Last Diner Standing by Terri L. Austin

Last Diner Standing is the second book in the Rose Strickland Mystery series and this time out, I wanted Rose to have complications on more than one front. I like characters who are under pressure, so I tortured Rose a bit in this story.

Rose is a waitress at Ma’s Diner. In my first book, Diners, Dives and Dead Ends, Ma was along for the ride. But I really wanted Ma to have her own agenda this time. When a rival diner horns in on Ma’s territory, she’s not about to go down without a fight. A scrappy senior, Ma comes out swinging. Ma is a fun character and I wanted to showcase her a little more. Not just a sidekick in this book, she gets her own story arc. And I thought the results were a lot of fun. And a little scary. Ma can get mean when she’s cornered.

Rose is a loyal character, so it made sense to put people she cares about in danger. Rose being Rose, there’s no way she could sit back and not jump into the fray. Her friend Janelle is arrested for the attempted murder of her ex-husband. I really enjoyed this because we heard a little about Janelle’s strange ex in the first book and I wanted to explore their relationship. What type of man would behave in such a despicable way? So I got to delve into that. And I tied the mystery into Rose’s bad boy crush and his problems. I had to bring Sullivan back and this time, he’s the one in trouble. He needs Rose, which is a change from the first book.

I’m a character-driven writer. My characters are what make writing fun, so I knew I had to put them on stage and let them help or hinder Rose. Mostly hinder, even when they’re trying to help. Rose has formed a make-shift family for herself and we got to see them all in action: Roxy, Ma, Sullivan, Axton, Janelle, and even Rose’s boss, Ray. I hope the readers have as much fun reading about these characters as I did writing them.

About Last Diner Standing:

Rose Strickland is having a blue Christmas. Her friend is arrested for attempted murder, her sexy bad guy crush is marked by a hit man, and her boss is locked in an epic smackdown with a rival diner. Determined to save those she loves, Rose embarks on an investigation more tangled than a box of last year's tree lights. With her eclectic gang at the ready, Rose stumbles across dead bodies, ex-cons, jealous girlfriends, jilted lovers, and a gaggle of strippers in a battle for freedom she might not survive.

Buy Last Diner Standing at Amazon and B&N.

Terri L. Austin lives in Missouri with her funny, handsome husband and a high maintenance peekapoo.  She’s the author of Diners, Dives and Dead Ends—a Rose Strickland Mystery.  “Austin’s debut kicks off her planned series by introducing a quirky, feisty heroine and a great supporting cast of characters and putting them through quite a number of interesting twists.” Kirkus Reviews

You can find Terri on Twitter, FB, GoodReads, at or Henery Press. Every Wednesday, Terri and her writer friends hold a book chat on Little Read Hens FB page. Come and join the conversation!

Excerpt from Last Diner Standing:
There are some absolutes in this life that are irrefutable. If you leave the house looking like crap, you’ll see someone you know, usually an ex-boyfriend. If you’re running late for an appointment, you’ll hit every red light on the way. And a three a.m. phone call is never good news. Either someone’s dead, in the hospital, or you’re a drunken booty call. But that Saturday morning, I discovered another reason to avoid the ringing harbinger of bad news.
“’ello,” I answered, my eyes still closed.
“Rose, I’m in jail, girl.”
I sniffed and sat up on my futon. “Janelle?”
“Of course it’s Janelle. They think I tried to kill Asshat.”
Scrubbing a hand over my eyes, I glanced at the clock. “Asshat?”
Janelle lowered her voice. “Rose, wake up and listen. I’m in jail, Asshat’s in a coma, and they’re saying I tried to kill him. I need help.”
Her dilemma finally penetrated my sleep-fogged brain. “Oh my God. Where are the kids?” Janelle had two, Damon, nine, and Sherise, seven. Both so cute you wanted to pinch their little cheeks. But I wouldn’t recommend it—that Sherise was a biter.  
“They’re staying with my cousin, Sondra. But I got to get out of here. If they think I’m spending Christmas in jail then I’m Halle Damn Berry.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Call that fancy lawyer you know. He’ll figure it out.”
Dane Harker. “I’ll call him and come see you in the morning. Will they let me bring you anything?”
“Cigarettes and toiletries. These bitches trade everything for cigarettes. And Rose? Thanks.”

 (Great cover, Terri, and the book sounds delightful! Thanks for stopping by today.)


Terri L. Austin said…
Thanks so much for having me on today, Marilyn! It's a pleasure to be here!
Joni said…
Hi Terri! Joni again! nice to chat with you again! I would like to know if Sullivan is going to keep taking what he wants from Rose. If you know what I mean! He takes what he wants in every other part of his life! He is being Barronseque in his making her make the first move and "tough love" techniques. I think you have tortured us enough! I liked the kisses but how does she continue to control herself?! I would be all over that! Another question: Are any of your characters based on real friends you have? I would love to hang out at Ma's Diner and with Ax and Stoner Joe! I know I asked this in the other blog I got mixed up since you have two going so I thought I would ask again for everyone here.
Terri L. Austin said…
Hey Joni! Nope, no one based on real life. My characters are sort of larger than life and my pals are as normal as can be. But who hasn't known a Stoner Joe at college? *raise your hands*

And I don't think I'll ever put anything super explicit in the Rose books. But I don't see Sullivan as manipulative with Rose. I think he likes her in spite of himself. She puts a little humanity back in Sullivan.
J.L. Greger said…
I love the sound of your characters. And the three universal truths you mentioned - about late night phone calls, etc - seem right on to me.

JL Greger, author of Coming Flu and Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight (due out in March)

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