had pushed my frizzy hair into the screen and caused it to get entangled on some of the protruding broken wires. When some of the hairs were yanked from my head, I yelped, although the pain from my scalp was nothing compared to my heartbreak. I rubbed the sore spot and then crept to the front door, ready to tell them to go to you-know-where—but in a polite way because, after all, my mother raised me to have manners.

By the time I reached the glass front door and saw them together, all thoughts of etiquette fled from my brain. Instead of knocking or ringing the bell, I twisted the door handle and burst into Tori’s unlocked house. Later, I concluded that I had experienced a red-mist moment because my actions weren’t those I would have thought myself capable of. The details were still kind of fuzzy, but somehow, after Tori fell through the screen door and stumbled down the steps, pulling me along for the fall, we ended up on the front lawn.

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Kim Davis lives in Southern California with her husband. When she’s not spending time with her granddaughters she can be found either writing stories or working on her blog, Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder or in the kitchen baking up yummy treats. She has published the suspense novel, A GAME OF DECEIT, and has had several children’s articles published in Cricket, Nature Friend, Skipping Stones, and the Seed of Truth magazines. Kim Davis is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Places to find Kim Davis:

You can follow the Sprinkles of Suspicion Blog Tour here.

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  1. Thanks so much for hosting me on Read Your Writes blog! I enjoyed answering your interview questions!

    1. You're welcome. Thank you for stopping by.

  2. I need to read this book - thanks for the chance to own it ! trwilliams69(at)

  3. Cute cover, this sounds like a fun book!

    1. Thanks, Julie! I had a lot of fun working with my designer to create the cover!

  4. The cover makes me hungry for cupcakes! And pet my dog! In that order!

    1. Lol! I had so much fun working with my designer to create the cover and love that she was able to use a photo of my grand-puppy for it!

  5. Sounds like a great new series. Looking forward to reading the book.


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