Laura Garner, Author

Romance ~ Mystery ~ Hilarity

My Books

Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness
Maddie Maxwell #1

A dead body on the beach. A sexy ex-con. An impossible pregnancy. And a mystery only bad girl Max can solve.

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I Ain’t Superstitious
Maddie Maxwell #2

Why would a sexy female ghost haunt a construction site? Max is on the case when the ghostly pranks lead to murder.

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Ball & Chain
Maddie Maxwell #3

Hired to find a missing woman, along the way Max finds her own bad-boy ex, a string of dead bodies, and a little girl with attitude.

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Kiss Me, Caitlyn
or, Romancing the Shrew

During “Taming of the Shrew” rehearsals, sparks fly as the leading lady fends off the advances of her seductive costar.

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My Blurbs

Michael Palmer
NY Times Bestselling Author

“… a vibrant new voice in contemporary fiction, intelligent and funny.”

Ed Gorman
author of the Sam McCain series

“… a character study of considerable style and merit… teeming with its own small but important truths.”

Katy Munger
author of the Casey Jones series

“…her distinctive voice is enriched by a loving hand that gives her story unexpected depth.”

My BS

I’ve been a writer since I could hold a crayon, but only got around to writing novels this millennium. My two Maddie Maxwell mysteries took me completely by surprise. The first one, Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness, started as journal entries which morphed into short stories or scenarios. Then I started tacking them together in a rough narrative. That’s when Max’s voice, sarcastic but honest, began to take over. Since I liked mysteries I decided to kill someone. Then someone else. And presto, my journal morphed into a murder mystery — something I never imagined I’d write!

After workshopping the book in my graduate writing program at UMass, I started the long querying process. I wallpapered a room in my house with rejection letters before I got THE CALL from the wonderful Russell Davies at Five Star, and my publication journey began. I quickly followed up with I Ain’t Superstitious.

My third Max book, Ball & Chain, was released August 30, 2018. My first venture into contemporary romance “showmance” — Kiss Me, Caitlyn; or, Romancing the Shrew — was re-released in September 2018. I’m currently working on an untitled inspirational romance, and have several other romantic WIPs.

I live on Cape Cod (Massachusetts), where my novels are based in fictional villages. When I have time, I’m active in the lively Cape Cod community theater scene as a director. So far I still have my day job as webmaster for the northeast region of NOAA Fisheries

My Coordinates

Rebranding Max

Per some expert advice, I’m performing a relaunch/rebrand of my backlist this month. My first three mysteries–including the one that got me published–are told from the point of view of Maddie Maxwell, a wise-ass party girl approaching 40 who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant.

At first I was reluctant to revisit these books. The first one, Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness, evolved from a personal journal I kept during my own traumatic pregnancy. Despite the fact that it was over 25 years ago, the memories are still deeply painful. Max’s voice was born of my rage and grief.

But as soon as I starting reading, I fell in love with that character again. Tough as nails, damaged and flawed, fiercely tender. She’s still a great gal, someone I love spending time with. She deserves a makeover that will give her new life.

So far I’ve retitled the books with more appropriate blues songs and created some kick-ass covers to replace the not-so-great ones assigned by my publisher. Now I’m going to dive into the text.

Time to get my Max on!

From Gestation to Celebration

Roughly 9 months after I started “The Rushes,” it’s finished. Well, as finished as it’s going to be until an editor or agent tackles it. Five revisions, much line-editing, countless tweaks, and I finally feel it’s ready to send out into the world.

bunnies eating carrots
The attack of the plot bunnies, graphically portrayed.

It’s not the first book I’ve finished. It’s not even the second, third, fourth, or fifth. But it’s the first one I was able to fully invest myself in. At the same time that my first book was published, I started a new job that took up most of my energy for the following ~20 years. I still wrote, but it tended to be more slap-dash. Now I’ve retired, and I wrote an entire, 94,000-word, 40-chapter book in less than a year. Where’s that champagne?

I feel a bit manic, frankly. I’ve started the querying process and am madly researching likely agents and publishers. I’m also wondering what happened to the multiple plot bunnies that attacked me while I was trying to focus on finishing “The Rushes.” Over the past week, one in particular was relentless. Now that I’m ready to start the next one, it’s run away.

I reviewed my running list of plot bunnies and I see a lot to choose from, projects that would be fun and/or challenging. I do feel pressure to get on with the next book, but the pressure comes from me.

Maybe my brain and the bunnies are telling me to take a breath, celebrate, and for God’s sake, RELAX!

The Blog Slog

Blog. The word sounds the way it makes me feel. Like, ugh, I should keep up with my blog, but, ya know, I’d really rather focus on my real writing…

Since I retired about five and half months ago, I’ve managed to finish the first draft of a book that’s been bugging me for years. And I love it, and I’m researching and delving into the revisions and thinking, hmm, this really isn’t bad. Well, not THAT bad, anyway. So why don’t I blog about that?

I just did. I don’t want to expend writer energy on anything other than my WIP, The Rushes. Even talking about it feels like an unnecessary drain. Writing about my writing is just weird.

So I’ll shut up now.

Retirement!

I’ve been away a while, because life. And 2020. And work.

But I’m about to hang up my webmaster spurs and find out what life is like without a day job. Or at least without THAT day job. Writing will now be my job.

With the Lyme disease issues–which started when I was 26–it’s been challenging to work full-time and also write. By the end of a workday I’m pretty well shot, mentally and physically. My highest priority has been to be able to work unless I felt completely awful, in which case I’d take a sick day.

The idea of almost total autonomy–being able to write whenever I want, not having to worry if I have a bout insomnia or a migraine or a Lyme flare–makes me giddy. It’s also a bit frightening, since I’ve been working at various jobs for about 50 years! My days have always been structure around working for someone else, meeting their expectations and demands.

I plan to structure my days around writing. I will have a schedule and give myself deadlines, because I know that’s how I work best. But even just knowing I’ll be retiring in 3 weeks has sent my writer brain on a wild, creative spree. I’m going to explore and experiment as well as write.

And I can’t wait to get started!

Writer Brain

My brain never seems to stop writing.

I tell myself to take a day off, to stop obsessing about my current project, to step back and relax and just STOP. What does my brain do in response? Comes up with an entire new story that it can’t stop working on.

Most likely I developed this habit as a child, when my stories were my escape from a life filled with perpetual bullying, both at school and at home. Once I was in bed I could work on my stories uninterrupted. I got in the habit of forcing myself to stay awake so I could finally give them my full attention.

A few years ago an agent said to me, “You’re a real writer, aren’t you? You’re writing in your head right now.” It was true, although I have no idea how she could tell.

I’ve now lived with my hamster-on-a-wheel brain for over six decades. I doubt anything will change, and I’m not sure I want it to.

Haikus, Ellipticals, and Writing

Not competing with
anyone except myself, 
and I still might lose.

I wrote that haiku on the elliptical one day, when I was struggling to meet my previous distance goal. I lost.

The words can be applied to any endeavor, really, if you insist on always topping yourself like I do.

But you know what? The hell with it!

I’m about to turn 62. That’s early retirement age. I’ve been working full time at various¬† not-really-me jobs since I was fourteen and started babysitting. I’ve been a chambermaid, waitress, dishwasher, administrative assistant, editor. Currently I’m an inept webmaster for the federal government. My degrees are in theater, singing, and creative writing, so my employment history makes sense.

I was traditionally published for the first time in 2002, so naturally my next goal was to get an agent and get published by a less crappy traditional publisher. So far, that hasn’t happened. I’ve spent years beating myself up over not achieving that goal.

I’m done. Not with writing, but with stressing about writing.

I write because I love to write. I’ve done it since I can remember, starting with terrible poetry when I was four. (I still suck at poetry.) I love meeting new characters (I know I actually make the characters up but it doesn’t feel that way), hearing their stories (I know the stories actually come from me but it doesn’t feel that way), and finally transcribing them into a book.

So that’s what I’m going to do. Well, keep doing, but with a far less neurotic approach.

I do this because I love it. It’s my heart. I don’t need to compete with myself or anyone else. This doesn’t mean I won’t stop trying, it just means I’ll enjoy the process a lot more if I’m not wringing my hands about “failure.”

Parakeets in my Cistern

The title is a reference to my previous post about Lyme disease-inspired word salads.

Lyme-wise things have been pretty awful for me this summer. I’m extra weak, dizzy, exhausted, and — grossest of all — super-duper sweaty. Apparently heat brings the spirochetes out of hiding, rendering me useless, stupid, and boring as all get-out.

That doesn’t stop me from writing, or at least thinking about writing. It’s a positive distraction in a world of pain and confusion, and something I go to automatically when life is impossible. When I was a small girl I would force myself to stay awake so I could tell myself stories. And thus an author — and a lifetime of insomnia — was born.

Things Lymies Say

Having a bit of fun with Lyme disease lately, which can scramble my brain. Enjoy a couple of my recent word salads:

“My cistern (system) is flooded with parakeets (spirochetes, or Lyme bacteria)”

“That spatula (tarantula) is really hairy”

“There’s nothing like a vampire (campfire).”

And back I go into hiding.

Elliptical Conversations

In humid weather my elliptical creaks. When I first get on it and start pedaling (or whatever you call that movement), the left side creaks a high-pitched “Huh?” while the right side creaks a somewhat lower-pitched “What?” with every cycle.

It sounds like me and my husband conversing. Neither of us are deaf (well, not completely). According to each other, we mumble. Or the fan’s too loud. Or¬† allergies have stopped up someone’s ears. Or someone spoke just as the neighbor’s rooster crowed. Or something.

As I continue pedaling/whatever on the elliptical the conversation changes. The left side gets a bit crankier, saying “WHAT IS IT?” while the right side starts mumbling “Nothing” in an increasingly bored tone. Eventually the left side just makes snarky noises while the right side goes completely silent.

Eerie.