Stephanie Parker McKean: One of the Top 50 Indie Writers You Need To Be Reading

I’ve learned that what doesn’t make you bitter makes you better.

I’ve survived mauling by an African lion.

I’ve survived being bitten by a water moccasin snake.

I’ve emerged victorious from having been sexually abused as a child. Fleeing that abuse, I lived under a bridge. Now instead of living under a bridge, I use them as titles for my Texas Miz Mike “Bridge” series, humorous mystery-romance-suspense novels.

I’ve learned that what doesn’t make you bitter makes you better. You really can’t make lemonade without lemons.
And thank God, I’ve made the transition from atheist to Christian. My two favorite Bible verses are: in everything give thanks; and all things work together to good for those who love the LORD.

I used to think that the worst day in my life was the day I lost my job; my mother died and I couldn’t attend her funeral because my husband was sent home from the hospital to die; our sheepdog died, and my truck caught on fire in downtown San Antonio. Several years later, I learned what a really bad day is. My son, USMC Major Luke Parker died in a plane crash on November 17, 2013. It doesn’t get worse than that. Bridge Beyond Betrayal is dedicated to Luke.

I’m now married to wonderful Alan McKean, author of historical time travel books. He retired as a Church of Scotland minister after 35 years in the pulpit and we moved to Dunoon, Scotland. But I bet you want to hear more about the lion.

First, I was born in Texas, which was at that time the biggest state in the U.S. I learned at an early age that everything in Texas is bigger and better. When Alaska became a state, I cried. But what about the lion?

Along with an innate pride for Texas, I was born with a love for animals. When I was five, my first pet was a grasshopper that I carried around on a silver spoon. When I accidentally dropped spoon and grasshopper down the radiator in an upstairs apartment building, I sobbed. My mother sobbed too. The spoon had been a wedding gift.

History repeated itself when my five-year-old son’s pet grasshopper was consumed by a small spider. Luke sobbed inconsolably. That experience inspired me to write what is my newest book at the moment, “I’m the Grasshopper.” But back to the lion.

My love for animals led to the snake bite. Because I was an unpopular child, I made pets out of snakes. Other girls were afraid of them. Riding a bicycle with a snake around my neck made boys notice me. (They thought I was crazy.) The day after I appeared on a local television show explaining how to tell a poisonous snake from a harmless snake, I was bitten by a cotton mouth. Now, finally–the lion!

Ebenezer arrived in the back of a station wagon to join our family’s roadside zoo, a collection of animals that included opossums, raccoons, assorted harmless snakes, a fox, a large boa constrictor, monkeys, a skunk, and a jaguarundi. The 200-pound pet fit right in with our family, until he reached 400 pounds and became a lion.
Sadly, when I became mature enough to quit riding bicycles with snakes in my quixotic attempt to impress boys, I remained immature enough to use a gimmick like an African lion.

I invited a fellow college student home to see Eb. Not realizing that Eb had transformed from pet to lion, I walked up to him. Eb grabbed me by the stomach, threw me to the ground, and mauled me. My terrified college friend jerked me out of the cage–which made Eb bite even harder because he was about to lose his toy. “I hope I did that right,” Ed panted. “I’ve never had to rescue anyone from a lion before!” I never saw Ed again.

And now you know about the lion. And when you read the Texas Miz Mike Christian mystery-romance-suspense novels set in Three Prongs, Texas, where the misfits fit, you’ll know more about Texas.

And hopefully, you’ll learn how to make lemonade out of lemons. Because what doesn’t make you bitter makes you better. With God’s help, all you need to add is a little prayer, a little praise…a little sugar.

Stephanie Parker McKean writes cozy Christian mysteries.

Bridge to Nowhere

The first Miz Mike Cozy Christian Mystery finds best-selling author Mike Rice—or Miz Mike to friends in Three Prongs, Texas, the place ‘where the misfits fit’—minding her own business…sort of. Mike’s son accuses his mother of meddling because her compassionate heart spurs the slightly clumsy, slightly bonkers, forty-something Mike into solving mysteries and rescuing the unloved and unlovely. And it doesn’t help that Miz Mike’s motto is: Never Let an Adventure Pass by Unmolested.

Mike is playing her secret M&M candy game and envisioning her upcoming lunch date with cowboy hero Marty Richards when a lovely young stranger barges into her office and asks her to solve her sister’s murder.

The widow’s sleuthing efforts include rescuing three misfit males whom no one else wants and having them move into her ranch home. But Marty’s shock and disapproval when he discovers the situation may have ended their yet-to-be-just-begun romance, something Mike has long dreamed about.

Mike doesn’t have time to worry about Marty’s outrage. She has more crucial issues to handle—such as investigating the mysterious Bridge to Nowhere, finding and stopping a dog-fighting ring, outwitting a killer, and rescuing her kidnapped grandson.

And she finds that God has a sense of humor. Mike’s best helper proves to be one of her misfit rescues, unlikely Clint Flavors—whom some unkindly claim has a broken staircase and a light burned out upstairs.

But Clint can’t help Miz Mike with one aspect so close to her heart—managing to finally achieve that lunch date with Marty….

Black Pudding Murder

When aging friends form a detective agency in their Scottish village, their likelihood of success seems dubious. One is blind, two have hearing problems, one uses a crutch—and the two youngest members are from America, not Scotland.

Dubbing themselves the Fog Busters, the friends vow to solve a murder that local police have labeled as Death by Misadventure. Indeed, misadventure seems to follow the Fog Busters when the killer attempts to stop them from investigating.

Add in a lost treasure of rare Scottish coins, a false prophet, a string of house breakings and dog nappings, and a dog fighting ring—and the Fog Busters have the recipe for laughter and danger. With four unattached members of their group, they also have a chance at romance. But do they have the ability to solve the string of crimes that haunt their small village—and will all of them survive throughout the investigation?

Mushroom Murders

When Susan goes into the forest to pick mushrooms for a café in her Scottish village, she gets lost, is threatened by a “monster man,” and finds a dead woman.

The Fog Busters Detective Agency, friends who prove that age is a number, not a malady, spring into action to solve the mystery. Alec is nearly blind, John and Peg are essentially deaf, Morag is on a crutch, and Rory and Susan—at sixty—are the youngest members of the group. Determining the “whodunit” seems impossible when Rory vanishes.

Further complicating the investigation for the amateur detectives, unexpected suitors materialize to pursue Susan and Rory, farm animals get mixed into the melee, and an attempt is made to purloin Rory’s want-to-be girlfriend out a window while she’s sleeping in Susan’s bedroom. Worse yet, Susan feels responsible for two more young women who are murdered.

Visits to Scottish castles add intrigue and history. During a trek back into the “enchanted forest” to face a killer, Susan is forced to make a decision: eat a poisonous mushroom or watch her rescued puppy die. Will Susan survive to see her friends again—and to discover whether her romantic feelings for Rory are real?

Dead Body in a Pickup Truck

This second in the Christian Cozy Mystery series featuring Texas Miz Mike (originally published as Bridge Beyond Betrayal), is aptly titled. When successful mystery writer Michal Rice, better known as Miz Mike in Three Prongs, Texas, engineers a “chance” meeting with her cowboy hero Marty Richards—it becomes a fiasco after she spots a dead body in the back of a red pickup truck. The truck immediately disappears.

No one believes her, so Mike searches for the elusive truck and murder victim herself. When she finds—and loses—them again, chaos reigns and even Marty, Mike’s longtime secret romantic crush, questions Mike’s sanity.

Mike finds herself out of sync in Three Prongs, the place where misfits fit when she identifies the murder victim as a well-known celebrity. However, his family and his business partner insist that he’s still alive.

Mike’s attempts to solve the mystery send her out with copper rods to locate bodies in the neglected black cemetery so the graves can be marked with proper respect. The efforts in the cemetery inadvertently expose the missing murder victim, sans the red pickup truck.

Shocked, Marty accuses Mike of witchcraft and breaks off their budding romance. Meantime, the wrong man is arrested for the murder. Mike’s sense of justice sends her on the trail of a killer in spite of the danger.

Comedy pursues Mike as tenaciously as mystery and her rescue from a locked building and bullying night watchman is not only hilarious, it opens the door to new and unexpected romance.

Mike has dreamed about marriage to her cowboy hero for years. Unexpectedly, two men now vie for her love. Which one will she choose—if she survives the killer who is determined to eliminate her?

Dead Body in a Pickup Truck is dedicated to the late USMC Major Luke Parker and includes the prophetic poem he wrote one year before his death in a plane crash.

Lamps of Doom

This cozy Christian mystery set in Scotland is replete with historical touches and bombshell twists.

Texas landscape artist Nicky Randall arrives in Scotland to get the historic stone mansion she inherited from her grandparents ready to sell. Miserable childhood memories of vacation time in Scotland already plague Nic, and when she meets the couple who were supposed to introduce her to her home already leaving, the Scotland trip is off to a wobbly start.

Although Nicky inherited the house and garden, her cousin, Sheena McAlpine, inherited the antique furnishings, including her grandmother’s extensive collection of valuable, historical lamps. When Nicky first sees the lamp collection, the odd phrase, “Lamps of Doom,” pops into her mind. It proves an apt phrase when the lamps start vanishing. Nicky fears that Sheena will blame her. Who else could steal lamps from a locked house?

Already angry and bitter about her broken engagement, Nicky complains over the phone to a friend about the bewildering differences between Scotland and America. Sheena’s friend, Brock, arrives to help in the garden and overhears the negative conversation. “The glass would never be half-empty or half-full to you, would it?” he asks her. “You’re so critical and complaining that you couldn’t even find the glass.”

Nicky hotly resents the stranger’s criticism—until she realizes it is true. Then she decides to replace bitterness with optimism and rebuild her life on a foundation of thankfulness—but surrounded by mystery and danger, that proves a hard choice to execute.

Nicky is attracted to Brock, but attempts to hide that magnetism, because she believes Sheena is in love with him. Even though she and her cousin were never close, she doesn’t want to compete with Sheena for Brock’s love. Besides, she has more urgent concerns than romance. Sheena’s lamps are still disappearing from the locked house; arson destroys the tool shed; she gets trapped in the attic, and she is attacked by an unknown assailant.

When Nicky finds a body in the garden, it brings to light a 12-year-old mystery. Will she be able to solve the cold case with so few clues? She must because her life and her sanity are in danger. And solving the mystery just might prove to be the open road to Brock’s love.

 

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