Wednesday, October 7, 2015


And that’s just since 2002. We moved here in 2003 and I haven’t gone back through my old records, but I do remember writing my two cozy mysteries, DEAD MEN’S TALES and DEAD IN THE WATER, in the early 1980s. That year, author Sue Grafton published A IS FOR ALIBI, the first in her “alphabet” mystery series. She’s now on “X”, and when I get my hands on a copy of that, I’ll have read all she’s written so far.

I actually wrote DEAD MEN’S TALES first, but since I started that book with my female sleuth in her office, and a dead body didn’t show up until much later, I decided to write a “Prequel” so I could have the first “dead man” on page nine. That was DEAD IN THE WATER, whose cover you see here. I didn’t write more at that time because I was having success with romance novels, but now I plan to finish the series with Gemma Halliday Publishing.

Yes, it’s been a long time, and in the ‘80s there was no Amazon or much self-publishing. You had to get an agent and then - if you were lucky - the agent found a publisher. Then I discovered romance novels, where publishers didn’t require an agent. Sometimes I had an agent, but he/she never found a publisher who wanted my books. Romance editors, however, would read everything, and my work clicked.

By contrast, I received a contract from GHP after the owner read a mere three chapters of the first book and none at all of the second. After years of submissions and rejections, I was so surprised I e-mailed her asking “Why?” She said, “I read the first three chapters and wanted to read more.” She also took into account that I’d had fourteen romances published, won the San Diego Book Award in 2002, and was a finalist in the St. Martin’s Press Malice Domestic Mystery Contest in 2012. This is a woman whose first cozy mystery was a new York Times best seller and who is now writing her tenth book in that series, plus many other books in between.

Between the 1980s and 2014, I’d revised my cozy books several times. I changed my character’s name and age, introduced cell phones and 21st century must-haves, and, always, as I became a better author, improved the writing. The stories, however, never changed, so the name of the game was “Persistence.” When I sold SOUTHERN STAR after 19 rejections, I knew it could be done and applied it to DITW.

This post is to encourage writers to persist, to keep learning and adapting because it’s possible. DEAD IN THE WATER was released yesterday, Tuesday the 6th, and by day’s end, it ranked 874 and was number ten in the Kindle bookstore. Plus, there were ten reviews, all of them Five Stars. Here’s my favorite:

“Loved this mystery. Great suspense and kept you guessing who the murderer was. I highly recommend the book.”

I’m also giving you a chance at a bargain. For a week, the digital version of DEAD IN THE WATER is only $0.99.  Happy reading.


  1. Hi Phyllis,

    Love your cover. To me, it signals a rom com. I really like that style of writing and you did not disappoint. Cudos on a great story and, yes, you are funny.


    1. Bob: Thank you so much for your kind words. As of last night,DEAD IN THE WATER had 24 reviews, all 5-stars. That's not many compared to some authors, but I'm thrilled. With 3000 new books published every week (so they tell me) I feel as if I stumbled into a pot of gold. Thanks again.


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