February Book News

deer heart

February, the month we celebrate love of all kinds, and relish time with a book in front of the fire.But we’re not sitting home in front of the fire. Nope. We’re a busy bunch.


Leslie Budewitz is delighted to share the news that Death al Dente, the first in her Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries,  has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Death al Dente, a light-hearted mystery set in fictional Jewel Bay, Montana, was published in August 2013 by Berkley Prime Crime, a division of Penguin Books. The second in the series, Crime Rib, will be published July 1, 2014.  Leslie’s first book, Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure, won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Non-Fiction.

On February 9, several Montana Women Writers will be at the Whitefish Community Center from 2 pm to 5 pm, in celebration of National Heart Day. Your Heart Book Cover- Final 1Betty Kuffel, M.D., will give a presentation entitled “Know Your Heart Disease Risks, based on her book, Your Heart: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease in Women, Men, and Children.


Marie F Martin will be at the Whitefish Community Center along with Betty Kuffel on Feb 9th to help celebrate Your heart Day.  She will have Maternal Harbor and Harbored Secrets available for sale and will participate in the author’s reading.  She hopes to see you there.

Ann Burden of Breath Cover - MinnettMinnett will read an excerpt from her second (forthcoming) novel, Serita’s Shelf Life, at the February 9th event. She is also the author of the novel Burden of Breath.

Breaking TWIG

Breaking TWIG

Southern fiction author Deborah Epperson will read from her novel, Breaking TWIG.

Other Montana Women Writers members will talk about writing from their hearts, including the heart of their stories, including Nan McKenzie, author of Big FootAngela Miller, author of The Hornbill’s Daughter; P.A. Moore, author of Courthouse Cowboys and Courthouse  Rebel; and Karen Wills, author of Remarkable SilenceTreats will be served and books will be available.

ChampagneBlue Jay ShamanCongratulations to Montana author, Lise McClendon, who is celebrating twenty years in print in 2014. Her first mystery, THE BLUEJAY SHAMAN, was published by Walker & Co., New York, in 1994. For a limited time THE BLUEJAY SHAMAN, set in Missoula and on the Flathead Indian Reservation, is free on many e-book platforms including KindleiTunes, and KOBO. Publisher’s Weekly called it a “gripping debut” and James Crumley said it was “reminiscent of Tony Hillerman at his finest.” Check out art dealer Alix Thorssen’s first adventure!


Kathy Dunnehoff signed a contract with AmazonCrossing to her romantic comedy The Do-Over in German as print, e-book, and audio by 2016.  She’s also just completed recording the audio version of  Hollywood Beginnings, available on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon by mid-February. And her novel Plan On It will be on sale on Amazon as a 99 cent download Valentine’s Day weekend.

On February 19th, Dr. Betty Kuffel will give a presentation in a webinar sponsored by Planetree Alliance, an international healthcare organization that includes North Valley Hospital in Whitefish. Her thirty minute presentation will address Heart Disease Risks and aspects of providing heart health education. The goal is to reduce the number one cause of death in adults through sharing ideas that can be replicated in many organizations and communities. A panel discussion follows the presentation. She has also been invited to write an article for Planetalk Magazine and e-news for Feb.


A peek at Leslie’s WIP (the work in progress)

Leslie's deskYou’ve no doubt noticed that we’re all sharing bits of the WIP — the work in progress — this month. Here’s a  snippet of the mystery I just finished, Spiced to Death, first in the Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime, March 2015). Pepper Reece, owner of Seattle Spice in the city’s venerable Pike Place Market, must investigate when a man is found dead at her shop’s front door—clutching a cup of the shop’s famous spice tea.



An herb is a fresh or dried leaf. A spice is a dried plant part—a bud (cloves), bark (cinnamon), root (ginger), berry (peppercorns), seeds (fennel), or even stigma (saffron). The same plant may provide both—fresh or dried cilantro leaves are the herb cilantro, while the dried seeds are the spice coriander.

“What does autumn taste like? How does it smell?”

Even as I asked, the question seemed utterly ridiculous. This was already shaping up to be one of those glorious September days in Seattle that make you think the weather will never change, that the sky will always be a pure cloudless blue, the leaves on the trees a painter’s box of green, the waters of Elliot Bay calm and sparkling.

I’ve lived here all my forty-two years, and I still get fooled.

But as the owner, for the last ten months and seventeen days, of the Seattle Spice Shop, it was my job to think ahead. Fall would be here in days, going by the calendar. And by my nose. I really could sense the difference right about this time of year. The annual run on pickling spices for the last cukes would soon give way to cider mulling mixes. And before long, our customers would be asking for poultry seasoning and scouting for Christmas gifts.

“The taste,” I repeated to my staff, gathered around the butcher block work table in our mixing nook, “and smell of fall.”

Sandra fanned herself with a catalog from the kitchen shop up the hill and peered over the top of her reading glasses—today’s were leopard print. “Fall, shmall. It’s seventy-six degrees out.” Spot-on to most Seattleites, but my assistant manager is one of those native Northwesterners who thrive in a narrow temperature range. Anything above seventy-two and she sweats; below forty-five, she shivers. And complains, cheerfully. A short, well-rounded woman of sixty with smooth olive skin, pixie-cut dark hair, and lively chocolate brown eyes, she came with the place, and I am so glad she stayed.

“Apples,” Zak said. “Applesauce, apple butter, spiced apple cake. Plums in brandy. Plum pudding. Fruit cake.” Zak had been my first hire after I bought the shop. Six-two and almost thirty, with muscular shoulders, Zak had seemed an unlikely candidate for employment in a retail spice shop in Seattle’s venerable Pike Place Market. But I’d been desperate, he’d been earnest, and he pleaded for a weekday job so he could rock the nights and weekends away with his band.

Plus he was my ex-husband Tag’s best friend’s nephew, and I have to admit, Tag Buhner isn’t always wrong about people.



Thanks for reading. Please join me for book talk and more on my website and on Facebook.


Leslie Budewitz

My favorite reads of 2013


By Leslie Budewitz

“I have always imagined that Paradise would be a kind of library.” — Jorge Luis Borges

A few favorite books discovered in the past year — not all published this year, but all fairly recent.

The Bartender’s Tale, Ivan Doig (2013)  Doig, Norman Maclean, and Richard Hugo are probably the writers most responsible for drawing attention to the literature of Montana in the 1970s. Doig is at is best when he’s writing in the voice of a young boy — his memoir, This House of Sky, and earlier novels English Creek and The Whistling Season — and he’s back at it with this tale of a 12 year old who returns to Montana to live with his father, an old-style bartender, in about 1960.

The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein (2008)  Don’t let the idea of an animal narrator turn you off. Enzo is one of the wisest and most endearing characters I’ve met in years.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley (2008) and the rest of the Flavia de Luce mysteries  Post-war England through the eyes of a most delightful young girl — chemist and detective, blending naivete and sauciness. The audio books are wonderfully narrated by Jayne Entwhistle. The 6th comes out in early 2014 and I’m already waiting!

The Beautiful Mystery, Louise Penny (2012)  Surete officers Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy de Beauvoir investigate murder in a remote monastery. Love this series. IMGP1760

A Spark of Death, Bernadette Pajer (2011) (first novel)  Seattle in 1901, featuring a widowed father and professor of electrical engineering.

The Book of Killowen, Erin Hart (2013)  and The Body in the Bog, Sheila Connolly (2013)  Two mysteries set in Ireland featuring bodies found in bogs — but not as similar as they might sound, and each a fun substitute for a trip across the Atlantic.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain (2012)  Nonfiction, well-researched and thoughtful.

Cooked, Michael Pollan   Had to get a foodie book in there, didn’t I? Seriously, he rocks.

What books did you read this year that still have you thinking?

deathaldentLeslie Budewitz is the author of the national best-seller Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, published by Berkley Prime Crime in 2013. She’s hoping it makes your list! The second in the series, Crime Rib, will be published July 1, 2014.

December Book News


It’s beginning to look a lot like, well, winter up here in northwest Montana! We’re all giving thanks for our readers, the friends we’ve made along the way on this writing journey, and the chance to share our stories with you. Thanks for joining us!

(And of course, books make excellent holiday gifts!)


On the weekend after Thanksgiving, writers from around the country are celebrating independent bookstores with Indies First, a project of the American Booksellers Association and author Sherman Alexie. Writers will spend a few hours in a favorite indie, lending a hand, talking with customers, making recommendations — whatever needs to be done! LESLIE is joining the fun on Sunday, December 1. She’ll be at Fact & Fiction Books in Missoula from 2-4, talking about some of her favorite mysteries and cookbooks. (And yes, she’ll sign copies of Death al Dente!)

Breaking TWIG Breaking TWIG, by Deborah Epperson, will be on sale Dec. 1-3, 2013 for Kindle on Amazon. Click here.  

Ann Minnett MWW photoAnn Minnett took the NaNoWriMo challenge in November and wrote 50,000+ words of her third novel. Here’s hoping that some of them are worth keeping

HarboredSecrets_ebook_new_smallMarie F Martin  had a redo of her cover for Harbored Secrets and updated both her Amazon sale pages for Maternal Harbor and Harbored Secrets.  She is glad that is done, now back to the Pinkum Crickers.

‘Tis the Season for Eating

By Leslie Budewitz

Since Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries debuted in August, I’ve been hearing from readers. And one common refrain? “This book made me hungry!” Like me, my characters tend to obsess about food. The series is set in the lakeside village of Jewel Bay, Montana-where good food and murder cook side by side. Erin Murphy manages Glacier Mercantile, known as The Merc, selling Montana-made foods and products. If it’s made in Montana, it must be good!

And like me, Erin loves easy, flavorful food. These muffins are perfect for Thanksgiving morning, when you’re too busy with the turkey and its friends to cook breakfast, or for those post-holiday mornings with a houseful of guests. Make ahead if you’d like-they freeze beautifully!


2 cups. all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1-1/4 cup canned pumpkin
½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 cups cranberries (fresh, coarsely chopped, or dried, aka craisins)

NOTE: I love using craisins. If you use fresh cranberries, you may need to increase the amount of sugar just a bit.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, spices, and sugar. In a small bowl, mix oil, eggs, and pumpkin. Add to flour mixture and combine into a thick batter. Mix by hand; the batter is so thick that it tends to clog an electric mixer. Fold in walnuts and cranberries.

Spray muffin tins with oil. Spoon batter into tins, about 3/4 full. Bake 18-20 minutes or until a knife or tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Muffins will be soft. Cool slightly before removing.

Makes about 24. These muffins freeze well—so you can nosh on one while reading your favorite fiction!

Death al Dente Leslie Budewitz is the author of Death al Dente, a national bestseller. The second installment in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, Crime Rib, will be published in July 2014 — just in time for grilling season!