Category Archives: A DAY IN THE LIFE

a place where characters give you a glimpse into their day

Spending Time With Penelope Sutherland by Shawn Reilly Simmons

Murder on the Red CarpetYou’d think working with movie stars every day would be a glamorous gig. And sometimes it is, like when I get invited to a wrap party or as a plus one to a movie premiere. But most of the time my job is hard work. I’m the owner and head chef of Red Carpet Catering, and I work behind the scenes cooking on movie sets. My team is responsible for providing every meal during filming, which boils down to many more long days on my feet and dirty dishes to wash than glamorous nights out on the town.

Don’t get me wrong, my job definitely has its perks. Every day brings new challenges and a sense of adventure. It’s hard to get bored in my particular line of work, because no two days are ever the same. I never know where we’re going to end up, but I do know that I have to take my kitchen with me wherever the party goes.

Take today for example. My crew of four chefs packed up our three mobile kitchen trucks before dawn and drove to a busy downtown street corner where the day’s filming will take place. Three hundred cast, crew members, executives and extras will be expecting lunch and dinner, fresh, hot and on time, so we have a long day ahead of us. We have to prep, cook, and plate the food, serve lunch, clear everything down, clean everything up, and then repeat the entire process for the dinner rush. So we’ll be out here working for fifteen hours at least, more if the filming goes into overtime. Hopefully the movie crew will get the scene shot that they need today. Otherwise we’ll be back here again tomorrow, déjà vu all over again, except we will offer different menu choices.

I do enjoy watching the sunrise in the mornings when we begin our early days. My crew is up and working, chopping vegetables and portioning out proteins when most people still have hours left to sleep, or when some more ambitious club-goers are making their way home from a late night out. But you get used to working the long days, cooking in all types of weather and in different locations. That’s where the adventure comes in.

After lunch, I take a walk down to the corner and watch the crew roll through a scene on the sidewalk. Three cameras are pointed at my best friend and roommate, Arlena Madison and her handsome co-star, Sam Cavanaugh, as they walk slowly down the street, reciting their lines. They’ve proven to have great chemistry, both on screen and off. Sam has been spending a lot of time at our house the past couple of weeks. I hope for Arlena’s sake the relationship lasts after the cameras stop rolling. She’s fallen hard for Sam already.

Watching Arlena and Sam, I wonder if I would have time for a relationship. I’m never quite sure how Joey Baglioni, a childhood friend of mine who is now a police detective, feels about me. There was always something special about Joey…he sure has turned out well since those awkward grade school days. The fact that we’ve just reconnected while he’s investigating a murder that might involve Arlena’s famous family puts us in an awkward position. Like Sam and Arlena, I wonder if Joey and I will have anything to talk about if and when the murder of Holly Anderson is solved.

I should probably just focus on work. Heaven knows it’s hard enough to find the time to date someone when you have a regular job, much less when you have a job that barely leaves you enough time to get a few hours of sleep between shifts. But then again, a day off with Joey would really be nice…

Time to head back to the trucks. Dinner has to be ready soon.

You can read more about Penelope in Murder on the Red Carpet, the first book in the “Red Carpet Catering” mystery series, published by Lit Girl Publishing. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on April 26, and you will be entered for a chance to win a digital copy of MURDER ON THE RED CARPET. One winner will be chosen at random.

Meet the author
Shawn Reilly Simmons was born in Indiana, grew up in Florida, and began her professional career in New York and ShawnNew Jersey after graduating from the University of Maryland with a BA in English. Over the years, Shawn has been a sales executive, book store manager, fiction editor, convention organizer, and a caterer. In 2006 she worked with the catering crew on a major motion picture that filmed in the DC area, which perfectly combined two of her great loves, movies and food. Shawn currently resides in Maryland with her husband, son and two English Bulldogs. Murder on the Red Carpet is her first novel.

If you’re a mystery fan you might know me from my work with the Malice Domestic mystery convention. I’ve been either a Board Member or a Committee Chair for the past 11 years working in Public Relations and Registrations.

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Blog Tour: A Day in the Life with Cait Morgan by Cathy Ace

THE CORPSE WITH THE EMERALD THUMB jpegI need a holiday. A vacation. I use both words. Being Welsh Canadian, I’m allowed.

In any case—I need a break. Fortunately, on Sunday morning Bud and I will be flying to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. YAY! We’re spending a week at an apartment about an hour from the airport, that’s being loaned to us by a colleague from Bud’s time as a homicide cop in Vancouver. I can hardly wait.

But first, I have to get through today, and it’s not going to be pleasant. I’ll explain. I’m a professor specializing in criminal psychology at the University of Vancouver, and I’ve just finished teaching an inter-sessional semester—which has all the work of a full-length semester squashed into half the time. I had a particularly tough group for the “Deviant criminal behavior: background and insights” course. Real criminals some of them. I kid you not.

I’ve never made it publicly known, but I have an eidetic memory, and I’m also very adept at reading people. I’ve used these abilities to help solve some puzzling murder cases in the past, but this semester, I’d noticed that one particular group dynamic in my class was “off” from the start—all popular, but lazy, kids working with one bright, diligent girl, who’s very much a loner. Not normal. For those of you who never went, or have chosen to forget, university is just like high school on steroids. Students categorize themselves, then don’t mix. It makes me smile sometimes—they think they’re being terribly independent in their style of dress, speech, and so forth, yet they’re all wearing “uniforms” that clearly mark them as a member of one group or another. Rebelliousness as tribal membership.

Back to today. I see plagiarism as theft. A crime. And no-one who’s as interested in justice as I am wants to see theft run rampant in their class. So I set a final report challenge that could only be be responded to in an original form, not pinched from the internet. I wondered how my target group would tackle it. I suspected they’d get their one bright member to do all the work, then copy her paper in such a way that they’d hide their theft. To be fair, given that there were eighty seven people taking the course, they could reasonably hope that I wouldn’t note any similarities. But that’s because they don’t know the real me, they just see a professor who’s there to be manipulated.

To cut a long story short, they bit. Two of them had done a pretty good job of covering their tracks, three hadn’t bothered much at all, and the poor girl who’d done all the work hadn’t written it up very well. Today they get their comeuppance.

They’ll be here any minute. They must have guessed what’s going to happen, and I dare say they’ll be developing their cover stories. But they won’t work. Not on me. The bright girl will be their weak link—I’ve already deduced that she’s been dragged into this situation against her will. I had a casual chat with her in the hall the other day and her body language was screaming at me that she wanted to tell me something, but didn’t dare. Her micro-expressions, her picked and nibbled fingers, the cold-sore she kept licking—they all spoke volumes about the stress she was under.

She was gripping her phone at the time. The screen saver behind the keypad showed a smoke-colored, long haired cat. I’ve spotted similar cat hairs on the clothing of one of the group members, and a couple of scratches on the neck of another. But the bright girl hasn’t had a single cat hair on her for weeks. I suspect the slackers are holding her cat, to make her do what they want. Cat-nappers, and thieves. Criminals.

Yes, grades matter that much, especially when parental pressure is applied, but no oversight provided. It should be an open and shut case. The bright girl will pass the course, the others will fail. I’ll make sure they return the cat. And if they want to duke it out with me in front of the departmental head, so be it. But not today. Nor next week.

Next week, I’ll be lying beside the pool at the Rocas Hermosas Resort near Punta de las Rocas, sipping something cold, with a little umbrella in it. Bud will be beside me, and we’ll be chatting about almost nothing, in the most wonderful way. At least, that’s the plan. I really hope nothing happens to spoil it—like I said, I need a break.

This is the first stop on the The Corpse with The Emerald Thumb Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. For other stops on this tour, click HERE

You can find out how Cait’s break in Mexico works out in The Corpse with The Emerald Thumb, the third Cait Morgan Mystery, published by TouchWood Editions. The first book in the series is The Corpse with the Silver Tongue. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on April 25, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of THE CORPSE WITH THE EMERALD THUMB. One winner will be chosen at random. Open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.

Meet the author
Welsh Canadian mystery author Cathy Ace is the creator of the Cait Morgan Mysteries, which include The Corpse with the Silver Tongue, The Corpse with the Golden Nose, and The Corpse with the Emerald Thumb. Born, raised, and 2cathyeducated in Wales, Cathy enjoyed a successful career in marketing and training across Europe, before immigrating to Vancouver, Canada, where she taught on MBA and undergraduate marketing programs at various universities. Her eclectic tastes in art, music, food, and drink have been developed during her decades of extensive travel, which she continues whenever possible. Now a full-time author, Cathy’s short stories have appeared in multiple anthologies, as well as on BBC Radio 4. She and her husband are keen gardeners, who enjoy being helped out around their acreage by their green-pawed Labradors. Cathy’s website can be found at Follow her on Twitter, or on Facebook.

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A Day in the Life of Dulcie Schwartz by Clea Simon

Grey HowlTalk about herding cats! I never thought a three-day conference could be quite so crazed. But the guests are just arriving and already everything is going wrong. I may be book smart, but suddenly, I’m in over my head: What’s with the sound system in Hall A? Why is the acting director being such a space case? And I know Stella Barnes is a rising star – but must she be such a diva? All my friends are telling me about her fling with Marco Tesla but is the hunky Professor Barnes under her spell as well? And is that the only reason all these academics come to these conferences? Mr Grey, I’m going to need all the help your feline spirit can send my way if I’m to get through this one alive.

If I can only keep everything under control, this could be my big break. Even though I’m only a grad student (fifth year), I’ve been named the department’s liaison to the conference – which means that I’ll get serious face time with all these stars, scholars from all around the world. When I finish my dissertation – I’ve got to stop saying “if” – these contacts will be invaluable. Surely, someone will want another newly minted PhD with an expertise in Gothic novels. At least, if I can keep everyone on track and at the right venue.

That’s worth my time, surely. Even if I’d much rather be working on my own thesis or, even better, at home with Esmé the cat. She’s not a kitten anymore, but she still deserves some play time, and really, I can concentrate better when I’ve got a purring kitty by my side. Maybe tonight, after the Moonlight Party, I’ll be able to do some work. Maybe Chris, my boyfriend, will be home – those strange disappearances of his are beginning to worry me. This should be easy, right? A cocktail party in one of the university’s most beautiful courtyards. It’s not like somebody could die there… could it?

You can read more about Dulcie’s adventures in Grey Howl, the seventh Dulcie Schwartz Feline Mystery from Severn House. The first in the series is Shades of Grey, and the books (all of which feature the feline spirit, Mr Grey) are available at bookstores and online outlets.

GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on April 24 and you will be entered to win a copy of one of the earlier books in the Dulcie Schwartz feline mystery series (Shades of Grey, Grey Matters, Grey Zone, Grey Expectations, True Grey, Grey Dawn). Three (3) lucky winners will be chosen at random. U.S. residents only please.

Meet the author
Clea Simon is the author of 15 mysteries in the Theda Krakow(4), Dulcie Schwartz (7), and Pru Marlowe pet noir (4) series, as well as three nonfiction books. The latter two mystery series are ongoing and include her most recent books, Grey Howl (Severn House) and Panthers Play for Keeps (Poisoned Pen Press). A former journalist and nonfiction author, she lives in Somerville, Mass., with her husband, the writer Jon Garelick, and their cat Musetta. She can be reached at and is on Twitter.

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A Day in the Life of Azalea March by Beth Yarnall

Dyed and Gone“Hello.” Insert awkward wave. “My name is Azalea March and I’m a hairstylist. It’s not as glamorous as most people think. Oh, sure it has its moments, like when I try a new highlighting technique and it comes out fantastic or I get to completely change a client’s look. You know, really challenge my skills and myself.

“Then there are the days of bang trims, late or no-show clients, and bleach that just won’t stay in the foils. And what was supposed to be a seven-hour day turns into a ten-hour day. I’m exhausted and wondering what in the world made me choose to be a hairstylist when I could’ve been an IMAX screen cleaner or a fortune cookie writer or something.

“Still, I love it. I wouldn’t do anything else. I love my clients and my coworkers. I love helping people feel beautiful. And I love stretching my skill set even as I say a prayer at the shampoo bowl and pull out the foils with my face half averted and one eye open. The Moment of Truth happens at the shampoo bowl. All manner of unintentional mistakes pop up and get fixed at the shampoo bowl.

“But sometimes things happen in the chair. Bad things. Like this one time when a new client came in and wanted highlights. I went through the usual examination of her hair and asked questions about what she’d had done previously. She’d been a model at a hair show, which is always scary. Who knew what they put on her hair? Anyway, I’m applying color to the foils that my assistant is holding and we’re chatting.

“On a side note- I like to turn my clients away from the mirror when applying their color. Both my assistant and I need to be able to reach the color and foils on the tray so we stand on either side of the client with the tray in the middle. This was one time I was glad my client couldn’t see what was happening in the mirror.

“So anyway, chatting and foiling and all of that stuff. Then all of a sudden the top of her head starts smoking. Yeah, like actual wisps of smoke, the kind that comes right before fire. My assistant’s eyes get huge and her mouth pops open and she’s staring at me across the client’s head. I’m trying not to panic. But this is bad. This is real bad. I tell her to go get a water bottle and then quickly reach for the one that’s hooked onto my tray.

“Without a word to my poor client, I start ripping foils out and squirting her head with water. My assistant joins in. But we’re not fast enough. ‘Ow’ says the client, wincing and reaching up to touch her hair. I bat her hand away and pull and spray faster.

“All the foils are out now and I practically pick her up out of the chair and push her toward the shampoo bowl. We have to get the color washed out. No highlights for my client today. She didn’t tell me that the box of do-it-yourself hair color she used to cover what was done to her hair as a model had metallic dye in it. When I applied my color it created a chemical reaction that produced steam and a near heart attack for my assistant and me.

“The moral of this story is to always be truthful with your stylist. And to not use cheap hair color. Huh, I guess my days aren’t so boring after all.

“Now I have a couple of questions for you- What is your hairstylist’s name and why you can’t live without him or her?”

You can read more about Azalea in Dyed and Gone, the first book in the “Azalea March” mystery series, published by Entangled. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Comment on this post by 6pm EST on April 22, and you will be entered for a chance to win a digital copy of DYED AND GONE. One winner will be chosen at random.

Meet the author
Best selling author, Beth Yarnall, writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and the occasional hilarious tweet. A storyteller since her playground days, Beth remembers her friends asking her to make up stories of how the person `died’ in the slumber party game Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board, so it’s little wonder she prefers writing stories in which people meet unfortunate ends. In middle school she discovered romance novels, which inspired her to write a spoof of soap operas for the school’s newspaper. She hasn’t stopped writing since.

For a number of years, Beth made her living as a hairstylist and makeup artist and owned a salon. Somehow hairstylists and salons seem to find their way into her stories. Beth lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their dog where she is hard at work on her next novel. For more information about Beth and her novels, please visit her website at

A Day in the Life of Jill Gardner by Lynn Cahoon

Guidebook to MurderWelcome to South Cove, California, a typical tourist town just off the Pacific Coast Highway.

I’m Jill Gardner, owner of Coffee, Books, and More – the only place in town to get your latte fix. I’m also the city council’s liaison to the business community. Which sometimes means I get all the jobs the elected politicians don’t want – but I’m not gripping. The money I’m paid to run the business-to-business meetings helps keep the lights on at the shop. Especially during dead seasons.

Time to unlock and start a pot or two of coffee. Good thing it’s Wednesday. I’m always slow during the morning shift which means I have plenty of time to spend researching new acquisitions for the bookstore side of the business. Translate – I get to read all morning long.

I haven’t always lived in South Cove. A few years ago I was a family law attorney in the city. After working too many hours and ending another bad relationship, I had a weekend free so I came for a visit. When it was time to check out of Beal Street Bed and Breakfast on Monday, I didn’t want to leave.

I quit my job, cashed in my retirement, and bought a building on Main Street. The perfect place for Coffee, Books, and More – my dream shop. My Aunt Jackie helped with the set up in between senior cruises to exotic locations.

I’ve put down roots in my little tourist town. My BFF Amy and I are regulars at Diamond Lille’s, the only other place that sells food in the town. My apartment, though tiny, is just enough for me. And I have time to spend with Miss Emily who lives in the last house on the road out of town. She’s a character, but I love her to death.

And, so did someone else.

You can read more about Jill’s adventures in Guidebook to Murder, the first book in the “Tourist Trap” mystery series, published by Kensington. Books are available at online booksellers.

Comment on this post by 6pm EST on April 21, and you will be entered for a chance to win a Kindle or Nook copy of GUIDEBOOK TO MURDER. One winner will be chosen at random.

About the author
Lynn Cahoon’s a multi-published romance and mystery author who lives with her husband in a small river town where her mind tends to wander around the depth and experience of small town life and love. Guidebook to Murder, A Tourist Trap Mystery releases April 17th. Mission to Murder – releases in July 2014 and If the Shoe Kills – will be available November 2014. For more information check out Lynn’s website at

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Dining with Darby Farr and Miles Porter by Vicki Doudera

Deal KillerBig trouble comes to the Big Apple for Darby Farr’s fifth mystery, Deal Killer, a suspenseful tale of greed and danger, set in glittering New York penthouses populated by Russian oligarchs, scheming lawyers, an inquisitive nanny and Darby’s heartthrob, investigative journalist Miles Porter. Praised by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus, here’s a sneak peak from the novel — a day in the life of Darby and Miles, as they have a date, “Darby-style.” As you can well imagine, murder’s never far from the menu!

“Okay, let’s get back to basics,” said Darby to Miles, as she took a refreshing gulp of her Jaipur lager. They were at a bustling Indian restaurant not far from Central Park Place, enjoying an aromatic prawn and cashew curry and chicken Balti.

“What do you mean by “basics”? You mean, who had a motive?”

“Yes, but I was thinking of starting with the murder weapon itself. It’s the only piece of evidence we have – the antique sword.”

“Saber, really…” Miles broke off a piece of a papadum and dabbed it into the curry sauce.

“Okay, saber. Who could have stolen it? Remember Vera said there was no evidence of a break in, so either they left their apartment unlocked, or someone used a key.”

“Or it was one of them. After all, Detective Benedetti said it was a woman.”

“True, but even if those two weren’t ensconced in their apartment all afternoon, I doubt they’d have the physical strength to kill Rodin. That’s got to be a pretty forceful thrust to penetrate the chest cavity, puncture some lungs, right?”

Miles looked down at his dinner.

“Sorry if I’m ruining your appetite! Think about it though — who could have gotten into that apartment easily and with a key?”

“The superintendent.” He took a swig of beer.

“Yes. And he could have sold the sword to an antique shop.”

“I wonder if Benedetti checked any shops nearby? He wouldn’t be very good at his job if he hadn’t.”

“Who else had easy access?”

“Well, Natalia was in there a fair amount, but I doubt she’s got a key. Cleaning lady?”

“That’s Yvette, remember?”

“Who else gets keys to properties?”

Just then Darby flashed on her lawsuit with the Davenports, how a key she’d had to the house didn’t work, because the entire door unit had been changed. A nagging voice said: why had it been changed? She tabled that question for now and turned to Miles.

“Real estate agents have keys, and I bet you that Rona was the listing broker for this apartment when Vera bought it.” She grabbed her smartphone and checked the list Todd Stockton had sent her. “Yes!”

“So Rona keeps the keys from when she lists the property, then sneaks in and steals the saber, uses it to kill Alec Rodin because, four years later, she’s still angry over losing all that money. The fact that it’s an antique weapon makes it look like it’s some sort of Russian crime of passion.”

“What should we do? Should we try to talk to Rona?”

“Why not?” Miles glanced at his watch. “It’s only nine-thirty, early by New York standards. Let’s settle up here and go see what she says.”

Meet the author
Vicki Doudera writes The Darby Farr Mysteries, page-turners grounded in a reality she knows all too well: the world of luxury real estate. A top producing broker for a firm on the coast of Maine and former Realtor of the Year, Vicki’s last novel, Final Settlement, was chosen a Top Cozy of 2013 by Suspense Magazine. (Her debut, A House to Die For, received the same honor.)

Vicki’s short story “A Neighbor’s Story” was chosen for inclusion in the forthcoming MWA anthology ICE COLD: Tales of Suspense from the Cold War, release date April of 2014. Her latest Darby Farr Mystery, DEAL KILLER, debuts in April as well. The author of several non-fiction guides to her home state, including the best selling Moving to Maine, Vicki lives in coastal Maine. When not writing, she enjoys hiking, biking, and sailing with her husband and kids.


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From Office of Trixie Matkowski by Christine Wenger


A second helping of murderGreetings from Sandy Harbor, New York!

It’s summer as I write this note to you and the tourist season is in full swing! I thought that things would calm down after my first several months here, but I’m busier than ever and so is my staff.

Moving to New York and buying the Silver Bullet Diner (circa 1950, Open 24 hours, Air-conditioned, Breakfast Served All Day) from my Aunt Stella Matkowski , who retired to Boca Raton, was a big change for me. Things proved even more difficult when the restaurant inspector turned up dead in my kitchen! My beautiful diner became a ghost town overnight!

With the help of my neighbor, Deputy Sheriff Ty Brisco, a cowboy transplant from Houston, Texas, I got to the bottom of what had happened to the inspector. My friend, Christine Wenger, who loves to write and fancies herself the historian of Sandy Harbor, documented that horrible part of my life in Do or Diner (Obsidian Books, August 2013). She said that fiction was stranger than the truth, so the story just had to be told.

And Chris just finished recording the details of two more murders which occurred in town about twenty years apart in A SECOND HELPING OF MURDER (Obsidian Books, April 2014). The scene I discovered in Cottage Number Eight will be forever etched in my mind. The lovely citizens of Sandy Harbor are starting to wonder about me!

In spite of the bad stuff, I’ve kept busy cooking and playing with recipes at the Silver Bullet, have almost stopped reeling from my divorce (almost!), made life-long friends, never laughed so much, and still find time to polka!
Life is good at the lake. Come visit!

~~ Trixie ~~

You can read more about Trixie in A Second Helping of Murder, the second book in the “Comfort Food” mystery series, published by Obsidian. The first book in the series is Do or Diner. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Comment on this post by 6pm EST on April 18, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of A SECOND HELPING OF MURDER. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
I have worked in the criminal justice field for more years than I care to remember. It seems like I was forever Cwengergoing to school while I was working full time, but in the end, I received a dual master’s degree in Probation and Parole Studies and Sociology from Fordham University. Unfortunately, the knowledge gained from way too many years in night school, didn’t prepare me for what I love to do the most – write! To date, I’ve written nine romances for Harlequin and “almost” three cozy mysteries for Penguin Obsidian Books.

My first cozy mystery, Do or Diner, was released from Obsidian Books in August 2013, and was their first “comfort food” mystery! My second cozy mystery will be called A SECOND HELPING OF MURDER, and was released on April 1, 2014. A third is completed and will be called Diners, Drive-Ins and Death (release date unknown). This trilogy of books all feature the same characters, same small town, and are set around a 1950’s diner.

For fun, I enjoy watching professional bull riding and rodeo with my favorite cowboy, my husband Jim. We put on our cowboy regalia (I look horrible in a cowboy hat!) and have traveled to events in Las Vegas, Florida, Connecticut, and other states.

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