This past week I had the pleasure of seeing the last installment of my Endurance Mystery series launch on Amazon. Death Takes No Bribes is the finale of a trilogy that began with Three May Keep a Secret, and Marry in Haste. I have been fortunate to have had steadfast readers who have stayed through this series, beginning to end. I thank all of you who have followed the adventures of Grace Kimball and TJ Sweeney. It was my intention to create a series of books that celebrated the strength and friendships of women. In that respect, I have surely succeeded.
Out of necessity, I became what is currently known as a “hybrid” author—an author who has some self-published books, as well as books with a traditional publisher. When that publisher, Five Star/Cengage, took two years to get my second book out, I self-published an e-book novella about my detective, TJ Sweeney, called The Locket: From the Casebook of TJ Sweeney. Then, after the next book, Marry in Haste, Five Star abruptly abolished their entire line of mysteries with no explanation.
The final book, Death Takes No Bribes, is also self-published. However, I can assure readers that my freelance editor and my proofreaders are the same highly professional people who scoured my first two novels and made sure they were top quality with few, if any, typos or mistakes. I am thankful for their help. I also hired two topnotch women, Jennifer Zaczek (Cypress Editing) and Karen Phillips (Phillips Covers), who did the formatting and covers for my two self-published books. They made my job a cakewalk.
I have learned so much during the last five years of my work on this series. The publishing industry continues to change dramatically, and what is true one week is often not true the next. I’ve been to a huge book conference, Malice Domestic, in Bethesda, Maryland, during two of those years and met gifted mystery writers.
Still, the most important and satisfying part of this experience has been sitting down at my computer typing away as I put words into the mouths of Grace Kimball and TJ Sweeney. I will miss this entire group of characters as I venture into a new series without them. As we all know, life is filled with hellos and goodbyes, even for fictional friends. I will miss them.
When Marry in Haste came out, I posted about the characters’ lives in between the first two books. Now I do the same for the final time.
Marry in Haste ends on January 25, 2012. Death Takes No Bribes begins the following February 5. As with all good Midwestern conversations, a description of the weather is absolutely required. So here it is: The winter has been truly grueling with record snow in the small town of Endurance. Residents have been housebound for a considerable time, and the weather shows no sign of abating. There. That should be enough weather to satisfy Midwesterners.
When Marry in Haste ended, Grace was in a terrible fix. Her boyfriend, Jeff Maitlin, had vanished, off on some mysterious mission about his past. He didn’t return her phone calls or her voice messages. He always was the mystery man, saying practically nothing about his past or why he came from New York City to the small town of Endurance. Grace maintains hope that she will hear from him again, but so far, it hasn’t happened. Detective TJ Sweeney, as always, is skeptical.
Del Novak nursed Lettie Kimball through a badly sprained ankle when she fell off a ladder, and she’s fine now. In fact, Del has taken a part-time job doing custodial work at the high school, much to Lettie’s consternation. Simply adoring her full-time ought to be enough job for him, in her opinion.
TJ Sweeney breathed a sigh of relief after the last murder in her small town, and she figures she won’t see any more for years. She’s wrong, of course, or we wouldn’t be reading the third Endurance novel. Her cat, Eliot Ness, is still staying with Lettie, and he enjoys being spoiled rotten. I’m afraid TJ may have lost him indefinitely.
In Death Takes No Bribes, some new characters who live on Sweetbriar Court will appear, as well as a beautiful, taffy-colored English cocker spaniel named Stella.
Before long, however, some strange things will happen at Endurance High School, and TJ and Grace will be watching each other’s backs once again. You never know who might meet a tragic end in Endurance because, as Benjamin Franklin’s saying goes, “Death takes no bribes.”
Susan Van Kirk May 13, 2017
Susan, I hate to see the deductions of Grace Kimball come to an end. Don’t tell my wife of nearly 53 years, but I was attracted to Grace–in a literary sense, of course. Mostly I will miss her brains and shrewdness, along with the tough cunning of TJ Sweeney. However, it’s not over yet, because after posting this, I am going to order my copy of DEATH TAKES NO BRIBES.
Ah, but the future holds greater things for you, Susan. I can sense; feel it in my bones, as I anxiously await your new writing ventures. And be sure that I will be following every word you write–and every idea you leave with your readers, of which I am one of your biggest fans.
That was one of the nicest comments ever left on my blog site. Thank you so much, Jim. You’ve always had faith in my writing, and I hope the future will prove you to be true. I hate to see these characters leaving my life too, but being forced to come up with a new series has been good for my brain. We’ll see.
Susan, I’m waiting, a little despondently, for my book to arrive. Having “gotten into” the series, I will miss your characters and the way you developed them into “real” people. Being orphaned is a difficult thing, but at least there are three books and a novella for readers to enjoy. I look forward to whatever your next venture will be.
Thank you so much for your kind words and your support/reading of my books, Debra. You have always cheered my Endurance characters on, and I appreciate that immensely. Next venture begins in New York, but moves, of course to the Midwest. New characters, new plots, dastardly murders. Lots of fun, right?
We’re even, with two series at an end, Susan. I’ll always mourn my Fat Cat crew and I’m sure you’ll mourn your Endurance characters, too. But you have the right attitude and the right spirit. Carry on and keep writing! At least I’m pretty sure that’s the right thing to do. Can’t wait to see what you put together next. Good luck!
I’m so glad to hear that there is life after a series, Kaye. Thank you for that optimistic thought. The new book is seven chapters in and going well. I’m sure Lourdes can give me a multitude of editorial advice once I finish it. Thanks for commenting on this post. As I mentioned on Facebook, I tried not to sob all over the computer keys. Dignity, right?
At least here, yes, dignity is good. Your own house has doors you can close!
Ending a series means missing friends, but they can visit it short stories. And making new friends is always satisfying.
Thanks, Carolyn. I hadn’t thought about short stories. The information you wrote about decisions to consider when starting a new series has been really helpful.
Your journey and dedication to these characters, and your perseverance, is inspirational. Well done, you. The new series will be a bestseller!
Ah, Judy. I hope your words are prophetic. Thanks for the kind thoughts.
I’m so impressed and found this touching. We so embroider ourselves into our characters’ lives that I can’t imagine saying goodbye to them, although I know it’s inevitable. Looking forward to the new series. You’re a wonderful writer.
Thank you, Ellen. I’m so glad I got to meet you face-to-face at Malice Domestic. Your characters are so real that you understand what it feels like to think of them as people you know. Thank you again and I look forward to meeting you in the flesh once again down the road.
The publishing industry is very erratic these days, with small presses going in and out, bigger ones merging, etc. I’ve started a few series that I plan to continue but haven’t had the time to extend. I will! I will! I have planned a series of three of a children’s series. The first — awarded a Children’s Choice—came out years ago. The second was supposed to be published over a year ago but the the pub house went bust. I’ve started writing the third. Maybe I’ve drawn it out because I hate the idea of saying good-bye to Rufus. I imagine it’s sad to see the end of a series. But you will write other series with new characters you love.
Believe me, Marilyn, I’m very aware of that. What you say about presses these days is so true. I’m so sorry to hear that you, too, have been thrown under the bus by a publisher. I know many writers have this story. Sorry it happened to you too. You have written a lot of stories, so I think I have hope. Thanks so much for commenting!