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: Lyn Horner on Formatting & Publishing on Amazon

Today on Mystery Mondays we have Lyn Horner here to give us an in-depth lesson on how to format and publish your book on Amazon. This is a great resource if you’re about to embark on a self-publishing journey.  Thanks Lyn!

Over to Lyn…

Formatting & Publishing Your Book on Amazon

by Lyn Horner

Many thanks to Kristina for having me on her awesome site. I’m a self-published author with 15 books on Amazon. Some authors hire a service to format and upload their books to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Amazon’s self-publishing platform, but I do it myself. Today I’ll share what I’ve learned about the process.

**First, make sure your book meets Amazon’s content and quality guidelines.

 Then prepare your manuscript:

  1. Back-up your book file onto an external drive or one of the cloud backup sites (or both.) Copies can be a life saver if anything goes wrong during formatting.
  2. Combine your chapters. If you normally save chapters separately, you need to combine them into one document. Insert a page break at the end of each chapter to prevent them from running together in the uploaded book.
  3. Remove page numbers. Kindle books are reflowable (viewable in different font sizes). Page numbers would cause problems. Also remove any headers with the book title, your name, etc.
  4. Your font style must change sizes easily on a variety of devices. Times New Roman 12 pt. works well. Enlarge font for chapter headings.
  5. Remove paragraph indent tabs to avoid uneven indents in your ebook. To remove, type one tab at the top of your document, select and copy it. Open Find in the Edit menu. Paste the tab you copied into the Find box. (Word won’t let you type in the tab.) Open Replace in the Edit menu but leave the box empty; click Replace All. This will remove all tabs from your document.

To replace indents, select one whole chapter at a time, except the chapter title. Go to Indents and Spacing in your Paragraph drop-down. Set your first line indent at 0.5″ (default width) or smaller if preferred. Click okay. WORD will indent each paragraph for you. This does not cause problems with the Kindle conversion.

  1. Do not double space, no double line spacing and no double spaces after each sentence.
  2. Do not underline to indicate italics. Just italicize the word. Be sure to italicize foreign word. They will be underlined in red by the Word spell checker, but those lines will not show in your uploaded file.
  3. Indicate scene breaks within a chapter by centering three or four asterisks, pound signs or other symbol on a line between scenes. For point of view changes in a chapter, I simply insert a blank line. I want readers to know which character’s POV they’re in.
  4. Front and Back matter: Create a title page at the start of your book. See published books for style ideas. Add a copyright page after the title page. Again, see examples in published books. Next, add a dedication page and/or preface if you wish.

End your book by thanking your reader for purchasing it and include live links to your Amazon author page, website, social sites, etc. Then add a brief author bio and review snippets if you have them. Place a page break at the end of each page in your front and back matter.

  1. Amazon wants a table of contents (TOC) even in fiction ebooks, allowing readers to navigate easily. Some authors don’t include one, but I do. Each chapter title in the TOC must link to that chapter in your book. I also include links to my front and back matter pages. Find instructions for creating a TOC in your Word program.
  2. Create an HTML copy. You can upload your book as a doc or docx file, or in html format. To do that, first save your formatted book as a Word document first, in case you need it later. Then hit “Save As” and choose “Web Page, Filtered” as the file type. This converts it to an HTML file.


Another option is to have your book converted to mobi, the Kindle format, by a professional service, but it’s not necessary in most cases.

Okay, your book is ready to upload. Now what?

–Use your Amazon account to sign in to KDP or create a new one.

–Make sure your browser is updated.

–Go to your KDP Bookshelf. In the “Create a New Title” section, click +Kindle eBook and

enter your information for each section:

Kindle eBook Details: Enter title, description, keywords, categories, etc.

Kindel eBook Content: Upload manuscript and create your cover. (That’s a whole different post.) Preview your eBook to make sure everything looks good.

Kindle eBook Pricing: Select the territories where you hold distribution rights. (In most cases you should select Worldwide.) Select a royalty plan and set your list price.

  1. Click Publish Your eBook. Wait ’til your book is live on Amazon, then celebrate!


Lyn in cat shirt cropped.2Lyn Horner resides in Fort Worth, Texas, with her husband and several very spoiled cats. Trained in the visual arts, Lyn worked as a fashion illustrator and art instructor before she took up writing. She loves crafting passionate, action packed love stories, both historical and contemporary. Her Texas Devlins series blends Old West settings, steamy romance and a glimmer of the mysterious. This series has won multiple awards and nominations.


Lyn is now writing book 7 in her Romancing the Guardians series. These books combine her trademark psychic phenomena with chilling apocalyptic prophesies and sizzling romance. All feature suspense and adventure in settings ranging from Ireland to Texas, the Navajo Nation and other exotic sites.

Profiling Nathan

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]Nathan Maguire just wants to make a living inking tattoos in steamy Tampa, Florida, but a serial killer is murdering young women near his shop. Latino gangbangers are giving him trouble. On top of all that, he’s a covert Guardian of Danu sworn to protect one of seven ancient scrolls containing apocalyptic prophesies.

When sexy FBI profiler Talia Werner delivers a message from one of the other Guardians, Nate instantly distrusts her. No one outside the top-secret group is supposed to know they exist, but despite his suspicions, a fiery attraction ensnares the pair. Then, to save Talia’s pretty neck, Nate must help catch the murderer. His psychic gift may come in handy.


Five Star Review from mystery author Craig A. Hart

Lyn Horner doesn’t waste any time getting into the meat of the story with this book. One thing that bothers me about a lot of writers is that they take forever to get to the actual story–not an issue here!

I also enjoyed the characters. Nathan Maguire, a psychic tattoo artist, and Talia Werner, a sexy FBI profiler are both larger than life and help move the story along.

The story itself is a good mix of romance and murder mystery, so there’s something for everyone! Horner also does a good job of creating some great Florida atmosphere, although early on in the book, I got hungry for a Cuban sandwich and had to stop reading to eat something!

A great read!

Profiling Nathan buy links:

US Amazon     UK Amazon     CA: Amazon     AU Amazon

Amazon Author Page:

Lyn’s Romance Gazette: (

Lyn Horner’s Corner: (

Twitter   Facebook   Goodreads   Google Plus

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 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 be 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 2016 starting on June 26th (although some spots are books throughout the summer). 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 of 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 Requitements:

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: Author Carolyn Mulford on 10 Common Mistakes

Today on Mystery Mondays I have the pleasure of hosting Carolyn Mulford. Carolyn writes mysteries and historical novels and has some sage advice on making your first draft better. At the end of this post, you’ll find a giveaway…

Beware 10 Common Mistakes by Carolyn Mulford

Working as a magazine editor, I observed that most of my well-educated contributors made the same types of mistakes in content, structure, and syntax. Then I started my transition from writing short nonfiction to writing novels. By the time my first mystery, Show Me the Murder, came out, experience in rewriting my own novels and in critiquing other writers’ work convinced me that most mystery writers also err in the same ways.

I share 10 errors common in first drafts—and sometimes the second and third. Even a newbie won’t go wrong on all of them, but even a veteran must guard against one or two.

The types of errors differ in the manuscript’s three major sections: the opening (two to four chapters), the middle (twenty to thirty chapters), and the ending (three to five  chapters).

The opening chapters

You have to grab readers fast, preferably on the first page, and keep a firm grip on them through the opening chapters. These set the tone and establish your voice for the entire book. Watch out for these problems.

  1. A lengthy backstory

Reveal only absolute essentials about your protagonist in the first chapter. Details delay the story. Later drop in the necessary backstory in phrases or sentences.

  1. Long descriptions of the setting

Select only telling details that put the reader in the time and place and establish the mood.

  1. A prologue revealing a dramatic point late in the book

Often writers use this kind of prologue, or a flashback, because the beginning lacks excitement. Consider making the prologue part of chapter one or starting the story closer to the murder.

  1. Multiple characters

How many names do you remember after a cocktail party? Readers can’t remember more than that. Introduce your protagonist immediately as readers identify with those they meet first.

 The middle chapters

We agonize over the crucial opening and lose steam in the much longer middle, the heart of the investigation and of character development. Worry about readers putting the book down at the end of a chapter. Each chapter must motivate them to read on, so avoid the following.

  1. A lack of action

Something must happen in every chapter. Check that by writing chapter headlines. Be sure you have a plot point and conflict—in solving the crime, in reaching the protagonist’s goals, in personal and professional interactions.

  1. Clues or characterizations that reveal too much

Drop in little clues here and there rather than big ones bunched together. Present three or four viable suspects and speculate on at least two motives. Draw suspects in gray rather than black and white.

  1.   Indistinguishable characters

Give each named character a memorable characteristic—appearance, mannerism, speech pattern, etc. For me, one of the great challenges and delights is portraying each character through distinctive dialogue, which involves vocabulary, grammar, syntax, and rhythm.

 The final chapters

Readers will condemn the whole book if the ending doesn’t satisfy them. They feel cheated if the solution shocks rather than surprises or characters act out of character. Readers’ frustration often comes from the following mistakes.

  1.   The first indication of the villain and the motive

From the beginning on, insert the character traits and the facts—at minimum the classic motive, means, and opportunity—needed to solve the crime. The last piece of the puzzle, or an interpretation of it, comes near the end, but clues and red herrings pop up all the way through.

  1.   Illogical, coincidental, or incredible solutions

You want readers to say, “Oh, of course. Now I get it.” Mystery readers require the writer to play fair in telling them what they need to know to solve the crime. They also expect justice.

  1. Villain reveals all

If the bad guy has to explain why and how, you need to go back and insert clues. Remember to wrap up all the loose ends, starting with the subplots. If you’re writing a series, readers accept an obvious loose end (often involving a relationship) that propels them into your next book.

Writing a mystery gives us countless opportunities to lose our readers, an intelligent and demanding group. Writing and rewriting with these 10 common mistakes in mind may help retain their attention.

One other thing that years of writing both nonfiction and fiction has taught me: If I become bored or restless in either writing or reading my own work, it’s time to rewrite.

Mulford18csmallWho Is Carolyn Mulford?

Carolyn Mulford worked on five continents as a nonfiction writer/editor before turning to fiction. Her award-winning Show Me series features Phoenix Smith, a former CIA covert operative who returns to rural Missouri and adapts her tradecraft to solve crimes with old friends and a K-9 dropout.

You can read the first chapters of her five mysteries and two YA historicals on her website:


Show Me the Sinister Snowman:

perf6.000x9.000.inddNorth Missouri has seldom been snowier and the mysteries more perplexing than in Show Me the Sinister Snowman, the fifth novel in Carolyn Mulford’s Show Me detective series.

Was the ailing congressman’s death an accident, suicide, or perhaps even murder?  And if it was murder, could it be that he was the wrong victim and the murderer might be poised to strike again?  The questions and perils build up, but retired CIA operative Phoenix Smith—with help from her faithful canine assistant, Achilles—is on the case.  We watch as the action zeroes in on a snow-bound estate to provide a new twist on the classic country house mystery.


More on Carolyn:

Go to Goodreads by April 2 to enter a giveaway of Show Me the Sinister Snowman. The giveaway begins March 24th, so be sure to check out Carolyn’s Goodreads page.

Cave Hollow Press, March 31, 2017, $14.95 (trade paperback) and $3.99 (e-book), 290 pp.; ISBN: 978-0-9713497-9-7.

((Five Star published the first four in the series: Show Me the Murder, Show Me the Deadly Deer, Show Me the Gold, Show Me the Ashes.))





Mystery Mondays: Nick Rippington on Being Persistent

screen-shot-2017-01-21-at-8-43-04-amMystery Thriller Week is an annual event that celebrates the Mystery, Thriller genre. Welcome to all writers, published or unpublished. The Kickoff begins Feb.12-19, 2017!

Mystery Mondays is helping celebrate by hosting mystery writers leading up to this exciting week. The first up is Nick Rippington.

Being Persistent by Nick Rippington

MY OFFICE was a crime scene. I envisaged my computer cordoned off by yellow and black tape, the words DO NOT CROSS boldly emblazoned on it, hinting at torturous punishments if the message wasn’t heeded.

In my over-active imagination I saw figures in white paper suits pouring over the contents of my desk, wondering at the significance of the fantasy football teams I had scribbled down in my notebook, whether there might be a hidden code lying dormant among the seemingly innocuous set of names.

I studied the building, its harsh lights glaring out at me amid the uniformed greyness of the docklands office development. Feeling like one of those Watergate reporters, Woodward or Bernstein, I waited in the car park for my contact to arrive, jumping within my skin every time an engine revved or lights flashed.

Eventually Jonesy arrived, handing me a black bin liner. Opening it, I stared at the macabre contents: a half eaten chocolate bar, some chewing gum, a box of staples, a pair of blunt scissors, yellowing paper – lots of it – boasting hard-hitting headlines which had once filled me with pride.

“Sorry about this,” he said. “No one’s allowed in the building. They’re trying to find a smoking gun, I guess.”

I nodded. Two years into my dream job and I faced up to the truth – I was out of work because of ‘crimes’ committed long before I joined The News of the World as a sports journalist.

Having been on holiday, I’d almost missed Rupert Murdoch’s announcement that he was closing the paper in the wake of a stories of celebrities having their phones hacked. A friend phoned to tell me and I would only believe him after seeing it confirmed on the 24-hour TV news.

I never set foot in the building again. For the first time in my life I had been made redundant, not a nice feeling when you have a wife and a one-year-old daughter depending on you.

I had always fancied myself as a closet author, but never seemed to find the time. Now, with Indie and digital publishing exploding on the scene, I decided I would give it a go. I went to conventions, joined author and publishing groups and worked out how to set about the task.

With more than 30 years experience in journalism I had plenty of material to fall back on and began with a simple premise: How would a big city newspaper hack handle a move to a small provincial operation? One particular character sprang to mind, a dyed-in-the-wool cockney who thought the world didn’t exist beyond the boundaries of the M25 motorway.

I nurtured this germ of an idea, grew it, had my original story critiqued and rubbished, went back to square one, hardened it, added elements of thriller and mystery, drew on teenage experiences of being a member of a “gang” and came up with Crossing The Whitewash, which I published in August 2015.

Sales were a slow burn but the key is not to give up. Though most of us would rather write than get involved in marketing, my recent progress with Facebook Ads has been highly encouraging, leading to a big surge in sales over Christmas and the New Year. I broke into the top 20 hard-boiled mysteries category in the UK, my name alongside the likes of Phillip Kerr, Gordon Ferris and Stuart MacBride.

With over 30 reviews across the UK and US, many of them positive, readers have suggested they would like to see more of my characters, so the prequel is on the way. I was hoping it would be out in time for MTW but that may be ambitious. It is with the editor now, will then go to Beta readers and finally to my wife Liz, a qualified proofreader (and very good, I must add; quick plug you can contact her through her website

During that time I have been lucky to make contact with some pretty successful authors. One of the best tips came from Kerry Wilkinson, who published his first books independently before success on Amazon earned him a 10-book deal with MacMillan.

He read my first three chapters and steered me in the right direction, telling me that dialogue was key, and to let my characters tell the story. Now, whenever I get writers’ block I write a conversation between two characters. It doesn’t matter if it never appears as long as it gets the creative juices flowing again.

Thank you, Kristina, for the chance to write this. I hope your readers find it intriguing enough to take the plunge and read a Rippington.



Young football prodigy Gary Marshall and his best mate Arnie Dolan spend their teen years battling adversity and rival gangs on the tough London council estate where they live. Then a series of events occur with massive repercussions for both boys, forcing them apart.

Eight years later Arnie is desperate to revive their relationship and has a secret to impart he has harboured all his life.

So why is Gary hiding away in Wales as a sports reporter under a false name? And why is he so keen to let the past stay in the past?

Who is Nick Rippington?

2016-01-01-12-25-08-1NICK RIPPINGTON wrote his debut novel, the urban gangland thriller Crossing The Whitewash, after losing his job at the News of the World in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.

Published in August 2015, the novel recently received an honourable mention in the 2016 EBook Awards competition run by prestigious American magazine Writer’s Digest. The judges described it as “evocative, original, unfailingly precise and often humorous” and considered one of the leading characters, gang leader Arnie Dolan, as “terrifying”.

The judge in the 2016 self-published eBook competition went on to say: “I was impressed with the development of all the characters, major and minor. Arnold is terrifying but never comes across as a two-dimensional villain. By the end, the reader can see that all of the characters have changed.”

A career journalist now working on the Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday while continuing with his writing adventure, in a previous life Nick was an Executive Editor at Media Wales – the organisation that produces the Western Mail, South Wales Echo, Wales on Sunday and Wales Online in Cardiff.

In his spare time he is a big fan of the England cricket team and home town football club Bristol Rovers. He has mapped out his writing story, from first draft to eventual publication, in his blog

He is married to Liz and has two daughters, Jemma, 34, and Olivia, 6.




Facebook page:

Twitter: @nickripp

Blog: http://www.imgoingtopublish. com


Available in Kindle and in Paperback from Amazon UK

Amazon in US:

From Kobo at

Nook books


Category: This is a difficult one. I am having a lot of success in the urban category with Amazon but notice you don’t have one. For now perhaps thriller or contemporary fiction. Certainly if there was an urban category I would place it in that.

Mystery Mondays: Bill Engleson on Setting, Plot, Problem, Solution

Mystery Mondays has become such fun for me. It’s a place to discover mystery writers that I wouldn’t otherwise know about. This week, I have the pleasure to host Bill Engleson, author of Like a Child to Home and Confessions of an Inadvertently Gentrifying Soul.

So over to Bill.

Setting, Plot, Problem, Solution by Bill Engleson

cover-of-lacth-with-badgeMy novel, Like a Child to Home, is a telling, in a slightly noirish style, or so I tell myself, of the final working weeks of Child Welfare Social Worker, Wally Rose. As I was a recently retired Child Welfare Social Worker when I began the book in 2004, there is little mystery to my research style.

In Early 2004, I was contracted by my previous employer, the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development, to write a report detailing a framework for an MCFD Ethics Committee. That report, Through a Kaleidoscope, was completed in May 2004.

Like a Child to Home, or, as I called it then, Next of Kin, began with that report, with that intensive exploration of ethical practice. I am probably sounding too pompous here. What I wanted to do, in a fictional form, was describe, as best as I could, what my experience of working with at-risk kids and families was like. At the time, I had a long-shelved, since dusted-off detective manuscript, Bloodhound Days, whose main character was Wally Rose. I transposed Wally’s name into this new novel.

Borrowed character name notwithstanding, It wasn’t such a leap to view child welfare as having many of the key elements of mystery fiction.

People in crisis are the characters, humans in need. I hope I am not lessening the very real issues people face as opposed to the somewhat imaginary situations characters in novels find themselves.

Family, or loss of or estrangement from family, is frequently the setting.

The plot…how the lives of children and families are unfolding.

The problem…abuse, neglect, death, financial need.

And the solution…usually temporary…always open to interpretation.

So, with this rather generic similarity, I wrote my novel. Initially, the best I could do was write two character studies, two chapters. It was probably at this point that I actually decided to write a full-blown novel. Which I did.

Back Story of Like a Child to Home

November on the Canadian West Coast; it’s often wet, miserable and dark. Lives get messy; streets are unsafe.

Wally Rose is a brooding, sporadically up-beat, old-time social worker. Carla Prentice is an overwhelmed, single mother of two teenagers, one who has lost his way, another who may be losing hers. The Prentice family, paralyzed by fear and silence, can barely keep a lid on their out-of-control lives.

Wally is juggling a convoluted caseload of youth, each coping with more than their fair share of adolescent struggles, the taxing muddle of leftover family distress, and a baffling child welfare system they are submerged in. An old file comes back to bedevil Wally. A habitual line-crosser, he may have pushed his luck one too many times.

Wally has been “nurturing” kids and fellow workers for decades. He has little patience for red tape and is a thorn in the side of his employer. He is also running out of gas. He hopes he can fill his tank one more time, not only to save himself, and those he cares for, from a capricious system, but also to draw his career to a close on his own terms.


I write daily. Something. Anything. Lately, Monday mornings have required the writing of a haiku. Admittedly, the output is numerically minimalist but the satisfaction is almost acceptable.

In the past couple of years, my regular weekly writerly routine has involved the creation of a number of pieces of flash fiction for a variety of sites. Some of these inspiring sites have closed, proving a burden to the hosts, most of whom are not only authors themselves, but working stiffs.

Aside from a prequel to Like a Child to Home, and the resuscitated P.I. novel (with my protagonist re-christened), and the occasional poem, my principal writerly activity at the moment is shepherding a second book, a humorous creation of literary non-fiction, Confessions front cvr1.jpgConfessions of an Inadvertently Gentrifying Soul, released in early October by my publisher, Silver Bow Publishing, along the path of success.

Additionally, a short story, Hell is a Holiday was included in the recent Centum Press anthology, One Hundred Voices.

A recent writing highlight has been the announcement in November’s online CQ magazine that I have won their 2nd Short Story Challenge. The story will be printed in the February edition. Here is a link in case people are unfamiliar with CQ.

I am also part of my community. At the moment I am in my final year as Chair of the Hornby & Denman Community Health Care Society. It is a fine service oriented organization.



Few, I’m afraid.

This year, Like a Child to Home received an Honourable Mention at the inaugural Whistler Independent Book Awards.

Reading Inclinations

These days, I enjoy Michael Connelly, Philip Kerr and Lawrence Durrell to name but three.





bill-engleson-in-a-reflective-momentOn the day I was born, or thereabouts, my parents pulled into a dock at Powell River and made their way to the hospital.

I am pretty sure it went that way. They never actually spelled out the details and I never asked.

I can’t imagine we lingered more than a couple of days in that seaside town after I was delivered.

The next year and a half was spent on their fish boat. I am told I developed sea legs. I assume that is true. I never fell into the chuck. They never mentioned it anyways.

We finally came to shore in Nanaimo. A Pulp Mill had to be built. My father signed on.

I came of age in Nanaimo. In my later teens, I left, had a truncated Canadian military encounter in Kingston, a tail-between-my-legs return to High School to repeat Grade 12 (after signing a behavioural contract,) and a second, more permanent exit into my own wonky version of maturity and liberation.

I attended SFU as a charter student, dropped out whilst remaining within, immersed myself in student politics, had a six month flirtation with Frontier College and spent more than a decade living in the CRCA, a New Westminster Co-op/Commune which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in August, 2017.

For a career, I spent twenty-four years with MCFD, initially as a family support worker and, post-Solidarity, 1983, as a child protection social worker.

In 2002, I accepted early retirement but after a couple of months of mind-numbing sloth, went to work, for 1 ½ years, with the Lower Mainland Purpose Society headquartered in New Westminster. Previously I had served on the Board of Directors for many years.

All along the plan, our post-work life plan, was for my partner and me to live in the country, preferably on an Island.

Devil’s Island or Denman Island. It didn’t matter.

Well, it mattered some.

Life on Denman has been full, mostly with writing, volunteering, table tennis and, of late, Pickleball.

To keep as active as is befitting a retired social worker who writes, I maintain a blog,, and occasionally post both musings on writing and observations on the state of Child Welfare.

There is an intensity to rural life yet, all the while, a comfortable detachment exists, can exist. The community struggles, yet comes together.

I like to think that my writing hasn’t hindered its intermittent coalescence.