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Thursday, March 9, 2017

FEAR OF HEIGHTS AND THE RAINBOW BRIDGE WITH GUEST AUTHOR ELLEN BYRON

The Rainbow Bridge
Ellen's Byron’s debut mystery, Plantation Shudders, was nominated for multiple awards and made the USA Today Bestseller list. Now she’s out with the second book in her Cajun Country Mystery Series, and it, too, is racking up award nominations. Ellen’s other writing credits include over 200 national magazine articles, an award-winning play, and writing credits on various TV shows, include Wings, Just Shoot Me, Fairly Odd Parents, and various pilots. Learn more about Ellen and her books at her website. 

Once a Bridesmaid
While many friends have been bridesmaids umpteen times, I only had the honor of being one once. But it was an experience I’ll never forget.

Karen and Max were buddies of mine from college. We all met at New Orleans’ Tulane University. When they got engaged and Karen asked me to be in her wedding party, I decided to combine my stint as a bridesmaid with a research trip through Cajun Country to New Orleans for a play I was working on. I mapped out a scenic drive that would take me across the Galveston Bay to the Louisiana road that ran along the Gulf of Mexico.

The wedding and reception went relatively smoothly. The plan was for Karen’s mom Marni and me to drive the newlyweds to an airport hotel to spend the night before their early morning departure to Greece for their honeymoon. Marni and I did just that. And then, on the ride back to her house, Marni’s beater car died on the interstate. Even the warning lights didn’t work. We got out of the car and within minutes, another car hit it. Marni, running to get out of the way, went tumbling down the cement embankment, breaking her arm.

I spent a sleepless night in a Houston hospital waiting for Marni to be released. But I was determined to continue my research trip, so a day later – and no more rested – I made the drive south and got on a ferry in Galveston. In a chipper mood as we crossed the lovely bay, I got into a conversation with a couple of other passengers. I told them my trip route and they exchanged a look. “The gulf road washed out in the last hurricane,” one said. “It’s closed.”

Deflated but not deterred, I reversed course, headed back to Galveston, and followed a new route through a less-than-scenic part of Texas, powered by the mantra, “Must get to Louisiana, must get to Louisiana.” A highway sign appeared, alerting me to the fact I was approaching the Rainbow Bridge. “Why does that sound so familiar?” I thought to myself. Readers, you need to know that I have a terrible fear of heights. I’ve fainted looking out a floor-to-ceiling office building window. Years ago, I toured with the Florida Studio Theatre and almost passed out during a drive across the Tampa-St. Petersburg Bridge. “If you hate this, you never want to drive over the Rainbow Bridge in Texas,” the van driver warned me.

And there I was, hurtling toward the Rainbow Bridge, a cheery name for a horrifying span with a vertical clearance of 177 feet. I was trapped. I could either drive over the bridge, or into the water under it. I whimpered and drove, never taking my eyes off the road in front of me as I soared to heights an airplane reaches on takeoff.

After that, I just kept going until I crossed the Sabine River and saw the most beautiful sight I could dream of – an I-10 sign reading “Welcome to Louisiana.” I pulled into the first rest stop I came to, put my head on the steering wheel of my rented car, and burst into tears. I adore Louisiana and experience elation every time I arrive. But I don’t think I’ll ever again have that overwhelming sense of euphoria I felt when I crossed that border into the Pelican State.

I haven’t been back to Houston since that wedding. But I’m happy to report the relationship stuck. Karen and Max got a thirty-three year marriage and two gorgeous daughters. I got a dress I never wore again and a great anecdote.

Body on the Bayou
A Cajun Country Mystery, Book 2

The Crozats feared that past murders at Crozat Plantation B&B might spell the death of their beloved estate, but they've managed to survive the scandal. Now there's a très bigger story in Pelican, Louisiana: the upcoming nuptials between Maggie Crozat's nemesis, Police Chief Rufus Durand, and her co-worker, Vanessa Fleer.

When everyone else refuses the job of being Vanessa's Maid of Honor, Maggie reluctantly takes up the title and finds herself tasked with a long list of duties--the most important of which is entertaining Vanessa's cousin, Ginger Fleer-Starke. But just days before the wedding, Ginger's lifeless body is found on the bayou and the Pelican PD, as well as the Crozats, have another murder mystery on their hands.

There's a gumbo-potful of suspects, including an ex-Marine with PTSD, an annoying local newspaper reporter, and Vanessa's own sparkplug of a mother. But when it looks like the investigation is zeroing in on Vanessa as the prime suspect, Maggie reluctantly adds keeping the bride-to-be out of jail to her list of Maid of Honor responsibilities

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3 comments:

Jacqueline Vick said...

How terrifying! When I moved to Los Angeles, I held my breath going over AND under bridges because I was sure there would be an earthquake and it would collapse on me. I LOVED Plantation Shudders. A great group of characters. Your research paid off and made for a great atmosphere and setting.

Paul D. Marks said...

Ellen, that's a hell of an experience. And great story fodder.

Research said...

Wow, great story, bud what an experience it is!