Tag Archives: Gayle Leeson

A day in the life of Amy Flowers by Gayle Leeson

Hi, lovely Dru! And Dru’s lovely readers! Dru asked me to stop by and give you guys a look into my day. Well, don’t get too excited—I live in a small rural Virginia town called Winter Garden, and not a lot happens here. . .well, unless you count the murders.

So, I try to get up in time to linger over a cup of coffee and a light breakfast before I open the Down South Café. Sometimes I can do it, and other times I hit the snooze button a bajillion times and then have to run around getting ready like a lunatic. But don’t think I don’t have my priorities straight, though. I might have to race out of the house wearing two, hopefully, well-aimed swipes of mascara and my wet hair pulled back in a ponytail, but Rory—my terrier—and Princess Eloise—Mom’s cat—are always fed and cared for before I leave the house.

I live in a small house a stone’s throw from where my mom lives with Aunt Bess. Aunt Bess is actually Great Aunt Elizabeth, but she’s always been Aunt Bess to us. Mom’s house belonged to my grandparents, and my grandmother left it to Mom when she passed. Aunt Bess had come to stay with Nana a few years after Pop died, so now she lives there with Mom. It’s great having her and Mom living so close. I enjoy my independence, but it’s nice to know people who love you are right up the hill if you need them.

I open the Down South Café at seven a.m., so I try to be there between six-thirty and a quarter ‘til in order to make sure everything is tidy, to get the coffee started, and to begin breakfast prep. Just about every morning, our first customer is Dilly Boyd. Dilly brings a smile and, usually, a tidbit of gossip, and she always leaves with a biscuit for the raccoon who lives in the woods behind her house.

The other patron we have that you could almost set your watch by is Homer Pickens. Homer comes in each day at 10:30 for a sausage biscuit and a cup of coffee. And, each day, Homer has a new hero with a quote or two that usually applies to whatever is going on in Winter Garden.

The Down South Café closes at three p.m., so after cleaning up, I usually go home and crash on the sofa with Rory for a little while. Sometimes he and I look through our cookbooks to come up with a new dish to try, and other times we either nap or watch TV.

Lately, in the evenings, I’ve enjoyed hanging out with Deputy Ryan Hall when he isn’t working or I don’t have plans with my friends. Ryan and I have been dating for nearly two months now. Who’d have thought I’d be dating a man who once investigated me for the murder of my former boss?

I’ve started selling honey from Stu Landon’s farm on consignment at the café. Drop in and get a jar. You won’t be disappointed!


You can read more about Amy in Honey-Baked Homicide, the third book in the “Down South Café” mystery series.

The owner of a delightful Southern café tastes the sharp sting of suspicion in this delectable comfort food mystery . . .

It’s fall in Winter Garden, Virginia, and business at Amy Flowers’ Down South Café has never been better. So when struggling beekeeper Stuart Landon asks Amy to sell some of his honey, she’s happy to help. The jars of honey are a sweet success, but their partnership is cut short when Amy discovers Landon’s body outside the café early one morning.

As Amy tries to figure out who could possibly have wanted to harm the unassuming beekeeper, she discovers an ever-expanding list of suspects—and they’re all buzzing mad. She’ll have to use all of her skills—and her Southern charm—to find her way out of this sticky situation. . .

Buy Link

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Honey-Baked Homicide. U.S. entries only, please. The giveaway ends December 7, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the author
Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent. I also write as Amanda Lee. As Gayle Trent, I write the Daphne Martin Cake Mystery series and the Myrtle Crumb Mystery series. As Amanda Lee, I write the Embroidery Mystery series. I live in Virginia with my family, which includes my own “Angus” who is not an Irish wolfhound but a Great Pyrenees who provides plenty of inspiration for the character of Mr. O’Ruff. I’m having a blast writing this new series!

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life with Amy Flowers by Gayle Leeson

silence-of-the-jamsHi, I’m Amy Flowers, and I own the Down South Café. In addition to being the owner, I’m the head chef. I adore cooking. I always have. I learned at my grandmother’s right elbow. Looking back, I probably got on her nerves. But Nana patiently answered my questions and lovingly taught me how to prepare specific dishes: biscuits, tuna casserole, turkey dressing for Thanksgiving, meatloaf, and all sorts of things.

I serve all those things and more at the café but I also try to incorporate some healthier and more exotic options to expose my clientele to new things. Those dishes don’t always go over so well with the Down South Café patrons. To test out anything new, I let customers sample the recipe one day and then—provided they enjoy it—I make it the next special of the day.

I know Nana would be proud of the Down South Café. I sure am. Opening the café here in our tiny little community of Winter Garden, Virginia has been a dream come true. The only thorn in my side has been George Lincoln. As my great-aunt, Elizabeth—or Aunt Bess—would tell you, “Mr. Lincoln can be an ornery cuss.” The man is bound and determined that I’m going to sell him the café. Why in the world does he think I’d sell when I haven’t even been in business but just over a month?

Anyway, Mr. Lincoln wants to tear down the Down South Café—so recently renovated by my friend Roger—and build a bed and breakfast on the site. He’s even offered to make me a partner in the endeavor. And no matter how many times he asks, and how many times I tell him no, he keeps coming in to make another offer. Oh, well, at least he eats while he’s making offers, so I guess that in the long run, those offers are good for my bottom line.

The thing is, though, I’ve been hearing a lot of rumors about George Lincoln lately—and none of them are nice. I’ve got a feeling that more than one person might have a grudge against him and that something bad is going to happen.

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You can read more about Amy in Silence of the Jams, the second book in the “Down South Café” mystery series.

In the latest Southern cozy from the author of The Calamity Café, small-town chef Amy Flowers can’t take her freedom for granted when she’s served up as a murder suspect. . .

It’s Independence Day in Winter Garden, Virginia, and the residents are gearing up for their annual celebration. The Down South Café is open and flourishing, and Amy Flowers is busy making pies and cakes for the holiday. The only thorn in her side is Chamber of Commerce director George Lincoln, who is trying to buy the café so he can tear it down and build a B&B on the site.

When George collapses while eating at the Down South, everybody assumes it’s a heart attack—until the autopsy declares it to be poisoning. Now, it’s up to Amy to prove her innocence before her liberty is lost.

Includes delicious Southern recipes!

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About the author
Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent, who also writes the national bestselling Embroidery Mystery series as Amanda Lee. She lives in Virginia with her family and is having a blast writing the Down South Café Mystery series. Connect with Gayle at gayletrent.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win copy of Silence Of The Jams, either Kindle/Nook (open to everyone) or signed copy (U.S. residents only), winner’s choice. The giveaway will end April 5, 2017. Good luck everyone!

Silence of the Jams is available at retail and online booksellers or you can ask your local library to get it for you.

My Musing ~ The Calamity Café by Gayle Leeson

The Calamity Café by Gayle Leeson is the first book in the NEW “Down South Café” mystery series. Publisher: Penguin Random House, June 2016

The Calamity CafeAspiring chef and small-town Virginia native Amy Flowers is ready to open her own café offering old-fashioned Southern food. But her dream may go up in smoke when someone kills the competition.

Tired of waiting tables at Lou’s Joint, Amy Flowers doesn’t just quit—she offers to buy the place from her bully of a boss, so she can finally open the café of her dreams. Amy can’t wait to serve the kind of Southern, down-home treats and dishes that her grandmother always loved to the kooky cast of regulars at the restaurant. She knows her comfort food will be the talk of the sweet, small town of Winter Garden, Virginia.

At first Lou Lou refuses to sell, but when she seems ready to make a deal, she tells Amy to come see her. Showing up at the eatery ready to negotiate, Amy is shocked to find her former employer murdered. As the prime suspect, Amy will have to clear her name by serving up the real killer—and with Lou Lou’s stack of enemies, that’s a tall order.

This fresh new drama was well-written with a comfortable tone and a nice even pacing that quickly became a page turner as I had to know what happens next. The author did a great job in presenting the suspects and all the facts that gave way to clues that took me closer to the identity of the killer with some interesting twists that enhanced the telling of this tale. I like how the author set up the mystery making it enticingly appealing with a charismatic cast of characters, engaging dialogue and that small-town feel that made me fall in love with the residents of Winter Garden, Virginia, from Homer to Aunt Bess to Dilly to name a few. This was a very enjoyable read and a welcome addition to the cozy genre and I look forward to more adventures with Amy and her friends in this delightfully charming debut series.

Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent

A Day in the Life of Amy Flowers by Gayle Leeson

The Calamity CafeLet me tell you what happened earlier today.

I took a deep breath, tightened my ponytail, and got out of my yellow Volkswagen Beetle. I knew from experience that the morning rush at Lou’s Joint had passed and that the lunch crowd wouldn’t be there yet. I put my letter of resignation in my purse and headed inside. Homer Pickens was seated at the counter with a cup of coffee. He was a regular . . . and when I say regular, I mean it. The man came to the café every morning at ten o’clock, lingered over a sausage biscuit and a cup of coffee, and left at ten forty. It was ten fifteen a.m.

“Good morning, Homer,” I said. “Who’s your hero today?”

“Shel Silverstein,” he said.

“Good choice.” I smiled and patted his shoulder. Homer was a retiree in his late sixties, and he chose a new hero every day.

You see, when Homer was a little boy, he noticed his daddy wasn’t around like other kids’ daddies. So he asked his mom about him. She told him that his dad had died but that he’d been a great baseball player, which is why she’d named him Homer. When Homer was a teenager, she’d finally leveled with him and said his father hadn’t been a baseball player . . . that he’d basically been a bum . . . but that Homer didn’t need a father to inspire him. Heroes were everywhere. Since then, Homer had chosen a new hero every day. It was like his inspiration. I looked forward to hearing Homer’s answer to my question every day I worked. When I was off from work, he told me who his hero was the day I asked plus the day I’d missed.

I could sympathize with Homer’s desire for a heroic father figure. My dad left Mom and me when I was four. I don’t really remember him at all.

My cousin Jackie came from the back with a washcloth and a spray bottle of cleaner. She and I had waitressed together at the café for over a year. Jackie had been there for two years, and in fact, it was she who’d helped me get the job.

My mind drifted to when I’d come back home to work for Lou Lou. I’d just finished up culinary school in Kentucky. Nana’s health had been declining for the past two or three years, but it had picked up speed. As soon as I’d graduated, I’d come home and started working at Lou’s Joint so I could be at Nana’s house within ten minutes if I was needed. I was only biding my time at first, waiting for a chef’s position to come open somewhere. But, then, Nana had died. And, although I knew I could’ve asked her for a loan to open a café at any time, I wouldn’t have. I guess I got my streak of pride from my mother. But the money Nana had left me had made my dream a reality—I could open my café and stay right here at home.

But when I asked Lou Lou about buying the café, here’s what she said:

“If you think you can just waltz in here all high and mighty and take my daddy’s business away from me, you’ve got another thing coming,” said Lou Lou.

“If you don’t sell to me, I’m going to open up my own café. I just thought I should give you fair warning before I do.”

Lou Lou scoffed. “You’ve got some nerve thinking you can run me out of business. You bring on the competition, girlie! We’ll see who comes out ahead.”

“All right.” I stood. “Thank you for your time. I’ll be here tomorrow for my shift.”

“Don’t bother. I’ll mail you your final check.”

“I’ll be here,” I said. “I don’t want any of the other waitresses to have to work a double on my account.”

“Suit yourself. But don’t be surprised if I take the cost of putting an ad in the paper for a new waitress out of your salary.”

I simply turned and walked out of the office. I knew that legally Lou Lou couldn’t take her ad cost out of my pay. But Lou Lou did a lot of things that weren’t right. I figured whatever she did to me in retaliation for my leaving wasn’t worth putting up a fight over . . . not now. I’d pick my battles.

I’d also pick my wallpaper, my curtains, my flooring, my chairs, stools, and tables, my logo. I wasn’t about to be outdone. I would have my café whether Lou Lou Holman liked it or not.


The Calamity Café is the first book in the Down South Café mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime, June 2016.

First in a new cozy mystery series featuring Southern cooking that is to die for.

Aspiring chef and small-town Virginia native Amy Flowers is ready to open her own café offering old-fashioned Southern food. But her dream may go up in smoke when someone kills the competition. . .

Tired of waiting tables at Lou’s Joint, Amy Flowers doesn’t just quit—she offers to buy the place from her bully of a boss, so she can finally open the café of her dreams. Amy can’t wait to serve the kind of Southern, down-home treats and dishes that her grandmother always loved to the kooky cast of regulars at the restaurant. She knows her comfort food will be the talk of the sweet, small town of Winter Garden, Virginia.

At first Lou Lou refuses to sell, but when she seems ready to make a deal, she tells Amy to come see her. Showing up at the eatery ready to negotiate, Amy is shocked to find her former employer murdered. As the prime suspect, Amy will have to clear her name by serving up the real killer—and with Lou Lou’s stack of enemies, that’s a tall order.

Includes delicious Southern recipes!

# # # # # # # # # # #

About the author
Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent, who also writes the national bestselling Embroidery Mystery series as Amanda Lee. She lives in Virginia with her family and is having a blast writing the Down South Café Mystery series.

Please visit Gayle Leeson online at www.gayleleeson.com and Gayle Trent and Amanda Lee (www.gayletrent.com).

GIVEAWAY: Leave comment below for your chance to win either a print (US entries only, please) or e-book (open to everyone) of The Calamity Café. The giveaway will end June 13, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

All comments are welcomed.