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Book 3 of our cozy mystery series releases next week, and the story includes a splash of mermaids (see what I did there?). Not only did my daughter go through a mermaid-love phase, but my husband and I had the chance to visit the mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs a few years ago; all of this influenced my writing of Charlotte's newest adventure.

I've always been impressed by people who feel so at home in the water and can move about underwater so effortlessly (or so it seems). While I love the water, I've never been a great swimmer and I despise having my head under water. In fact, I avoid it at all costs. But, the mermaids at Weeki Wachee take quick puffs of air from hoses and flutter around underwater, wearing shimmering tails and performing with smiles for minutes at a time. They're amazing, really.

Looking back, I remember, as a teenager, loving The Little Mermaid movie and singing along with "Kiss the Girl." Sam, my autistic son, has discovered the movie and it's one of his favorites. He inspires the character "Tommy," so when you read the book, you'll notice how his obsessions influence how the whole family operates. We have all begun to quote from the movies Sam plays over and over, and we're even known to burst into song mid conversation. Hey, sometimes a line or two of "Part of His World" just fits the occasion!

Mermaids are also a favorite of my aunt Teri, who is an amazing claywright. Sam calls her "the aunt Teri," because there can be only one! I have fond memories of watching her in her studio and admiring her clay creations.

So, I guess mermaids have always been and continue to be a part of my life in some kind of way. Their folklore has long inspired art and literature. In my case, they've inspired part of a quirky little cozy mystery story.

A miniature mermaid handcrafted by my aunt Teri  (only a few inches long!)

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