The first time's the charm for Lois Lavrisa.
The Savannah author has been named a finalist in the mystery category in the 2013 International Eric Hoffer Book Awards. She won in the fiction category for her Amazon bestselling novel "Liquid Lies."
"I didn't think I stood a chance," Lavrisa says. "I was so honored and shocked to have that accolade.
"To know 'Liquid Lies' was not only a bestseller last year, but to win an award for it is amazing," she says. "It still hasn't sunk in that it has happened."
The award, which is presented for short prose and books, honors the memory of philosopher Eric Hoffer by rewarding not just good writing, but also honoring small publishers. More than 1,000 books are nominated every year for the international competition.
In addition to being a mystery with twists and unexpected turns, "Liquid Lies" also is a coming-of-age story. The main character, CiCi, finds herself in the midst of a hideous chain of events, forcing her to wrestle with lies and their unintended consequences.
In the process, CiCi confronts her own worst demons as she is enveloped in a turbulent vortex of events. She must make amends for the past to secure her future.
"It is a fast-paced mystery book," Lavrisa says.
A teacher of writing as well as an author, Lavrisa has written articles for magazines, newspapers and websites. "Liquid Lies" is her first novel.
The book is set is Wisconsin.
"The next series I've started is set in Savannah," Lavrisa says.
The first book of the new series is titled "Dying for Dinner Rolls" and it is a cozy mystery.
"That's where all the gory stuff happens off scene, although the sleuth might come upon it," Lavrisa says.
"It's a quirky, fun mystery set in Savannah about four friends who are thrown into the mystery because the sleuth's own friend has been murdered," she says. "I have four books plotted, with the first coming out Sept. 1."
"Dying for Dinner Rolls" will be followed by "Murderous Muffins" at the end of the year, "Killing with Kings" early in 2014 and "Homicide by Hamlet" out next spring.
"This is a full-time career," Lavrisa says.
"There is no more luxury of taking two or three years to write a book," she says. "I have a fan base and the readers want to keep the books coming out so they can read them."
Book One is with the editor and the cover is already done.
"I'm really excited about getting the new series out," Lavrisa says.
Although a short-story prequel to "Liquid Lies" is available, Lavrisa says it will not be part of a series.
"'Liquid Lies' is a stand-alone," she says.
"People want to see the characters move on, but I feel it is complete in and of itself," Lavrisa says. "I have no intention of writing a sequel to 'Liquid Lies.'"
The prequel is about one of the characters in "Liquid Lies." It is titled "Christmas Corpse Caper," and has been successful in its own right.
"People have really enjoyed it," Lavrisa says.
"But I'm very excited about my cozy mystery series," she says. "That's where my energy and time is going. In fact, I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day."
So far, "Liquid Lies" has sold more than 50,000 copies.
"I've been asked to speak at various book clubs," Lavrisa says. "A lot of readers resonate with the mystery and my writing and that's why I'm doing the new series."
Upon its first month of release, "Liquid Lies" made the Kindle Top 100 books. It was also No. 1 in several categories, including the woman sleuth category and the mystery category.
"I am astounded at the success of my debut novel," Lavrisa says. "A year later, it still has steady sales and remains on many bestsellers categories.
"I am humbled and honored beyond belief. And to win an award on top of that, I am flabbergasted.
"Who knows?," she says. "Maybe 'Dying for Dinner Rolls' will be considered for contests, as well."