Monday, December 01, 2014

Guest Blog by Joyce Lavene and Review of Spell Booked and Giveaway - December 1, 2014

Please welcome Joyce Lavene to The Qwillery. Spell Booked, the first novel in the new Retired Witches Mystery series by Joyce and Jim Lavene, will be published tomorrow by Berkley.

Writing about witches
By Joyce Lavene

When my husband and I first thought about writing the Retired Witches Mysteries we considered what kind of witches we wanted our ladies to be. Obviously they each needed a distinct personality and lifestyle.

We knew they would be good witches, of course, but a big question was that of magic. What kind of magic would they have? Were we thinking Bewitched or something a little more realistic?

We decided we didn’t want nose-twitching or magic that appeared too stereotypically on TV and in movies. We wanted to stay within certain bounds of witches who took their power from the elements—earth, fire, air, and water. Olivia, Elsie, Dorothy, and Molly get their abilities from a natural side of them. They know their magic comes from inside and is then expressed outwardly.

They don’t pop in and out of rooms or snap their fingers to create magic. There are some witches who can do that in these books, but not these ladies. Their spells come from their thoughts and emotions. Dorothy is a little on the emotional side and sometimes indulges in magic that gets out of hand. Elsie’s magic is spontaneous with sometimes laughable ineffectiveness.

Molly is our storyteller through the books. Her voice is the one you hear. She is down-to-earth, careful, and modest. Her magic is the same. She is a water witch in a small area nestled between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean so her magic is stronger than her friends’ magic. She is influenced by her family and her lifelong friends as well as by the water. The closer she is to water, the stronger she is.

It’s the same with Olivia, an air witch, Dorothy, an earth witch, and Elsie, a fire witch. Each is strongest in their element with the magic tool they possess. Molly’s magic tool is the cauldron. She wears a small replica of one around her neck and has a large cauldron in the basement of their shop, Smuggler’s Arcane.

Olivia’s tool is a runed staff. Elsie’s tool is a sword, and Dorothy’s is an emerald cull. Each tool represents the forces at work in them that they use for good in their lives.

Our witches have had some difficulty getting their magic to work in recent years. As they’ve aged, their magic has too. Sometimes they’re hesitant to use magic at all for fear of what will happen. They are women who lead normal lives with jobs and obligations to their community. They just have a little something extra that has always been there for them since they were born.

It was fun writing this series that begins with Spell Booked. We look forward to writing about our witches in the future!

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…

Qwill Thoughts

Spell Booked is the first novel in the Retired Witched Mysteries series by Joyce and Jim Lavene. At the beginning of Spell Booked we meet Olivia, Elsie and Molly who are older witches whose power is fading as they near retirement. In order to retire though they have to find 3 witches to replenish and take over their coven. They have their eyes on Dorothy, the librarian. She's a witch who doesn't know it.

I really enjoyed reading about and getting to know Molly, Elsie and Olivia. Witchcraft does not define them. I enjoyed finding out about their families and interests beyond being witches. Their relationships to each other and their families feel very authentic. Their magic is gentle and kind. Their distinct personalities shine through from the very first page of Spell Booked. The supporting cast of characters are wonderful too. I hope that we see more of them in the series.

Wilmington, North Carolina is the setting for the novel and the authors share little tidbits about Wilmington's history that I really enjoyed. This historical information does not overwhelm the novel and is really fascinating.

Of course this is a mystery and it is a doozy. I never suspected how the mystery would be resolved or who the culprit or culprits was/were. Some clues were there, but they did not stand out in such a way to highlight what was going on. I like that in a cozy mystery. I don't like figuring out the mystery before the author reveals the answer.

Spell Booked is a wonderful start to a new series by Joyce and Jim Lavene. This is a cozy with genuine characters, witchcraft, and an intriguing mystery. Spell Booked is a sheer delight to read.

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 a Mass Market Paperback copy of Spell Booked by Joyce and Jim Lavene from the publisher. US ONLY

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 US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59PM US Eastern Time on December 10, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I'm a huge fan of the J's books as they well know. I'm looking forward to reading this one especially since I have friends who are the High Priest and Priestess of their coven.

  2. I love this idea of retired witches---I just retired, too, and think I can really relate.

  3. What a great book cover with cats. Thanks for the giveaway.

  4. I love the idea of retired witches and am always on board with highlighting librarians. Plus I was really glad to hear that the mystery is good and not as easy as many cozy mysteries can be.

  5. I had a Lavene Summer a couple of years ago when I got all the books our large library system had that the Lavene's had published. I liked the variety in settings. I have noticed that the last couple of new series and even an older series' new book had incorporated a supernatural element. I'm wondering why this trend? Personal or market driven?

  6. Spell Booked is appealing, intriguing and unique. Love to read this delightful book. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  7. So far I've liked everything the Lavene's write.

  8. I haven't read anything of the Lavene's work yet, but this sounds like a great place to begin. Thanks for the chance to win.