Monday, June 24, 2024

A Chocolate is Announced: Guest Post and Giveaway



Bean to Bar Mystery, #7

By Amber Royer

Cozy Mystery / Culinary Mystery / Women Sleuths

Publisher: Golden Tip Press

Pages: 277

Publication Date: June 25, 2024

Scroll down for a giveaway!


Felicity Koerber is finally getting her life together.  She has a fiancé, her bean to bar chocolate shop on Galveston’s historic Strand has become a gathering spot for the community, and she is ready to embrace whatever the future holds.  She’s ready for another launch party – despite the disaster at her grand opening, when she’d first gotten involved with solving a murder.  And this time she’s embracing her status as a sleuth.  She’s hosting a murder mystery weekend to celebrate the new Mystery Flavor line of craft chocolate bars.  She’s held a contest to choose the attendees, who will all stay at her aunt’s flip hotel and enjoy the island.  It’s all supposed to be perfectly random – only, Felicity starts to uncover connections between her guests.  When one of them winds up murdered, Felicity has to keep her aunt from becoming the main suspect.

The killer is very clearly calling Felicity out, leaving clues that mean little to anyone other than her.  But that doesn’t narrow down the suspect pool.  Her guests are there because they love the true crime podcast she’s been featured on.  And she can’t decide whether the killer wants her to catch them – or just wants to taunt her.

Meanwhile, Felicity is also playing host to her future in-laws and discovers that her fiancé’s sister, who is also a cop, is very competitive.  Can Felicity hold her own and make a good impression, while keeping her business together and her aunt out of jail?  And can Felicity solve it in time to protect the people she cares about from becoming additional victims?   

Satchmo the retired police dog turned therapy dog returns to help her sniff out a few clues, and one of the guests brings along a ferret named Cheeseburger, who keeps showing up in the most unexpected places.


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“Mary Shelley and the Birth of a Genre” by Amber Royer

In each of my Bean to Bar Mysteries, a classing book shows up in my protagonist’s life, and somehow ties into the events in the plot.  This newest release, A Chocolate is Announced, is the seventh book in the series.  So that’s a lot of books.  Felicity is a bit gun shy about literature, and by now everyone knows it – especially since one of the other characters is doing a true-crime podcast about her involvement in the previous cases.

So when a copy of Frankenstein shows up unexpectedly in Felicity’s room, she knows it is an intentional clue provided as a warning that another crime is about to happen. It’s confusing, though, since she’s in the middle of hosting a murder mystery weekend at the hotel her aunt is in the process of flipping.  The theme for the event is A Chocolate is Announced, because she is celebrating her business partner/fiancé’s first solo line of chocolate bars.  It’s so obvious what book should be tied to this case – and it isn’t Frankenstein.  Her whole guest list is made up of mystery aficionados, so the introduction of Frankenstein has to be an overt clue – if she can figure out what to make of it.  There are heavy themes, about what it feels like to be an outsider, and which types of actions are the most monstrous, and what revenge can do to someone.

It still amazes me that Mary Shelley wrote a piece with that much depth when she was only 18.  (The first edition of the book was published January 1, 1818, when she was twenty.)  Looking back at my own work at that age, I don’t find nearly such a deep understanding of human nature.  Admittedly, Shelley had been through a lot by then, and she traveled in literary circles with poet Percy Shelley (who she would eventually marry under less-than-ideal circumstances).  The pair had an intense reading program and kept a joint journal, in addition to each working on their own writing.  Estranged from her family in London, Mary wound up in Geneva in 1816, staying with, among others, Lord Byron (another poet).  Byron suggested that over the summer they each write a scary story.  Her story was in part inspired by discussions the group had about the nature of the principle of life.  Shelley later described the way her idea for Frankenstein originated as a, “waking dream.”

As a writer, it makes perfect sense to me how that kind of inspiration could come about during what basically amounted to a writer’s retreat.  (Prompted in part by the fact that the summer in question was wet and miserable, often confining Mary and the others to the villa.)  Sometimes the best ideas come from conversations, either with other writers or in daily life, about psychology or human nature, or other “big picture” questions.   You pair that with the intense reading and writing practice Mary and Percy had made a habit of, and it’s pretty much a everything recommended in DIY MFA.

The introduction to one version of Frankenstein quotes Mary describing her “waking dream” thus: “I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.”

What Mary Shelly probably didn’t realize at the time is that her story – originally published anonymously – would kick-start an entire genre.  The key here was the engine she describes – the application of science to do something not realistically achievable by science of the day (or even our day – despite hopeful reaching towards cryogenics).  In a stroke, science fiction was born.

(Photo from wikicommons)


Amber Royer writes the Chocoverse comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the Bean to Bar Mysteries. She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach. 

Amber and her husband live in the DFW Area, where you can often find them hiking or taking landscape/architecture/wildlife photographs. 

If you are very nice to Amber, she might make you cupcakes.  Chocolate cupcakes, of course! Amber blogs about creative writing techniques and all things chocolate at





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  1. Good things come from writers' retreats, I've heard -- and seen the evidence! This is interesting, and I look forward to reading this installment because I love ferrets, and Royer's animal subplots are always a hoot.

    1. Awww! Writing the animal subplots are one of the most fun parts of writing these books.

  2. Thanks so much for letting me share a little about my influences!