Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Stand-Alone Book or a Series

Please welcome my Wednesday guest, Nancy G. West. When Nancy was seven, she and her mother wrote simple poetry to each other on special occasions. In high school, the Library Journal Pegasus published one of her poems. At eighteen, she learned journalists were underpaid and English majors sold lingerie, so she studied general business at the University of Texas (Austin and Houston) and earned a BBA.
            A few years later, married, with two daughters, she realized she had to study English literature and write. She wrote articles, poetry, and the biography of artist Jose Vives-Atsara. She founded Book Publishers of Texas, planned their conventions, and edited their trade journal for seven years. Her poem, "Time to Lie," was featured by
“Theme and Variations” for broadcast on NPR.
            Then Aggie Mundeen captured her attention. Anyone who has tried to start over,
get in shape, stumbled into trouble, or loved the wrong man will appreciate Aggie Mundeen.

Please welcome Nancy West.


            Some books are meant to stand alone. Others are meant to be part of a series. In my suspense novel, Nine Days to Evil, twenty-three-year-old Meredith Laughlin enters graduate school despite objections from her physician/husband. Smart but na├»ve, Meredith watches her life unravel and discovers her perfect existence is not all it seems. A stalker trails her. Her pregnant friend is attacked. Evil closes in, threatening her life. To fight back, she uses knowledge from her classes in abnormal psychology and Shakespeare's Othello. Meredith's story is distinctive: stand-a-lone suspense with an academic tie-in.

            In Meredith's classes, however, Aggie Mundeen pops up: "Professor Sammis called roll, looking pleased when Meredith answered. He paused with particular interest at the paradox of Agatha Mundeen: intense, intelligent eyes peered from a haphazardly made-up face. Meredith thought Aggie’s figure and carriage suggested a tailored, conservative outfit. What Aggie wore was a shapeless nylon warm-up."

At thirty-eight, Aggie, has overcome a difficult background and risen to vice-president at a Chicago bank. She’s single and eager to start a new life. She's been around long enough not to take herself or others so seriously, has a wry viewpoint, an irrepressible sense of humor, and fears only one thing: descending into middle-age decrepitude. She writes the "Stay Young With Aggie" column and searches for remedies to keep readers (and herself) young. Her background, world view, fearlessness, dangerous curiosity and obsessive quest for youth make her the perfect protagonist to sustain a series.

In fact, Aggie informed me she would not let me finish Meredith's story unless I promised to write a book about her—or maybe a series. Aggie usually gets her way.

In Fit to Be Dead, Aggie moves to Texas and has to shape up at the health club before anybody discovers she writes "Stay Young with Aggie." Rusty at flirting and klutzy with machines, she angers most of the male club members, then stumbles into murder. (Lefty Award Finalist for Best Humorous Mystery.)

In Dang Near Dead, named a "Must Read" by Southern Writers Magazine, Aggie convinces Meredith and attractive Detective Sam (a friend who preceded her to Texas), to join her at a dude ranch vacation in the Texas Hill Country. Besides wranglers, dudes, poison ivy and murder, what could go wrong?

In Smart, But Dead, released November 17, the Human Genome Projects is in full swing. Aggie hears scientists are finding genes linked to aging. She enrolls in class taught by a genetics expert and persuades Meredith to go. But the professor dislikes Aggie, and she stumbles into a campus corpse. Aggie assures San Antonio Detective Sam she'll stay out of his investigation. His frustration with her pesky intrusions creates a dicey relationship. But Aggie’s curiosity prevails, she probes for the killer, becomes the prime murder suspect and is on target to become next campus

Aggie needs a series to tell all her stories and time to file the rough edges of her contentious relationship with Sam. They become closer with each book, but in Smart, But Dead, she may have interfered beyond Sam's capacity to forgive.

Meredith's story became the prequel to Aggie Mundeen's series. Meredith has had time to witness Aggie's shenanigans, to reflect and to grow wiser. When Meredith is ready to tell me her next story, she'll let me know. Meanwhile, Aggie is the star.

Smart. Bit Dead/

Smart. Aggie Mundeen is smart.

But. But she’s also a little clumsy, irrepressible, and irresistible.

Dead. She might well end up dead if she continues nosing around the university where her questions are not wanted.

Smart, But Dead is the perfect combination of brains and heart. A tight mystery, an irrepressible heroine, and superb writing.” – James W. Ziskin, author of the Ellie Stone Mysteries and Anthony Award-Finalist for No Stone Unturned.


Nancy invites you to visit her at:

Twitter: @NancyG.West_



Nancy G. West said...

Judy, thanks for having me as a guest today. I love looking at your gorgeous family and that fabulous picture of you on the right side!


Nancy G. West said...

Judy, Thank you for having me as a guest on your blog! I love Judy's Stew, and what a beautiful family you have! I like that cool picture of you on the right.

Judy Alter said...

Thanks, Nancy. That's just part of my family--a lot were missing. I am glad for your blog and think it's an important topic--one on which I may have made a bad judgment call recently. So thanks for your thoughts. Looking forward to Aggie's latest adventure. I keep trying to write wacky characters and they come out normal!

Nancy G. West said...

Ah, Judy. I try to write normal characters and they turn out to be somewhat wacky. I hope there aren't any psychiatrists reading this.