Monday, July 29, 2013

Please Welcome Reluctant Sailor and Happy Mystery Writer, Terry Shames

About Terry Shames: 
Terry Shames grew up in Texas. She has abiding affection for the small town where her grandparents lived, the model for the fictional town of Jarrett Creek. A resident of Berkeley, California, Terry lives with her husband, two rowdy terriers and a semi-tolerant cat. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Her second Samuel Craddock novel, THE LAST DEATH OF JACK HARBIN will be out in January 2014. Find out more about Terry and her books at

What Terry Has to Say:

Thank you to the Spunky Seniors for having me as a guest. This has been a whirlwind time for me with the debut of my first novel, A KILLING AT COTTON HILL. I hope readers enjoy the connection between the book and the sailing life.
The Best Days and the Second Best Days by Terry Shames

Leaving out days like marriages and births, they say the best day of your life is the day you buy your boat and the second best day is the day you sell it. And they are right—at least for sailors.

I’d argue that the best day of my life was last week when my debut novel, A KILLING AT COTTON HILL, came out, but then I’m not an avid sailor; I’m a reluctant sailor who has had some days on a boat.

 I thought my husband and I had had all the best and second-best days we were going to have with respect to boats. But two weeks ago we signed papers to buy another one. Another best day for my husband. And, oddly, for someone like me who doesn’t really love sailing, a happy day for me as well. For one particular reason.

Our last boat was a 45-foot catamaran, a big boat.
 Last fall we sold her after we decided sailing and maintaining her had gotten to be too much for us—physically as well as financially. “Good riddance!” my husband said. Finally completely retired from both working and boating, he then made a valiant effort to turn his attention elsewhere. He took classes; tried kite boarding; and insisted that we double our pet population, promising he would take on all the responsibility for caring for them. But after a few months both of us realized that he was not making a success of being retired from sailing. He was restless and unfulfilled. He wanted another boat. “Couldn’t you take up something like golf?” I whined. No, he wanted to be on the water.

I have to admit, that although I wasn’t as enthusiastic as he was, there were things I missed about our boat: lovely evenings sitting on deck watching the sunset; jumping off into the water in the heat of the day; sailing when the wind was just right. So we decided to get another boat. We looked at a few, kicking tires, so to speak, and then we went to Los Angeles to examine a promising prospect. We walked onto the Catalina and I immediately felt good about her. But there was one thing I needed to test out before I gave my wholehearted love. While my husband was talking to the sales rep, I went below to do my “test.” Eventually my husband came downstairs and found me in the master cabin, sitting propped up on the pillows. “What are doing?” he asked.

I grinned. “Checking out whether I can write here. And it will be just fine,” I said. Sold. 

I wrote most of A KILLING AT COTTON HILL while we were on our catamaran in the Caribbean. Every morning I got up at 6 AM, booted my husband out of the cabin and worked feverishly for three hours, our dog snoozing on the bed while I typed. Learning to write on the boat freed me from feeling unproductive and slovenly. Now I know I can do it. We have a smaller boat that we can both handle physically, but big enough that I can prop myself up and write to my heart’s content.

Happy Sailing!
About Terry's New Release:

In A KILLING AT COTTON HILL the chief of police of Jarrett Creek, Texas, doubles as the town drunk. So when Dora Lee Parjeter is murdered, her old friend and former police chief Samuel Craddock steps in to investigate. He discovers that a lot of people may have wanted Dora Lee dead—the conniving rascals on a neighboring farm, her estranged daughter and her surly live-in grandson. And then there’s the stranger Dora Lee claimed was spying on her. During the course of the investigation the human foibles of the small-town residents—their pettiness and generosity, their secret vices and true virtues—are revealed.

 “…if you’re as fond of good writing as I am, it will be the characters in Cotton Hill that will keep the pages turning until late in the evening…” - Mysteryfile
 “Shames’ novel is an amazing read. The poetic, literary quality of the writing draws you in…” - RT Book Reviews 

 “Readers will want to see more of the likable main character, who compassionately but relentlessly sifts the evidence. Convincing small town atmosphere and a vivid support cast are a plus.” - Publisher's Weekly
 “Terry Shames offers readers a wonderfully-told tale that kept me turning pages… what kept my interest more than anything was the writing. It was absolutely superb.”  -  Lee Lofland, The Graveyard Shift

Please welcome Terry Shames to Spunky Senior Authors and Talents by leaving a comment.


  1. Hi Terry,
    Welcome to Spunky Senior Authors and Talents.
    I would be a very reluctant sailor, since I don't even know how to swim!

    Morgan Mandel

  2. Terry,

    I enjoyed reading about your connection of writing and sailing, and even more, I was shaking my head yes at your writing test. Each place has its own energy. Too mellow's not good for me, nor too chaotic. I suppose the "feel" is highly individual, but I totally get what you are saying.

    Wishing you all the best with A Killing at Cotton Hill.

  3. Terry--I'm glad to meet you, and glad you use your boat. There are countless boats around that are never moved--they sit in someone's driveway or beside the house. It makes me sad for the boat--a boat should be on water. And after reading your lovely post, it's wonderful your husband bought another boat--it appears he should be on water, too.
    Congratulations on your new book.

  4. Celia, it amazes me how many boats sit at the dock. We've bought several used boats over the years that have had practically no hours actually sailing. People think it's a toy, but it's a challenge to said and maintain a boat properly.

  5. Terrific post. Love the boat story... and your novel!

  6. I love the water, but we don't have a boat. It seems like it would be a perfect place to write. Quiet rocking of the boat, with breaks to look out over the water. You have a great writing place.

    1. Helen, it took me a long time to appreciate the value of writing on the water, but when I finally did, it has been terrific.

  7. Welcome to Spunky Seniors, Terry! I also love the water, if not boats ... I have to stay out of the sun now, though. I'm a reluctantly retired public school teacher with MS and Melanoma, but am writing about my husband and living our happily ever after years despite diagnoses. I'm just releasing the sequel to a memoir this week. You can check it (and me) out at my website:
    I look forward to learning more about your story :)

  8. Okay, Terry, I'll need to read your book. Love your reviews.

    I enjoy the water--swimming and fishing--and used to water ski since I live near the Gulf of Mexico.

  9. How very cool! I loved your tale of how you "stopped" sailing boats. It sounds like this one is a keeper for both of you. You can still write AND enjoy the experiences on the water. Your book cover is great!

  10. Thanks June and Patricia. June, I also lived near the Gulf--grew up in Lake Jackson, Texas, near Galveston.

  11. The book sounds wonderful, and so does the boat!

  12. Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks, I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if thats cool. Thanks.


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