featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Monday, December 26, 2016


My Midlife Crisis
By Gracie Elliott

Have you ever lost a job? I suppose most people have at one time or another, but for me it was a new—and totally shocking—experience. I had worked for the same company my entire adult life until the morning I arrived at the office to find my career had been outsourced to a Third World nation.

I don’t work in customer service, billing, or tech support. I’m a textile designer. How could this happen? Who ever heard of outsourcing creativity? Did the Pope outsource The Sistine Chapel to a call center in India, handing them a paint-by-numbers cheat sheet from which to work? No, he hired one of Italy’s premier artists to create one of the world’s great masterpieces.

Then, as if losing my job weren’t enough, to add insult to injury, I learned I was also losing my pension, thanks to some underhanded financial skullduggery. Talk about a double-whammy!

What do you do when you’re middle-aged, out of work, and have two kids in college? After going through the five stages of grief—and also wondering why I had to fall in love with a college professor instead of a trust fund baby—I pulled up my big girl pants and set out to look for another job, only to learn no one was interested in hiring a forty-something fabric designer.

The only solution was to turn entrepreneurial and create a new career for myself. My first foray (documented in Definitely Dead by Lois Winston), was Relatively Speaking, a matchmaking service for senior citizens. However, what I really wanted to do was write romance novels. Relatively Speaking afforded me plenty of time to pen my future bestsellers because my clients needed several hours each morning to find their teeth, lube their creaky joints, and deal with GI necessities. They also always turned in shortly after the early bird specials each evening. What I didn’t anticipate was someone murdering Client Number Thirteen—and almost murdering me. So much for my fledgling business!

However, during the short time that Relatively Speaking existed, I was able to work on my novel and eventually finished it. I entered a writing competition and took first place, winning the prestigious Cream of the Crop Award. Maybe I didn’t need to find another business venture after all. My dream of becoming a bestselling romance author was about to come true. So I set off for the Society of American Romance Writers’ annual conference, fully expecting a bevy of editors to vie for my book. I had visions of them lining up to toss offers at my feet.

Unfortunately, something other than book contracts landed at my feet—literally. Another dead body. And not just any dead body but the body of Lovinia Darling, the Queen of Romance. Find out how I deal with manuscripts and murder and get a behind-the-scenes look at the seamier side of the publishing world in Literally Dead, the second book in the Empty Nest Mystery series.

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