Please welcome Lois Winston, today’s guest blogger, with an interesting description of Key West.
Key West Beyond Hemingway
This past winter my husband and I vacationed in Key West. We’d been to Key West twice before but both times only for a few hours during a cruise ship stopover. On our first trip we visited Harry Truman’s winter White House. The second time we toured Ernest Hemingway’s home. Coupled with lunch, we had little time to do much else other than walk Duval Street before we needed to board our ship.
This time we made a week of it and had a chance to discover all the wonderful sites of Key West, many of which are off the beaten tourist path. We stayed at a hotel right in the middle of Old Town. Because Key West is such a walkable town, after parking our car, we didn’t move it until we headed back to the airport. Of course, this time we again walked Duval Street, checking out the restaurants and shops, but we quickly discovered the riches of veering away from all the other tourists.
It may sound a bit ghoulish at first, but one of the most fascinating spots to wander around is the Key West Cemetery, a city unto itself, its nineteen acres are laid out in streets of different ethnic and religious “neighborhoods.” Located at the foot of Solares Hill in the northeast section of Old Town, the cemetery was founded in 1847, However, some of its headstones date back to 1829, the result of an 1846 hurricane that scattered headstones and remains from the original cemetery. As in New Orleans, most of the graves are above-ground vaults, due to the high water table. As we walked around the cemetery, we found ourselves relatively alone except for the chickens, roosters, and iguanas. (Along with the famous six-toed cats from the Hemingway house, Key West is populated with hundreds, if not thousands, of chickens and roosters.) Like most old neighborhoods, the Key West Cemetery is crowded and full of history. One “neighborhood” is devoted to the U.S.S. Maine. Two dozen of the 260 men who were killed when the ship blew up in Havana Harbor in 1898 are buried in this section, along with other veterans from the Spanish-American War. There is also a section devoted to the Cubans who gave their lives during the 1868 Cuban revolution.
Along with history, the cemetery contains its share of quirkiness and humor amid the gravestones. One tombstone is inscribed, “I told you I was sick.” As a writer of humorous amateur sleuth mysteries, this one definitely spoke to me.
After her last disastrous episode as an amateur sleuth, Gracie Elliott is back. The budding romance writer has spent the past year crafting her first novel. Her hard work and determination pay off when her manuscript wins the Cream of the Crop award, a contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by the Society of American Romance Authors. First place entitles her to attend the organization’s annual conference, normally open only to published authors.
With husband Blake in tow, a starry-eyed Gracie experiences the ultimate fan-girl moment upon entering the hotel. Her favorite authors are everywhere. However, within minutes she learns Lovinia Darling, the Queen of Romance, is hardly the embodiment of the sweet heroines she creates. Gracie realizes she’s stepped into a romance vipers’ den of backstabbing, deceit, and plagiarism, but she finds a friend and mentor in bestselling author Paisley Prentiss.
Hours later, when Gracie discovers Lovinia’s body in the hotel stairwell, a victim of an apparent fall, Gracie is not convinced her death was an accident. Too many other authors had reason to want Lovinia dead. Ignoring husband Blake’s advice to “let the police handle it,” Gracie, aided by Paisley, begins her own investigation into the death. Romance has never been so deadly.
About the Author
USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Visit Lois/Emma at www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com. Follow everyone on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/anasleuth and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Anasleuth. Sign up for her newsletter at https://www.MyAuthorBiz.com/ENewsletter.php?acct=LW2467152513
Battleship Maine, Marc Averette
Cemetery gravestones, Daniel Schwen