EXCERPT FROM THE UPCOMING FIASCO ON THE FARM - BOOK ONE OF THE NEW WHISPER CREEK MYSTERY SERIES
The idea sprouted a little more than a year ago. It was after the new prosthetic had been placed in my arm, but I was dealing with an incredible amount of hand pain. I didn't know it then, but I was to go in for yet another surgery (number five) to remove a tendon attached to my pinky.
My family and I took a trip to Ouray, Colorado at the beginning of October - me, bundled up and on a whole lot of pain meds - in hopes that the fall colors would be a boost for my sagging spirit. Ouray, Colorado in October is a sight to behold. If you've never seen it, I highly suggest a trip. An idea started whirring in that foggy, drugged brain of mine as I watched the scenery around me. A few new characters were born, as was a little mountain town mixed with a few of my favorite places ... one of them being Ouray with a lot of Westcliffe - another little mountain town I love to visit - and Main Street in Canon City, Colorado swirled in. Allow me to introduce to you Whisper Creek, Colorado, (fictional but not) and a new mystery series.
I have a plan. Right now, the series is about ten books long. They've all been loosely plotted, but the first four have really taken shape. (The series could be longer than that ... it's impossible for me to know for sure right now. I have a lot of ideas for Theodora and company, so we'll see what happens.) The first book has a healthy word count, and I've been working on books 2 - 4 simultaneously. I'll remind you, my hand is slow. My writing process is completely different than it once was, but I have designed the covers for the first six books, and I have a schedule set in place for the first four. Y'all know that plans have a tendency to change ... but here's what I'd like to do if I can pull it off ...
Book one is set to release in February, book two in May, book three in August, and book four in November. Here's a peek at the covers of the 2023 novels.
This is what the wrap cover looks like for Fiasco on the Farm.
Ten years ago, Theodora Murphy packed her bags and left Colorado, saying goodbye to the drama of her sister’s failed musical career, her mother’s long-suffering disappointment and the grief of her father’s death. She’d placed a distance of 2,000 miles between her and her small-town past. She thought she was far enough away, but nothing is ever quiet in Whisper Creek.
When Theodora receives a phone call from her sister announcing the death of a prominent resident of the town, she’s tempted to ignore the news. When she learns that her mother’s fingerprints were found all over the murder weapon, she finds herself headed west, out of the anonymity of her large, populated city and back to the small town, the people and the memories she left behind her years before.
While investigating the murder, Theodora uncovers clues to not only the crime that took place at Fireweed Farm, but she learns things she never knew about her mother’s past. Every answer she discovers brings with it even more questions.
Her sister is determined that Theodora owes it to the family she abandoned to clear their mother of this heinous crime. Theodora wants more than anything to do that, but one thing is standing in the way.
What if Mamie isn’t innocent?
Here's a short excerpt from chapter two. (If you'd rather not indulge in any teasers, here's where you should stop reading! I ask that you keep three things in mind if you would: The first is a reminder that this is a copyrighted work. The second is that anything written here is subject to change. :) The book is still a work in progress, so who knows what might happen in the next month or so before I place it into my beta readers' hands? And lastly, because it's a work in progress, what's included here has not yet been edited. If you see a typo, please ignore it. The manuscript is not yet at that stage. Okay. Here we go ... I hope you enjoy.
“It was Jamison Hardy.”
Theo pulled a suitcase from the top shelf of her closet and plopped it onto her bed.
“Jamison Hardy …” she said, knowing she knew the name but having a difficult time placing it. “Jamison Hardy …”
“Oh, my god,” Patty said snidely. “Are you truly so wrapped up in your hoity toity, big city life that you’ve forgotten everything that happened here at home?”
Theo turned back to the closet and reached for her hanging suit bag before tossing it in the general vicinity of the bed as well. It landed on the comforter, but she’d been overly enthusiastic with her throw. It continued to slide right off the other side and landed on the floor out of sight. Theo’s eyes moved to the pair of wide windows across the room that looked out onto Cambridge Street four stories below. Theo had inhabited this particular 750 square feet of space inside the Hamilton Union building for about a year and a half. She wasn’t sure when the apartments had gone through their most recent renovations. She was sure there had been a few of those since the building was erected in 1910. All the walls were painted white, and the floors were made of medium honey-colored hardwood and looked like the tresses of a brunette woman with expensive blonde highlights.
“I can assure you I haven’t forgotten everything,” she told her older sister as she padded barefoot around the bed. She felt the contrast of the cool wood and the fringe of the large oriental rug that lay beneath her queen-sized bed on the soles of her feet. She bent to pick up the travel bag and forced herself not to voice the next words that came to her mind. No matter how hard I’ve tried. “Remind me about Jamison Hardy.”
“Back in the late eighties or early nineties, he was trying to buy up a bunch of land in Whisper Creek, including a chunk of the Murphy property.” Patty sighed, showing even more of the irritation she felt with her sibling. “It’s always been a big deal. Some people sold to him. Mamie and Dad wouldn’t. I’ve heard Mamie say something about him getting her land only after she was dead and buried more than a few times.” Patty paused. “You don’t remember any of that?”
“I was born in 1994,” Theo reminded her. “It happened before I was around, but yes,” she said with a nod Patty couldn’t see. “Now that you mention it, I remember hearing some conversations between Mamie and Dad and mumblings around town.”
“Well, it’s Hardy who’s dead now, and will be buried soon. I can’t say I’m all that sad about it.”
Theo walked closer to the window, her eyes trailing down to the plug connected to the string of white fairy lights she’d draped over the thick wooden headboard resting against one of her bedroom walls. She wanted to push it into the outlet, but she made herself look outside instead. There were several large cement planters that ran along the building. Each one of them held a small tree and were overflowing with bright red geraniums tumbling over the rounded edge and dangling a foot above the ground. There was a three-foot strip of thick green grass that stretched down to meet a short black metal fence that ran along the edge of the sidewalk. The red brick building with white trimmed windows and entrances with dark green awnings looked stately and serene in the Allston neighborhood.
Technically, Theo lived in the city of Boston, but in a suburb about ten minutes west of downtown proper. It was considered to be a good, safe place to live. It was a bit expensive, but everywhere in Boston—except for the places Theo could better afford but was too scared to call home—were expensive, and she was making decent money at the firm. She’d found a certain sort of peace here in her small, two-bedroom abode. Theo hadn’t been back home in a decade, and she hadn’t even laid eyes on her sister yet, but the younger teenage version of Patty still lived large in her memory. The conversation hadn’t gone on for more than a few minutes, but the longer she listened to her sister talk, the more she felt that peace recede.
“I’m sure you’ve been told it’s disrespectful to speak ill of the dead,” Theo reminded her, trying to get out of her own head. She heard Patty scoff loudly on the other end of the line.
It had been ten years since Theo had moved out of the Murphy house and tucked herself away into a dorm room miles away on the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus. There had been many things she’d wanted to escape back then. She’d spent a lot of time tying bricks to certain memories, tossing them into the deep waters of her memory in the hopes she could drown them and keep them quiet. It was almost as though the sound of Patty’s voice was taking some of the weight from those submerged bricks and urging the dirt and grime they were settled into to lose some of their grip. Theo’s stomach made a low gurgling distress call that had nothing to do with a twenty-dollar chunk of lasagna, and she suddenly wished for Kendra’s well-used bottle of generic antacids.
“Especially when your mother is the one accused of making him dead?”
“Yeah,” Theo said, reaching down without looking and finding the thick wire. She pushed the plug into the socket before stepping away from the window and crawling onto the bed. Her flight was first thing in the morning, and she still hadn’t finished packing. She threw a cursory glance at the half-full suitcase and leaned against the row of pillows that rested against the headboard. “About that,” she said, reaching up to tuck a chin-length strand of her strawberry-blonde hair behind her ear. “And forgive me for not already knowing the answer to this question, but why would Mamie want to kill Jamison Hardy? He never got the family land, and that was a long time ago.”
“True,” Patty agreed, “and according to her, she didn’t kill him. But you know what it’s like around here. The folks in Whisper Creek have long memories. They remember the hissy fit that got stirred up back then, and to be honest, she didn’t seem all that upset about Hardy’s passing.” There was a short silence on the line. “And then there were the fingerprints.”
“Yeah. Mamie’s. They were all over the pair of scissors they found stuck in Hardy’s back.”
Theo fell backward, her head sinking into the pillow. She moved her dark brown eyes toward the ceiling and stared at the uneven row of white lights above her. She’d just told Patty not to speak ill of the dead, but she couldn’t help but feel some resentment toward Jamison Hardy for finding his untimely end. Had he stayed alive, she would be in the bathtub right now with a glass of wine and an overpriced slice of cheesecake instead of not packing to go back home to Whisper Creek.
“Damn it,” she said quietly.
“Mamie needs you,” Patty told her. “And you owe her.”
Theo thought of the people she’d lost in her life that she hadn’t been able to save. Tears came to her eyes and the lights above her began to swirl. She didn’t know how true Patty’s words were, and the fact that she’d said them rankled. She cleared her throat and blinked, sending trails of tears to dampen the strands of her hair and settle in both her ears.
“I’ll be there.”
There was much more she wanted to say, but Patty had never been much for listening to things she didn’t want to hear. Theo hadn’t seen her sister in a long time, but she knew well enough that some things never changed.
And off I go to get some more words written. I'm excited about this series. I hope my readers are, as well. Happy new year, all. I hope it's started off well and that it just keeps getting better from here on out.