Monday, October 27, 2014

ParaMysMo 2014: Joyce and Jim Lavene - October 27, 2014

Please welcome Joyce and Jim Lavene to The Qwillery. Writing as J.J. Cook they are the authors of the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mysteries and the Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mysteries. As Joyce and Jim Lavene they have written several series including the Renaissance Faire Mysteries and the upcoming the Retired Witches Mystery series, which debuts with Spell Booked in December. They also write as Ellie Grant (the Maggie Grady series).

Celebrating Halloween!
By Joyce and Jim Lavene

Halloween is one of our favorite times of year. We love everything about it from the pumpkins to the candy. We always have a party with games and a bonfire. It’s only natural that some of our characters and books would celebrate it too!

Ghastly Glass is our Halloween Renaissance Faire mystery. Renaissance Faire Village is dressed up with super scary decorations. Fairies become dark and werewolves prowl the cobblestones. The whole place changes to reflect the season. We modeled this after some of the theme parks across the country which hold similar celebrations. It was fun to write!

In our new series, The Retired Witches Mysteries, the second book – Looking for Mr. Goodwitch - will take place during the pagan holiday Halloween is taken from – Samhain. This is celebrated on October 31st and is known as the witches’ New Year.

It is the end of the harvest and the day remembers the summer season with plenty of pumpkins, gourds, warm soups, and stews. The time is used to honor ancestors, and a good time to have a séance. This is the time of the lighting of the fires and divinations.

The actual beginnings of our house-to-house drive for candy come from England. Children went from door to door asking for treats and money, but at Christmas instead of Halloween. They called this time souling. It was also a ritual to help get through the dark times ahead as winter set in.

As usual in the US, our holidays are all mixed up with traditions we’ve borrowed from around the world. Halloween has remnants of the Mexican Day of the Dead as well. Sugar skulls are delicious, and a reminder again of death.

This is the dark time of the year, before the winter solstice changes to allow more daylight hours. It can be a long time between Samhain and Beltane in the spring. Just as it is many months between Halloween and Easter.

We recommend a warm mug of apple cider sipped near a hot fire with plenty of friends and family, no matter why you celebrate in October. Enjoy the darkness. It is only by going through it that we reach the light.

Happy Halloween – Samhain!

Retired Witches Mysteries


Spell Booked
A Retired Witches Mystery 1
Berkley, December 2, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook,304 pages

The national bestselling authors of the Missing Pieces Mysteries summon up the first Retired Witches Mystery in a brand new supernatural series…

Once upon a time in Wilmington, North Carolina, three witches ran a curio shop named Smuggler’s Arcane. But as the years passed, their magical powers started to fade—leaving them no choice but to conjure up a retirement package…

Before they could blink their eyes or twitch their noses, Molly, Elsie, and Olivia somehow became eligible for AARP. But they can’t fly off to Boca Raton just yet. First they must give up their magic, recruit and train three new witches, and pass on their cherished spellbook.

They’ve barely begun to consider potential practitioners when Olivia winds up dead and their spellbook is stolen. To honor their friend and reclaim their spells, Molly and Elsie are about to go wand-to-wand with a dangerous young witch more powerful than the trio was in their prime. And this time they’re going to need more than magic up their sleeves…

Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mysteries

That Old Flame of Mine
A Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery 1
Berkley, April 2, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Set in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, J. J. Cook’s thrilling new mystery series features Fire Chief Stella Griffin, who solves crime with the help of her predecessor, who just happens to be a ghost…


After knocking the lights out of her boyfriend when she catches him cheating on her, Chicago fire fighter Stella Griffin hops on her Harley and heads for Sweet Pepper, Tennessee, where she ends up becoming the small town’s fire chief. When her dear friend Tory Lambert dies after her gingerbread-style house is set ablaze, Stella suspects arson and foul play.

As Stella investigates, she gets help from a most unlikely source—the ghost of Eric Gamlyn, Sweet Pepper’s old fire chief. And if that isn’t enough to rattle her, attractive police officer John Trump seems to have taken an interest in her. But Stella’s got to stay focused if she hopes to smoke out a killer before her own life is extinguished.


Hero's Journey
A Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Novella
Berkley. December 3, 2013

A hot dog and a hot head are on the loose in Sweet Pepper, Tennessee, and it’s up to Fire Chief Stella Griffin to collar them both...

The Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade’s newly adopted Dalmatian puppy, Hero, is missing. Stella believes he just wandered away from her cabin and got lost. But despite posters and searches by the fire brigade and spotty sightings by locals, there are no leads, and the furry fire fighter has yet to return.

Stella is already worried with a series of progressively dangerous arson fires plaguing Sweet Pepper. And oddly enough, Hero’s appearances are coinciding with the fires. Now with the help of the ghost of Sweet Pepper’s former fire chief, Stella will have to dig up some clues if she hopes to find the pup before he’s lost for good—and find the arsonist before someone loses a life.

Includes a preview of the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery, Playing with Fire

Playing with Fire
A Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery 2
Berkley, January 7, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Welcome to Sweet Pepper, Tennessee. Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, it’s home to the hottest and sweetest peppers in the world—as well as at least one ghost and a hotbed of secrets…


Fire Chief Stella Griffin is working to solve the mysterious death of her predecessor, Eric Gamlyn—who also haunts her cabin. Yet the more she learns, the more burning questions she must answer. Just as Stella thinks she has a lead from Deputy Chum, someone snuffs her hopes—and the lawman.

Adding fuel to the fire, Stella’s parents soon arrive—with her ex-boyfriend—hoping to persuade her to return to Chicago. Now Stella is torn between the life she left behind and uncovering what happened to her ghostly friend. But she’d better think fast or more than her investigation could go up in flames…


In Hot Water
A Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery 3
Berkley, January 6, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Sweet Pepper, Tennessee, has the world’s hottest and sweetest peppers—as well as a ghost that cooks and a fire chief who fights crime…


Stella Griffin should be bubbling over with joy now that she’s the full-time fire chief of Sweet Pepper, except trouble is brewing on her doorstep. An angry resident has purchased her cabin, and—with a bulldozer in tow—is ready to tear it down. But as Stella worries over the fate of her home and Eric, her ghostly roommate, there’s soon an even greater cause for alarm.

A suspicious house fire in the pricey Sunset Beach community at Sweet Pepper Lake claims the life of ex-state representative Barney Falk. The nature of the death has Stella feeling out of her depth, so she teams up with the state’s arson investigator. Moving full steam ahead with the case, they must smoke out a killer before the firebug strikes again…

About the Authors

Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Penguin, Amazon, and Simon and Schuster along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family. Visit them at

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win 1 Mass Market Paperback copy of her/his choice of a That Old Flame of Mine, Playing with Fire or the upcoming Spell Booked. Please note that Spell Booked is not published until December 2014 so you will have to wait for that book if you win and that is your choice.

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on November 11, 2014. Void where prohibitedby law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Just trick or treating as a kid and the cool weather.

  2. Pumpkin carving is a fun family tradition

  3. Decorating! I love Halloween decor.

  4. We have mostly very little kids coming to our house. My husband plays a game og guessing who they are--of course, guessing wrong at first. Always gets a laugh from the little ones��

  5. It's fun to watch scary movies & read scary books.

  6. Dress up. No, not just on the 31st, nor just me. Everything get decorated... house, car, everything! Plus I have special Halloween T-shirts, socks, earrings.... a whole extra wardrobe just for October!

  7. Drinking pumpkin spice latte while giving out candy.

  8. Pumpkin carving with my wife and kids, then trick or treating in my wife's grandparents' neighborhood - they give out the "good" candy!!! (i.e. full-size candy bars)

  9. Handing out candy to trick or treaters.

  10. I didn't use to do anything to Halloween until I had my kiddos. Now we get dressed up and go trick-or-treating though our small rural town. They have a blast.

  11. Love to watch the little ones...the big (over 16) not so much

  12. I love everything about Halloween! The costumes, the decorations, the all night horror movies, haunted houses , carving pumpkins, I could go on forever!

  13. Pumpkin carving - those freaky faces always make me jump!

  14. Since our children are now adults we enjoy passing out treats to the children who come around our neighborhood.

  15. I think the only think I reliably do every Halloween is eat too much candy ;-)

  16. I always buy too much candy. Someone has to eat it. (It's a hard job, but I'm up to the task.)

  17. Pumpkin Carving, giving out chocolates to the trick or treaters, and having my dog wear her Pirate bandana.

  18. I love dressing up in costume. Of course the eating of the candy is nice too. :)