Someone is celebrating a monumental birthday today. I don’t know about you, but whenever my birthday draws near, I become very introspective. I take stock of my life, often dwelling on the choices I’ve made and whether, given the opportunity, would I make the same ones again. Depressing, isn’t it? Honestly, though, how many women of a certain age look upon their birthdays the way we did back when we were too young to know better?
Author Lois Winston’s most recent protagonist had her life all planned out before fate played a nasty trick on her. Since the rest of us are taking off to eat birthday cake and down mojitos with the birthday girl, we decided to turn today’s blog over to the newbie.
We’ve all heard of Middle Child Syndrome. I suffer from Second Child Syndrome, or more appropriately, Second Sleuth Syndrome. My name is Gracie Elliott. I’m the star of author Lois Winston’s Empty Nest Mysteries. Ever heard of me? Probably not. That’s because I play second fiddle to Anastasia Pollack, the star of Lois’s first series, the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. Anastasia has been sleuthing around for six years now and won considerable critical praise for her adventures. She’s starred in five full-length mysteries and three novelettes. Me? My second book just released a few months ago. It’s not that I’m jealous of Anastasia; it’s just that I’ve got quite a bit of catching up to do. Perhaps if I tell you something about me, you might feel inclined to show me a bit of love. What do I have to lose, right?
Not too long ago I had formulated a strategy for the rest of my life:
1. Take early retirement.
2. Collect sizeable pension.
3. Pay off mortgage.
4. Write romance novels.
5. Sell romance novels.
6. Collect enormous royalty checks.
7. Live happily-ever-after with (soon-to-be) Pulitzer prize-winning husband. (Not that Blake has even been nominated for a Pulitzer yet, but I haven’t given up hope. We need that prize money—especially now.
You see, last year life tossed a humongous monkey wrench into my plans. My employer went belly-up (au revoir, pension), and my career as a textile designer was outsourced to a Third World nation. Who knew you could outsource creativity? Not wanting to spend my golden years living above an inner city auto repair shop, I wracked my brain for ways to supplement my husband’s college professor salary. Oh, and did I mention we’ve got twins in college? You have any idea how much that costs?
I quickly learned that no one was interested in hiring me. I needed to harness my creativity and become an entrepreneur. In DefinitelyDead, the first book in my series, I came up with the idea for Relatively Speaking, hiring myself out as a wing woman for the senior set. It was the ideal second career for me. Since my clients needed several hours each morning to find their teeth, lube their creaky joints, and deal with lower GI necessities, and they preferred to turn in shortly after the early bird specials, I had plenty of time to pen my future bestsellers.
Everything was working out great until I discovered Sidney Mandelbaum, Client Number Thirteen, murdered in the parking lot of the Moose Lodge. Don’t ever let anyone tell you thirteen is not an unlucky number. (Hear that, birthday girl?) My experience proves otherwise.
Too bad I couldn’t do what architects do when designing buildings. They skip from the twelfth floor to the fourteenth floor because too many people suffer from triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number thirteen. No one wants to live or work on the thirteenth floor of a building. I should have figured out a way to bypass Client Number Thirteen, but you know what they say about hindsight being twenty-twenty. I decided to find Sid’s murderer in order to save my fledgling business. However, even though I caught the killer, Sid’s death still put the kibosh on my business venture.
Throughout this time I continued to work on my novel and eventually finished it. Now I needed to find an agent and publisher. So I entered a writing contest, and guess what? I won an all-expense paid trip to the annual conference of the Society of American Romance Authors, which is where you’ll find me in Literally Dead, the second book in the Empty Nest Mystery series.
Unfortunately, it turns out I’m a bit of a jinx. Client Number Thirteen’s murder wasn’t a fluke. Within hours of arriving at the conference, I discover the body of Lovinia Darling, the Queen of Romance, and although the police first consider her death an unfortunate accident, I suspected otherwise, and much to my dear husband’s chagrin, I was off on another sleuthing expedition.
So that’s my fictional life to this point. Hopefully Lois will decide to keep me around for awhile and pen more adventures for me, ones that, if I’m lucky, will provide me with large royalty checks and other sources of income, because I’m still really worried about winding up living above that inner city auto repair shop, and really, only Lois has the power to prevent that from happening.
Happy birthday, birthday girl!
An Empty Nest Mystery, Book 2
After her last disastrous episode as an amateur sleuth, Gracie Elliott is back. The budding romance writer has spent the past year crafting her first novel. Her hard work and determination pay off when her manuscript wins the Cream of the Crop award, a contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by the Society of American Romance Authors. First place entitles her to attend the organization’s annual conference, normally open only to published authors.
With husband Blake in tow, a starry-eyed Gracie experiences the ultimate fan-girl moment upon entering the hotel. Her favorite authors are everywhere. However, within minutes she learns Lovinia Darling, the Queen of Romance, is hardly the embodiment of the sweet heroines she creates. Gracie realizes she’s stepped into a romance vipers’ den of backstabbing, deceit, and plagiarism, but she finds a friend and mentor in bestselling author Paisley Prentiss.
Hours later, when Gracie discovers Lovinia’s body in the hotel stairwell, a victim of an apparent fall, Gracie is not convinced her death was an accident. Too many other authors had reason to want Lovinia dead. Ignoring husband Blake’s advice to “let the police handle it,” Gracie, aided by Paisley, begins her own investigation into the death. Romance has never been so deadly.