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Assault and Pepper (Final)Spring in the mountains is a study in change. Every day, our woods grow a little greener, the sun a little stronger, the bird song a little louder.

And one of the bright spots has been the launch of ASSAULT AND PEPPER, first in my Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries. I’ve gotten to travel the northwest and take a trip back east. The biggest surprise? All the old friends who turned out! In Seattle at Third Place Books—oh, do go there if you can—two college classmates surprised me, and I was delighted to see several writers I first met three years ago at the fabulous Breakout Novel Writers Workshop. In Portland, at Annie Bloom’s Books, where a little black cat named Molly presides, a law school classmate and his wife came out for the evening, as did a good friend who once worked as my paralegal in Seattle. And at Barnes and Noble in Billings—oh, my, gosh! Our fabulous audience included a woman I met when her family moved in three doors from mine—when we were five. Other faces belonged to friends from grade school and high school, and the bookstore co-worker who inspired the character of Sandra in my Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries. Every time period in my life came vividly to the fore in just two weeks!

But what humbles and gratifies me most are the readers who don’t know me yet. Who’ve read a book or two and come out to hear what else I have to say. Readers who haven’t read my books, but are intrigued by the setting or premise, and are willing to give me a try. What faith, what trust! What fear briefly rattles through me…

75c6ccac-e015-4110-b312-75c809116391The tour started with a terrific launch party at Frame of Reference Gallery in Bigfork. (If you’re in the region, please join me there to launch BUTTER OFF DEAD on June 26—the victim will make a special guest appearance!) Then Fact & Fiction in Missoula, Seattle Mystery Bookshop, and Third Place Books in north Seattle. A new venture: speaking to creative writing students at Kennedy High School in Seattle. Bright faces, great questions. I also visited some of the places that inspire my stories and recipes, in the Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square.

The tour included two mystery conventions. For authors, cons are energizing—we spend so much time alone in our rooms that it’s great fun to get out and visit with people who love mysteries as much as we do, whether as readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, reviewers, or publishing pros.

I took the train from Seattle to Portland for Left Coast Crime—easy-peasy, as Erin from the Food Lovers’ Village series would say. Four days of good books, great food, cherry blossoms, and other fun. Cons include lots of panel discussions—mine focused on small-town crime, with writers in several subgenres. At the Sisters in Crime breakfast, cohosted by national—I’m the vice president—and the local chapter, writers and readers got insight into the daily realities of police work from two area police chiefs and a detective as speakers, all smart,  funny, and courageous. (Courage = with heart.)

My new favorite thing: sharing an event with another author. At Annie Bloom’s, Portland mysterista Lisa Alber and I interviewed each other about our books and our experiences studying with the oh-so-excellent Elizabeth George. At B&N In Billings, Tracy Weber, who also grew up there, and I chatted happily about the writing life.

Then came Malice Domestic, the convention celebrating the traditional mystery. Highlights? My first Malice Go-Round where 22 teams of writers weave through 22 tables full of fans, telling them about our books—think of it as speed dating for authors and readers. Another panel on small-town crime, a subject that never gets old. Signing next to Kate Carlisle and Charlaine Harris! (Okay, their lines were long and mine wasn’t, but I’m too much of a fan girl to care!) At lunch, a reader showed me her Kindle—where she was reading ASSAULT AND PEPPER! As SinC VP, I got to wish happy 20th birthday to the Guppies, the chapter new writers that I helped found, and award the first annual Dorothy Cannell Scholarship to enable a Guppy to attend Malice. If you get a chance to go, I know you’ll love it!

And now I’m back at my desk in the little house in the big woods, working on the third Spice Shop mystery,KILLING THYME. Mr. Right and I are supervising construction of a cabin in our woods, a combination guest house and a recording studio for him. Two robin couples have decided the rafters over the porch are perfect for nesting, so we’re looking forward to a little impromptu harmonizing.

If you haven’t visited my new  website, please do. It’s completely redesigned and rewritten, and I’d love to know what you think.

As always, thank you for being part of this journey, and for spreading the word. I can’t begin to tell you what a difference that makes. Your friendship—and your readership—touch me deeply.

From my heart,