Guest Chick: Mary Angela

We are so excited to welcome back Mary Angela, author of the Happy Camper cozy series and the Professor Prather mysteries. Mary has kindly brought a giveaway: commenters today will be entered to win an ebook of Midnight Spells Murder!

Halloween is a holiday that allows you to be someone else, if even for one night, and maybe that’s why it’s popular with kids and adults alike. Witches, goblins, superheroes—they’re all within the grasp of the costume rack at the local drugstore. 

Luckily for readers, we can be anyone we want to be when we open our favorite cozy mystery. 

I live a quiet life—except for the kids, the dog, and the cat. But relatively speaking, my days are unexciting. I take the kids to school, I write, I care for an elderly parent. Then I pick up the kids, take them to their activities, and, if I’m lucky (or if my husband isn’t so lucky) make dinner. 

After the kids are in bed, though, I become a different person. A store owner, a librarian, a quilter, a baker. Yes, I’ve been all these people when I dive into a cozy mystery. But unlike my life, the amateur sleuth’s life is filled with murder and mayhem. 

It’s easy to put myself in the sleuth’s shoes, especially when she leads a normal life, except for the unreasonable number of bodies she stumbles over. She might have kids, a job, a store, or pets. Yet she also has the skills to solve a murder. 

For me, that’s the appeal of the cozy mystery novel. Sleuths don’t have to work for law enforcement or the FBI to solve a mystery. Without supernatural powers or super-sized muscles, they solve what seem like impossible crimes all while running homes, businesses, or organizations.  

Critics of the cozy mystery novel might say the opposite, that it’s unrealistic for an untrained citizen to solve a mystery. (And I’m sure all cozy writers have had reviews from non-cozy readers who wonder why in the heck the main character keeps interfering with a police investigation!) As a cozy reader and writer, I would disagree. I think we find ourselves in the middle of mysteries every day, relying on our intuition and problem-solving skills to solve them. 

The sleuth in my Happy Camper series, Zo Jones, finds herself involved in two mysteries: the one she solves in each book and the ongoing mystery of her birth parents. She’s searching for her biological mother and father. She doesn’t have much to go on except her unique name and a necklace that was left with her as a baby. In Midnight Spells Murder, Zo will not only find the culprit behind the murder of an author who does a signing at her Happy Camper gift shop. She will also find a key piece of information about one of her parents.  

Some magic happens with the help of a witch’s spell. But another type of magic happens when you open a book. You can be transported to another place, time, or—in the case of the cozy mystery—crime. The wonderful thing about reading is, unlike Halloween, it doesn’t last just one night. It can last as long as you keep turning the pages.


© Julie Prairie Photography 2016

Mary Angela is the author of the Professor Prather academic mystery 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

30 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Mary Angela

  1. I love camping. My husband sold our RV to buy a boat. So now if I want to go camping we will have to rent a cabin or some rent out trailers and some include cleaning service. But I will have to have to get one that will allow me to bring my 3 cats. I will have to read your series. If I can’t go camping, I can always read about it. I’ve been camping since I was about 10 years old. It was the only kind of vacation that my parents could afford but we kids loved it and sometimes we went together with our neighbors with adjoining sites. Great times!!! Thank you so much for this chance at your giveaway!! pgenest57 at aol dot com

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Those camping vacations your family took sound amazing! My husband grew up with them too, in the NW. I hope you find the right site to camp with the 3 Mouse-keteers (you are very brave!).

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I grew up with camping in my blood. Camping began with Girl Scouts and then continued with my parent’s camper going all over the Southeast coast as well as Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. It was a wonderful way to get to know about our great country and the people who live in it. robeader5(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  3. As an assistant Scoutmaster, I used to go hiking and camping with the troop all the time. I’m sad that I had to give it up; these old bones just aren’t suited to sleeping in a tent anymore, or walking miles with a backpack over rough terrain. I miss the camaraderie we had around the campfire at night and getting up on a cold morning for that first cup of coffee in the mountains.
    I wonder if anyone has written a Boy Scout cozy series?

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes! I don’t believe you can call the organizations “Boy Scouts,” though (I used to work for the Girl Scouts–they are very strict about use of the name). But a fantastic idea, Tom–go for that camping series!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. So happy you’re here!! 💕

      “The wonderful thing about reading is, unlike Halloween, it doesn’t last just one night. It can last as long as you keep turning the pages.” — YES!!

      Thank you for visiting us, Mary! Am a huge fan of your writing–you know I LOVE your books.

      And Happy Camper is such a cool idea. We used to camp a lot when I was growing up. Going to the gift shops everywhere was one of my favorite parts, not gonna lie. 🙂 Your fantastic series brings back a lot of memories.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, Cynthia! My daughters (13 and 15) love the gift shops, too. We have to hit all the tourist traps on the way to the Black Hills every. single. time.


  4. Hi Mary … glad you could join us today! I too have fond memories of camping. I grew up in Colorado at the base of Pikes Peak and our family vacations always revolved around campsites. I loved getting up with my dad before everyone else. He and I watched porcupines, skunks, deer, raccoons, and the occasional cow wander through our quiet pre-dawn site. Plus, he let me have coffee perked on an open flame.

    Looking forward to reading your books!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Becky! Thanks for having me. Such special memories with your dad! My dad wasn’t a camper, but he was the best person in the world to take a road trip with. He stopped at all the historical sites and made them come to life.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for having me, Jennifer! I didn’t camp much as a kid either, but I’ve always loved being outdoors. So much magic in nature–and reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Mary, thanks for visiting the Chicks today!
    I’m a wimpy camper, I like a walk in the woods as long as I get to sleep comfortably indoors. But I enjoy reading about camping adventures!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for having me, Vickie! Honestly, I’m pretty wimpy, too, which is why my sleuth owns the Happy Camper gift shop. She’s probably better at running a store than staking a tent!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Another fabulous cover, Mary Angela! And an equally fabulous story to match. Congrats! I used to go on off-site camping trips at summer camp in Maine. My hubby is a huge camping enthusiast–he took me on a wilderness trip to Montana when we first started dating. I discovered that I am terrified of grizzly bears, loose bulls, lightning (yikes!), rattlesnakes, drunk site mates with guns, and washing my long hair in ice cold stream water. But other than those small things, I love to camp–especially when stars and s’mores are involved. (I have never camped in a cabin or RV, though. Hmm…Maybe that’s for me!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Lisa! Yes, all those scare me, too (snakes, yuck!). I was terrified when I spotted a mountain lion on my last trip to the Black Hills. I’m definitely not as brave as my sleuth. I think RVing may be the way to go for both of us!


  7. I love this observation you make about why folks love cozy mysteries: “we find ourselves in the middle of mysteries every day, relying on our intuition and problem-solving skills to solve them.” So true

    As a youngster I loved backpacking and sleeping in the wild under a tent. I then graduated to car camping, where I could bring a cooler full of food and Martinis. And now? Well, I’ve become quite fond of motels…

    Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today–your series looks terrific!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Leslie! Love hearing about your camping adventures–and their evolution! I’d like to have one of those hybrid camper/SUVs. They look like a lot of fun. Pop up the tent on the roof, and bam! You’re all set.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Welcome, I always enjoy reading the guest spots because I sometimes find writers who are new to me. I look forward to reading your Happy Camper series.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. What a wonderful post! I agree with everything in it. Thanks so much for guesting, Mary. Full disclosure: the protagonist in my new series is also searching foe her birth parents – when she has the time!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Ellen! I love both your series. Our poor sleuths! Solving murders and family mysteries? They have their work cut out for them.


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