Pull up a chair and grab a cup of coffee, because we’re about to spend a little time in White Bass Lake,Wisconsin. On this site you will meet the Miller family and get to know the town folks. We will stop in at Sal’s Diner and duck flying bits of egg as Sal’s lightning fast spatulas churn out breakfast for six in under five minutes.
We might also catch 80-year-old Mary Cromwell pole dancing on a parking meter in her blue sparkly go-go dress and orthopedic shoes (Wait! That might be in the second book…but she does clock a guy with that huge pink purse of hers, drink too much beer and creates havoc whenever she and her bright red Crown Victoria blast onto a scene).
Back at Buzz Miller’s house, remember to be fast enough to jump out-of-the-way when King Wesley, her 160 pound Newfoundland bounds out the front door tackling anyone or anything in his exuberant quest for affection, or watch where you sit if Crapper the cat finds new patio furniture in the back yard!
You might say, “Wow. Even the animals are wacky! Is anyone sane in that town?”
While the answer is probably yes, you might have to dig really deep to find one.
Just imagine; amidst all that chaos we get the added bonus of Columbian drug lords, illegal smuggling, a murdered woman, a bumbling, inept constable, a dead horse and the Miller Sisters hot on the trail of a murderer-though some might deem their investigative skills more luke warm than hot!
This wacky combination of bad guys and boneheads brings to police procedures to an all new low, but what a wild ride it is figuring out who-dunnit! So fasten your seatbelts folks, and welcome to White Bass Lake, Wisconsin, where the bratwurst is on the grill, the body is stuffed under the house, the Packer game is on the tube, and the Miller Sisters are about to solve a murder.
Writing screwball comedy is a fascinating process and I absolutely love it, so when my publisher, Karen, asked if I wanted to try my hand at writing for young adults. Her request was met with a long silence….and then,
“Kids? You want me to write for kids?”
“For high schoolers, actually. I have this great idea to improve literacy in kids through eBooks. I want you to write six short stories for reluctant reader high school students. Oh, and I want each short story to be like an episode, so by the time the kids read all six shorts, they’d have read an entire 60,000 word book.”
She smiled. A shiver ran up my spine. I didn’t want to appear indelicate. “What the heck? Are you goofy or something?”
I have never been known for my subtlety. I started to slink away quietly.
“Oh Gale, one more thing.”
I froze. I cringed. What could be worse? Too late I remembered the famous advice from the late great George Carlin…NEVER TEMPT WORSE…
Karen took a breath. I was becoming very afraid. “And I want you to write them one a month for six months.”
I gulped. Was she wacky?
“But wait; there’s more! Since you are our resident Master Gardener, I want your short stories to be about gardening.”
I think I was crying about that time. Maybe I fainted, I don’t quite remember. I know I picked my jaw up off the floor. There were many things I could have said, I suppose. but what came out of my mouth was, “Okay. When do I start?”
Some days I can’t win for losing.
I thought and thought about how I could get teens to read about gardening… Okay, knock it off, I hear you guys snickering out there!
I came up with a garden center run by a tough little old lady named Olive Boothe (Ollie to her friends). Her garden center, The Olive Branch, serves a duo purpose. She sells bedding plants, landscaping materials, and statuary for gardens.
She also has created a center where teens in trouble with the law can work off their community service hours, continue their education, and receive counseling as ordered by the courts. They live on-site, and come from all walks of life.
Currently, Ollie has a rich boy who thinks the law was written for other people, a cop’s kid who sits in front of his Xbox when he is not out stealing cars, an ex-gang banger, a teenage prostitute, and a very smart kid who got real drunk and really, really stupid.
They happen to stumble over a dead prostitute and decide they need to find out who offed her.
Thus, Death of a Garden Hoe was born. Keeping with the garden theme, books that followed were Digging up Dirt, Kill me Over the Garden Gate, You Say Tomahto, and I Say You’re Dead, Hosta La Vista, Baby!, and Everything’s Coming up Roses.
The kids start out not being able to stand being in the same room with each other, to working together, learning about friendships, becoming a cohesive unit, to becoming inseparable.
**I liked the message that your circumstances in life don’t define you. Even if you had “issues”, you can be more than just the image the world sees you as.
Humorous, smart and sometimes sad, this is a nice first installment to a YA mystery series **Dark Diva Reviews