A Cherry Tucker prequel caper intersects with two other humorous mysteries for one book of Christmasy, Elvis-themed fun!
Heartache Motel grew from a joke and into a fun project. Terri L. Austin, LynDee Walker, and I like to joke around with stories based on "what would happen" if our characters -- Rose Strickland, Nichelle Clarke, & Cherry Tucker -- ever met. When Henery Press's anthology, Other People's Baggage, came out, we realized our fun could also have a purpose, and we began brainstorming ideas for our own anthology.
With our characters living in Kansas, Virginia, and Georgia, meeting in one location was a challenge. Traveling at Christmas seemed to be the key, and Graceland seemed the perfect place for a Christmas trip. Turns out, Ma from the Rose Strickland Mysteries is a huge Elvis fan, as is Nichelle's mother, and Cherry's deceased Grandma Jo! We worked out our mysteries separately, but planned the setting -- the skeezy, crime-ridden Heartache Motel -- together, from the death-trap elevator, to the Suspicious Minds lounge, and the motel receptionist, Man-Margret.
As for Quick Sketch: I love con artist stories. Two of my favorite movies are The Sting and Paper Moon. There's something about the art of deception I find fascinating. I saw this novella as an opportunity to do a hustle caper and at the same time write Cherry and Todd's story as a prequel to Portrait of a Dead Guy. In their timeline, the trip to Memphis made sense as a short stop on the way to Vegas. I hoped readers would enjoy seeing some of their backstory, knowing that Cherry & Todd are headed for a Vegas wedding, while it still remains a surprise to the characters! So to all my Team Todds: This is my Christmas gift to you!;)
As it turned out, Cherry, Rose, and Nichelle never meet.:( But I love how the gift of friendship (and our bizarre thought processes) produced these madcap adventures that were a joy to write. I hope you enjoy them!
Elvis has left the building, but he's forever memorialized at the Heartache Motel. Filled with drag queens, Rock-a-Hula cocktails, and a vibrating velveteen bed, these three novellas tell the tales of three amateur sleuths who spend their holidays at the King's beloved home.
DINERS KEEPERS, LOSERS WEEPERS by Terri L. Austin
A Rose Strickland Mystery Novella (follows Diner Impossible)
When Rose and the gang head to Graceland right before Christmas, they get all shook up: the motel is a seedy dump and an Elvis impersonator turns up dead. Rose discovers missing jewels tie into the death and her suspicious mind flips into overdrive, questioning her fellow guests, the staff, and even a cute impersonator who keeps popping up. Will Rose be able to find the murderer and get home by Christmas day? It's now or never.
QUICK SKETCH by Larissa Reinhart
A Cherry Tucker Mystery Novella (prequel to Portrait of a Dead Guy)
Sassy Southern artist Cherry Tucker and her poker-loving boyfriend, Todd, pop into Memphis to help Todd's cousin who's been hustled out of his savings, right before Christmas. Staying at the shady Heartache Motel, Cherry can't tell a shill from a mark and fears everyone is playing them for chumps. Cherry and Todd quickly find themselves in a dangerous sting that could send them to the slammer or mark them as pigeons from cons looking for an even bigger score.
DATELINE MEMPHIS by LynDee Walker
A Headlines in Heels Mystery Novella (follows Buried Leads)
Crime reporter Nichelle Clarke thinks she's going home for Christmas. But a quick stop at Graceland proves news breaks in the strangest places. When the King's home gets locked down with Nichelle inside, she chases this headline into the national spotlight, and the thief's crosshairs. Christmas dreams of blue suede Manolos fade, and all Nichelle wants from Santa is to land the story before the thief cuts off her news feed for good.