Category Archives: A DAY IN THE LIFE

a place where characters give you a glimpse into their day

Mayor Shiffley and the Halloween Memo by Donna Andrews

Lord of the Wings“Meg, you were right.”

I looked up to see Randall Shiffley standing in the barn doorway. He was wearing a suit but his snazzy black and orange pumpkin tie was loosened, suggesting that he was relaxing after hard day of “mayoring.”

“I often am,” I said. “What am I right about today?”

“About that memo to the town about stuff they should and shouldn’t do during the Halloween festival,” he said. “I thought sane, rational human beings could figure out that stuff on their own, but that’s not what we’re blessed with in Caerphilly. Can I run my draft by you?”

“Sure,” I said.

“This won’t take long.” He took the same pose he’d use if addressing a public meeting, unfolded a paper he held in his hand, and began.

“Citizens of Caerphilly, past and present!”

I chuckled at that.

“Too corny?” he said, in his normal tone.

“Just wondering how you’re getting the word out to the dead citizens,” I said.

“I could have it posted in all the graveyards,” he said. “Any of ’em who are actively haunting the living should see it, and those resting peacefully aren’t part of our problem. As we enter the final days of this year’s successful Halloween festival–”

“Do we know already that it’s successful?” I asked.

“Merchants are smiling,” he said. “Dog tired from ringing up all those sales to the tourists, but smiling. So yeah, it’s looking like a success—as long as we can prevent any of the disasters this memo is designed to address.”

“Carry on,’ I said.

“I would like to remind you of a few things that help keep our festival running smoothly. First, please remember that Halloween decorations displayed between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. must be family friendly. If your decorations involve excessive blood or violence, nudity or sexual themes, or anything not suitable for viewing by the small children who form a large portion of our visitors during the daylight hours, you must take them down or disguise them.”

“And who gets to decide what’s excessive?” I asked.

“I was getting to that. Members of the Goblin patrol will inspect all town decorations each morning and will be the absolute arbiters of what is acceptable.”

“Are you sure you want to call my troops the Goblin Patrol?” I said. “Remember, our official name is the Visitor Relations and Police Liaison Patrol.”

“Goblin Patrol’s catchier,” he said. “And slightly more menacing when it comes to the enforcement side of things. Moving on. Next item. Please remember that we have thousands of tourists visiting our beautiful town during the ten days of the festival. Unfortunately, the crowds will probably contain a few light-fingered individuals. Please make sure to keep your doors, windows, and gates locked during the festival, and if any of your decorations are expensive or have a strong sentimental value, please display them in your windows or on your screened porches, not out in the open where they could be stolen.”

“Are many people actually decorating with valuable stuff?” I asked.

“Mrs. Baker was setting up a skeleton tea party in her front yard.”

“That sounds nice.”

“Using some kind of antique black cups and saucers so fragile-looking I think they’d break if you breathed on them crossways.” Randall shook his head.

“Must be her grandmother’s black Wedgwood Jasperware tea set,” I said. “Probably not a good idea to leave that out in her yard.”

“I talked her into putting it all in her sunroom, but who knows how many other citizens are coming up with damn fool ideas like that,” he said. “Next item. School superintendent Olivia Shiffley has asked us to tell parents that while students are permitted to wear costumes to school on every day of the festival, they are not required to do so, nor are those wearing costumes required to have a different one for every day.”

“Fat chance convincing the kids of that last bit. Speaking of school—how many pages in that proclamation?

He stopped and counted.

“Only five.”

“Only five, he says; and you’re only halfway through page one. I need to pick up the boys soon. Hop in the Twinmobile with me—you can read me the rest on the way to town, and on the way back if necessary.”

“You’re on. Okay, next item.”

As Randall trailed after me to the driveway, rattling off instructions to the citizens about how not to set the town on fire with their pumpkins, I couldn’t help thinking that much as I loved Halloween, I’d be glad when it was safely behind us.

“You’re worrying again,” Randall said. “You’ve got that frowny face. Cheer up. We’re past the halfway mark. We’re in the home stretch. Sure, we’ve got a lot of little problems—which this proclamation will help fix. But what can possibly go all that wrong?”

“Don’t jinx it,” I muttered. “Please don’t jinx it.”

You can read more about Meg, Randall and the citizens of Caerphilly in Lord of the Wings, the 19th book in the “Meg Langslow” mystery series, published by Minotaur. The first book in the series is Murder with Peacocks.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on September 4 for the chance to win a print copy of Lord of the Wings. 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
Lord of the Wings is the nineteenth book in Donna Andrews’s award-winning, NYT-bestselling Meg Langslow series. Donna is currently serving as Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America, as Vice President of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and as author liaison for Malice Domestic. When not writing she reads, plays computer games, gardens with more enthusiasm than skill, and chauffeurs her nephews.

Visit Donna at, on Twitter and on Facebook

Reinvention of Retirement with Zula Fae Raines Payne by Tonya Kappes

A Ghostly DemiseHave you ever tried to take three gallons of crazy and fit it into a two galloon bucket? That is exactly what I, Zula Fae Raines Payne, have to do in my retirement years.

Emma Lee Raines, my granddaughter, is my two gallon bucket. Out of the two of my granddaughters, I figured it was Emma Lee who was fit to take over my place as the undertaker of Eternal Slumber Funeral Home in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky,

Now don’t let me scare you away from comin’ on down and making your preneed funeral arrangements, I’ll see to it that you get exactly what is comin’ to ya and see you get to the Great Beyond, other side, big guy in the sky; whatever you wanna call it.

Well, grab one of them sweet teas off the table and sit back and use your foot to tip the rocker back and forth. This here is prime real estate and prime front porch sittin’ for all the happenings in town square over yonder. You keep an eye out and you just might see Beulah Paige, the CEO of the gossip mill here in Sleepy Hollow. She can pack a tale better than


When she woke up, she was hootin’ and a hollerin’ about seeing dead people. I was fit to be tied! You know I had Doc Clyde give her something to cover her crazy. Normally we parade crazy as if it were an accessory, but crazy isn’t good for business when your clients are trusting you to take care of their loved ones, even the ones that aren’t sucking oxygen.

Regardless, Emma’s sister Charlotte, is helping Emma run Eternal Slumber and I’ve got my fingers crossed that Charlotte will turn business around because I have decided to run for Sleepy Hollow Mayor! You ain’t gonna believe who is running against me. O’Dell Burns, as in Burns Funeral home, as in Eternal Slumber’s direct competition. This town has gone nuts and I’m here to save it!

Me and the Auxiliary woman have gotten some Vote For Zula signs and screaming my campaign slogan: You let me take care of your loved ones for the afterlife, let me take care of you while living! And me and the girls were planning to pass out buttons and signs at the traveling carnival that’s come to town, but plans changed once one of the carnie workers made fun of me. I gave him a piece of my mind and I swear I went home and went to bed. Unfortunately that same carnie worker was found dead, floating in the dunking booth with a Vote For Zula sign stuck right through his heart.

Now I’m the one who looks nuts and this better not mess up my campaign!

You can read more about Zula and her campaign in A Ghostly Demise, the third book in the “Ghostly Southern” mystery series, published by HarperCollins. The first two books in the series are A Ghostly Undertaking and A Ghostly Grave.

About A Ghostly Demise, Ghostly Southern Mystery book three

From former self-published superstar and USA Today bestseller Tonya Kappes comes the third novel in the hilarious paranormal series featuring Emma Lee Raines, a funeral home director who can suddenly see dead people! ~ HarperCollins Publisher

The prodigal father returns—but this ghost is no holy spirit

When she runs into her friend’s deadbeat dad at the local deli, undertaker Emma Lee Raines can’t wait to tell Mary Anna Hardy that he’s back in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky, after five long years. Cephus Hardy may have been the town drunk, but he didn’t disappear on an epic bender like everyone thought: He was murdered. And he’s heard that Emma Lee’s been helping lost souls move on to that great big party in the sky.

Why do ghosts always bother Emma Lee at the worst times? Her granny’s mayoral campaign is in high gear, a carnival is taking over the town square, and her hunky boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, is stuck wrestling runaway goats. Besides, Cephus has no clue whodunit. . .unless it was one of Mrs. Hardy’s not-so-secret admirers. All roads lead Emma Lee to that carnival—and a killer who isn’t clowning around.


GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on September 4 for the chance to win one of two print copies or one of two e-book copies of A Ghostly Demise. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Four lucky commenters will be randomly selected. 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
For years, USA Today bestselling author Tonya Kappes has been self-publishing her numerous mystery and romance titles with unprecedented success. She is famous not only for her hilarious plotlines and quirky characters, but her tremendous marketing efforts that have earned her thousands of followers and a devoted street team of fans. HarperCollins and Witness Impulse is thrilled to be publishing this insanely talented and wildly successful author for the first time with her hilarious and spooky Ghostly Southern series.

Be sure to sign up for Tonya’s newsletter and receive a free e-book download!

If you have read A GHOSTLY UNDERTAKING, the first novel in the Ghostly Southern Mystery Series, and enjoyed it, please vote for Tonya for 2015 Best Fiction Novel! She’d greatly appreciate it.

A Day in the Life with Cliff Sebastian by Paige Shelton

If Onions Could Spring LeeksOccupation: Police Officer, Broken Rope, Missouri.

Home is where the heart is, that’s what they say. And, I admit, for me home, Broken Rope, Missouri, is exactly where I left my heart. I was lucky to find it again when I went back.

I’m beginning to think that a typical day around Broken Rope isn’t all that typical. There’s something strange going on here, and ten years away, along with my new career, gives me a different perspective. At least I think that’s it.

I hadn’t meant to become a police officer, particularly in Broken Rope. I also hadn’t meant for my first marriage to end so badly. But it was the job offer and the divorce that took me back home, back to the small Ozark town where cowboys and fake gunfights still entertain tourists every summer.

And, of course, there was Betts. Betts Winston. My high school sweetheart. It had been her idea that we “take a break” while we went to college and worked on becoming the things we thought we wanted to become. Our lives became separate, as can happen when you leave each other as kids and turn into adults as you’re both going in different directions. Law school was her thing until it wasn’t. And architecture was my thing until I ruined it along with that first marriage. Betts doesn’t know all those details, and I’ll probably never tell her. She doesn’t need to know, because, I suspect she’s got plenty of other things on her plate.

She works with her grandmother, Missouri, at the cooking school on the edge of town. It’s housed in an old church building and it’s next to a cemetery that’s the final resting place of many of our more infamous historical criminals and colorful characters.

I’m glad Betts and I are back together; more than glad, I’m to the moon and filled with a sense of peace I didn’t know existed. But I sure wish I understood what was holding her back. She’s committed to me, but not all the way. I’d take it personally if I didn’t think her lack of commitment was a breakdown in every part of her life. She’s only partway committed to everything right now, a slice of her attention angled toward something I can’t see.

My days – typical for me, but, again, probably not all that typical – are filled with the small crimes that come with a big tourist community and a few bigger heinous crimes that can be expected too. There’s always been murder in Broken Rope. Gunfights and hangings used to be the norm. But there’s something else going in this town. I’m pretty sure Betts knows what it is. Probably her grandmother does too, but I think Betts lets herself be distracted by it more. It’s something I can feel, sense maybe, catch at the edge of my vision. I don’t understand it, but the more I know it’s there the more I think it’s something I might never be able to completely accept.

I’m on the job though. Sometimes I think I want to figure it out, but sometimes I’m sure I don’t. I hope that whatever it is, it’s something I can fix, something normal. I’m not sure if I’m ready for anything more than that, even though I expect I might have to be.

See you in Broken Rope.

You can read more about Cliff in If Onions Could Spring Leeks, the fifth book in the “Country Cooking School” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is If Fried Chicken Could Fly.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on September 3 for the chance to win a print copy of If Onions Could Spring Leeks. 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
Paige Shelton recently moved to Arizona where she’s trying to balance all the cool stuff (the scenery, the people, the pools) with the not-so-cool stuff (the summer temperatures.) For more information, check out her website:

A Day in the Life with Maxie Pierce by Kylie Logan

Revenge of the Chili QueensUp early. (And by early I mean somewhere around ten.)

First things first . . . breakfast. Coffee. Lots of coffee. And a couple Hostess cupcakes.

Shower and become the Chili Chick and–

What’s that? Who’s the Chili Chick?

Something tells me you haven’t been to a Chili Showdown, that fabulous chili show and cook-off that travels the country. If you had been, you would certainly know the Chick.

Tall black stilettoes.

Fishnet stockings.

Giant red chili costume that covers her from hips to head.

The Chili Chick dances in front of Texas Jack Pierce’s Hot-Cha Chili Seasoning Palace to draw in customers and it’s not being too swell-headed to say that in chili circles, she is a legend! If it was up to me, I’d dance as the Chick all day, but sometimes, I need to help out with selling our dried peppers and our spices or my half-sister, Sylvia, gets all prune-faced. Of course there are other times when dancing and selling peppers are the last things on my mind.

Take our latest Showdown visit to San Antonio, home of the famous Chili Queens. Long ago, the Chili Queens would cook up batches of their secret-recipe chili at home and then cart steaming pots of chili to the town’s plazas in the evening. Musicians showed up and so did lots and lots of people, and the plazas became the center of San Antonio social life.

We were in San Antonio to help re-create the Chili Queen scene. Each night for a week, I set aside the Chick costume and dressed as a Queen of old and we raised tons of money for charity.

It was perfect. I mean, except for the annoying beauty queens who were there. And the drag queens who had another agenda. And the queens of society who thought they were better than everyone else. And the two descendants of real Chili Queens who were at each others throats all the time.

And then, of course, there was the murder.

Murder has a way of ruining even the best bowl of chili, and this time, it hit a little too close to home. Nick Falcone (head of Showdown security and hotter than a ghost pepper) ended up being the prime suspect and I needed to move fast to keep him out of real trouble. Along the way . . . well, I’m not going to reveal the surprise. Let’s just say that things got pretty hot in San Antonio, and I’m not just talkin’ chili!

You can read more about Maxie in Revenge of the Chili Queens, the third book in the “Chili Cook-Off” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first two books in the series are Chili Con Carnage and Death By Devil’s Breath.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on September 2 for the chance to win a print copy of Revenge of the Chili Queens. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Two lucky commenters will be randomly selected. 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
Kylie Logan is the author of the Chili Cook-Off mysteries, the League of Literary Ladies mysteries and the soon-to-premier Ethnic Eats mysteries. As Casey Daniels, she’s also written nine books in the Pepper Martin mystery series. “Revenge of the Chili Queens” is the third Chili Cook-Off mystery. It will be followed by League #4 next March, “And Then There Were Nuns.”

When she’s not writing, she’s home with a family that includes Oscar, a Jack Russell who came as a rescue and 12 years later, hasn’t left, Ernie, an adorable Airedale and Casey, the newest member of the menagerie, a 14-year-old Airedale just recently adopted. There is also a cat in the house, a troublemaker named Marvin who is way too smart for his own good!

Visit Kylie at, on Twitter and on Facebook

Angie Curtis and the Halloween Promise by Lea Wait

Threads of EvidenceThe massive Victorian house was dark, silhouetted against the night sky. The shutters banged with the cold wind, and moonlight reflected off shattered windows

No welcoming lights invited Trick or Treaters to call. No one had lived in the old Gardener place for years. Except, whispered some in Haven Harbor, ghosts.

But the four costumed children were drawn to the mysterious house, fascinated by its past. Every Halloween they stopped here and looked nervously through the high iron gate protecting it.

“Com’on. Let’s do it this year. Let’s go in.” Angie pushed against the rusty gate hanging between stone walls bordering the estate. The gate clanked and then scraped against the broken concrete of the driveway. It opened just wide enough so children could pass through.

“Your mom’ll kill you,” said Clem. “No one’s supposed to go in there.”

“No one will know,” Angie whispered. “No one lives there.”

“Ghosts do,” added Cindy, reaching for her little brother’s hand. He pulled it away.

“There used to be a statue of a naked lady in a fountain,” Henry whispered. “Dad told me. It was right in front of the house, where everyone could see. I wish it were still there.” He held his bag of candy tight and lifted his ghost-costume above his sneakers so he wouldn’t trip. “If it were still there, I’d go in.” He was younger than the others, and the only boy. “I would. I’d go right through those gates and up to the house and look at that statue.”

“Shush, Henry,” his sister said. “No way are we going in.”

“We could sneak in for a few minutes.” Angie hiked up the witch’s costume her grandmother had stitched for her, complete with a treat bag needlepointed with a black cat.

“No one would ever know. We could go just as far as the front doors.” She took a step toward the house. “Com’on! Don’t be chickens. I’ll give you each one of my chocolate bars if you come. The best kind. The kind the Winslows handed out.”

Clem, a rotund Cinderella, hesitated, but then shivered and shook her head. “Not even for chocolate. I’m not going in there.” Clem’s bag of goodies was already heavy. She’d started knocking on doors before the sun had gone down.

“I’ll come with you, Angie,” Henry said, walking toward her.

His sister, Cindy, grabbed his shoulder. “I’m supposed to watch out for you, Henry Titicomb. You can’t go in there. It’s trespassing. We’re not allowed.” Cindy stared at the dark house looming over them. “Mom says that place is evil. A girl died there. Right where that fountain used to be, in front of the house.” She almost dropped her candy bag as she crossed herself. She’d wanted to be a nun for Halloween until her mother told her that was sacrilegious, and she should pray for more suitable choices. Tonight she was a sparkly pink princess.

“The girl’s name was Jasmine. I think she drowned,” said Henry.

“I heard she was poisoned,” said Clem.

“Maybe both,” Henry whispered.

Cindy crossed herself again.

“That was years ago.” Angie moved a few steps down the dark drive; further away from the group.

“Old Mrs. Gardener died there, too. She never left the house. People say her ghost and her daughter’s ghost and the ghosts of her seven black cats are there, in that house,” said Cindy. “Everyone knows ghosts come out on Halloween.” She glanced around, as though a ghost might appear at any minute.

“There’s no such thing as a ghost cat,” Angie declared. “Com’on. I dare you!”

“You do what you want. Henry and I aren’t going in.”

“If we’re not going in, let’s go get more candy,” said Henry. “Mom said we had to be home by 8 o’clock.” He started walking up the street, alone.

“Stop!” Cindy said, holding her sequined crown and running after him. “We promised we’d stay together.”

“We did promise,” said Clem, hesitating. “Angie, come on.”

Angie took two more steps inside the gate, and looked up at the dark house. Then she turned and ran after the others.

Who – or what – was in that deserted house?

Halloween wasn’t the day to find out.

But some day she’d know, Angie promised herself. Some day she’d find out what had really happened in the Gardener house.

Read more about Angie and the Gardener house in Threads of Evidence, the second book in the “Mainely Needlepoint” mystery series, published by Kensington. The first book in the series is Twisted Threads.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on September 1 for the chance to win a print copy of Threads of Evidence. 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
LeaWThreads of Evidence is the second book (after Twisted Threads) in Lea Wait’s Mainely Needlepoint series. Lea lives on the coast of Maine with her artist husband, Bob Thomas, and Shadow, her black cat. She also writes the Shadows Antique Print Mystery series and historical novels for young people. She invites readers to check her website,, and to friend her on Facebook and Goodreads.