Edith, Tace, Maddie, and 20 Mysteries

Edith here, also known as Tace and Maddie, having a big old party complete with giveaways!

Murder at the Taffy Shop releases today – and its my 20th novel. I’m still in wonder that this has even happened, so I thought I’d share a timeline of how my alter-egos and I got here.

1961: “The Viking Girl” wins a children’s fiction contest in the Pasadena Star News. Age 9, I’m paid $2. I write stories all the time until high school, then turn to nonfiction.

1994: Younger son goes off to kindergarten. After being home with babies for four years, I start writing a cozy mystery because that’s the kind of book I like to read. I’ve never studied creative writing and know nothing about the craft, but I join a critique group. I complete 2/3 of a farm-based mystery (which ends up becoming A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die).

1995: I return to the salaried workforce and can’t find time (or mental space) to finish the book.

1996: I keep writing short fiction. “The Odaku Line” wins a holiday flash fiction contest from North Shore Newspapers.

2001: “The Taste of Winter,” a story of love and loss in later life, is published in the Larcom Review, Fall/Winter 2001.

2004: My first crime story, “Obake for Lance,” is published in Riptide: Crime Stories by New England Writers (Level Best Books). I go to my first New England Crime Bake. I join Sisters in Crime, attend my first New England chapter meeting (at Kate Flora’s house), and start taking workshops.

2008: I’m laid off the hi-tech documentation job I’ve had for fourteen years. I write short story about murderous revenge after layoff (giggle), then start writing a mystery, which ends up being Speaking of Murder.

2009: I get another job but have Fridays free to write. I use them. I keep studying the craft, writing short stories, attending Crime Bake. And I start meeting the Wickeds.

2010: “Reduction in Force” (that layoff story, now for free on Smashwords until 4/20) is published in Thin Ice: Crime Stories by New England Writers (Level Best Books). I join the Guppies, the online SINC chapter.

[Right about now you’re saying, “But she said she was going to tell us how she got to 20 books, not short stories.” Patience, Grasshopper. Practice is a good thing.]

2011: I finish and polish Speaking of Murder, give up after 50 agent rejections, and look for a small press.

2012: An agent comes looking for authors. I (and all the Wickeds, eventually) sign a contract with him. I sign with Kensington Publishing for three Local Foods Mysteries. Barking Rain Press offers me a contract for Speaking of Murder. Kensington says I need to use a pen name for it. Tace Baker is born. Speaking of Murder releases in September. I write books around the edges of a now five-days-a-week job.

2013: I take the plunge and leave the day job. A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die releases. I write a second Tace Baker book, more Local Foods mysteries, and “Fire in Carriagetown” (free on Smashwords until 4/20) about 1880s Amesbury (the story was published as “Breaking the Silence” in Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold from Level Best Books).

2014: The historical characters and setting refuse to go away. I invent midwife Rose Carroll and write Delivering the Truth. I sign a three-book contract for the Country Store mysteries. My editor wants a pen name. Maddie Day is born.

2015: I sign a three-book contract for the Quaker Midwife Mysteries with Midnight Ink. Flipped for Murder, the first Country Story Mystery, releases.

2016: Delivering the Truth, the first Quaker Midwife Mystery, releases.

2017: I sign a three-book contract for the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries, also to be written as Maddie Day. The Local Foods Mysteries end after #5, Mulch Ado About Murder.

2018: Midnight Ink ceases mystery production. I move the Quaker Midwife Mysteries to Beyond the Page Publishing for two more books, because I wasn’t done with the series. Murder on Cape Cod, the first Cozy Capers Book Group mystery, releases on the last day of the year.

2019: My first novella, “Christmas Cocoa and a Corpse,” appears in Christmas Cocoa Murder with two other authors. This throws off my book count and is why you see 21 books in my latest shelfie, not 20!

2020: “One Too Many,” comes out, my first short story to appear in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Another appears in The Beat of Black Wings and one more is under submission. I kept writing short crime fiction throughout all these years, and it keeps my mind sharp for new ideas and voices. See the rundown of stories here. Murder at the Taffy Shop, out today in a one-year Barnes & Noble exclusive, tips the novel count to 20.

So that’s how I got to this point, with twenty books in print, all traditionally published. I have four more in production and will start writing #25 tomorrow. I seem to thrive on writing three books a year, plus short fiction. Right now I’m noodling an idea for a new project. Stand by for news.

I wouldn’t be here without readers – including librarians and booksellers – who love my books (and review them). Without my agent. Without editors who see the potential in my writing. Without my Sisters in Crime tribe, my cherished Wicked Authors, my faith community, and my supportive family. Thank you, all!

Readers: Do you follow an author all the way through a series? Through all her series?

I have an ARC of Nacho Average Murder (Country Store #7) to send one of you, and one of Taken Too Soon (Quaker Midwife #6) for another (US only, please). You might as well get started on books #21 and #22, right? Let me know if you have a series preference.

88 Thoughts

  1. Wow, Edith, Tace, Maddie! Thanks for sharing your timeline for writing and releasing your short stories and novels.

    I am lucky that I met Edith at the 2013 Albany Bouchercon and got my copy of “A Tine to Live, A TIne to Die” at the
    Kensington giveaway. I have a special fondness for food-related mysteries and got hooked on the Local Foods mysteries as well as the Country Store mysteries. I do not read a lot of historical mysteries (less than 5% of my total read each year) but I started reading the Quaker Midwife mysteries totally based on your name and enjoy reading about 1880s Amesbury. And I really liked the first book in the Cape Cod series but will have to wait a while until I can get a copy of Murder at the Taffy Shop since it is a B&N exclusive. With all the border closures and travel restrictions, I am not going to the US until the Sacramento Bouchercon, and October is a long wait!

    Congratulations on reaching this milestone with book #20, and I look forward to reading many more of your books in the future. I’m a loyal fan, for sure!

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    1. Thank you for being so loyal, Grace, and for picking up a genre you don’t usually read! I hope to see you in Sacramento, too. And wish you continually improving health right now.

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  2. Hard work..study…plus your talent.. you are amazing!thank you for the instructive look at growing oneself as a writer. Appreciate it very much

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  3. Thank you, Edith. I am slowly getting better. And I forgot to mention earlier that I was at the 2005 New England Crime Bake. That was a really small mystery con and I see how much bigger and better Crime Bake has become recently, thanks to you (and others). I hope to make it back to Crime Bake in the future, probably in a year when Bouchercon is not so close on the calendar.

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  4. Congratulations on book 20!!!!
    I definitely follow authors all the way through the book series. I love book series. I just hate the waiting for the next one. Lol! Thank you for sharing you writing story.
    I know we will be getting many more great books from you in the future!🙌🙌🙌 Have a wonderful day!

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  5. Hi Edith-Maddie-Tace! Once I find an author I love, I gobble up all of their books and series even more so—and mystery series most of all. I love your Quaker Midwife series and am looking forward to read your other series too. Thank you so much for writing and for sharing how you got to 20/21.

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  6. If I like an author’s voice, I will read all of her books, even those under another name. I have enjoyed all of yours, and look forward to many more! I think I like the Quaker midwife series the best, though it’s a hard choice with the country store mysteries.

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  7. I won a copy of the 3rd local foods book, and have not stopped since, I read that whole series and then went looking for more, I am currently up to date with all series except the new Cape Cod until I can get to a Barnes and Noble, I usually preorder on Amazon because I live in a rural area without a bookstore within an hour drive!!!! I do love to go to bookstores so when I visit a friend that lives outside of Hartford we make the sojourn. Keep them coming, I love all your series, maybe the Quaker Midwife the most!!!!

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      1. Wow, I love books with history, especially when the author takes you to a place and time as you do!!!! Must be because I was a History major in college, I often suggest your series especially in groups where I know people enjoy books with history as a backdrop.

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  8. Absolutely marvelous 🙂 WHAT a fantastic READ. I am sure the entire journey with its bumps &
    Twists & turns brought you here was not the map you laid out. But WOW look at your BOOK
    Shelf. It is so Spectacular.
    No more words are needed.
    Line them up covers out and just gaze 🙂
    Sending blessings to wrap you in good health &safety &May all your books reach good success.

    Kathy levernier
    Gkathgoldin@yahoo.com

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  9. Congratulations Edith on the release of MURDER AT THE TAFFY SHOP! LOVE your books and yes I follow you (stalk might even come to play 😉 but in a good way). Always excited to hear the news of a new one wondering around in your head and then to see how it develops on the printed page.

    I do follow a few authors. If an authors writing style, attention to detail and creativity in storyline are all in line, then I’m in.

    Thank you for the fabulous opportunity to win a copy of NACHO AVERAGE MURDER which is definitely already on my TBR list. ❤

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  10. Wow, quite the publishing journey. I guess I have a ways to go to acquire the complete Edith Maxwell fiction archive though because of all the short stories I don’t have (starting with “Viking Girl”).

    The best part of this piece is knowing how I’ve been lucky enough to have joined up for the ride. Do I follow an author all the way through a series? Well, that’s the general plan. It may not happen in some cases (I gave up on the Stephanie Plum series after 24 books) but I want to be there from start to finish if at all possible.

    I also try to follow an author I like if they write more than one series. I’ve had less success with that though. (Edith being the happy exception).

    I “discovered” Edith with the Country Store series but I grabbed up the Quaker Midwife and Local Foods series as well. I don’t have the two Tace Baker books as yet but I’m working on it.

    To answer the question, it is the Country Store series that I love the most. I’ve been lucky enough to receive advance copies of the last two books in the series and the reviews I wrote after reading them seemed to go over with Edith so well that she used pull quotes from them. Knowing that Edith loved my line “Robbie Jordan kicks as much butt as Jack Reacher…with way better food” is a big deal for me!

    Plus getting to meet Edith a few times at various signings is always a treat. I still can’t get over the fact that she agreed to come to my local library’s Mystery Book Club meeting when we read the first Quaker Midwife mystery. It was, as the young’uns say, SO COOL!

    So it should come as no surprise that Edith is one of my favorite authors and each new release brings with it a renewed fervor to see what she’s come up with next. Now if only I could have breakfast with Robbie Jordan and crew!

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    1. Thank you so much, Jay! Right now Tace’s books are out of print unless you find a used copy, but Beyond the Page will be rereleasing them later this year. Stand by for news on that.

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  11. Our Mystery Matters book club just finished Murder on Cape Cod and will be discussing it Thursday evening (in a zoom meeting so we can stay-home).

    Our group likes to start with the 1st book in a series. This way if they really enjoyed it they can read the rest of the series.

    I think it’s great that the Wickeds help promote each other – y’all have a great group there.

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  12. Edith, you are an inspiration to all those writers (me included) who think that if you aren’t published (or writing) by the time you’re in your thirties, you should simply hang it up.

    I do try to follow a book series to the end. My first series was the Perry Mason mysteries by Earl Stanley Gardner; my mother would get them out of the adult section of the library; I was about 12 when I read them through. The first book I picked up of your was the first Midwife book. It was sitting on the shelf of the local library, and I picked it up to find it was set in Amesbury I love books set in local areas I know, and that was it. I was hooked. If given the chance, I’d love to read the newest one.

    Stay well and keep on being the inspiration you are. BTW, I’ve started on the Maddie Day books.

    Tina

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  13. I’ll keep reading a series as long as I’m still enjoying it. I don’t always read all of an author’s series because they don’t always appeal to me, but there are several authors where I read multiple series by them.
    sgiden at verizon(.)net

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  14. Good question. I read a lot, don’t follow all authors through their series but there are many series that I read religiously and wait anxiously for the next installment.

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  15. Both sound like a series I would like to read. If I enjoy a new book. I will then get the first of the series and then the second etc

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  16. Congratulations on the 20th and on beginning the 25th. You are my inspiration, Edith, to keep plugging away. Not entering the contest, so give the book to someone who’ll devour it. I’ll catch up with your latest releases eventually. I began with Speaking of Murder and then read the 2nd of that two-book series, followed by your local food/locavore mysteries. Being in the critique group with you, I got to hear the beginning of the Quaker mid-wife series and was immediately drawn to the period. I can’t decide which I like better — 1880s Amesbury or the locavore series. I’m not up to speed yet on your latest series but that will come. Best of luck.

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  17. Congratulations. It is hard when one is laid off but you did a better job by going into something you truly enjoy and that is writing. I actually have been reading your Country Store mysteries and following that series. Since the library is closed I am reading all the books I checked out plus my other books I have around our home. I am not getting Stir Crazy because I love to read. I read over 100 books a year and unfortunately cannot reread them because I remember them and it is hard to read a book when you know what is going to happen. I am looking forward to your new book. I have also followed several other authors like J.A. Jance, Kathy Reichs, Jennifer Estep, and others. I try to read a series in order. I do give honest reviews on goodreads and amazon.

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  18. So what I took from this post is that 20 novels happened overnight without any patience on your part at all. 🙂

    Seriously, congrats on such a huge milestone.

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  19. Once I discovered your Local Foods series, I was hooked. And then I became hooked on all your series. I’m mostly caught up, but you just keep cranking them out at an amazing speed. Yes, I love series and try to read them in order.

    I would love to win your latest!

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  20. Please don’t enter me in the contest. I was lucky enough to win from you elsewhere. But I want to say what an amazing journey and thanks for sticking with it. Authors amaze me with the perseverance and discipline needed to have “normal” lives and jobs like the rest of us and still write books. I have to limit the number of reviews I offer to write or I get overwhelmed, and they aren’t being edited or critiqued ;-). Love all of your series. Something in each of them makes me feel so at home. I enjoy series and getting to know characters. I follow all the way through if I am enjoying the series, and often I’ll pick up (or win) a book in the middle of a series and go back and get the rest because I want to know that backstory. Congrats on the 20th book and more!

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  21. Country store series is a favorite of mine. I read all the books a author writes that I enjoy reading. I like the midwife series too I only read one so far. Thank you for the chance I’d love to own your latest. Especially now with the library closed. I am hoping to find more of your books soon.

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  22. Amazed by your energy!

    I’ve got a historical out (under a pen name) and am working on another. I’m impressed that you’re able to flip back and forth between contemporaries and historicals — maybe I’ll get there someday, too.

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  23. I do follow beloved authors through all the manifestations of their work, and come to feel they are long-time friends. My favorite is the Quaker Midwife series, Rose’s balancing of aspirations to a peaceable life and the need to stop villains from harming others is a wonder! I am impressed by your prolific work, your garden of books is lush. ❤

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  24. Happy release day, Edith! I like read series because I like getting to know the characters in the book. It just takes so long for the next book to be published.

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  25. Thanks for sharing the timeline.

    I tend to follow through with an entire series and I check out the other series by authors I like.

    My favorite is the Country Store series.

    Thanks for the hours of enjoyment you’ve given me.

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  26. I try to follow a series throughout, especially my favorites! I do try each series of favorite authors, and continue on if I really like it. Would love to win either title, esp. Since I usually read on Kindle, so most of my purchases are at Amazon.

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  27. Congratulations on your 20th book and beyond! I first fell in love with the farm series and now love the candy shop series. I try to follow all the series from the beginning, but mostly get my books from the local library and sometimes miss what has come out. I didn’t know about the Quaker midwife series, but am looking forward to catching up on it and all the others I seem to have missed somewhere. I love hearing authors have progressed and work. I would love to win the candy shop series book!

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    1. Thank you, Chris! The new book is the only one with a candy shop in it, so I expect you mean the Cozy Capers Book Group series. I hope you love the Quaker Midwife mysteries, too.

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  28. I continue to read all my favorite authors as long as I continue to enjoy the books. I’ve stopped reading a couple of long-running series just because they don’t hold my interest anymore. Other long-running series I still read because the author keeps the stories fresh. Your Country Store series is my favorite…I’ve read all of your series except the Quaker Midwife series. I’ve got them on my TBR list, though.

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  29. Whew! I don’t know how you do it! (I think you and Jenn McKinlay are twins separated at birth.) If I like an author’s work I want to read the entire series from the beginning. I will at least sample their other works and if I like them then I have to read all of them from the beginning.
    Love your midwife books!

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  30. Congrats on 20 and looking forward to 20 more!
    When I find an author I love, I definitely try to read their whole works. It’s fun to see the progression from earliest to most recent.

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  31. When I find a series I like, i will try all other books by that author (however many names they have) – sure love your books, thanks for the chance to own one

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  32. Congrats! I would love the chance to read the country store mystery. It is one of my favorite series. I need to read the Cozy Capers books now. I always try to read a whole series. I don’t always read every series an author has written, but I definitely try to do so.

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  33. Such an accomplishment! Congratulations! I love reading series when I find a cozy author I like, even if I read books out of order!

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  34. Congratulations on (really 22) books!! I don’t always follow an author’s series. Sometimes I’ll read a book of theirs that I happen to have and if I really like it I’ll read the rest of the series and follow the author for new releases. And I would like to be entered for the Country Store Mystery😊

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  35. Wow and Super Congratulations Edith! Yes I do like to follow an author’s series, if at all possible. I may get a couple of the books, as I find them, or can afford, but once I get the whole series, I’ll re-read it in order. nani_geplcs@yahoo.com

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  36. Rose Carroll is my favorite, but all the series are intriguing and I’m reading my way thru all, catching up on missed books as I have time.

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  37. Judi Purcell and Chris Royal are our lucky winners! Congratulations, and please check your email. Everyone – thank you for your kind words and well wishes. It means so much to me.

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  38. I discovered your books through a serendipitous post by my favorite, Julia Spencer Fleming. Of course, Julia’s latest is not out yet. I just finished 10 Victoria Thompson books I had take out of the library before we were all put into isolation at home! I was looking for a new author/series to start. Yours will be perfect! Stay safe.

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