No Grinches Allowed in Zinnia

on December 18, 2018 Carolyn

Welcome to my fictional town of Zinnia, Mississippi! I’ll be giving a tour, asking for comments, telling you all where the dead bodies are hidden! Today through Friday the 21st, Zinnia is the featured town in Cozy Town Sleuths. Here’s the link to join me!

This magical mystery tour of fictional towns is the brainchild of Tonya Kappes and Carolyn Ridder Aspenson, founders of the Sleuthing Women. Each week, a new author presents the location for her mystery series.

[cover: A Gift of Bones]

For those who haven’t visited Zinnia, MS (between the pages of a book) my little town is set in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Zinnia is a small town, population about 6000, much like the town I grew up in. There’s a courthouse (it’s the county seat of the fictional Sunflower County), a jail, a sheriff’s office, a beauty salon, some clothing stores, a bail bondsman, the very ritzy Prince Albert Hotel, the Zinnia Bank, The Club (an exclusive golf and socializing facility), the Sweet Heart Drive-thru, and the heart of the town, Millie’s Café, where the finest eats can be found.

While the lay-out of the town bears a strange resemblance to my actual hometown of Lucedale, Mississippi, far down in the southeast corner of the state, the buildings and architecture don’t really count for that much. What really matters are the people—the friends. Sarah Booth Delaney, her partner in detecting, Tinkie Richmond, her friend Cece Dee Falcon, Sheriff Coleman Peters, Harold Erkwell—the whole cast. Sarah Booth has friendships from childhood, just as I do. And don’t forget Sweetie Pie, Chablis, Pluto, Reveler, and Miss Scrapiron.

My hometown is in — the pine barrens,– not the vast expanse of ultra-fertile soil in the Mississippi Delta, which is kind of a triangular area bordered by the Mississippi River on the west and the Loess Hills on the east side and ends at the tip near Yazoo City. Here’s a little map—sorry it is not as clear as I would like. I put a dot where Lucedale might be. My little area of the world is 40-acres and a mule farming. The Delta is 4000 acres and huge combines and tractors. It is farming on a huge scale with enormous profits and losses. Long ago, a large slave, convict, and/or sharecropper population worked the farms.


During this week of mine hosting Cozy Town Sleuths, we’ll explore how geography informs character—would Sarah Booth be the same person if she’d been born in Nashville or Kansas or NYC? If she’d been born to wealth? It’s an interesting idea. Geography isn’t destiny, but it does shape our values.

What do you love about small towns? Have you ever lived in one? Been arrested in one? (I do have some stories!) Who are your favorite Zinnia regulars, and if you were at Millie’s Café, what would you order?

These are all things we’ll discuss this week of hosting the FB party at Cozy Town Sleuths. And there will be prizes. Just saying!

In other news, the second Sarah Booth mystery, BURIED BONES, was on sale and shot up to #1 in amateur sleuths and ghosts! Here’s a little photo with my bestseller ribbon!

And don’t forget that A GIFT OF BONES is available. It was on the Publisher’s Alley bestseller list for over a month and rose to #9 (no ribbons for that, dang it!). Check out some of the delicious reviews from readers.

Folks, I had a wild idea. I have tons of Harlequin Intrigue books I wrote decades ago. After brainstorming a bit, I thought to myself—this would be a cool way to raise money for my charity Good Fortune Farm Refuge! So here’s the Grab Bag Sale! TWO random books for $6 or FIVE random books for $15. $3 a book basically and every penny goes to rescue animals to get them medical treatment and loving homes. And because this is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, there is ZERO TAX and ZERO shipping charges. Write to me at with the subject line of “Grab Bag Sale” and include your shipping address and the quantity of books you want and my assistant Priya will e-mail you a PayPal checkout link.

And don’t forget that SLEIGH BELLS AND SLEUTHING—a wonderful digital collection of 16 stories by generous, talented writers is still available for $4.99. The proceeds all go to the rescue I founded almost a decade ago. Every penny goes to the animals, and we hope to be able to help some people who can’t afford it to spay/neuter some pets.

And last but not least! Merry Christmas. I wish you all the most wonderful of holiday seasons with only good news, good cheer, and good friends around you. The critters at GFFR and I wish you happy, healthy, and so many Christmas goodies that you’re full as a tick on a fat hound dog! Also, I’m giving away FOUR books in my December Giveaway.

Here’s some blues for you for Christmas from me and the hounds! The cats prefer Dean Martin, but the dogs like Sonny Boy!) And Happy New Year! Bonus blues to take you into 2019!

Carolyn and the Critters—Rockin’ Toward 2019!