Monday, November 21, 2016

Author Kelle Z. Riley … Her ‘Baby’s’ Out of the Nest

It’s a pleasure today to welcome author Kelle Z. Riley to Thoughts in Progress to talk about her ‘baby’ going off to college. Her ‘baby’ is her debut cozy mystery, THE CUPCAKE CAPER, the first installment in her Undercover Cat Series.

New York Times Bestselling Author, Denise Swanson (Scumble River and Devereaux’s Dime store mysteries), has this to say about Kelle’s book:

          “Kelle Z. Riley’s appealing new mystery series has it all—a plot full of twists and turns, a super smart sleuth, and a smidgen of romance. Cupcake baking scientist Dr. Bree Watson has both a sense of humor and a gift for solving puzzles. This likeable heroine will lure the reader in with her intelligence and capture them with her charm.”

In addition to appealing to traditional cozy mystery readers, the book will also appeal to those who enjoy TV shows such as the “CSI” Franchise, Bones, Burn Notice, Scorpion, and The Big Bang Theory.

Science is about solving puzzles. Why should solving a murder be any different?

Dr. Bree Watson (aka Gabriella Catherine Mayfield-Watson) is comfortable solving chemistry problems. She isn’t comfortable finding her boss dead and being a suspect in his poisoning. Now she’s juggling:
●     A sexy marketing manager—who may, or may not—be a contract killer.
●     A handsome lead detective whose interest goes beyond the case.
●     The dead man’s cranky cat.
●     A goose-chasing dog in hot water with an animal rights group.
●     The search for the perfect cupcake recipe.
●     And, of course, someone who wants her out of the picture.
          And she thought getting a Ph.D. was hard.

Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Kelle as she joins us to talk about her ‘baby’ leaving the nest. Welcome, Kelle.

I’m delighted to be here at “Thoughts in Progress” today.

My debut romantic mystery is going out into the big, bad world today, and I have to admit, I feel a bit like a proud mom watching her eldest going off to college. Getting ready to launch this book has been a labor of love—one that has consumed vast amounts of what I used to call “free time.” Did I give it enough love and attention while I had the chance? Will the typo that a reviewer found on page xxx mark me as an amateur? What if no one likes the cover? Will my baby be forced to sit in a dark corner of the internet with no friends? And will it get good grades from the reviewers?

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s book 2 of the series to worry about. She’s waiting in the wings. Like a high school junior getting ready to take the SAT and ACT, there’s lots of prep work to do on this baby. She needs a cover that is as fun as the one her older sister, The Cupcake Caper, has. And she needs a fun name — book 2 is fine for now, but really who wants to go out into the world known as book 2?

Then, of course, there is that toddler of a book — number 3 in the series — that, as of today, is just an opening chapter and a rough draft with promise? Like a baby needing feedings, naps and diaper changes, book 3 is going to take a lot of sleepless nights before she’s ready to go into the world.

 I’d better stop before the analogy gets too far out of hand. But I must admit when I started writing I didn’t imagine the juggling it would take to get a series of books ready. Mommy needs a celebratory glass of wine before she goes back to work. . .

All of the work aside, writing this book has been one of the most fun challenges I could have ever imagined. For starters, writing a mystery can be very cathartic. While plotting The Cupcake Caper, I spent brainstorming time thinking about all of the characteristics of the world’s most evil boss. I took bits and pieces from just about every boss I’ve ever reported to (present company excluded if you’re reading this Mr. G.) and amplified them until I came up with the character of Buckminster Davis. Since I had a few evil characteristics left over, I worked those into the killer. It felt great to slay two demons in one book!

Since I plan for more books in the series, I look at everyday annoyances (airport TSA agents, telemarketers and the slow person in line in front of me at the checkout) in a different light. Each becomes fodder for the victim and/or killer in upcoming novels. Don’t be surprised if you find the owner of a poorly run rental car agency in a future book!

Making my sleuth a chemist in the book was a big risk. I wanted to do it partly because I see so many books, movies and TV shows getting it wrong. But once I created Dr. Bree Watson, I put myself in a difficult position. I needed the science bits in the story to be “real” enough to entertain my science colleagues, but accessible enough for the rest of my readers. After a host of beta readers—both scientists and “regular” people, I think I’ve gotten the balance about right.

Here’s a fun fact. When I was writing and researching the book a chemistry colleague asked me if I thought the victim might be able to taste poison in something he or she ate or drank. Working with my baker husband—who helped me with the recipes in the book—I whipped up a series of treats for my lab mates. Some of the treats had extra table salt in them (to substitute for poison) and others did not. I’m pleased to say everyone ate all of the treats—and lived to tell the tale. Of course, when I explained what I was testing, they also declared they’d never eat anything from my kitchen again!

What’s next? Look for book 2 in the series (as yet untitled) to come out in the spring of 2017. The romance heats up when Dr. Watson finds herself in unexpectedly intimate situations with the new men in her life. And sparks fly as they each try to prove they are the best man for her. Don’t expect her to make any choices soon, though, because she’s having too much fun solving new mysteries and enjoying her adventures.

Here’s where you can get copies of The Cupcake Caper:

You can click on the following link to read a free sample chapter: 

Kelle, thanks for joining us today and sharing this awareness into the juggling a writer must do when launching a book and working on the next installment in the series. It does sound a lot like taking care of several children of varying ages.

Here’s the book trailer for THE CUPCAKE CAPER for your viewing pleasure.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Kelle, here’s a bit of background on her.

Author Kelle Z. Riley
Kelle Z. Riley, writer, speaker, global traveler, Ph.D. chemist and safety/martial arts expert has been featured in public forums that range from local newspapers to national television.

In addition to her works of fiction, a personal story was included in "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer's and Other Dementias." Her other publications include a romantic suspense (Dangerous Affairs), multiple short stories, a self-published memoire in honor of her father, and the newly released “Cupcake Caper” (Undercover Cat Series) which features a scientist-turned-sleuth.

A former Golden Heart Finalist, Kelle resides in Chattanooga, TN. She is the past program chair and popular speaker for the Chattanooga Writer's Guild, a member of Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers’ of America and various local chapters. When not writing, she can be found pursuing passions such as being a self-defense instructor, a Master Gardener Intern and a full-time chemist with numerous professional publications and U. S. patents.

For more on Kelle and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Here are some additional sites where you catch up with Kelle:

Books are Magic (on YouTube)

Thanks for dropping by today during Kelle’s visit. Isn’t that a cute cover? If you’re a writer, what does the juggling process feel like to you?


  1. Congratulations Kelle. The imminent release must be SUCH an anxious time for writers.

    1. It is both exciting and frightening! But I do love it. Thanks for stopping by to comment today.

  2. Kelle, thanks again for stopping by Thoughts in Progress. I enjoyed the fact you compiled various elements of all of your bad bosses into the bad boss in your book. The book sounds intriguing. Wishing you much success.

    Hi, all! Thanks for dropping by. Have a wonderful Monday. :)

    1. Thank you so much for inviting me. It's fun to be here today. And to all--I came down with a terrible cold on the eve of the release day--forgive any spelling errors in my posts for the next couple of days--OK?

  3. Thanks, both, for an interesting post. I think a lot of writers feel that sort of attachment to their books. I know I do! Wishing you much success.

    1. Thank you, Margot! It's good to know I'm not the only one. . .

  4. Congratulations, Kelle! I know exactly how you feel. Trust that your college aged baby will do just fine. You've taught her well.

    1. Joylene--thanks for the good words! I've done everything within my power at this point, so you are right--it's time to let go and trust. And to turn back to the others.

  5. I'm a Bones fan, so this may be a book for me. Congratulations, Kelle and thanks, Mason!

    1. I hope you do enjoy this one! Some publishers predicted that "science would turn off readers" but I'm glad there are smart readers like you who are proving them wrong. Best wishes!

  6. I am not a writer, and part of the reason is because I FEAR the juggling process! lol! -

  7. What a great title! And I love Bones.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.