Guest: Wendy Tyson

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 enjoyedA Muddied Murder front cover--Tyson 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.

Wicked Cozies Photo TysonOnly 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

The Blue Ridge Mountains
The Blue Ridge Mountains

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

Wendy's microfarm
Wendy’s organic microfarm

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 Wendy Tysonthink 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 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

Wendy Tyson giveaway imageReaders: 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.

66 Thoughts

  1. Wendy, I love that you found a silver lining and a new series! Congratulations!!!

  2. This sounds like a great read. It has a hunky vet, a goat , an organ of farm Whig is interesting, and a dead body. What’s not to love?

  3. Welcome, Wendy! We should compare notes about the Philadelphia area–I lived in Swarthmore for 16 years. And Jenkintown, much earlier. My father lived in Paoli for years, and then the Lancaster area. And I worked in various jobs in Philadelphia (oh, right, that’s why I write a series set there).

    I think I felt the way you describe when I first visited Granby, Massachusetts, when I’d barely started writing–it was a genealogy research trip. I looked at the small town, so typically New England with the central green surrounded by maple trees and the big white church towering above it, and the tidy colonial homes, and over two hundred years of history (including a few branches of my own family tree), and I said to myself, this is the perfect cozy town.

    1. Hi Sheila! Thank you for hosting me today–I love the Wickeds! I know all of the areas you mentioned quite well. In fact, I work in Malvern and live in Abington, just a few miles from Jenkintown. Philadelphia has a rich history; it (and the surrounding areas) is a wonderful setting for a cozy.

      1. My stepfather was building inspector for Malvern for years, and I went to Abington Friends School. I can still find my way around, years later. I had my first library card in Jenkintown!

      2. Sheila, that’s really funny. Most people have no idea where Jenkintown even is…Love it.

  4. Great interview! This sounds like a wonderful series and I can’t wait to read it. I have helped farm in Iowa and lived in Hatboro, PA for a few years.

    1. Hello Doward! Thank you for posting! I’ve worked on various farms throughout my youth and young adulthood, and my husband and I are heavily into organic gardening (we even started a CSA). I certainly know Hatboro–I live just a few miles away. Small world, indeed. Have a wonderful day.

  5. Thanks for visiting with the Wickeds, Wendy! I know just what you mean about finding yourself in a place that feels just right for a story. That’s exactly how I feel about Old Orchard Beach, ME. It is almost as though something magical had a hand in getting me there in order to tell a particular story. It was lovely to hear your experience!

    1. Hi Jessie! Thank you! And I love Old Orchard Beach, ME–what a wonderful town. We have a place in Vermont, and the Maine coast is a favorite place to visit.

  6. I am anxiously awaiting this book. I think there is always silver linings in things if we are willing to see them.

  7. Congratulations on your new series, Wendy and welcome to the Wickeds. I’m a Pennsylvania girl myself, Wallingford and then my family moved to Wilkes-Barre. My brother is still in Dallas, PA. Oh, and I went to Penn and waited on table at a Pocono resort in the summer.

    1. Thank you, Barbara! I appreciate being part of the Wickeds for a day. Continuing with the small world theme, I have lived in Wilkes-Barre, Kingston, Moscow (outside of Scranton)–and I worked in Clarks Summit. Plus, my husband is from the Poconos.

  8. Another wonderful post from you, Wendy! What a great story. It warms my heart because it reminds me of my childhood summers on the Maine coast. Wishing you all kinds of success with your intriguing new series, which is already getting so much positive attention.

    1. Hi Susan! Thank you! I love, love, love the Maine coast. Appreciate the kind words!

  9. Wonderful post, and what a happy ending to your book signing! I’m very happy for you. And the cover–like a packet of heirloom seeds, is delightful. The universe gave me what I really needed just yesterday- peace and quiet to finish a number of half-done projects and time to read before falling asleep.

    1. Lovely response–I’m glad you received the solitude you needed! And I agree–Henery Press did a fabulous job on the cover.

  10. Enjoyed the post and it sounds like a great series. Thanks for a chance to win a signed copy of your book. I’m looking forward to reading it.

  11. I am from a small town too, Every year my Dad planted a big garden! We ate a lot of vegetables! I’d love to win your giveaway! Thanks for the chance!

    1. Hi Linda–thanks for participating. My husband’s grandparents grew a huge garden each year and some of his fondest memories are of summers spent with them. His grandmother taught me a lot about cooking, preserving, etc. Have a good night!

  12. I’ve been hearing nothing but great things about this book, and I’m looking forward to reading it. Thanks for sharing the story behind the book.

    As a reader, I’ve been to a few book signings where I was one of the few (or only one) to show up. I feel bad for the author and book seller, but I love it because it gives me a chance to chat with the author and book seller, which I always absolutely love.

    1. Hi Mark! Thank you. I had a lot of fun writing A MUDDIED MURDER–it touches upon topics I feel passionate about. I know what you mean about attending a signing that is devoid of readers (as a reader). That happened once with a very big name thriller writer. While I felt bad for him, I was ecstatic that I got a chance to have a whole conversation with someone so accomplished.

  13. After the death of my husband I thought there was nothing or no one here for me. Then one day I ran into this very sweet older couple. They helped me to see that there was plenty of things I could do on my own to take care of me and my children. I started my own cleaning business , and I started doing wedding boquets. The wedding business soon took over and it’s been great. There’s always a way you just have to look.

    1. Joy, what an inspiring story! Thank you for sharing. You are right, I think–there is always a way, but you have to be open.

  14. What a great interview, and congrats on your new series!
    I live in a very rural village (Pop. 836), so I completely understand when you talk about small town life.
    Where I find inspiration though, is when we travel to cities that have mass transportation. I love listening to people’s conversations, or just watching the quiet ones, and making up stories in my head. Plus seeing different parts of a city (from the high rise buildings to the less desirable neighborhoods) is a real eye opener.

    1. Hi Kim! Thank you! And I LOVE mass transportation, too. What a great way to get a glimpse of a new place. There’s something about the bustle and the solitude…a great spot to think, people watch and write.

    2. Kim, you are the randomly selected winner of Wendy’s fabulous gift pack! Please email your snail mail address to edithmaxwellauthor at gmail dot com. And thanks for visiting our blog.

  15. I grew up outside a small town in southern Pennsylvania (the southern property line of my parents’ property was also the Mason-Dixon line and the Maryland/Pennsylvania border – I think I was in fourth grade when I discussed how going over the back fence would make us Federal fugitives, but I digress). Small town dynamics are both daunting and charming, and I would love to read your book.

    1. Thank you for posting, Vida. I used to live in Baltimore, and we would take back roads back to PA through northern MD, southern PA–a beautiful area.

  16. I enjoyed your blog on Wicked Cozy Authors today. I’m not an author and find it fascinating how anyone comes up with their stories. I’ve never been to a signing and look forward to the time I get to attend one.

  17. What a great article! I am only a wannabe writer, but I start to think about murder and mystery when out doing ordinary things. Like going for a walk with hubby and, seeing an old sofa put out for the large trash pickup, started thinking about how a body could be inside there…but I doubt that I could ever flesh that inspiration enough to get a whole novel with layers and motives and characters. I envy that talent! Thank you for the article!

    1. Hi Jeanie! I think you have a fabulous start to a short story. Have you considered writing short fiction? I can see the old sofa…a very creepy image and a great beginning. Thanks for posting!

  18. What a great giveaway opportunity, thank you. I find inspiration through prayer, social interactions and mundane tasks. It’s all around us, we just have to embrace it.

    1. Hello MaryAnn! I think you are absolutely right–it’s often about being open to the world around us and finding inspiration in the every day. Have a lovely night!

  19. Enjoyed the interview with Wendy. I have read and loved all of her books, and I am sure looking to this series.

  20. Enjoyed the interview. I love Wendy’s books and I am sure looking forward to the new series.

  21. I moved to my small town in 1953, nicknamed LAMBTOWN, which had 1800 people. Today the town has 18,000 plus and for California a small town..We have many small farms still, even one growing hops for their small Brewery and a great produce store that people stop on their way home from Tahoe . Not many stores anymore but one just opened selling free grazed beef and local olive oil. The local navel orange ranch has the sweetest oranges but we have strawberry fields 2 organic farms, one big with their CSA going as far as San Francisco and one small , he has to work another job, with you pick strawberries and the best seeded watermelon and even turkeys and chickens.I still live in my small house and my silver linning is my son bought the house next door and my only grandkids live there too..

    1. Hi Ruth–thank you for posting! Your town sounds lovely, as does your home (with your grandkids next door! how wonderful). My husband and I started an organic urban farm here in the Philly area but we lost the leased property due primarily to local politics. It’s a tough life, but so important. I’m glad your town has a thriving organic farming community!

    1. I love your comment. I think in today’s harried world, being still is a lost art. I cut my literary teeth on the books of Natalie Goldberg, who talks a lot about quieting your mind when writing fiction. But it is broader than that, isn’t it? Quieting your soul…I like that. Thank you for stopping by!

  22. Welcome, Wendy! Thanks for visiting us today! Your series sounds terrific – I love organic groceries and cafes – they’re the first thing I scope out when visiting somewhere new. Looking forward to reading.

    1. Hi Liz! Thank you so much for hosting me yesterday. We do the same thing–we look for the farm-to-table restaurants and the organic grocery stores whenever we travel. (As an aside, it looks like we will be on the same panel at Malice Domestic! Looking forward to it!)

  23. Wendy, I loved your post and shared it on my Facebook page. Can’t wait to start your new series. I love the other one!
    Nancy G. West

    1. HI Nancy! Thank you so much for joining us yesterday–and for sharing the post!

  24. Shortly after my husband and I married, we joined Patriot Guard Riders, Inc. PGR is an organization for people to attend funerals and burials of those military men and women who have served us over the years. Most, but not all, members ride motorcycles. At the time, we rode a Harley Davidson. Now, because of our age and the lack of strength in my husbands legs, we have since sold the bike and attend in our cage (car). My first PGR mission changed my life in the most humbling way. To stand in honor of those who gave so much so I could live free and out of danger was, and still is a heart-touching experience. Thank you so much for introducing your new series to me and giving me a chance to win. Congratulations on its upcoming release!

    1. Sandy, what a wonderful thing you and your husband do. I can only imagine how emotional it must be to be witness to the funeral or burial of someone who served. Thank you for being part of that organization. And thank you for joining us here yesterday!

  25. I for one, am so happy that Wendy has written this lovely Greenhouse mystery series. I love the idea of organic foods and farming as I have a LOT of food allergies and many times from something other than the food itself. So, I was so excited to read about this new series as I just knew it would be a fantastic book and it was. I have always lived in small New England towns, and just one city when my husband took a job there and had to live in the city he worked for, otherwise we would have been in another small town as we were born in and live in now in retirement. We had small gardens once married, and felt so badly when we were transferred and had to leave our asparagus patch that took three years to get the BEST tasting asparagus ever, and to leave all of our berry bushes and fruit trees. We are big, big, big fans of fresh fruit and vegetables and when I ever saw Wendy’s cover with that luscious tomato on it, I knew it was meant for me to begin this series. I have read The Allison Campbell series and really enjoy it, but I will say that I do love this new series as much. I am thrilled to know that there will be many more as interesting and intriguing books to come. Great job, Wendy.

    Cynthia Blain

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