We’re thrilled to welcome debut author Grace Topping to Chicks. Her journey from the Navy to mystery author is so interesting!
Who wouldn’t want a second chance or being able to reinvent yourself? That idea is so appealing, it’s no surprise cozy mysteries featuring second chances are so popular.
Reading about characters reinventing themselves is always fun, but recently it had me thinking about the times I had to reinvent myself.
The first time was when I was in the Navy. I loved the Navy. It gave me challenging jobs, the opportunity to travel and live overseas, and most of all, it helped me earn a college degree. I probably would have stayed in the Navy until they forced me to leave in old age, but when a husband and children came along, I realized I needed to reinvent myself as a civilian.
That led me to a career in IT as a technical writer and later a project manager. It gave me the opportunity to put my writing skills to work—but writing lean and boring documents. After that I found myself reinventing myself as a retiree.
Then I attended a Malice Domestic, a conference for fans of traditional mysteries. Little did I realize that while sitting in the audience listening to mystery authors talk about their journey to publication, the seeds to my next reinvention were being planted.
At Malice, I discovered the authors of books I loved were ordinary people from all walks of life. If they could write mysteries, maybe so could I.
The Guppies at Malice; Grace with current Guppy president, Debra Goldstein
Inspired by my ability to reinvent myself, I decided to write a cozy mystery about a woman facing numerous changes. It took me a few years and attendance at Sleuthfest, Crime Bake, and more Malice Domestic conferences than I want to admit to, but I finally completed it. But having a completed manuscript was only the beginning of my long journey. Fortunately along the way, I joined the Sisters in Crime online chapter, the Guppies, which helped me immensely. I found an agent, who I stayed with for five long years, until I found enough courage to leave her. When I found another agent, she sold my manuscript in two months.
Each of my reinventions has brought challenges and rewards. But in my current stage as a mystery writer, I’ve found my tribe. On April 30, my mystery, Staging is Murder, which tells the story of my character’s reinvention, will be released. A few days later, I will again be attending Malice Domestic—this time as a published author.
Readers, have you ever re-invented yourself?
Staging is Murder
Laura Bishop just nabbed her first decorating commission—staging for sale a 19th century mansion that hasn’t been updated for decades. But when a body falls from a laundry chute and lands at Laura’s feet, removing flowered wallpaper becomes the least of her duties. To clear her young assistant of the murder and save her fledgling business, Laura’s determined to find the killer. Turns out it’s not as easy as renovating a manor home, especially with two handsome men complicating her mission: the police detective assigned to the case and the real estate agent trying to save the manse from foreclosure.Worse still, the meddling of a horoscope-guided friend, a determined grandmother, and the local funeral director could get them all killed before Laura props the first pillow.
Bio: Grace Topping is a recovering technical writer and IT project manager, accustomed to writing lean, boring documents. Let loose to write fiction, she is now creating murder mysteries and killing off characters who remind her of some of the people she dealt with during her career. Fictional revenge is sweet. She’s using her experience helping friends stage their homes as inspiration for her Laura Bishop mystery series. The first book in the series, Staging is Murder, is about a woman starting a new career midlife as a home stager. Grace is the current vice president of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and a member of the SINC Guppies and Mystery Writers of America. She lives with her husband in Northern Virginia.