Prepped to Kill
Ricky Steele Mysteries Book 1
by M. Lee Prescott Genre: Female Sleuth Mystery
Ricky Steele, a fifty-eight year old odd jobber, plays a practical joke on her former boarding school, a joke that plunges her headlong into kidnapping and murder. While she pretends to be an ace private investigator, the niece of Massachusetts’ governor goes missing and a murderer terrorizes the campus. Ricky enlists the aid of her former roommates and together, the three create mayhem during Whitley School’s reunion weekend, bungling along in search of the truth. Join Ricky on her first caper and see how this humorous rollicking mystery series got its start.
Ricky Steele, a fifty-eight year old odd jobber, is at it again, this time investigating the death of the husband of a childhood friend. Following Ron Harp’s funeral, Ricky finds herself on the wrong side of local police as she becomes embroiled in small town politics, uncovers long held secrets and investigates multiple murders. She also rekindles a romance with drop dead gorgeous, Jay Harp, the deceased’s brother. As Ricky pushes and probes, she unleashes a killer’s rage. This first person narrative laced with wit and humor, offers the second glimpse of this PI in action. Coming soon-- Ricky’s third adventure, Lost in Spindle City. This is one “upper middle aged” sleuth, who has no intention of slowing down as she closes in 60!
Lost in Spindle City
Ricky Steele Mysteries Book 3
After discovering a child prostitute on her doorstep, P.I. Ricky Steele begins a wild search for her client’s 12-year-old friend. Her quest plunges her deep into Spindle City’s thriving underworld of drugs and prostitution. From there, the investigation takes her to the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods and its exclusive country club, worlds she happily left behind in her teens.
On home turf with this outing, Ricky enlists the aid of friends like her hunky next door neighbor, Vinnie, and Bunny, her childhood friend and local realtor, who gets her access to the exclusive Aquinesset Club. Running buddy, Phil Rubin, a physician, gets medical attention for her young client, and golfer, Mark Fallon, the north end’s hottest woodworker, pokes around where Ricky cannot go. Even her on again, off again, lover, Jay Harp lends a hand, introducing her to Wilda, a six foot four, martial arts trained, security specialist, who provides critical muscle for the fifty-something P.I.
Murders, beatings, and near misses plague the intrepid sleuth as she closes in on a killer. Join Ricky for this rollicking ride filled danger, romance and surprise.
Ricky Steele is on the case, this time hired to find two missed children, who have vanished, poof! The investigation plunges her into the underworld of child trafficking and exploitation as she moves from dark city streets to a wealthy beach front community, where evil lies behind a façade of gentility. Once again, Ricky is joined by her boarding school buddies, who are visiting for the weekend. Armed with pepper spray and stun guns, the three Rambettes jump right into the investigation, mayhem and humor following in their wake.
In this fourth book in the series, Ricky also finds love when Charlie Bowen, or Dr. McDreamy, as her friends call him, moves into her neighborhood and into her heart. His daughter, Mike, who wants to learn the PI business, joins Ricky, Wilda and the gang on yet another breathtaking adventure filled with danger, humor, pathos, and surprise.
Award winning author, M. Lee Prescott loves the variety of hats she dons when writing. As an educator, she is the author of three works of nonfiction, Reader to Reader: Building Independence Through Peer Partnerships, Writer to Writer: Focus on Fluency and Craft in Multilingual Classrooms and Fluency In Focus: Comprehension Strategies for Young Readers as well as a number of scholarly articles in her field of literacy.
Lee also writes in several genres of fiction—Mystery, Historical, Western Romance, Contemporary Romance, Romance Suspense, and books for children and young adults. Often, writers assume different pen names for different kinds of books, but all of Lee’s fiction is published under her name, M. Lee Prescott. She hopes readers will seek out and enjoy all of her genres. They will discover connections everywhere!
Lee lives in southeastern Massachusetts on a beautiful river, where she canoes, swims, and watches an incredible variety of wildlife pass by. She is the mother of two sons and spends lots of time with them, their beautiful wives, and her amazing grandchildren. When not teaching or writing (both of which she adores), Lee’s passions revolve around family, yoga, swimming, teaching mindfulness to children and adults, and walking.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’m an “almost retired” college professor, writer, reader, gardener, canoer, hiker, mom, grandmother, sister and friend. I live on a beautiful river in southeastern Massachusetts and have a cute, albeit naughty, French bulldog named Lulu. I started writing as a child – mostly the illustrated adventures of “the Pee Lady” (Pee was my nickname, nothing to do with bodily functions ). During high school and college I loved BIG words and would sprinkle my writing with them (to its detriment). I began my first novel when teacher colleagues and I formed a writers group to explore the “writing process” in order to support our students. That was over thirty years ago and I’ve never stopped!
What was the moment when you decided to try independent publishing? I was visiting a dear friend in Arizona — setting of my Morgan’s Run series (not conceived at that point) — and she knew I had written a number of novels over the years. Her friend had recently jumped into independent publishing and she suggested I give it a try. When I returned home, I opened my newspaper and there was an article about local author, Marie Force and her phenomenal success as an indie writer. Soon after, I attended a conference Marie organized and, as the saying goes, the rest is history. I was off and running and have never looked back!
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I talk to myself. I have whole conversations that help me “write,” plan my day, solve problems and reflect on the past, present and future. Mostly they are enlightening, helpful talks.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
In my early twenties I spent four months traveling through Europe and the UK. Those were the days when one could live on $25.00/ day. A friend of a friend was traveling at the same time and we occasionally left messages for each other at American Express offices (before the days of cell phones). During my last month, the woman friend with whom I was traveling wanted to ski in the Alps and I wanted to see Spain so we split up and I took a train from Barcelona to Madrid. Just after settling in at my lodgings, I took a walk, and heard a voice calling me from across a crowded street. It was the friend of my friend! In all of Europe, we actually bumped into each other on that busy Madrid street. I had planned to go from Spain to Morocco, but after one dinner with Ethan, I agreed to accompany him and a group of people he’d met across Spain in a VW bus. Camping in the freezing cold as “friends” soon led to sharing a sleeping bag for warmth and you can imagine the rest. Our passionate affair lasted two weeks until it was time for me to head home. I arrived Kennedy in NYC with a quarter in my pocket, but wonderful memories that still make me smile. We didn’t end up together, but it truly was an affair to remember!
What are some of your pet peeves? Sarcasm, narcissism and meanness.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born and grew up in a small town in southeastern Massachusetts. I have now moved back and live on the same river of my youth. Ours was a wonderful neighborhood where everyone had big families (38 kids). We’d head out the door after breakfast, cruise through the kitchen at lunch and only head home when the dinner bell rang. Each house had its own distinct dinner bell.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
With family, reading stories to my grandchildren, playing or just sitting back and observing my loved ones.
Who is your hero and why?
My parents. My mother is the model for the person I strive to be every day. Her love, kindness and generosity has made all the difference. She lived for others and that showed in everything she did. My dad was hardworking, cheerful and affectionate, qualities I try to emulate too.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
Facilitative -- I would hope – surrounding myself with smart, compassionate, collaborative people with the expertise and wisdom to do their jobs. My team would be one of shared leadership with clear, but flexible goals. Our objectives would always center on making the world a better place for all people.
What are you passionate about these days? Honesty, trust, equity, cultural and racial sensitivity and mindfulness.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Play with my grandchildren and Lulu (French bulldog). I love walking too! Also reading, writing, gardening and just stepping outside to chat with the best neighbors in the world.
How to find time to write as a parent? My kids are grown, but even when they were younger, I could usually find an hour at the end of the work day while they played.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Kind, loving, hardworking, independent, open-minded.
When did you first consider yourself a writer? As a very young person with those first scribbles!
What is the most exciting moment, so far, in your writing career? Placing my first book in my mother’s hands (Prepped to Kill). She was so proud and I’m so grateful that this happened before we lost her to dementia.
Do you have a favorite movie? Love, Actually, what else?
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
All of them! I’m totally biased of course. The Ricky Steele mysteries (Prepped to Kill, Gadfly, Lost in Spindle City and Poof!) would make great movies as would the Roger and Bess mysteries (A Friend of Silence, In the Name of Silence, and The Silence of Memory). And who wouldn’t love to visit a ranch community and mingle with a bunch of gorgeous cowboys and beautiful women (Morgan’s Run—10 books and counting!) or walk the craggy New England coast (Morgan’s Fire -- 5 books and counting). All my books have a strong sense of place and memorable characters who touch one’s heart and mind!
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on? I’ve traveled to the village of Hawkshead to Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm and the village of Haworth, home to the Bronte sisters. Also Monk’s House in Sussex, home to Virginia Woolf and, nearby to her sister Vanessa Bell’s beautiful Charleston Farmhouse. Not technically a literary pilgrimage, but I try to get to Kripalu every year. It’s my spiritual home, unfortunately closed right now with the pandemic.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? A blue heron.
What inspired you to write this book? I love mysteries – Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, Marcia Mueller, Dorothy Sayers, Deborah Crombie, Louise Penny and on and on and on. I really wanted to write a strong, independent woman character and I had a perverse desire to revisit my boarding school, where, like Ricky, I was not always happy, but where I met lifelong, wonderful friends.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Many new Ricky Steele mysteries and Roger and Bess mysteries! Also a sequel to my mystery Jigsaw in the next year or two! And, of course, lots more romances in the Morgan’s Run series and the spin-off series Morgan’s Fire.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters inPrepped to Kill?
Teachers, administrators, friends and neighbors. All of my books explore family and friends and the support they give in times of crisis.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book? Life and lots of make believe!
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
I wanted Ricky (real name Dorothy) to have a name that might be considered male or female. The rest of the names popped into my head as I typed.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Ricky’s wonderful spirit, her sense of humor and her integrity. She is a loyal friend and she never gives up!
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
Combined the names of the characters--Asamaran (never published).
Do you hire an editor? Yes, I LOVE my editor and she has been such a supportive, critical partner.
How do you choose your covers? I have a great cover designer. We communicate, I narrow down choices, then my cover consultants (family and friends) weigh in. It’s a fun process and the final result has always captured the book’s characters. I’m very lucky!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
More proofing, maybe… Readers never fail to catch something even with many proofs by me and my “staff!”
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead? Julie Walters, Emma Thompson, Julia Louis-Drefus, or Frances McDormand. All these actresses could disappear into the character of Ricky Steele and make her their own and better!
How did you come up with name of this book? It’s set at a prep school and murders are on the syllabus!
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
When Ricky and her friends break and enter a suspect’s house are chased by Sarge, a giant “horse dog.” Why? It’s scary, heart stopping and somehow funny all at the same time.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day? Hands down—Ricky. Probably walk, jog and visit the local bar for a beer and some chourizo rolls!
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? T
here are elements of truth in some of the characters, but it’s a “truth” that rattles around in my head, not reality. Thus, they are not real people, but completely fictional!
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story? Oh no, they hijack the story from page one and I’m just along for the ride.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
It’s escapist fiction. A fun read with strong, memorable characters and it has sequels!
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Oh yes, there are still 8 books in the drawer. I hope some will see the light of day “someday!”
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
What did you edit out of this book?
Any nonsense or lofty prose I could find.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Sue Grafton (alas she is gone…) and Louise Penny. I greatly admire both of them. I began writing the Roger and Bess mysteries a decade before Penny’s Still Life came out, but there is a kindredness there, that crosses time and space.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
The Bronte sisters, Beatrix Potter, Katherine Paterson, Wallace Stegner, Ian McEwan, Aldous Huxley, Kevin Henkes, Louise Penny, Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, Rosamund Pilcher… I could go on and on. So many favorites and don’t even get me started on the books!
What book do you think everyone should read? The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness (Rhonda Magee). Truly a book for this moment in our history and so nurturing to mind, body and spirit.
How long have you been writing?
Over 50 years.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Mostly as I write.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
It depends on the book. For my YA historical novel, Song of the Spirit, I researched for almost a year before writing Wind Flower’s story. Other books, I research as needed, mostly information pertaining to setting or characters’ occupations about which I am not familiar.
Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, I am retiring from full-time teaching this year in order to make writing my full-time job.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
Lots of possibilities!
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
Yes, I read and love many genres especially mysteries, “women’s fiction, and biographies.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise?Why?
Silence. I can become easily distracted with lots of noise.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time? Usually one, but at the moment I am juggling three manuscripts. Can’t retire from teaching soon enough!
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose? Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White) and/ or Angle of Repose (Wallace Stegner).
Pen or type writer or computer?
Pen and/or computer. Depends where I am.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book. Oh gee, there are so many. I love Ricky Steele for her independent spirit, doggedness, resilience and generosity. I’m also very fond of Roger Demaris (Roger and Bess mysteries). He possesses a grounded warmth and a remarkable capacity for growth and change. Then there’s Ben Morgan Senior from the Morgan’s Run books—I admire him for his deep love of family, his kindness and his strength. His brother Richard (patriarch in Morgan’s Fire) is not too shabby either!
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
I love writing for many of the same reasons I love reading. Watching stories unfold is an amazing privilege. Yes, it was the right decision and has brought me so much joy.
A day in the life of the author?
Yoga, meditation, breakfast, walk the dog, then write, if time allows (usually for 2-3 hours). Much more time for writing in retirement.
Advice they would give new authors? Just do it. Write, write, write, revise, revise, revise, proof, proof, proof and put your best book out there!
What makes a good story?
One that keeps you turning those pages, rooting for memorable, lovable, sometimes zany characters, and laughing, crying and everything in between. The setting is also a critical part of my stories too.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first? I make a rough outline, then I begin, adding a mini outline at the end of each day that maps out where I’ll go the next (so important for me!).
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Time, or lack of it sometimes.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? A little bit of both!
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Romances 1-2 months, mysteries, 3-6 months.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
No. Who has time for writer’s block? Yikes, not me!
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