Category Archives: A DAY IN THE LIFE

a place where characters give you a glimpse into their day

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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A Day in the Life of Maddie Porter by Margaret Grace

Madness in MiniatureWow, after all the drills in school, we finally had a real earthquake where I live in California. I wasn’t scared. Not too much, anyway. It was only a 3.1, but everything quaked! I was in my Grandma’s house with her and her BFF. I think they’re going to get married soon. I hope so, because Uncle Henry—that’s what I call him—his granddaughter, Taylor, is my BFF! So that would be so cool. Me and Taylor would be, like, cousins or something.

Back to that earthquake, it’s a good thing I remembered Drop, Cover, and Hold On! from our drills in school, and made sure Grandma and Uncle Henry came under the dining room table with me and held on even though it moved a little. I think a vase in grandma’s house broke, but the big thing is that downtown in the new, giant crafts store, some pottery fell off a high-up shelf, and someone died from being hit over the head. The man was a boss of the new crafts company. He came to our town from New York, and my grandma thinks maybe it wasn’t the earthquake’s fault that he died. She’s probably right, and if she is, then we’ll have a Case to work on.

I love helping Grandma and Uncle Skip (he’s not old like Uncle Henry) who’s a police detective. This time I made up a data chart so we could have an easy way to see where everyone was when the earthquake hit. That’s called an alibi, and when we looked at all the alibis it helped us figure out how the man from New York was killed.

Grandma and I work on dollhouses together, and that’s almost as much fun as police work. When I grow up (I’m almost there—I’m eleven years old), I think I want to be a detective like Uncle Skip. Or just make miniatures all day. Or maybe work in an ice cream shop, or maybe live in New York. That’s where my dad was born when Grandma and Grandpa were living there. At least I want to visit New York and see the Rockettes. Maybe Grandma will take me some day.

Madness in Miniature” (April 2014) is the 7th book in the Miniature Mysteries by Margaret Grace, featuring “Grandma” Gerry Porter and 11-year-old Maddie. The 8th book is “Manhattan in Miniature,” (April 2015) where Maddie gets her wish to see the Rockettes. Book is published by Perseverance Press and available at retail and online booksellers.

Comment on this post by 6pm EST on April 17, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of MADNESS IN MINIATURE. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
Camille Minichino, a retired physicist turned writer, is the author of 21 mysteries in three series: The Periodic Table Mysteries, The Miniature Mysteries (as Margaret Grace) and the Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries (as Ada Madison). A fourth series, the Post Office Mysteries (as Jean Flowers), will debut in August 2015. Camille teaches science at Golden Gate U., San Francisco. She also teaches writing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her website:

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Blog Tour: Homecoming with Harlow Cassidy by Melissa Bourbon

A Killing NotionIf you’ve never experienced homecoming in Texas, you’re missing something big. Literally.

First, let me say that I’m more of a behind the scenes kind of girl. Even in high school, I made the homecoming dresses for my friends, but didn’t go to the dance myself. My joy is in the dressmaking and in creating something perfect for a friend…and lately, in the mum-making.

Have you seen the creations that Texas girls wear to school on homecoming Friday? The ribbons! The trinkets! The lights!

Yes, I said lights. If you’re a senior in high school, and your beau wants to drop $200 or more on a mum, then twinkle lights are a possibility. If it’s a double mum, then a harness is in order. Yes, a harness! But the mums I make are more meaningful than what you’ll get at a florist or a craft store counter, and by the time they’re finished, the mums are perfect for the girls who’ll be wearing them. From the colors of the ribbons to the baubles included on them, they represent the girls.

When I started my little side business of mums, I had no idea how they would become metaphors for the lives Gracie (my boyfriend Will Flores’s daughter) and her friends were leading. I’ve come to realize that sewing (and by extension, crafts) often creates a link between folks. The threads that hold a garment together are just like the connections between people. They grow, the bonds strengthening with each interaction.

Gracie and the other girls who are making mums at Buttons & Bows are creating something that feeds their strength, but more important than that are the bonds they’re creating with each other. Both the mums and the friendships are helping bolster Gracie during her ordeal with Shane. Having your boyfriend accused of murder has worn on her, beating her down. Her friendships are sustaining her. And wearing the mums and going to homecoming will be like a salve on a wound.

So, for me, the homecoming mum is big. More important than I ever realized, in fact. And I couldn’t be more proud to be behind the scenes helping girls like Gracie and her friends figure out how something like a mum can be a touchstone for their inner strength.

~ Harlow Cassidy

This is the 12th stop on the A Killing Notion Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. For other stops on this tour, click HERE

You can read more about Harlow in A Killing Notion, the fifth book in the “Magical Dressmaking” mystery series, published by Obsidian. The first book in the series is Pleating For Mercy. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Comment on this post by 6pm EST on April 15, and you will be entered for a chance to win a digital copy of either Pleating for Mercy, book #1 in the “Magical Dressmaking” series or Living the Vida Lola, book #1 in the “Lola Cruz” mystery series, winner’s choice. One winner will be chosen at random.

Bonus: Click HERE for a rafflecopter giveaway prize package from Melissa

Meet the author
Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, gave up teaching middle and high school kids in Northern California to write full-time amidst horses and Longhorns in North Texas. She MisaRfantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.

She is the Executive Publicity Director with Entangled Publishing, is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery series with St. Martin’s Minotaur and Entangled Publishing, and A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series with NAL. She also has written two romantic suspense novels, a light paranormal romance, and is the co-author of The Tricked-out Toolbox, a practical marketing and publicity guide for authors.

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A Day in the life With Pru Marlowe by Clea Simon

Panther Play For Keeps The panther is like a leopard,
Except it hasn’t been peppered.
Should you behold a panther crouch,
Prepare to say Ouch.
Better yet, if called by a panther,
Don’t anther.

Ogden Nash thought he was being funny. I don’t. You see, panthers are wild animals, and wild animals kill. Not like we humans kill – out of greed or lust or anger. But because they have to in order to eat or to defend themselves. Animals, as I’ve often noted, have more sense than we do.

Not that this is helping me now. You see, something has gone wrong here in Beauville. This is a small town, prone to the usual small-town vices. Yeah, you’ve got it: greed and lust and anger. But a panther attack? That’s a bit out of the ordinary, even in my line of work.

I’m Pru, Pru Marlowe. You could say I’m the local animal expert out here in the Berkshires. Raccoon in your attic? I’ll help you out. Puppy soiling the carpet? I’m good with that, too. Panthers, though, they’re a different story. And as much as I keep telling everyone that the Eastern puma is probably extinct – that nobody’s seen one here in Massachusetts for more than two hundred years – there’s no denying those deep claw marks, or the body of the lovely young woman that I found out in the woods this morning, while I was exercising Spot, the guide dog I’m currently training.

Something killed that girl. Something angry. And while I know Wallis, the tabby who cohabits with me, is going to be pissed about it, I’ve got to get involved. You see, animals – that’s my specialty. And while I don’t think that a panther is behind what happened out there, I do know that someone is going to make a poor animal pay.

You can read more about Pru’s adventures in Panthers Play for Keeps, the fourth “Pru Marlowe” pet noir coming from Poisoned Pen Press this April. The first in the series is Dogs Don’t Lie, and the books (all of which feature Pru and her tabby Wallis) are available at bookstores and online outlets.

Comment on this post by 6pm EST on April 14 and you will be entered to win a signed copy of PANTHERS PLAY FOR KEEPS. The winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

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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