I know how Valparaiso author Kate Collins spent her Mother's Day weekend.
She was surrounded by flowers, especially those in her imagination, as she feverishly worked to meet this month's deadline for the next book in her successful "Flower Shop Mysteries" book series. As I mentioned in November, she signed a new contract for books 14 through 16 in her flower-themed page-turners.
"Seed No Evil" ($7.99 Penguin), book 14, will be released in August. And the next installment, book 15, the one she's sending off this month, is titled "Throw in the Trowel" and will be available in time for Valentine's Day in February 2014.
"I only had five months to get the book I'm sending off this month completed," she told me.
"I'm not sure what I was thinking when I agreed to that quick of a deadline. I'm guessing I thought it seemed like enough time since it was during the winter span, and I expected I would be inside most of the time writing away. For the third book of this three-book contract, which is book 16, I have a 10-month writing deadline, which is much better."
The August title features a book cover Collins' readers have been waiting nearly a decade to see. I've included the first sneak preview look with my column today, and as you can see, it features the main character Abby Knight wearing a wedding dress to finally walk down the aisle with her long-time boyfriend Marco Salvare.
It's hard to believe it, but Kate's first book in this series was released back in October 2004, when "Mum's the Word" (Signet Press $5.99) was published. The Flower Shop Mysteries are also published and read in Australia, Korea, Malaysia and the United Kingdom and fans around the world stay-up-to-date on the latest by visiting katecollinsbooks.com.
Avid fans recall Kate, who was born and raised in Hammond, originally wrote historical romance novels under the pen names of either Linda O'Brien or Linda Eberhardt. And before that, her original dream was to write children's books.
The summer read hitting stands in August has law school drop-out-turned-florist-turned sleuth Abby just two weeks before her wedding, when she must team-up with fiance Marco for a latest murder mystery that has Abby's mother as the main suspect.
Remember, the locations and characters of Collins' books are veiled references to people and locations from right here in the region, with just a few name changes here and there. Abby lives in New Chapel, Ind., which is based on Valparaiso.
Collins had originally planned to end the Flower Shop Mysteries book series with Abby's wedding, laughingly acknowledging: "Just how many murders can one small community have?" But she says as long as fans (and the publisher) want more of Abby and her adventures, she's happy to dream up more plots and fun. She credits her writer son Jason Eberhardt with helping invent the plot used for her "lucky" book seven, "Shoots to Kill," which was released in August 2008.
Artistic partners Corya Kennedy Channing and John Lisbon Wood tell me they are developing a new theater company in Northwest Indiana dedicated to the works of William Shakespeare. Auditions and an initial call-out session for all interested is from 4 to 8 p.m. today at IU Northwest's Black Box Theatre, 3660 Grant St. in Gary. Director and producer Norman Caplan will talk about their initial production of "King Lear," opening Aug. 15. FYI: (219) 670 5252