I’m delighted to welcome fellow Wild Rose Press author A. Y. Stratton here today.
Educators say reading to your children encourages them to enjoy books. That was certainly true in my childhood. Dad traveled a lot for work, but when he was home, he read to my brother and me at bedtime.
Mom always had books nearby, mostly best sellers. Dad loved mysteries and often left his Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock magazines where I could pick one up. All it took was one story to get me hooked on mysteries. (After that, Nancy Drew seemed a bit tame.)
In 8th grade I wrote a short story about an innocent man convicted of murder. On the day he’s scheduled to go to the electric chair, he hears footsteps. He hopes his lawyer is coming to tell him his appeal succeeded and he’ll be a free man at last. But he fears it’s his jailer coming to march him to the electric chair.
In preparation for whatever fate awaits him, he washes his hands and face and reaches for the light switch.
And he’s electrocuted.
(Is it any wonder I had nightmares when I was a kid?)
I graduated from Vassar College with a degree in English, wrote my thesis on symbolism in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, worked as a substitute math teacher, married the love of my life, and raised some great kids.
Even before our children were in school, I submitted stories to magazines and newspapers. Some of my rejection slips were signed by famous editors. (I kept those and crumpled the others.) Eventually I wangled jobs writing for local magazines and newspapers, which led to a bi-weekly column for our small town paper. (I even got paid!)
I still post a column now and then for the Milwaukee Brewers website. (Baseball is a passion of mine.)
Once my children were older, I decided it was time to turn my plot ideas and fantasies into novels. I attended writing workshops, lots of workshops. A friend introduced me to two women who were doing the same thing, and we began to meet weekly to critique each other’s work. My manuscripts improved. (I still got rejections, but the editors actually sent encouraging comments.) I discovered I enjoyed combining mystery with romance and joined The Romance Writers of America to find out how to get published.
At RWA conferences I learned a lot about submitting manuscripts to agents and publishers, about polishing my work, and about promoting myself. I sold my first book at a conference.
The woman sitting next to me at the 2008 WisRWA Conference in Green Bay, WI, asked me what I was writing. I told her a bit of the plot, and she handed me her card. “Send it to me. It sounds like a good story.” That’s how I met Rhonda Penders, founder of The Wild Rose Press.
That book became Buried Heart by A. Y. Stratton.
The best about being a published author is hearing people say they enjoyed my books. Right up there in second place is seeing my book on Amazon or at a bookshop and thinking, “Hey, that’s mine. I really did it.” (My version of, “They like me! They really like me!”
My favorite time to write is in the morning, when I’m full of the ideas my imagination cooks up when I can’t sleep. Buried Secrets, a romantic mystery, begins with a bang… literally. My characters meet in a very strange manner. My favorite scene is near the end of the book when justice is served and the lovers have split up. Finally my heroine screws up her courage and goes after her man. I’m smiling as I remember writing it.
These are a few of my favorite things (not necessarily in this order:
1. Hugs from my grandkids
3. Swimming on a summer day
4. Hanging out with my husband, the love of my life
A Giveway! I am giving away a copy of my book to the first three people who respond to this post. (Please be sure to let me know where to send them.) When you pick up a book in the library or in a bookshop or peruse one on Amazon, what hooks you? The setting? The dialogue? The hero or heroine’s predicament? A romantic scene? A dead body? Or the reviews?
Blurb from Buried Secrets
Luck brings them together—bad luck could be the death of them.
On a snowy Milwaukee evening, a shady lawyer who lives in a lovely home overlooking Lake Michigan drives out of his driveway. Timing it perfectly from her hiding place, professional fundraiser Kate Harvey slips under the garage door and enters the house. When her Granny Nell begged her to retrieve documents hidden in an antique dresser, she agreed. When she discovered the dresser had been sold when Nell moved to the nursing home, she had to track it down.
The man who bought the dresser wouldn’t even answer her calls. So what else could she do, but sneak into the house when no one was home? When she gets there, Attorney Nathan Crosby is already inside the house, hoping to collect evidence of the lawyer’s dirty dealings. They bicker about who should get out of there and compromise. Get it done quickly and get out.
Neither expects to land in the midst of a vendetta.
Before they complete their tasks, a woman arrives and prepares to meet her lover. Kate and Nathan hide in the closet, just in time to hear the arrival of the boyfriend. After sweet talk, the boyfriend’s words turn angry. A gun fires. The man flees. Kate and Nathan emerge from the closet. The woman is dead. And they had better get out of there leaving nothing that can connect them to the murder.
Of course Kate and Nathan can’t tell anyone what they’ve heard. The two are bound to each other by the grim scene.
Kate’s never met a man who annoys her more than Nathan, but she’s surprised at how kind and thoughtful he can be when he’s not bossing her around. Nathan can’t think straight when brave, beautiful Kate is nearby. Racing to solve the mystery of long-past misdeeds, they realize getting involved could cost them their lives.
Excerpt from Buried Secrets, pages 17-19
She was a block ahead of him, striding along like a cross-country skier, headed toward a line of parked cars, a speedy ghost against the glow of the snow. He kept pace with her until he saw her climb into a dark SUV, maybe an old Blazer.
He legged it up there and stopped behind the SUV, license plate “Rtiztik.” He didn’t want to give her any more frightening moments. He needed to know what shape she was in. If she was going to blab what happened, they’d both be in major trouble.
Nathan tapped at the window, and she jumped. He waited, hoping she’d let him into the car. She glared at him for a moment and sank her face into her arms. He tried the passenger door and it opened. He slid in and closed the door, keeping his eyes on her slumped body. Finally he touched her hand that gripped the steering wheel. “You okay?”
“What? She pulled the scarf off her head and tied it around her neck. A lock of her streaked-blonde hair hid her face. Kate had always been attractive. Grownup, she might even be beautiful, though she frowned so much it was hard for him to tell.
“Are you okay?” he asked again, hoping she’d say more. She was obviously suffering from shock. It was impossible not to think about the poor woman who had stripped off her clothes in the closet and then had her head blown off by some jealous nutcase, while they stood a few yards away.
Her punch caught him in the jaw.
“What do you think, big-shot?” Her voice wobbled. “I heard a woman shot to death in her own bed. I saw her blood ooze across the white, high-count sheets.” She shook off his hand. “I’m okay. I’ll be fine, just fine. And you?”
He could tell she was about to cry. “Not her own bed.”
The woman leaned so close he could smell spring flowers in her hair.
“You mean that wasn’t Mrs. Schmidt? Who, then?”
“Don’t know yet.” He dared to touch the back of her shoulder. “Look, you might have a—I don’t know—a problem after this. Unless you have experience with crime scenes, you could go into shock after witnessing something like that.
“What do you care? Your dirty little job is done, whatever it was. And, don’t worry, I get it. There’s no way I can report what we heard and saw without going to jail myself. So you go your way.” She dragged a tissue from a box on the floor of her car. “And I’ll go mine.”
“You shouldn’t drive anywhere right now.”
“I’m staying right here.”
Nathan hadn’t figured out what she had planned. She was obviously not a burglar; the story about the grandmother had to be phony. He was sure of one thing. Eventually, he’d get the truth out of her. In the meantime, they were each other’s alibi, and she was his new problem.
Buried Secrets (2013) is available in eBook and Paperback at:
Buried Heart (2009) is available in eBook and Paperback at:
You can find Anne at:
Facebook: Anne Stratton or A.Y. Stratton