Late-in-life Adventure

Jul 7, 2021 | 2021 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by S.C. Merritt

Hello. My name is Sarah, and I have no idea what I’m doing.

Sometimes I feel like I need a support group for clueless indie authors. At the age of fifty-seven, I “accidentally” wrote my first book, and for the last two years, I’ve been on a mission to learn all there is to know about the industry. It’s been a roller-coaster ride, but a late-in-life adventure I never saw coming.

One Saturday after binge watching British mysteries all day, I was looking for something different, so I booted up my Kindle app and started looking for something interesting to read. One of Kathi Daley’s books in the Zoe Donovan series caught my eye, and I was hooked. I had never heard the term “cozy mystery,” but I soon realized that it was the type of mystery I had always been drawn to. I grew up watching Perry Mason, Columbo, Hawaii Five-O, Rockford Files, Murder She Wrote, and countless others with my mother and grandmother. I’ll never forget the first time I walked into a bookstore and saw an actual section labeled Cozy Mystery. I was like a kid in a candy store. By summer, I was spending every spare minute I could find reading.

The more I read, the more I thought it might be fun to try writing one of my own. I’d never written anything in my life that I wasn’t forced to write in school. I’d never even had a desire to. But this sounded like fun, and I challenged myself to do it. I didn’t tell anyone. For months it was my little secret. In the beginning, most of it was written longhand in a spiral notebook. I felt like Elizabeth Farmer in one of my favorite 80’s comedies, Funny Farm. When I finished my first rough draft, I mustered up enough courage to tell my family and asked my mom and daughter to read it. They immediately suggested I should try to publish it. I said they were nuts. But the more I thought about it, I decided to do a little research and discovered self-publishing. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Of course, that first book, Potluck and Pandemonium, released in January 2020, bears very little resemblance to that first rough draft, originally titled One Foot in the Graveyard. But thanks to family and friends willing to give honest feedback and a welcoming group of writers in a few Facebook groups, I was able to transform it into something with which I felt confident.

That book grew into The Sweetwater Springs Southern Mystery series, now with six books and plans for more. I’m currently taking a break from writing that series (I haven’t figured out how to write in two different worlds at the same time, yet) and am releasing the first book in a brand, new series called The Bucket List Mysteries in July.

When brainstorming for these new characters, I thought it would be fun to have them be an odd couple of sorts. Totally different backgrounds and personalities. Maisie is a widow, now retired after owning a home-cooking restaurant in Mississippi for many years with her late husband. Dot is a recently retired police detective from Chicago. Married to the job, she never saw the need for a social life. Their new friendship has helped them realize that they have missed out on a few things in life, one of those is travel. On a whim, they decide to pool their money, buy an RV, and start marking destinations off their bucket lists. It’s been fun creating this new world of characters, and I look forward to revealing all the exciting places they will visit in the series. Here’s a bit about Book One in the series entitled, Dead in the Water.

When Maisie Mitchell sold her restaurant and retired to sunny Florida, she couldn’t wait to get out of the kitchen and do absolutely nothing except enjoy lazy days by the pool.

Thirty-five years with the Chicago Police Department was enough for detective, Donna “Dot” Pinetta. She was ready to escape the daily stress of big city crime and kick back under a palm tree with a tall glass of something cold and a little paper umbrella.

They say that opposites attract, but it looks like the only thing these two unlikely friends are a magnet for, is trouble. When the dead body of handsome recreation director, Mason Jacobs, is discovered floating in their own little piece of paradise, chaos ensues. Their own plans for adventure get shoved to the back burner when a good friend tops the suspect list, and Dot jumps back into detective mode dragging Maisie along with her. With a millionaire, an aging beauty queen, and a jealous husband among the long list of suspects, they need to expose the real killer and clear their friend’s name.

Release day for Dead in the Water is set for July 27. I hope you’ll join Maisie and Dot on their travels in The Bucket List Mysteries.

To find out more about the Sweetwater Springs Southern Mysteries (set in a fictional version of my own small, Alabama hometown) you can find me at, and they are all available in ebook and paperback from Amazon. They’re FREE in Kindle Unlimited.

If you sign up for my monthly CozyLetter email, you can get the EXCLUSIVE Sweetwater Springs prequel novella, Sideburns and Suspicions (set at Elvis’s Graceland) for FREE!

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode goes up next week.

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Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


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