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November 14, 2009 / theoldsilly

Meet Gayle Trent – A Writer With the Right Recipes!

VBTI am a member of the Yahoo Author’s Group, VBT – Writers on the Move. This month we celebrate our one year anniversay with a special month-long lineup of feature posts on each other. For a complete list of all the events, click here. I was chosen to have the honor of doing my feature post on Gayle Trent, and I decided to give y’all some information on not only her as a person and author, but also her marvelous and unique publication, Murder Takes the Cake.murder takes the cake look inside

Like to read some excerpts? Just click on the book cover.

It is, as I said, a most unique idea for a mystery book plot. Here’s the opening couple of lines from the blurb on Amazon:

“This one starts out like classic crime fiction with the discovery of a corpse and the possibility that a homicide has taken place. The narrator is a woman who is struggling to survive with a home-based cake baking business.”

Gayle has also put together a rather snazzy and fetching media release – a good example to follow in form for any of you aspiring authors – to see it, click here.

Here’s an interview I have to share with you all. Gayle talks about, among other things, her book series of “cozy” mysteries, starting with the first book in the series, Dead Pan – please enjoy – I found it most interesting.


Marvin:  Tell us about Dead Pan.

Gayle TrentGayle: Dead Pan is the second book in the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery Series. When the book opens, a police officer is questioning Daphne about a cake she took to the Brea Ridge Pharmaceutical Company Christmas party.  Many people at the party got sick, but most recovered after being treated with a vaccine manufactured by the company. Only one, Fred Duncan, went into a coma and died. Coincidence? Or did somebody have it in for Fred?

Marvin: What would you like to overhear people saying about your book?

Gayle: “I laughed so hard when–” A local book club selected Murder Takes the Cake as one of their books; and when I attended the meeting, I was delighted to hear that they thought this or that part was funny. I also love it when people say, “I never guessed ______ was the villain.” Also, there was a review where a woman said she loved the main character’s relationships with various members of her family–that they were beautifully or realistically drawn. I felt like, “Oooh, she got it!” Actually, I’ll take anything that’s not negative. 🙂 

Marvin: What inspired you to write Dead Pan?

Gayle: I was reading an article in Wired magazine about clinical drug tests. I did some further investigation, and I came across some fascinating stuff. 

Marvin: What do you advise new writers to do?

Gayle: Read the genre they’re interested in writing. For instance, when my agent pitched my first three chapters of the embroidery mystery to the editor, the editor said she liked it but didn’t love it. I needed to revise it to make her love it in order for her to buy the book. I asked my agent who the editor had published recently. With two names in hand, I went to the bookstore and bought two books. I read them and found they were more descriptive than my own books. I went back, added more description and gave the heroine a bit more spunk, and the book sold. Sometimes you have to be flexible.

Marvin: Tell us three interesting/crazy things about you.

Gayle: 1) There is a feral cat who comes to visit us on holidays. We’re pretty sure he belongs to somebody because he’s always well fed. We think we’re his “other family.” We first realized his penchant for visiting on holidays when he came and cried at our door on Mother’s Day. He came back for Memorial Day and Father’s Day, and so on. Sometimes he’ll drop by for a visit, and we have to check the calendar to see what holiday it is.

2) I have an adorable cartoon Debbie Ridpath Ohi did of me with a cake (for “Murder Takes the Cake”) when her blog InkyGirl hosted me on my blog tour. The cartoon is framed and hanging above my desk. I figure I’ll never look that good in a picture again!

3) I once got to interview the famous criminalist Dr. Henry Lee via telephone for an article which appeared in Law and Order Magazine.

Marvin: And do you have a favorite quote?

Gayle: “It’s not enough to stare up the steps. You must step up the stairs.” – Vance Havner

Marvin: Do you have any funny writing stories to share?

Gayle: I once tried to “write” using my laptop’s voice recognition feature while baking brownies and peeling potatoes. Great multi-tasking, right? BUT, there is a drawback to using voice technology gadgets when you have a Southern drawl. Although, the exercise helped me get unblocked and continue on through the chapter I was struggling with, the computer misunderstood most of what I said. AND, to add insult to injury, when I read back over what it said and laughed, the computer translated that as “a a a a a a a a.”

Marvin: What exactly is a cozy mystery?

Gayle: Cozy mysteries usually take place in a small community and involve a relatively small number of people. The reader knows that someone within the intimate group will turn out to be the killer. Think Desperate Housewives with one of the cast turning out to be the killer as opposed to Criminal Minds or CSI. Cozy mysteries also feature an amateur sleuth as opposed to a professional detective, and the heroine has an interesting profession or hobby.


Gayle, thanks for sharing with us today. All right, peeps, let’s show Gayle some love in the comments, and please feel free to ask any questions. Gayle will be stopping by occasionally to interact with you all. Also, another incentive for y’all, anyone leaving a comment is eligible for a prize drawing. All the VBT authors participating in this month-long shindig are contributing gifts – everything from ebooks, to paperback books, to hardbound books, to puzzle games to microwaveable gourmet hot sandwiches! (Okay, that last one I made up, but LOTS of great stuff being given away, lol)

Okay, chow, gang – have a great day in the wonderful world of Bloggydom!

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Leave a Comment
  1. Ron Berry / Nov 14 2009 7:17 am

    I want one of those sandwiches. I do! I do! I like cozy mysteries and as a book reviewer, I get to enjoy many of them. My mother was a cake decorator, so that book sounds interesting. A story: We lived (mom, dad, and I) in a four room farmhouse. The bathroom was, well that’s another story. When mom made a big wedding cake, every available space would be filled with cakes, decorated. Then to protect them, they would be covered with plastic. I was told I was not even to touch the plastic or else! The only way to get from my bedroom was either out the window, or crawl on the floor.

    Yep, cake decorators can be dangerous. VRS (Voice Recognition Software) could make some very interesting dialogue. Have you tried doing audio books? With a good southern accent, that would be so interesting.

    • Gayle / Nov 14 2009 10:02 am

      Ron, that is such a funny story! I know that cake was tempting. Actually, I’ve always said I’d love to do audio books or cartoon voice acting. Maybe someday…. 🙂

  2. Cactus Annie / Nov 14 2009 9:29 am

    Great interview! I love cozy mysteries and Gayls’s books sound right my my alley!

    • Gayle / Nov 14 2009 10:02 am

      Thank you, Annie!

  3. Barbra Kelser / Nov 14 2009 9:54 am

    Enjoyed the interview, Gayle sounds like an interesting person and author. And I LOVE that Vance Havner quote!

    • Gayle / Nov 14 2009 10:04 am

      Thank you, Barbra. You’re so sweet. As for the quote, I actually found it on a box of Smart Start cereal, but don’t tell anybody. It might ruin my reputation for being cerebral. Yeah, right! LOL!

    • Gracyn / Apr 15 2011 11:44 pm

      Real brain power on display. Thanks for that aenwsr!

  4. Helen Ginger / Nov 14 2009 10:02 am

    What a wonderful post, Gayle. Thank you. I love the quote: “It’s not enough to stare up the steps. You must step up the stairs.” It’s one I had not heard before, but it’s a keeper.

    Straight From Hel

    • Gayle / Nov 14 2009 10:05 am

      I love your blog title, Helen! Would you be interested in having me visit your blog along my tour? Thanks so much for your encouragement.

  5. tdryden1 / Nov 14 2009 10:04 am

    I loved the interview. I also bake cakes, wedding, birthday, etc. and I love mysteries. Her books really sound like my type of book.
    I could see me now trying to do the voice, bake and cook dinner. That would make some interesting ready when I got done!!!!

    Thanks Marvin. Great interview. Wonderful stuff…

    • Gayle / Nov 14 2009 10:15 am

      Thank you. Are you a member of Cake Central? You can post pics of your cakes, recipes and share messages with other decorators. It’s cool. 🙂

  6. Stanley Berber / Nov 14 2009 10:06 am

    Great ideas for cozy mystery books, Gayle. Hey Marv, cool the way you set up the book cover to hyperlink to Amazon and read an excerpt. Loved what I read of first chapter! Best wishes for many sales, Gayle, I’m putting this one (Murder takes..) on my Christmas list!

    • Gayle / Nov 14 2009 10:16 am

      Oh, thank you, Stanley! How sweet are you? Today by commenting on the blog you’re entered to win a copy of Dead Pan, so good luck!

    • theoldsilly / Nov 14 2009 1:23 pm

      Thanks, Stan – it’s actually quite easy to hyperlink images on WordPress – glad you noticed and read the excerpt – I like it a lot, too!

  7. Marcus Franks / Nov 14 2009 10:10 am

    Loved this in the interview “I was reading an article in Wired magazine about clinical drug tests.” lol, guess that’s what it takes to be a good writer – you can find your inspiration just about ANYwhere, eh? Good post, nice job Gayle and Marv!

    • Gayle / Nov 14 2009 10:24 am

      You really can, Marcus. I got the idea for Book 3, Killer Sweet Tooth, when my son had a loose orthodontic wire. We called the orthodontist and she met us at her office at 10 p.m. Before we arrived, I said, “Oooh, wouldn’t it be terrible if we got there and she was dead?” And that’s exactly what happens in the KST opener. 🙂

  8. Darcía Helle / Nov 14 2009 12:37 pm

    Great interview, Marvin!
    Gayle, I’m looking forward to reading your books. They are on my wish list!

    • Gayle / Nov 14 2009 4:07 pm

      Thank you, Darcia!

  9. Carolyn Howard-Johnson / Nov 14 2009 1:17 pm

    Gayle, if I were giving out awards for the best cover of the years, yours would be it. Did I tell you I’m searching for an agent for my memoir that also has a foodie side to it? At some point, we’re gonna get to do some cross promotion.

    Nice blogpost, as usual, Marv.

    • theoldsilly / Nov 14 2009 1:25 pm

      Hey thanks HoJo – It’s easy to put up a good post when you have a quality guest to feature with all the great stuff to include like Gayle has. Like I always say, I like to surround myself with talented and intelligent people … makes ME look better! lol 😉

      • Gayle / Nov 14 2009 4:08 pm

        Aw, shucks, Marvin. You’re the one who makes us look better. 🙂

    • Gayle / Nov 14 2009 4:08 pm

      We’ll do that Carolyn. You’ll have to check out the Fatal Foodies blog at 🙂

  10. Karen Cioffi / Nov 14 2009 1:30 pm


    The cover of your book makes me hungry! And, my acupuncturist’s name is Dr. Henry Lee. 🙂

    Great post, Marvin,

    The Self-Publisher’s Guide 2nd Edition

    • Gayle / Nov 14 2009 4:10 pm

      Thank you, Karen. I was really thrilled Thorndike used the same cover for their large-print hardcover rather than the one originally shown on Amazon.

  11. quirkyloon / Nov 14 2009 2:03 pm


    Now I must have cake!


    And a good cozy always hits the spot.

    Nice interview. 🙂

    • Gayle / Nov 14 2009 4:11 pm

      Too bad for me, I never have to have an excuse to have cake. “oink” 😉

  12. John Standish / Nov 14 2009 2:14 pm

    Interesting author and interview! I didn’t know that “Cozy mysteries also feature an amateur sleuth as opposed to a professional detective, and the heroine has an interesting profession or hobby.”

    Creative book plot ideas, sounds like, Gayle – liked the Amazon excerpt too!

    • Gayle / Nov 14 2009 4:11 pm

      Thank you, John!

  13. Stephen Tremp / Nov 14 2009 2:50 pm

    Cozy mysteries would be difficult for me to write, so I appreciate those who can pen a terrific one. Me, my mind’s all over the place and this is reflected in multiple settings and lots of characters. I think its a real talent for someone to focus on a core group of characters in one ocale. Best wishes for your success.

    Stephen Tremp

    • Gayle / Nov 14 2009 4:12 pm

      Thanks, Stephen!

  14. Harry E. Gilleland, Jr. / Nov 14 2009 3:17 pm

    Very well put together blog post, Marvin. Excellent job!

    Gayle, great book cover, interesting book, and good answers to the questions. Best of luck to you with your book.



    • Gayle / Nov 14 2009 4:12 pm

      Thank you, Harry. I appreciate the encouragement.

  15. kerrycharacters / Nov 14 2009 3:49 pm

    Hi Gayle and Marvin,

    New writer here sucking up advice from Marvin like a sponge and now I’m going to quizz you. Great job on the book – I look forward to ordering and reading it. I would never have the discipline to write a murder mystery because I imagine you need to know where you are going with it from the outset. Is this the case? Do you start with a plot and then fill in the squares? Whatever you’re doing it seems to work! I just sit down and wait for my characters (all from real life) to come walzting in to my head. Thanks for all the interesting pointers, and for taking the time to talk to all of us. Thanks Marvin, as always, for your wonderful blog.

    • Gayle / Nov 14 2009 4:17 pm


      I know the basic direction in which I’m going. Let’s say, we were going from my house (the beginning of the book) to Disney World (the end). I would know at the outset that we need to go from Virginia, through North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia before getting to Florida. I would work from that rough outline and then make lots of stops along the way to make things more interesting. Those are the serendipitous moments you don’t plan for but that make for a really good book.

      Good luck with your writing! I hope you’ll keep us posted on your future successes.

  16. Martha Swirzinski / Nov 14 2009 6:58 pm

    Yummy, Yummy! The books sound just delicious. Can’t wait to get my hands on them. Thanks for a great interview.
    Martha Swirzinski

    • Gayle / Nov 14 2009 10:28 pm

      Thank you, Martha!

      • Rangle / Apr 15 2011 11:05 pm

        Great tihiknng! That really breaks the mold!

  17. Linda Asato / Nov 14 2009 11:18 pm

    Love your post. The cover is indeed yummy!

    • Gayle / Nov 15 2009 11:22 am

      Thank you, Linda!

  18. Dana / Nov 15 2009 12:33 am

    Gayle, the voice recognition story made me choke on my wine…

    • Gayle / Nov 15 2009 11:23 am

      Thank you, Dana. That is a trip. I keep trying to make it work for me. It keeps insisting that it won’t. 🙂

  19. yvonne lewis / Nov 15 2009 7:56 am

    A wonderful interview Gayle sounds quite a prolific writer, I do envy people who can write novels.


    • Gayle / Nov 15 2009 11:23 am

      Thank you, Yvonne.

  20. kathy stemke / Nov 15 2009 10:38 am

    Please forgive my late comment. I haven’t missed one yet. I had a yard sale yesterday. By the time I was finished I hit the bed and couldn’t even think.

    The post was terrific as usual Marvin. I love the way Gayle intergrats her love for cake decorating and writing. I love mysteries-I’m putting it on my Christmas list. Thanks.

    • Gayle / Nov 15 2009 11:24 am

      Oh, Kathy, bless your heart! Yard sales are fun to go to, but having your own is a whole ‘nuther story! ((shudder)) Thanks, though, for your encouragement!

  21. Liana / Nov 16 2009 12:19 pm

    I love your books and your favorite Quote! I dare to take the risk and step up!
    Perfect post Marvin!

  22. Helena Harper / Nov 17 2009 4:38 am

    Sorry, I’m late with my comment, Marvin – but hopefully better late than never. Very interesting post – I’m glad I finally know what a ‘cozy’ mystery actually is!

    Good luck with both your books, Gayle!

  23. AmyLK / Nov 17 2009 8:43 am

    Thanks for sharing with us, Gayle! I loved reading part of it at Amazon! I was starting to get into the story when it stopped! lol It’s on my Christmas list.


  1. Killer Cakes – Issue 3 | Gayle Trent

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