Hello to you all and I hope this post finds you all staying safe and healthy. I don't know about your current situations, but my home state is currently under a Shelter-at-Home order, so I'm spending most of my time, well, at home! As a teacher, this means I'm trying to muddle my way through this whole remote learning business. As a daughter, I'm trying to keep my 85 year old father who is recovering from a terrible bout of viral pneumonia on the road to recovery. As the wife of a firefighter on the front lines, I'm hoping and praying he stays healthy. And as a writer, I've had plenty of time to write.
Now, I have to ask, "What's up with technology?" As a person born at the VERY end of the Baby Boomers Era, I didn't grow up with technology. We still used rotary phones, TVs without remote controls, and the closest thing I had to a tablet or iPad was an Etch=a Sketch (some of you will know what that is). Over the years, I've had to figure out how all this technology works. I taught myself how to create speadsheets for tracking students progress and grades. I figured out on my own how to make a Powerpoint and how to set up a Google classroom.
I've learned how to creat Goocle docs and upload them to said Google classroom, And a certain millenial (thank you, Bailey) helped me learn how to copy a link from YouTube. I've managed to download and use Zoom for video conferencing. I created a Twitter and Instagram account, and somehow I was able to create my own website for blogging about my journey to becoming a published author. All of this, yet I was stymied last week, when I became locked out of my own website! It has taken me 12 days to figure out a way around this problem. The company that manages my domain was absolutely no help wahtsoever, since I'm still waiting to hear from their tech support department!
So long story short, I"M BACK and very glad to be bringing you a quick status check on my first manuscript, Murder By The Books. Last week, I sent out 4 new queries to literary agents, and I plan to shoot for a few more this week. There are many agents I've queried that I've heard neither yeah or nay from, so that probably means nay. There are 4 agents currently reading and reviewing my full manuscript which is a good thing. I've been told it can take a looooooooong time to hear back from a full manuscript request, so here I sit...waiting...not so patiently. And during the interminable wait, I've moved on to writing Book #2 in my Willowbrook Series of cozy mysteries. It is tentatively titled "Murder By Mistake". I'll share more about that in future posts.
For those of you who may be new to my blog, my series is set in a quaint Midwestern town where business is booming, love is in the air, and murder is a common occurrence.
My main character, Jillian, is a former third grade teacher who has followed her dream of opening a children's bookstore. Along with her love of children and books, she has a passion for solving mysteries which often gets her into hot water. She is surrounded and supported by a cast of strong women. Her older sisters, Cate and Amanda, are business owners themsleves in their hometown of Willowbrook. Her mother Joy is the matriarch of the family and still keeps her adult daughters in line. Jillian's eccentric aunt Grace fancies herself a bit of a clairvoyant, and her best friend Becca is a very talented pastry chef who works for Jillian's sister, Cate. The strong bond between these women plays a central role in the storyline of my books. In case you are concerned, please don't worry. There are plenty of men in Willowbrook, too; but today's post isn't about them.
At this point, I think it's time for another tease from "Murder By The Books". Please read on.
“Guess who?” sang out a most familiar and beloved voice. Jillian turned and watched her Aunt Grace breeze into the store. Jillian caught a pleasant whiff of the flowery fragrance, which had become her aunt’s signature scent. Then, she noticed Aunt Grace even looked slightly like the flowers of which she smelled. On this warmer than usual September day, Aunt Grace was wearing a pastel-colored floral sarong and bubblegum pink gladiator sandals laced up her toned calves. Both beautifully tanned arms were adorned with her trademark gold bangles that clinked together as she walked. Her auburn curls were swept up in a messy bun showing off the large gold hoops in her ears. At sixty plus years of age, Aunt Grace was not someone that shied away from flashy colors or trendy styles. Jillian thought her aunt was both flamboyant and fabulous.
“Good morning, Aunt Grace. What has you out and about so early today?” asked Jillian as she gave her aunt a quick peck on the cheek.
“Oh kitten,” simpered Aunt Grace. She had been calling Jillian kitten for as long as anyone could remember. “I was sitting at the kitchen table finishing my morning cup of tea. Earl Grey, of course. When I looked into the bottom of the teacup and began to read the leaves. They told me that you were here and in desperate need of my help.” Jillian sighed. It was a quietly accepted fact in the family that Aunt Grace fancied herself a bit of a clairvoyant. She claimed to be able to read tealeaves and people’s palms, while occasionally being blessed with visions. She once predicted the death of the family dog, Spartacus, which she was convinced proved her unique gifts. Spartacus, however, had been seventeen years old at the time and had spent an entire week just lying under his favorite oak tree. Everyone else in the family had known his death was imminent, and thought Aunt Grace’s prediction a bit ridiculous. The family, however, indulged Aunt Grace’s eccentricities now and again, while trying not to encourage them very often.
“Your help?” Well, of course. With the opening just hours away, I can use all the help I can get,” Jillian replied with a warm smile.
“No, kitten. This message wasn’t about the store. It was about you. It was a warning that danger is coming. Now that I’m here, I can see your aura is pulsing erratically, and it’s an unusual shade of yellow which is the color of warning,” whispered Aunt Grace.
“Aunt Grace, could it be that I’m splattered with buttercup yellow paint and standing in a room recently painted that same lovely shade?”
“Oh well, yes. I see that is true,” Aunt Grace said distractedly glancing around the room. “But I know what I saw in the bottom of my teacup. The leaves were quite clear. They were shaped like a snake slithering around the letter J. A snake is an omen that something terrible is going to happen, and the letter J stands for Jillian. Something bad is going to happen to you!” Aunt Grace was getting more and more agitated, and Jillian knew from experience she would have to calm her down quickly. Especially if she hoped to get any more work done on the shop this morning.
“Ok, Aunt Grace. Why don’t we go sit down in my office and have some more tea? Cate dropped off some freshly baked cinnamon rolls about an hour ago. We can have a little snack and try to figure out what all this means.”
Jillian somehow managed to convince her very distraught aunt to settle into the comfy overstuffed armchair in the corner of her small office. She served her a steaming cup of her favorite tea along with a cinnamon roll. Aunt Grace sipped her tea and nibbled her snack, but Jillian could tell she was still mulling over the vision she’d seen in the tealeaves. Aunt Grace had a habit of chewing on her bottom lip when she was troubled by something, and she was nibbling away like crazy right now.
“Kitten, I think you should close up the shop for today and just go home. Stay inside, and then nothing bad can happen,” suggested Aunt Grace.
“Aunt Grace, you know I can’t do that. The store’s grand opening is tonight, and there is still so much left to do. There’s painting, flooring, shelving, and decorating that needs to be finished in the next few hours. So many people are counting on this store being ready on time, and I cannot let them down.”
“But, I’m worried about you,” Aunt Grace pleaded. “I could never forgive myself if something terrible happened to you.”
Jillian was truly sorry to see her aunt so upset, but she was wasting valuable time placating her. She was relieved when the screen door slammed yet again, and her pups struck up their usual canine chorus to greet their new guest.
You gotta love Aunt Grace, right? Things will never be dull with her around!
Well friends, two of my favorite guys are getting a little hungry for breakfast, so I’ll have to wrap it up for today. Thanks for spending some time with me, and I hope you’ll come back again. In the meantime, please stay safe, spend quality time with your families, and be kind to yourself.
Until next time,