I am a writer, yet I am having trouble describing the emotions came with word that A DEAD MAN'S EYES is an AGATHA AWARD nominee for Best First Novel. The Agathas are awarded each spring by Malice Domestic, Inc., hosts of the annual convention by the same name.
Nominees are selected by registered attendees of the convention and Friends of Malice Domestic. That list includes readers, reviewers, booksellers, editors, agents, fellow authors and aspiring authors. So you can see why I feel so overwhelmed, honored, thrilled, humbled -- all of that at once. These are people really who know and love mysteries, who are immersed in the genre. I am in some fantastic company as a nominee. You can view the entire list of nominees in each category here.
Attendees will vote on the winners when they arrive at the conference, which will be held in Bethesda, Maryland, April 22-24. Winners will be announced during Agatha Awards Banquet that Saturday night. (Registration is still open!)
Winning would be nice, but I am thrilled just to be nominated.
Thank you to all who voted!
Pre-orders of NEVER BROKEN, book 2 in the Lisa Jamison Mystery Series, are now available on Kindle. Pre-orders for paperback and all other ebook formats will be available soon. Reviewers can find ARCs on NetGalley.
NEVER BROKEN releases April 12!
If you read and enjoyedA DEAD MAN'S EYES,please consider clicking on a rating or leaving a review on your favorite website, such as Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Book Bub. Reviews are important to newbies like me, who are also published by small presses. We greatly appreciate them.
If you haven't read the novel, you can order A DEAD MAN'S EYES through any of these links or from your favorite book store.
In 1962, Dot Morgan was told the best thing she could do besides being a nurse or teacher was to learn to type. While attending secretarial school, she decides to rub elbows with an elite ladies' club to help her father with a struggling campaign for city council. Instead of getting the help she sought, Dot is thrown into a world of adultery, deceit, and murder when one of the town's sons is found dead. Time to put that 45 on the record player and bring out your best dance moves in The Twist and Shout Murder.
Q: Tell us about your writing journey. When did you know you wanted to become a writer and how did you get there?
Teresa: I'm a late bloomer. I always wanted to write but was busy with raising my children and my job. When I hit 50, I decided it was now or never and I'd rather face failure than regret for not chasing my dream. It still took me a couple of years to go from telling people "I write" to telling people "I am a writer.” I started with a "how to" guide of sorts, The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery by Robert J. Ray and Jack Remick. This was the first time I had seen writing broken down into achievable units of time and effort. I might not be able to figure out an entire story, but I could focus on my heroine and what motivates her. Then I can concentrate on the villain. My first book started out in bits in pieces, but then the story started forming within the desires and needs of my characters. Now, don't for a minute think this first effort was any good, because it wasn't, but by breaking the process down, I had more confidence in myself that I could actually do this thing.
A funny aside: To this day I find I write well to video game music because, as I wrote in the early days, my son was in the next room playing video games.
Q: Why did you choose the mystery genre?
Teresa: Mystery was a good fit for me because I grew up reading Agatha Christie and watching all the great movies and TV series of her work. I also loved Murder She Wrote, Columbo, and watching Dragnet
reruns. Weird, right? If they had a trivia contest on Dragnet, I'd do well. The way I see it, this was the forerunner to the I.D. Channel and all the true crime out there now. I enjoy creating the mystery puzzle, sprinkling the clues, and making the characters grow with each scene.
Q: Your latest novel, The Twist and Shout Murder, is set in the 1960s. Why did you choose that era?
Teresa:The Twist and Shout Murder takes place in 1962. This is a time when Camden, Texas, is on the cusp of so many things that will change our world. A restaurant called McDonald's has just opened with the revolutionary idea of food that is fast. Telephones have cords and rotary dials. Everyone has one phone, and only one in their house, usually located in a central location. There is no internet, but plenty of newspapers, and social media means people go somewhere and talk to each other face to face to get updates. This all sounds very nostalgic, but remember, there were some not so great things happening. Women's rights were not what they are today, and my main character chooses secretarial school because that's the thing to do for a young unmarried woman. She doesn't even think of majoring in business in college. Her friend Mary Oliva joins the police force to become an investigator and is immediately assigned to full-time filing because not only is she a woman, but Mexican. Mary is smarter than most of the men she works around, but it doesn't seem to matter.
Dot's cousin Ellie has been dating the same guy for five years. She's in her thirties and never married and she starts scheming ways to get him to the big "I do". She's thinking about becoming more intimate with him, but again, it's 1962 and it's not so easy or accepted.
Q: What or who inspired your main character, Dot Morgan?
Teresa: My mother inspired me to write Dot. I grew up in a military family and both of my parents had to work to pay the bills. My mom was a switchboard operator and found work wherever we were stationed and then later, after my dad retired, who, like Dot's dad, took a post-retirement job in the local courthouse. She eventually became a successful realtor and owned her own agency. My mom was smart. I would watch her do math in her head that I still can't do today. I wanted Dot to be that intelligent young woman ready to take on the world.
Q: What do you do when you are not writing?
Teresa: I am a full-time caregiver to my adult son who has Down syndrome and is autistic. Because of his health, we've been sticking close to home during the pandemic, so there are days when I go from writing crime scenes to making crafts with him at the kitchen table!
Q: What are you working on now?
Teresa: I'm working on the second book in The Swinging Sixties Mystery Series, titled If I Had a Hammer. This book will take place in 1963 and opens with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I believe this is a time when our nation suffered great disappointment and disillusion and my characters are fighting through it as well.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Teresa: I always have two answers to this question. First, write and rewrite every day. Nobody is good at first, so take heart and keep writing and learn your craft.
Second, read as much as you can. Read books in your genre as well as any other genre that interests you. Every writer, like every individual, is different and there are so many things you can learn from other authors.
This is where you will find me virtually and in person!
(For the always-updated website version, click here.)
News and Events
Here is a calendar of events along with links to already published interviews, guest blog posts, podcasts and virtual readings.
April 11, The Knoxville Public Library, 112 E. Main Street, Knoxville, PA, 6:30 p.m.NEVER BROKEN book launch celebration!
Get your copy of book 2 in the Lisa Jamison Mystery Series one night
before the official release. I will be reading from NEVER BROKEN and
selling and signing books. Refreshments will be available. I hope to see
April 22 – 24, Malice Domestic 2022, Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Bethesda, Maryland. I
can’t wait! I will be celebrating the release of NEVER BROKEN at this
conference and my debut novel, A DEAD MAN’S EYES, since last year’s
conference was cancelled. The slate of honored guests is amazing. Malice
Domestic is for both writers and fans of mystery fiction of all sub
genres. There is still time to register!
April 30, Barnes & Noble, 3956 NY-31, Liverpool, NY, Book
signing. I am excited to return to Central New York, the setting of the
Lisa Jamison Mystery Series, and to the bookstore I frequented most
often during my reporting days for a book signing. More details to come!
NEVER BROKEN is already getting some awesome reviews on Goodreads and NetGalley and that is exciting! I am a bit nervous about how it will be received because it focuses on some heavy topics - modern-day slavery and white supremacy, but all is good so far. I have scheduled a book launch celebrationfor NEVER BROKEN on April 11, the evening before the release, at the Knoxville (PA) Public Library. The location is especially important to me because I sit on the library board and because the entire community, both on the PA and NY side of the border, has been so incredibly supportive. I can't imagine launching a book anywhere else. I have already sent off NEVER LET GO to one author in hopes of a cover blurb. Normally, I would not do that until ARCs are available, which will be in early Fall. But she has time now and her opinion means the world to me, so I'll be biting my nails over that. NEVER LET GO is a standalone thriller that releases in December. NEVER BROKEN will be fully available for pre-order as soon as I hear back from the authors who are reviewing it for cover blurbs. That should happen within the next two weeks or so. More nail biting!I am closer to finishing NO TIME TO BREATHE, book three in the Lisa Jamison series. If I can arrange two days of solid writing time, I think I will be done. Whew!
What's up at home?
It has been a tough couple of weeks as my 93-year-old mother-in-law prepares to leave this world. She has only minutes or hours remaining, but she is relatively comfortable thanks to Hospice. She is also in her own home, surrounded by people who love her. I will miss her greatly, but she is ready. Right now, we just hope that goes in peace.
When my husband and I are not with my mother-in-law or working, we are at indoor track meets, watching our twin sons compete. Have you ever been to an indoor track meet? I could write another novel in the time it takes to complete all the events.
Both boys compete in shot put and "the weight throw."
Oh, the weight throw!
I know have a strong heart because it is still beating even after watching them compete. The weight throw involves swinging a 25-pound ball attached to chains over their heads and throwing it. Last week, the ball grazed the head of one twin. I didn't breathe until I saw him give the official a "thumbs up."
No heart attack, thankfully.
The older two are back in school. Our daughter recently learned she will be spending the fall semester in Japan, living with a host family and attending classes at the Tokyo campus of Temple University. Our son is preparing for a few weeks of required field work in Colorado when the semester ends as a requirement for his degree. We are proud of them both, but we will have to get used to seeing them less often as they move through this whole adulthood thing.
I hope you all are staying warm and safe during this extra chilly, extra snowy winter. I am quite envious of my southern friends this winter. There will definitely be winter weeks in the south in our future when the twins leave for college.
Happy writing and reading. Less than three months until the release of NEVER BROKEN!