Category Archives: A DAY IN THE LIFE

a place where characters give you a glimpse into their day

A Day in the Life of Janet MacPhail by Sheila Webster Boneham

Catwalk“She doesn’t act her age.” Can you believe someone said that about me recently? I wish I’d been there—I would have asked the guy who said it just exactly how a woman in her fifties is supposed to act. Then I would have fantasized about confirming his opinion in some spectacularly “age inappropriate” way! But I digress. . .

According to my source (and love of my life, anthropologist, fellow animal nut, and all around good guy Tom Saunders), I seem to lack “decorum.” And I dress funny—meaning very casual with lots of hair, my own mess and whatever I collect from dogs, cats, horses, and other critters. Tom couldn’t stop laughing long enough to tell me this in complete sentences. It all came out in spurts and bits while he whooped and wiped his eyes. I have to admit, I found it hilarious too, even if I was outraged. Especially when I heard that my critic couldn’t understand why I “wasted so much time on animals.” That was a slap at Tom, I’m sure—he and his black Lab, Drake, are always out doing something. Drake even goes to the university with Tom (which caused a bit of a “thing” last year with the same critic, who happens to be a dean). And now Tom’s looking for a puppy.

It’s true, I spend a lot of time with animals. First, I’m a serious animal lover and proud of it. I’m Janet MacPhail, and I’m pretty well known among pet lovers in northern Indiana and surrounds. You see, I’m a professional animal photographer (you’ve probably seen some of my photos in calendars and books and magazines). At the moment I have a gorgeous Australian Shepherd, Jay, and a brave and handsome orange tabby, Leo. I can’t guarantee I won’t add more critters to the mix at some point. And of course Drake is almost half mine, since Tom and I have been romantically involved for almost a year now.

I also train and compete in a variety of dog sports and—this is new—cat agility. No, really, Leo and I have entered our first feline agility trial, and we’re having great fun training. Jay and I have been at it a bit longer, and we compete in agility and obedience, and we do some tracking. (Jay does the tracking with his magnificent nose; I bring up the rear.) The tracking has proven a life saver on more than one occasion, as I’ve gotten tangled up in some nasty happenings over the past twelve months.

Who would think so much could happen in one short year? My life in Fort Wayne, Indiana, used to be pretty routine—a photo shoot here, a dog show there, with cat cuddles and hikes in between. I still do all that, but now I also have to balance the ups and downs of loving Tom, and the ins and outs of nursing-home care for my mother. And, it seems, the terrors and intrigues of homicide investigations.

Tom should ask his buddy the dean what he thinks about that. I’d like to listen in. I mean, if he thinks playing with animals is inappropriate “for a woman my age,” what would he say about murder?

You can read more about Janet in Catwalk, the third book in the “Animals in Focus” mystery series, published by Midnight Ink. The first book in the series is Drop Dead on Recall, followed by The Money Bird.

Meet the author
Sheila Webster Boneham writes the Animals in Focus mystery series. Best-seller Drop Dead on Recall, the first in the series, won the 2013 Maxwell Award for Fiction from the Dog Writers Association of America and was NBC Petside Top Ten Dog book of 2012. Sheila has been involved with many sides of the animal world and has written seventeen nonfiction books about dogs and cats, six of which have won major awards. You can find Sheila at, or at her Writers & Other Animals blog at, or on Facebook.

Viva Las Vegas with Davis Way by Gretchen Archer

Double StrikeWelcome to the Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, where dreams come true, especially if you dream of going flat broke at a five-star resort on the beach. If that’s your dream, come see me, but be warned: For every sane person who walks into this casino, nine crazies follow.

My name is Davis Way, I’m a Super Secret Spy for the Bellissimo, and my job is to keep the crazies at bay. A tall order most days. For the last twelve days, our team of three—me, my partner Fantasy, and our man-child Baylor, who Fantasy and I have joint custody of—have been chasing down Crazy Hat Lady. Three of us, one of her, twelve long days. CHLady has been loose in the casino (freaking everyone out) bewitching gamblers and taking their good luck. (Eighty years old, has outrun us seventy-nine times.) (She’s back at Sea Breeze Elder Care where she belongs and this time with an alarm in her hat.) It got to the point of humiliating that between me, Fantasy, and Baylor, we couldn’t catch the old bird. One day we came close. We had her cornered in a gift shop.

“Ma’am,” I said, “you can’t go around the casino pulling people’s good luck hair out of their head. It hurts and it’s rude.”

“And kicking total strangers with those hiking boots of yours doesn’t knock the good luck out of them either,” Fantasy told her.

While we were distracting her with our sage advice, Baylor was bringing up the rear to tackle her. That old woman had eyes in the back of her crazy hat. She grabbed a ceramic fish serving platter off a display shelf and tried to beat the stew out of Baylor with it, cracking it over his head. So here’s some advice: If you’re in the casino and you suspect the person beside you is cra cra, nine out of ten times you’re right. And if you’re playing a slot machine, minding your own business, and all of a sudden one strand of hair is painfully plucked from your head, it means Crazy Hat Lady has chewed through her Sea Breeze Elder Care leash. Again.

More Bellissimo advice? You got it.

*Never split tens. For one, you already have a winning hand. For another, everyone at the blackjack table will be mad at you.

*Don’t try to beat up slot machines. Really, don’t.

*For the last time, no, the casino can’t cash your Home Depot gift certificate.

*You people out there stealing all the hotel pillows, please, think about it. Why do you want a pillow 400 people have slept on?

*The best sandwiches at the Bellissimo are at Shakes, the ice cream parlor. I’m not sure what a chipotle is, but it’s very good on a sandwich.

*There is no positive outcome to a casino scenario that includes Red Bull and vodka.

*Baccarat is a violent game. Those Baccarat players have anger issues.

*Anything can happen. We had a girl here last week who’d been left at the altar. It was to have been a small wedding, then a three-night honeymoon at the Bellissimo. I met her when the brakes went out on her 1992 Ford Festiva hatchback; the girl and the car wound up in the Bellissimo front fountain. Across the hatch window, in black spray paint, it read, Hit that Bubba. The poor girl, standing in water up to her knees, wearing a wedding dress two sizes too big, mascara everywhere, had twenty-seven dollars to her name. Fantasy and I kept her company while her Festiva was being airlifted out of the fountain. We calmed her down, cleaned her up, and pointed her to the casino. First, she won a car. A brand new Range Rover Sport. Then she was dealt a mini royal in spades at a three-card progressive poker table, netting her a cool $672,480. By Sunday, news of our jilted bride’s good fortune spread around her hometown of Iuka, Mississippi. Bubba showed up, found her in the Bellissimo salon as the finishing touches of her head to toe makeover were being applied. Bubba changed his mind; he was ready to get married. She gave him $500 and a pat on the back. “Bubba, I hope to never lay eyes on you again,” she said, “but try your luck in the casino. Anything can happen.”

You can read more about Davis in Double Strike, the third book in the Davis Way Crime Caper Series, published by Henery Press. The first book in the series is Double Whammy.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on October 24 for the chance to win a copy of DOUBLE STRIKE plus a swag pack. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Three lucky winners will be selected at random.

Meet the author
Gretchen Archer is a Tennessee housewife who began writing when her daughters, seeking higher educations, left her. She lives on Lookout Mountain with her husband, son, and a Yorkie named Bently. Double Whammy, her first Davis Way crime caper, was a 2013 Daphne du Maurier Award finalist and hit the USA TODAY bestsellers list.

You can visit her at, on Facebook or Twitter.

Desperate Times of Carly Bell Hartwell by Heather Blake

One Potion in the GraveHave mercy on my soul! Life’s a little nutty right now, what with Katie Sue Perrywinkle turning up in town after being gone ten years. Her appearance has caused quite the stir. Between her being mixed up with the rotten-to-the-core Calhouns, and the bad blood with her own family… It’s enough to make a normal person want to run and hide until the smoke clears.

Did I mention that “normal” has never been a word used to describe me?

Peculiar is more like it. True enough, I come from two of the most eccentric families in Hitching Post, Alabama (the Fowls and Hartwells), but my “normal” factor really tanks when people find out that I’m a witch. A healing witch and empath—I have the ability to feel another person’s aches, pains, and emotions…and I have the tools to fix them. It comes in all kinds of handy.

There’s bad energy swirling around Katie Sue, but I don’t know what’s causing it. All I know is that my old friend is in danger, and I’ll do just about anything to protect her, including going against a corrupt political family, cozying up to my ex-fiancé (okay, I’m doing that anyway), and calling on my cousin Delia, a black witch, for help. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I’m just hoping it’s not too late for Katie Sue…

You can read more about Carly in One Potion In The Grave, the second book in the “Magic Potion” mystery series, published by Obsidian. The first book in the series is A Potion To Die For.

gift pack 1Heather is running a month-long ONE POTION IN THE GRAVE Witchtastic giveaway via Rafflecopter (9/23 – 10/23). Win a set of “Cast a Spell” measuring spoons, a set of three Yankee Candle potion bottle tea light holders, a Lego minifigure witch, and a $20.00 gift card to Barnes & Noble -or- Amazon (winner’s choice). To enter: or

Bonus Giveaway: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on October 23 for the chance to win a copy of ONE POTION IN THE GRAVE. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

About Heather
Heather Blake (aka Heather Webber) is the author of more than twenty novels and has been twice nominated for an Agatha Award. She’s a total homebody who loves to be close to her family, read, watch reality TV (especially cooking competition shows), drink too much coffee, crochet, and bake cookies. Heather grew up in a suburb of Boston, but currently she lives in the Cincinnati area with her family and is hard at work on her next book.
Twitter: @booksbyheather

Just Tai and Cherry Talkin’ by Tina Whittle and Larissa Reinhart

beer and wingsWhat happens when two mystery writers realize their characters are soul sisters? The writers make their characters meet, much like two friends forcing their children on a playdate. Both characters — gunshop owner Tai Randolph and the artist Cherry Tucker — are sassy, southern spitfires with a penchant for trouble and appetite for justice. After first clearing the scene of dangerous objects, like men and guns, the writers dropped their characters off at a bar and let them get to know each other.

The result: Just Tai and Cherry Talkin,’ two Georgia girls dishing on life with a side order of solving crimes. Get to know the amateur sleuths, Tai Randolph and Cherry Tucker, in Just Tai and Cherry Talkin,’ a free read available on Wattpad.

Red’s County Line Tap, found just across the tracks from the bitty town of Halo, could be mistaken from any number of tin roofed roadhouses wedged between Blue Law zoning restrictions in Georgia. Under the ownership of said Red, you’ll find the County Line has been renovated as a sports bar to attract Halo’s families, but on the weekend, the original juke joint vibe returns with the regular clientele of barflies, babes, and bikers. This particular drinking establishment has the added benefit of resting within stumbling distance of the artist Cherry Tucker’s home, the in-town Georgia bungalow of her deceased Great-Gam. And as Red serves the best hot wings and coldest beer in town, (along with plenty of unwanted advice), Cherry Tucker and her friends can usually be found at Red’s on any given weekend night. And Thursdays.

And the occasional Monday and Tuesday. And then there’s Wednesdays. . .

Tonight, Tai Randolph has found a seat at Red’s bar. As the owner of a Confederate gun shop in Kennesaw, Georgia, (which is a fair skip and hop from Halo), Tai has been told by customers from every corner of the metro Atlanta area that she needed to meet this Cherry Tucker person. She decided they might be right when she did a little bit of online research and saw Cherry’s name linked to not one, not two, but a whole mess of murders.

How about that? she thought. Another spitfire Southern blonde with a penchant for corpse-finding. She wondered what else she and Cherry might have in common besides an unfortunate affinity for trouble. So without further ado, Tai locked up the gun shop and pointed her Camaro toward Halo, where she pulled up a barstool next to the one and only Cherry Tucker.

Read on (for free) on Wattpad for more conversation with Tai and Cherry.

Deeper Than the GraveTina Whittle’s Tai Randolph/Trey Seaver series — featuring intrepid gunshop owner Tai and her corporate security agent partner Trey — has garnered starred reviews in Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. Published by Poisoned Pen Press, this Atlanta-based series debuted with The Dangerous Edge of Things, followed by Darker Than Any Shadow (2012) and Blood, Ash and Bone (2013). The fourth book in the series — Deeper Than the Grave — releases in November 2014.

Death in PerspectiveLarissa Reinhart’s best selling Cherry Tucker Mystery series from Henery Press features artist Cherry Tucker: big in mouth, short in stature, and able to sketch a portrait faster than kudzu climbs telephone poles. The first mystery, Portrait of a Dead Guy, was a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, 2012 The Emily Finalist, and 211 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. The series follows with Still Life in Brunswick Stew, 2012 Georgia Author of the Year Nominee Hijack in Abstract, Death in Perspective and the prequel “Quick Sketch” in the mystery anthology, Heartache Motel. The fifth book, The Body in the Landscape, will release June 9, 2015.

A Day With Gus, a grumpy resident of Missisquoi, Vermont by Barb Goffman

Homicidal HolidaysMay 2nd

It’s pretty rural where I live. Missisquoi, Vermont. Yeah, we have a downtown and everything, but when you drive around, there are lots of idle fields and old barns and wild animals. I’d never given the animals much thought until recently. I don’t hunt, like my pal, Bobby. And I don’t have a dog like Sally, my friend and favorite waitress at the town diner.

But for the past three months, I’ve had one animal on my mind a lot, Moe, our town’s official groundhog. Sally thinks he’s cute as a button. I think he’s the devil. Well, come to think of it, I wish he was the devil. Then it’d be warmer around here.

My problem with Moe is every freaking February 2nd, he sees his shadow, declaring we’ll have another long winter. That might not seem like a big deal to you. But then, most town groundhogs don’t actually control the weather. Here in Missisquoi, ours are different. They have special powers. Their predictions always come true, and Moe always predicts a long winter.

I realized this past Groundhog Day that if I wanted things to change around here, I’d have to get rid of Moe. It should be easy. He lives in a large chain-link pen in a sanctuary a few miles from my house. It’s at the edge of some woods, which should provide cover while I’m hightailing it back to my truck. I’ve been casing the joint for the past three months, waiting for my chance to grab him.

Of course every time I’ve been about to tiptoe into the cage, someone has come by at the last second, foiling my plot. But eventually, my plan’ll work. It has to.

What could possibly go wrong?

To learn how Gus’s plan works out, read The Shadow Knows by Barb Goffman in Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays, published October 7th by Wildside Press. Homicidal Holidays is the sixth volume in the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, and Derringer award-winning Chesapeake Crimes series. In addition to Groundhog Day, the anthology has stories set on Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and last, but definitely not least, Talk Like A Pirate Day. Arrr.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on October 22 for the chance to win a copy of CHESAPEAKE CRIMES: HOMICIDAL HOLIDAYS. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Meet the author
Barb Goffman likes her crime short and sweet. Well, maybe not that sweet. She’s the author of DON’T GET MAD, GET EVEN, a short-story collection published last year by Wildside Press that recently won the Silver Falchion Award for best single-author mystery collection published in 2013. Barb also won the Macavity Award last fall for best short story of 2012, and she’s been nominated multiple times for the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards for her short fiction.

Her next story to be published, “It’s A Trap!,” will appear in an anthology of funny Thanksgiving crime stories, THE KILLER WORE CRANBERRY: A FOURTH MEAL OF MAYHEM, due for release later this month by Untreed Reads Publishing. To support her short-story habit, Barb runs a freelance editing service, specializing in crime fiction. She also serves as secretary of the Mid-Atlantic chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Learn more at and

A Day in the Life of Annie Chamovitz by Mollie Cox Bryan

A Crafty ChristmasMost of my friends have left me. I feel a bit bereft. Oh sure, I’m thrilled for Sheila, who won a major design contest with a grand prize of a scrapbooking cruise. But I’m not thrilled that she took both Paige and Vera with her. DeeAnn and I stayed at home for different reasons, but here we are in cold, gray Cumberland Creek, while they are off to sail the gorgeous Caribbean.

DeeAnn stayed at home because this is a very busy time of the year for her bakery and I stayed home because it’s Hannukah. My husband Mike and I decided a long time ago that it was important to stay at home with the boys, when we could, for the holidays. So, while I have a great reason for being at home, I still miss my friends.

I have to admit that I’m even a bit worried about them—as is Beatrice, who hates cruises. Given half a chance, she will hold forth about the dangers of cruises and how she’d not go on one if it was the last vacation option available on Earth.

I don’t feel quite that strongly, but I kind of see where she is coming from. Cruises have never been at the top of my vacation list.

But this cruise is special, of course, in that it’s a “scrapbooking” cruise. Many of the world’s most famous scrapbooking and paper craft designers are on board. Paige, Sheila, and Vera will be learning from the pros. That would be interesting. Imagine all that creativity on one ship!

And perhaps the most exciting thing for all of us is that Sheila will be interviewed by several of the design companies. Great things are happening for her. It’s her time and it’s fabulous to witness.

In the mean time, DeeAnn and I look forward to texts and Skype calls from them as they cruise. Modern technology is fabulous. (For the most part.) It does help in keeping in touch. Here’s hoping for smooth sailing for my friends.

You can read more about Annie in A Crafty Christmas, the fourth book in the “Cumberland Creek” mystery series, published by Kensington. The first book in the series is Scrapbook of Secrets.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on October 21 for the chance to win a copy of A CRAFTY CHRISTMAS. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

About the author
Mollie Cox Bryan first book in Cumberland Creek Mysteries, Scrapbook of Secrets, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel of 2012 and was selected by B & N as a mystery to watch. Other books in the series are: SCRAPPED, DEATH OF AN IRISH DIVA, SCRAPPY SUMMER (e-novella), A CRAFTY CHRISTMAS, and SCRAPBOOK OF THE DEAD (forthcoming 2015).

She is also the author of the regional bestselling MRS. ROWE’S LITTLE BOOK OF SOUTHERN PIES (Random House 2009) and MRS. ROWE’S RESTAURANT COOKBOOK: A LIFETIME OF RECIPES FROM THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY (Ten Speed Press, 2006).

She has worked for years as a freelance food journalist with articles published in Taste of the South, NPR’s Kitchen Window, and Grit Magazine, among others. She lives in Waynesboro, Va. with her husband and two daughters.

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A Day in the Life of Elizabeth Polk by Karin Gillespie

Bet Your Bottom DollarHey ya’ll. My name is Elizabeth Polk, and I’m the assistant manager of the Bottom Dollar Emporium located in Caybook Creek, South Carolina. We’re an old fashioned dollar store, selling everything from penny candy (Charleston Chews, Swedish Fish, and lengths of licorice pipes) to tins of Cloverine Salve to Clabber Girl Baking Powder. We used to be a Kress Dime store back in the day; we still have the original pressed tin ceiling and a brass spittoon by the door. (Although we’ll thank you not to use it; it’s just for show.)

I work here with the owner Mavis Loomis and Attalee Gaines, the most obstinate octogenarian you’ll ever meet. (She complains about wearing her dentures to work on Fridays because it’s casual Fridays.) The three of us are known around our sweet little borough as the Bottom Dollar Girls.

We’re all on edge because a corporate dollar store is coming to town threatening to put the Bottom Dollar out of business. That’d be a crying shame seeing how we’re practically the only community center in town with everyone dropping by for coffee and a little bit of gossip.

The threat of losing my job isn’t the only burr in my shoe. Not too long ago my fiancé Chip Jenkins wrote me a Dear Jane letter on the back of a Hardees bag and stuck it under the windshield wipers of my Chevy Geo. Talk about your coldhearted kiss-offs.

One of our customers, Gracie Tobias, the wealthiest woman in town, set me up with her grandson Timothy but I’m a little worried about the differences him and me. His family lives in a mansion in the fancy part of town, and I live in an old mill house on Scuffle Road with my dog Maybelline (So called because she’s black and messy like mascara).

Also my kin can be a bit embarrassing. In fact, you may have seen my daddy on TV. He owns the Bargain Bonanza, a rent-to-own furniture place and calls him himself Insane Dwayne. (Yes, he’s the one who is always blowing up ottomans and La-Z-Boys). His slogan is, “Our savings are explosive.” Honestly sometimes I don’t want to claim him.

But the most important thing on my mind right now is saving the Bottom Dollar Emporium. If it goes under, Mavis says she moving to South Dakota to be with her sister. I can’t let that happen. Mavis is a Southern gal, born and bred. She should be surrounded by magnolias, not moose. And South Dakota is so far away it might as well be Jupiter. I’d probably never see her again if she moved.

We’ll see how it all shakes out. I have a head for business so I’m organizing a meeting of all the community leaders in town. Maybe we can stop big corporations from swooping into Cayboo Creek and taking over. Jerry Sweeney of Stuff and Mount Taxidermy, Jewel Turner of the Chat and Chew Diner, and Orson Hobbs of the Bait Box and Tanning Salon will all be in attendance. We’re a town that cares about each other.

You should swing by Cayboo Creek sometime. Little Southern towns life ours are a dying breed. We have more churches than bars. (Although if you like to imbibe, the Tuff Luck Tavern is open every night except Sundays. Steer clear from the hard boiled eggs in a jar on the bar; I think some of them eggs have been there since the Carter administration.)

Most everyone in town knows everyone, and we occupy ourselves with football games, parades and pot luck suppers. If we see you on the street, we’ll hug your neck and ask you about your mama and them. Cayboo Creek is a great place to get your Southern on. We like our chicken fried, our cathead biscuits flaky, and our tea so sweet, it’ll make your teeth ache into next Tuesday.

I’ve got plenty of adventures to share with you in Bet Your Bottom Dollar, but no need to rush off when we wrap it up. Put up your feet and settle your tush into one of the rocking chairs on the porch of the Bottom Dollar Emporium. We got two more installments in the series. There’ll be husband stealing, a visit from a movie star and road trips to Myrtle Beach and South of the Border. Never a dull day around here.

Ding! That’s the bell over the front door. Got me a customer so I best go. Stop by. I’ll be more than happy to give you a personal tour of Caybook Creek and introduce you to all my friends.

You can read more about Elizabeth in Bet Your Bottom Dollar, the first book in the new “Bottom Dollar” mystery series, published by Henery Press.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on October 20 for the chance to win a copy of BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

About the author
Karin Gillespie is national bestselling author of five novels. Her nonfiction writing had been in the New York Times, The Writer Magazine and Romantic Times. She maintains a writing blog at Follow her at @gillespiekarin or friend her on Facebook.