Edith here, very happy to welcome our guest Wendy Tyson. I was asked to read Muddied Murder, her first Greenhouse Mystery and was delighted at how much I enjoyed it! Here’s the book blurb:
When Megan Sawyer gives up her big-city law career to care for her grandmother and run the family’s organic farm and café, she expects to find peace and tranquility in her scenic hometown of Winsome, Pennsylvania. Instead, her goat goes missing, rain muddies her fields, the town denies her business permits, and her family’s Colonial-era farm sucks up the remains of her savings.
Just when she thinks she’s reached the bottom of the rain barrel, Megan and the town’s hunky veterinarian discover the local zoning commissioner’s battered body in her barn. Now Megan is thrust into the middle of a murder investigation—and she’s the chief suspect. Can Megan dig through small-town secrets, local politics, and old grievances in time to find a killer before that killer strikes again?
Wendy’s also giving away a cool Muddied Murder gift package to one commenter (details at the end). Take it away, Wendy!
Unexpected outcomes: From an unsuccessful book signing, a new series blooms
It was October of 2014, just days before Halloween, and my husband and I had driven to the mountains of South Carolina for a book event, a solo signing at a bookstore in a small town in North Carolina, just over the state border. I was about a year into this whole publishing thing—my first novel, Killer Image, had been released on October 1, 2013, and the second in the series, Deadly Assets, that past July—and I was still naïve enough to think “if you have one, they will come.” Readers, that is.
Only they didn’t. At least not for that solo book signing in that small town in North Carolina. Oh, I did my best to get people there. I advertised the signing on Facebook. I tweeted about it every day leading up to the date. I created an invitation. I posted the event on my website. Still, it was me, the lovely and engaging shop owner, my husband, and a plate full of cookies. Not one reader.
I might have felt discouraged, except that a wonderful thing happened: I saw firsthand that small rural town in action. Others with shops along the petite town center stopped in to chat with the bookstore owner. Their kids popped over after school, ate a few cookies, and then quizzed the store owner and me about the latest and best books. There was a buzz in the air, an energy, and despite the town’s remote location, I felt a worldly attention to life beyond its mountainous borders.
It was early evening when we were finished, so after the signing, my husband and I visited the beer shop/café a few stores down to grab some provisions for the evening. There, we joined some of the townspeople who had congregated in the shop to share a drink and a conversation before heading home for the night. The atmosphere felt lively with laughter and debate. With the headlines blasting tragedies, atrocities and injustices at every turn, I could see the beauty of living in a place where people knew you.
And then a funny thing happened. While I stood in that beer shop, watching the locals
relax after a tiring day, I had a vision of a similar shop. Only this one would be in rural Pennsylvania. And it would be an organic grocery and café. And the owner would be a woman returning to her roots after a stint as a lawyer in Chicago. I’d been looking for a way to weave my family’s passion for organic farming and sustainable living into my novels, and here it was, served to me after a long, peaceful day in the picturesque mountains of the South. The Greenhouse Mystery Series was born.
I’m no stranger to small towns. I may have grown up outside of Philadelphia, but I spent most of my youth and young adulthood in one small town (or “neighborhood”) or another, and my husband (we’ve been together since we were eighteen) is from a village in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Even now, with a house only ten miles from the Philadelphia city limit and a job in a sprawling suburb, my home-away-from-home is a particular small town in the Green Mountains of Vermont. But
there was magic in that charming small town on that day in late October. Everything had come together, and I wanted to hold on to the magic.
We left the signing feeling pretty good. Sure, the event had been a bust—at least from the perspective of book sales—and I felt bad about that. My eyes had been opened to other possibilities, though, and I couldn’t wait to get started on a new mystery. In the end, I’m thankful to the bookstore in that small town, and the townspeople along that adorable main street, for providing inspiration. What a splendid reminder that sometimes we get what we need, not what we think we need.
Wendy Tyson is an author, lawyer and former therapist from Philadelphia. She writes two series, the Allison Campbell Mystery Series and the Greenhouse Mystery Series. The first book in the Campbell Series, Killer Image, was named a 2014 best mystery for book clubs by Examiner.com. The first Greenhouse mystery, A Muddied Murder, will be released March 29, 2016 by Henery Press. Wendy is a member of Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers, and she is a contributing editor for The Big Thrill and The Thrill Begins, International Thriller Writers’ online magazines. Find Wendy at www.WATyson.com.
Readers: Where have you found unexpected inspiration? When has the universe given you what you really needed?
Wendy’s giving away this awesome gift package to one commenter today! It includes a signed copy of the book, two seed packets, and a Muddied Murder farmers’ market bag.