Cozy Wednesday with Joyce Tremel – Author of To Brew or Not To Brew #Giveaway too!

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Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am so happy to welcome Joyce Tremel to Escape With Dollycas.
Her first novel, To Brew or Not To Brew, was released yesterday!!

Joyce Tremel 1

First, I’d like to say thank you to Lori for letting me be her guest for today. It’s an honor to be here!

If someone had told me even ten years ago that I’d be writing cozies, I’m not sure I would have believed them. Back then, I was the part-time secretary for my local police department and the book I was writing was more of a police procedural, and my main character was an ex-cop who taught martial arts. It was definitely NOT a cozy in any way, shape, or form. It made sense to me to “write what you know.” I knew cops and I knew martial arts—I had a second degree blackbelt in Taekwondo.

Then in 2008, I was let go from that job and I wondered what to do next. Did I find another part-time job? Or should I take the opportunity to write full time and see what happened? Fortunately we didn’t need the tiny bit of income I’d had so I chose the latter and started a new book. The new story featured a police secretary named Irma Jean. She was a bit of a smart aleck. I let myself write without putting a label of “procedural” or “cozy” or anything else on the book. I just wrote the story. When it was finished I sent out queries and an agent liked it enough to work on revising it with me. She had me restructure the book and soon it was ready to submit to publishers.

Except…she dropped a bombshell on me. She was leaving to take her dream job with a publishing company. Eventually I found another agent who started submitting the book. Then she left agenting to go back to school, but the good news was another agent at the same agency took me on. Whew.

to brew or not to brewTo make this long story a little shorter, In Spite of Murder ended up on the desk of an editor at Berkley. She liked the story but the book wasn’t cozy enough for their line. She liked my voice and wanted to know if I’d be interested in writing a cozy.

Well, YES.

I’d been reading a lot of cozies and I realized deep down that was what I wanted to write. That was the genre I had the voice for. I just had to figure out what my book would be about. I didn’t do crafts. I did help hubby with some home improvement type things, but there were already cozies that covered that topic. I tried to think up unusual occupations, but it seemed like most had been done. It finally dawned on me ( I may have been drinking a beer at the time) that there were no cozies with a craft brew theme.

Max O’Hara, my protagonist would be a female brewmaster and I’d set it in my hometown of Pittsburgh. She’d have five older brothers and her dad would be a homicide detective. Her romantic interest would be her childhood crush—the best friend of one of her brothers. I wrote a proposal for what I was calling the Brewing Trouble Series. The proposal included a synopsis of the first book, To Brew Or Not To Brew, plus ideas for following books. I sent the proposal along with the first three chapters to my agent.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

I am so thrilled to be able to finally share this book with readers. I can’t wait for you to meet and spend some time with all my characters. I hope you’ll love them as much as I do. Someone recently asked me if I had a favorite character and I think they were surprised it wasn’t the hunky ex-hockey player-chef, Jake. (An early reader said she needed more Jake in her life, lol.) I happen to adore Elmer, the ninety-two year old World War II vet. He says anything and everything that’s on his mind and doesn’t care who hears it!

I feel very comfortable in the world of writing cozies. Right now, I can’t imagine doing anything else!


to brew or not to brewTo Brew or Not to Brew:
A Brewing Trouble Mystery

Brand New Series
Cozy Mystery
Setting – Pennsylvania
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery (December 1, 2015)
In Imprint of Penguin Ransom House LLC
Cover Illustration by Bruce Emmett
Cover Design by Jason Gill
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425277690
goodreads-badge-add-plusShop Indie Bookstores

An all-new mystery series set in a Pittsburgh craft brew pub, featuring a brewmaster with a head for sleuthing.

The Allegheny Brew House is a dream come true for Maxine “Max” O’Hara, who went all the way to Germany for her brewmaster certification, and is now preparing to open her own craft brew pub in a newly revitalized section of Pittsburgh. But before she can start pouring stouts and lagers to thirsty throngs, there’s trouble on tap. Suspicious acts of sabotage culminate in Max finding her assistant brewmaster and chef Kurt Schmidt strangled in one of the vats.

Between rescuing a stray gray tabby she names Hops and considering a handsome ex-hockey player as her new chef, Max doesn’t have a lot of time to solve a murder. But with a homicide detective for a dad, she comes to criminal investigation naturally. And if someone is desperate enough to kill to stop her from opening, Max needs to act fast—before her brand-new brew biz totally tanks…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This series is off to an exceptional start. This author has a strong cozy voice and she has written quite a mystery.

Hometown girl, Maxine “Max” O’Hara, comes back from Germany ready to open The Allegheny Brew House. But clearly someone is doing everything they can to prevent her from opening. The acts of vandalism were troublesome but finding her chef Kurt Schmidt dead in one of her precious vats made her wonder if her dream was ever going to come true. Her dad, a police detective, thinks Kurt’s death may have been an accident. Max knows it was murder and she is going to prove it.

I like these characters. We only meet Kurt briefly but I really liked him too and was sad he was the victim. But as Kurt exits, Jake enters. He is a friend of Max’s brothers and she had a huge crush on him. Max comes from a big family, 5 older brothers. We are also introduced to a kitten Max rescues and quickly names Hops.

Brew pubs are popping up all over and I am overjoyed that they have entered the cozy scene. The author educates us just enough without getting too technical about a how craft brews are made. We also learn a little brewing history as the building housing the The Allegheny Brew House was once a part of a large commercial brewery.

I did figure out the guilty party a bit before Max but that did not take away from my enjoyment. I wanted to see what happened with Jake and Max and see Max realize her dream. I think the two of them make a great team. She also needs someone to have her back because she does speak her mind even when she could be talking to a killer. I guess it is good she not only has Jake but her family and friends there when she needs them.

We are given a couple recipes at the end of the book and just a taste of Tangled Up In Brew, the next book in the series. I will be ready to belly up to the bar as soon as it is released.

just you and a friend


Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About The Author
Joyce Tremel was a police secretary for ten years and more than once envisioned the demise of certain co-workers, but settled on writing as a way to keep herself out of jail. Her flash fiction has appeared in Mysterical-e, and her non-fiction has been published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police magazine. She lives in a suburb of Pittsburgh with her husband and a spoiled cat. Her novel, TO BREW OR NOT TO BREW is the first in the Brewing Trouble mystery series. The second book in the series, tentatively titled TANGLED UP IN BREW, will be released late next year.


Thanks to the people at Penguin I have 2 copies to give away!
1 copy goes to the Fan of The Month

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Leave a comment for Joyce for 5 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End December 16, 2015 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

24 thoughts on “Cozy Wednesday with Joyce Tremel – Author of To Brew or Not To Brew #Giveaway too!

  1. I enjoyed reading about the author and how she started to write (my personal favorite) cozy mysteries.

  2. I’m always looking for a new-to-me author to try. I love your cover and your book sounds like one I would really enjoy. Thanks for a chance to win a copy,

  3. My dad wasn’t a brewmaster, but he made some super home brew that I wish I had learned how to make, too. I’d love to read this book.

  4. My son is a home brewer and I have learned a lot about brewing from him even though I don’t drink. He would love to be able to open a brewery one day. I would love to read your book.

  5. This book screams to me. I grew up in Pittsburgh and my brother makes his own beer and wine. This book just shot to the top of my tbr list. Thanks for the chance to win.

  6. When I first read the description of this book it automatically went on the TBR list. I am looking forward to having a chance to read this soon.

  7. Joyce and Lori,
    This sounds like a great new series. Can’t wait to start it. Thanks for the opportunity to win the book too!

  8. Thanks for all the lovely comments, everyone! I’m glad so many of “yinz guys” (as we say in Pittsburgh) are looking forward to reading the book. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

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