Cinnamon GirlWhen I settled down, got married, had a son, and then opened Village Cooks, I thought my life would be quiet and peaceful. A life filled with cookbooks and cooking and everyday family life. After all, if I turn to the left out my driveway there’s a farm down the road, and if I turn to the right and go down a mile there’s a nature preserve. And only an hour from New York City, where I worked as a cookbook editor until I moved here with my husband Andy, who is a newspaper reporter.

But deep down I knew that life away from New York would never be absolutely calm. Especially since my father was once the President of the United States. That’s right, POTUS himself. Bill Billings, remember him? Charming, handsome, witty and brilliant? With the elegant wife, Elaine? The one whose daughter (my sister) was killed in an assassination attempt on him?

And who knew he’d end up calling in the Secret Service to protect me when someone tried to kill me. About a week after I found the body of a woman on my property, down by the stream in back. And of course this all happened while I was getting ready for the big annual event at Village Cooks: Cookbooktoberfest. Which takes place in, you guessed it, October. I choose a cookbook (this year it is Holiday Delights by Elizabeth Crisp), and the author comes to Village Cooks to participate in a taste testing contest and book signing. My loyal customers compete to see who can make the best version of the recipes in the chosen cookbook. They look forward to it every year, and I don’t want to let them down.

So today I am trying to put aside all of the fear and concentrate on getting ready for Cookbooktoberfest. It’s a little hard to do because I know that the police, a private security company, and the Secret Service are all trying to find the killer and keep my family and me safe. Sally Harvey, the woman who works at Village Cooks with me, has been a blessing. With a Secret Service agent undercover in the store keeping an eye on things while we ate a quick lunch in the back office, she rounded up last year’s Cookbooktoberfest to-do list so that we could update it. We got to work.

Get commitment from author. Check. Well, sort of. Royal Jefferson, Elizabeth Crisp’s publicist, has strongly hinted that they might cancel her appearance if things don’t calm down around here. I guess that means no more attempts on anyone’s life.

Send out postcards announcing the event. Check. Addressed, stamped and mailed, fingers crossed.

Plates, cups and plastic ware, check, we have plenty. Books ordered from the publisher and received, check. Sign made and put in shop window, check.

Facebook announcement posted: check.

To do: buy 5 gallons of cider.

To do: order sunflowers from Sebastian Blooms. I don’t know why I always order sunflowers, but we’ve been having this event for seven years now, and I’ve always had sunflowers on the author table, looking cheerful and, well, sunny.

To do: move cookware items and cookbooks for sale off three display tables, arrange the tables into a T, and lay blue toile tablecloths on the tables. Thank God we already had the tablecloths dry cleaned and they are hanging in bags ready to go.

To do: set up side table with sunflowers and stacks of books for Elizabeth Crisp to sign.

To do: brush Mrs. Beeton, our store cat, so that she looks her most fetching for the big day. That’s Sally’s job.

A relatively easy to-do list for two people to accomplish during the course of an afternoon. Unless someone fires a shot through the store window again.


You can read more about Bonnie in Cinnamon Girl, the first book in the new “Village Cooks” mystery series, published by Annabel Publishing. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.


Book Release Party and Book Signing will take place at 3pm, Sunday, October 27, 2013 at Sweet Spot Bake Shoppe (winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars), 57 Main Street (party room in adjacent courtyard), Chester, NJ 07930. Light refreshments will be served; including banana nut bread made from a recipe included in the book, famed horror actor Vincent Price’s A Treasury of Great Recipes. Prize drawing gift basket will include a copy of Price’s cookbook and supplies needed to make the recipe.


Valerie is giving away one (1) copy of CINNAMON GIRL. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Contest ends October 28; US entries only.


Meet the Author
A life-long cookbook lover, Valerie Horowitz has always worked with books. She has sold out-of-print and rare books, Valerie Horowitzwas manager of a bookstore in New York’s Greenwich Village and has held various marketing and editorial positions at trade, professional and scholarly publishers. She lives in a house built in the 1750s with her husband, son, and cat in the bucolic northwestern New Jersey farm and horse country where Cinnamon Girl, the first in a series of Village Cooks mysteries, takes place. You can find her online at her Facebook author page.

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