Welcome Back Guest Mary Angela + a Giveaway

Grace Koshida is the winner of the ebook of Open for Murder. Grace look for an email from Mary.

Mary Angela is a wonderful human. We met when we were on a panel together and I’ve been a fan of hers ever since. I’m so excited that the Wickeds get to help celebrate her first in a new series book, Open For a Murder, a Happy Camper Mystery. Mary will give an ebook away to someone who leaves a comment. Here’s a bit about the book:

Deep in the heart of touristy small-town Spirit Canyon, South Dakota, former journalist Zo Jones runs the Happy Camper gift shop, where she sells everything from locally made souvenirs to memorabilia. She even rents out mountain bikes, and dabbles in the adventure industry—and sleuthing . . .

It’s Memorial Day weekend in Spirit Canyon, and for Zo that means the return of summer shoppers. It also means the return of her good friend Beth, who’s moved back to the area to reopen her family’s premier hotel, Spirit Canyon Lodge. Beth and Zo spent many childhood summers there and Zo can’t wait to reconnect and celebrate the Grand Opening. But the festivities go from bad to worse when a power outage knocks out the lights—and morning reveals a competitor’s dead body found on the premises . . .

Soon enough, Beth is the prime suspect in the suspicious death. Fortunately, Zo isn’t afraid to put her investigative skills to work and prove her friend’s innocence. To start digging for information, she appeals to Max Harrington, a local Forest Ranger and unlikely ally. Though they’ve argued about Happy Camper’s tours, in this case they agree on one thing: Beth isn’t a murderer. Stranger things have happened than their collaboration. After all, this is Spirit Canyon. But as the list of suspects grows, Zo will have to keep her guard up if she doesn’t want to be the next lodge guest to check out . . .

Mary: When my daughter Madeline was five years old, she liked playing outside, so when she asked to plant her apple seeds one day after lunch, I agreed. My mother had told her all she needed to do was take the seeds from an apple, bury them in the dirt, water them, and viola! A tree would appear. Yes, that sounded like something my mother would say. She, like most grandmothers, has the most fantastic imagination.

So out we went with seeds, shovel, and watering can in hand. Her sister, Maisie, who was two at the time, eagerly followed. I let Maddie pick the location, and she chose a spot by the deck, too close to the lilac bush. But never mind that. We were outside, and the day was sunny. It was all I wanted out of the summer day.

Any mom with young children will tell you there are afternoons when you wrack your brain, trying to come up with an idea to kill a couple of hours. This afternoon, much care was taken with our project for this very reason. Maisie held the seeds like precious gold coins while Maddie worked the trowel with her chubby hands, digging a perfectly round hole. When Maddie was ready, she took the seeds from her sister, placed them carefully into the ground, and just as carefully, covered them up.

A fight ensued about who would water the seeds, and Maddie, being the older sister, naturally won. But she did let Maisie help her make a sign out of an old garage sale stake, a piece of printer paper, and a handful of crayons. On it, they wrote Maddie’s Apple Tree with a picture of a bright red apple.

Faithfully, they watered the seeds. They fertilized them. When we had guests, they showed them “the tree.” When it rained and the sign resembled a limp piece of tissue, I’d stop and scowl, but I couldn’t take it down. I’d remember their special afternoon, and something would stop me.

Eventually, a little brown twig appeared, like magic, and they were thrilled. My husband said it was a weed. My mother-in-law agreed. But I, like the kids, was convinced something was there. Year after year, it grew, and I pruned it so that it would at least look like a tree. But after so long, I started to wonder if my husband was right, if it was an overgrown root from our nearby Ash tree or something else.

I’m happy to report he was wrong. This year, ten years after planting the apple seeds, the tree blossomed and grew fruit. It was the highlight of an otherwise dark year. We laughed, we cried (okay, I cried), we celebrated. The seed we had taken care of for so long had finally blossomed.

For me, writing has been a lot like that seed. It’s something I’ve done for a long time without knowing the end result. Writing is claiming a spot and caring for it. It’s also knowing what to believe and what to ignore. It’s seeing blossoms where there are none, and knowing one day fruit may grow. But writing isn’t just about the fruit. At least not for me. It’s about coming back to the garden with the watering can, day after day, to see what will grow.

Readers: What have you grown from seed? Did it turn out like you planned?

© Julie Prairie Photography 2016

Bio: Mary Angela is the author of the Professor Prather academic series, the Happy Camper cozy mystery series, and several short stories. When Mary isn’t penning heartwarming whodunits, she’s teaching, reading, traveling, or spending time with her family. She lives in South Dakota with her husband, daughters, and spoiled pets. You can find out more about her loves, including her writing, at MaryAngelaBooks.com.

Links:    Website: www.maryangelabooks.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/maryangelabooks

Twitter: @maryangelabooks

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maryangelabooks/

47 Thoughts

  1. My favorite seed to start is the avocado over a glass of water, potting up when there is a root. Alas, it did not survive our Eastern Shore winter.

    1. I used to do the same thing when I was young, but it never made it into the ground!

  2. Mary, congratulations on the apple tree – and the new book! I bought a property with apple trees on it thirty years ago and found it hard to manage them organically. Did you move it away from the lilac at some point?

    I have grown many vegetables from seed over the years, and many books, too.

    1. Thank you, Edith, and thanks for having me on the blog! I haven’t moved the lilac bush–yet. I have a feeling I will need to do that very soon.

  3. Congratulations, Mary, on the start of a new series. Maddie’s apple seed story is adorable and shows the value of patience and belief.

    I have grown some herbs and vegetables from seed but really ramped up my efforts in this pandemic year since our farmers markets were closed for most of the spring and early summer.

    1. Thank you, Grace! I’ve always grown vegetables in pots, but for the first time this year, I started a “real” garden. It’s nice to have fresh vegetables, especially when markets are closed. Plus gardening kept me and the kids outdoors!

  4. When I was in the Boy Scouts so long ago, one of the merit badges was gardening (I have no idea if it is still one or not) so I ended up growing a small batch of vegetables in the backyard one year. If I remember correctly they were tomatoes and cucumbers. But don’t hold me to that. I do know that I did get the merit badge, so it went as planned as far as meeting the qualifications.

    My mom and dad were more of the plant stuff and grow it from seeds. Mostly flowers for my mom but my father grew some stuff when I was a kid too.

    1. What a fun memory! I grew tomatoes and cucumbers this summer, too. I’m amazed by how much produce can come from one tiny plant.

  5. What a great story! I remember all those elementary-school projects of planting seeds in egg cartons. We faithfully watered them, kept them in the sun, etc. We always got seedlings, but as soon as we tried to move them, they died.

    I’m about to plant the seeds on my eighth book at the end of this month.

    Congrats on the new series!

    1. Thanks, Liz, and congrats on your 8th book! Egg cartons–that’s another happy memory I haven’t thought about for years. We used them all the time as kids and styrofoam cups, too.

  6. For me, I think it would be our retirement home. For years, we talked about where it would be, what it would look like including how big, how we would decorate it, etc. During our younger years, most thought we were nuts saying things like “Oh you will never leave this area or the home you built just the way you wanted it.” However, when things that had held us to the area and our use to be new home changed, we begin to think more seriously about all those plans we had made through the years. My parents had both went to their heavenly home – one of the reasons we had always stayed in the area. Hubby retired meaning that work wasn’t holding up to that location either. The “new” home which we thought needed to be bigger and better was now way too big for us with space occupied by just “things” and being 27 years old wasn’t new anymore and starting to need repairs.

    With a lot of conversations, exploring possibilities and worrying if it would work, we took the plunge listing our home on the market and exploring available lots on the opposite end of the state in the Ozark Mountains. I really think it was suppose to be because our house sold on the second day of listing to the first person that looked at it. However, they needed time to finish the sale on their property before closing. Which worked out fabulous for us because it meant we wouldn’t have to move but once. We found an awesome young builder who was honest, hard working and knew what he was doing. He brought our plans to life. We were finally able to build our smaller home, where we wanted it and to put all the things we had talked about through the years in it like hardwood floors and granite counter tops.

    Which like your apple tree proves that if you don’t give up, keep dreaming, but also work to achieve them all things are possible!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. What an awesome story, Kay! Thanks for sharing. My husband and I also have dreams of retiring somewhere else. It’s nice to know it can work out if you keep planning and dreaming.

  7. Mary, what an inspiring story about Maddie’s apple tree grown from her apple seed! Thank you for sharing. My husband is the one with the green thumb in our family and he has planted acorns from which lovely big trees emerged and one year had so many bell peppers, we were bagging them up and taking them with us to doctor appointments, church, the local food kitchen and giving them to neighbors and friends. That was the Year of Bell Peppers and has not happened since…kind of weird, but also amazing. Good luck with your book and series. Sounds like my kind of cozy mystery.

    1. Thank you, Judy, and thanks for sharing your story, too. You reminded me of another reason I love growing things: giving them away. It’s so nice to share vegetables–and books!

    1. Thank you so much for having me on the blog, Sherry! I appreciate it. You might not be good at growing things but you “grow” fantastic books. I love both your series.

  8. Sorry to say I haven’t had much luck growing anything. The last thing I tried to grow was a basil plant, which I bought as a plant already but it didn’t survive more than a week. I’m happy about your apple tree though, and congrats on the new series!

    1. Thank you, Marla! I love basil, but I haven’t tried growing it. Maybe next summer! I’ve had luck with parsley, mint, and chives.

  9. Loving Maddie’s apple seed story. I’ve never done anything similar but my aunt Carrie Russell grew a producing peach tree from a peach pit behind her house on Mall Street in Salem.

    1. Thank you, Carol! Isn’t it amazing what can grow from such a small seed or pit?

  10. I love the story about the apple tree! Faith is an important part of the story, it would have been so easy to pull up the “weed” & assumecthat the seeds hadn’t taken root. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Thank you, Judith! Keeping the faith is so important, especially in times like these.

    1. Thank you, Mark, and thank you for reading and reviewing. I really appreciate it!

  11. I love the apple seed story. Good for you for believing in your daughter and keeping the faith! About 45 years ago, I planted a good sized garden, knowing nothing about gardening. Well, I learn how fast lettuce grows and how prolific it is. I wish I had had rabbits around. Everything grew at the same time and there was no way we could eat it fast enough. Never tried that again.

    However, 11 years ago, I planted a couple of sticks with some roots I got from the Arbor Day Foundation. Didn’t expect much. I now have a gorgeous 20′ tree (never have been sure what it is) and two lovely crepe myrtles (one had a baby that I transplanted). I always say I have a black thumb – I can kill plastic plants, but these were the exception.

    Congrats on the book and I sure hope I win it!

    1. Thank you, and thanks for sharing your planting stories. Your trees sound amazing!

  12. Aw, the apple seed story is fantastic. What a great lesson for Maddie and Massie. I love it. Perfect analogy for writing, too. I’ve watered a few of those seeds myself.

    I have a brother who is nine years older than I am. That’s a big gap when you’re a kid. As you can imagine we did not do much together. One spring my brother decided we should have a brother sister project. So he went out and bought a packet of nasturtium seeds. We planted them, watered them, and for some inexplicable reason, basil plants grew. The wrong seeds must have been in the packet. My mother, a gourmet cook, was thrilled, my brother and I confused, but satisfied. After all, it was about the project not the crop.

    1. How cool–and unexpected–is that? You never know what will grow if you give it a chance.

  13. I used to grow a lot of vegetables and flowers from seed but now buy plants. The only seeds I still sow are morning glory seeds. Stay safe and well.

    1. I love morning glories. Mine come back every year even though (I think) they’re annuals. Which is odd because our winters are very cold. Take care, and stay well also, Sally!

      1. I’m a huge morning glory fan myself. I find the seeds need soaking before planting the first time around, but then they seem to self-seed after that. So, I think, while they are annuals, they leave so many seeds behind in the fall that they’re up again in the spring. And your book sounds like so much fun–a hair salon as base! So much fun!

  14. We always used to visit my Uncle’s farm when I was a kid and we would bring home farm corn for the squirrels. One year before we went to California for a month, I planted some kernels of farm corn in front of the garage and didn’t tell anyone. When we got home my Dad drove into the driveway he was wondering who planted corn in front.of the garage. I was so excited to see my corn was doing so well. He wanted to know why I didn’t plant sweet corn.

  15. Hi, I don’t usually plant seeds, I buy a plant and then plant it. I have planted by seed before, but I have no luck with seeds, Now I have planted bulbs and they will do good, but not the seeds. My husband plants vegetable seeds and what his plants from seed does very well for him, but when I plant seeds nothing really does good for me.

  16. We planted cucumber and patty pan squash from seeds this year. We did not have a lot of cucumbers, but we did get a bumper crop on the patty pan squash. We also had some birds plant some tomato seeds in our garden. We had some cherry tomatoes. I have to give the birds credit for that one.

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