I’m delighted to have Laura Childs back on the blog today to chat about her new Tea Shop mystery, A Dark and Stormy Tea, and how her mystery writing career began!
A DARK AND STORMY TEA by Laura Childs
SERIES: Tea Shop Mystery #24
GENRE: Cozy Mystery
RELEASE DATE: August 9, 2022
A possible serial killer on the loose sends tea maven Theodosia Browning into a whirlwind of investigation in this latest installment of the New York Times bestselling series.
It was a dark and stormy night, but that was the least of Theodosia Browning’s troubles. As she approaches St. Philips Graveyard, Theodosia sees two figures locked in a strange embrace. Wiping rain from her eyes, Theodosia realizes she has just witnessed a brutal murder and sees a dark-hooded figure slip away into the fog.
In the throes of alerting police, Theodosia recognizes the victim—it is the daughter of her friend, Lois, who owns the Antiquarian Bookshop next door to her own Indigo Tea Shop.
Even though this appears to be the work of a serial killer who is stalking the back alleys of Charleston, Lois begs Theodosia for help. Against the advice of her boyfriend, Detective Pete Riley, and the sage words of Drayton, her tea sommelier, amateur-sleuth Theodosia launches her own shadow investigation. And quickly discovers that suspects abound with the dead girl’s boyfriend, nefarious real estate developer, private-security man, bumbling reporter, and her own neighbor who is writing a true-crime book and searching for a big ending.
INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS!
Lucking into my Mystery Writing Career
by Laura Childs, New York Times bestselling author of A Dark and Stormy Tea
I’m thrilled to be guest posting today about how I kick started my mystery writing career. You see, probably my biggest qualification was being the kid who snuck into cemeteries late at night on a dare, whispered ghost stories around the campfire, and devoured Nancy Drew books under the covers.
But as much as I longed to be a mystery writer, I landed in advertising instead. I wrote and produced TV commercials, then ended up heading my own firm for nearly 15 years. Still, the mystery bug gnawed at me. So, writing evenings and weekends, I chipped away at Old Masters, a thriller about stolen World War II artwork. When it was finished, I thought it was fantastic – maybe the best thriller ever written! My only problem was, I wasn’t sure what to do with my masterpiece.
One day, while having lunch with my friend Jim Smith (he was Bing Crosby’s personal artist and illustrator for the Marlboro Man) I told him about Old Masters. Brimming with enthusiasm, Jim said, “Let’s call my friend Mary, she’ll know what to do.” Well, his friend “Mary” turned out to be mystery great Mary Higgins Clark.
I thought to myself, “No way is this going to happen.” But two hours later Jim called back with a message from Mary. “Come to New York and meet me at the Mystery Writers of America symposium.” Oh, heck yes, I thought!
When I arrived at the symposium, this tiny dynamo in a gorgeous Chanel suit grabbed my hand and proceeded to introduce me to New York’s finest agents, editors, and publishers! As Mary handed me off to each one, I did my little song and dance and presented them with a spiffy book cover that I’d had my senior art director design.
Did I sell my Old Masters manuscript that day? No, but it was read by Penguin and Random House. And I received offers from 5 different agents to represent me, ending up with a dandy 3-book deal to write my Tea Shop Mystery series.
A fairytale ending, yes? Of course, that was almost 20 years ago. Could this still happen today with publishers clinging miserly to every dollar, allowing author’s backlists to go out of print, and letting new (good!) manuscripts languish in slush piles? Maybe, maybe not. But if you want a writing career bad enough, you can make it happen. As a would-be novelist you need to pour your heart into your story, make sure it’s a killer plot, add twists and tangles, and then prove, prove, prove to a publisher that you’ve got the platform to promote it.
I’ll let you in on a very weird secret. Editors (who are really acquisition editors, not mark-it-with-a-red-pen editors) don’t always know what they’re looking for. That’s why you have to tell them that you have the next big thing in publishing. If you’re at a writer’s conference, gently pull them aside and perform your own animated song and dance. Because if you’re convinced, they’ll be convinced.
Of course, the smart thing to do is get a literary agent to sing your praises. How do you make this happen? You learn the subtle art of the one-page query letter. It’s the only way you’ll score the big enchilada of a killer agent. Which, in publishing’s uncertain times, is the best way to kick in the front door!
Thanks so much!
Laura Childs is the author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. All have been on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller lists. Recently, Book Riot named her mysteries to their list of “25 of the All Time Best Cozy Mystery Series.” In her previous life Laura was CEO of her own marketing firm, authored several screenplays, and produced a reality TV show. She is married to Dr. Bob, a professor of Chinese art history, and has a Chinese Shar-Pei named Lotus.
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What about you? What makes you want to read A Dark and Stormy Tea by Laura Childs?