My favorite compliment for the Chocoholic books came from a bookstore owner.

She said, “Hey, I like your books.”

My reply may have been a bit rude. One of the first things I learned about hanging around with writers is, just don’t try to discuss their books. That way lies confusion and saying things better left unsaid. The bookseller understands that principle.

So I was astonished by her remark, and I blurted out an incredulous “Why?”

But it was a sincere “why.” This bookseller had access to every mystery published in the English language. If my books appealed to her, I wanted to know what I was doing right.

“I like them because they’re about a young woman trying to run a small business,” she said.

Well, okay. That was understandable. The speaker was a young woman who was trying (quite successfully) to run a small business.

I didn’t go into the whole thing any more deeply, but I interpreted her comment as meaning that Lee, my viewpoint character, faced realistic problems and dealt with them in a realistic manner.

And that’s “A Day in the Life of Lee McKinney Woodyard.”

Lee’s most recent appearance is in THE CHOCOLATE MOOSE MOTIVE, out this month, in which she hires an assistant and the resulting commotion nearly stops the business she runs in its tracks.

Lee is the business manager of a small chocolate company, TenHuis Chocolade, which includes a retail shop and a mail order operation. Daily she must deal with personnel problems, a cranky banker, her line of credit, the UPS man, the Chamber of Commerce, and local, state and federal taxes. Not to mention chocolate sources, equipment, and sales. Or city politics, fellow business operators, the local historical society (they order chocolate) and even her own delivery van.

(And yet people ask mystery writers where they get their plot ideas. I’ve just named a dozen sources for ideas, and I haven’t begun to skim the surface of a small business as inspiration.)

Of course, Lee has two additional attributes that make her an effective detective. First, she admits she’s the nosiest person in Warner Pier, Michigan. Second, she truly likes people and wants to help them.

So a day in Lee’s life consists of getting up, having breakfast with her husband (a lawyer and boat builder – you’ll have to read a book to figure that one out), then heading for the office. She goes to the post office and the bank, and she handles orders for bonbons and truffles by e-mail, snail mail, and telephone. She serves on civic committees, and she cooperates with her Aunt Nettie, owner and chief chocolatier of TenHuis Chocolade. She keeps up with a chain of friends who all have a tendency to fall over bodies.

But Lee considers herself primarily an accountant, and if accountants are good at anything, it’s detail. And detectives are good at detail. What a coincidence!

I envy Lee. Not only is she good at figures, she’s also six feet tall and a striking blond. We short, dark, math-challenged people would kill to be like Lee.

Huh! Maybe that’s my next book.


** Thanks to the publisher, I have one (1) copy of THE CHOCOLATE CASTLE CLUE to give away. Contest open to US residents only and ends November 1. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. **

Meet the author
JoAnna Carl is the author of twelve mysteries in the Chocoholic series and of seven additional mysteries written as Eve K. Sandstrom. Her latest book, THE CHOCOLATE MOOSE MYSTERY, is out this month. She lives in Oklahoma, but vacations each year on Lake Michigan, visiting the area used as a setting for the Chocoholic books. She is a former president of Sisters in Crime and has also been active in Mystery Writers of America. She has been nominated for an Agatha and an Anthony. Visit JoAnna at www.joannacarl.com

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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