Category Archives: A DAY IN THE LIFE

a place where characters give you a glimpse into their day

Boo! And What It Means To Carly Bell Hartwell by Heather Blake

Ghost of a PotionHey y’all. I’m Carly. I own the Little Shop of Potions in the wedding capital of the South, Hitching Post, Alabama, but I’m not your average Southern girl. Mostly because I’m a white magic healing witch and empath—and there’s absolutely nothing normal about that.

I’m here because I have confession to make: I despise Halloween.

Why’s that, you ask?

Because of the dang ghosts, that’s why. It’s the only time of year I can see the spooky spirits, feel what killed them, and have only a limited amount of time to get them to cross over into the great beyond.

It’s nerve-wracking to say the least.

Here’s the thing. The ghosts I know don’t say “Boo!” In fact, they can’t speak at all. They can only moan and groan, hiss and whistle.

It’s disturbing. Trust me on that.

Usually through a very frustrating game of charades, I can figure out what’s keeping the ghosts here in this world and then set about bringing peace to their souls. Once that issue is resolved, off they go for good.

I have to be completely honest with you: The ghosts freak me out so much that this year, I tried to hide from them altogether by hibernating through Halloween. I had planned to hole up in my house with my cats, Roly and Poly, my Netflix subscription, and enough junk food to see me through to Christmas. However, that plan was blown to smithereens by a murder that took place at a masquerade ball I attended the night before Halloween. The ghost of that man followed me home!

The cats were not happy. At all.

Neither was I, truthfully.

Now I not only have to help that ghost cross over, but two others as well. It’s ghostpocalypse around here in Hitching Post, but what’s a witch to do except help them see the light?

And maybe solve a murder in the process. . .

You can read more about Carly in Ghost of a Potion, the third book in the “Magic Potion” mystery series, published by Obsidian. The first two books in the series are A Potion to Die For and One Potion in the Grave.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on Friday, October 16 for your chance to win a print copy of Ghost of a Potion. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!

About the author
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. In addition to the Magic Potion mysteries, Heather also writes the Wishcraft, Nina Quinn, and Lucy Valentine mystery series.

For more information, visit Heather’s, on Twitter and on Facebook.

Another Day in the Life with Carmela Bertrand by Laura Childs

Parchment and Old LaceOccupation: Proprietor of Memory Mine Scrapbook Shop

It’s autumn again in New Orleans. Which means it’s time to light up the pumpkins and grab a shroud for this very spooky time of year.

And here’s the thing, even though my best friend Ava owns a voodoo shop, I really don’t go looking for trouble. It just seems to find me. Just the other night, after a delightful dinner at Commander’s Palace with my very hunky boyfriend Edgar Babcock, I was pulled into a murder.

Shrieks from the nearby Lafayette Cemetery had us running in to help even though the fog was trickling between tombstones and the wind was moaning in the trees. What did we find? A murdered bride-to-be. A bride-to-be who was also the sister of Ava’s fortune teller, Ellie Black.

So here I am, pulled into a nasty crime, trying to snoop out a dangerous killer. And every step of the way I find myself threatened by a truly dysfunctional group of very nasty suspects. As luck would have it, however, there happen to be a few clues – some snippets of antique lace and pieces of parchment paper. Was someone making a scrapbook? Or do these clues lead somewhere else? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. And, believe me, it isn’t easy when you feel like you’ve been plunged into a classic Gothic mystery. Yes, this crime has all the elements – spooky New Orleans cemetery, bonkers mother-in-law, creaking Garden District mansions, and lots of twists and turns.

Good thing I’ve got my BFF Ava to help out. She’s a crazy Southern gal and former beauty queen who’s basically unhinged. She wears outrageous outfits (like leather and leopard), does Botox, and bats her fake eyelashes at any guy who comes within ten feet of her.

But that’s another story. Right now I’ve got to get cracking and investigate something called a Mourning Cloak Show at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Can you believe it? They have a display of mourning clothes from the late eighteen hundreds. I wonder if I’ll stumble onto something? I wonder if the antique lace we found at the murder scene will match some of their lace?

And afterwards, Ava wants to drag me back to the cemetery for a séance – to see if we can contact our poor murdered bride-to-be. Holy cats. The way things are going, I wonder if I’ll come out of this alive!

You can read more about Carmela in Parchment and Old Lace, the 13th book in the “Scrapbooking” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Keepsake Crimes.

Parchment and Old Lace Book Description

In this cozy-thriller, scrapbook maven Carmela Bertrand tries to track down the killer of a young bride-to-be who’s been brutally murdered in a New Orleans cemetery. Could it be the conflicted groom, stalker attorney, jealous bridesmaid, or crazy mother-in-law to be? As Carmela sorts through this dysfunctional group of suspects, a snippets of antique lace and parchment become critical clues. It all comes to a head at a raucous casino party and ends with a frantic chase through an abandoned theme park. From New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs, Parchment and Old Lace delivers a gripping, realistic mystery that also includes scrapbook tips and recipes for Pecan Pie Muffins, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Big Easy Butter Chicken.

# # # # # # # # # # #

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on October 15 for the chance to win a signed copy of Parchment and Old Lace. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Good luck everyone! Two lucky commenters will be randomly selected.

About the author
Gerry SLaura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty-five mysteries, including the Scrapbooking Mysteries, Tea Shop Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries, as well as the soon to be released Afton Tangler Thriller series. She is the former CEO of her own marketing firm, has won dozens of TV and radio awards, and produced two reality TV shows. She and her professor husband enjoy travel and their two Shar-Pei dogs. Visit Laura at

Hello from Lilah Drake by Julia Buckley

The Big ChillI always have a song in my head; my mind is like a jukebox, and I never know which tune is going to play next. When I was growing up, my parents used my song du jour to gauge my mood. If I told them it was “Wide Open Spaces,” or some other happy Dixie Chicks ditty from my adolescent years, they knew I was in a perky frame of mind. But if I was humming “Yesterday” or any of the Beatles’ more melancholy tunes, they sometimes felt the need to stage a cheerful intervention.

Today the song in my head happens to be “Lilah,” by Don Henley, which is the main reason my parents named me Lilah Drake—they thought the song was beautiful. I guess they think I’m beautiful, too, but they’re biased in my favor.

I live in Pine Haven, Illinois, and until recently I made my money working two part-time jobs. By day I worked in my parents’ real estate office, earning money to help support my true passion of cooking. I’ve developed all sorts of fun and easy covered dishes that work well at parties, and this is how I attracted my very particular clientele: people who are obligated to bring a covered dish to some event or other, but who don’t have the time or talent or inclination, so they hire me. I am essentially an undercover food creator, and my dishes have won me anonymous acclaim.

I can’t complain about my life, which is almost ideal. I have a wonderful canine companion named Mick, who always makes me feel that he’s listening when I talk to him. I live in a sweet little caretaker’s cottage behind the giant, expensive residence of Terry Randall, my landlord and friend, an Internet entrepreneur who makes money helping rich people buy things. I have loving parents and a protective older brother who teaches Italian to college kids in the city. Cameron and I both grew up loving Italian culture, but I’ve not been as big a fan since I broke up with Angelo, my boyfriend, a restaurateur and chef in Pine Haven. Angelo is beautiful and sexy, but my brother is fond of saying that men named for angels seem determined to prove they are the opposite.

But back to my secret cooking and the way it got me into trouble. Recently I made a pot of chili for a woman in the parish. We’ve had an arrangement for a long time; I make the chili, and she gets tons of praise from her friends at bingo night. This time was no different, or so it seemed, but one innocent pot of chili led to murder, and to a police investigation by a man with incredible blue eyes, and I was forced to decide whether I could maintain my anonymity (and my clientele) while still cooperating with the police and helping them find a murderer.

It’s a long story, and you can read it in The Big Chili, my memoir of the crazy events in Pine Haven on the night that a local woman was murdered before our eyes and the whole town was turned upside down with fear and suspicion. I only made it through those trying times with the staunch support of my family, my loyal dog Mick, my best friend Jenny Braidwell, her wonderful nephew Henry, and a few other people that I didn’t even realize were my friends until we endured the stress of uncertainty together.

It all started when I delivered one of my secret assignments, a casserole, to Ellie Parker, a woman I had befriended at a Tupperware Party. Walking through Ellie’s door that day sealed my fate in a number of ways . . . but that’s a story for another time. A story called The Big Chili.

You can read more about Lilah in The Big Chili, the first book in the NEW “Undercover Dish” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime.

About The Big Chili
Lilah Drake’s Covered Dish business discreetly provides the residents of Pine Haven, Illinois, with delicious, fresh-cooked meals they can claim they cooked themselves. But when one of her clandestine concoctions is used to poison a local woman, Lilah finds herself in a pot-load of trouble.

After dreaming for years of owning her own catering company, Lilah has made a start into the food world through her Covered Dish business, covertly cooking for her neighbors who don’t have the time or skill to do so themselves, and allowing them to claim her culinary creations as their own. While her clientele is strong, their continued happiness depends on no one finding out who’s really behind the apron.

So when someone drops dead at a church Bingo night moments after eating chili that Lilah made for a client, the anonymous chef finds herself getting stirred into a cauldron of secrets, lies, and murder—and going toe to toe with a very determined and very attractive detective. To keep her clients coming back and her business under wraps, Lilah will have to chop down the list of suspects fast, because this spicy killer has acquired a taste for homicide.

# # # # # # # # # # #

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on October 14 for the chance to win a print copy of The Big Chili. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!

Meet the author
Julia Buckley is a Chicago mystery author whose career started in 2006 with the publication of The Dark Backward. Since then her work has appeared on Kindle in the Madeline Mann series and the novel The Ghosts Of Lovely Women.

She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Romance Writers of America, along with the Chicago Writer’s Association. In addition, she has worked with the same writer’s group since 2000.

Julia has taught high school English for twenty-six years; she lives near Chicago with her husband, two sons, four cats, and one beagle.

Visit Julia at, on Facebook and on Twitter

Meet Ruth Clagan by Julianne Holmes

Just Killing TimeMy name is Ruth Clagan, and I am a yoga retreat failure. There, I said it. But it isn’t my fault. I had enjoyed the yoga, even though the appeal waned after day three, when my muscles started to rebel. At least the pain kept me from dwelling on my current predicament.

It had been bad enough I found out my husband was cheating, and he left me for a grad student. Such a cliche for a forty year old professor, and one that forced me to camp out in my friend’s guest room. But when the museum lost that grant, and my job got cut? No job and no husband added that certain something-something to my thirtieth birthday. The yoga retreat was supposed to take my mind off of things. I chalked up another hash in the loser side of the ledger.

I’d done a lot of thinking about where things had gone wrong in my life, and what I could do to right it. Separating my failures, and deciding what needed to change, was key. Men? I had sworn off them. My divorce papers were barely dry, and my heart was still broken. Or was it my pride? I wasn’t sure anymore.

But my job? The problem was, it wasn’t just a job. It was part of my DNA. I’m part of an horology dynasty that included my great-grandfather, my grandfather, and I. We’re all dedicated to the study of time, and the repair and creation of time pieces. The Clagan family was a clock family, through and through.

I’d spent summers and school vacations at the Cog & Sprocket, my grandfather’s shop in the Berkshires, learning from a great clockmaker, Thom Clagan. I called him G.T., short for Grandpa Thom. The advent of digital watches changed the horological world forever. For a while there was fear the field might die out, but the last few years had been good ones. I don’t know if it was the turn of the century, the steam punk movement, or just an appreciation for things that worked on their own, but my work had been fairly steady for the past six years. Steady, but not booming.

In metaphysical terms, I was obsessed with capturing, or at least displaying, time. My dream was to design timepieces, mostly on a large, impossible scale. I had a good reputation as a craftsman, but there aren’t a lot of fulltime job opportunities in my field. Not the kind that both fed my artist’s passion while also providing enough funds for me to move get my own apartment, preferably one with studio space. That was why the museum job had been perfect. But now funding for that job had been cut, and I had to figure out what to do.

A couple of days ago, while enduring the pain of a pigeon pose, I had another thought.

I could always call my grandfather.

Then I dismissed it.

My grandfather and I had been close, mostly because I had inherited his horological gene, which had skipped my father entirely. I’d been studying at the British Horological Society in London when my grandmother died, breaking both of our hearts. My grandfather forced me to go back to London right after the funeral, and finish my studies. I’d reluctantly agreed, thinking the time apart would be short. Then he got married a few months later, and the tie that bound us broke. I’d been angry that he replaced my grandmother so soon, and when I found out his new wife was fifteen years his junior, I blew a gasket. It was easy to have shouting matches on the phone from thousands of miles away. Hard to heal that distance even though we lived in the same state for the past five years.

Maybe it was time to rebuild that bridge.

Then I got the message that changed it all. “Ruth, this is Kristen Gauger. I’m a lawyer here in Orchard. Pat Reed has been trying to get hold of you. I have some bad news about your grandfather. And we need to speak, as soon as possible. Call me when you get this. No matter what time.”

That was the call that changed it all. G.T. hadn’t died a natural death. He’d been hit over the head when he was getting into his car, and died that same night. I was frustrated that with all my training, I couldn’t turn back time and save him. Instead, I could head to Orchard. Back to the Cog & Sprocket, where I’d left part of my heart six years ago. Time to make amends, face some ghosts, and find my grandfather’s killer.

You can read more about Ruth in Just Killing Time, the first book in the NEW “Clock Shop” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime.

About Just Killing Time

Ruth Clagan may be an expert clockmaker, but she’s always had a tendency to lose track of time. And when trying to solve a murder, every minute counts. . .

Ruth’s beloved grandfather instilled in her a love of timepieces. Unfortunately after her grandmother died and he remarried, Ruth and Grandpa Thom became estranged. She’s wanted to reconnect after her recent divorce, but sadly they’ve run out of time. Her grandfather has been found dead after a break-in at his shop—and the police believe he was murdered.

Now Ruth has been named the heir to Grandpa Thom’s clock shop, the Cog & Sprocket, in the small Berkshire town of Orchard, Massachusetts. As soon as she moves into the small apartment above the shop and begins tackling the heaps of unfinished work, Ruth finds herself trying to stay on the good side of Grandpa’s bossy gray cat, Bezel, while avoiding the step-grandmother she never wanted. But as old secrets and grudges start to surface, Ruth will have to kick into high gear to solve the killer case before someone else winds up dead. . .

# # # # # # # # # # #

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on Tuesday, October 13 for your chance to win a print copy of Just Killing Time. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!

Meet the author
Julianne Holmes is the author of Just Killing Time, the debut novel in the Clock Shop Mystery series and is the pseudonym for J. A. (Julie) Hennrikus, whose short stories have appeared in the award-winning Level Best Books. She serves on the boards of Sisters in Crime and Sisters in Crime New England, and is a member of Mystery Writers of America. She blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. Visit Julianne at

A Day in the Life with Ivy Meadows by Cindy Brown

The Sound of MurderI should never do anything pre-coffee.

“It was only a teeny fire,” I told my uncle over the phone. I sat outside on the steps of my apartment complex, watching the Phoenix Fire Department carry equipment out of my second-floor apartment. Black smoke trailed behind them. The air smelled awful, like the time I’d fallen asleep in front of a campfire and melted the bottom of my sneakers. Except this smelled like an entire Nike factory.

“Teeny fire?” Uncle Bob said. “Isn’t that an oxymoron or something?”

“Nah,” I said. “That’s firefighter language for no one got hurt. Right?” I asked an especially cute guy carrying a heavy-looking hose.

“Yep,” he said over his shoulder as he passed me. “Teeny. No one hurt.”

I smiled at him again and watched him descend the stairs. On the back of his firefighter’s helmet was a sticker that said, “Be Nice.”

“Olive,” said my uncle with a sigh. “Stop flirting with firemen and tell me what happened.”

“I’m not entirely sure.” I was not a morning person. “I got up early to go to that meeting you put on my calendar.”

Since acting didn’t always pay the bills (okay, rarely paid the bills), I worked part-time at my uncle’s private investigation business. Right now I was mostly filing and writing reports, but Uncle Bob promised he was going to give me some real detective work soon.

“You got up early?” I could hear the skepticism in my uncle’s voice. “What time?”

“Eight.” There was a pause on the other end. “Ish,” I finished.

“To go to this meeting that starts in…” I could almost see him squint at the old clock on the office wall. “Twenty minutes?”

“Uh huh.”

“Right. Go on.”

“I put the kettle on the stove.” When my old coffeemaker bit the dust, I had replaced it with a French press, a much better fit for my minuscule galley kitchen. “Then I got in the shower.”

Another pause. Then, “You usually do that? Turn on the stove and get in the shower?”

“Sometimes. Then when I get out, the kettle’s boiling and I make coffee. No waiting.” Not only was I not a morning person, I was not a patient person. Especially in the morning. “Since the water was running, I didn’t hear the smoke alarm.”

“That’s why you didn’t hear the alarm? You were in the shower?” said the cute fireman, who was going back up the stairs. I nodded, though it did seem sort of obvious. I was wearing only a towel.

“So you turned on a gas stove, left the room, and put yourself in a situation where you couldn’t see or smell smoke or hear an alarm,” said Uncle Bob. I could tell he was trying to make a point. “And what happened when you got out of the shower?”

“The apartment was full of black smoke. Really nasty. I could taste it.” I scraped the top of my tongue with my front teeth. I knew I probably looked like a dog that just ate peanut butter, but I really wanted the greasy bitter smoke taste out of my mouth.

“Here,” the cute fireman came back and sat down next to me on the stairs, pulling a Day-Glo green bottle of Gatorade from a pocket in his voluminous firemen’s coat. “Helps with that awful taste,” he said, opening the bottle for me. Not only was he chivalrous, he was even better looking up close, with light brown eyes and the longest lashes I’d ever seen. I was wowed and envious at the same time.

“Thanks.” I hiked up my towel, grateful that I’d sprung for the large bath sheet. I twisted open the Gatorade. It was lukewarm, but it did make my mouth taste better. Like pleasant, lemony-limey smoke. The fireman shrugged out of his heavy firefighter’s coat. The t-shirt he wore underneath showed off strong muscled arms. I tried not to stare.

“Olive?” Uncle Bob was still on the line. “Was it really a teeny fire?”

I looked at the big fire truck and the half dozen firefighters going in and out of my apartment. “Yeah,” I replied, sticking with the definition of “no one got hurt.”

“Good. I want you at this meeting. Can you make it?”

“I’ll be there,” I said. “A little late, but I’ll make it.”


I didn’t make it. It wasn’t entirely my fault–the client arrived early and left just a few minutes later. The meeting wasn’t important after all, Uncle Bob said, and I believed him.

We were wrong. That meeting could have saved a man’s life.

You can read more about Ivy in The Sound of Murder, the second book in the “Ivy Meadows” theater mystery series, published by Henery Press. The first book in the series is Macdeath.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on Monday, October 12 for your chance to win a print copy of The Sound of Murder. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!

Meet the author
CindyBrownCindy Brown has been a theater geek (musician, actor, director, producer, and playwright) since her first professional gig at age 14. Now a full-time writer, she’s the author of the Ivy Meadows series, madcap mysteries set in the off, off, OFF Broadway world of theater. Macdeath, Ivy’s first adventure is “a gut-splitting mystery…a hilarious riff on an avant-garde production of the Scottish play” Mystery Scene Magazine). Cindy and her husband live in Portland, Oregon, though she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities. She’d love to connect with you at (where you can sign up for her Slightly Silly Newsletter) or on Facebook or Twitter.
[photo credit: AJC Photograph]