Category Archives: A DAY IN THE LIFE

a place where characters give you a glimpse into their day

A Day in the Life with Andy Buckland by Jennifer L. Hart

Murder Al DenteDo you remember that commercial, “Time to make the doughnuts?” Well, substitute pasta for doughnuts and that’s the refrain I hear, day in day out. My name is Andy Buckland and I’m a former celebrity chef. I had the shortest career of any celebrity chef in the history of Flavor TV. That’s right, less than one full episode. That’s what happens when the live studio audience gets food poisoning on your watch. Not my fault, but nobody wanted to hear it.

After that unfortunate debacle I kind of fell apart. The only food industry path left open to me was working at the Bowtie Angel. You wouldn’t think you could find traditional old world Italian pasta in N.C, especially not a Podunk town like Beaverton. We don’t even have a Starbucks, for the love of Pete! But that’s what makes my family’s pasta shop so special. And under the evil eye of my very Sicilian great aunt, I make the pasta. Even if I just made the pasta. Even if no one is eating our pasta, I still have to make the pasta.

Aunt Cecily doesn’t concern herself with things like inventory. In fact, ever since my grandmother passed on, the business has been steadily losing money. Bad enough that my career is DOA, but I can’t stand to watch three generations of my family’s hard work go up in smoke.

So. My plan is to swallow my pride and do whatever needs to be done to save the Bowtie Angel. Of course my (undeserved) reputation as “the Death Chef” has spread like wildfire. Everyone I know either witnessed my grand humiliation firsthand or has heard-tell about it. Everyone that is, except Malcolm Jones.

The absolute last thing I need at this juncture in my life is a romantic entanglement. Jones and his super sexy New Zealand accent are NOT on my to-do list, no matter how often he wanders into the Bowtie Angel and smolders at me. No sir, I’m a woman on a mission, 100% focused.

But Holy Macaroni, does that man smell good enough to eat!


You can read more about Andy in Murder Al Dente, the first book in the new “Southern Pasta Shop” mystery series, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on September 2 for the chance to win a copy of MURDER AL DENTE. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

About the author
Jennifer L. Hart knows that surviving as military spouse takes persistence, comfort food and a stellar sense of humor. Her books often focus on people who’ve lived the military lifestyle and zany antics of neurotic heroines, who like to eat, drink and have fun. Her works include the Misadventures of the Laundry Hag mystery series, the Damaged Goods mystery series and Murder Al Dente, coming soon from Gemma Halliday Presents.

Visit Jenn online at jenniferlhart.com, on Twitter or on Facebook.

A Day in the Life of Austin Starr by Kay Kendall

Desolation RowThis year, 1968, looked so promising at first. I married my college boyfriend David. He’s kind, smart, handsome…and taller than me. That’s a real plus.

Unfortunately, today I can’t see him because he’s in jail. And if that’s not bad enough already, he’s in jail in a foreign country.

OK, OK, so we’ve only moved to Canada…but we Americans aren’t supposed to feel any culture shock up here in Canada. Ha! Not true. I’ve got news for you. Canada is not the 51st state.

Now, please, don’t get the wrong idea about me. Just because the man I married became a draft resister, don’t think I’m a hippie, or anything like that. Really, I’m just a good Texas girl from a small town who followed my mother’s advice—to get married and settle down, do what your husband tells you. Mother simply never dreamed I’d end up living in such a cold climate, in a strange place. Canada.

I’m so homesick. I miss my family and friends back in Texas. And I’m scared. So very scared. They say the Mounties always get their man…and the Mounties now have got my husband.

They’re sure David murdered another draft resister. But I know he didn’t do it. After all, we came to Canada because David was against killing—against all killing—even in the war in Vietnam.

Today I’m setting out to prove my husband isn’t the killer. I’m nosey, curious, and had some training from the CIA. My handler, “Mr. Smith,” was sorry to see me leave the program. He warned I might not be happy and said he’d keep the door open for me, in case I ever wanted to return. Smith says the Agency needs my Russian language skills.

Shhh, please don’t tell David. He doesn’t know about this part of my life. I don’t think he would approve.

Here’s the strangest thing about this murder case. I was the one who found the body—literally fell over it, in a church basement. Yes, me. And it turns out the corpse was the draft-resisting son of a United States Senator. That’s why the Mounties moved so fast to jail my poor David. The senator called the prime minister of Canada and demanded the killer be caught, fast.

Now everyone is satisfied the murderer is in jail—everyone but me, that is.

So now I’m on a mission…even though I’m alone, homesick, scared…and only 22 years old…I have to prove David’s innocence. I’m his only hope.

I’m Austin Starr, and I’m hunting for a brutal killer. Wish me luck.


Austin Starr appears in the mystery Desolation Row by Kay Kendall which is published by Stairway Press of Seattle.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on September 1 for the chance to win a copy of DESOLATION ROW. Two lucky winners will win either an e book or a trade paperback. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.

Meet the author
Kay Kendall set her debut novel, Desolation RowAn Austin Starr Mystery, in 1968. The Vietnam War backdrop illuminates reluctant courage and desperate love when a world teeters on chaos. Kay’s next mystery, Rainy Day Women (2015) finds amateur sleuth Austin Starr trying to prove a friend didn’t murder women’s liberation activists in Seattle and Vancouver. Kay is an award-winning international PR executive living in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles show she’s a Bob Dylan buff too. Kay was a 2014 Silver Falchion Award Finalists for Attending Authors at this year Killer Nashville.

Visit Kay at her website or on Facebook.

A Day in the Life of Melanie Travis by Laurien Berenson

Death of a Dog WhispererHave you heard of the proverbial dog-and-pony show? That’s my life.

Unfortunately the pony only passed through briefly. The dogs? They’re a permanent fixture. The first thing I do every morning when I get out of bed is run downstairs and let the dogs outside. Not that they’re complaining. They’re Standard Poodles (all six of them) so they’re incredibly polite. But they’ve been inside all night so, you know…

Then I make coffee. Or if I’m lucky my husband, Sam, has already beaten me to the coffee maker. My sons Davey and Kevin are twelve and almost-three. (When you’re Kev’s age, every little bit counts.) I spend the next half hour making sure that Davey gets ready to go to school and that he doesn’t miss the bus. If he has his homework, his gym clothes, and his lunch with him, that’s a plus. Kev? Mostly I try to keep him from tipping over the dogs’ water bowl, a feat which he finds vastly entertaining. Not only that but he’s apt to tempt Tar (our only dumb Poodle) to splash around in the resulting mess with him.

Once I get things off and running for the day, I’m pretty much guaranteed to hear from my Aunt Peg. Margaret Turnbull is a force of nature. There’s just no other way to describe her. She’s been breeding Standard Poodles since before I was born and she knows everything there is to know about both her chosen breed and about dogs in general. Before Aunt Peg and I had bonded over a missing stud dog, the only pet I’d ever owned was a frog. Like the pony, it was a short relationship.

But now, thanks to Aunt Peg’s unrelenting (some might say heavy handed) guidance, I too am a Poodle breeder and dog show exhibitor. And I’ll tell you something I never realized before I got involved in that world. There’s a lot of potential for mayhem and misdeeds at dog shows. It’s not just about pretty puppies and frou frou hair do’s. When it comes to the judging—that ultimate decision of whose dog is better than all the others—those people are intensely serious. Oh they’ll tell you they’re having fun—and some of them actually are. But others, well, they’re there to win at any cost.

Which is how I ended up solving mysteries.

Believe me, it wasn’t the way I thought my life was going to turn out. When all this began, I was a single mother and a special education teacher in the Stamford, CT public school system. Davey and I led a calm and orderly existence. And then Aunt Peg got involved. As I’ve since discovered, that’s always an adventure.

Did I mention that Aunt Peg is a magnet for trouble? Well, she is. Although to tell the truth, she’s just as likely to be stirring up trouble as attracting it. Mostly I just try to stay out of the line of fire. But I suppose I must have inherited a smidge of Aunt Peg’s trouble-gene because somehow that never seems to work.

So now I have an expanded family, a new job, and a house filled with six Standard Poodles. Looking back, I don’t know how I ever thought my life was complete without canine companionship. Or Aunt Peg’s meddling. Or puzzles to solve that keep me guessing until the very end. It’s a messy, crazy, mosh pit of a life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.


You can read more about Melanie in Death of a Dog Whisperer, the 17th book in the “Melanie Travis” mystery series, published by Kensington. The first book in the series is A Pedigree to Die For.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on August 29 for the chance to win a copy of DEATH OF A DOG WHISPERER. Two (2) lucky winners will be chosen at random. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Meet the author
Laurien Berenson is the author of twenty-nine novels that have sold more than two million copies worldwide. Her cozy mystery series revolves around the world of dog shows, a milieu she knows well as her family has been involved in the sport of dogs for three generations. There are currently seventeen Melanie Travis canine mysteries, the latest of which, DEATH OF A DOG WHISPERER, came out in August.

Berenson is a four time winner of the Maxwell Award for Fiction from the Dog Writers Assoc. of America and a winner of the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award. She is also an Agatha and Macavity nominee. Her work has appeared in The New York Times as well as numerous magazines. She is a graduate of Vassar College, and she and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky, surrounded by horses and dogs.

Her website is www.laurienberenson.com and she loves making friends on Facebook.

A Day in the Life of Officer Ellie Rush by Naomi Hirahara

Murder on Bamboo Lane…according to Her BFF, Nay Pram

Okay, Ellie’s the one who should be writing this, but she’s apparently way too busy at work, so I told her, “Don’t stress out, girl. I have your back.” She’s my BFF, after all, ever since we met at a class at Pan Pacific West College, just a little south of downtown L.A.

Downtown is actually where Ellie works – as an LAPD cop, like her aunt, Deputy Chief Cheryl Toma. Yah, that Cheryl Toma, the highest-ranking Asian American officer in the department. Pretty big shoes to fill. Ellie patrols on a bicycle; she’s one of those bike cops who gives out jaywalking tickets (damn her). Actually, I shouldn’t diss my girl, because she does a lot more than that. Counsels kids at risk who are truant. Makes sure homeless women are safe. And right now, well, it’s actually pretty intense and sad. One of our former classmates was found dead in an alley, Bamboo Lane, in Chinatown.

Ellie’s ex, Benjamin, doesn’t trust the cops. Neither does the other person in our Fearsome Foursome, Rickie, Mr. Primadonna. I’m actually a little worried, too, but I’d never let Ellie know. She’s got enough pressure. Her mom doesn’t get what she does and her younger brother, Noah, in high school is probably a few steps from being in jail himself.

I’m waiting for Ellie now at our regular hangout, Osaka’s ramen shop in Little Tokyo. It’s right here on First Street, a few blocks east of City Hall. Hey, if you have the time, why don’t you sit down and wait with me? We can order you some miso ramen and an iced coffee. When Ellie shows up, we can find out the latest about the murder. You might be able to see things clearer than we can. And at the very least, you’ll have chowed down on some mighty good ramen. Oh, and I wish I could pay, but I’m a little tapped out now. Sorry.


You can read more about Character in Murder on Bamboo Lane, the first book in the new “Officer Ellie Rush” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The second installment of the Officer Ellie Rush series will be published in April 2015.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on August 28 for the chance to win a copy of MURDER ON BAMBOO LANE. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

About the author
Naomi Hirahara, born and raised in Southern California, is the Edgar Award-winning author of the Mas Arai mystery NaomiHseries, which features a Japanese American gardener and atomic-bomb survivor who solves crimes (SUMMER OF THE BIG BACHI, GASA-GASA GIRL, SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN, BLOOD HINA, and STRAWBERRY YELLOW). She also has penned a middle-grade novel, 1001 CRANES, which was chosen as an Honor Book for the Youth Literature of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in 2009.

A former editor of the largest Japanese American newspaper in the U.S., she also has released a number of nonfiction works. A number of her short stories have been included in various anthologies, including LOS ANGELES NOIR.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

A Day in the Life of Ma Tutt by Lyn Perry

Ma Tutt Donut HutThat darned Creamy Pie is going to be the death of me! My bakery, “The Donut Hut,” is sitting empty on a Saturday morning, and that franchise across the street is getting all the business. I’ve only been open for a month, but if something doesn’t change soon, I’m going to have to close up shop and move back to Fresno!

But I just can’t! This quaint mountain community of Sugar Pine Station, just south of Yosemite, is where I want to live. I’ve already met some wonderfully quirky friends like Father Aguilera, Kelli & Jo, Doc Moore, and Big Ben Reed. Plus, owning a bakery in semi-retirement has been a life-long dream of mine. If you knew me, you know I couldn’t just throw in the towel.

Since you don’t know me, though, I guess I better introduce myself. I’m Ma Tutt, but you can call me Dolly. You can also call me out of business unless something miraculous takes place very soon. If it weren’t for Mack, my feline friend, I’d be in deep despair.

Mack’s a mysterious gray tabby that came with the log-cabin café I bought and renovated when I moved here from the Central Valley. He’s such a loyal friend. He recently helped me discover a curious recipe for some “Irresistible Doughnuts.” I can’t wait to try them out. Maybe they’ll help turn my business around.

The only thing is, the recipe includes one spice I’ve never heard of before. I wonder what it adds to the donuts? Hopefully, Mack will lend a paw and help me find out. Plus, there’s a whole cupboard full of strange and exotic ingredients that I can’t wait to experiment with. Something tells me, each recipe will be an adventure unto itself. Why don’t you come on in and sample a few of these tasty treats? Half price!


You can read more about Ma in Ma Tutt’s Donut Hut, the first book in the “Mack the Magical Cat” mystery series, published by Tule Fog Press.

A Curious Cozy with a Magical Cat!

Dolly Tutt has just opened her own bakery in the small mountain community of Sugar Pine Station. But the Creamy Pie franchise across the street is giving her fits. Her business is dying. She needs a miracle or she’ll be forced to close.

Fortunately, Mack, a mysterious tabby that came with the doughnut shop, lends a paw by pointing Dolly to a magical ingredient that definitely puts the spice back in her life and rejuvenates the Donut Hut. Unfortunately, it also unleashes as series of catastrophes that may end up destroying her business once and for all.

This short novel of over 100 pages is a complete adventure but contains four tales within the larger gentle mystery. Think of it in terms of a four episode mini-series with each story complete unto itself but all add up to a satisfying conclusion. At least that’s the goal! Thanks for reading!

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on August 27 for the chance to win a digital copy of MA TUTT’S DONUT HUT. The giveaway is open to everyone.

About the author
Lyn Perry is a secondary level English teacher, part-time preacher, full-time husband, and grateful father of two. LynPHe enjoys dark roast coffee, plays host to two tabbies, and writes fiction on the side with plans to make it a career in the next few years. You can visit him at www.lyndonperrywriter.com.

A Day in the Life of Maxie Pierce by Kylie Logan

Death By Devils BreathA day in my life? Oh, honey, you couldn’t handle it!

First there’s Sylvia, my annoying half-sister. Try dealing with her every day! That’s exactly what I’ve been doing since our dad, Texas Jack Pierce (as famous on the chili cook-off circuit as he is with the ladies in the towns our Chili Showdown visits) disappeared somewhere back in Abilene. I was living in Chicago at the time, Sylvia was doing her foodie thing in Seattle, and we were both called to come take over Jack’s Hot-Cha Chili Seasoning Palace.

Sure, the Palace might just look like a food truck we tow behind our RV, but to me, it’s heaven on earth. All those chili peppers we stock! All those wonderful spice mixes we sell! Sylvia takes care of the day-to-day business end of the Palace. I dress as the Chili Chick in a giant chili pepper costume that covers me from head to hips. I put on fishnet stockings and slip on stilettos and I dance out in front of the Palace to draw customers in. The Palace and the Chili Chick . . . those are definitely the best parts of my day.

But back to Sylvia, the not-so-good part. She’s a stickler, see. For being orderly. For being smug. For pretending that she’s the caring big sister and worrying about my love life and the losers I always seem to hook up with when I know that the only reason she’s really with the Showdown is because she’s searching for Jack’s secret chili recipes so she can publish a cookbook.

Oh yeah, Sylvia’s that kind of sneaky.

Then there’s murder, of course, and that always put a damper on anyone’s day. Back in Taos (“Chili Con Carnage”) the victim was Roberto, a Showdown roadie with a secret past. Here in Vegas (“Death by Devil’s Breath”) it’s an obnoxious comedian, one of the celebrities who’s been asked to judge a contest of the world’s hottest chili and keels over in his bowl of Devil’s Breath.

A day in my life?

Thanks to Dickie Dunkin’s untimely (not to mention messy) end, my days in Vegas include nearly getting bonked by a giant neon heart, having an old (and not very dear friend) stalk me, being stuffed in a steamer trunk, and the Chili Chick getting kidnapped.

Now that I think about it, a day in my life can be pretty exhausting! Off to have a bowl of spicy chili to recover!


You can read more about Maxie in Death by Devil’s Breath, the second book in the “Chili Cook-Off” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Chili Con Carnage.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on August 27 for the chance to win a copy of DEATH BY DEVIL’S BREATH. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Meet the author
Kylie Logan is the author of the Chili Cook-Off mysteries, the League of Literary Ladies mysteries and the Button Box mysteries. As Casey Daniels, she’s also written nine books in the Pepper Martin mystery series. She’s just finished book #1 of a new series and after what she hopes will be a nice rest, she’ll start book #3 in Maxie’s adventures. Her next release is “The Legend of Sleepy Harlow,” book #3 of the League of Literary Ladies series. When she’s not writing, she’s home with a family that includes Oscar, a Jack Russell who came as a rescue and 11 years later, hasn’t left, Ernie, an adorable Airedale and Marvin, the newest member of the family, a cat who definitely has a mind of his own!

Visit Kylie at her website, on Twitter or on Facebook

A Day in the Life of Raymond Donne by Tim O’Mara

Crooked NumbersThere’s an old joke about the two best parts of teaching being July and August. I don’t make that joke myself—I like the challenge of working with kids too much to find much humor in it—but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the much needed summer vacation. Until recently, my summers consisted of sleeping in until seven, catching up on my reading, going to the movies during the day, hitting the usual bars on the Northside of Williamsburg and discovering new ones on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Then I met Allison Rogers.

A reporter for a New York City tabloid, Allison doesn’t get much time off. But when she does, she heads west to the ranch her parents own in the middle of Missouri. This explains why there is currently about a thousand pounds of horse between my legs. I usually prefer my transportation to come with four wheels, not four legs, but when in Missouri…

“That’s where the fox got in last night.” Allison’s father is pointing at the hole in the chicken wire. His horse is much bigger than mine, and he sits on it like he was born up there. “Never had this problem before, but it may be time to go with the electric fence the guys at the diner’ve been telling me to start using.”

I nod as if I know what he’s talking about. In reality, I know as much about raising and protecting chickens as Mr. Rogers—go ahead, I’ve chuckled at the name myself—knows about the New York City subways.

“They chew right through the wire,” he explains. “I fix ’em and a few days later they’re back and I’m down another bird or two. Dog does a good job during the day—the foxes smell old Rex—but we all gotta sleep, right?”

I agree with him and with as much poise as possible, dismount and walk over to the latest point of nocturnal entry. As a life-long resident of Long Island and Brooklyn, I admittedly don’t know much about farm life. As an ex-cop, though, I do know more than most about what a wire looks like when it’s been snipped by a cutter and I was looking at one now. Working in a middle school has also taught me the approximate shoe size of your average teenager. I’m careful not to step on the footprints as I turn back to Allison’s dad. He, like his wife and three employees, wears boots. I doubt anyone in the family besides Allison even owns a pair of sneakers.

I look up at Allison’s dad. He’s a proud man, works hard every day and has the worries that all people who make a living off the land have. Doesn’t matter how hard you labor, Mother Nature’s the boss out here and if you forget that, she’ll remind you. That’s what he knows and the last thing he wants to hear is what I have to say next.

“Allison says you got some new neighbors a few months ago.”

“Yep,” he says. “The Rudders had enough of trying to make a go of it and moved down to Florida to be with the grandkids.”

“The new people,” I say. “They have kids?”

“A boy, about fifteen. Likes his four-wheeler a bit too much for my taste, but I’ve been thinking about hiring him for the rest of the summer. Give my regular guys some time off and get him off than darn crotch rocket. Why?”

I didn’t want to come right out and say it. Ranchers—most folks out here like Mr. Rogers—trust their neighbors. You have to. Between the weather and the harsh reality of the rural life, you rely on each other more than most people do. The thought of his neighbor’s kid messing with that trust is not going to cross his mind right away. Me? It’s the first thing I thought of.

“How far away are they, these new neighbors?”

He motions with his head to the north. “About fifteen minutes.”

“By horse?”

If the word “Duh” was in this man’s vocabulary, now’s the time he would have used it. “How else we gonna get there, Ray?”

I smile, get back on the horse and spin him around just like I’d been taught.

“Let’s go for a ride,” I say. “It’s about time you offered that boy a job.”

Mr. Rogers gives me an approving smile.

“Allison said you were the kind of guy who gets things done. I like that.”

Without another word, we ride off to visit with the new neighbors. The kid’s first job is going to be repairing some chicken wire a fox had chewed through last night.


You can read more about Raymond in Crooked Numbers, the second book in the “Raymond Donne” mystery series, published by Minotaur. The first book in the series is Sacrifice Fly.

Meet the author
Tim O’Mara has been teaching math and special education in the New York City public schools since 1987. O’Mara was inspired to create the character of Raymond Donne after making home visits while a schoolteacher in a disadvantaged section of the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn. Further moved by his many interactions with the Youth Officers of the NYPD while he served as a middle school dean — and his brother’s stories as a police sergeant over the years — O’Mara believed that a character with experience in both worlds would make a great protagonist.

For the past 13 years, he has hosted and co-produced a bi-weekly reading series of poetry and prose in New York’s East Village with We Three Productions. He lives with his family in Manhattan, where he currently teaches in a public middle school, and is a proud member of Mystery Writers of America, Crime Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and several teacher unions.

O’Mara’s third Raymond Donne mystery, Dead Red, is scheduled to be published on January 20, 2015 by St. Martin’s/Minotaur Books. He is currently writing Smoked, a crime e-novella available for sale eventually at Bookxy.com, for Stark Raving Group, “a shameless purveyor of titillating short novels at ridiculously low prices.”

Visit Tim at his website, on Twitter or on Facebook.


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