An Unconventional Mourning

What could be more entertaining than a professional mourner’s convention? An actually dead actor lying in a prop coffin. And a heroine who realizes if she doesn’t find the killer fast, somebody else is going to die. Namely her.

MayBell is excited to attend her very first Professional Mourner’s convention. She’s looking forward to meeting other mourners and picking up tips to improve her graveside performances. Anticipating days filled with representative mourning situations and training, May quickly discovers that the corpse lying in the coffin is all too real. To make things worse, May appears to be the last person to have seen the victim the night before. 

 May quickly finds herself on the hot seat to find a killer. There are just a couple of small problems. First, her suspect pool includes over a hundred professional mourners and vendors. And second, the real killer doesn’t want May to discover the truth. Making her unusual mourning situation not only tricky but unconventionally deadly as well. 


"This book had me laughing from the first chapter! It was a fun and at times a suspense filled read, loved it!! " 

Praise for An Unconventional Mourning

Booksprout Reviewer - Rudy2020

This book is very entertaining and well written cozy mystery, it has a very original and unique story line with wonderful likable characters and a cute Pomeranian. The plot is full of well-developed mystery, suspense, good humor and romance. It keep me glue to the seat trying to figure out the murder until the end, very clever full of twist and turns. I highly recommended this book and really looking forward to the next book in the series.

MommyO - Booksprout Reader Reviewer

Funny and entertaining!

This book had me laughing from the first chapter! I especially love the octogenarian, Prinella Gerard. She’s 80 years old, unmarried and has a personality that keeps you thoroughly entertained. May (also called “dolly” by Prinella) and her handsome PI boyfriend Eddie are once again trying to solve a murder. It was a fun and at times a suspense filled read, loved it!! 

Read an Excerpt

I was nearly ten minutes late for my first lecture. It was a heck of a way to kick off my first professional mourner’s convention.

Moments later, I slammed out of the stairwell as if my heels were on fire. Shakes and I ran across the lobby, the little dog’s nails clicking a path across the glossy tile.

Reaching for the door to the lecture room, I halted at the sound of a familiar voice calling my name.

“May! Wait up, dolly!”

My head snapped around to find Pinella Gerrard, my eighty-year-old unmarried neighbor clacking her way toward me on a pair of shiny black kitten heels. I blinked at the unfortunate sight of the skin-tight onesie that matched the heels in both color and shininess stretched over her octogenarian-type body. “Pinella,” I said, frowning. “What are you doing here?”

The elderly woman’s heavily-lipsticked mouth curved and she winked. “I’m a paid actress now, dolly. Didn’t you get my email?”

had gotten an email from Pinella the night before. To say it was illegible would be a vast understatement. The note had read, “Se U 2m 4 cof death. Sew Xcite.” Our neighbor Doug had taught Pinella all about texting, and she’d given it her own manic spin as she did most things. “I got an email from you at eleven PM. I was asleep, and you woke me up.”

Thunderous clapping erupted inside the lecture room. I did an internal sigh. I was officially late.

“What were you doing up so late?” I asked my neighbor.

She flipped a dismissive hand. “I don’t sleep much these days. Your perspective on the whole sleeping thing changes the older you get. All too soon, I’ll be sleeping forever. Why waste the time I have?”

Though depressing, her attitude made a certain grim kind of sense. “Anyway,” I said, smiling at her. “I have no idea what the text was supposed to say.”

Pinella looked scandalized. “Dolly, you’re too young to be text illiterate. You need to take a texting lesson from Doug.”

I opened my mouth to tell her I didn’t need a lesson with him and that his medical-marijuana-infused lessons had probably destroyed Pinella’s ability to communicate in her native language forever, and then snapped it closed again. It was possible my crankiness at being late for my first lecture was coloring my mood just a titch. “Tell me again, in real English, what you’re doing here.”

“I’m getting paid to act like one of the stiffs in the coffins.”

Well, that was plain speaking. “Oh.” I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I wasn’t excited to see Pinella lying in a coffin looking deceased. But I didn’t want to talk about that with her because of the broad array of potential landmines stretching out before us. “Congratulations?”

She laughed. “Don’t look so stricken, dolly. I’m not gonna be knockin’ on Heaven’s doors anytime soon. A little practice run won’t hurt anything.”

I winced. “I’ll take your word on that.” Secretly, I doubted Pinella would ever get that close to Heaven. I was thinking she’d probably end up in a cute little fire-retardant bungalow near the fiery-pits.

More clapping drifted from the room I was tardy entering.

“We’re late. I need to get in there. Shouldn’t you go in the back way?”

Pinella blew a raspberry. “That’s a whole lot of walking, dolly. I’m going this way because it’s the closest.”

I didn’t ask if she was sure. Though the question was dancing on the end of my tongue. I figured she knew her business. Surely the organizers had provided training for the coffin-rider gig.

I shrugged. “Okay. Let’s go then. I just want to sneak quietly inside and sit in the back row. No fuss, no unwarranted attention. Got it?”

She nodded as if she understood. But it became painfully obvious as soon as we walked through the doors that she hadn’t understood.

She hadn’t understood at all.

Over a hundred people sat in the large ballroom on folding chairs. Over a hundred people turned from the speaker on the stage when Pinella and I walked into the room. Several gasps sounded throughout the room, probably because Pinella’s outfit would have stood out on a much younger woman. On a woman her age, it engendered a distinct mix of shock and horror that was hard to ignore. She stood out like a pole dancer in a room full of nuns.

Even the speaker stared out at us, his face puckered with irritation.

As a taut silence pounded down on me, I gave in to the need to break the tension. “I’m sorry. There was an…elevator incident.”

A low murmur started through the room, like the flight of a thousand angry hornets advancing on an encroaching enemy. I stared longingly at a lone empty seat in the farthest back row, probably left unfilled because of its nearness to a heavy velvet drape that half obscured its occupant.

I coveted that seat like an avid reader craves her next great book.

“Hello!” Pinella crooned, waving happily around the room. “I’m your friendly neighborhood corpse. If you’ll just point me in the direction of my casket, I’ll happily stretch out there for a little nap.”

Titters sounded around the room. I eased toward the draperied chair. If I moved really slowly, the hundreds of gazes might not track my movement.

Of course, I could never be so lucky. “This is my friend, MayBell. She’s a funeral faker like y’all. Isn’t that fun?”

More than a hundred hostile gazes swung my way as if I’d been the one to utter the hated “funeral faker” phrase. I shook my head, a nervous laugh escaping before I could stop it. “She’s just kidding.” I glared over at Pinella. “She knows what we do is genuine theater and has an important place in the grieving process.”

Pinella gave me an exaggerated wink. “Of course it is, dolly.”

I fought the almost irrepressible desire to slink off to the half-hidden chair. 

The speaker apparently decided it was time for him to step in and staunch the bleeding. “If you ladies wish to join the lecture, please take your seat…or coffin. You’re putting us behind schedule.”

I inclined my head, nodding toward the coffins arrayed along the base of the stage. “Go find an empty one and climb aboard,” I said to my neighbor in a harsh whisper. 

She gave me an arthritic thumbs up and clacked her way down the aisle toward the stage. Like storm watchers observing a particularly devastating category five tornado, all eyes followed her swaying, clicking, occasionally hitching movements toward the stage. 

I gratefully took the coveted half-draped chair and did my best to melt back into the curtains. 

My peace and anonymity lasted only the amount of time it took for Pinella to find an empty coffin. 

Her voice rang out loud and clear to once again interrupt the irate speaker. “Don’t they have no stepstools for these things? Hey, dolly. Can you give me a boost? I don’t wanta break a hip climbing this thing like a stripper pole.”

I sank slowly into my chair and wished for invisibility.

To my vast chagrin. It never came.