In the dim and distant past,
When the future wasn’t fast,
Gramma used to sit and knit,
Crochet, tat and babysit.
Grandbaby #2 arrived safe and sound in March. Grandpa and I only had a few sleepless nights waiting for the phone call saying that everything was okay as the projected delivery date came and went. Our first grand-daughter made her appearance exactly a week later, unfortunately by emergency cesarean. Mom and baby were both fine, but any gram worth her salt will tell you, often endlessly, that first deliveries can be a royal pain.
I discovered a new obsession during the wait for the newest grandbaby though. Writing my very own cozy mystery has now joined quilting and crocheting as my latest obsession, along with walking, avoiding housework and (of course) playing with grandbaby #1.
A Baby Book is Born
It was with a huge sigh of relief and feeling of accomplishment last week that I performed my very own version of an emergency cesarean and clicked publish on the first rough, and I do mean rough, draft of the first book in a new cozy mystery series. Bottom’s Up was safely delivered and deposited in an incubator at Wattpad.
For readers who haven’t met Wattpad yet, it is a place where new and established authors share their books with the reading public. It offers writers a way to reach more readers and for readers there is a treasure trove of reading, all of it free and as an added bonus you can comment and nit-pick on anything you like.
New Cozy Mystery Series
My ‘Gramma’s Off Her Rocker’ cozy mystery series is set in the Adirondack Mountains located in up-state New York. Hidden in a secluded valley is an amazing castle, complete with secret passageways, butlers and footmen, and the cutest outbuildings you’ll ever see.
Jane is the chief administrator (she prefers the term ‘Chatelaine’) of The Hollow. She inherited the position from her parents, who got it from their parents and so on and so on through a couple of ‘greats’ back to Tobias Drew who was the ‘Executive Assistant’ to a government sanctioned privateer — so far nameless — operating on the high seas in the early 1800’s. Tobias and his fearless commander apparently managed to take more than a few prize ships before taking their gains and leaving New England for the seclusion that is now described as ‘up-state New Your.
Tobias was a Master Mason and assisted in the construction of a castle, its surrounding walls and secret tunnel system that connects everything with a hidden series of caves containing hotsprings galore. Thomas’ boss recognized a good thing when he saw it and designed his castle to be a refuge for the rich and infamous of the day (read his closest associates who had turned from privateers to a life of piracy) as a place where they could rest and heal, far away from any inquiring reporters who might be wondering where they had disappeared to.
Over the years the actual ownership of The Hollow has vanished into a haze of bureaucratic documents but Jane and her family remain firmly established as the caretakers of the property ‘in perpetuity’ or forever to put it simply. Occasionally the mysterious owners send gifts to The Hollow, like their stretch limo, known simply as ‘The Beast’. It’s the perfect way to transport those who are rich and infamous coming to The Hollow for rest and rehab. There are fully equipped spa and medical facilities inside the walls of the castle itself, and half of the 12 houses scattered outside the castle are being operated as bed and breakfast spots for the entourages that accompany visitors to the Secret Springs Spa and Wellness Center located at the heart of The Hollow.
Security for visitors and residents alike is provided by the European Butler Institute, the American arm of a training academy for butlers to the uber wealthy. These butlers and housekeepers can do it all, including ridding their employers of unwanted pests, if necessary. It’s easy enough to get into The Hollow, providing you have enough money and are willing to give up your cell phone, camera and any other perks of life that you probably should be doing without anyway. Getting out, on the other hand, can be murder if you’ve annoyed the wrong person.
Jane’s husband died under mysterious circumstances outside the castle walls, so some of her closest friends moved in with her to help with the grieving process. These feisty women share many interests with Jane. They are all grandmothers for starters and while they are mostly retired, one or two hands are kept busy in a wide variety of activities that have nothing to do with crocheting, tatting, OR babysitting.
All of the grams live together in Jane’s large Painted Lady, aka Gram’s Place, similar to the one shown on the right. It has been fully modernized inside to accommodate even the most persnickety senior citizen. As well, the trainees of the EBI wait on everybody hand and foot, honing their skills on some of the most demanding grandmothers you’d ever want to encounter.
There’s BJ for starters. A retired corporate lawyer, BJ has been known to reduce hardened real estate speculators to tears as they realize that she has crafted an iron-tight contract for her client. Or Lynne, a semi-retired clinical psychologist. Lynne looks after the infamous clients who are deposited in the spa inside the castle, willingly or otherwise. Lynn has written the book on disorders of the infamous and her assistance is much sought after by psychologists who are ready to throw their hands up and walk away from some of their recalcitrant patients.
Two of Jane’s children are also living in The Hollow. Her second son, Nick and wife Madge are the resident managers of the castle building, running the spa and clinic exactly like an upscale hotel. A very, very upscale hotel that is! Nick’s twin sister, Nora, lives with Jane high up on the third floor of Gram’s Place. Her four-year-old son Robbie was with her father when he died unexpectedly and Robbie hasn’t spoken since, whether due to trauma or because grandpa told him “Don’t say a word” is hard to tell. Robbie is safely ensconced in the castle with Nick and Madge under Lynn’s watchful eye, while Nora’s husband Richard is MIA, somewhere deep in the valleys of the Adirondacks.
Charles Phillis-Pennick is another interesting fixture at The Hollow. Nick returned from his ‘front of house’ training at the European Butler Institute headquartered in Switzerland with Charlie in tow. Soon after his arrival there was a school for butlers established in the imposing house that sits just inside the front gate of the castle walls.
The Rest of the Story
(updated July 9, 2018)
Now that you’ve met just a few of the characters who inhabit the secretive world of The Hollow, follow the link below for the finished version of Bottoms Up! and find out what happens when a reality show suddenly turns up inside the walls of The Hollow! It’s enough to send any grandmother ‘off her rocker’!
Bottoms Up! was retitled Toasted to Death when it was released through Amazon in September of 2017