Mystery Mondays: Phyllis Smallman on How to Fit In Writing Time

Today on Mystery Mondays I have the pleasure of hosting Phyllis Smallman.  I met Phyllis at the 2014 Crime Writers Of Canada Arthur Ellis Awards dinner.

Her latest book, LAST CALL, in the Sheri Travis series has just come out. It’s a thrill that it’s finally here. I’ve already read it and loved it.  You might like it, too 🙂

Over to Phyllis…

Write the small spaces.

by Phyllis Smallman

Whenever I give workshops the question that comes up most often is, “How do I find time to write, work, and have a life?”

  1. The first suggestion is don’t focus too hard on THE BOOK. I know, you want it done yesterday, but thinking only about this big block of writing takes the joy out of creating. All the little bits of writing you do, pieces that might never make it into THE BOOK, are equally important. Keep a small notebook with you, one with a cover that makes you smile. This is where you write your bits.


  1. Think of how much time we spend waiting. These are opportunities to focus on a character sketch, a mood, or even a vehicle that you’ll need. What do you smell and hear? Describing a sunset or the whine of the mechanics drill as he changes your tire, those are all terrific practice and necessary for writing well. These writing bits will be your freshest and strongest writing because they are from life. It’s like stocking your cupboard for an emergency. Write in the small spaces. In the dentist’s office do a short description of a person in the waiting room. Surprisingly, sooner or later you will likely use this. You’ll be writing a scene for your novel and need a casual player. There’s no need to interrupt the flow of the story to think up the character because you already have someone to insert. Or describe the dentist’s office. Coffee shops are perfect for these quick sketches. Pick a person and analyze them. How many piercings? Tattoos? Study the server. How much education does he have. Is a temporary job or will he be here forever? Surprising how many times I’ve needed to describe something like this and go blank. That’s when I pull out my trusty sketch book of words. Homeless people make great subjects and what cityscape is complete without one? Think of an artist drawing. That’s what you’re doing, but with words. I once wrote a whole piece about an unknown woman that I liked so much I wove her into the subplot.


  1. Eavesdropping is a good thing. It helps with so many aspects of writing. Not only does it teach you to write dialogue, but it shows you the ebb and flow of conversation. Overheard in a washroom, “Honey, you wouldn’t believe how much it costs to look this cheap.” You can bet that showed up in a book.


  1. Print out the part you need to edit. Waiting in line for the school pickup? Read that chapter out loud. You’ll quickly see the repetitions and the awkward bits. If your tongue stumbles, your reader’s eyes will. If you’re worried about people thinking you’re crazy, hold up your phone as if you are making a life changing call. This has the added benefit of keeping people from interrupting your writing time, because that’s what it is.


  1. And then there’s that three o’clock in the morning time when you can’t sleep. What else do you do at that time of the night? Worrying about your kids or how whacked you’re going to be at work the next day only makes being sleepless worse. And there’s no way you want to fixate on what the guy lying beside you is up to, so now’s the time to work on your plotting. Figure out how you can go deeper into the story. How can you make that plot twist more real? Can you go back and put in some foreshadowing? Can you combine two characters into one to streamline the story. The middle of the night is truly where you get the hard work done, not sitting in front of a screen.


  1. When a great idea comes along write that great idea down in that notebook that’s always handy. You can flesh it out later — maybe put two of these ideas together into one story. Two great ideas in one story, how brilliant is that? Or maybe you’ll create a short story from that idea. Now is not the time to edit or be critical, this is where you dream.


  1. Here’s something I’m a little squeamish to tell you. When I’m reading, if I see a wonderful phrase, I write it down. Think of it as a prompt or an inspiration. Always put it in bold quotes so you know it isn’t yours. You’ll put your own spin on it later. And another little secret, I also collect names from screen credits.


  1. If you write the little places, when you do have a block of time, you’ll be prepared to write. It’s like stretching before you exercise. When you sit down at your computer you don’t waste a minute thinking about what you’ll write because you’ve got this powerful sketch of your protagonist’s father to put in, one that will explain why she can’t commit to a relationship, and a brilliant description of their home, decayed and unloved, that mirrors their relationship.


  1. Coming to THE BOOK prepared to write makes you super-efficient because the hard bit has already been done. You just need to type it in. Sometimes I think we spend more time worrying about writing than we do writing.


  1. One more thing. Don’t tell me you aren’t a writer until you’re published. That’s garbage. You write; therefore, you are a writer. Being published doesn’t bestow some magic mantel on you. You already have it. And it’s a valuable and necessary thing to do. From the time humans sat around fires in caves, we’ve needed story tellers. It doesn’t matter how those stories are delivered, e-books, digital streaming or whispered in the dark, tall tales are necessary for humanity. So, do your bit, write.

Who is Phyllis Smallman?

Phyllis Smallman’s first novel, Margarita Nights, won the inaugural Unhanged Arthur award from the Crime Writers of Canada. Smallman has also won the IPPY golden medal for best mystery and numerous awards from the Florida Writers Association. Her writing has appeared in both Spinetingler Magazine and Omni Mystery Magazine. The Sherri Travis mystery series was chosen by Good Morning America for a summer read in 2010.

Before turning to a life of crime Smallman was a potter. She divides her time between a beach in Florida and an island in the Salish Sea.



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Down in Key West, Sherri Travis and her best friend Marley are looking for a little fun in the sun. Promising to be back for last call, Marley leaves the Rawhide Saloon with an Elvis impersonator.

She doesn’t return. With Hurricane Alma turning toward Key West, and the police saying Marley must be missing for seventy-two hours before they start searching, Sherri and Lexi Divine, a six-foot tall drag queen, hunt for Marley amidst the chaos of the evacuation.



Mystery Mondays: Jennifer Young on Researching Historical Fiction

I’m so pleased to have award winning novelist Jennifer Young on Mystery Mondays. She’s here to talk to us about researching historical fiction – something I’m in awe of.

Hot off the press: Cold Crash (eBook Edition) is free today on Amazon. Why not check it out and post a review for Jennifer?

Researching Tips for Historical Fiction

cold crash front cover
Cinnamon Press Debut Novel Winner

When I started writing Cold Crash, I looked online for music that came out in early spring 1952. I found ‘Tenderly’ by Rosemary Clooney, and it played on a continual loop as I wrote the first chapters of Max Falkland’s story. It even found its way into what eventually became chapter twelve.

As I researched further though, I found that while ‘Tenderly’ came out in the United States in spring 1952, Rosemary Clooney didn’t release any records until years later in the United Kingdom. Max Falkland lived in the UK, so I had a problem. Fortunately, Max is Anglo-American, so I simply added a reference to her grandmother posting the record to her from America.

I told this story at a reading I did last week, and another author and friend Helen Gordon asked if I ever fudged my historical details, pointing out that my obsession with historical accuracy sounded more like creative nonfiction than fiction. Cold Crash is undoubtedly fiction – I’ve never flown a plane and I’m certainly not an archaeologist – but the facts represented in the novel are as accurate as I can make them.

Coming from an academic background, I consider it vital to get those details right. I love reading historical fiction, and I adore the details of the past that makes the world rich and compelling. I don’t want to be distracted from the mystery or character development by wondering if one tidbit of information is correct. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed with research. Here’s some advice from my experience researching and writing about spring 1952.

Research broad brush stroke history first. I started with overviews of the 1950s – reading books ranging from Robert Opie’s 1950s Scrapbook to Jessica Mann’s The Fifties Mystique. I also read about the Korean War. Max has just come out of mourning as the novel opens, for her brother who was shot down over Korea. (I had to supplement knowledge gleaned from a childhood of watching M*A*S*H!)

While you’re writing, don’t disappear into the internet to check one obscure fact. I did this far too regularly, and you end up wasting precious writing time. You can always correct a historical fact, but if you never write, you have nothing to correct! In one case in Cold Crash, I left a mistaken detail in place. Max’s friend Emma says it’s nice to bake scones with dried fruit again, when Max has provided it. In April 1952, dried fruit was off rationing, but I decided to leave the dialogue in, as Emma doesn’t have the money to splurge on dried fruit.

If you have an area that particularly interests you, save that for last. It sounds counterintuitive – it might have been the reason you chose your historical period. However, a real danger exists that you will research that one area forever, and never write. I deliberately chose to do this with fashion. After I had a complete first draft of the novel, I went to the British Library and poured over fashion magazines for 1952. I loved looking at Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue issues, the very ones that Max would have read, seeing the ads she would have seen. It felt almost like shopping – I needed a ball gown for this scene, a dinner dress for this one.

This worked well for other areas too. Train travel is not my passion, but I knew I needed details of both the look of the LMS trains from London to Oban. An Illustrated History of LMS Coaches gave me pictures of the upholstery on the LMS train line, as well as the sleeping compartments. The microfiche version of Bradshaw’s Guide allowed me to find out the timetable of trains going between London and Oban – and that the reverse train didn’t run on weekends at all. I reorganised the timings of the novel to allow Max to travel on a Friday. Would anyone have checked? Probably not, but that detail mattered to me.

My final piece of advice is to enjoy the research – and also take it seriously!


Who is Jennifer Young?

Jennifer Young University of Hertfordshire. Photography by Pete Stevens ©Jennifer Young was born in a small textile town in North Carolina, USA and moved to the UK in 2001. She has since completed a PhD, become the daughter-in-law of a Catholic priest and gained British citizenship. Her degrees are from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Cardiff University and the University of Southampton. She is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing and an Associate Dean of the School of Humanities at the University of Hertfordshire. Jennifer lives in North London with her husband and daughter.

Her novel Cold Crash won the Cinnamon Press Debut Novel Prize.


Buy Cold Crash

Cold Crash

For archaeologist Maxine ‘Max’ Falkland, life in early-50s London is difficult enough as cold crash front covershe tries to move on from the death of her brother, an RAF pilot shot down over Korea. But, when she meets John Knox things get more complicated — before they get outright dangerous.

Flying her light plane to Scotland, Max overhears whispered arguments in Russian coming from the next-door room and sees lights across the moors that appear to answer flashes from the sea. Add the mysterious malfunction of her plane and she has a lot to confide when she encounters the enigmatic Richard Ash, a local landowner and recluse. But when Knox unexpectedly reappears and a dive goes disastrously wrong, Max must act fast as she finds herself in the middle of a Soviet military plot.

Cold Crash is the first of four novels that follows Max through archaeology and espionage from 1952 to 1953.

Thanks for reading…

Mystery Mondays: Heather Weidner on The Writing Life

Today on Mystery Mondays, we welcome author Heather Weidner to share her advice on becoming a writer and what she learned along the way. I connected with Heather because of the Pens, Paws, and Claws Website and Blog. If you like writing, and you like cats or dogs, this is the blog for you!

Over to Heather…

Key Things about the Writing Life

by Heather Weidner.

secret lives private eyes cover - webWhen I dreamed of being a writer, I had visions of working at my desk (at a house that overlooked the beach), doing TV interviews, and cashing royalty checks. I never realized how many marketing and other tasks are needed to sell books.

My debut novel launched in 2016, and the second in the Delanie Fitzgerald Mystery series is slated for mid-November 2017. For the first book, I planned a launch celebration and did interviews, author spotlights, and guest blog posts for 35 sites. I did a Facebook hop, a Goodreads give-away, radio interviews, and podcast interviews. I do about 50 book signings and presentations each year. And I am also a full-time IT manager, so writing and marketing get shuffled in with all the other demands of everyday life.

Here are some key things I’ve learned over the years about what it really means to be a writer.

  1. Publishing is a business. The goal is to sell books.
  2. Make sure that you’re writing your next book.
  3. Always be professional. Be on time and strive to meet all deadlines.
  4. Keep one master calendar for all your events and deadlines. Mine helps me stay organized with all the other parts of my life.
  5. Writing is a lot of work. The first few “sloppy” drafts need a lot of work.
  6. Build relationships through your social media platform. They make a difference.
  7. Set a blogging and social media schedule that works for you. These sites need care and feeding, but they shouldn’t be a 24×7 job.
  8. Everyone has an opinion. Comments and reviews can sting, but learn what you can from them and then move on.
  9. Try to write something every day.
  • Keep a notebook or electronic notes of names and story ideas. You never know when you’ll encounter something that’ll work in your next book or story.
  • Look at your social media posts. Make sure that they’re not all “buy my book.” Make sure that you share others’ celebrations on your social media sites.
  • It’s key for writers to network, market, and build their platforms. Just make sure you leave enough time for writing.
  • Collect email addresses at your events for your newsletter’s mailing list. Get a clipboard and make sure you take it with you to all events.
  • Writing is often lonely. Find a group of kindred souls. Look for other authors or groups who will assist and support you. (I am so fortunate to have my Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Sisters in Crime National, Guppies, and James River Writer friends.)
  • Find beta readers or a critique group to help you revise and edit your work.
  • Remind yourself that you do not have to do everything. There are lots of opportunities, but you can burn out if you’re constantly on the go. Take care of yourself.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Make note of how you’d do it differently next time.
  • I try a lot of events and marketing ideas. If it doesn’t work for me, I see what I can learn from it and move on.
  • Order bookmarks and postcards. Make sure you always have them with you.
  • Take pictures at your events or on your adventures to share on your website or social media platforms.
  • Review your website from time to time to ensure your content and photos are current.
  • Review your social media biographies or descriptions to ensure that they are current.
  • Make sure to back up your computer files. It’s devastating when you lose your work.
  • Keep your author headshot current. (People will comment if your picture is ten years old and no longer looks like you.)
  • Most of my correspondence is done via email. I keep lots of folders to ensure I can find the email when I need it. I also add new contacts to my address book immediately, so I don’t lose them.
  • Keep all your receipts and be diligent about tracking your mileage. You’ll be glad when it’s tax time.
  • When you schedule an event, ask about where you’ll be seated and what will be provided (especially if it is an outdoor event).
  • Keep a box of books in the trunk of your car. I’ve encountered times when the bookseller couldn’t get books in time for an event. Also, at several events, the bookseller sold out, so it was nice that I had some extras to provide on consignment.
  • Don’t give up. The writing life is a challenge, and it’s difficult sometimes, but it is worth it. I get excited every time that box of books arrives.
  • Take time to celebrate your wins and successes.

Who Is Heather Weidner?

Heather WeidnerHeather Weidner’s short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 Shades of Cabernet. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, Lethal Ladies Write, and James River Writers. The Tulip Shirt Murders is the second novel in her Delanie Fitzgerald series. Secret Lives and Private Eyes debuted in 2016.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan College and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. She blogs regularly with the Lethal Ladies and Pens, Paws, and Claws.

The Tulip Shirt Murders

TheTulipShirtMurdersFinalPrivate investigator Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, are back for more sleuthing in The Tulip Shirt Murders. When a local music producer hires the duo to find out who is bootlegging his artists’ CDs, Delanie uncovers more than just copyright thieves. And if chasing bootleggers isn’t bad enough, local strip club owner and resident sleaze, Chaz Smith, pops back into Delanie’s life with more requests. The police have their man in a gruesome murder, but the loud-mouthed strip club owner thinks there is more to the open and shut case. Delanie and Duncan link a series of killings with no common threads. And they must put the rest of the missing pieces together before someone else is murdered.


The Tulip Shirt Murders is a fast-paced mystery that appeals to readers who like a strong female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations such as larping and trading elbow jabs with roller derby queens.


Contact Information

Website and Blog:





Amazon Authors:





Mystery Mondays: Madeline McEwen with Guidance, Advice, and Jokes

This week on Mystery Mondays, it’s my pleasure to host author Madeline McEwen. I “met” Madeline when she joined the Imajin Books team this year.

Her novelette, Tied Up With Strings, will be published by Imajin Qwickies on the 11th December 2017. So keep an eye out for it!

Over to Madeline…

 Guidance, Advice, and Jokes

By Madeline McEwen

Thanks for the invitation, Kristina. I gave some thought about what to offer your readers: guidance, advice, jokes?

 Guidance first–how about that infernal problem—procrastination. Have no fear, I have several solutions whether you suffer from writer’s block or information overload. Both prevent productivity. If you find your time frittered away on social media and frivolous distractions then I am here to help.

Don’t get me wrong, social media is a Godsend to the isolated hermits of this world—the sparks keeping us connected, grounded, and alert to change. However, just like other addictions, moderation if our watchword. Instead, get your Internet fix—your reward–after completing specific, measurable goals. Make yourself a numbered and prioritized list, such as: one hour of writing / editing or 500 words / three loads of laundry / replace the air filter / de-mat the dog.

If you find you’re still dithering, use a paper template to make a 3-D cube, throw the di, and then do it.

Advice: buff your humor muscles as frequently as possible.

Joke: I love “knock knock” jokes, but Debra Purdy Kong got there first.


Knock 1



Knock 2


Here are a couple of mine:-


Who Is Madeline McEwen:

Madeline photoMadeline McEwen is an ex-pat from the UK, bi-focaled and technically challenged. She and her Significant Other manage their four offspring, one major and three minors, two autistic, two neurotypical, plus a time-share with Alzheimer’s. In her free time, she walks with two dogs and chases two cats with her nose in a book and her fingers on the keyboard.

Her novelette, Tied Up With Strings, will be published by Imajin Qwickies on the 11th December 2017, the first in the new series–The Serebral Seniors–celebrating the witty sparks of a ripening generation.

You can find me here:-!/MadMcEwen


Mystery Mondays: Debra Purdy Kong on Traditional to Self-Publishing

This week on Mystery Mondays we welcome Debra Purdy Kong. I first came across Debra’s writing when I read Opposite of Dark. I loved the book and reached out to Debra on LinkedIn and was very excited to hear back from her. She’s an author who is generous with her time and her advice, which you’ll get some of below.

As you can imagine, I’m happy to host Debra on Mystery Mondays again.

Debra is here to tell you what it’s like to transition from traditional publishing to self-publishing.

I’ve just preordered my copy of Knock Knock and only have to wait 2 days for it to arrive on my kindle!

Over to Debra…

Maintaining Continuity in Changing Times

Knock Knock, front coverThey say that the only constant in life is change. This is especially true for writers. Over the years, I’ve lost count of all the magazines and publishers I’ve worked with, but who no longer exist. When the publisher for my Casey Holland series let me and several other mystery authors go in 2015, I took it in stride and decided to continue self-publishing my series.

It took time to obtain all of my rights back, but I did, and then reissued the first four books in ebook format. I’m now delighted to announce that the 5th installment in my Casey Holland mystery series, Knock Knock, will be released on Wednesday, November 8th!

The decision to keep the series going raised new issues. I no longer had access to the jacket designer and editors who’d worked on the previous four books. I needed to find professionals who would help me maintain the editing style already adopted. But even then, there were questions.

For instance, I was never partial to my editor’s decision to use American spelling in a series set in Canada with Canadian characters. But changing this in mid-series didn’t seem right either, so I sent the editor I hired a detailed list of editing needs.

I also sent the new jacket designer images of the earlier novels. She did a beautiful job of capturing the essence of the series while providing a fresh look that I’m thrilled with.

Change isn’t always easy and sometimes continuity can be a challenge, but when you’re writing a series readers appreciate it, which makes everything worth the effort.


Who Is Debra Purdy Kong

Debra Purdy Kong, 2016Debra Purdy Kong’s volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs, inspired her to write mysteries set in BC’s Lower Mainland. Her employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provide the background for Casey Holland and Evan Dunstan mysteries.

Debra has published short stories in a variety of genres as well as personal essays, and articles for publications such as Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul, B.C. Parent Magazine, and The Vancouver Sun. She assists as a facilitator for the Creative Writing Program through Port Moody Recreation, and has presented workshops and talks for organizations that include Mensa and Beta Sigma Phi. She is a long-time member of Crime Writers of Canada.


Look for her blog at More information about Debra and her books is at You can also find her on Twitter: & Facebook:


Where to find out more:





Mystery Mondays: An Inside Look at Anthologies by Medames of Mayhem

When M.H Callway approached me about hosting Medames of Mayhems on Mystery Mondays, I was thrilled! As a Canadian, showcasing a collection of Canadian mystery authors makes me proud of the writers in our little country.

The newly released Anthology is a must read for mystery lovers. You’ll get exposed to a variety of styles and stories, so why not check it out.

Now over to the Medames…


What is 13 Claws?


13 Claws is the third anthology by the Mesdames of Mayhem. It’s a collection of 17 crime fiction stories by 15 authors, three of whom are newcomers to the genre.

We are all animal lovers so it’s natural we’d pen tales centred on our non-human friends. Caro Soles rescues dachshunds from puppy mills and Melodie Campbell’s “Frankenpoodle” works as a therapy dog. All of us own – or have owned – a cat or a dog and like Jane Burfield, several of each at the same time. Cheryl Freedman though favours much more exotic pets: ferrets!

Few cozies in our book though. Perhaps it’s the influence of our troubled times, but our writing has taken a decidedly darker turn.

Who are the Mesdames of Mayhem?

We are 15 established Canadian crime fiction authors. Most of us have won or been nominated for major awards like the Arthur Ellis, Edgar, Derringer, Debut Dagger, Bony Pete and Ippy.

Back in 2013, I had the idea that my two literary critique groups should join forces on social media. Donna Carrick designed our website, set up our Facebook and Twitter accounts – and the Mesdames of Mayhem were born.

Our goal is to promote Canadian crime fiction. Many readers here at home don’t realize that their favorite crime writers may be Canadian. And of course, many American readers never hear about Canadian titles.

We work to promote women crime writers and many of us are longstanding members of Sisters in Crime. It might surprise readers that Sisters in Crime has Brother members, men who promote equity for women authors. I’m happy to say that the Mesdames have a Monsieur of Mayhem, Ed Piwowarczyk.

All of us are published short story writers and most of us are novelists. Several of us are also proficient in other forms of fiction: Lisa De Nikolits and Sylvia Warsh are literary authors; Melodie Campbell and Caro Soles have written books in fantasy and speculative fiction; and Rosemary Aubert is a respected poet. Catherine Dunphy is a biographer and she and Madonna Skaff write for young adults.

For details, do check out our website.

Why create three anthologies?

13 Claws is our third anthology. When we first got together, we thought that an mesdames-thirteen-coveranthology would be a great way readers could get to know the work of many different writers. We do write from comedy to noir. Even better, our readers could go on to read more books and stories by the writers they enjoyed.

To our delight, Thirteen, did really well and the stories by Donna Carrick and Sylvia Warsh were nominated for the Arthur Ellis Short Story award. That encouraged us to issue our second anthology, 13 O’clock with crime stories focused on time. And later, our third collection, 13 Claws.

Why “Thirteen” in the titles?

When we put together our first anthology, 13 of us contributed stories. So I thought: why not simply call our collection Thirteen?

And 13 has proved to be our lucky number! Promoting our anthologies has led to numerous public readings, warm partnerships with our public libraries and community theatres, participation in literary festivals like Word on The Street, radio interviews, you name it – more publicity than we ever anticipated or imagined.

13 Claws features three newcomers? How did that happen?

We love to teach. Several of us teach or have taught creative writing: Catherine Astolfo, Rosemary Aubert, Mel Campbell, Cathy Dunphy, Lynne Murphy, Rosemary McCracken, Caro Soles and Sylvia Warsh.

For 13 Claws, we ran a contest for writers who had never published a crime fiction story. Our winner, Mary Patterson, has a delightful story about a cat detective though she’s actually a dog lover. Our finalist, Roz Place wrote a chilling suspense tale about a disappearance revealed by a cat. And in our other runner-up, Marilyn Kay’s police procedural, a stray cat is at the heart of dark crime.

What do reviewers say about 13 Claws?

Our previous anthologies have been warmly reviewed but we were especially delighted to be singled out by Jack Batten, the crime fiction reviewer at the Toronto Star, who had this to say about 13 Claws:

In one especially clever story by Catherine Dunphy, we get a plot built around boxes of animal crackers.

But just because the contributors to the collection write out of an affection for animals doesn’t mean readers need similar feelings to appreciate the stories. There’s enough suspense and intellectual fascination built into the plots of the majority of stories to satisfy even the most ferociously cynophobic reader. Catherine Astolfo’s story involving a pig offers an intriguing way of giving Paul Bernardo himself a case of the chills. And M. H. Callway’s tale mixes snakes and the real estate business in a way that will make readers run a mile from both.

Maureen Jennings, creator of the famous Murdoch series, writes:

A great mix of shuddery dark and tongue-in-cheek funny. What devious minds all these nice women have.

And Vanessa Westermann, reviewer for Sleuth of Baker Street newsletters, writes:

I can only recommend it. There’s something here for everyone. The stories, ranging from cozy mysteries to thrillers, feature cats, dogs, dragons and snakes – some of which are quite mischievous. As stated on the Mesdames’ website, the writers all share one mission: to thrill readers with their passion for Crime Fiction.



M.H. Callway is the pen name of Madeleine Harris-Callway, the founding member of the Mesdames of Mayhem. Her debut thriller, Windigo Fire, was short-listed for the Arthur Ellis Best First Novel award.

Her award-winning short crime fiction stories and novellas have been published in several anthologies and mystery magazines and are available in the book, Glow Grass and Other Tales.


Where to Find Out More

Amazon link to 13 Claws:

Amazon link to Thirteen:

Amazon link to 13 O’clock:





Mystery Mondays: Luke Murphy On Writing A Sequel

Today, we have the pleasure of welcoming author Luke Murphy to Mystery Mondays. Luke’s new book. WILD CARD, was released last week by Imajin Books.  He’s here to talk about writing a series – something he has a lot of personal experience with.

I met Luke via Imajin Books, loved the first two books in the series: DEAD MAN’S HAND and KISS & TELL and am looking forward reading WILD CARD.

Over to Luke…

Writing A Sequel

By Luke Murphy

So I’ve written my first sequel, which was a new experience for me. WILD CARD is the second part to my debut novel, DEAD MAN’S HAND. I have no plans, no idea how many books I’ll write with these characters. I’ll just write, and see where the characters take me. Who knows?

PROS: There are definitely some benefits to writing a sequel.


For one, the main cast of characters are already formed. Readers are familiar with the main characters in the series, and there is no need for a lot of backstory to get readers caught up, or a lot of explicit detail to show character traits and physical appearances.


Since I already researched the setting of my first novel, I can save that time for novel #2, because I am already familiar with the city (Las Vegas) that I’ve chosen for the setting of my adventures.


Since I have book #1 under my belt, I’ve already formed a small fan base and readership who are earnestly awaiting my next novel. I won’t have to worry about reaching those readers, as they are returning customers, and will already be searching out my books.



Because DEAD MAN’S HAND garnered so much attention and success, now there is a level of expectation that comes with my next book. With so much praise and five-star reviews, readers have a high expectation of what they are looking for with a new Calvin Watters’ book.


I don’t have to tell you that it’s a lot faster to read a book than it is to write it. Readers are expecting another book as soon as they finish reading the previous one. It took me five years to write the sequel to DEAD MAN’S HAND (sandwiching another book in between), and once readers have finished WILD CARD, they will be expecting another Calvin Watters adventure. I might not have time to breathe.


There are only so many ideas/conflicts to write about, so coming up with new, fresh ideas for my characters with each new novel, can possess a bit of a challenge for a writer.

With all that said, I really enjoyed writing WILD CARD, the sequel to DEAD MAN’S HAND, and I look forward to possibly writing more Calvin Watters’ adventures in the future.


Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00071]This time, it’s not a job.

After proving his innocence as a murder suspect, taking down an assassin, and being an instrumental part in solving a high profile murder, Calvin Watters believes he can finally move on—until Ace Sanders’ prison escape catapults him into action.

This time, it’s personal!

Something has always bothered Detective Dale Dayton about the arrest of Ace Sanders. Call it police intuition, but his inner ‘cop alarm’ keeps twitching. When Dale reopens the case, he’s introduced to new evidence that leads him into a political nightmare.

Who will play the Wild Card to survive?

While Calvin tracks Sanders across continents and into unknown, unfriendly surroundings, Dale remains in Vegas to uncover the truth behind police corruption, prison escapes, and hired assassins. But Calvin and Dale must be vigilant, because there’s a deadly, new player in town.

Who Is Luke Murphy?

1425368_517024845062353_568710561_oLuke Murphy is the International bestselling author of Dead Man’s Hand (Imajin Books, 2012) and Kiss & Tell (Imajin Books, 2015).

Murphy played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. His sports column, “Overtime” (Pontiac Equity), was nominated for the 2007 Best Sports Page in Quebec, and won the award in 2009. He has also worked as a radio journalist (CHIPFM 101.7).

Murphy lives in Shawville, QC with his wife, three daughters and pug. He is a teacher who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing, and a Bachelor of Education (Magna Cum Laude).

Wild Card, a sequel to Dead Man’s Hand, is Murphy’s third novel.

For more information on Luke and his books, visit:, ‘like’ his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter

Review Blurbs

“All the danger, treachery, and action a thriller reader could wish for. Luke Murphy has the touch.”

—Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Order

“Hold on for a wild ride that doesn’t end until the last page.”

—Jordan Dane, bestselling author of the Sweet Justice series

“Murder, sex, hackers…an elaborate criminal chess game: Luke Murphy delivers.”

—Bryan Gruley, author of the Starvation Lake trilogy