I’m so excited that Mistletoe Can Be Murder: Every Wife has a Story, the tenth book in Susan Santangelo’s “funny with point” Baby Boomer Mystery series is out today!
Susan is giving away a copy to one lucky commenter below!
About the Book
Carol Andrews is planning her grandson CJ’s first Christmas down to the last detail. What she didn’t plan for is a furnace fiasco, the unexpected appearance of CJ’s Other Grandmother, Margo, and her new boyfriend, a family feud, a stolen credit card, and murder. When Margo’s boyfriend becomes the police’s chief suspect, Carol is forced to add crime-solving to her holiday to-do list before Santa can come down the chimney.
Take it away, Susan!
Several years ago I attended my first writers’ conference and signed up for an in-person agent critique of my first mystery, Retirement Can Be Murder. Although I was very nervous, I was also secretly confident that my manuscript would dazzle the agent so much that she’d immediately sign me to a long-term contract and discuss the movie rights. After all, my friends had read it and everyone loved it.
Imagine my joy when the agent told me I’d written one of the best opening sentences she’d ever read. I’m sure I had a silly grin on my face, but then she delivered her punch line. “Unfortunately, the sentence is in Chapter 14.”
A teachable moment, for sure. Then she gave me a homework assignment before I went back to my own manuscript. She told me to pick five or six mystery authors whose work I admired and only read the first chapter of their books. I learned a lot from that agent, and I learned even more when I completed her homework assignment.
Each of my Baby Boomer mysteries starts with the murder. Because I am a pantser, not a plotter, sometimes even I don’t know who the victim is until the plot really starts to develop.
Here’s the opening of Mistletoe Can Be Murder.
“It was a dark and stormy night. No, that’s not true. It was a dark and freezing night. My husband, Jim and I should have been warm and cozy fast asleep in bed like normal people. But, sad to say, we’re not normal people. We’re dog people. Our lives are ruled by two English cocker spaniels, Lucy and Ethel. When they have doggy needs that must be attended to, no matter what the hour is…I’m sure you get the idea. Which was why, as I explained to the policemen, we happened to be outside in the middle of the night to discover the dead body.”
My own two English cockers, Boomer and Lilly, insisted I use this opening line as an homage to Snoopy, whose writer’s block is the stuff of legends thanks to masterful cartoonist Charles Schultz. Yes, dogs rule in my house, too.
Recently I happened to overhear (okay, I moved closer so I could properly eavesdrop) a discussion between two patrons in my local library about their reading habits. One said she gives each book 38 pages to hook her into the plot, and if she doesn’t like it by then, she gives up. The other said she gives a book 50 pages. I couldn’t help inserting myself into their conversation and asked if either of them had ever broken their “pages rule” and ended up loving that book after reading more. They both said no.
Boomer, Lilly and I are now wondering how many other readers have a similar rule.
Readers: Do you have a similar 38 pages or 50 pages or some number of pages rule? Have you ever broken it and ended up loving the book after reading more? Comment below or simply say “hi” to be entered to win a copy of Mistletoe Can Be Murder.