Enter to win a copy and find out more about this cozy mystery... Maggie's Place by Annette Haws (Interview, Excerpt & #Giveaway)


Read my review here. Find an interview with the author, an excerpt, and giveaway below...

Maggie's Place
By Annette Haws
Adult Cozy Mystery, Women's Fiction, Christmas, LDS
Paperback, Audiobook & ebook, 272 Pages
November 1st 2019 by Covenant Communications

Inspiration & Synopsis
(From the Author)

My favorite aunt lived the last ten years of her life—her happiest years—at the Eagle Gate Apartments. During frequent visits, I met her delightful collection of neighbors who were docents at the Church History Museum and the Church Office Building. They regularly attended the temple, the symphony, concerts at the tabernacle, and free lectures anywhere they were offered. They played Scrabble, shared late night pizzas, visited back and forth, made shopping expeditions to Harmon’s and City Creek Mall; but most importantly, they cared for each other. Everyone had a story to share and most had secrets tucked away in the past.

Inspired by what I observed, I’ve sketched a story about people, still vibrant, entering the third act of their lives. Determined to be happy, Maggie Sullivan, the main character, changes her name, boxes up her previous life, hides her dark memories in the chicken wire storage unit in the basement, and moves into a one bedroom apartment on the seventh floor. Secrets, of course, have an inconvenient way of surfacing when people least expect them to reappear.

Three weeks before Christmas, two thieves--one an elegant man in the penthouse and the other a homeless girl--invade Maggie’s carefully circumscribed life. In different ways each is connected to Maggie’s difficult past. The young girl is easy to love, but Maggie’s feelings for the gentleman in the penthouse twist as she struggles to give what he desperately needs, forgiveness. A week before Christmas, a nasty encounter with the homeless girl’s cohorts tosses Maggie’s life into chaos. Secrets exposed, Maggie experiences a Christmas epiphany, she’s wasted too much of her life wallowing in a past that can’t change.

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Interview

Would you tell us about the characters in Maggie’s Place?

For years over chicken salad or mixed greens, two college friends have pestered me to include them in a novel, and so I did. Jan and Sue, the perfect neighbors. Rosie is inspired by a dear friend who is very much alive and wasn’t thrilled to have her character die a lingering death beneath a pile of cardboard boxes.

What advice would Maggie give about getting older?

“It beats the alternative.”

What aspect of this story do you love the most?

Friendship is ageless. I collect dear friends like pearls on a necklace. Each one is not only precious, but also part of my history. Time with friends is infused with laughter and sprinkled with tears.

What impressions will remain with readers after reading Maggie’s Place?

Impressions? Life is a journey, and occasionally, a slog that can go on for years, but sharing the experience with friends lessens the load and increases the joy.

What’s something we might not know about you?

Hummm? I wrote my first novel when I was nine. It wasn’t particularly long and I don’t remember the title, but it was about a girl who went to Hawaii for a summer. When I was seventeen, I spent summer semester on Oahu. Six months after I turned in the manuscript for Maggie’s Place, my husband and I moved downtown. My fiction seems to predict my future.

What have you learned about writing that might help other authors?

I was in a writing group for fifteen years with women I didn’t previously know. We established monthly deadlines, edited each other’s work, laughed over breakfast, learned each other’s secrets, and became treasured friends. The discipline of deadlines helps immeasurably.

What are you currently working on?

I just turned in a manuscript about a high status male running for the Senate, and someone is sabotaging his campaign—and it’s not the opposition candidate. Who’s doing it? And why?

What are you currently reading?

I just finished Dear Edward. It’s the story a boy, the sole survivor of a plane crash. I loved it.

Excerpt

Maggie touched her palms against the glass sliding door, felt the cold, and watched snowflakes drift down from a cloudy sky. No stars. The tentative pressure of Ed’s hand on her shoulder surprised her, and she smelled the musky cologne he was wearing and the hint of starch in his shirt.

She asked, “Why did you move here?” Which was absolutely none of her business, but his hand on her shoulder felt like permission granted to ask personal questions.

“I like the city. I thought this would be a convenient place to live, where everything was already familiar.” His eyes flickered away. His story sounded plausible, but a piece was missing, something he wasn’t admitting.

Nodding toward the bright windows across the street and the people inside milling about tables covered in white cloths, she said, “What do you think they’re doing?”

“Not much. Boasting about portfolios. Making connections. This and that.” He stood a little straighter, perhaps relieved to have such a simple question to answer. “I’ve been a member of the Alta Club for years.” He cleared his throat. “We could go over for dessert. Cheesecake or a chocolate torte.”

Was one of the elegant people she’d watched from her dark perch seven stories above? “I don’t have the right clothes.” She raised a hand to her collar.

“You look great.” The half-smile he gave her wasn’t convincing. “An inch of make-up and expensive clothes don’t cover much. We wear what we are.”

And what was he? Besides being profound in a pinch.

She buttoned her navy coat up to her chin and covered her hair with a scarf. No bows on the toes or heels crusted with rhinestones, her black shoes looked like a prescription from a podiatrist. “Lead on, Mcduff,” she smiled.

As they left the building, the frigid air stole her breath. They slid once on black ice in the intersection, but they clung to each other and entered the Alta Club without any serious mishaps. Walking through the heavy oak door, Maggie gasped. She’d stepped back in time, and perhaps that was the club’s charm. The whole building was an antique, a Victorian Christmas card with pine garlands on the banister, candles on a tree, and the stink of cigars wafting out from the lounge. The MaĆ®tre de greeted Ed by name and showed them to a small table by the fireplace blazing with a couple of logs. The waiter arrived on cue as if he were making an entrance in a play A well-dressed gentleman stood from a table nearby and strode over to greet them.

“Johnson, good to see you. Glad to see you survived your move.”

After a quick introduction, “This is Mrs. Sullivan,” the man returned to his table. As if she’d been sitting too close to the fire, warmth flushed her cheeks. What if Ed had introduced her as Mrs. Memmott? The holiday bubble would have burst in a collective horrified gasp, and she would have been bustled out the front door like a rat chased out of the dining room with a broom.

Maggie glanced across the white linen tablecloth at this man whose shirt never wrinkled—and how was that possible?—and tapped her fingernail on the table. Who was he? A cook, a plastic bottle magnate, a dispenser of free dental care to strangers, and a determined intruder into her life, her inconsequential, happy existence, her contented third act. Something here didn’t make sense. Did he think she held the key to some secret?

“Who are you really?” she whispered. “FBI? Retired CIA? Santa Claus?”

He leaned toward her until he was inches away from her face. She couldn’t escape his eyes. “I thought you’d have me figured out by now, Maggie,” he spoke softly, a pensive smile flickering on his face, “I’m a thief.”

About the Author

A stealth people watcher from an early age and a native of Logan, Utah, Annette Haws examines the tribulations and the foibles of colorful characters playing their parts on a small stage. She’s convinced metropolitan settings have nothing on small towns when it comes to intrigue, comedy, and quixotic romance.

After fourteen years in the classroom, Annette set aside her denim skirts and practical shoes to pursue her interest in writing fiction. “I’ve taught seventh grade English, senior English, and everything in between. I’ve coached debate and mock trial teams, and I swear I will never ride on a school bus with adolescents again, ever. That said, four talented teams I coached won state championships. I graduated from Utah State University. I did honors graduate work in American Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Iowa. I have four children whose life experiences I have shamelessly mined in my fiction, and I have an affectionate, indulgent husband; but unfortunately, no dog.”

Maggie’s Place portrays young love, homelessness, suicide, knitting, dementia, and the personal baggage that encumbers people entering the third act of their lives. The Association of Mormon Letters is considering Maggie’s Place for the Best Novel of the Year Award.

Her first novel about the travails of a schoolteacher, Waiting for the Light to Change, won The Best of State Award in 2009, a Whitney Award for Best Fiction, and the League of Utah Writers award for Best Published Fiction. Her second novel, The Accidental Marriage, is a delightful story of a new marriage that runs amuck. It was released in December of 2013.

Three of her short stories, Fish Stories, The Gift of Tongues, and Come to Zion, have been published in Dialogue Journal. All three short stories are available for readers on Annette’s website annettehaws.com


Giveaway

One winner will receive a print copy of Maggie's Place and some fun book-themed swag
US only
Ends March 13, 2020

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