Around this time last year, my writing teacher - a well known non-fiction writer- brought me his fiction novel that he planned to sell along with his new Winter Gardening how-to book. It needed a little help. I joked that his MC, a young female artist, sounded like an 80 year old tea maven. I beta read and gave some suggestions, and the next day I had the entire manuscript in my inbox with a note begging me to rewrite all the female POV chapters and a new ending. Oh, and I had 2 weeks to meet the publishers deadline for the final manuscript.
After an editor/agent/publisher receives a book, time slows to a crawl. But now my few hard weeks of sleepless nights has paid off. The book comes out next week, and I get to share credit on the cover (and royalties). It's a fun book about a city girl, Hallie, who comes to a small town to settle her estranged husband's affairs after he dies suddenly. Instead of a box of paintings to sort, she's been left an old building - with crazy tenants that pay their rent in hay and milkshakes. The young, and really cute, mayor might be worth sticking around for, but he's got his own problems. Within days, they become Hallie's problem too. When she came to the backwater Montana town, she thought she was only losing a few days vacation time, but if she's not careful she could lose her property, freedom, and her life.
Since this is the companion book to Caleb Warnock's Winter Gardening book, there are recipe's from his winter garden at the end of Trouble's on the Menu. Since my way of making soup is Campbell's (don't microwave the can. I've lost a good microwave that way) I can only vouch for the yumminess of the recipe's end results.
Excerpt- Chapter 1
Hallie Stone held the brake pedal all the way to the floor well with her foot after the car skidded to a stop. Forcing herself out of the rented Yukon Denali, she fought her way through the biting snow to see what she’d just hit. Her designer heels slid on the slick road. A blast of Montana wind nearly sent her to her knees.
Maybe the blizzard was playing tricks on her eyes. Maybe it wasn’t a scooter she had seen, sliding toward the SUV. Maybe it had been only an animal. She’d been warned that moose roamed free up here as numerous as stray cats. But the blur was too small for a moose and too large for a cat. The best she could hope for was a deer.
Please be Bambi. Please be Bambi.
The headlights showed something sprawled on the snowpacked highway. Clutching her puffy jacket—the one practical thing she’d thought to bring from California to Montana—she stared down and saw . . .
An expletive popped out of Hallie’s mouth—worth at least a dollar to the swear jar back home.
The woman on the ground was making high-pitched keening sounds. An awful grating noise, but at least that meant she wasn’t dead, whoever she was. Thank goodness.
Bracing in her snow-filled shoes, Hallie stepped toward the woman lying askew on the road. A crushed motor scooter straddled the woman’s leg.
“Are you okay?” Hallie blurted. The question was ridiculous.
Fumbling with icy fingers, she tried to find her cell phone in her coat. She had to get help. In the middle of her pushing the nine and the one, a man sprinted out of the darkness onto the road. Hallie wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or to reach for her pepper spray.
“I’ve called Tug and Jim,” he said, kneeling by the injured woman. “Where are you hurt?”
The woman groaned. “My daughter. She’s home.” She strained to speak. “Mayor, tell her . . . not to worry.”
“As soon as I get back to the house, I’ll call her,” he said. “Don’t worry about a thing.”
Mayor? Hallie looked at the man who couldn’t be more than a few years older than herself. Very young to be mayor.
“I’m so sorry . . .” Hallie wanted to explain how wrong her whole day had been—her missed flight, lost luggage, this behemoth of a rental car that was so different from her sporty Mustang. But the cold was freezing her brain, making her thoughts sluggish and foggy. She wanted to jump back into the Denali and drive home to her Malibu art studio. Or at least back to the airport.
Cutting through the void of the snowstorm, a siren’s wail announced the arrival of an ambulance. Slush sprayed in all directions from the approaching tires, soaking Hallie’s trousers. Seconds after the ambulance slid to a stop, two paramedics jumped out.
“If I had a nickel for every idiot driver in the world,” spat the ambulance driver.
“Oh, Tug,” the injured woman moaned weakly. “My leg.”
“Probably broken,” the ambulance driver said gruffly. “Do I even need to ask what happened?”
“She ran me over!” the woman on the ground cried out with a burst of strength. “I could be dying. I think I see a bright light.” She groaned dramatically.
Hallie probably turned a few shades whiter than the fresh powder.
“Naw, just the headlights on the snow,” the ambulance driver said matter-of-factly. “Don’t worry, Andrea. We’ll take care of you.”
The paramedics examined the woman and swiftly loaded her into the ambulance. As they drove down the lane, the swirling red lights danced away on the snowy drifts to music of the wailing siren.
Hallie was mesmerized by the light show and lost in her thoughts. On one hand, she was really worried about the women’s health; on the other, she was really worried about her own. They didn’t throw people in jail for a car accident, right? She was an outsider, though, who had just squished someone’s mother.
I am in so much trouble.