Guest: Marla Cooper

Edith here (on vacation but still doing a little work). Let’s extend a Wicked Welcome terror in taffeta book cover
to debut author Marla Cooper!
Her debut mystery, Terror in Taffeta, comes out next week, and she’s giving away a hardcover copy to one commenter. Let’s hear about the book first:

Kelsey McKenna has planned out every detail of her client’s destination wedding in San Miguel de Allende. But what she hadn’t planned on was a bridesmaid dropping dead in the middle of the ceremony. When the bride’s sister is arrested for murder, the mother of the bride demands that Kelsey fix the matter at once. Although Kelsey is pretty sure investigating a murder isn’t in her contract, crossing the well connected Mrs. Abernathy could be a career-killer. Before she can leave Mexico and get back to planning weddings, Kelsey will have to deal with stubborn detectives, late-night death threats—and guests who didn’t even RSVP.

Isn’t a wedding planner just a perfect protagonist for a murder? Take it away, Marla!

Thanks for having me, Edith. What a fun month this has been—including appearing here on Wickeds! My debut novel comes out on Tuesday, and as you can imagine, the last few weeks have been crazy. (According to a quick internet diagnosis, I am apparently “feeling all the feels.”)

Last week, my friend Cori Arnold posted the following quote on Facebook:Image 1 - quote

I immediately replied that yes, that was exactly what it was like. After waiting two years, my novel will finally be released into the world, and in a way I feel like I’ve been holding my breath the entire time, waiting to see if my joke is funny. Especially during that year or so when almost nothing seemed to be happening at all, and my non-writer friends were like, “So, is your book out yet? Is it ever coming out? Is this some kind of practical joke only writers understand?”

So here’s where I was two years ago. I had just completed my manuscript, and I headed off to Left Coast Crime in the hopes of learning everything I possibly could about getting a book published. While I was there, I bought an orchid that we now refer to as the Magical Image 2 - orchidBlossoming Oracle.

That sucker lasted for months. It had several stems full of tightly packed buds that blossomed oh-so-gradually, and it reminded me of my experiences at Left Coast Crime and everything that was ahead of me. It was still going strong when I found my agent a couple months later, and even a few weeks later when we started sending the manuscript out to different publishers.
As I started getting rejections back, a few of the blossoms started to drop, but I didn’t freak out. After all, I was in it for the long haul. The orchid wasn’t in any hurry to give up, and neither was I. Then a few more flowers fell. And a few more rejections came in.

At some point, I jokingly told my husband, “Maybe I’ll sell my book right when the last flower drops.” There were still enough blossoms left that it seemed reasonable, and he agreed that that’s pretty much exactly how it would go down, because we have a tendency to validate literally any banana-pants thing the other person says. (I believe this is the secret to a good marriage.)

Not long after, the orchid had dropped all but one blossom, which was wilted and looked like it would fall if you exhaled anywhere within a three-foot radius. (Yes, it was full-on pathetic to look at, but dang it, I was committed to finding out if I, in fact, had a magic orchid.)

One night, we went to dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant, and I got the following fortune:

You will soon be the center of attention. Look for good news.Image 3 - Fortune

And yes, I took a picture of it because I basically considered it a promise from the universe that I was going to get a book deal, probably the next day. Okay, maybe not, but just in case….

So after we got home from our meal of Szechuan chicken and shrimp with walnuts, we were sitting on the couch, and I heard the softest little plop from the corner of the living room.

Image 4 - orchid twoThe last blossom had fallen. Tim’s eyebrows shot up and he said, “It fell!” And then we both just giggled nervously as if to say, “Gosh, believing in the predictive ability of houseplants sure is silly!” and then I think we changed the subject. After all, I was almost guaranteed to be disappointed if I got too excited about my double-omen action.

The next morning, my agent called.

She’d sold my book.

Even as I’m writing this, I kind of can’t believe it, but why else would I have taken this picture of a near-dead orchid?

So, do I believe in signs? I’m willing to call the fortune cookie a coincidence, but the Magical Blossoming Oracle? Definitely a sign.

Which brings us back to today.

Even though I’ve known for over a year that my book was coming out on March 22, it still didn’t feel quite real to me. I mean, sure, I could see it listed right there on Amazon, and I was starting to get Goodreads reviews and everything, but still.

I guess after all this time, I still needed some convincing. But just the other day, I got the last and final sign that I needed: a copy of my book arrived in the mail.

Yep, this is happening.

Readers: If you had a Magical Blossoming Oracle, what would you want it to predict? Have you ever gotten an unmistakable sign? And how do you deal with anticipation? Remember, Marla is giving away a hardcover edition of the book to one commenter!

MCooper headshotMARLA COOPER is the author of Terror in Taffeta, a humorous cozy mystery about a destination wedding planner that is the first in a series. As a freelance writer, Marla has written all sorts of things, and it was while ghostwriting a guide to destination weddings that she found inspiration for her first novel. Originally hailing from Texas, Marla lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and her polydactyl tuxedo cat. You can find Marla at, on Goodreads, or on Facebook.


49 Thoughts

  1. I really enjoyed reading about your adventure to get published. The Magical Orchid needs a story of its own. There are times when you just know something is coming your way, even if it wasn’t what you wanted or expected. Thanks for the giveaway.

    1. Hi, Doward! I knew I wanted to write about it as soon as it happened — but I love the idea of using it in a story. Thanks for reading, and for being my first commenter of the day. I’m on the west coast so it’s not quite 8:00 a.m. It was so fun to wake up to nice messages!

    1. Thanks, Joyce! You’ve been there since early in the process! We need to coin a word for a reunion of people you’ve never met in person. And I think it should probably be a German word, because they’re good at expressing complex concepts with a single word. Okay, I’ll go work on that… Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Agree. I’m always talking about this or that online friend who I haven’t quite met in person but who I feel like I know really well!

    1. Thanks so much, Kate! I wasn’t sure about the cover because it looks so different from so many cozies, but once I saw the actual physical book, I fell in love with it!
      P.S. I’m still dreaming about Reykjavik.

  2. I fell in love with your cover the first time I saw it on line. And your story of your journey is amazing. Thanks so much for joining us today!

    1. Thanks, Sherry! I’m so glad you like the cover. I mentioned above that I had some moments of doubt because the illustration style is so different from most of the other cozies I see, but when I saw it in person, it all clicked for me that it was a *real book.* Thanks for having me today!

  3. I have a magical 44 yr old stuffed animal named Doggie. If you say something mean about him or don’t believe in his powers, something bad happens to you. I took Doggie on a high school trip and I warned all the people who were making fun of his matted hair and missing eye that they will learn the power of Doggie. Within 24 hrs, everybody who had made fun of doggie had some sort of calamity, and they were all back to apologize and kiss up to Doggie the next day for having been rude to him. The next day, all of them reported good luck. I always “knew” in my heart that Doggie was special, but he became a legend after that trip. I think your Orchid is 100% legit!

    1. I will never speak ill of Doggie! His story reminds me of Robert the Doll in Key West. You should take Doggie to visit him. Oh, the hijinks they’d get into!

  4. What a great story of hope, persistence, and the power of positive thinking! I do agree with Doward Wilson that the Magical Blossoming Oracle needs a prominent role in some other writing. Looking forward to reading your book.

    1. Thanks Vida! I’m an optimist, so the danger for me is being disappointed when something I’ve decided is definitely going to happen doesn’t happen. Like that time I plunked down $25 for a chance to win what was at the time my dream car. The drawing was being held on my birthday, and I was *sure* that I was going to win. Oddly enough, I didn’t. (I know, weird, right?!) Clearly that didn’t dampen my spirit, though. Hooray for cockeyed optimism and signs from the universe!

  5. I love that orchid! Other people might poo-poo it’s magical properties, but I believe!

  6. I’ve had a number of signs in my life. I’m still waiting for them to pay off. Twice I’ve gotten fortune cookies that say “You will soon receive a big inheritance.” Whoever wrote them didn’t understand the meaning of “soon,” I’m guessing. Anyway, congratulations on your debut. I’m looking forward to reading your book. Fingers crossed I win!

    1. Hi, Barb! My mom once got a fortune cookie that said, “You will be crowned Miss America but you will refuse the title.” We had a lot of fun with that one. (Still waiting…) Thanks so much for your kind words—and for stopping by!

  7. Hi Marla-Welcome to the Wickeds! My former business partner bought a potted pine tree to celebrate our company’s first holiday season. He was called Chuck, for “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree,” and Chuck was 100% predictive of the health of our business. When he was bushy and growing new limbs, we were conquering the world, and when he was sad and losing limbs and brown it was all layoffs and budget cuts and horrible stuff. She still has Chuck and his cycles are ruling the cycles of her new business.

    Good luck with your debut!

    1. Hi, Barbara! What a great story. I think they should give Chuck a sunny corner office and … whatever else a pine tree would enjoy. Point is, it sounds like it pays to keep Chuck happy! Thanks for sharing, and thanks for having me!

  8. This would be a great book to add to my cozy challenge list. Thanks for a chance to win a copy. I sometimes feel like I receive signs of what I should do. Sometimes I ignore them.

    1. Hi, Elaine! Sometimes it’s better to ignore them—like when I get a “sign” that I should have cupcakes for dinner. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by

  9. I do love the cover of your book — I think it goes with the destination wedding story perfectly. Did your orchid come back, or do they just have short lives? The closest plant I could compare would be a Christmas Cactus, blooming right on schedule in December, but then sometimes surprising you and blooming in June or July — what does it know that I don’t?

    1. I’ve never been able to get that type of orchid to rebloom (although I have a Cymbidium orchid that has now surprised me for the second time). However, in the same pot with the orchid was a little green plant. I think he was just meant to be decoration, but I replanted him and he lives happily in my kitchen. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. I love that story. Reminds me a bit of O. Henry’s “The Last Leaf.” Well except that this is a much more positive story (since that one is about death). Okay, maybe I’m turning this into too much of a downer.

    Seriously, though. Congrats on your upcoming debut. It sounds like a lot of fun, and I will have to be sure to search you out at Malice.

    1. Ha! Yes, I’m glad mine had a better outcome! Thanks for saying hi, and looking forward to meeting in person at Malice. I’ll be on the humor panel Sunday morning, and hanging out in the bar most evenings. Happy Friday!

  11. That is a wonderful story. Congratulations on your book release.
    I sometimes get a feeling that something is going to happen. It doesn’t happen all the time and I sure wish it would happen with the lottery. I would love a prediction of enough money to fix up my house but before that I would want it to predict when our former exchange student (now married with a little girl and living in the US) would get her “green card”. It’s slow going for her and we’re trying to help her any way we can.
    Thanks for the chance to win your debut book.

  12. What a fantastic post! I do believe in signs, and I love them! They’re so reassuring. I’m excited about your book. Congratulations!!!

  13. I loved reading about the orchid although I can’t say anything like that has ever happened to me. Congratulations on the new book.

  14. I loved this post, Marla! I am a total push over for anything that seems like a sign from the universe and I adore a happy ending! Congratulations and best of luck with the book.

  15. Wow, you really have a lot of patience and faith in your magical orchid. I’m so glad it worked out for you. Would enjoy reading your book. I’m definitely adding to my TBR list.

  16. I am so glad you had the foresight to take a picture of that orchid so you could reveal its powers to the world someday. I have a sad orchid in my kitchen that’s been limping along for years and it’s never told me anything. Can’t wait for Tuesday–congrats, Marla, and all best for the series!

    1. Thanks, Lisa! I think you have to buy your orchid at a conference for it to work. I’ve had a bunch from the farmer’s market that are lovely but don’t add diddly to my deeper understanding of the universe! 🙂

  17. Great cover & I love the title! I’m not sure if I would know what I’d want to be predicted. Maybe I’d settle for knowing if my favorite cozy mysteries series will continue! Best of luck with your new series. It sounds great.

  18. Marla, your orchid tale sent chills racing up my arms! I wish you much success.

    1. Thanks, Helen! Orchids seem to love the weather in California; I have a Cymbidium orchid that I left out on my back deck and ignored, and it just rebloomed with absolutely no assistance from me. Other than that, I stick with the easy plants too!

  19. I am totally stealing that quote. That is exactly what it is like.
    I’ve had lots of signs and premonitions, but my head is spinning right now and I can’t remember a single one. One of them was a fortune cookie, though, I’m sure of that.

    1. Katherine, I know you can relate. I swear I’m going to embroider it on a pillow or something. Here’s to your imminent book release!

Comments are closed.