Guest Post: Jess Lourey and Shannon Baker

Lourey/Baker Double Booked Tour

Howdy and thanks for letting us crash at your place today. I’m Shannon Baker and this is my good friend and partner in blogging crime, Jess Lourey. Jess and I discovered we had books launching the same day (September 6 and both available for preorder) and since we were both going out on the virtual road, thought it might be fun to go together. Ergo, 1ec76f9f-1088-4beb-a3bf-cc318fae0cb9the Lourey/Baker Double Booked Tour.

Jess’s thriller, Salem’s Cipher (Midnight Ink) features agoraphobic cryptanalyst Salem Wiley, who finds herself both target and detective in a modern day witch hunt.

Shannon’s debut in the Kate Fox mystery series is Stripped Bare (Forge). It’s been called Longmire meets The Good Wife.stripped-bare-2 (2)

We’re coming to the end of this month-long prelaunch blog tour that seemed like a really good idea when we hatched it. It has been lots of fun getting around to blogs, meeting readers, and especially hanging out with Jess. We’ve talked a lot about books and writing craft and revealed way more about ourselves than is prudent. So today, even though we don’t write cozies, I thought we’d talk cooking and what our characters would or wouldn’t create in their kitchens.

Shannon here: Kate is the queen of the crock pot. She’s good with sandwiches and not too bad at canned soup. It isn’t that she can’t cook, it’s that she’s always been too darned busy to bother.

She grew up in the smallest of small towns in the Nebraska Sandhills, smack in the middle of nine kids. Her older sister, Louise, is the ultimate caretaker and she loves to cook. She’s a lot like my ex mother-in-law. She pages through magazines and newspapers and is always tearing out recipes. But because she lives in a town with a grocery store the size of a phone booth, she can’t always get the ingredients called for. She’s forever substituting. Beef for veal. Chili powder for paprika. Makes for interesting meals.

Kate went from there to managing a ranch without a ranch hand. A package of Lipton onion soup and a chuck roast into the crock pot before heading out for chores, turns into a hearty dinner at noon. Yes, noon. That’s when ranchers eat their big meal.

Kate often spends her evenings alone, since her not-so-devoted husband gets home late more often than not. Usually, he’s got a good excuse, though Kate avoids checking up on him. So in honor of our feisty heroine for whom cooking is an afterthought at best, here is chocolate microwave mug cake.

Jess: what would agoraphobic Salem cook?

Jess here, and crap! Can you believe I never even thought about what Salem Wiley would cook? It’s funny because I am passionate about gardening, and growing my own veggies and herbs leads naturally to baking fresh rosemary bread and cooking bubbling minestrones and grilling marinated vegetables. Mira James, the protagonist of my humorous Murder by Month mysteries, got all my gardening and culinary talents. I’ve apparently left my agoraphobic cryptanalyst to starve in her apartment.

Wait, she does get donuts delivered, and she most definitely appreciates good food. Here’s a peek of when she first tastes savory quail egg soup in San Francisco’s Chinatown after days on the run:

She carried the steaming pot from the stove and poured savory broth and plump shrimp into each of their bowls. Moving to the fridge, she took out a tray of tiny blue quail eggs and cracked two in each of their soups. The hot broth poached the whites immediately, turning them milky. Finally, she drizzled lime juice over the top and stood back.

Salem wasn’t sure whether to dig in. She didn’t want to get swatted again.

“Eat!” Lu yelled. She settled into a chair across from them, smiling like a proud mother as the two women slurped the soup. “Good, eh? Real food here.”

It was better than good. It was heaven. The broth flowed into Salem’s depths, filling her with warmth, the citrus-scented chicken broth as sweet and glowing as the sun. When Salem bit into one of one of quail eggs, the rich, creamy yolk added an impossibly lush layer to the already complex flavors. She could tell the way that Bel was chewing, her eyes closed in ecstasy, that she had just tried one of the eggs in her own soup.

In case that soup sounds as good to you as it does to me, I’ve included the recipe below. Thank you for hanging out with us today!


A bit about the books:

Salem’s Cipher: Salem Wiley is a genius cryptanalyst, courted by the world’s top security agencies ever since her quantum computing breakthrough. She’s also an agoraphobe shackled to a narrow routine since her father’s suicide. When her intelligence work unexpectedly exposes a sinister plot to assassinate the country’s first viable female presidential candidate, Salem finds herself both target and detective in a modern day witch hunt. Drawn into a labyrinth of messages encrypted by Emily Dickinson and codes tucked inside the Beale Cipher a hundred years earlier, Salem begins to uncover the truth: an ancient and ruthless group is hell-bent on ruling the world, and only a select group of women stands in its way.

Stripped Bare: Just when everything seems about perfect, someone leaves the barn door open and all hell breaks loose. At least, that’s what it feels like for Kate Fox. Born and raised in the Nebraska Sandhills, smack in the middle of eight interfering siblings, related to everyone in the county by one degree of separation or less, Kate’s managed to create a her perfect life.

A shattering phone calls hits Kate like a January blizzard. A local rancher is murdered and her husband, the sheriff, is shot. When her husband is suspected of the murder, Kate vows to find the killer.

Jess and I are both giving away a copy of our new books, Salem’s Cipher and Stripped Bare. For a chance to win, tell us your favorite recipe (a link or title, not the whole thing), or leave a comment.

And to add a little sweetener to the recipe:

If you order Salem’s Cipher before September 6, 2016, you are invited to forward your receipt to to receive a Salem short story and to be automatically entered in a drawing to win a 50-book gift basket mailed to the winner’s home!

If you order Stripped Bare before September 6, 2016, you are invited to forward your receipt to to receive a Kate Fox short story and be entered for a book gift basket mailed to your home.

Chocolate Mug Cake

1 egg
3 T milk
3 T oil

1/4 C flour
1/3 C sugar
2 T cocoa

Spray large mug with oil, and pour in batter
top with 3 T Chocolate chips
Microwave on high for 3 to 3.5 min
Enjoy late at night in your PJs


Savory Quail Egg Soup

8 cups chicken broth
2 T sesame oil
1 small onion, diced
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 T minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 T fish sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of three limes
12 fresh quail eggs
Fresh cilantro and a fourth lime for garnish

Crack all 12 quail eggs into a separate bowl. Heat sesame oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Sautee onion until soft. Add garlic and ginger and sauté one more minute, stirring constantly so it doesn’t brown. Add shrimp and salt and pepper to taste, stirring occasionally, until shrimp is pink, about 2-3 minutes. In a separate stock pot, bring chicken broth to a boil. Stir in the juice of three limes and the fish sauce and salt to taste. Stir in shrimp, onion, garlic, and ginger mixture. Scoop into bowls, dropping two quail eggs (yolk and white) into each of six bowls, covering the egg with hot broth so it cooks. Garnish with cilantro and serve.


Jessica (Jess) Lourey is best known for her critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries, which have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist, the latter calling her writing “a splendid mix of humor and suspense.” She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, a recipient of The Loft’s 2014 Excellence in Teaching fellowship, and leads interactive writing workshops all over the world. Salem’s Cipher, the first in her thrilling Witch Hunt Series, hits stores September 2016. Visit Jess at

Shannon Baker writes the Kate Fox mystery series (Tor/Forge). Stripped Bare, the first in the series, features a sheriff in rural Nebraska and has been called Longmire meets The Good Wife. Baker also writes the Nora Abbott Mystery Series (Midnight Ink), a fast-paced mix of murder, environmental issues and Hopi Indians published by Midnight Ink. Baker was voted Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2104 Writer of the Year. She writes from the Colorado Rockies to the Nebraska Sandhills, the peaks of Flagstaff and the deserts of Tucson. Visit Shannon at


21 thoughts on “Guest Post: Jess Lourey and Shannon Baker”

  1. I love seeing both of you here. And even though I dont’ write cozies either, I love your recipes. Especially the chocolate thingie. Quail eggs? Are those things I can actually buy?

    But most important: September 6th is my 36th anniversary and the best gift I can think of is for the two of you to be launched into the stratosphere you deserve.

    You. Are. Awesome.


  2. Quail eggs? Which hatch into those cute little puff things that run around my back yard hiding under the blue plumbago? Now, microwave mug cake, that I might try. 🙂

    My go to fav is a Rachel Ray recipe in “Express Lane Meals” – Smoky Chipotle Sweet-Potato Chicken Stoup. ‘Nuf said.
    Or wait, maybe Thai Chicken Pizza, with bean sprouts, cilantro, and chopped peanuts. Both are 30-minute recipes, which means they take 2 hours. 🙂


  3. Awww, we did it all for you, Peg. 🙂 Happy anniversary! Your kind words are a gift right back to us.

    Ha, Dana, ain’t it the truth! The two hour “30-minute recipes.”

    To both of you, quail eggs are cute and tiny and hard to crack. I have a friend like that. Her name is Cindy. But in any case, you can find quail eggs at your local Asian grocery store, usually, and they are a fun addition to any spicy soups. For reals!


  4. Good morning all you early birds. Peg, you’ll understand my lateness this morning since I was at the Broncos game in Phx last night. Too bad the Broncos didn’t show up, too. (badumpa) Hi Dana — just sent you a note on yesterday’s blog! And Kate — so excited for your newest release expected in a few months, and as you’ve heard, sleep now.

    Last spring I tried Blue Apron, that service that sends fresh food to your house and the recipes to cook. I really liked it. A lot. But summer hit and it’s always too hot to eat, let alone cook, so I cancelled it.


  5. Thanks for visiting and best wishes on your new releases! They sound fantastic. While spoiling my kids recently with lots of good food, our go-to favorite was Diane Mott Davidson’s Julian’s Manicotti. Yum!


  6. Thanks for making us a stop on your blog tour! The chocolate cake – I’m all over that. I suspect my entire family would be, too. I can’t do the soup (at least for the family) because my son is allergic to shellfish, specifically shrimp. But maybe for the hubby and I…

    Favorite recipe? I’m all over the slow-cooker stuff. I make amazing pulled pork. I have an Emeril Lagasse Chocolate Cream pie that I trot out on holidays (because making the chocolate filling is time consuming). In the winter, I love a good, hearty pot roast (sorry, no recipe – grab a chuck roast, add garlic, onion, spices, rosemary, and eventually potatoes). In the summer, simple chicken breast (I try to vary the seasonings), grilled, thrown together with fresh veggies from the garden for a cooling summer salad.

    I guess I’m a pretty simple cook, eh?


  7. I’m so glad the four of you characters are here, Jess and Shannon! I know I get along with you two, and I’m pretty sure I’d get along just fine with Kate and Salem. First, if one doesn’t have to cook, then why on earth would one cook?? And donuts delivered?? They’d have to break down the front wall of my house to get me out. As far as recipes, I’m not fancy enough for quail eggs, but I wrote a whole cookbook full of non-fancy stuff. So why, you ask, would someone who hates to cook write a cookbook? Because with three kids and a hubs, I didn’t have much choice. I wanted outta the kitchen as quickly as possible so I figured out how to do stuff fast and easy. Plus, I didn’t like the way I was spreading across my chair. BSP …

    It’s been fun peeking in on your book launch tour. Great success and smooches to the both of you!


  8. Mary, I love the crock pot, too! I have a Mexican pork recipe that makes carnitas for the whole county. And Becky, I bought your Lazy Lo-Cal book the first time I met you at a library event. It is all you say it is! From you I learned about Wholly Guacamole and Laughing Cow.


  9. Shannon, Kate needs a boy toy on the side who is a trained chef. I don’t own a microwave but I am going to try out the quail egg soup, thanks Jess! Can’t wait for your books!


      1. Shannon. Oh. Yes.
        I am super excited to be the recipient of Jess’s fabulous new book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you SO much. A wonderful birthday present 🙂


  10. You ladies just make me chuckle with every post I read. Thank you for that. Began Salem’s Cipher the other night and definitely need to get Stripped Bare soon. As to my favorite recipe, well, I have a lot of them and favorites in every category. I love appetizers, special appetizers, but easy ones to make, (in 30 minutes or less, yes), one of which is fresh asparagus and cheese rolls. As for an entree, my favorites include lobster or beef. Rare beef, prime rib if possible, with lots of garlic on the outside, and for desserts, for simple it would be crème brulee, and other favs are homemade fruit pies except for pumpkin. NO pumpkin. I also love to make homemade peach ice cream but that is a snack not a REAL dessert in our house. I used to write food columns, so my favorites changed from week to week back then, but now it is the easier meals to make but ones that have lots and lots of flavor. I now feel like going to my fridge and getting out a piece of pecan pie with all of my food talk, and then settling into bed to read. Keep up the great work girls.
    Good “stuff”.


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