They say write what you know. I know small towns. Being a preacher’s daughter, we moved around a lot. Anyone who has lived in a small town knows that people know everyone, and they know everyone’s business. Rumors spread like wildfire, and if you’re a kid who got into trouble at school, your parents know about it before you even get home (and they are usually waiting for you when you walk in the door).
I took these experiences and used them to create my Lizzie Crenshaw Mystery series. There’s the favorite café that everyone eats at (The Eat it or Starve Café is a combination of two restaurants from two different towns), the local Gossip Queen who was in everybody’s business (a combination of so many people I’ve met over the years), the lifelong friends, and the small businesses (and the odd ones) that everyone goes to.
I got the idea for this series three years ago. It was a hot summer, and people in a Facebook group I belong to were complaining how bored they were. Ten years earlier, I had written an online story for a different group, and everyone loved it. So I decided to do it again for my friends. “The bullet hole between Amos Gardner’s eyes guaranteed that he hadn’t seen the sunrise.” From there, Death of a Cantankerous Old Coot took off. Soon, links to the pages were being shared on Facebook and Twitter. It was another writer (Jamie Lee Scott) who suggested that I try to publish it. I did submit it to a publisher, and while they liked the story, it wasn’t long enough (it’s just 84 pages long) for them to consider it, mainly because I wasn’t an established writer. Jamie suggested I self-publish it, and in November 2011, the story hit Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The rest is history. Death Takes the Blue Ribbon is the sixth Lizzie mystery, and my eighth book overall (six novellas and one full length novel). The books are about the mystery and trying to figure out who did it, with some laughs thrown in, and without being too gory and graphic.
Blurb from Death Takes the Blue Ribbon:
Six heads bent over their pans, and pieces of pie started to fly everywhere. I don’t think I need to describe the carnage; I’ll just say watching a contest like this is not for those with a weak stomach. Owen and Harold finished their first pies at the same time. The empty pans were removed and a new pie was put down in front of them. A minute later, Crandall, with cherries dripping off his chin, started on his second pie. Bruce and Sam began working on their second ones after that, and poor Alan brought up the rear.
Harold finished his second pie, and from the look on his face, he was thoroughly enjoying the contest. I glanced over at Gladys, who had a look of pride on her face. People in the crowd were cheering on their favorite, and from the cheers, it sounded like they were either for Owen or Harold.
Despite the bibs, I saw stains on the collars of three contestants. The dry cleaners were going to get some business after this was over. Alan finished his second pie, just ahead of Bruce. Crandall sat up, and his face seemed to be turning an ugly shade of green, which didn’t go well with the cherries smashed on his cheeks. But he swallowed his pie, got a drink of water, and started eating again.
Owen was just starting his third pie as Harold finished his third. It looked like he had eaten blueberry this time, because there were bluish-purple stains on his collar and face. A fourth pie was put in front of Harold, but he didn’t start to eat it. He started gasping for breath, his hands grabbing at the edge of the bib like it was choking him. I won’t go into all the gory details; trust me, you don’t want to know. But it ended with Harold falling face first into his fourth pie