organic farming

Author Profile: Edith Maxwell

 

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Edith Maxwell writes award-winning short stories, has several series of full-length mysteries out and has been nominated for Agatha Awards in both the Short Story and Historical Fiction categories for this year’s Malice Domestic mystery conference. At this writing, she has eleven published novels since 2012 under the names Tace Baker, Maddie Day, and Edith Maxwell, with #12 due out next month. She is working on three more to be published in the near future. She is the one of the most prolific traditionally published authors I know and she is loving all of it!

 

I first met Edith at a Writers Police Academy conference in the Fall of 2012. At the time, she had just published her first Lauren Rousseau title, “Speaking of Murder,” as Tace Baker. I was hooked by the intelligent, worldly, complex female lead character. She attended WPA in order to research police procedure, and also gathered tons of information about firefighters and EMS personnel that she might use in future novels.

 

While following her career the last few years, it’s become apparent that solid research underpins all her books. Happily, combined with her own personal experiences, the result is richly developed backgrounds and storylines.

 

For the Country Store series, Maxwell took a trip to Indiana in order to investigate the setting, special southern Indiana phrasing (“I can’t eat another bite ’cause I’m as full as a tick”), and foods specific to the region. As it happens, she was also returning to the area of her grad school days and the site of a university packed with her own Maxwell family history. Friends of hers in the grad program had restored an old country store and turned it into a restaurant and bed & breakfast, the basis for Robbie Jordan’s ‘Pans ‘N Pancakes’ establishment in the series. In addition, Maxwell loves to cook and there are virtual cooking lessons woven throughout the stories as well as yummy recipes to be found.

 

Fun fact: my mom had an amazing collection of antique cookware, so when Robbie chats about the vintage pieces in her store, I can see the tools in my mind’s eye. Maxwell/Day’s details? Wonderful!

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The Local Foods series features an organic farmer as the lead character, and guess what? Edith ran her own small certified organic farm for a few years and that expertise infuses the series with effortless realism. Readers can pick up tips about what it takes to grow produce organically, both the pitfalls and the plusses, while enjoying the cleverly crafted mysteries.

 

The Quaker Midwife series is a project close to Edith’s heart. She is a Quaker herself and some of the history and the daily practices of the Society of Friends have found their way into this series. Maxwell now lives in Amesbury, Massachusetts where the books are set, and the local history influenced her short story writing. One of the short stories became the impetus for a 19th c. midwife character. Rose Carroll, the Quaker midwife, is perfectly placed to be a sleuth, since she gets to go where men (and the police) can’t in 1888, and hears all kinds of secrets that help solve the crimes. Beautifully written, “Delivering the Truthis well-deserving of the Agatha historical mystery nomination this year.

 

Click on the link to check out Maxwell’s YouTube video of a walking tour of Amesbury, Massachusetts. Maxwell is wearing an authentic self-made 1888 dress and bonnet while she conducts the tour and chats about the sites mentioned in “Delivering the Truth.” What a fun and terrific way to launch a series!

https://youtu.be/D-1BKTI9-f8 

 

Plus, as Maddie Day, Edith has a new cozy foodie mystery series, Cozy Capers Book Group, set on Cape Cod. “Murder on Cape Cod will be the first title launched in 2018. The lead character runs a bicycle repair and rental shop and hosts a weekly cozy mystery book group. My dad’s family came from the Cape, and I’m looking forward to reading Maxwell/Day’s take on the region.

 

So, how does she keep up this writing pace and still maintain the quality in her books? First, she is doing what she loves. She has a writing schedule for each day – mornings are the best for her – but when a deadline looms, she sometimes goes away for a few days on retreat. She turns off the internet so that there are no distractions at all and she can write from dawn ‘til midnight if she needs to. When slipping away to a retreat, Maxwell likes to take along comfy clothes, walking shoes, a laptop, a favorite pen, and an actual paper notebook. Oh, and of course, wine and dark chocolate.  :-)

 

Maxwell writes traditional mysteries with absorbing puzzles to solve, and appealing characters that engage us on every page. With strong female leads, fascinating details, and multi-layered plots, this is an author we want to follow, wherever (or whenever) she leads us.

 

Book Cover - A Tine to Live A Tine to Die

 

Read the review of “A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die,” (Local Foods series) here.

 

 

 

 

 


Book Cover - Grilled for Murder

 

Read the review of “Grilled for Murder,” (Country Store series) here (written as Maddie Day)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Cover - Delivering the Truth

 

 

Read review of “Delivering the Truth” (Quaker Midwife series) here:-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Delivering the Truth" has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Mystery. And “The Mayor and the Midwife” has been nominated for an Agatha for Best Short Story. Read the short story here.


Edith Maxwell is a member of the Wicked Cozy Authors, the New England gals that share writing advice and their own experiences every week at www.wickedcozyauthors.com. She also writes with Killer Characters, and with the Midnight Ink authors.

For more information about Ms. Maxwell and her many projects, please visit www.edithmaxwell.com

 

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Photo "Writer" taken by Patti Phillips

Other photos provided by Edith Maxwell

 

 

“Trapline” by Mark Stevens

 

Book Cover - Trapline

 

 

 

 

“Trapline” is the third book in Mark Stevens’ series featuring Allison Coil, a hunting guide with a talent for looking beyond the obvious in order to solve crimes in her beloved Colorado mountains. With a past that still haunts her, she is happiest away from crowds of people, following the trails into the hills on her horse, or guiding hunting parties to bag big game. Her boyfriend, Colin, a hunk that also works for her, is making serious inroads into her heart. Who can resist a guy that knows how to use an atlatl and understands without asking, what she needs?

 

A mangled body is found near a campsite, and Allison’s investigation leads to a horrifying discovery. A Senatorial candidate is shot during an outdoor speech in a nearby town, but why? And does the shooting have anything to do with the body in the mountains? As the parallel storylines sizzle and explode in “Trapline,” Stevens reveals a lot about the depths to which humans will go when greed is involved. We learn more about one of this country’s hot button topics: undocumented workers. Problems with the border, people who seek to exploit the undocumented and/or transient workers, the impact on the economy, and the scandal of private prisons, are all explored from several sides of the complex issues.

 

Allison’s best friend, Trudy, the pesto queen and kitchen cook delivering to local stores in book #2, has grown into a full fledged regional farmer and business woman who supplies assorted organic, locally sourced goodies throughout the region. This character is so well-developed that I felt compelled to search for pesto recipes while reading “Buried by the Roan.” A vegan pal shared a great one.  :-)

 

The survival of Trudy’s business may be at stake in “Trapline,” because Trudy hired workers that she thought were legal, but may not all be. She has a few that she knows very well, but as in any growing organization that hires temporary farm workers, it’s practically impossible to know everyone’s story and how they came to work there. Her boyfriend has been in charge of managing the company and she has happily given him more and more control. Can a couple survive when linked together in both business and love?

 

The unspoiled mountains of Colorado take center stage again, with discussions about the tugs of war between commercial development and a wish to keep the wild safe and protected from greedy businessmen – businessmen who seem ignorant of the fact that destroying the very wilderness that provides their livelihood gets them to sum zero. Nobody wins.

 

Readers of “Buried by the Roan” will recognize the central characters in “Trapline,” with Duncan Bloom taking a greater role this time, and others changing/growing as the books continue. Allison is tenacious about her love of the high country and fights to keep its reputation and glory intact, despite several threats to her own safety. She is tenacious about maintaining her privacy as well, but a few edges have softened since her arrival in the first book, and Stevens lets us see more of the vulnerabilities and strengths of this very human lead character.

 

Stevens is adept at weaving the majesty of the Colorado terrain with the serious societal and political topics he brings to each book. With layers of compelling story and a solid group of friends in Allison, Trudy and the rest of the tight-knit crew, he creates page-turners that linger with us long after the books have ended.

 

“Trapline” won the 2015 Colorado Book Award for Mystery, and the 2015 Colorado Authors League Award for Genre Fiction. Deservedly so.

 

Read the review of “Buried by the Roan,” here.

“Lake of Fire,” the fourth in the series, will be available on September 8, 2015.

For more about Mark Stevens and his work, please visit www.writermarkstevens.com

 

“A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die” by Edith Maxwell

 

Book Cover - A Tine to Live A Tine to Die

Finding a body in the barn, complete with a pitchfork sticking out of its neck, would not be my favorite ‘before dinner’ activity. Organic farmer, Cam Flaherty, in Edith Maxwell’s “A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die,” doesn’t like it either. My grandfather had several barns and not one of them came decorated with a pitchfork sticking out of a body. He had the pitchfork, just not the body. Untidy, to say the least.

 

Flaherty has taken over the farm from her great-uncle and dreams of getting certified in order to sell organic produce to the locavores (people who eat locally produced food). She is not allowed to use chemicals to fertilize plants or kill bugs and has to follow those practices for several years before being awarded the coveted certificate. Her one employee, Mike Montgomery, doesn’t see the point, is tired of handpicking beetles off the potatoes, and stores decidedly toxic pesticide in the barn. Flaherty fires him for endangering her business – on the opening day of the harvest share. She’s only in year one of the certification process and can’t afford his sloppy work habits or his negative attitude.

 

Despite Montgomery’s absence, Flaherty has a successful first day with the customers and is hopeful about a good first season – as long as she can get volunteers to assist a few hours a week. But, six hours after she fires him, Montgomery is deader than dead inside the hoop house. Flaherty just might be the chief suspect in his murder, what with opportunity, suspected motive, and the blood on her clothes.

 

Unhappily, Flaherty discovers that not everyone is overjoyed about her dream. Some of the local farmers don’t want the extra effort of organic, see her as tough competition and may even think that the wrong person wound up with the pitchfork problem.

 

“A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die,” provides a peek into the life of a farmer: the dawn to dusk hours, the weeding, the seeding, the pests, the planting, the tilling, the harvesting and more. We get to see the business side of a modern farm, with websites and marketing to contend with in addition to the age-old problem of equipment breaking down just when you need it the most. Maxwell herself ran an organic produce farm for about six years, putting in eight-hour days in order to get the work done. She says she had no animals on the farm to deal with at the time, which allowed her to focus on the crops. I take care of flowers in my 1/3-acre backyard for an hour or so a day and I can’t imagine doing the weeding and pest control no matter what the weather with several acres of produce. It is backbreaking work. Big thank-yous to the farmers of this world!

 

Maxwell delivers an assortment of quirky characters, supportive friends, and suspects aplenty for the murder as well as later sabotage against the farm. Cam Flaherty’s childhood friend, Ruth Dodge (now a police officer) especially well drawn with marriage and job challenges, stands up satisfactorily for Flaherty when she can, but remains professional when she has to.

 

The subplots of illegal immigration, a past that still haunts Flaherty, as well as a budding love interest, are interwoven nicely with the stories of tasty meals prepared with produce fresh from the garden. “A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die,” ends as it began, in fine dramatic fashion with Flaherty proving to be a truly appealing lead character. She has foibles like the rest of us, and is able to deal with challenging issues when the situation calls for it.

 

Edith Maxwell’s comments at ‘Jungle Red Writers’ about being a farmer can be read here:

http://www.jungleredwriters.com/2014/06/the-unsettling-of-mystery-writer.html

 

For more information about Maxwell, as well as her most recently published book featuring Cam Flaherty, “ ’Til Dirt Do Us Part,” please visit www.edithmaxwell.com