Meet Beth Amos
Allow me to introduce myself. As you can see from this picture of me at the age of 6, I wasn’t the cutest child. That, combined with the fact that my family moved a lot because of my father’s job, made it hard for me to build lasting friendships. Most of the time my three younger sisters were my only source of entertainment and, unfortunately, their sole purpose in life back then was to get me into trouble. Consequently, I spent a lot of time on my own and books became some of my best friends.
It was my love of reading that led to my love of writing. I first indulged my writing passion, as do many young girls, by recording my deepest, darkest, and most secret thoughts in a diary. But it didn’t take long for my sisters to figure out where I hid it and how to pick the lock, so I quickly abandoned that project. Still, I was compelled to write. I dabbled with short stories and made quick enemies of many of my classmates when I got excited over theme assignments and essay tests. When I was seventeen I sent off my first short story. It was flung back to me with a kindly rejection letter at a speed previously unheard of in those days of snail mail. But I’m nothing if not stubborn and I simply tried again. And again. And again. Thus began what became a very extensive collection of rejection letters, all of which I still have today.
It didn’t take me long to realize that my dreams of supporting myself as a writer were about as flimsy as the lock on my diary, so I decided to pursue a career in nursing. At the age of 23, I had my son, Ryan. Somewhere in there I had a marriage or two, and a divorce or two (okay three, but who’s counting?) and I worked at advancing my career and raising my son. Between the demands of career and motherhood I had little time left over for writing, but I stuck with it nonetheless, using every spare second I could find to write, and working my way toward making it into the Guinness Book of Records as the person with the greatest number of rejections.
I never sold any of the hundreds of short stories I wrote. My very first published credit was a personal essay in a national magazine devoted to hospice care. My payment consisted of five copies of the magazine it appeared in. Still, it was my first and it’s framed and hanging on the wall of my home office. I eventually switched my focus from short fiction to novel length. And finally, at the age of 40, I sold my first novel, COLD WHITE FURY, to HarperCollins. Two more suspense novels followed with Harper. During that time I managed to develop a flourishing freelance business as a book reviewer for B&N.com, and a medical writer for a number of different entities and periodicals. After a while I realized I didn’t much like writing nonfiction because it made writing feel like work instead of fun, and it didn’t leave me much time or energy for writing fiction, which is what I truly love to do. So after six years I gave up the freelance stuff, went back to nursing, and focused on my fiction.
My first agent, Linda Hayes, (a woman I adored!) retired during that time and after several years of hunting for a new one, I had the good fortune to sign on with Jamie Brenner of Artists & Artisans early in 2008. Jamie was quick to prove her mettle when she sold the manuscript for my previously self-published novel, THE VICARIOUS LIVER, to Kensington Books within a matter of weeks. The book, the first in a series, came out August 25th, 2009 as WORKING STIFF under the pseudonym Annelise Ryan. It’s a quirky, fun-filled mystery featuring Mattie Winston, a nurse-turned-deputy coroner in a small Wisconsin town. There are three more books in the series available: SCARED STIFF, FROZEN STIFF, & LUCKY STIFF. Book number five, BOARD STIFF, should be released in early 2014. In addition to the Mattie Winston series, I also have another mystery series that launches in August 2013 under the pseudonym Allyson K. Abbott with the release of MURDER ON THE ROCKS. This series features bar owner and amateur crime solver, Mack Dalton, who uses a unique neurological disorder known as synesthesia to help figure out who and how dunnit. This series will include alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink recipes in each book.
I’m still working as an ER nurse, a job that ensures me a steady dose of adrenalin and an endless source of plot ideas. My nursing career has been very rewarding and varied. I’ve worked every area from birth (obstetrics) to death (hospice) and met some of the most amazing people. It has provided me with a good, steady income and flexible hours, while also allowing me to live anywhere I wanted to and still find a job. And all the other wonderful and talented healthcare professionals I’ve had the privilege to work with have kept me down to earth, laughing much of the time, and sane when life tries to drive me crazy.
Not surprisingly, given my career choice, most of my novels have a medical flavor to them. In addition, my suspense novels have dabbled in those areas of life that have always fascinated me—the weird, the macabre, and the unexplainable, such as paranormal powers and extraterrestrial life. The Mattie Winston series is designed for fun and laughs because I truly do believe laughter is the best medicine and I never would have survived any of my careers, or single parenthood without an intact sense of humor. So come along for the ride. I can promise you a good laugh or two, and a good scare or two, if not from my books then from that picture up above, where, if you look closely enough, you’ll see pencil marks that fill in the places where chunks of my hair were missing. (And to Mom—those glasses … pink and studded with rhinestones? What were you thinking?)
As for my sisters—Cathy, Laurie, and Amy—who’d a thought my greatest tormentors would one day be among my greatest supporters? They, too, have helped to keep me sane and laughing. Thanks, and I love you all.