Mystery Mondays: Mary Cunningham On Becoming An Author

This week on Mystery Mondays, Author Mary Cunningham shares her story on becoming an author. Mary and I are both published by Imajin Books, so as always a great big shout out to Imajin Books and Cheryl Kaye Tardif!

It All Starts With Reading

by Mary Cunningham, author, Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder

Andi Anna Jones Mystery # 1

When I was a kid, I had to cross a busy downtown street to walk the two blocks to the public library. Mom would guide me across that first street then let me walk the rest of the way to my favorite spot on earth; well, except for the high school gym on Friday basketball game night.

I guess you’d call me a tomboy. I loved sports; playing and watching. Although, I still had fun cutting out paper dolls with my friend, Cynthia, and playing with her Easy Bake Oven (I was so jealous she had one and I didn’t!)

But, back to the library. I’ll never forget the summer I discovered sports biographies. A whole set of them! Probably due to my yet-to-be-discovered OCD, I commenced reading them in order – A-Z.

I’ll never forget the thrill of learning all about Hank Aaron. I was a huge fan back then of the Milwaukee Braves outfielder. In 1957, as a 10-year-old, I would sit in front of the TV keeping stats during the Braves games. In a record-breaking year, he hit an 11th inning home run that propelled the Braves to the World Series, where he led underdog Milwaukee to an upset win over the New York Yankees in seven games. Yep, “Hammerin’ Hank” was my idol.

I tore through the biographies in record time. Patty Berg, Jim Brown, Althea Gibson, BabePancho Gonzales, Byron Nelson, Warren Spahn. Then, the unbelievable happened. I finished Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Finished. Caput. A through Z. There were no more.

I was crushed.

I muddled along reading Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and then got interested in historical fiction. Then I got bored with the writing and storylines I considered beneath my reading and comprehension level.

As luck would have it, my aunt replaced the ancient librarian (Miss Georgia Stockslaver – yes, that was her real name!) who had been in her position for, oh, around 108 years. Or, at least it seemed like it. What a refreshing change! Nothing against Miss Georgia, but she single-handedly destroyed my older brother’s love of reading. It was the summer after his fourth-grade school year. He took “The Bears of Blue River” to the desk to check it out. Miss Georgia wouldn’t let him read it. “This is a Fifth Grade book. You’ll have to wait ‘til then.” Barely a month away. My brother, who had a bit of a stubborn streak, left the library and never returned, to my knowledge.

ForeverBack to my reading boredom. Between my eight grade and freshman year, the aforementioned librarian, my beloved Aunt Gertrude, began setting books aside she thought I’d enjoy reading. To Kill a Mockingbird, of course, and anything by Steinbeck. I graduated to slightly steamier novels like Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor, and later, in high school, Lady Chatterley’s Lover. She made me swear not to tell my mother she let me check that one out. I believe I hid the book under my mattress until I finished reading and returned it, safely, to the library.

I now consider myself to be a pretty fair writer. My children’s book series, Cynthia’s Attic, has been well-received by readers of all ages. My new series, Andi Anna Jones Mysteries, has made its debut and am I ever excited! Writing these mysteries has given me a new perspective. While I love writing for middle-grade, it does keep the creative juices flowing when you change things up every now-and-then.

I wouldn’t be writing, however, if not for one important fact.

It all starts with reading!

Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder: Synopsis

Andi’s step-mother is a real piece of work! But is Ruby a murderer?

 Andi Anna Jones, so-so travel agent/amateur sleuth, puts aside her resentment of her father’s widow and books a 60th birthday cruise to Cancun for Ruby and three friends. Never does Andi imagine the cruise will lead to the murder of a has-been lounge singer—or that Ruby will be the main suspect.

Flirting with more than danger after arriving in Mexico, Andi connects with the charming local sheriff, Manual Rodriquez. After an embarrassing night involving the sheriff, too many margaritas, and a Mariachi band, a chance to check out an eyewitness to the murder leads her to Las Vegas.

In Vegas, a mysterious meeting in the Bodies Exhibition, a body preserving in the prep-room, and an evasive owner of a dance studio, give Andi clues to help Ruby. But when Andi is mercilessly drugged and locked in a storage room, she realizes dear old step-mom isn’t the only one in jeopardy. 

WHO IS Mary Cunningham?

x300 dpi MARY CUNNINGHAM org. enhance slightly no blur 4368-004Author, Mary Cunningham, grew on the northern side of the Ohio River in Corydon, Indiana. Her first memories are of her dad’s original bedtime stories that no doubt inspired her imagination and love of a well-spun “yarn”.
Childhood experiences, and a recurring dream about a mysterious attic, inspired characters, Cynthia and Augusta Lee, for her award-winning middle-grade series, Cynthia’s Attic. The setting is in her childhood home in Southern Indiana. Family stories and ancestors comprise the storylines. There are currently five books in the series: The Missing Locket, The Magic Medallion, Curse of the Bayou, The Magician’s Castle, and Legend of Lupin Woods.

Through a horrifying stint as a travel agent and more rewarding experience teaching travel and tourism, the character, Andi Anna Jones, travel agent/amateur sleuth, inspired her latest adult mystery series. She’s currently writing Book # 2 of the series, along with another middle-grade series, The Adventures of Max and Maddie, a historical time-travel, and a biography about a former Army brat/University of Connecticut women’s basketball player who started a non-profit foundation to create scholarships for children of deployed veterans.

Cunningham is a member of The Georgia Reading Association, and the Carrollton Writers Guild.

When she gives her fingers a break from the keyboard, she enjoys golf, swimming and exploring the mountains of West Georgia where she makes her home with her husband and adopted, four-legged, furry daughter, Lucy.

 

An Imajin Qwickies® Mystery/Crime Novella

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00052]Andi’s step-mother is a real piece of work!

But is Ruby a murderer?

Andi Anna Jones, so-so travel agent/amateur sleuth, puts aside her resentment of her father’s widow and books a 60th birthday cruise to Cancun for Ruby and three friends. Never does Andi imagine the cruise will lead to the murder of a has-been lounge singer—or that Ruby will be the main suspect.

Flirting with more than danger after arriving in Mexico, Andi connects with the charming local sheriff, Manual Rodriquez. After an embarrassing night involving the sheriff, too many margaritas, and a Mariachi band, a chance to check out an eyewitness to the murder leads her to Las Vegas.

In Vegas, a mysterious meeting in the Bodies Exhibition, a body preserving in the prep-room, and an evasive owner of a dance studio, give Andi clues to help Ruby. But when Andi is mercilessly drugged and locked in a storage room, she realizes dear old step-mom isn’t the only one in jeopardy.

 

Reviews for Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder!

“If Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum were a travel agent, she’d fit right in working this case alongside Andi, a wanna-be detective readers are sure to love.” —Regan Black, USA Today bestselling author of the Escape Club Heroes and Knight Traveler novels.

Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder…WOW. Snappy dialog, quirky characters, opens with a curious bang and yanked me through the pages. A fun, fantastic read. —Jean Rabe, USA Today Bestselling author, Piper Blackwell Mysteries.

“Grab a margarita and hold on tight; you’re in for a wild ride.”

—Karen MacInerney, Agatha Award nominee and author of the Dewberry Farms Mysteries

“Charming, lively, and unpredictable, Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder excels in a vivid story mystery fans will relish.”—Diane Donovan, Senior Editor Midwest Book Review

Purchase Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076N6KBM3

B & N Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/margaritas-mayhem-murder-mary-cunningham/1127355519?type=eBook

 Find Mary on Social Media:

Website Links

 

 

 

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