Mystery Mondays: Kathleen Duhamel on CREATING MEMORABLE HEROINES

Welcome to Mystery Mondays. Today we have author Kathleen Duhamel here to talk to use about creating memorable heroines. Kathleen and I connected when Kathleen joined the group of authors published by Imajin Books. I’ve since read all her books, and love them. You might too!

So over to Kathleen…


By Kathleen Duhamel

A few years ago, when I began writing what became my first novel, Deep Blue, I had no idea it would ever be published, much less met with positive reviews. To begin with, I worried that my characters were too old to be relatable. Until recently, conventional romance and women’s fiction seldom featured characters past their thirties. When Deep Blue begins, Claire Martin is a 58-year-old “barely not starving” artist and her love interest is 62-year-old musician, Robert Silver. Would readers be turned off by the idea of these two enjoying a healthy love/sex life?

Deep Blue is also not a conventional “romance” in the sense that not every problem in the relationship gets resolved before the last page. Life tends to get a lot more complicated when you’re attempting to balance the demands of children, grandchildren, health issues, career pressures, and aging parents, and I wanted to touch on these issues in the book. Surprisingly, the age issue I worried about turned out to be a bonus for some readers, who found the senior love story “refreshing.”

What began as one book has morphed into three, with Deep End, the third book in the trilogy, due out in fall/winter 2017. As in the first and second books, what drives the plot is Claire’s emotional journey. While love is certainly part of that journey, she also is forced to deal with several unresolved issues in her life as a new wife and unexpected stepmother.

Here are my tips on how to create a strong female character that readers will remember.

Give her a spine.

At 58, Claire is certainly older (and presumably wiser) than younger heroines, having been through a few failed relationships, an acrimonious divorce, and financial struggles. She’s also a cancer survivor, which makes her identifiable with millions of others. Although she hasn’t given up on love, she’s somewhat wary of it, especially when a famous and charming man enters the picture and wants to sweep her into his overblown lifestyle.

She insists on solving her own problems without having to be “rescued” by her man.

However, she’s also a bit of a risk taker, and after being advised by her BFF to “go for it,” she begins an improbable, long-distance relationship with Rob. The same risk-taking behavior emerges in Book 2, Deeper, when she’s forced to acknowledge her husband’s eight-year-old love child and must decide if she’s willing to continue her marriage under vastly different circumstances.

Drawing on the same inner strength that got her through cancer treatment, she is ultimately able to express her disappointment and anger to Rob, while re-affirming her commitment to him and her new step-son.

Perhaps the greatest test of her inner resolve occurs in Deep End, when a disaster forces her to confront the possibility of life without her beloved husband.

Give her a guiding principle.

Claire’s favorite quote, which also becomes her mantra, is from Goethe: “Nothing is worth more than this day.” It is the perfect summation of who she is and how she approaches her post-cancer life. Not even a life-threatening illness could take away her fun-loving spirit and her determination to live fully, the very qualities that initially attracted Rob to her.

Let her have flaws.

She’s far from perfect. Claire worries about her scarred abdomen, disfigured from cancer surgeries. She continues to obsess over Rob’s first wife, a brilliant screenwriter killed in a car accident. Doubts about her relationship and endless taunts by Baby Mama land her in legal trouble and cause her to lose a promising new client. Her loathing of the news media manages to gain her more publicity, instead of less.

Like so many of us, she tends to suppress her negative feelings until they erupt in a damaging way. Although she struggles at times, the fact that she is able to move past her struggles and re-focus on what is most important in her life makes her a well-rounded and likeable heroine, scars and all.


kathleen-duhamel croppedKathleen Duhamel is the author of the Deep Blue Trilogy (Deep Blue, Deeper, and Deep End) and At Home With Andre. She wrote and illustrated her first short story at the age of eight, and has been a writer for most of her life.. Her love of the written word continued throughout her varied career as a newspaper journalist and editor, public relations executive, freelance travel writer and owner/operator of two small businesses. A native of Texas, she has spent most of her adult life in Colorado. She lives in the Denver area with her husband, a geriatric standard poodle and a spoiled cat. She is a lifelong devotee of rock and soul music, contemporary art, and pop culture.

Kathleen’s latest novel is coming out this fall DEEP END:

When her close-to-perfect world falls apart, can love still prevail?

After years of struggle and harsh criticism, happily married rock star wife Claire Martin has finally achieved the career success of her dreams. As the featured artist in an international traveling exhibit, she looks forward to her best year ever, while her husband, singer Robert Silver of the legendary band Deep Blue, contemplates a return to touring.

Things are also looking up for Claire’s best friend, Denise Hrivnak, who’s planning her wedding to Robert’s musical partner, Art Hoffman. However, what should have been most joyful day of Denise’s life turns to tragedy when an unexpected event forces both woman to contemplate the terrifying possibility of life without the men they love.

Besieged by the paparazzi and sick with worry, Claire waits for answers in a Las Vegas hotel room, thinking over her improbable relationship with Rob and praying that love alone is strong enough to bring her husband back from the brink.


Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 9.51.39 AMSecrets of the past seldom stay buried forever…

Now married to the love of her life, landscape artist Claire Martin’s peaceful world is rocked by an unexpected revelation that crushes her dreams of the future and causes her to question everything she thought she knew about her famous husband, legendary singer Robert Silver of the band Deep Blue.

Although Robert is now clean and sober, and embarking on a new opportunity with his musical partner Art Hoffman, the consequences of one night long ago fracture his family and threaten his marriage to the woman who loves him like no one else.

Will love survive, or will career pressures, family turmoil and the ever-present specter of the paparazzi destroy their new life together?







Mystery Mondays: Call For Guest Authors

Promoting Reading – Promoting Authors

Mystery Mondays began in July 2015. Authors from many genres who write with a hint of mystery have told you about their books, answered your questions about writing and shared their thoughts with you. Every Monday, you’ve been introduced to another author and maybe discovered someone you’re not familiar with.

Are you interested in guest blogging?

I am now accepting guest blog requests for the remainder of 2017 starting on August 28th (although some spots are books throughout the fall). If you’re interested contact me here.

If you’d like to participate, here’s what you need to qualify:

  • you are a published author – traditional or Indie or any other way that I don’t know about,


  • you are about to publish and have a launch date within a week or so of the blog post,


  • you want to promote other authors and spread success,
  • you write novels with a hint of mystery,
  • you are willing to engage in the comments section when readers comment on your post.

All I ask from you is that you follow my blog, comment on author’s posts and help share via Twitter and Facebook.  If you’re interested send me a message via my contact page.

The Requirements:

You’ll have to send me your bio, back text of your novel, author photo and book cover.

I’d like you to write something about yourself, your novel, your research, a writing tip or a publishing tip. Please keep in mind I am a family friendly blog.

I do reserve the right to edit anything I think might be inappropriate for my audience, which I will discuss with you first. I think anything under 700 words is great, but it’s your book so up to you.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you and sharing your novel with the Internet world.

Mystery Mondays: James Hilton on The Writing Process

Another author’s writing process always fascinates me. Today on Mystery Mondays we have author James Hilton here to share his process. Let us know how your process differs.

My Writing Process

I guess every writer both amateur and professional follows their own path. Some just set off writing and see where the story takes them, others are meticulous in their outline (some nearly as detailed as the finished novels). There is no right or wrong way, only what works best for you.

I like to sketch out an outline in the barest of detail, kind of like a film storyboard but much less exact. Each ‘block’ lists the major event or scene in the chapter. This helps me navigate through the riptides and marshes as I get down to the physical task of writing. 

The overall theme and inspiration of the book differs each time. My first Gunn Brothers novel Search and Destroy was written with the theme ‘how far would blue collar tough guys go to stay alive?’

Once the general theme is in my mind then comes the details. I sketch out the storyboard, usually about two sides of A4. When I’m happy that I’ve got a definite direction, then begins the writing. I keep all of my notes and storyboards after the novel is finished and compare them with the finished draft. Sometimes they are almost the same in detail and direction but sometimes during the writing process the story changes.

A good example is in the storyboard my first novel, the character Tansen Tibrikot was to have a fleeting mention, just a convenient guy to help the story along. Yet sometimes, as other writers will tell you, your character can grow legs. This was definitely the case with Tansen. Suddenly his back story grew, as did his quirky penchant for old west memorabilia. The drama just seemed want to follow him onto the page. Who was I to stand in his way? 

Any ideas or scenes that I discarded (or were exorcised via Holy Water by my wonderful editor) are filed away for future consideration. I think of them as deleted scenes, again much as in a movie production. Sometimes these are best left on the metaphorical cutting room floor and other times they get filed away for possible future use. 

When I finally get down to the day to day business of putting words on a page, I often do so while listening to music (via headphones so as not to disturb the neighbourhood). I am a big fan of movie scores and as these often last up to two hours they fit my writing sessions well. I have unbridled respect for composers and musicians.

The skill and effort that must go into composing a film score is, to me, nothing short of miraculous. The music of Basil Poledouris, Hans Zimmer, Bryan Tyler, John Williams and Ennio Morricone is timeless. Occasionally I will switch it up and play some frenetic tunes, thrash metal, techno rave and the likes. Like my characters on the page, I am a man of contrasts.

When I have finished the first draft, I step away from the book for a week or so then read it through and make notes of any glaring errors or inconsistencies (they pop up in the unlikeliest of places). Then begins the hard work; getting it ready to submit to your editor. 

Then like the Greek king Sysyphus who rolled the stone uphill for eternity, we get to do it over again, albeit with a nervous smile.

Who Is James Hilton?

20160529_124553 (2)James lives in the rugged but beautiful North of England with his wife Wendy.

He is the author of various genre collections plus has been published in various fan favourite anthologies. Not to be confused with the beloved author of Goodbye Mr Chips and Lost Horizon.

Alongside his older brother Matt Hilton (author of the bestselling Joe Hunter Thrillers), James trained in the martial arts since the age of 11, first in the strict routines of Shotokan Karate then later in the very effective combat style of Kempo JuJitsu. James is currently ranked as a 4th dan Blackbelt.

His love of martial arts in all of their variations, both eastern & world arts has driven him to study arts from Europe, Japan, China, Indonesia and America.

His other passions include visiting Florida and the Caribbean, reading horror, suspense and action thrillers. 

He is currently working on the next book in the ‘Gunn Brothers Thriller’ series from Titan Books and also researching material for the first book in a new YA series.

Fight Or Die by James Hilton

Fight or Die
When the Gunn brothers Danny and Clay answer a call to help old friends, they are plunged into a volatile and deadly situation. Larry and Pamela Duke own one of the most popular nightclubs in the Spanish resort town of Ultima, but a local gang known as the Locos are determined to take it. Danny and Clay are hired to protect the club, but new adversaries enter the game. Against such odds there are only two choices: fight or die…

Mystery Monday: Connie Johnson Hambley on Book Marketing From the Other Side

This week on Mystery Mondays, we have author Connie Johnson Hambley here to talk about marketing your book – but from a different perspective. She’s here with super helpful advice on a topic that as authors we many not think about…

Marketing Your Book? Watch Your Back

by Connie Johnson Hambley

We’ve all heard the advice about creating the best cover for your book. Read the majority of posts regarding book covers, and you quickly realize all the buzz in on the front cover.

My advice? Watch your back.

Getting the best quality design and format for your front cover is essential, but most authors neglect the importance of a compelling back cover. Don’t let a frontal focus limit you from creating the best back cover you can.

I can hear you thinking, “Um, eBooks don’t have back covers. Why bother?”

Simple. Even if your book will not be released in paperback or hard cover, having a back cover image in a jpeg, png, gif or other format adds another level to your marketing efforts. Social media loves pictures that convey information quickly. Back cover images that combine words and pictures give your potential readers more reasons to buy your book.

The back cover is an open canvas for content. The best covers may contain the following elements:

  1. The compelling question your book answers or hook.

“What if your very existence threatened an empire?”

Gosh! I never thought of that before! My first book, The Charity, answered that question for my trilogy’s main character, Jessica Wyeth. The question itself leads the prospective book buyer deeper into your world. A good hook does the same thing. For mystery The Charity - Cover_new.inddlovers, there’s nothing like hinting someone is recently dead or going to die that peaks interest.

  1. Blurbs and excerpted reviews.

Readers want to know their money is going to something good. They want to see a stamp of approval for the book from authors they may be familiar with or organizations they trust.

  1. Book Summary

A good summary contains a snapshot of the main characters, setting, goal, obstacles, and conflict. Leaving the reader at a cliff-hanger is a great way for them to understand the context for the compelling question. The summary provides insight into the world you created in your story in no more than two hundred words.

  1. Images

This is the fun stuff. Settings? Main characters? Cool technology? Murder weapons? Sure!

THE WAKE - BACK COVERThis is where the back cover can be more powerful that the front. Select three or more images that highlight something your reader is going to care about. I write mainstream thrillers with a world-class equestrian as the main character. Readers who enjoy the world horses inhabit (think thoroughbred racing, rodeo, stadium jumping, cattle roping. . . you get the idea), are quick to have more interest in my books when they see a horse on the back cover.

For the third book in my trilogy, The Wake, the top image of a horse and a wheelchair provides a strong hint that something goes very wrong. That image combined with a positive blurb from the CEO of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (horse-based physical and emotional therapies) begins to inform readers of a storyline they didn’t see coming. The bottom picture of Cumann n mBan, a female member of the IRA, ties the books to the Irelands and is a powerful image for today’s readers.

  1. Series Continuity

Informing readers a book is a part of a series is an essential part of marketing. I’ve used my back covers to show continuity as well as content. Taken as a whole, a reader can see the trajectory of the storyline.

  1. ISBN and Barcode

If you go to the trouble of making a back cover, be sure to allow for barcode placement in the lower right-hand corner. A quick search will provide you with the information you need for dimensions and proper placement. 

The Charity: Witness to a gang-style slaying, a young woman is hunted to stop her from exposing the money and the people behind a Boston-based terrorist cell.

The Troubles: Deceived by her family, a rebellious woman seeks to unearth how Northern Ireland’s Troubles are buried in her mother’s secret past.


The Wake: A shattered heiress’ family secret is exploited by her spurned lover to blackmail her into engaging in international terrorism.


THE WAKE answers the question, “Is a terrorist born or made?”

World-class equestrian, Jessica Wyeth, is thrust into the middle of a game of geopolitical warfare. Reeling from revelations of her connection to the violent struggles to expunge Britain from Northern Ireland, she’s blocked by unseen forces from returning to the United States.

The facts of Jessica’s birth become her deepest secret. Her late mother was considered by Northern Ireland to be a terrorist and her father is a key negotiator between violent Irish Republican Army (IRA) factions in Belfast and the British Government.

Jessica vows to keep her father’s identity hidden at all costs.

Only one man knows Jessica’s truth. Michael Connaught, heir to an international crime family who profits from political uprisings, struggles with his own legacy. He is torn between protecting the woman he loves or using her secrets as a catalyst for inciting global unrest.

When a terrorist bomb rips through the crowd at the Atlanta-based Summer Olympic Games, Jessica is forced to fight for her life in ways she never dreamed.

The Wake is available for pre-order on Amazon.



Hambley Business HeadshotCONNIE JOHNSON HAMBLEY embraces the changes in the publishing world by being both traditionally and independently published. Growing up on a dairy farm in New York meant she had plenty of space to ride one of her six horses, and all would have been idyllic if a pesky arsonist hadn’t burned her family’s barn down. Bucolic bubble burst, she began to steadfastly plot her revenge against all bad guys, real and imagined. After receiving her law degree, she moved to Boston and wrote for Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Nature and other wonky outlets as she honed her skills of reaching readers at a deep emotional level. Her high-concept thrillers feature remarkable women entangled in modern-day crimes and walk the reader on the razor’s edge between good and evil. Connie delights in creating worlds where the good guys win–eventually. Her short story, Giving Voice, won acceptance in the award-winning New England’s Best Crime Stories: Windward, published by Level Best Books. The Troubles, is a 2016 Best Fiction winner at the EQUUS Film Festival in New York City.

Connie keeps horses in her life by volunteering as a horse handler at a therapeutic riding center. Look for updates and information on and follow her on Twitter at @conniehambley.



Mystery Mondays:Kelley Kay(e) Bowles on How She Became A Mystery Writer

Welcome to Mystery Mondays. I took a break last weekend to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.  The funnest part. A bear came by and checked us out at Happy Hour. He climbed a tree, so he could see us on our balcony. How Canadian is that?

We’re also celebrating the 2nd anniversary of Mystery Mondays. I’d like to take a moment and than all the wonderful authors who have contributed. You know who you are and you rock!

To kick off the third year of Mystery Monday, we have author Kelley Bowles here to talk about how she became a mystery writer!

Kelley Bowles on Becoming a Mystery Writer:

I am a Pacifist. My whole family is a pack of Pacifists. Proof of our Pacifism, beyond the fact that I must gently deposit all spiders outside, is shown in a much-loved family story. My father, when he was 17, was taken deer hunting. This happened in 1950, when definitions of masculinity were, however right or wrong you feel this is, more clearly defined. Hunting is manly, and was considered a crucial rite of passage for many generations of men.

For my father, (who was in my opinion very manly, 


but, you know—he’s Daddy) as soon as he picked up the gun and pointed it at the deer he put it right back down. “The deer and I made eye contact,” he said, “and that was all she wrote.” He never picked up a gun or raised a fist to another living thing, on two legs or four, ever again. Well, he did slam some guy’s arm in a door once, but that guy was trying to steal a camera from his office!

I, personally, have never owned or used a gun or even been in a fight, although I broke up a few during my 20 years of teaching. But I love murder mysteries. I’ve loved them since before I’d read every possible Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Encyclopedia Brown I could find, and I learned this from my father.

He was a voracious reader and a lifetime learner, who by the age of 32 hadn’t figured out what to do with his hundreds of college credits that had never turned into any kind of degree. He asked my mother, who was his girlfriend at the time, what he oughta do with his life. She said, ‘Well, how many books do you have?’ He said, ‘I dunno…five thousand?’ ‘Why don’t you open a store?’ was her response.

So he did—in 1966 he opened a used bookstore way before the idea became normal (I call him the ‘inventor’ of the used bookstore). He ran the bookstore for 40 years and always forwent some of his sales to bring his favorite books home to my mother, my sister and me. No question about it, the mysteries, thrillers and spy games were his favorites, and consequently became mine. Now I even write them!

The question then becomes WHY?

 Why does this family of Pacifists revel so in humanity’s worst behavior? This is a question people ask me, and I ask myself, all the time. I remember watching my dad fly through book after book, from Elmore Leonard to Clive Cussler to Agatha Christie, and he never slowed down and he never tired of the genre. I am more of a Harlan Coben Sarah Paretzky James Lee Burke kinda gal, but I feel the same way. And writing them? Fuggedaboutit. I practically salivate at the thought of solving the mystery, whether I’m writing my own or inhaling somebody else’s. None of us want to cause death or think too much about dying, but we love these stories about it SO MUCH! I think, for me it’s as much about looking at what good things people can do in the face of bad behavior as anything.

The cozy mystery series I write, called Chalkboard Outlines®, follows Emma Lovett and Leslie Parker, two high school English teachers in the fictional town of Pinewood, Colorado. They are way into Shakespeare, an obsession of many real or imagined English teachers, and his quotes and stories are integral to the books. Shakespeare, in my opinion, knew more about human nature than…anyone, really. It’s turning out to be a wonderful element for cozy mystery amateur sleuths who have more than a passing knowledge of him and his themes—the ladies can tap into his vast understanding of humanity when they’re searching for a killer (Shakespeare understands our love of the murder mystery, for sure!). I love seeing what good things Emma, Leslie and the other characters in the books try to do in the face of bad behavior.

I, also, was a high school teacher in an actual Colorado town. The high school setting is such a perfect place to examine this theme. I’ll be honest–sometimes it was tough to be a Pacifist there. J But as far school being this macrocosm of the larger society, with every possible character and event, outlook and reaction on display, it was a writer’s dream. Thomas Jefferson High School in my books is based on my Colorado school (and the one in Lake Tahoe where I landed my first teaching job), but when people ask me if the characters are based on real people, the answer is no. But also yes, because I draw from a huge pile of things that I’ve seen and experienced in this tiny universe. It’s the perfect place to continue my journey to answer the question of why this Pacifist is obsessed with murder mysteries!

I’m super excited to say the Chalkboard Outlines® adventure endures! The first book, Death by Diploma, published by Red Adept Publishing, came out in February 2016 and went #1 for Cozy Mystery on Amazon in August. Book 2, Poison by Punctuation, is under contract with RAP and will be released in early 2018. I am currently working on book 3, working title Strangled by Simile. I’d love to hear from other mystery lovers about their own answers to the question of why!

Kelley’s Mystery Novel: 

covernameEmma Lovett leaves her philandering husband and crosses the country to begin her teaching career at a high school in Pinewood, Colorado.There, she meets Leslie Parker, a fellow teacher given to quoting Shakespeare to fit all situations, and the two become fast friends.

Arriving at work early one morning, Emma discovers the body of the school custodian, a man who reminds her of her late father. When the police struggle to find the killer, the ladies decide to help solve the murder. Their efforts lead them to a myriad of suspects: the schizophrenic librarian, the crude football coach, the mysterious social studies teacher, and even Emma’s new love interest.

As Emma Lovett discovers the perils of teaching high school, she and Leslie learn more than they ever wanted to know about the reasons people kill.






Mystery Mondays: Jacqueline T. Lynch on The Scene Of The Crime

Today on Mystery Monday, we have Jacqueline T. Lynch, author of Cadmium Yellow, Blood Red.  She has also published short stories and non-fiction books. Today we’ll find out a bit about the “Cozy Noir” genre.

The Scene of the Crime: Postwar New England by Jacqueline T. Lynch 

cybr_printI love “cozy” mysteries and love classic film noir. In combing the two genres for a mystery series, I chose not a sinister Gotham or a fog-shrouded San Francisco, or a sun-bleached and cynical Los Angeles in which to set my characters and stories like those old film noirs. I chose Connecticut in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

I write in a variety of genres: nonfiction history (predominantly New England), classic film criticism, a biography of actress Ann Blyth, as well as novels, and plays.

My Double V Mysteries series protagonists are a young widowed heiress and an ex-con.  They are implicated in crimes in the first book, Cadmium Yellow, Blood Red, and join together to prove their innocence, and in later books become hired sleuths.  I’m currently working on the fifth book in the series, set in a summer playhouse on the Connecticut shore in 1951.  The Double V name comes from their surnames: Juliet Van Allen and Elmer Vartanian.

The books are written in what I suppose I would term “cozy noir.”  Much like 1940s noir films (Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, etc.), grim crimes and crime-solving situations are presented without strong language or sexual scenes.  There is a bit of humor here and there, but for the most part the couple cautiously navigates the series subplot: a tenuous romance.  They each carry a lot of baggage from their pasts and are wary about becoming too close — but they’ll get there in time.

New England is my home and I am more familiar with this part of the country, but as with many historical novels, the era, I think, is even more important to the tone of the books than the geographical setting. Books enfold us an intimate sense of time travel, but it is perhaps easier for some readers to become lost in the Middle Ages or in the Regency period than in the 1950s, where we must actually be more familiar with the history of that period to immerse ourselves in the story and believe it. We may accept tales of knights and lords and ladies without really knowing much about everyday life in those olden times; but though the middle twentieth century is not as distant; in terms of technology and cultural events it might as well have been a millennium ago.

In the post-World War II years New England found itself at a crossroads. The population was shifting; wartime industry lured thousands to our nineteenth century mill towns, who then left the cities for the new suburban world being carved out of our farmland. In the 1950s, a good deal of that industry began to head south. New interstate highways seemed to aid the exodus, skirting cities, or else piercing through the heart of them. The 1950s saw the heyday of the great downtown department stores in Hartford, Connecticut—the duo’s home base—and summer theatre in the country towns.

Times were changing, and though we reached for the promise of a great future to wipe away the memory of war and Depression, we were also afraid of letting go of the past. Elmer, who had spent the war years in prison and feels guilty for having missed serving in the war, and missed his daughter’s childhood, is baffled by ballpoint pens, frozen orange juice concentrate, supermarkets, and a nuclear age that makes him feel a bit like Rip Van Winkle. Juliet is his guide, and ours, to this strange new world. The fads and even great events of the day: backyard bomb shelters, drive-in movies, and vanquishing polio will have a place in future books in this series—and crimes to be solved around them.

The first book, Cadmium Yellow, Blood Red, is about a museum heist, a missing child, and a murder introducing the recent ex-con and even more recent widow.

In Hartford, Connecticut, 1949, Juliet Van Allen, an administrator at the Wadsworth Atheneum, a prestigious art museum, discovers that her avant-garde artist husband is having an affair with another woman. Juliet’s husband is murdered, and she is the prime suspect. Elmer Vartanian, recently released from prison, is coerced into helping scout the museum for a heist by a gang that has kidnapped his daughter.

Juliet, the rebellious only daughter of a wealthy financier, and Elmer, a lower-class ex-convict who has educated himself in prison, must partner to solve their separate crises, compelled to work together while dogged by the scandal-monger newsman, the shrewd police detective, and scrutinized by the even more judgmental eye of Hartford’s elite in world where Modern Art meets old-fashioned murder.

 Who is Jacqueline T. Lynch?

JLynch photoJacqueline T. Lynch’s novels, short stories, and non-fiction books on New England history and film criticism are available from many online shops as eBooks, audiobooks, and paperback. She is also a playwright whose plays have been produced around the United States and in Europe, and has published articles and short fiction in regional and national publications. She writes Another Old Movie Blog on classic films, and the syndicated column Silver Screen, Golden Years.


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Jacqueline T. Lynch






Mystery Mondays: Joanne Guidoccio on Finding Your Writing Voice

Today on Mystery Mondays we have author, Joanne Guidoccio.  Joanne is the author of Too Many Women In The Room. Doesn’t the title just make you want to read her book?

Well guess what? Read on to the end, and you have a chance to $10 amazon gift card, and with that you can buy Joanne’s book!

How Toastmasters Helped Me Find My Writing Voice

When I retired from teaching in 2008, I was determined to create an oasis of calm. Three decades of teaching mathematics to adolescents had cured me of any “yang” tendencies. Or so I thought. After several months of luncheon dates, book club meetings, afternoon yoga sessions, and large blocks of reading time, I found myself suffering from “yin” overload.

In short, I was bored.

I toyed with the prospect of launching a second act as a writer and spent considerable time preparing for my new career. New business cards. New computer. And dreams of a runaway best-seller.

One problem – my underdeveloped writing muscles refused to budge.

On a whim, I visited Royal City Toastmasters. Not knowing what to expect, I relaxed when I saw twelve people in the room, most of them women. I felt an instant camaraderie with the group and volunteered to participate in Table Topics (one to two minutes of impromptu speaking). As I stood in the front of the room, I received many encouraging smiles. I took several deep breaths and started to share an anecdote. At one point, everyone started clapping.

Was I that good? That profound? Thinking back, I could recall only one example of students clapping during my classes: I had canceled a test. Later, I learned that clapping was a signal that I had gone beyond the allotted time limit.

At the end of my second visit, I joined the club, with the understanding that my attendance would be sporadic, and I would not be completing any of the designations or hopping on the leadership track. While I admired the rising stars in the club, I had no desire to share their ambitions. I was retired and didn’t need any unnecessary stress in my life.

All that changed on the evening of my Icebreaker speech. I felt the proverbial butterflies and panicked when I saw ten extra guests that evening. I also worried about my choice of topic, “Seasons of my Life.” Would the speech be too deep, too personal? My worries were short-lived. Everyone enthusiastically responded to my speech, and I received many compliments afterward. More importantly, I enjoyed the adrenaline rush. So much so, that I pestered the Education VP for more speech opportunities. Several months later, I joined a second Toastmasters club. With six meetings a month, I was well on my way to completing the ten speeches in the Competent Communicator manual.

While I continued to read voraciously, I found myself scribbling comments and insights that later morphed into book reviews. I polished one of those reviews and sent it off to the editor of a local paper. He published the piece and invited me to join the ranks of contributing reviewers.

The quality of my writing also improved. Fewer shrinkers (words like “just,” “actually,” and “almost”) and disclaimers (“I’m not an expert, but”). More action verbs. More sharing of personal anecdotes. And a bubbling curiosity about different topics, among them health and wellness, careers, money management, and personal growth and development.

A writing practice slowly emerged, and I watched with delight as my articles appeared in newspapers, magazines, and online. Buoyed by this success, I resurrected an old writing dream concocted during my high school years and penned a novel. Three more followed and, after many queries, four publishing contracts.

On the Toastmaster front, I went on to complete the Competent Communicator, Competent Leadership, Bronze, and Silver designations. I have also won and placed in five speech contests and held three executive positions.

Nine years into retirement, I still enjoy my “yin” pursuits, and I’m continually challenged (in a good way) by the “yang” addition to my life.



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TooManyWomenintheRoom_w11221_750 (2)When Gilda Greco invites her closest friends to a VIP dinner, she plans to share David Korba’s signature dishes and launch their joint venture— Xenia, an innovative Greek restaurant near Sudbury, Ontario. Unknown to Gilda, David has also invited Michael Taylor, a lecherous photographer who has throughout the past three decades managed to annoy all the women in the room. One woman follows Michael to a deserted field for his midnight run and stabs him in the jugular.

Gilda’s life is awash with complications as she wrestles with a certain detective’s commitment issues and growing doubts about her risky investment in Xenia. Frustrated, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers decades-old secrets and resentments that have festered until they explode into untimely death. Can Gilda outwit a killer bent on killing again?

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Guidoccio 001In 2008, Joanne retired from a 31-year teaching career and launched a second act that tapped into her creative side. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

Where to find Joanne…








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