A Day in the Life of Juliet Townsend by Lori Rader-Day

Little Pretty  ThingsIf you’re going to spend the day with me, you’ll have to take the baseboards.

I hate cleaning the baseboards and, for some reason, all the women who stay at the Mid-Night Inn are crazy about clean baseboards. But we don’t get that many women here, really. Most of the guests—our manager Billy makes us call them that, not “customers”—are guys. Guys and bickering families with a bunch of kids, all with sticky hands.

We only get two kinds of guests at the Mid-Night Inn, anyway: Desperate people who can’t quite make it to another, better place further down the road and coupon clippers looking for the cheapest, lowest-rent option they can find. We’re cheap, sure. But that’s because the baseboards might come with a little dust, OK?

Lu doesn’t mind the baseboards, so she does a better job when she’s on the cleaning cart and I’m behind the front desk. To pay her back, I get the higher stuff she can’t reach when I’m on the cart, cobwebs on the second floor walkway and stuff like that. If you spend a day with me, you’ll spend it with Lu, too. Lu and me—we make a good team. We have fun making fun of Billy, goofing off, talking about the things we wish we were doing, other than cleaning at a crapheap roadside motel. Lu is pretty much my best friend, even though she’s older than I am and has three kids and a husband. I have none of that—just me and my mom. But I’ve been friends with people I had lot in common with before, and it didn’t stick. Like, everything in the world in common, and then poof, she’s out of my life forever.

It’s weird to think about that now, how I used to have a best friend and now—who knows where she is? Well, I heard she lives in Chicago, actually. Maddy Bell. Probably has a great life, everything she ever wanted. She was always prettier, always had Beck, her boyfriend, hanging all over her. I got better grades, maybe, and got into less trouble. Not that any of that ever panned out. But she was always braver than I was and, yeah, on the track team, she was always a split second faster.

It’s crazy the difference a split second can make.

Ten years. Our high school reunion is coming up. I don’t plan on going, but I wonder . . . well, it doesn’t matter. I wonder a lot of things. What would have been different if I’d won a couple of those races back in school? What would I be doing if I hadn’t left college after one semester? If my dad hadn’t died and my mom hadn’t been so sad all this time? What if—but I could spend the next ten years playing that game. The game nobody really wins.

If I were Maddy Bell, I would never come back here. But what if she does? What if she walks through the front door of the Mid-Night some night? Maddy Bell, all big time and as beautiful as ever?

I don’t know what I’d do, but I bet it wouldn’t be pretty.

You can read more about Juliet in Little Pretty Things, published by Seventh Street Books.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 13 for the chance to win a print copy of Little Pretty Things. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.

About the author
Lori Rader-Day’s debut mystery, The Black Hour, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal and was a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award and the Anthony Award for Best First Novel. Her short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Time Out Chicago, Good Housekeeping, and others. Little Pretty Things is her second book. She lives in Chicago. Visit Lori at www.loriraderday.com

A Day in the Life with Sophie Florine by Janel Gradowski

Doughnuts and Deadly SchemesIt’s a little after 5 a.m. and the kitchen is already filled with the rich scent of dark chocolate brownies mingling with the yeasty aroma of whole wheat bread. I’m Sophie and I own Riverbend Café in Kellerton, Michigan. I’m a pastry chef and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how well my business is doing. What started out as a small coffee shop a year ago has expanded to a large, full-fledged café with a brand new catering division. All of my employees are wonderful, especially my friend Amy.

Amy is a bit of a star in our small town. She loves to compete in cooking competitions. There is a trophy case in her living room that is a testament to how well she does. When I decided to expand the café’s menu, to go along with the added dining space, Amy was my menu consultant. Then she signed on to be my early morning prep partner.

Every morning I look forward to chatting with her while I make bread dough. Amy is usually in charge of baking brownies and quick breads, like the beer bread we customize with things like cheese, olives or even roasted vegetables. After all of those things are in the ovens the baked doughnuts are next on the daily agenda. They have become the café’s most popular treat, selling out every day. In fact, Amy’s best friend, Carla, has requested those instead of a wedding cake.

Usually our pre-dawn chats are light and cheerful, but the conversations have turned darker lately. There was a murder across the street from the café at the menswear shop my boyfriend owns. Of course he’s upset over losing his business partner, but there are many more downtown businesses having problems. The summer shopping season, which is usually filled with happy customers strolling along the sidewalks in the sunshine, is off to a frightening start. Everybody is stressed out, even the police officer who is investigating the murder. He happens to be the fiancé of Amy’s friend. While Amy is helping plan the wedding, he’s trying to solve the murder before his honeymoon. I’m hoping the added incentive to solve the case quickly will lead him to catch the killer soon. Every morning it gets more difficult for me to pretend everything is okay.

You can read more about Sophie in Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes, the third book in the “Culinary Competition” mystery series, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing. The first two books in the series are Pies & Peril and Chicken Soup & Homicide.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 10 for the chance to win an autographed copy of Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.

About the Author:
Janel Gradowski lives in a land that looks like a cold weather fashion accessory, the mitten-shaped state of Michigan. She is a wife and mom to two kids and one Golden Retriever. Her journey to becoming an author is littered with odd jobs like renting apartments to college students and programming commercials for an AM radio station. Somewhere along the way she also became a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking recipes found in her formidable cookbook and culinary fiction collection. Searching for unique treasures at art fairs, flea markets and thrift stores is also a favorite pastime. Coffee is an essential part of her life. She writes the Culinary Competition Mystery Series, along with The Bartonville Series (women’s fiction) and the 6:1 Series (flash fiction). She has also had many short stories published in both online and print publications. You can stop by her website at: www.janelgradowski.com.


Weekly Roundup* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

July 6 – July 12, 2015 on dru’s book musings
July 6: Juliet Townsend from “Little Pretty Things” by Lori Rader-Day
July 7: Nola Harper from “Georgia Peach” series by Susan Furlong
July 8: Francine McNamara from “Bucket List” series by Elizabeth Perona
July 9: Miss Gloria from “Key West Food Critic” series by Lucy Burdette
July 10: Aunt Ophie from “Read Em and Eat Em” series by Terrie Moran
July 11: Fairy Godmother from “Renaissance Faire” series by Joyce and Jim Lavene
July 12: Chloe McDermott from “Killer Unleashed” by Beth Prentice

June 29 – July 5, 2015, last week on dru’s book musings
– Angelo DiNapoli from “Sarah Winston Garage Sale” series by Sherry Harris
– McLean from “As Night Falls” by Jenny Milchman
– Danish Jensen from “Pineapple Cay” series by Junie Coffey
– Thumper from “Black Cat” series by Elaine Faber
– Benjamin Nance Cobb from “Spicing Up Trouble” by Mary Jo Burke
– Fred Fields from “Danger Cove” series by Gin Jones
– Sophie Florine from “Culinary Competition” series by Janel Gradowski

Congratulations to these contest winners –
“A Batter of Life and Death” by Ellie Alexander – Lisa W.
“The Feathers” by Cynthia Lott – Elaine R.
“The Feathers” by Cynthia Lott – Anne D.
“The Feathers” by Cynthia Lott – Marilyn W.
“The Feathers” by Cynthia Lott – Liz C.
“Paging The Dead” by Brynn Bonner – Deanna S.
“Death In Reel Time” by Brynn Bonner – Deanna S.
“The Case of the Dotty Dowager” by Cathy Ace – Wanda D.
“Ocean City Cover-up” by Kim Kash – Beverly G.
*All who commented on Kim Kash’s post (before I closed it) also won

Reading Round-Up
——♦ June 2015: 19 books
Year-to-date: 116 books

Follow dru’s book musing on Facebook.

Danger Cove’s Fred Fields Speaks by Gin Jones

Four Patch of TroubleTranscript from a speech by Officer Fred Fields

I’m here to talk about community policing.

I know, I know. Most of the time, guys with fancy degrees come up with some academic theory, and then us patrol cops are stuck with making it apply to real life. Which it never does.

But community policing is different. It’s what I’ve always done: getting to know the citizens of Danger Cove and working with you to solve problems.

Take the case I closed last week. I got a call from Shirley’s Ice Cream Parlor that their lighthouse had been stolen. Not the real one overlooking the cove, but the foot-tall, plastic one that collected donations for repairs to the real one.

I could have just filed a report, but that’s not how community policing works. Instead, I talked to everyone who had one of the little lighthouses. I started with the Cinnamon Sugar Bakery, and I see that some of you are snickering. I do have something of a sweet tooth, but it was actually solid police instinct. Riley told me she’d seen three teen boys hanging around the counter looking guilty, and after they left, she realized they’d added about twenty dollars to the plastic lighthouse.

I thought it was just a weird coincidence until I talked to Cassidi at The Clip and Sip. And before you ask, no, I didn’t accept one of the complimentary drinks she offers her customers. Cassidi had seen the three teens, they’d lurked a bit, and then after they left, the plastic lighthouse was noticeably fuller.

I got the same story from George at the Enchanted Florist and Gil at the museum. I was on my way to talk to Bree at the Ocean View B&B, when I got a message that the owner of the Smugglers’ Tavern wanted me to stop by. There was a lighthouse there too, and it was just up the road, so I decided the B&B could wait.

Hope Foster was behind the bar, and she silently pointed me toward her only customers, three teens slumped at a corner table. I didn’t need to do a field test to know they’d been drinking, and I knew without asking that they hadn’t gotten their alcohol at the Tavern. See? Community policing at work.

Two of the kids were completely passed out, but the third one raised his head. He gave me a big smile. “Hi, Ossifer. Looking for this?” He raised a plastic lighthouse into the air and waved it at me.

I pulled out my handcuffs, dragged the kids down to the station, and all three of them are locked up until they turn eighteen.

Ha! Gotcha!

They’re grounded, but they’re not locked up. That’s the whole point of community policing. We work together, so responsible business owners can get involved without fearing that they’ll be blamed unfairly, and kids who get caught up in a bit of foolishness won’t get punished disproportionately to their actions.

See, the teens had wanted to help raise funds for the lighthouse renovations. They stumbled across some internet articles about stolen charity boxes, and they noticed that afterwards, people were so outraged by the theft that they showered money on the charity. That gave the boys the not-so-bright idea to steal one of the little lighthouses in order to increase donations.

They were working on returning all the money in the stolen lighthouse, dividing it among all the collection boxes, when they started to have second thoughts. They stopped at a nearby friend’s house to have a drink or three for courage before continuing on to their last stop, the Smugglers’ Tavern.

They forgot to be stealthy about filling the lighthouse on the bar and they even brandished the stolen lighthouse while they were high-fiving each other on a mission accomplished. Hope encouraged them to stay and enjoy a free mug of local cider, letting them believe it would be the hard variety, but actually serving them the alcohol-free version, and then she called dispatch to contact me. The boys were turned over to their parents, and I’m confident they won’t do any more illegal drinking or lighthouse-lifting in the future.

I hope you’ll remember this story and contact me through our website, dangercovemysteries.com if you see anything suspicious here in town. Only you can put the U in community policing.

Okay, I know that was corny. The guys with the fancy degrees told me to say it.

Gin Jones’s Four-Patch of Trouble is the fourth book in the multi-author “Danger Cove” mystery series, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing. The first book is Secret of the Painted Lady.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 10 for the chance to win a digital copy of Four-Patch of Trouble. The giveaway is open to everyone. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.

About the author
Gin Jones is a lawyer who specializes in ghost-writing for other lawyers. In her spare time, Gin makes quilts, grows garlic and serves on the board of directors of the XLH Network. Visit Gin at her website, ginjones.com.

A Day in the Life of Benjamin Nance Cobb by Mary Jo Burke

Spicing Up TroubleBenjamin Nance Cobb is on his way to the newspaper to discuss his photograph on the front page and wrestle with his feelings for Alexia Hale.

I never believed in love at first sight until it happened to me. After I found Alexia’s business card on the floor of my studio’s dressing room, outing her as a food editor aka reporter at the Chicago News, I was stunned. I hadn’t been played since grade school.

How did Alexia Hale permeate every fiber of my being in a few hours?

Now, my life and art were meaningless without her. I didn’t tolerate spies in my studio and had to go after the editor who sent her, but forever grateful he did.

Or did she sneak in under the radar on her own accord to make points? Why would anyone care where I went or what I did? I didn’t find myself that interesting.

My paintings were in demand, but each had a part of my soul connected to it, so I stopped selling. It cost too much to have so much of myself scattered around the globe. It was great to be celebrated, but I could do without the fame and the paparazzi.

The intrusive press came in many forms, even a beautiful woman who brought my art back to life and knew my mother’s books better than me. I was never going to trust a modeling agency again and won’t need one either. Alexia was the only subject for me now. Her hair was the color of butter, dipped in gold, and then highlighted with daffodils. Her face set in symmetry, meaning her profile would be flawless. But what struck me dumb were her eyes. Blue like dazzling sapphires, yet the shades of light illuminated them as robins’ eggs or the pristine ocean on a sunny day. It wasn’t lust, more of a reverence, something I had seen, but never experienced. Muses appeared to artists when they least expected them or really needed them. She fell into both categories for me. Ethereal, seductive, and demure, hers was the ultimate female image to possess on paper.

I can’t deny my attraction to Alexia or the kiss. Both seemed real, either she was a wonderful actress or she got pulled into the same vortex and liked me too. She didn’t interview me and no quotes were posted. Yesterday, when I confronted her in the newspaper’s kitchen, she apologized and was genuinely embarrassed by the whole thing. I hoped to catch sight of her again. Maybe get another apology and invite her to lunch and discuss her modeling for me again.

What was her angle?

I’d seen her from every nude angle and approved.

I parked my car, walked across the street, and met my attorney, Bill Hanes, in the lobby of the Chicago News building.

“I’ll handle the editor, Wallace Abram. Are you including Alexia Hale, the reporter, in the lawsuit?” he asked as we stepped into the elevator.

“No, she’s a pawn and didn’t print a word. If she had included any quotes or descriptions as background for the picture, they would be on the front page. Plus she’s a food reviewer not a gotcha reporter.”

“And?” He smiled.

“None of your business.”

The elevator doors slid open and we stepped out. The female assistant stopped typing as the color drained from her face.

Good to have a vicious reputation for privacy and a pit bull attorney.

The door opened behind her and a haggard man stared at us. After he exhaled, he stepped aside and waved us in.

“Mr. Abram, I presume,” Bill said as the man nodded and closed the door.

“Yes, I know you have concerns…” Abram didn’t get to finish as Bill started a tirade about individual privacy versus freedom of the press.

I sat as the door swung open and Alexia began to yell at Abram, her back to me.

“You’ve destroyed my credibility here by announcing a fake engagement on the front page. How dare you use me for your crass exploitation of Ben, I mean, Mr. Cobb. He wants to be left alone to pursue his art and it’s none of anyone’s business. How would you like it if photographers were sent to hunt you? I’m ashamed to work here and resign.”

Feisty, combative, and defending my honor? Alexia, where had you been all my life?

“Miss Hale, you’ve been…” Abram started to say.

“Alexia, you don’t have to leave,” I said.

I startled her as she turned toward me. I pulled out a chair for her to join me at a conference table.

“Miss Hale’s position with the newspaper was terminated last night due to continuing budget cuts,” Abram offered as he rubbed his forehead.

“Do you have plans for lunch?” I asked Alexia.

“No, I have to go downstairs to make sure my sister hasn’t punched anyone and save my oldest sister some pumpkin pie and monster frosting. Please excuse me,” she said as she fled the room.

This I had to see.

You can read more about Benjamin in Spicing Up Trouble, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 10 for the chance to win an e-book copy of Spicing Up Trouble. The giveaway is open to everyone. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.

Meet the author
Long before DVDs, Mary Jo saw Gone with the Wind in the theater. She was ten. The story never left her. She read the book three times. She saw the movie every time it was re-released. GWTW will be seventy-five years old this year and is her favorite movie. She would only make a minor change: Leave Ashley to Melanie and hold on tight to Rhett. Her writing sprung from reading, watching, and always wanting to edit. Mary Jo was born in Chicago and has never strayed far from home. She majored in Accounting and received her MBA in Finance. She worked in the investment and banking businesses. Mary Jo is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Chicago North RWA, and Windy City RWA.

Visit Mary Jo at www.maryjoburke.com

Black Cat Bares Soul by Elaine Faber

Black Cat and the Accidental AngelWhen I woke up in a busted cat carrier and realized I’d been left behind following an MVA, I was shocked to find a lovely feline with eyes the color of mustard and stripes the color of marigolds by my side. I had a conk on my noggin and no memory of my name or my former life. Then she said, “You can call me Angel. I’m here to take care of you.” Wasn’t it just too good to be true? Left behind on a deserted road with a beautiful female and I figured I was already dead.

Angel convinced me I was still very much alive and it was her intention to keep me that way.

We began a journey to find home and a surprising turn of events brought us to an Emu ranch and vineyard somewhere west of Reno, Nevada where we were taken in by John and his daughter, Cindy. In spite of this Garden of Eden-like setting, babbling brook, virgin vineyard surrounded by tall pine trees, and caring persons to feed us, trouble began almost as soon as we arrived.

John’s ex-wife is giving him grief, wanting to take Cindy, and the bank began foreclosure proceedings. Even more troubling, someone started messing with the Emu’s ‘soon to be hatched’ eggs, John’s only hope of fending off foreclosure until his vineyard’s first harvest. When John was nearly shot in the vineyard, I was convinced. . .We had landed in a peck of trouble.

I have only wisps of memories of my former life and for some reason, Angel won’t share any information. Where had we met? Why does she claim to be my bride? I would have thought I was a dedicated bachelor, but maybe not. It is a mystery. . .and she is cute as a button.

So here we are, our new persons facing financial disaster and increasingly dangerous pranks that are beginning to endanger Cindy. In spite of my insistence we get back on the road and find home, Angel put her nose up and her paw down. She won’t leave. She is convinced destiny brought us here to help John and Cindy. Since she is my only link to my past, I let her convince me to linger.

I like it here but I can’t help but wonder. Are our real persons looking for us? Will I ever recover memories of my former life? Will we ever go home again? Will John’s faith be rewarded and his prayers answered? I shudder to think what terrible things could happen before his problems are resolved.

Somehow I feel that Angel may be right. There is no question, destiny brought us to this place, but unless we receive divine intervention, how can a couple of lost cats help this troubled family?

You can read more in Black Cat and the Accidental Angel, the third book in the “Black Cat” mystery series, published by Elk Grove Publications. The first two books in the series are Black Cat’s Legacy and Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer.

Tell your truth a different way. . . Black Cat and the Accidental Angel is a story of faith, love, loss, grief, and hope, with a touch of the divine. Very human truths told in a way you’ve never seen before…through the eyes of a cat.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 9 for the chance to win an e-book version of Black Cat and the Accidental Angel. The giveaway is open to everyone. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.

About the author
Elaine Faber is an active member of Sisters in Crime, Inspire Christian Writers and Cat Writers Association. Her cat ElaineFmystery series features Thumper (Black Cat), the cat, who, with the aid of his ancestors’ memories, helps solve mysteries. Black Cat’s Legacy, Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer and Black Cat and the Accidental Angel are all available at Amazon.

Elaine lives in northern CA with her tolerant husband and four house cats, including a tuxedo cat who looks a lot like Thumper! Another three feral cats are welcomed at the back door night and morning. A portion of the proceeds from the Black Cat mysteries aids cat rescue organizations.

Elaine’s Website: www.mindcandymysteries.com

My Musing ~ Smothered, Covered & Dead by Liz Lipperman

Smothered Covered and DeadSmothered, Covered & Dead by Liz Lipperman is the 5th book featuring Jordan McAllister. Publisher: The Story Vault, May 2015

Aspiring sportswriter Jordan McAllister never imagined she’d end up as a food critic for a small time newspaper. Writing the culinary column for the Ranchero Globe is a challenge, and even though she can’t make a grilled cheese sandwich without burning it, she has no trouble finding herself in hot water.

When Rosie LaRue finds her ex in the apartment with her ice pick in his chest, Jordan knows that she and the Empire Apartments gang must act quickly to keep their friend out of jail. Despite the fact that the deceased has a long list of people who wanted him dead, things aren’t always what they seem, and Jordan ends up in the hands of a crazed killer, desperately searching for a way to stay alive.

You can always expect some excitement when Jordan and the gang find themselves in the middle of a police investigation and this one is a doozy when Rosie’s ex is murdered in her home. Knowing she is innocent, Jordan and Victor put on their sleuthing cap to find a killer. I loved how this whodunit was set up with fingers pointing to several suspects with the most obvious one surprising me in the end by their action. A good mystery with good dialogue and a lovable ensemble cast that kept me engaged throughout the telling of this story. I hope there are more adventures with Jordan and her friends forthcoming in this delightfully entertaining series.