Tag Archives: Henery Press

A day in the life with Ivy Meadows by Cindy Brown

My name is Ivy Meadows. Actually that’s my stage name. My real name is Olive Ziegwart, which my dad says means “victory nipple” in German, and my agent say is a very bad name for an actor. So now I’m Ivy Meadows. As you may be able to tell, I’m an actress. I also work part-time at my Uncle Bob’s detective agency, so it’s not unusual for me to be searching for someone. It is unusual for me to searching for a little black pug, but my friend Marge’s dog Lassie had joined a pack of feral Chihuahuas that were running amok through Sunnydale, a retirement community on the edge of the Arizona desert. I really needed to find Lassie before a coyote did. And I loved him and Marge so much that I did the near-impossible: I got up at five o’clock in the morning.

Yes, five o’clock. In the morning. The last time I was up at five o’clock I was still awake from the night before. “Not a morning person” is stamped heavily on my DNA. But I’d heard that the pack of Chihuahuas was most active in the early morning and late night and I was at a callback for Annie Get Your Gun last night. So I bit the bullet, got up before anyone ever should, and drove to Sunnydale, where I went through a Jack in the Box drive-through. I took a big swig of coffee as I pulled back into traffic and promptly burnt my tongue. Even that didn’t wake me up entirely. I drove until I came to the spot where I’d seen the Chihuahuas disappear into the desert the night before last. I eased my truck onto the gravelly shoulder and scanned the desert, now charcoal gray under the lightening sky. Nothing.

Even so, I put my plan into action. I got out of the car with my two big Jack in the Box bags. I took a wrapped-up kiddie hamburger from one bag and threw it as far as I could into the desert. I had a pretty good arm, so the burger made it forty feet, rattling a desert broom bush as it touched down. I lobbed another one a bit closer to the road, then another, until I had a Hansel and Gretel trail of burgers leading to the road. Before getting back in my truck, I carefully placed the piece de resistance—a bacon ultimate cheeseburger—on the shoulder near my truck. Lassie loved cheeseburgers. And he loved me. I figured if I could get him this close, his cheeseburger-and-Ivy love would be strong enough to overcome his yearning for a pack, and he’d leave the Chihuahuas and come with me.

I waited in the cab of my truck with the window rolled up, partly because the pre-dawn morning was chilly, but mostly so the dogs would smell hamburgers instead of me. I sipped at my cooling coffee and watched the sun rise over the desert, its long fingers painting the desert gold.

The desert broom near the first burger shook. I watched carefully, but I couldn’t see any animal. Then again, Lassie was black and the Chihuahuas were short. The next bush moved. Definitely something there. I eased open the car door a crack so I could call Lassie when he got near. I watched the brush along the hamburger trail shiver as the dogs got closer.

Wait, what was that rumbling noise? Not thunder. No clouds in the sky. I heard it again, a low growling noise. Oh, sheesh. I took the lone breakfast sandwich out of the Jack in the Box bag and bit into it. Ugh. Cold egg and sticky cheese. At least it could keep my grumbling stomach from scaring the dogs away.

Or was it my stomach? No. Another growl, definitely from outside the truck. And closer. I slid down so most of me wasn’t showing and peered out the dirty window. Two figures slunk close to the dirt, gray and tan bodies blending into the indistinct shadows thrown by the rising sun. They came closer, and yes, they were growling. The noise made the hair on my arms stand up. So I did what any human being would do. I jumped out of the car.

“You better not eat Lassie!” I yelled at the surprised bobcats, whose ears flattened against their heads when they saw me. “If you do, I’ll come for you. And you owe me twenty bucks. Hamburgers don’t grow on bushes, you know.”


You can read more about Ivy in Ivy Get Your Gun, the fourth book in the “Ivy Meadows” mystery series.

There’s a new sheriff in town—and she can sing! When Gold Bug Gulch’s actor-gunslinger Mongo winds up shot for real, actress and part-time PI Ivy Meadows goes undercover as the ingénue in the tourist town’s melodrama. Unfortunately, she’s distracted by a pack of marauding Chihuahuas, a problematic love life, auditions for Annie Get Your Gun, and a personal mission: to show people the real Annie Oakley.

What’s more, the no-good, yellow-bellied varmint who killed Mongo isn’t finished with the Gulch—or with Ivy. Will our heroine prove she can get a man with a gun—before the killer gets her?

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About the author
Cindy Brown has been a theater geek (musician, actor, director, producer, and playwright) since her first professional gig at age 14. Now a full-time writer, she’s the author of the Agatha-nominated Ivy Meadows series, madcap mysteries set in the off, off, OFF Broadway world of theater. Cindy and her husband live in Portland, Oregon, though she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities.

She’d love to connect with readers at cindybrownwriter.com (where they can sign up for her Slightly Silly Newsletter) or on Facebook or Twitter.

All comments are welcomed.

Penelope Sutherland’s day in the life by Shawn Reilly Simmons

A day in the life. One thing’s for sure about any given day in my life: I never really know what it will bring or exactly where I’ll end up. For me, every day is different.

I’m Penelope Sutherland, head chef and owner of Red Carpet Catering. My team of chefs and I cook behind the scenes on movie sets. We set up our kitchen in all kinds of places, from a sandy beach off the coast of Florida, to a boutique hotel undergoing renovations in lower Manhattan, to a small town in New Jersey right on the main drag. We cook all over, for lots of people every day the film we’re working on is being shot.

I have my dream job. I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing with my career. Cooking on a movie set is exciting, challenging, and exhausting all at the same time. The feeling of accomplishment that comes from keeping the cast and crew well fed and happy is my reward. Also it’s fun to see the actors at work, watching the scenes of a movie unfold with the cameras rolling. My best friend and roommate is lead actress, and she’s carrying most of the movie on her own this time. It’s a remake of The Turn of the Screw, although Arlena is nervous that Jennifer, our director, keeps changing the script day to day, bringing fresh rewrites to the actors. Arlena’s worried they’ve strayed too far from the book, and that maybe in trying to please the film’s producers back in LA, Jennifer is altering the original direction of the project mid-stream. It’s Jennifer’s first big-budget movie, and being a female director, she feels there’s more pressure on her to succeed. And a bigger price to pay if she fails, as in her career might be over.

On this set we get to work indoors for a change, cooking in a state-of-the-art kitchen in one of the best restaurants in the state of Indiana. And we’re enjoying our stay in the quaint inn across the courtyard. We’re in a small town at the edge of a large forest, which is beautiful but also acts as a barrier to the rest of the world. The locals whisper about troubling things happening in the woods, and sometimes they say people just up and disappear, swallowed up by the trees.

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know some of the people from Forrestville, especially Chef Jordan Foster, who has welcomed us into his kitchen and inn. He was recently named one of the best chefs in the state, which makes his untimely death all the more devastating. At first, it appears Jordan committed suicide, which doesn’t make much sense. He seemed to have the world at his feet: a loving family, a successful business, accolades, wealth, and lots of friends.

The police think someone working on the movie must be the killer. Things like murder just don’t happen in Forrestville, Indiana, where everyone knows their neighbors. When one of my chefs falls under suspicion, and the local sheriff won’t listen to reason, I have to step in to protect my friend and employee and try and find out who is really behind Jordan’s death. I just know it can’t be one of us, but getting the sheriff to come up with any other suspects is a challenge. Jordan’s family has asked me to take over the restaurant’s kitchen until they get back on their feet. When strange things start happening there, I begin to see there are secrets buried all over Forrestville, and the past is never really the past in a place where time seems to stand still.


You can read more about Penelope in Murder is the Main Course, the fourth book in the “Red Carpet Catering” mystery series.

Small Town. Big Secrets. Penelope and her Red Carpet Catering crew find themselves transported to a different world when they arrive on their newest movie set in rural Indiana. Surrounded by prickly locals, a nervous director out to prove herself, and a vast forest with secrets all its own, Penelope feels more homesick for the big city than ever before. When she finds their host, owner of Indiana’s newest culinary hotspot, dead of an apparent suicide, Penelope works to uncover the darker truths boiling beneath the surface of his seemingly perfect life.

Asked to help keep the late chef’s restaurant afloat, Penelope is fried trying to juggle two kitchens and a ravenous cast and crew. When the chef’s suicide turns out to be murder, and the restaurant is vandalized in the middle of the night, Penelope must find out who is behind it all before she’s the next one on the chopping block.

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About the author
Shawn Reilly Simmons is the author of the Red Carpet Catering mysteries published by Henery Press. Murder is the Main Course is the fourth book in the series. Shawn is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the Crime Writers’ Association, and she serves on the Board of Malice Domestic. Shawn lives in Frederick, Maryland with her husband, son, and English Bulldog. For more info visit shawnreillysimmons.com or follow her on Facebook & Twitter at @ShawnRSimmons

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Murder is the Main Course. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends May 17, 2017. Good luck everyone!

Not the Usual Suspects organized by Cindy Brown

We are Not the Usual Suspects, a group of Pacific Northwest mystery writers who have banded together to contemplate life, mystery and of course, murder. Though not all of our mysteries are set in the Northwest, we all agree that living here inspires our writing.

I’m Cindy Brown, author of the Ivy Meadows series, madcap mysteries set in the off, off, OFF Broadway world of theater. I grew up in Washington State, spent 20+ years in Arizona, then moved back to the northwest. Though my books are mostly set in Arizona, my writing is definitely influenced by living here. Three big reasons:

Rain. I LOVE the rain. I love the way it makes me want to stay inside and write and read while it drums on the roof. I feel like it’s watering my soul.

The Reading and Writing Culture. People here read. On the bus, in the parks, even while walking down the sidewalk. You’re as likely to have a conversation about the latest bestseller as you are to talk about a hit TV show.

The Sensuality of the Seasons. I knew that I missed the seasons when I lived in AZ, but I’d forgotten the smell of violets, the slow circling fall of a leaf from the tree, and how wonderful homemade chicken soup tastes on a cold winter day. I definitely think that experiencing this present sense of place makes me a better writer.

I’m Kate Dyer-Seeley and I write the Pacific Northwest Mysteries featuring a very bumbling young journalist who bills herself as an intrepid adventurer to land a gig writing for Northwest Extreme magazine, when in reality her idea of sport is climbing onto the couch without spilling her latte.

I’ve lived in the NW for my entire life and love getting to give readers a glimpse into this corner of the world. Here are three of my favorite things that sum up the Northwest and why it’s prime for mystery writing.

Beer—Portland, Oregon is known as the microbrew capital of the world. Quite literally you can walk a block in any direction and run into a pub. The best way to puzzle through putting a plot together is over a cold pint on one of the city’s many outdoor patios on a sunny, spring day.

Wild West—There’s an element of the Wild West that permeates life here. I think it’s naturally in our DNA, leftover from brave settlers who ventured to this unknown territory, and maybe because there’s an abundance of opportunity to connect with nature and get outside. From Portland you can drive a few hours and end up on the Oregon Coast, in the Cascade Mountains, Columbia River Gorge, or even the high dessert. People embrace individuality and adventure, which makes for great material.

Weather—Portland’s ever-changing weather always finds a way into my writing, but the rain and gloomy skies during the winter rarely stop people from getting outside. You grab a raincoat, pull on some boots and hit the trail. Just don’t bring an umbrella!

I’m Kelly Garrett, author of the upcoming YA mystery The Last To Die, which features an anti-hero protagonist that lives by her own honor code. My short story “Sage Advice” is Poisoned Pen Press’ anthology Bound By Mystery, which came out in March 2017, and it features a twenty-something-year-old hipster obsessed with coffee and extremely good at fixing problems.

As a native Oregonian, I love showcasing the state in my writing. As someone who grew up in rural areas of the state, it’s natural that my protagonists tend to be slightly sarcastic women (or teenage girls) with a strong sense of self-reliance.

Rain is one of my favorite things. It makes coffee taste better. The continual pattering of rain on the roof is a lullaby at night. Added bonus: when your Subaru is covered in mud from a few jaunts into the backcountry, the rain does an excellent job softening up the dirt stuck to your car, making it easier to clean.

One thing I love about the book scene in Oregon is that you can find amazing independent bookstores all over the state. I grew up behind a rare-and-used bookstore that I visited often as a teenager. Small towns from Baker City to Lincoln City, from Ashland to Astoria, all have bookstores with curated selections.

I’m Angela M. Sanders. Take a wilderness rich with indigenous people; add a few decades of intrepid pioneers in covered wagons; sprinkle with a century of loggers, fishermen, and hopeful immigrants; and toss in some graying hippies and tattooed hipsters. Stir well. Add a pinch of tech engineers and footwear designers imported from around the globe, and you get the people who make up Northwest Oregon. Two of my series take place here: one featuring a vintage clothing store owner in Portland; and one centering around a kite shop on the Oregon coast (written under my pen name, Clover Tate). I love Northwest Oregon for this mix of old school and high tech. I adore our famous independent streak and our optimism. I salute our focus on individuality. Neither series would be the same in a different setting.


About the authors
Not the Usual Suspects is a group of rain-soaked, caffeine-fueled, slightly quirky mystery writers from the Pacific Northwest who are inspired by its setting and/or sensibility. They include Cindy Brown, Kate Dyer-Seeley, Kelly Garrett, and Angela M. Sanders. They hang out together on Facebook at Not The Usual Suspects.

Giveaway: 4 books! The winner will receive e-copies (Nook or Kindle) of Oliver Twisted (Cindy Brown), First Degree Mudder (Kate Dyer-Seeley), Bound by Mystery (Kelly Garrett), and Blown Away (Angela M. Sanders/Clover Tate). Leave a comment below for your chance to win. The giveaway ends April 21, 2017. Good luck everyone!