Murder, Love, and Literacy on Long Island
The past five years have not been kind to Annie March. Living alone in a small ranch house on the south shore of Long Island, the attractive 43-year-old literacy volunteer has led an anxious, lonely, and celibate existence ever since the unsolved murder of her husband half a decade ago. Annie longs for love and adventure, but has given up the notion that she will ever be truly happy again. She manages to stay upbeat and productive, however, writing freelance articles for various women’s magazines, keeping fit at a local gym, tending to her three beloved cats, and teaching a semi-literate 34-year-old African American woman named Philly Tripp to read.
Philly is a sight. With her dark brown skin, bleach-blonde punk hairstyle, bright red, rhinestone-studded eyeglass frames, and neon-colored clothes, she looks more like an Andy Warhol painting than a real person. Due to her poor reading skills (and in spite of her sharp intelligence), Philly has been stuck in a menial bedpan-toting job in a nursing home since the age of nineteen. Annie is determined to help Philly learn to read well enough to get a better job, and during the course of their four-year tutor/student relationship, the two women have become best friends.
Both Annie and Philly want their lives to change, but they are unprepared for the shocking way those changes begin to occur. In the first Annie March novel, The Perfect Body, they find the murdered corpse of a beautiful young woman in the trunk of Annie’s car, then embark on a crazy search for the killer that could reenergize their lives—or end them altogether. The second novel, The Serial Lover, takes up where the first leaves off, thrusting Annie and Philly into a scandalous celebrity murder case that captivates the media and the whole country. In the first book a fiery love affair between Annie and homicide detective Eddie Lincoln flares up and burns bright; in the second book it threatens to go down in flames. Reeling with thrills, chills, romance, sex, adventure, and humor, the Annie March novels will set you spinning and leave you breathless.
Author’s note: I modeled my Philly Tripp character after an actual reading student I tutored for four and a half years when I lived on Long Island and was an active volunteer for Literacy Volunteers of America. And the reading lessons I’ve described in the novels are true accounts of actual study sessions I conducted with the real Philly—who, thanks to LVA’s wonderful tutoring program, increased her literacy skills from the 4th to the 11th grade level. Isn’t that a kick? My student inspired me to write the Annie March novels, and I helped her develop the skills to read them!
For publishing particulars and more detailed plot summaries of The Perfect Body and The Serial Lover please go to the books page of this website.
In Two Brand-New Trade Paperback Editions
The Perfect Body was first published as a mass market paperback by HarperCollins in January 1997. It received good reviews, and excellent blurbs by several first-rate authors, and I was looking forward to penning a series of Annie March mysteries. But while I was in the process of writing the sequel, The Serial Lover, HarperCollins announced that it was shutting down HarperMonogram, the division that was publishing my work. My editor was let go, HarperMonogram closed up shop completely, and I suddenly found myself without a publisher!
My then agent advised me to abandon The Serial Lover and start writing something new. “I’ll never be able to sell the second book in a series,” she told me. “Even if you were an established, well-known author—which you’re not—I’d be hard-pressed to find an editor willing to accept another editor’s leftovers. Forget about Annie March!” she insisted. “If you want to keep me as your agent, you have to write something else.”
Long story short, I didn’t listen to her. I really loved Annie, Philly, and Eddie, and I couldn’t bring myself to close the book on them. How could I abandon my cherished characters in the middle of a perilous, life-threatening murder case? It would be the same as letting them die! So I waved goodbye to my agent and continued writing The Serial Lover, working to get Annie and Philly out of the mess they were in, and figuring I would get a new agent, editor, and publisher when I finished the novel.
Ha! Shows you how naïve I was! Although I did get a new agent pretty quickly (one who liked the completed novel so much, she thought she’d have no trouble selling it), a new editor and publisher never materialized. As my first agent had predicted, nobody wanted to publish the second book in anything less than a wildly successful series. So I finally gave up. I put Annie March and The Serial Lover on the shelf, and created a fresh concept and cast of characters for an entirely new series.
Five Paige Turner Mysteries later, The Perfect Body was out of print and only second-hand copies were available for sale (if you could find one!). The Serial Lover was still unpublished and sitting under a pile of old manuscripts in my office, and Annie March, Eddie Lincoln, and Philly Tripp had lapsed into a collective coma. I tried to revive them, but my third agent and second editor weren’t interested in pursuing the project. So—taking a cue from both of my fictional but very forceful heroines—I decided to do it myself.
I signed up with BookSurge, Amazon.com’s thriving print-on-demand subsidiary, and made the arrangements to have The Perfect Body brought back to print, and to publish The Serial Lover for the very first time. Then I asked my fabulously creative, artistically talented sister, Molly Murrah (an established graphic designer based in Seattle), to design the two covers for me. She generously agreed, and you can see the results of her efforts in the striking covers pictured on this page. Now my publishing saga has come full circle. My beloved characters are being brought back to life, the second book is finally being published, and both of my Annie March novels are available to my readers!
Why Print-On-Demand is Good for the Globe!
Print-on-demand (POD) is a digital printing process that can produce a new copy of a book in a matter of minutes, making it possible for books to be printed on a per-order basis. These are real books, mind you, not electronic books that have to be read on a computer or an electronic reader. They’re printed on real paper, bound in quality covers, and the professionally produced copies are shipped directly to the buyer without delay. An extra bonus of the POD process is its benefit to the environment. There are no large up-front print runs (as there are with traditional publishers), so there’s no inventory, no warehousing, no trucking, and less waste headed for the landfills. Many trees are spared, less fuel is required for distribution, and the publishing industry’s global-warming footprint shrinks by several sizes. If POD is, as many believe, the “green” wave of the future, I’m proud and happy to ride with the tide.