Carried to the Grave — A Food Lovers’ Village Short Story — free!

CarriedToTheGrave_final_1875I am delighted to announce the release, next week, of CARRIED TO THE GRAVE, my first Food Lovers’ Village Short Story, featuring Erin Murphy and her village neighbor, Wendy the Baker. When Wendy’s family gathers after her grandmother’s funeral, she and Erin discover a decades-old secret that could prove still deadly.

The story will be available free to my newsletter subscribers. The summer edition will go out Tuesday, August 9, and will include the link and password to the Members Only page of my website, where you’ll be able to download the story in mobi, epub, and pdf formats. Newsletter subscribers receive seasonal updates, announcements of new books, and news of special events and giveaways. Subscribe on my website or through this link.

After writing only full-length novels the past few years, I wrote TWO short stories in June! The other is a historical set in Montana in 1885—more on that later!

And if you subscribe to this blog, thank you! The newsletter is separate, and I hope you’ll join my little community. Nonsubscribers will have a chance to buy the story later.

Many thanks!


Hey, butter, butter …

A few updates in Book World:



BJ (Barb) Daniels and I had a great time talking and signing at Barnes & Noble in Billings earlier this month. IMGP3159One of Barb’s readers created this amazing model of her characters’ homestead.




My short story, The End of the Line, first published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine in December 2006, is now available in a free podcast. I read, followed by a short interview with AHMM editor Linda Landrigan.

My summer blog tour is now on my website, with links to all my essays. The most recent additions: Writers Read — A few favorite recent reads — or more precisely, recent listens. The Page 69 Test — Just what it sounds, featuring BUTTER OFF DEAD. And Mystery Playground — the Interview!

Coming up: I’ll be at the Montana Book Festival in Missoula on Friday, Sept. 11, talking about how grief, place, and our own experiences influence character and plot, with mystery writers Christine Carbo and Sarah Layden.

guilty as cinnamon


Meanwhile, back at the homestead, Ruff the Cat and I have just finished the final proof pages of GUILTY AS CINNAMON (Spice Shop #2, December 2015) and we’re working hard on Spice Shop #3, KILLING THYME. 

We hope you’re enjoying a summer of great reading, and plenty of BUTTER!

Everything’s better with butter — a book launch update

IMGP3023Thanks to all of you who’ve helped me celebrate the release of BUTTER OFF DEAD, the third book in my Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries. Some of you joined me at the release party at Frame of Reference on June 26, at Montana Book and Toy on July 11, or at Fact & Fiction on July 14, when debut mystery writer Christine Carbo and I interviewed each other. Others bought a copy and curled up in a favorite chair to beat the heat by getting lost in a book set in February in Montana! However you celebrated, my thanks — and cheers! (Yes, that ‘s one of Erin’s huckleberry margaritas shown with the book. In a plastic glass — we don’t want any repeats of the Event that set Fresca off!)

IMGP2435If you’ve read BUTTER, I hope you’ll take a minute to post a review online or to tell your friends about it. Word of mouth and those brief reviews mean a lot to an author, as well as boosting sales and helping a series continue. Plus those online reviews involve stars, and you know how much Erin loves her lucky stars!

Festival 2014If you’re in Western Montana, I hope you’ll come visit with me at the Bigfork Festival of the Arts on Sat and Sun, August 1-2. Look for me in front of Frame of Reference Gallery on Electric Avenue. And in Billings, please swing by Barnes & Noble at 2:00 on Sat, Aug 8, when romantic suspense author BJ Daniels and I interview each other!

Guest posts, reviews, and giveaways: I’ve visited a few book blogs in the last couple of weeks, sharing bits and pieces of the writing life and dishing about my characters. And if by chance you don’t have a copy of BUTTER OFF DEAD yet, a few include publisher giveaways that are still open:

Fresh Fiction — Collecting can be murder! A few of my own collections — happily, none leading to a deadly obsession!

Lori’s Reading Corner — A Vocabulary of My Ownest — making up words to put in my characters’ mouths!

Escape with Dollycas — Killing Christine, or how my victim chose me! Contest ends midnight July 24!

Fresh Fiction — The Family Business. The lovely women at Fresh Fiction liked me so much, they let me come back and talk about the challenges Erin faces in running a business with her mother!

Dru’s Book Musings — A Day in the Life of Tracy McCann, sales clerk and chocolatier Contest open till midnight July 22!

A Cozy Girl Reads — A lovely review!

Moonlight Rendezvous — Another lovely review! Contest open till July 27!

And I’ll be on the Gotta Write Network this week, talking about how Erin manages to solve crime and run a business with her mother — without killing her.

Also thrilled to share with you a guest of my own, on Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen — real-life spice shop owner Amanda Bevill, of World Spice Merchants, shares “The Secret Ingredient” to making a family recipe for apple cake even tastier!

Of course, I continue to share recipes at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen on the 1st, 3d, and 5th Tuesdays, and my characters take the stage at Killer Characters on the 27th of the month. This month, meet Erin’s mysterious brother Nick, who runs with the wolves.

cat on desk


Happy Reading — and remember, everything’s better with butter! And a cat on your desk. 

The Real Jewel Bay — summer in bloom


So it’s winter in the village in BUTTER OFF DEAD, but high summer right now. And I’d much rather share pictures of posies than snow piles!

Left: Arrowleaf Balsamroot, one of my favorite wildflowers. Other faves: Indian paintbrush and wild pink spirea, so brave it grows on the upper slopes of the Continental Divide, right behind our house.

clematis 3 clematis 2


Clematis “Etoile Violette.” We trained it up an old bamboo rake staked to the side of the garage.




Echinacea, aka cone flower. It’s spread like mad in our woodland garden and we love it!

IMGP1939And sedum “Autumn Joy,” over the grave of our much-loved orange tabby, a sweet girl who showed up one fall and so, was named “Autumn.” She inspired Pumpkin, the new cat in BUTTER OFF DEAD.

Butter Off Dead (final)


BUTTER OFF DEAD, third in the Agatha-Award winning Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, out now.



BUTTER OFF DEAD — celebrate a new book out today!

Butter Off Dead (final)

Thrilled to share the news: today, July 7, is release day for BUTTER OFF DEAD, the third book in my Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, from Berkley Prime Crime, a division of Penguin Random House.

From the cover:

“As the national bestselling Food Lovers’ Village mysteries continue, the merchants of Jewel Bay, Montana try to heat up chilly winter business with a new film festival. But their plans are sent reeling when a dangerous killer dims the lights on a local mover and shaker …

In an attempt to woo tourists to Jewel Bay and cheer up the townies, Erin Murphy, manager of the specialty local foods market known as the Merc, is organizing the First Annual Food Lovers’ Film Festival, popping with classic foodie flicks and local twists on favorite movie treats. But when her partner in planning, painter Christine Vandeberg, is found dead only days before the curtain rises, Erin suspects someone is attempting to stop the films from rolling.

To make matters worse, Nick—Erin’s brother and Christine’s beau—has top billing on the suspect list. Convinced her brother is innocent and determined that the show must go on, Erin must find who’s really to blame before Nick gets arrested or the festival gets shut down. And as the anniversary of Erin’s father’s death in a still-unsolved hit-and-run approaches, her own beau isn’t so keen on her leading role.

But the closer Erin gets to shining a spotlight on the killer, the more likely it becomes that she’ll be the next person cut from the program…”

I hope you’ll join me somewhere along the way. I’ll be signing on Saturday, July 11, from 1-3 at Montana Book & Toy Co. in Helena. At Fact & Fiction in Missoula on Tuesday, July 14, at 7 pm, debut novelist Christine Carbo of Whitefish – my good friend – and I will interview each other. I’ll be part of the Bigfork Festival of the Arts on Sat-Sun, August 1-2; look for me in front of Frame of Reference Gallery on Electric Avenue. Finally, I’ll be in Billings at Barnes and Noble with my friend BJ Daniels, a romantic suspense novelist from Bozeman and Malta, on Saturday, August 8, at 2 pm.

IMGP2894BUTTER is available in paperback and ebook — and you can read an excerpt, too. (As I write this, the Kindle versions of all three books in the series are on sale for 5.99 each. Not sure how long that will last.)

If you’re not able to join me in person, BUTTER OFF DEAD is available in paperback and e-book from all local booksellers, as well as on-line retailers. Any of the stores where I’ll be signing will be happy to set aside a signed, personalized copy for you; just give the staff a call. Word of mouth and early online reviews are a big boost for writers, and I’d appreciate yours.

Thanks for your support on this journey. Looking forward to seeing you soon. Meanwhile, happy reading!

The Real Jewel Bay — a touch of winter

deer heart

Here in the northwest, we’re breaking records for heat — highs over 100 would be rare in August, let alone in late June and early July. No matter where you are, what better way to cool down than with a mystery set in February — BUTTER OFF DEAD, out next Tuesday, July 7 — and a few photos of deep midwinter?

IMGP2137“Deer Heart” — a young doe’s hoof print, captured on my walk out for the Sunday newspaper.

TIMGP2110he weather vane pig on our front porch rail dressed for the season — and doesn’t the village Christmas tree look festive? (The blue spruce had grown too tall for the power lines, but its owners, dear friends of ours, donated it to the village — and the power company cut and delivered!)


The Real Jewel Bay — out and about

IMGP1961Continuing my occasional series of photos of the people and places who’ve inspired my stories. Summer sights around western Montana — even though the about-to-be-launched book is set mid-winter!

Barrows full of flowers, on the East Shore of Flathead Lake!





A fence made of river rock and bottles in Missoula. Love how the blue sake bottles look like a flowing river!




And the heron welded of car parts at Woods Bay, on the East Shore, that never fails to make me ooh and aah—and my husband never fails to tell me “take a welding class, honey!”


The Real Jewel Bay — the Jewel Inn and the Steps

IMGP2978Creating a town based in part on the gem where I live has been a lot of fun. For the most part, I’ve moved things around to create my own vision, and to meet the story’s needs. My friends and neighbors tell me they have a lot of fun seeing what I’ve done, and guessing which businesses and locals I had in mind.

But a few landmark features I’ve left in, though with some changes to fit the story. One is the Jewel Inn, run by Tony and Mimi George. The merchants’ association meets there, under the watchful eyes of a stuffed moose and a trophy antelope. The real Inn does have a few mounts, but those particular heads are ones I’ve added. In CRIME RIB, second in my Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, Drew Baker is head chef. And in BUTTER OFF DEAD, third in the series (out July 7), we meet the Georges’ daughter Zayda and attend a gala dinner party at the Inn.




My Jewel Inn is loosely based on the Bigfork Inn, owned by Bob and Suzie Keenan, which has its own colorful history that I’ll let you check out for yourself. The Inn’s presided over the north end of the village—the original townsite—for decades. The WPA-built steps next to it lead up the hill to the schools and a residential area. I hope it continues to thrive—in life and on the page—for many more years.



BUTTER OFF DEAD, out July 7, available for pre-order now.

(pictures by Leslie)

The Real Jewel Bay

Bay & Bridge

Jewel Bay, Montana, home of my Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, is a place of the heart. But it’s modeled on a real village in NW Montana, with bits and pieces drawn from other communities around the NW and the western provinces of Canada. My friends and neighbors tell me they like seeing what I’ve done to the place, figuring out what buildings I’ve moved, what businesses and people I’ve used as models. And even if you don’t have a clue what communities I have in mind—or care—I hope you’ll enjoy taking in the scenery with me, on the next several Thursdays. This scene is the one-lane bridge into town, built shortly after 1900 when the dam and electric plant (behind where I’m standing to take the picture) were built.

The winner of BUTTER OFF DEAD by Leslie Budewitz is…

Butter Off Dead (final)And now for the winner of the final prize, the one that triggered all this fun!

The winner of the signed copy of BUTTER OFF DEAD is … ANNE DORSAY!

Please send your mailing address to me at leslie (at) lesliebudewitz (dot) com by June 5 to claim your prize. Or else my supervisor will stare at me until I pick another winner!

Thanks to all of you for joining in the fun the last couple of weeks. I’ve had a blast peeking into closets, curios, and cupboards, gazing at walls, and catching a glimpse into the no-longer-secret passions of some of my favorite people—the 14 authors who joined us, and YOU, the readers.

cat on desk#butteroffdead

Photo: Ruff the Cat, aka the Supervisor, the model for Mr. Sandburg in my Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries.

BUTTER OFF DEAD, July 2015 (available for pre-order now!)