Category Archives: A DAY IN THE LIFE

a place where characters give you a glimpse into their day

A day in the life of Daphne Templeton by Bethany Blake

death-by-chocolate-labOccupation: Owner of Lucky Paws Petsitting

Excuse me for a sec. I have to turn the key to my vintage VW Bus three times then slap the dashboard twice to get her going. It takes some focus.

Okay, mission accomplished.

If we’re going to take a ride through my pet-friendly hometown of Sylvan Creek, Pennsylvania, I guess I should introduce myself, huh?

I’m Daphne Templeton, and I’m a petsitter with a Ph.D. in philosophy. (Please don’t get my mother, Realtor Maeve, started on the topic of “useless” degrees.) And the passenger who’s riding shotgun, so you’re stuck in the back seat, is Socrates, the world’s most introspective basset hound.

What’s that? You need a napkin?

Ooh, sorry about that. I should’ve warned you that you’d also be riding with Artie, my one-eared foster Chihuahua, who suffers from a severe overbite and an excess of personality. He can’t help jumping on you, and the drool isn’t his fault, either. Still, we apologize.

Here’s a napkin from my favorite Mexican place, Burrito Casita. There’s a spot of house-made salsa on it. Just tear that part off.

I have to say, you’ve caught us on a strange day. Normally, I’d be walking attorney Virginia Lockhart’s three Rottweilers, Macduff, Iago and Hamlet. But yesterday there was a murder at my sister Piper’s farmhouse, Winding Hill – where I also live, temporarily. The local kennel club was holding a dog agility trial at the farm and. . . well, things went wrong.

Now Piper – a type A veterinarian – is a prime suspect. It probably didn’t help that I got tongue-tied in the presence of a very imposing, and, I have to admit gorgeous, detective, Jonathan Black, when he came to investigate. I might’ve let it slip that Piper had argued with the victim right before the crime.

Please don’t look at me like that, Socrates.

I didn’t mean to make things worse. But when I looked into Detective Black’s dark blue eyes, I just started babbling. Which is ridiculous. A very serious, enigmatic detective is not my type. I’m quite happy in my commitment-free relationship with mellow transplanted surfer and vet tech Dylan Taggart.

Artie, sit. Seriously. Sit.

Yes, you’re right. People are staring at the van. That’s because my best friend, Moxie Bloom – owner of Spa and Paw salon for pets and people – tried to do a custom paint job to advertise my business, Lucky Paws Petsitting. Unfortunately, she overestimated her artistic talents. That thing on the side of the van is a misshapen dog, not a misshapen horse.

Oh. You guessed horse, too. Well, you’re not the first person to get it wrong.

Just to point a few things out, Moxie lives in the big yellow Victorian mansion, above my favorite bookstore, the Philosopher’s Tome. It’s run by the sweetest man, Tom Flinchbaugh. He never makes you buy anything. On a rainy day, there’s nothing better than sitting in a cozy chair in the turret and reading for hours.

Tom’s wife, Tessie, runs the pet boutique, Fetch!, across the street. You’ll know her by her seasonal-themed shirts.

If you want coffee and amazing biscotti, go to Espresso Pronto. The owner, Giulia Alberti, imports everything from Italy.

And that beautiful building with the blue-green clapboard siding, crisp white trim and overflowing window boxes is my sister’s practice, Templeton Animal Hospital.

I’m not even going to look toward my mother’s real estate office. If she’s outside, she’ll flag us down and try to force you to buy a house. I’m just warning you. If you meet her gaze, you might end up in a five bedroom on the shores of Lake Wallapawakee.

Well, here we are at the Sylvan Creek Inn. I hope you enjoy your stay and that you’ll come visit us again. The town is tiny, but it seems like something’s always happening here.

And trust me, Socrates was happy to meet you. He always looks like that. . .

Artie! Seriously! Off!

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You can read more about Daphne in Death By Chocolate Lab, the first book in the NEW “Lucky Paws Petsitting” mystery series.

Pet sitter Daphne Templeton has a soft spot for every stray and misfit who wanders into the quaint, lakeside village of Sylvan Creek. But even Daphne doesn’t like arrogant, womanizing Steve Beamus, the controversial owner of Blue Ribbon K-9 Academy. When Steve turns up dead during a dog agility trial, Daphne can think of a long list of people with motives for homicide, and so can the police. Unfortunately, at the top of the list is Daphne’s sister, Piper—Steve’s latest wronged girlfriend.

Certain that Piper is innocent, in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary, Daphne sets out to clear her sister’s name—and find Axis, Steve’s prize-winning chocolate Labrador, who went missing the night of Steve’s death. Aided by Socrates, her taciturn basset hound, and a hyperactive one-eared Chihuahua named Artie, Daphne quickly runs afoul of Detective Jonathan Black, a handsome and enigmatic newcomer to town, who has no appreciation for Daphne’s unorthodox sleuthing.

Can a free-spirited pet sitter, armed only with a Ph.D. in Philosophy and her two incompatible dogs, find the real killer before she becomes the next victim?

Includes recipes for homemade dog treats!

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Meet the author
Bethany Blake lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, three children and a menagerie that includes a quirky dog, an attack cat, a blind goldfish and a hermit crab named Shelldon P. Crabbington. When she’s not writing, she enjoys horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and searching the globe for great cheeseburgers. She is always open to suggestions, re: the cheeseburgers. Connect with Bethany at

All comments are welcomed.

Death by Chocolate Lab is available at retail and online booksellers.

A day in the life of Detective Nan Vining by Dianne Emley

lying-blindLet me start by saying that I dislike talking about myself. But if I have to describe who I am, I’d say that first I’m a mom to Emily, who’s almost seventeen. Her dad and I divorced when she was a toddler—his choice, not mine. Next, I’d say that I’m the senior investigator in Homicide/Assault at the Pasadena, California Police Department. Then, if I’d had this conversation with you first thing this morning, I’d have said that I’m a devoted life partner and lover to Jim Kissick, who’s a sergeant with the Pasadena PD. Right now, at the end of a long and bewildering day, I’m not at all sure where things stand between Jim and me.

Jim had always been my strong, silent, standup guy. My Gary Cooper (I also love watching classic movies). Jim has guided me through dark times in my life. Terrible times and I have the physical and psychological scars to prove it. Tonight, sitting at my desk in the empty Detectives Section at the PPD, I’m wondering whether I misread those silences of Jim’s. Did I mistake them for solidity and strength when they were in reality concealing secrets? To say that my world has been rocked is an understatement.

The day started normally enough until the middle of the afternoon, when my partner, Alex, and I were called out to the scene of a mysterious death at a huge Pasadena estate. One of the homeowners, Teddy Sexton, had discovered the body of a nude young woman floating in the backyard pool. Jim had been the first officer on-scene. I was happy to see him. I always am because our schedules zig and zag so much it’s hard for us to get together. But he was acting sketchy and evasive from the get go. Things became more odd when I found out, after dragging the information from him, that he’d left the scene of a car accident with injuries to dash over to the Sexton estate because Teddy had texted him. Teddy and his wife, Becca, are old friends, Jim explained. Jim will definitely be reprimanded for abandoning an active incident–possibly even fired—and he risked that to respond to a text?

Things got more disturbing when Becca returned home. You see, the Jane Doe in the pool bears a staggering resemblance to a much younger Becca, but everyone in the Sexton household denied knowing who the victim is. After interviewing Becca, I learned that she and Jim had a close relationship years ago. Very close. Something else that Jim neglected to tell me.

Sitting here at my computer, I’m trying to identify poor Jane Doe, who nobody other than my partner and I seem to care about. I’m also trying to push away an ominous feeling that this case will tear me and Jim apart. He’d be the one I’d turn to in such a situation to talk it through, but I can’t. I’m feeling horribly alone. Em’s spending the night at her girlfriend’s. I might as well keep working because I doubt I’ll get any sleep tonight. I’m not looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings. That’s enough about me. Back to work.

You can read more about Nan in Lying Blind, the sixth book in the “Nan Vining” series.

In a breathtaking infinity pool on a sprawling Pasadena estate, the naked body of a beautiful young woman floats facedown in a drift of rose petals blowing on the breeze. Police sergeant Jim Kissick responds instantly, pulling the dead victim from the water. When his longtime girlfriend, Detective Nan Vining, arrives on-scene, she’s full of questions, and not just about the Jane Doe. Why did the homeowner text Jim instead of calling 911? Jim’s explanation—that he’s simply an old friend of Teddy and Rebecca Sexton’s—doesn’t sit well with Nan. A survivor of a bizarre murder attempt herself, Nan’s instincts for deception are acute. She senses that they’re all hiding something—including Jim, which plunges a wedge deep into their once steadfast relationship.

Then a drought-ravaged lake in a bucolic Central California town reveals a grisly secret. Soon two local detectives arrive in Pasadena to interview Jim and his wealthy friends about a mysterious death from years back, and Nan realizes she has good reasons for her suspicions. Jim’s always been her rock, but suddenly he’s become a stranger. And once Nan identifies her Jane Doe, events careen out of control as darkness from the past threatens to consume the life that Nan has worked so hard to rebuild.

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About the author
Dianne Emley is a Los Angeles Times bestselling author and has received critical acclaim for her Detective Nan Vining thrillers, Iris Thorne mysteries, and The Night Visitor, a standalone paranormal mystery. She’s also published short fiction for anthologies including Literary Pasadena. Her novels have been translated into six languages. A Los Angeles native, she lives in the Central California wine country with her husband, where she’s a pretty good cook and a terrible golfer. About Dianne’s books, Tess Gerritsen says: “Emley masterfully twists, turns, and shocks.”

Connect with Dianne through her website or visit her on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment for a chance to win a Lying Blind e-book (Kindle/Nook open to all) or a signed paperback (US only) of one of the first four books in the Nan Vining series (The First Cut, Cut to the Quick, The Deepest Cut, or Love Kills). The giveaway ends February 27, 2017. Good luck everyone!

Lying Blind will be published as an e-book by Alibi/Random House on February 28, 2017.

A day in the life with Lila Maclean by Cynthia Kuhn

the-art-of-vanishingLila Maclean here. Nice to meet you.

It’s my second semester at Stonedale University, and though I’m still learning my way around, at least I’ve managed to confirm one of my suspicions: a professor’s work is never done. You finish teaching, there are office hours and meetings. You grade one stack of papers and another rolls in. You complete some research, and more awaits. And so on. It’s enough to make you question why you thought spending that all money on the degrees required to apply for the job was worth it in the first place. But I digress.

The point is, most of my time is already accounted for, so when my department chair urged me to join the Arts Week Committee, I hesitated. He convinced me by pointing out that it was one of the chancellor’s favorite projects and that participating might generate some goodwill. Since the chancellor is already unhappy with my involvement in the unfortunate events of last fall (the less said about that, the better), it sounded like a wise idea. Yet it may turn out to be a questionable decision.

By which I mean that the chancellor has just sent me to bring back a lively and informative interview featuring the world’s crankiest author, Damon Von Tussel, who is supposed to headline our Arts Week festivities. It’s a difficult mission, given Damon’s famous resistance to doing anything requested of him by another human, but the chancellor made it very clear that failure was not an option. Trouble is, Damon’s disappeared. . .

You can read more about Lila in The Art of Vanishing, the second book in the “Lila Maclean Academic” mystery series.

When Professor Lila Maclean is sent to interview celebrated author and notorious cad Damon Von Tussel, he disappears before her very eyes. The English department is thrown into chaos by the news, as Damon is supposed to headline Stonedale University’s upcoming Arts Week.

The chancellor makes it clear that he expects Lila to locate the writer and set events back on track immediately. But someone appears to have a different plan: strange warnings are received, valuable items go missing, and a series of dangerous incidents threaten the lives of Stonedale’s guests. After her beloved mother, who happens to be Damon’s ex, rushes onto campus and into harm’s way, Lila has even more reason to bring the culprit to light before anything—or anyone—else vanishes.

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About the author
Cynthia Kuhn writes the Lila Maclean academic mystery series. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Literary Mama, Copper Nickel, Prick of the Spindle, Mama PhD and other publications. She teaches English at Metropolitan State University of Denver and serves as president of Sisters in Crime-Colorado. Connect with Cynthia at

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a Kindle/Nook copy of The Art of Vanishing. The giveaway ends February 27, 2017. Good luck everyone!

The Art of Vanishing is available at retail and online booksellers.

A day in the life with Cat Latimer by Lynn Cahoon

fatality-by-firelightI got this bright idea the other day. I’m Cat Latimer, owner/operator of The Warm Springs Writer’s Retreat. I also write a young adult series focusing on a teenage witch out of water (Tori’s a newcomer to the world of magic and high school.)

I do have to add in blame for this great idea to Shauna and Seth as they encouraged me on. Shauna’s my BFF, and Seth, well, he’s my boyfriend. He was my high school sweetheart, so boyfriend is appropriate, even if it feels like I’m a teenager again.

But anyway, back to my bright idea. . .

Our second monthly writer’s retreat started today and we invited our guests to a day of skiing at the Little Ski Hill just outside of Aspen Hills. Shauna’s new boyfriend, Kevin, actually owns the place, but it didn’t get us any discounts on the lift tickets. He’s a bit of a penny pincher.

I loved skiing as a kid. Seth and I and all of our friends spent the winter weekends on the slopes. Colorado has great snow and there’s no better use for the white stuff is to strap two sticks on your feet, get hauled up to the top of the mountain and then maneuver your way down. The snow sparkles so brightly, you have to wear shades. It’s a great way to open the retreat with some physical activity which we all know, writers don’t get a lot of that.

The Victorian I inherited from my ex-husband, Michael, is almost finished being remodeled. We’ve almost got the attic changed over to a writer’s haven. As soon as we get the heating and cooling system installed, the remodel will be done. Mostly. I still have to clean out Michael’s study, but there’s some questions about his death that have been bothering me. I wish I’d never opened his journal. But apparently, there are some discrepancies in the manner of his death that are bothering my Uncle Pete too. You remember, Uncle Pete, right? He’s the town chief of police for Aspen Hills.

Anyway, that’s old worries that won’t be getting in my way for this retreat. Today, we’re taking most of the writer’s up to the ski resort for a day of skiing and fun. Then we’ll start the official writing retreat part with a visit with Miss Applebome at the Covington College Library on Monday.

Here’s to hoping the second retreat goes smoother than the first. I’d hate to have the retreat be known as Murder Central for a little mountain town like Aspen Hills. Besides, I’ve got a book on deadline and I need to spend some quality time in my office this week.

Let’s hope for a surprise free retreat week. That’s not too much to ask, is it?


You can read more about Cat in Fatality By Firelight, the second book in the “Cat Latimer” mystery series.

Cat Latimer’s Colorado bed-and-breakfast plays host to writers from all over. But murder is distinctly unwelcome . . .

To kick off a winter writing retreat, Cat and her handyman boyfriend, Seth, escort the aspiring authors to a nearby ski resort, hoping some fresh cold air will wake up their creative muses. But instead of hitting the slopes, they hit the bar—and before long, a tipsy romance novelist named Christina is keeping herself warm with a local ski bum who might have neglected to tell her about his upcoming wedding.

Next thing Cat knows, her uncle, the town sheriff, informs her that the young man’s been found dead in a hot tub—and Christina shows up crying and covered in blood. Now, between a murder mystery, the theft of a rare Hemingway edition, and the arrival of a black-clad stranger in snowy Aspen Hills, Cat’s afraid everything’s going downhill . . .

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About the author
Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. LynnCGuidebook to Murder, book 1 of the series won the Reader’s Crown for Mystery Fiction in 2015. She’s also pens the recently released, Cat Latimer series. A Story To Kill, book 1, came out in mass market paperback September 2016.She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and two fur babies. Sign up for her newsletter at

Connect with Lynn on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon.

All comments are welcomed.

Fatality By Firelight is available at retail and online booksellers.

A day in the life with Marla Vail by Nancy J. Cohen

facials-can-be-fatalWhy can’t things ever go well? I’m Marla Vail, a hairstylist and salon owner in sunny South Florida. All I want is to settle into a happy life with my new husband and stepdaughter. But unfortunately, I have the habit of stumbling onto dead bodies on a fairly regular basis. This doesn’t please Dalton, my homicide detective husband. Even his daughter is turning into a teenage amateur sleuth helping us solve crimes.

My new day spa was getting off to a great start, and all was calm one morning until I heard screams coming from next-door. I was working at my station, where I do clients full-time even though I own the place. Everyone froze as shrieks rent the air. The horrible noises appeared to be coming from our adjacent day spa.

My pulse racing, I dashed over there. The receptionist hovered by one of the treatment rooms where a client had been getting a facial. I couldn’t believe it when the aesthetician told me her customer was dead. I peeked inside the room and gasped at the green cream mask that had hardened on the woman’s face. My heart dropped to my toes as a brief survey told me CPR wouldn’t help.

As we waited for rescue personnel to arrive, I considered the ramifications. Valerie Weston, the dead lady, volunteered for Friends of Old Florida, a historical building preservation society. Val was a major benefactor who sponsored their annual fundraiser. My staff was scheduled to work on the models’ hair that night at the fashion show. Would the event be cancelled in the wake of their patron’s death?

I dreaded what my husband would say. Dalton would surely arrive on the heels of the EMTs. What would he think when he discovered I’d stumbled onto another dead body?

Here’s how our subsequent conversation went:

“What happened?” Dalton asked.

“Rosana was giving her customer a facial. She put on the woman’s face mask and left the room for a few minutes. When she returned, the lady wasn’t breathing.”

“Can I speak with Rosana somewhere private?”

“Sure. How come you’re here? Did you recognize the address from the dispatcher?”

“That’s right. Good guess.” The corners of his mouth lifted. This was far from the first time he’d been summoned to my place of business.

“We can use one of the empty massage rooms,” Rosana suggested in a weak tone.

After I’d introduced the aesthetician to my husband, I patted the woman’s shoulder. “It’ll be all right. Dalton will ask you some questions, and then you can take the rest of the day off. We’ll notify your clients.”

Dalton pulled out a notebook and pen and followed Rosana into another treatment room. I joined them, intending to offer moral support to our staff member. To my gratitude, Dalton didn’t object. But then, he’d come to value my contributions. He had even identified me as his unofficial sidekick to an Arizona sheriff during our recent honeymoon.

Not one to stand idly by, I consoled Rosana, spoke to each of the customers who stood by watching the commotion, and asked the receptionist to reschedule all upcoming appointments. Someone had to keep their cool, and as usual, it was me.

After hearing this earful, you might want to find another hairstylist. But please give our salon a chance. We’ll give you a discount on your next appointment. Besides, you have to admit the Cut ’N Dye Salon is always Action Central. Have a bouffant day, and I’ll see you next time you’re in town.


You can read more about Marla in Facials Can Be Fatal, the 13th book in the “Bad Hair Day” mystery series.

During the frenzy of the December holidays, the last thing salon owner Marla Vail needs is a dead body slathered in a green facial mask at her new day spa. The victim, Valerie Weston, was a major donor for Friends of Old Florida, a historic building preservation society. Marla’s stylists are scheduled to work backstage at their upcoming gala fashion show, but Val’s demise might put a crimp in their plans. Hoping to salvage her reputation, Marla determines to track down the suspects. As she learns more about Val, she realizes the benefactress might have stumbled onto secrets others would kill to keep. She’d better prepare for a body count that has nothing to do with hot stone massages and everything to do with murder.

View the Book Trailer:

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About the author
Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have made the IMBA bestseller list, been selected by Suspense Magazine as best cozy mystery, and won third place in the Arizona Literary Awards. Nancy has also written the instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery. A featured speaker at libraries, conferences, and community events, she is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who’s Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When not busy writing, Nancy enjoys fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping.

Reach out to Nancy at the following:

Google Plus
Booklover’s Bench
Amazon Author Page

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win an e-book copy of Permed to Death (Bad Hair Day Mystery #1) revised Author’s Edition. The giveaway ends February 24, 2017. Good luck everyone!

Facial Can Be Fatal is available at retail and online booksellers.