Guest Chick Grace Topping: Second Chances and Reinvention

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.
Grace 1970 copy

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?

StagingIsMurder cover front

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 dGMT Photo croppedocuments. 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.








36 thoughts on “Guest Chick Grace Topping: Second Chances and Reinvention

    1. It’s funny, Hestia, how many people attend Malice as fans and come away as budding authors. Keep at your writing dreams. Starting my book ten years ago, I could be the poster child for refusing to give up.

      Liked by 6 people

    1. Thanks, Ellen, for having me here today, and for your tips on doing a guest blog. It is such a privilege being hosted by the Chicks. Looking forward to seeing you at Malice.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. I, too, would never have ended up a published author had it not been for Sisters in Crime, the Guppies, and all those marvelous conferences and conventions I attended as a budding mystery writer. What a warm, generous, and amazing community we have! Congratulations on your new book, and I’m so happy you came to visit the Chicks, Grace! Looking forward to seeing you at Malice!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Thank you, Leslie. So many writers owe a lot to Sisters in Crime. I look forward to seeing you at Malice–you are coming along way. Now I’m embarrassed having complained about driving around the Capital Beltway to get there.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Welcome, Grace, and congrats on your upcoming debut! I can’t WAIT to read Staging Is Murder.

    I very much enjoyed learning more about you, your journey to publication and the relationships you’ve built along the way. As Leslie said, this is such a warm, generous community. ❤ See you at Malice!!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I guess I kind of reinvented myself as a mystery writer too, although I don’t really think of it that way. More like I needed something to do after I quit my day job, and writing ended up being it! Congrats on your book, and thank you for your service in the Navy.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Hi, Marla. They tell you before you retire that you need something to live on and to live for. Mystery writing has certainly become my something to live for. It’s brought me lots of pleasure (and a few frustrations).

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I’ve started over a few times, but I’m not sure I would have called it reinventing myself either. At least not nearly as much as you have.

    Congrats on the new book! It’s fun.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks, Mark. Changes are hard. It’s easier to accept when you look at it as going on to the next chapter of your life. Some chapters are longer than others.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love your journey, Grace, and didn’t know you were in the Navy. Both my boys enlisted. One is out, having served as a corpsman, and one is still in, serving as harbor patrol, a cop on a boat.

    I’m excited to read your book and hope to get a signed copy at Malice. I love how excited you are about the entire escapade. It’s always so thrilling, but we do seem to get a bit jaded as we go along. You remind me how very special it is to get a book out into the world.

    I think every time you pass a milestone you reinvent yourself to some degree. After high school you go to college with a different persona. After college, you reinvent yourself for your career. When you have kids, you reinvent as a parent. When those kids grow up, you’re now an empty-nester. And then, when you decide to make a leap of faith — or dip each toe in individually — into the world of writing, well, that’s a huge transformation, personally and professionally! I’m glad you did it!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Thanks, Becky. When I started to write my book ten years ago (Yikes!), I didn’t realize how much is involved with not only writing and rewriting, but the challenge of finding an agent and a publisher–and now all the promotion involved. It’s been fun but also exhausting.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. Congratulations on publishing your book, Grace! What a fascinating life you’ve had. I agree that Malice is like finding your tribe. Hope to see you there and hear more about your book! Be visible! Have a great time!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Hi, Keenan. And congratulations to you on all your accomplishments. I was in the audience for your introduction at the New Authors’ Breakfast last year. Now you are getting lots of recognition for your book. Great news.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. It’s great to have you hanging out with the Chicks today! (I’m also lucky enough to hang out with Grace at House of Clues author-reader connection page on Facebook.) I’m excited about your soon-to-be-released debut — which has been getting great reviews, BTW! And thank you, Grace, for your military service!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks, Vickie. I had such a great time in the Navy that I feel guilty being thanked for my service. I almost feel I should thank the Navy for having me.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. Hi Grace! So happy that you shared your inspiring story here on Chicks today. You have a lot of friends and fans cheering your debut (what a fabulous cover, by the way). Can’t wait to read your new series, and also to see you at Malice. My mom was in the first class of Waves and my dad was also a Naval officer during WW2. (My sister was born at the hospital in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.) Cheers for the “launch” of your new writing career–and see you soon.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hi, Lisa — So you know what it’s like to be a member of a Navy family. It was hard leaving the Navy and becoming a civilian again–like leaving a family. Similar to the mystery-writing family. Over the years, going to Malice has become like attending a family reunion.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. Congratulations on your book, Grace, and thanks so much for sharing your inspiring story! Agree wholeheartedly about the power of the mystery community (especially Sisters in Crime and Malice, which were life-changers for me too).

    Very excited to read your book! Hope you are having a wonderful launch month. ❤️

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Congratulations on the new book–it sounds wonderful! I’ll look forward to picking up a copy at Malice! (I think now that it’s only a bit more than a week away I can safely work Malice into just about every conversation I have without tiring people to death. Although, my enthusiasm for the Poison Lady was greeted with a bit of concern in the lunch room at work today. Ah well!) I loved the photo of you in the Navy–that hairstyle looks so elegant!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Thanks, Melanie. I look forward to meeting you at Malice. I’ll be on a panel about small towns at 10 on Sunday morning and signing books afterwards at 11.


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