A Conversation with Penny Lively by Carlene O’Neil

Ripe For MurderPenny Lively here, taking time out from ploughing on my California winery. Yes, I did say ploughing, because in its early stages wine is a field of grapes, just like any other crop. It’s freezing out today but the work needs to be done. These are the times you don’t talk about in the cozy tasting room, when I frequently hear from a visitor, “Oh, running a winery must be a wonderful way to live.” It can be, but today isn’t one of those days. The last of winter is holding out in early March and there’s a raw wind coming in off the Pacific. My hair is tucked into a ski cap. I’m wearing two sweaters, a fleece and the warmest coat I could find. Hardly highbrow, and yet that’s often one of the things that keeps people from really enjoying wine. . .the feeling that unless you really know what you’re talking about you should, well, be drinking beer.

I’m just going to come out and say it: Wine can be intimidating. I know it shouldn’t be, and as a winery owner I don’t want it to be, but it happens. Unfortunately, some people in the wine business foster that sense of mystique, and that’s a mistake. It keeps people from enjoying what they drink. Afraid of selecting the “wrong” wine for a meal, they will stick to the same two or three varietals they know, or decide they just don’t like wine.

Then there are some of the terms, and heaven forbid if you’re caught with a wine snob and don’t know what something means. For example, take the term terroir. In some areas of the world this is no laughing matter. Classifications of various grape growing regions in France are utterly strict and closely controlled. Very serious stuff. At least to some of the Châteaux in this area that have had the classifications of First Cru and Premier Cru for hundreds of years. Literally. Now, simply translated, terroir can refer to the terrain the grapes are grown in. It can also mean the slope, rainfall, drainage and how much sun the vines receive, along with a hundred other things, but honestly, do you really care? Of course not, and why should you? If you like something, drink it. Experiment with something new, like a Malbec. Smell it before you taste and see if you can recognize the fruits. Roll it around in your mouth. Is there a bite to it? That could be the oak. It might be smooth, and soft, something good with mild foods. First and foremost, remember that wine should be fun. Just ask the Romans and Greeks. They figured it out thousands of years ago.

Cheers!
Penny Lively


Ripe For Murder is the second book in the Cypress Cove mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime, March 2016.

From the author of One Foot in the Grape—a new full-bodied Cypress Cove mystery that is certain to delight, even if one wine lover is about to expire.

Penny Lively loves running her family’s winery, but to keep business growing, she needs to find a way to attract more guests. When she’s approached to invest in a new train line through wine country, Penny and her intoxicating winery manager, Connor, hightail it to a lavish resort to hear the details. Unfortunately, her neighbor’s daughter, Chantal, is also there, swirling up trouble by flirting with the married investors—and with Connor too.

When one of the investors’ wives is murdered, Chantal, who was seen fighting with the woman, is the prime suspect. Chantal may be a sour grape, but she’s no killer. So Penny, who’s become a sleuthing connoisseur, starts sniffing out the real suspect—and discovers that her fellow potential investors have been savoring more than their share of deadly secrets.

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About the author
National best selling author Carlene O’Neil is a former television writer, and is currently a commercial CarleneOreal estate broker in the Los Angeles market. She grew up in the heart of wine country in northern California, and is accredited by the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. Currently she lives in Valencia, California. The Cypress Cove Mystery Series is set along the central California coast, and the similarities between the fictional town of Cypress Cove and the stunning town of Carmel are no accident.

One Foot in the Grape is the first in the series published by Berkley Prime Crime. Her second novel, Ripe for Murder, was released March 1st. You can reach Carlene at her website at carleneoneil.com or on Facebook.

Giveaway: Leave comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Ripe For Murder. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end March 17, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

All comments are welcomed.

37 responses to “A Conversation with Penny Lively by Carlene O’Neil

  1. Doward Wilson

    Great review. Loved the first book and can’t wait to read this one. Thanks for the chance to win.

  2. New series to me, but I definitely want to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. I am looking forward to reading Ripe For Murder for it sounds like a great book. Thank you for the chance to win.

  4. Haven’t started this series yet but just ordered the first book. Sounds like a great new series.

  5. I think book #1 is on my t-b-r list. #2 sounds good too.

  6. I love books that revolve around food and now wine.

  7. Ripe for Murder could not be released at a better time. Wineries are a #1 item and what better setting to place a mystery. Thank you for the giveaway. robeader53@yahoo.com

  8. What a fun looking book. Thank you for the chance to win

  9. Della Williamson

    Exciting. New author and series. does Look good. Great setting and cover. Thanks for this chance to get it.

  10. elainehroberson

    This would be a great book to add to my cozy challenge list. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

  11. Thank you for the giveaway contest. I love cozy mysteries!

  12. Thanks for this mystery cozy which I would enjoy.

  13. As a wine lover but not a wine expert, I loved the conversation with Penny Lively. Congratulations on your new release, which sounds like a fun read!

  14. Oh, yay a wine book! I love wine.

  15. wendynewcomb

    This sounds like a great cozy! Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

    wfnren at aol dot com

  16. Sounds like it’s time to pull One Foot in the Grape off the shelf and read through it, just to make sure I’ve got the details of the characters and everything down before reading Ripe For Murder. It certainly sounds like Ripe For Murder is going to be an interesting read. Thanks for the chance to win.

  17. Sounds wonderful! As a fan of Carmel and this series, I can’t wait to read more about Cypress Cove.

  18. Candy Kennedy

    This sounds wonderful. I love reading about a part of the country I’ve never visited , and a wierd akso. Thanks for the chance to win.

  19. Don’t be afraid to try wines. After all, they don’t bite!

  20. Mary Jane H.

    Sounds deliciously tasty!

  21. Sounds like a great new cozy and right here in Ca., Yea hope I win, ty

  22. This one sounds soo😍 Good

  23. really enjoyed One Foot in the Grape….looking forward to the next installment!

  24. MaryAnn Forbes

    Ripe for Murder sounds like a good read. Wine and a mystery equal a winning combination. Cheers & thank you.

  25. I haven’t read this series yet, but looking forward to reading soon. Interesting topic, running a winery and the amount of work involved.

  26. Sounds good. Looking forward to reading it!

  27. Penny obviously works very hard for the winery! Would love to chance to win and read it, thanks!

  28. Vicki Highley

    What a great sounding book and series, thanks for the chance to win
    a copy.

  29. I enjoyed the first book.

  30. A book set in the California Winery area! Wonderful.

  31. A book with wine. Sign me up!

  32. Wine and wineries fascinate me—there is just so much to learn about it.
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

  33. Margaret Patricia Lafferty

    What a great locale!

  34. This sounds like a wonderful read.

  35. Sounds like a great book set in a great location.

  36. Della Williamson

    Great title. Love the cover. Am most interested in seeing how Penny handles this one. Thanks for the chance to get it