By Laurie Stone
Former Eastern New Mexico University student Gloria Hightower put her sleepless nights to use, and now has a book to show for it.
Hightower, who attended ENMU from 1955-56 has a murder mystery out called The Cotton Rope Strangler. She chose to self-publish her book with the encouragement of her writing group and family members.
Gloria grew up in Farwell and was a majorette in the marching band during her first semester at ENMU. After marrying Tommy Hightower, she supported the family until he completed his degree in 1958. One of her jobs was at the Portales News-Tribune as a proofreader.
She later graduated from Western University in 1969 with a degree in elementary education.
Now living in Albuquerque, Gloria decided to use her nights to begin compiling her own attempt at weaving a plot together.
She began writing her manuscript in December, during a winter stay in Arizona, and completed it in March.
The setting of her fictional murder mystery was developed using Albuquerque as the scene of the crime.
When Gloria decided to publish her book, her writing group in Albuquerque tried to prepare her for the rejection letters that publishing companies send out when they reject a story for publication. To avoid that experience, Hightower decided to self-publish.
She found many people to help edit the book, and her nephew in Dallas designed the cover of the book. She found out about other tasks (i.e. registering for an ISBN number and copyright date with the House of Congress) through a manual that covered self-publication.
Gloria’s husband Tommy Hightower, said about his wife, “She has a talented ability to do what she puts her mind to. I (admire) her for being able to achieve her goals.”
Gloria said writing this book was rewarding, but has plans to write her next murder mystery a little differently. “I already have the plot cooking in my brain.” she said.
In The Cotton Rope Strangler, a body turns up in the bosque. Things get a bit tense for Tom and Ginger Howell. The fictional couple owns Howell Carpets, and the body turns out to be one of their employees. The pair helps Homicide Detective Pete Lucero compile all the information they can regarding the suspects, but things get scary when the killer seems to be stalking their daughter as the next victim.
Having a main character named Tom Howell was a coincidence for the book, and not a reference to Portales Public Works Director Tom Howell — Hightower said she has never met him.
The book is not being sold in retail stores, but can be purchased by writing to Chaparral Center, Inc.; 9208 Pebble Beach Dr, NE; Albuquerque, NM 87111. The cost is $7, plus $1 for shipping.