Daryl Wood Gerber, Author of Stirring the Plot (plus giveaway)

I am so happy to welcome my friend Daryl Wood Gerber back to the Lair! Daryl, who also writes as Avery Aames, is the author of the deliciously dastardly Cookbook Nook Mysteries. STIRRING THE PLOT, Book 3 in the series, is coming out next week, and Daryl’s here to answer a few fun questions about it… and she’s giving Books 1 and 2 to one lucky commenter today!

Halloween in Crystal Cove, California, is a big deal, involving a spooky soiree where the Winsome Witches, a fund-raising group, gather to open up their purse strings and trade superstitions. But party magicians, fortune-tellers, and herbalists are only the beginning of this recipe for disaster…

Jenna Hart has packed The Cookbook Nook chock-full of everything from ghostly texts to witchy potions in anticipation of the annual fund-raiser luncheon. But there’s one unexpected addition to the menu: murder.

When the Head Priestess of the Winsome Witches is found dead under mysterious circumstances, there’s no logical answer and plenty of blame to go around. With her aunt, Vera, unable to call on her ability to foresee the future, Jenna will have to use more than just sleight of hand and a few magic tricks to conjure up the truth…

And now, without further ado, here’s Daryl with a quickie Q and A. Please make her feel welcome!

Daryl Wood GerberSTIRRING THE PLOT is the third book of your Cookbook Nook mystery series. Love the idea of a store that specializes in cookbooks! What is your favorite cookbook, the one you turn to time after time?

Gourmet, Volume 1. I purchased it as a teen and really cut my teeth on it. It has everything. Biscuits, pies, cookies, boeuf bourgignon (a delicious stew made with red wine), the perfect way to cook a rib roast (sear first), and so much more. I love it so much that the spine is worn; the pages, cooking-stained. It doesn’t have pictures, which nowadays, I really like when I buy a cookbook—I appreciate knowing what the author thinks a recipe should look like because it helps me with plating and such—but the Gourmet, Volume 1 is irreplaceable. Why did I purchase the book? Well, I had a subscription to Gourmet Magazine (sob… it’s no longer published). All the issues contained fabulous pictures. I made something every month from the magazine. If those recipes were that good, the book had to be better, right?

Which of the characters in STIRRING THE PLOT is most different from you and why?

Tigger, the rescue cat. Okay, that’s not true. Tigger and I are a lot alike. We bounce, we pounce. We attack life. 🙂

I would have to say Jenna’s aunt, Vera, is probably the most different from me. She wears caftans and turbans and lots of jewelry. I’m a simple dresser, especially when I’m writing. My preferred outfit: yoga pants and a tee shirt, my hair in a ponytail. Vera tells fortunes. I’ve always been a bit of a skeptic in that regard. A line on your hand or a Tarot card can divine the future? C’mon. Vera believes that stroking an amulet she wears will ease woes, and surrounding herself with crystals will purify or cleanse a situation from evil. Again, honestly? And yet, I love that some people do believe these things. Faith, hope, and optimism are so necessary in today’s world. Vera is a good businesswoman; she makes sound investments. I’d like to be more like her in that respect. Vera bears the disappointments of her life well; she keeps her sadness to herself. I’m not at all like that. I am a heart-on-my-sleeve kind of person. Way too emotional. I have to work on that aspect of myself constantly. Vera and I are alike when it comes to helping people and wanting the best for them. I do so, to my detriment. My husband says I’m “mother to the world.” That’s not a bad thing, right?

Halloween kittenSTIRRING THE PLOT has a Halloween theme (but without supernatural elements). Can you share an interesting Halloween memory with us?

My mother kept a wonderful collection of Halloween costume pictures when I was growing up. I’m so glad she did. I adored Halloween. I was a harem girl (in my nylon pajamas), an Indian (a burlap bag), a wealthy heiress (I will never forget the mink stole I bought at the costume store using $4 of my hard-earned allowance), and a doctor (I had a dream the other night about my sister and me doing a skit; I was about ten and I was in that Halloween doctor’s jacket – weird, right?). When my son was growing up, he had the same love for Halloween. I made many of his costumes: Mickey Mouse, generic super heroes, dinosaurs. I got ousted as the costumer when he wanted to be a Teenaged Ninja Turtle. I just couldn’t figure out how to make the mask! Of course, he didn’t wear that mask on Halloween, but I didn’t rub that little tidbit in. As for being scared… I can’t remember ever being scared on Halloween. I think I was always aware of the difference between fiction and reality. Now… when I’m writing… not so much. The worlds blend. Uh-oh.

Are you able to share any future plans for Jenna?

Jenna will be back in another story, FUDGING THE BOOKS, which will come out in the fall of 2015. It occurs during the first week in February. Chocolate is always a great focus for the month of love, so expect plenty of yummy goodies. Yes, Rhett Jackson is still in Jenna’s life. You’ll learn more about their blossoming relationship as the series unfolds.

Will you share any other upcoming books?

I write as Avery Aames, too. The next Cheese Shop Mystery, AS GOUDA AS DEAD, comes out in February 2015. What’s that story? When a beloved bar owner is discovered murdered on her fiancè’s farm, Charlotte Bessette is more determined than ever to contain the killer. For those who don’t know, Charlotte owns Fromagerie Bessette, or as the locals call it, The Cheese Shop. She has been amateur sleuthing for five books. AS GOUDA AS DEAD is the sixth in the Agatha Award-winning series.

For a chance to win the first two Cookbook Nook Mysteries – FINAL SENTENCE and INHERIT THE WORD – share a favorite Halloween memory! If you can’t think of any Halloween memories, share a memory of a time that you played dress-up for any reason.

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  • Helen says:

    Is he coming to visit

    Have Fun

  • Helen says:

    Hi Daryl

    Congrats on the release they really soen good.

    As I live in Australia Halloween was never celebrated here when I was growing up but a lot of kids are starting to dress up these days and last Halloween I had 3 of my grandchildren staying over and we dressed them up in some outfits Bob The Builder a cowboy and a fairy and off they went with my daughter and they came back with so many lollies to eat I will make sure that I have some treats to hand out this year 🙂

    Have Fun

  • Tina M says:

    Every year our parents would dress all 6 of us in white sheets. We were always ghost. Everyone in the neighborhood knew who we all were when we knocked on their doors. Lol

  • Shannon says:

    My favorite story was the year after they found razor blades in apples somewhere, so all the parents were scared. That year they were only giving wrapped candy, mostly chocolate. We were supposed to go to the hospital to have the candy X-rayed, but my brother kept sneaking treats. We got to the hospital, and he ran to the restroom wretching, soon followed by yet another boy. My mother looked at him and said, “You’re not too old for a spanking. Here’s a glass of water, go rinse out your mouth.”

  • Debbie Oxier says:

    My daughter’s kindergarten class had a party and all the kids had to dress up. We made her costume. She was Strawberry Shortcake. We painted freckles on her cheeks and she had the little hat on to match. I took pictures. It was a special time. Of course it was also 35 years ago! Yikes! That makes me feel old!

  • sandyg265 says:

    When I was a kid my parents used to make up treat bags of assorted candy. My brothers and I got all of the leftover ones.

  • Rachael Brown says:

    When I was a kid we always roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over a fire in the backyard on Halloween. I loved that tradition!

  • Linda Kuzminczuk says:

    When I was in grade school, my grandmother came to our house with a costume she made…a geisha outfit. That was the best costume I ever remember having.

  • Jen Scott says:

    My loved dressing up for Halloween and collecting candy. I remember one year, I had a Cinderella costume which I adored. Finally I was a princess (without the mice, chickens, evil cat, etc)! 🙂

  • Jess D says:

    I remember passing out Halloween candy with my mom every year. Now she’s in a nursing home but I still think of fun we had at Halloween.

  • I’m so thrilled to have my buddy Daryl in the Lair today! I have to agree, Gourmet magazine was the best. I still have a bunch of issues tucking into my bookshelf that I refer to all the time–and I have the first two cookbooks in the Gourmet series, too! (Great minds :-))

    I’m also thrilled that you’ve got a new Cookbook Nook coming out! Yay! Can’t wait for STIRRING THE PLOT to hit the shelves. Halloween was always my favorite holiday when I was a kid and I was still dressing up in crazy costumes every year until very recently. My two favorite costumes were the Invisible Man and the Dead Bride. I was very scary. 🙂

    And of course, there was candy. 🙂

  • Sally Schmidt says:

    When we were young my mother made all our costumes. We were never cartoon characters or scary creatures. One year I was Carmen Miranda down to the fruit on my head and my sister was Little Bo Beep, including the bonnet and crook. My mom always baked goodies for one of us to carry in a basket and she drove us to friends and neighbors to pass out the treats.
    Since I couldn’t sew a costume if my life depended on it, for my own kids for Halloween I developed the fast, easy, definitely not healthy Orange Halloween Supper: hot dogs, pork and beans, orange Jell-o and Kool Aid, chili . . . you get the idea. I was tickled when my granddaughter told me she was making the “the orange food” for my great-grandkids. I guess a tradition is a tradition, even if it’s a little strange.

  • Patricia says:

    Two favorite Halloween memories…my grandson dressed as Tigger…so cute…and my grandson dressed as a puppy, waving his little “paw” for the pic. 🙂

  • catslady says:

    I think I’ve had more fun dressing my two girls and dressing up myself while helping out at their school Halloween parties but that’s been a while now. Most of the time as a kid I would just dress up as a hobo or something simple (costumes were never bought) but I do remember the year my mom fixed up a bridesmaid dress for me – I felt like a fairy princess lol.

    • Castslady,

      How lovely of your mom. A bridesmaid dress would make a perfect princess costume! Do you know how many of these kinds of things can be purchased at the Goodwill and such? For those moms who can’t afford the big ticket costumes, there are lots of place to find alternatives. One year, a girlfriend dressed as a split P. She put half on the front of her tee shirt and the other half on the back. So cute & clever!

      Daryl / Avery

    • Hi Catslady!! I’m another one who never bought a costume. My mother wasn’t much of a seamstress either, so we made our costumes and they were usually pretty crazy and scary. 🙂

  • Sue Farrell says:

    I remember the year that I was first allowed to go with the “big” kids and not with my mother—-I felt so grown up–and a little scared.

    • Sue, I know what you mean. Now, as a parent, it’s hard to let them go “on their own”. I remember following my son at a 50 foot distance when he got to that “next” age. Wow. Shiver. And they run! Got to have your running shoes on to keep up. 🙂

      Daryl / Avery

    • Sue, I know what you mean. Now, as a parent, it’s hard to let them go “on their own”. I remember following my son at a 50 foot distance when he got to that “next” age. Wow. Shiver. And they run! Got to have your running shoes on to keep up. 🙂

      Daryl aka Avery

    • Sue, back in the day when I was trick-or-treating, all of the kids in the neighborhood traveled in a pack! Even the tiny ones. I don’t remember ever feeling afraid and I don’t remember parents coming along. Maybe they were trailing behind us where we couldn’t see them. 🙂

      These days, I know it’s much more supervised and for good reason, but back then, I just remember feeling pure anticipation and excitement.

  • bn100 says:

    trick or treating with friends

  • Meg says:

    Probably the sweetest Halloween memory I’ve got is when I was in either kindergarten or first grade. My class was having a little celebration (and since my mom was the room parent, she was going to be there), after school it would have been having a family favorite for supper, then going out trick-or-treating with my mom’s best friend and her 3 kids. We would have hit the neighborhood I lived in first, then gone to a bigger one nearby (my neighborhood only had maybe a couple dozen houses, so we always went to one a bigger one after- more candy for us).

    The only problem that Halloween? I ended up being very sick and pretty much slept the day away. So no party or trick-or-treating for me (though because she was room parent my mom still had to go to the party at school). 🙁

    But what was sweet was that evening when I didn’t show up for trick-or-treating, all the neighbors started calling the house asking when I was going to show up. There weren’t a lot of kids in the neighborhood so my absence was rather obvious. After hearing I was sick they asked my mom if she would come pick up the treats they had for me. She did so I still got the candy plus something better- knowing that they all cared. 🙂

  • ellie says:

    Hallowe’en when we went out was wonderful. All the kids together walked the neighborhood and it was an adventure. No worry about anything, way back in the 1950’s.

  • Lainie says:

    My costume was made with items that were in our home and were very creative and inventive of my mother. Sometimes we were a businessman, and other times a ballerina.

  • Dana says:

    When I was a young girl we had an annual Halloween party for several years. Each year my mom would disappear and “Esmerelda” the witch would host the event. She would disavow all knowledge of my mom’s whereabouts. Later, Esmerelda would leave and mom would return in her normal clothes, makeup, & hair. It was great fun .

  • I remember 1 Halloween that was very upsetting. We had an event at school (grammar school) and there was a costume contest. My dad made this amazing scary costume (I don’t remember what I dressed as) and I was hoping that he’s win and I really wanted one of the prizes-a huge plush animal. My dad won 1st place-only the first place prize wasn’t the stuffed animal-it was a huge bible! I cried and cried I was so upset!

  • Jo Anne says:

    My favorite “Halloween story” is when a bunch of us kids decided to go trick or treating in July and the grown-ups played along with us. We all went home and made up a costume then met in someone’s yard to go knock on doors. I remember one neighbor made us all ice cream sundaes. We had such a good time — I loved my old neighborhood and neighbors — everyone was like one big family.

  • Donna Townsend says:

    I loved sewing my children’s Halloween costumes. My favorite was the Superman costume both boys eventually wore. And the pumpkin. Interestingly, I never was imaginative enough (or perhaps bold enough) to make one for myself.

    • Donna, I made tons of capes for my son. He was really into being a super hero! That and pjs worked for so many years. For me, I worked with whatever was in my closet. Interesting what you can do with lots of jewelry.

      Daryl / Avery

  • Patty Ward says:

    When I was little my Mom was a seamtress and she made a beautiful pilgrim dress for Halloween. It was so pretty. I was able to be in the Thanksgiving play the next month because of it. She did beautiful work. Truly miss her and will never forget that dress.

  • Chelsea B. says:

    I have a lot of good Halloween memories, because my birthday is so close to Halloween and my family would always throw me a Halloween-themed birthday party! Costume contest, carnival games, fortune teller, etc. Love Halloween!

  • holdenj says:

    I will never forget the year it started to rain, and my crepe paper witch’s hat started running color all down my face.

  • Mozette says:

    Halloween here in Australia isn’t very well celebrated, but we do try.

    Me? I love the holiday as I’m a Pagan and openly practice my witchcraft (and nobody can stop me because, well, it’s legal now since 2000). Anyway, one year, I dressed up my house, and there were no kids willing to come to my place as a lot of them were now Islams – and they think it’s evil to celebrate Halloween… geez, sorry about that, but my holiday, so get with it and have some fun. 😛

    So, my folks suggested I stayed all dollied up in my hot little witch costume and they take me off to the Manly Halloween Parade down the main street… well! So many people, so many Goths,… so much fun! 😀 *laughs evilly*… ahem… sorry… where was I? Oh yes… fun. Well, the organisers called ‘All witches come here… and I saw so many who dressed up as the one from ‘Wizard of Oz’ (the bad witch not the good witch) I really felt left out. I had all my real Book of Shadows, my wand, some herbs in my bag and my real pentagram around neck. Wow… did I feel out of place amongst the idiots who were making fun of my 3-day holiday… and … they gave me a … 4 year old to mind. Um… they do know the legends about witches and children, right? Why did they want me to care for somebody’s kid for? and this kid had green paint and a wart on their nose (jeez… couldn’t get away from Hollywood if I tried here… ).
    Well, halfway through the walk, I turned to the kid, squeezed her arm and said, “You’re not fat enough…” she asked what for and I said, “Well, for my cauldron, of course!” I have never seen a child run screaming so fast in all my life – and yes, I laughed (bad, bad, evil witchy side of me… I know what I did was bad, but I needed to be alone). I broke away from the ‘witches’ walking along and wandered along the side of where the citizens stood watching on, pointing to all the men, saying they could be my slave… I even grabbed a security guard and whispered he could be mine in his ear – creeping him right out. I got to end – where there were judges on who acted the weirdest – and I went all out pointing out the vampires and werewolves on stage saying I could enslave them all – well, except the women! Then, I laughed and walked away… they wanted me up on the stage, but couldn’t find me.

    The fun part of being a witch – you can disappear into a crowd when you want to…

    The unfun part of this parade was that it .. um.. .went nowhere. There was no park, no beach, no dancefloor, no club… nothing… it emptied out into a busy main road! So, I turned around, took charge and delegated people to take the children under 10 onto the footpath and back up to the first street on the left! I happen to come across the kid I freaked out and my actions in the parade came back and bit me on the butt big time… she wouldn’t come near me until I grabbed her arm and apologised profusely promising I would never do something like that, that I was playing a part of a character; and I should not have ever done that to her, then I asked where her parents were, and took her back to where she saw them… and she was reunited with them. She told her folks and said I was really cool and scary… 😛 how fun is that? A 4 year old liked being scared anyway. 😛

    Well, for the next hour or so, my Dad kept on losing me because a huge party took place on the street where everyone was in costume, Goths from the inner city came in and it was declared an alcohol-free zone (not even the pubs were allowed to serve the stuff). So, it was great fun! 😀

    I did get talking to a couple of cops, and they said it was good night – no violence and no arrests – and I smiled saying it would be cool to have in Woodridge (my area is poor, and violent) and they gave me a serious look, saying, “No… no it wouldn’t! Where are you from anyway?” I said: ‘Woodridge.” they didn’t laugh… and I don’t blame them… can you imagine people getting attacked by the Mummy or the Wolfman and the police having to write a report for it? 😛

  • Mary Preston says:

    When I was about 7 my parents gave me a Hula outfit for Christmas. Just a fun “grass” skirt & a pretty plastic flower lei. I used to wear it to the beach. I mean where else did they think I was going to wear it?

  • Margo says:

    My favorite Halloween memory is fourth grade. I wanted to be a cat, but no masks fit over my glasses. So my mother figured out how to make a cardboard cutout painted black fit on them. I loved being a black cat for a day.

  • Christina Spicuzza says:

    My favorite Halloween memory is kinda recent. It was 2 years ago… My oldest son was 19 months old and we dressed him as a tiger for Halloween. We put makeup on for his nose and whiskers. He was the cutest tiger you’ve ever seen. Everywhere we went we got complimented on how adorable he was and that it was the best that they had seen that night! 🙂

  • colleen ladoux says:

    I love Halloween mystery book. Its my favorite time of the year. I am looking forward to your new book