Sourdough Bread Bowl Cake

In Sourdough Dead, Kayla makes a cake that looks like Jason’s clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, a dish she can’t get enough of. She even uses sourdough starter in the batter.

I’m not nearly as good a baker as Kayla, but I attempted a version of the cake. My cake was made from a box, but otherwise it’s similar to Kayla’s recipe. I baked the cake in a glass bowl, flipped it over, and sliced off the top. I took out part of the insides and scooped in a mixture of whipped cream and pineapple chunks to represent the chowder (the pineapple represents potatoes). Lastly, I added green sprinkles on top of the whipped cream mixture to look like parsley.

Sourdough Dead Joins the Family!

Sourdough Dead, the final installment of The HSP Mysteries, comes out today! Kayla has her hands full with Halloween coming up, a swimming competition to train for, and, of course, a murder! This time, her boyfriend, restaurateur Jason Banks, is the main suspect and she’ll do anything she can to clear his name. Sugar and Flour are up to their usual antics, and all Kayla’s friends are back, too. I hope you enjoy!

On Tour

My recent blog tour for Stabbed in the Tart was a great success! The tour was sponsored by Goddess Fish Promotions.

Fabulous and Brunette said:

This book is an interesting, intriguing, and stimulating cozy mystery read!!

Andi’s Book Reviews said:

I also admired Kayla’s tenacity in trying to prove her innocence. After all, her life and reputation are on the line. And kudos for her for having the guts to go ahead and interview all of these people, in spite of her HSP and introversion.

The Faerie Review said:

The setting was unique and fun, and very well described. Perfect for cozy mystery lovers.

Because I said so…and other adventures in Parenting said:

I hope to read more from this author. I love the way she wrote, the adventure she took me on, and I enjoyed learning about HSP and what they go through.

Iron Canuck Reviews said:

I enjoyed this cozy mystery. I loved how, in the middle of everything, Kayla had a chance to reconnect with her father and how they reminisced about her childhood. She was very intelligent and logical, and strong enough to begin her own business. The secondary characters added another dimension to her personality and the story.

Gina Rae Mitchell said:

Any lover of cozy mysteries will enjoy Stabbed in the Tart. It’s funny, poignant, informative, and full of red herrings, so many red herrings. There are plenty of twists, turns, fun, and adventure to keep the reader turning page after page.

I’m off to add more books by Carol Ayer to my TBR!

Novels Alive said:

With an entertaining plot, engaging characters, and solid writing, Stabbed in the Tart is a fun read for a cold winter day.

Our Town Book Reviews said:

This is a cute cozy, and it has a good mystery. Carol Ayer seems to be very good at throwing in a few red herrings making this a good read and a good puzzle.

Bad Days

I’ve been wanting to write a post for a while now about “bad HSP days.” I’ve had a couple recently.

I made the mistake of going to the doctor the day before Thanksgiving. A 35-minute drive turned into 90 minutes because of horrendous traffic and getting lost. I was very late for my appointment. Although I was told the doctor would still see me, the assistant made sure to tell me a patient who was “on time” would be seen first, and it would “be a while” before I was seen. I was already feeling overwhelmed from being late and from being unable to contact the office (my phone dropped the call twice) and then getting lost. Now I felt I was being criticized, which made me feel worse. The assistant took my blood pressure and it was 167/71–very high for me. I tried to explain all that I had gone through but I felt that the assistant really didn’t care. All she knew is I was late and I was inconveniencing everyone. I finally saw the doctor, but for only 10-15 minutes. I didn’t feel particularly satisfied by the visit.

Then, when I got out of the building, I couldn’t find my car. It took me 20 minutes to finally find it. When I parked before the appointment, I noted the “C” on my parking space and assumed I was in Parking Lot C. Nope. I was in Parking Lot B. The only thing I can think of is that the C on the space meant “Compact.” I finally made it to the freeway to go home, but once again, I hit a solid block of traffic. I barely made it home before dark and I’d left at 1:00! Four hours for a 15-minute appointment! The whole experience was entirely too overstimulating and it took me quite a while to calm down.

I had a second “bad HSP day” yesterday. Our next-door neighbor had a tree trimmed in her backyard. The noise was incredibly loud. Even when I moved to a different room and put in earplugs, I could hear it. It went on for hours. I began to feel physically ill, and I eventually had to leave the house. Fortunately, when I came back, it was over, but the damage had been done. I was severely overstimulated.

I’m sure other HSPs have had similar days but I’m afraid I don’t have any words of wisdom here. Some days are, unfortunately, going to be like this. Some of what happened was under my control (I should have foreseen the traffic and should have had better directions when I went to the doctor) but much was not. All we can do is try to calm our sensitive nervous systems when it’s all over. For me, that meant alone time and a long bath. I lived to fight another day!

Easy Cherry Meringue Tarts

In Stabbed in the Tart, Kayla makes three different desserts for the Valentine’s Gourmet and Stay Weekend at the historic Countryside Inn. This variation on her cherry meringue tarts is incredibly simple and takes only a few minutes (plus chilling in the refrigerator).


Graham cracker miniature tart shells (6-pack)

1 can of cherry pie filling

6 eggs

Vanilla extract (optional)

Sugar (optional)

Spoon cherry pie filling equally into tart shells. Separate egg yolks from the whites; discard yolks. Whip the whites until stiff (adding vanilla extract and/or sugar if desired). Spoon meringue onto tarts. Bake at 400 degrees for a few minutes, checking often. Chill before eating.

That’s it! Enjoy!

It’s Here!

Stabbed in the Tart is now out in the world!

I’m excited to share this second installment of The HSP Mysteries with you. Kayla, home baker and HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), becomes a person of interest and a possible suspect in the murder of a fellow chef.

Kayla’s father, Andrew, is a major character in this book, and we see the two work together to try to clear Kayla’s name. Their previously uneasy relationship–partly due to decades-old conflicts over Kayla’s sensitivity–undergoes a few changes along the way.

Meanwhile, Jason and Kayla are not on the same page about their own relationship and have to figure out the path forward. Add in some yummy desserts, shenanigans from Sugar and Flour, and a fun discovery about an old amusement park, and that’s Stabbed in the Tart! I hope you’ll check it out.

Update on Stabbed in the Tart

Stabbed in the Tart has a release date of October 12, 2021! It is now available for preorder.

Home bakery owner and Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) Kayla Jeffries has been hired for the Gourmet and Stay Valentine’s Weekend at the historic Countryside Inn in Los Robles, California. When one of her fellow cooks is murdered during dinner service, she becomes a person of interest–and a possible suspect.

Stabbed in the Tart

I’m excited to announce that the second book in The HSP Mysteries, Stabbed in the Tart, is expected to come out this October.

Kayla’s involved in another murder investigation, and this time she’s a possible suspect.

Andrew Jeffries, Kayla’s father, makes his series debut in this book. He and Kayla have not always gotten along well, so things might get interesting!

I hope to share the cover soon.

Upcoming Events

NOTE: All prizes from the events below have been mailed. A few have been delayed on the way to their destinations but should arrive soon. Thank you for entering!

I was recently hosted by author Jackie Layton on her blog. Jackie writes the A Low Country Dog Walker Mysteries. Look for me as part of Jackie’s Thanksgiving post coming soon. Thank you, Jackie! UPDATE: Post now available

I am going on an Escape with Dollycas blog tour in December (the 3rd through the 16th). I will be offering a prize package during the tour.

Also, I will be participating in 12 Days of Cozies in December. I will be on Twitter at 7 AM (Pacific) Saturday, December 5th. Look for a giveaway on December 11th around 5 AM Pacific.

Lastly, I’m having a Facebook party via A Cozy Experience at 5 PM (Pacific) on Wednesday, December 9th. There will be at least one giveaway.

Hope you can join me!