A day in the life with Cam Flaherty by Edith Maxwell

Hi there. Cam Flaherty here. I’m a small farmer, a tall independent businesswoman, and so far my organic Attic Hill Farm tucked in the northeast corner of Massachusetts has been doing pretty well. I’ve been selling veggies, herbs, and small fruit for a year now, and I have a loyal following of customers. But May is a crazy busy time, as you can imagine. I have a zillion seedlings to plant out in the fields now that the frost-free date is past. I need to harvest asparagus, rhubarb, and scallions, start more seedlings, weed the potato field, and much more.

So I definitely don’t need my quirky, peripatetic academic parents hanging around my farm and the small town of Westbury where it’s located. One town in from the coast, two towns south of New Hampshire, as I like to tell prospective customers. But they said they wanted to come visit on their way to their summer anthropology research site abroad, so what could I do?

How my mom got herself involved in a public protest against a new hydroponic farmer is anybody’s guess, but it just added to my headache when the farmer turned up dead – and I found her. Then my gangly, intellectual, and entirely unhandy dad decided to “help” out on the farm. His help ended up doubling my work. When I got home from telling the police about poor Nicole, Dad proudly showed me the pile of “weeds” he’d pulled up. Yeah, those were my month-old sweet pea shoots.

Anyway, things only went downhill from there. A suspicious couple from out of town, a spurned lover, someone lurking around my barn, and an attack at a vacation house got all mixed in with the Memorial Day parade – small town at its best – a couple of secrets from my mom’s past, and the everyday work of a farmer.

Giveaway: My author says she’ll give away a signed hardcover edition of Mulch Ado About Murder to a commenter here, so ask her a question! She loves talking to readers.  US entries only, please. The giveaway ends May 26, 2017. Good luck everyone!

Now, back to that potato patch.

You can read more about Cam in Mulch Ado About Murder, the fifth book in the “Local Foods” mystery series.

It’s been a hot, dry spring in Westbury, Massachusetts. As organic farmer Cam Flaherty waits for much-needed rain, storm clouds of mystery begin to gather. Once again, it’s time to put away her sun hat and put on her sleuthing cap . . .

May has been anything but merry for Cam so far. Her parents have arrived unexpectedly and her crops are in danger of withering away. But all of that’s nothing compared to the grim fate that lies in store for one of her neighbors. Nicole Kingsbury is the proud owner of the town’s new hydroponic greenhouse. She claims the process will be 100% organic, but she uses chemicals to feed her crops. To Cam’s surprise, her mother embarrasses her by organizing a series of loud public protests against Nicole’s operation.

When Nicole is found dead in a vat of hydroponic slurry—clutching another set of rosary beads—Detective Pete Pappas has a new murder to solve. Showers may be scarce this spring, but there’s no shortage of suspects, including the dead woman’s embittered ex‑husband, the Other Man whose affair ruined their marriage, and Cam’s own mother. Lucky for Cam, her father turns out to have a knack for sleuthing—not to mention dealing with chickens. Will he and Cam be able to clear Mrs. Flaherty’s name before the killer strikes again?

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About the author
National best-selling author Edith Maxwell is a 2017 double Agatha Award nominee for her historical mystery Delivering the Truth and her short story, “The Mayor and the Midwife.” She writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries and the Local Foods Mysteries. As Maddie Day she writes the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. Her award-winning short crime fiction has appeared in a dozen juried anthologies, and she serves as President of Sisters in Crime New England.

Maxwell writes, cooks, gardens north of Boston with her beau and three cats. She blogs at Wicked Cozy Authors, Killer Characters, and with the Midnight Ink authors. Find her at edithmaxwell.com and elsewhere.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life with Derek Cooper by Terry Odell

Occupation: Head of the Triple-D cattle ranch in Colorado.

Welcome to the Triple-D. Come on in, grab a seat at the table. Have some breakfast, meet the gang. I’m Derek Cooper, head of the ranch. It’s one of the biggest Colorado cattle operations in the county, and has been in the family since my great-granddaddy’s day.

That guy shoveling in the food is Tim—he thinks he’s funny, but you don’t need to laugh at his lame jokes. The quiet one is Bryce—he’s our head wrangler, which means he’s in charge of the horses. He’s got a way with all animals. Then there’s Frank, who’s the brains of the outfit, and my sister, Cecily, who’s usually working as a dispatcher for the sheriff’s department, but is helping out on her day off. I’ve known these guys since my days in the Army Rangers, or with Blackthorne, Inc. The mutt at your feet is Charlie. He thinks he’s a cattle dog, but mostly, he’s looking for handouts.

You wanted to know what a typical day on a cattle ranch is like, so I’ll do my best to give you the basics. Afraid it’s pretty dull. Okay, there was that time when a nutcase was killing cattle all over the state, but we caught the guy, so there’s no story there anymore.

Most days, like today, we start work by sunrise, then break between nine and ten for a hearty breakfast, like now. Our cook has her hands full keeping this crew fed, but she does a great job. Today it’s sausage, eggs, and her cheese biscuits. Plenty of juice and coffee, so help yourself.

We’ve been out since before six this morning. First thing, Bryce gets the horses saddled, and we load them into the trailer. Driving them to where we’ll be working saves a lot of time when we’re working cattle in the far pastures. Sometimes there’s a sick cow, or one gets stuck in a ravine. There’s branding and tagging to identify the animals as ours—not that it stopped that rustler, but we caught him, so no story there, either.

It’s calving season, so we checked for any new ones born overnight, made sure they’re okay. One new mama had twins, and one of her calves wasn’t doing well, so we brought the little one back here. She’ll be a bottle baby until she can go it on her own. Today’s been an easy morning. After lunch, Bryce and I will check another pasture while Frank and Tim mend fence—we have over a hundred miles of it here on the Triple-D, and there are always breaks to fix.

What’s that you say? Oh, you heard about the trouble we had not long ago. Not really much to tell. Cecily called me from the dispatch office at two in the morning. There’s a stranded motorist, and none of the tow trucks are available. Of course, it’s in the middle of a blinding rainstorm, but I’ve never been able to say no to my sister with her brown, puppy-dog eyes. I drove out to help, and found Sabrina, who was on the run after some bad stuff went down with her brother, although she didn’t know it at the time. That ended up being quite the mess, let me tell you. Got entangled with some pretty nasty folks. But there was no epidemic, so it worked out okay, and Sabrina and I are together now. In fact, you’re eating her cooking.

Wait. You hear that? Sounded like an explosion. Sorry, but we’re going to have to cut this interview short. Just another day on the Triple-D.

You can read more about Derek in In Hot Water, the first book in the “Triple-D Ranch” romantic suspense series.

He needs a cook, she needs a place to hide. . .

Derek Cooper has left the violent life of an Army Ranger and a covert ops agent for Blackthorne, Inc. in favor of the more peaceful life of a cowboy, running the family cattle ranch in the Colorado mountains. However, when he rescues a stranded motorist, he has no idea this blonde pixie is going to bring violence to his doorstep—or work her way into his heart.

Unable to resist helping her discover why she’s in danger ends up with him unable to resist her . . . period. When they discover a potential bioterrorism plot, they’ll have to put their attraction on hold while they search for a way to prevent it.

Sabrina Barton believes in second chances, and she’s running a vocational culinary school to prove it. But when her brother dies in a mysterious hit-and-run, and she’s beset by an unsettling series of accidents, she can’t believe in coincidences. She goes in search of the one man her brother told her to seek if she ever needed help. Trouble is, the letter with that advice was delivered at her brother’s funeral, more than ten years after he wrote it.

Will cattle rancher Derek Cooper be able to help her? And will she be able to resist this handsome cowboy who seems to be no stranger to violence?

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About the author
Terry Odell always wanted to “fix” stories she read so the characters did what she wanted. Once she began writing, she found this wasn’t always possible, as the mystery she intended to write became a romance—a real surprise, since she’d never read a romance. Terry writes mystery and romantic suspense, but calls them all “Mysteries With Relationships.” Her 20+ published works include the Blackthorne, Inc. covert ops series, the Pine Hills Police series, the Triple-D Ranch series, and the Mapleton Mystery series. Her awards include the Silver Falchion and HOLT Medallion, among others. For more, visit her website at terryodell.com. Click here to read an excerpt of In Hot Water.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a digital copy (mobi, epub, or PDF) of In Hot Water. The giveaway ends May 26, 2017. Good luck everyone!

A day at the Moorehaven Bed and Breakfast Inn with Hilt MacKellar by Morgan C. Talbot

I’m a crack o’ dawn man. Always have been. Grew up on a farm, served my country in ‘Nam, swore to protect and serve. There’s no sleeping in after that many 4 AM mornings. Even if I’ve spent the last thirty of my seventy-five years running a bed-and-breakfast for mystery authors, I still rise with the earliest light.

Breakfast’s first up. Gotta feed the authors and power their brains for the day! You would not believe how many of them put Moorehaven’s food in their books. I didn’t think I’d like cooking, but that’s because I never really knew how. The Moorehaven B&B used to have just one occupant—my old friend, A. Raymond Moore. Yeah, that one, the world-famous mystery author. Though he was a confirmed bachelor, he had a mountain of recipes handed down to him from his great-aunt Felicity, who built this Victorian mansion in 1891, in the newborn town of Seacrest, right at the edge of the Pacific. Ray taught me how to cook when I was forty, as if I was the son he never had. Took me until after he passed to realize that despite being rich and famous, he was lonely. Why he picked me, I’ll never know. But he changed my life. And my palate.

My great-niece runs the place now: Pippa. Smart as a whip. She’s got a head for newfangled things like the Internet and book-signing events. And updating Moore’s recipes so they boost brainpower and such. Me, I stick with what I know, which involves pipes, wires, and the occasional paintbrush. I like to walk through the library once a day, make sure the books are all evened up on the shelves. We’ve got all of Moore’s books, as well as stuff his contemporaries wrote. He and Agatha Christie corresponded during WWII. I’ve got all her books in my library, and those letters are up in the gallery.

I take a pass through the gallery, too. Ray left me all his notes and papers when he died. We both hated dealing with paperwork, so he pawned his off on me. His final joke—thanks a lot, Ray. The gallery’s glass cases showcase whatever manuscripts or inspirational trinkets Pippa’s got on the schedule, and I try my best to keep all the rest of Ray’s mess organized in the storage shelves.

While I do have a work schedule, authors sometimes ask me to expound on topics for their book research. I’ll talk about Moore, the history of Moorehaven, even Vietnam. But I always find it weird when they ask personal stuff. Pretty sure I ain’t interesting. I’m a former cop who runs a B&B. But they keep telling me I’m fascinating and adventurous. I guess my doppelgangers show up that way in their books, and that’s just fine by me.

Every single room of this old mansion has some memory or another for me. In the second-floor sunroom, Moore got me to try one of the Cuban cigars he’d gotten from a smuggler friend after the trade embargo in ‘62. He laughed his head off when I choked on the smoke and nearly set the carpet on fire trying to give it back to him. And I can’t look at the northeast turret, called the Oubliette, without remembering the overly adventurous author who climbed outside its third-story window in a rainstorm to re-enact his hero’s daring rescue—and ended up in the hospital with a couple of broken limbs for his trouble. His book was a bestseller, though. Go figure.

Moorehaven sits right on the hard edge of the continent, so we get most all the weather there is: fog, rain, fog, drizzle, fog, sun, fog, clouds, fog, hail, fog, wind, and did I mention the fog? Because we get fog sometimes. Just so you know. I like the fog. Kinda miss the endless roll of green fields, but I ain’t seen them in over sixty years. I make sure we have a regular supply of loaner umbrellas and slickers by the front door for our guests. The weather shifts quickly here. Gotta keep on your toes.

Nightfall’s no guarantee that all our authors are back inside from their adventures. I’ve gone on more than a few rescue missions, and I usually find our “lost” guests sitting somewhere right out in the open, scribbling or typing ideas madly so they don’t lose the ideas they just had. These creative folks simply lose track of the time. And the place. Ain’t nowhere in the world as good for the mystery author’s soul as a stay at Moorehaven. And there ain’t nowhere in the world as good for my soul as doing what I can to keep those authors fed, watered, and sheltered. And occasionally saved from their own Method research. Just doing my part to make the mystery genre a more fascinating place. Stop by anytime. We’ll be glad to see ya.

You can read more about Hilt in Smugglers & Scones, the first book in the “Moorehaven” mystery series.

Pippa Winterbourne runs Moorehaven, the Oregon Coast’s quirkiest bed-and-breakfast and former home of world-famous mystery writer A. Raymond Moore. Guests come there to write their own crime novels. When a real-life murder takes a local’s life and washes a handsome boat pilot into her arms, Pippa is yanked into a deadly plot of her own. A tangle of secrets crashes past into present, and Pippa must uncover clues dating back to Seacrest’s Prohibition days, including a secret Moore himself hid from the world.

Juggling her book-writing guests, small-town intrigues, secret club agendas, and a possibly fatal attraction, Pippa must sort fact from fiction to know who to trust before a desperate killer claims a final revenge nearly a century in the making.

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Meet the author
Morgan is an outdoorsy girl with a deep and abiding love for the natural sciences. Her degrees involve English and jujitsu. She enjoys hiking, camping, and wandering in the woods looking for the trail to the car, but there isn’t enough chocolate on the planet to bribe her into rock climbing.

When she’s not writing, she can be found making puzzles, getting lost on the way to geocaches, reading stories to her children, or taking far too many pictures of the same tree or rock. She lives in Eastern Washington with her family.

Connect with Morgan at her blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.