Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Mysterious Lives Of Mystery Writers

Back in February of this year I blogged about the disappearance of Agatha Christie in my post, Wherefore Art Thou Agatha?  But Agatha isn't the only golden age mystery writer cloaked in her own mystery.

Elizabeth MacKintosh, a.k.a. Gordon Daviot, a.k.a. Josephine Tey as she's known in literary circles, led a very private life. Even her close friends didn't know her well. What is known about her life, such as Tey giving up teaching to take care of her father has been a topic of debate since her father was known to be an avid fisherman late in life and not someone who would be thought of as needing cared for.

Vanity Fair ran a fascinating article last September.

Decades After Her Death, Mystery Still Surrounds Crime Novelist Josephine Tey

I don't know about you, but I'm always curious about mysteries surrounding the men and women who write mystery novels! Give it a read and let me know what you think.

Jamie Blair
Deadly Dog Days - Nov. 8, 2016

Monday, September 19, 2016

Bouchercon Virgin No More

This past week, I attended my first Bouchercon conference. I've been hearing about Bouchercon for a long time and have always wanted to go. I finally decided it was time. I registered, bought my tickets, scored an awesome roommate at the conference hotel, and went for it. The week started with a workshop on diversity put on by Sisters in Crime. It led off with a keynote speech by Walter Mosley. I would show you a picture, but I was too busy giving him a standing ovation and wiping the tears off my cheeks. His speech was that good. Next day was my panel about cozy mysteries. Shawn Reilly Simmons, Loretta Ross, Carol Ann Newsome, Debra Goldstein, and I (in my Kristi Abbott persona) talked about our books, our motivations, and our favorite lines from our books. Carolyn Tillery was our fearless moderator.
I think it went well. I only mentioned penises once and I used a euphemism so I'm pretty sure it was classy. Then there was time in the bar with fun people like Midnight Ink editor Terri Bischoff and Midnight Ink authors Catriona McPherson and Lisa Alber.
There were publisher parties, regular parties, and tons of food everywhere, including beignet for breakfast.
There were hot sauce tasting bars:
Heather Graham's band played at House of Blues:
Then I also got to see cousins that I almost never get to see because they live way down here and I live way out west. They took me to eat more amazing food (red beans and rice, am I right?) and to walk along Lake Ponchatrain:
Monday morning, I go on a cemetery tour then get on a plane to go home. It's been an amazing and exhausting week, but I'm so glad I went! UPDATE: Had to add this because I'm not sure I've ever done anything this dangerous. I walked half barefoot through the French Quarter due to a flip flop blow-out in the cemetery.
Anybody have any good conference stories they want to add?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Midnight Ink Books for Your Autumnal Pleasure

Webmistress Lisa here. We don't have a guest author today. Instead, I've rounded up the Midnight Ink new releases for September. As we head into colder weather and the hectic holiday season we need our reading material, do we not? Happy reading! ~Lisa

Salem's Cipher by Jess Lourey

A troubled codebreaker faces an epic plot reaching back through centuries of America’s secret history.

"A fast-paced, sometimes brutal thriller reminiscent of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code."         —Booklist (starred review)

Close Call by Laura DiSilverio

Mistaking a killer’s phone for her own, Sydney Ellison is drawn back to a past she thought she’d left behind.

"DiSilverio's excellent plotting in her stand-alone thriller will keep readers on the edge of their seats . . . A treat for Megan Abbott fans."—Library Journal (starred review)

The Question of the Felonious Friend by E.J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen

When a young man who also has Asperger’s, asks if a store clerk is truly his friend, Samuel Hoenig, for the first time, can’t bear to give an objective answer. It’s a dicey situation that only gets worse when one of the key players ends up dead.

"Samuel Hoenig . . . takes on a real puzzler in Copperman and Cohen's winning third Asperger's mystery."—Publishers Weekly

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Quaker Midwife News

Edith Maxwell here, with several bits of good news!

The large print version of Delivering the Truth came out yesterday. I've only had one other of my books come out in large print and I'm delighted. Isn't that a great cover? I'm happy that vision-impaired readers will be able to read a paper copy of the story.

This Saturday is the big event: the staged reading of scenes in Delivering the Truth between Rose Carroll and John Greenleaf Whittier. If you're in New England, I hope you'll join us at the historic Amesbury Friends Meetinghouse!

Friends Journal is the US national Quaker Magazine. They reviewed the book last week, and it was a glowing review! "...presents Quaker characters and their practices with refreshing authenticity...key themes and challenges highlight timeless elements of the human experience..."

In short fiction news, "Adam and Eva," a new 1888 short story of mine was published in Kings River Life Magazine recently. This one is told from the point of view of my midwife's postmistress friend, Bertie Winslow, as she and Rose work together to find and catch a killer. 

Also, I'm very excited to be one of the Blood on the Bayou contributors, this year's Bouchercon anthology. If you'll be in New Orleans next Saturday afternoon, come get your own copy signed by the authors!

Next, Called to Justice is in production. That's very exciting - it means the book is on its way to being out in the world next April. It's available for preorder, too.

Third, my manuscript of book three is done, polished, and out with an independent editor. It's always a great feeling to finish a book. I like the story, which takes place during election week of 1888 and has a sub theme of women's suffrage. (More on that later...) So far I'm calling it Turning the Tide, but that could change. The book isn't due until January, however I have to write another book in another series before then, thus the head start.

It was a good August for me. I went away on a writers' retreat and got a lot done. At home I'm enjoying all the summer produce and my family is well. Fall is nearly officially here, though. I'll welcome some crisp temperatures, finding my knee-high boots, and sinking my teeth into local apples.

Readers: have you ever read a large print version? Do you enlarge the font on your ereader instead? Anybody with deep knowledge of the women's suffrage movement in the late 1880s?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day

by Linda O. Johnston

            It's the first Monday of the month, and here I am doing my InkSpot post after Tj O'Connor, who posts on the first Thursday.  I'm usually before him, and last month I posted on the first day of the month.

            So... Happy Labor Day, everyone!  I hope everyone who celebrates and gets the day off is having a wonderful time.  I also hope that everyone who doesn't get the day off has a wonderful time... including me!

            Labor Day isn't a holiday for me--not exactly.  In fact, as a writer, I have very few days off.  Generally, I write, and/or edit, seven days a week.  Weekdays?  Sure.  Weekends?  Yep.  Holidays?  Almost always.  Vacations?  Depends on where I'm going, how I'm getting there and all, but again, almost always.  And in any event, even if I'm not in front of a computer or otherwise involved with the writing or editing process, my mind is always working on another plot, either something I'm committed to write or an idea I'm working on in the hopes that it'll turn itself into a new story that'll be published someday.

            This month, I'm looking forward to... next month.  That's when my next book--my next mystery for Midnight Ink--will be published.  It's UNLUCKY CHARMS, my third Superstition Mystery, and my fingers are crossed that everyone has as much fun reading it as I had writing it.

            That also means that, in addition to writing, I'll be involved with promoting my new release. I'll be on a blog tour most of the month, plus on Sunday, October 2--the day before my next InkSpot post--I'll be in Huntington Beach, California, at the Ladies of Intrigue event where I'll be in wonderful company, including Carolyn Hart, Rhys Bowen and Robin Burcell.

            Then again, later this month I'll be on a panel at the Woman's Club of Hollywood, not far from me.  Not sure what we'll be discussing but I know it has something to do with mysteries, since a fellow mystery writer set it up and the other panelists also write mysteries.  So... well, I should add to that paragraph above that I'm nearly always busy letting people know about my stories, and that can again happen on weekdays, weekends, holidays and vacations.

            Not that I'm different from other published authors.  But I was a practicing attorney once upon a time, when I actually did get time off from my job.  And know what I did then?  On top of raising my kids... I wrote!

            So, again, Happy Labor Day everyone--and may you spend it doing something you love.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Dying for the Affair

My hands are shaking. My breath tightens in my chest. My thoughts are swirling with images of the time we spent together. Now she’s gone—out of my reach and nothing but silence remains. The emptiness is back. Yet, deep down, I know it has never left. Not since early July. Not since I did it. Now, I have to live with the consequences of my actions.  Those last words haunt me—a cliché ending to months of love and affection that kept me up late into the night and demanded every ounce of my attention.

And with those words, those damnable words, it was over. Two words that ended my sneaking into the night, hiding from my family, seeking my lover’s embrace. A lover that made me smile and got my heart pounding and my blood sizzling through my veins. Two words and the entire affair was over.

Two words—The End.

I’m talking about writing my latest novel, of course. What the hell did you think I was talking about?

I won’t speak for other authors, but I think many of us suffer from this affliction—the pain and sorrow of ending a novel we’ve loved and toiled over that we gave our soul to for months. The affair starts with an idea. Perhaps our imagination wanders after a beautiful woman smiles or sends a heart-stopping text or funny cartoon. Could it be possible? Could she be the one? Can I kill her in the first chapter and make my readers feel my pain and loss for 400 pages? What if she were not a tantalizing vixen but a spy or master terrorist stalking me before ending the world in a vile, evil plan? Could it be? Do I have another novel here?

Ohhhhhh, I get warm and fuzzy all over just thinking about how these liaisons begin.

And so it begins—the first few flirts and stolen kisses. A page here, a chapter there. And before anyone knows it—not my kids or dogs for sure—it’s a raging torrent of keyboard and screen, characters and plots, guys and dames … all heading toward the inevitable, painful, ending—The End. We start it all so innocently. No expectations. No promises. But before we’ve reached page 50, it’s late nights and cold showers—stolen glances at the screen, whispers in the night and secret liaisons whenever we can steal away and be alone. We crave her attention. We need her connection. It’s all about her—the story—and until we reach the climax at the end, we cannot stop ourselves. It’s a drive. A journey. A destination.

And then, it ends. Nothing left but a good cry and memories. Oh, and edits. Hell yes, edits and edits and edits.

For me, every book has been my passion. Sometimes, I stray during the affair and begin to dabble with another—yes, it’s true. I two-story now and then. It’s an affliction. Yet, when I’m being honest with myself, I know it won’t ever work. I have to finish one before I can even get serious with another. I’m getting old, after all. It’s just how things are.

And therein lies the problem—finishing a book that has been a lover for months, perhaps even years of notes and daydreams and ideas. That makes it all the harder to let go. To end it. To say, “The End.”

This past summer, I ended my latest liaison with Double Effect—my first thriller I’ve finished in nearly six years after writing five mysteries. It was a bittersweet story that touched home in so many ways that I even blogged about it in June at Little did I know then that ending this long-running love would bring on a new emotion—despair.

A warning to all wannabe authors like me—good enough is never good enough. Just when you end it all, kiss her goodbye, and hit “send,” the emptiness and despair can often grab you like a lover clinging to a second chance. It’s terrifying.  

As I discussed in my June blog, Double Effect is the story of Jonathan Hunter, a swashbuckling security consultant summoned home after decades overseas by his estranged brother. On his arrival, he witnesses his brother’s murder. That killing unleashes a series of events from small town prejudice to Hunter’s personal demons haunting him as he chases a killer and finds a terrorist plot to devastate an American city. It combines a murder mystery, a rogue Latino street gang, a Middle Eastern terror cell, and current-event international dangers all coming to roost in small town Winchester, Virginia.

 Unfortunately, Double Effect also consumed me because it was the last work my mentor, Wally F. and I worked on together. It was dear to both of us because it stole pieces of our past lives and allowed us to work together on an adventure that would never have been possible in real life.  Double Effect brought back memories of our own true, old adventures—sure, the story is much more daring and dangerous than my previous life—but we spent hours reminiscing. It also forced me to relive my loss when Wally died last year. Double Effect took me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions and remembrances that cost me more sleep than any book in years.

Emotions and life experiences are powerful tools of a writer.

I’d written draft one of Double Effect several years ago, but, because I received a contract for Dying to Know, Dying for the Past, and Dying to Tell, I had to shelve it until there was time to reacquaint myself with the love of my life. And let me tell you, that rendezvous was everything I’d hoped. But then, as my passion for Double Effect was rekindled, I was befallen by my worst affliction—self-doubt. Was it good enough?

For months, I’d toiled lovingly over new plot twists, subplots, and character changes. Yet each time I finished a draft, my heart ached and my mind wandered for one last tryst—another edit, more changes, new characters. I was obsessed. You see, my problem was not the story. It wasn’t the characters, either. It was me. I was stuck in it-will-never-be-good-enough mode. Each time I thought I was done, I’d read it and say, “Wait, I can make this better. I can do this and that. I can …” Delay. More rewrites.  I lay awake nights replotting and second-guessing myself into oblivion. My demand for “one more change” all but guaranteed I’d never truly finish the book.

But, like ice cream sundaes and passion, it all came to an end in early July. I forced myself to finish one final edit, typed “The End,” and sent Double Effect to my agent—the amazing and lovely Kimberley Cameron.

It was one day before the loss hit me. Before the angst and torment began. She was gone. She’d left me. Double Effect was away and it would be too long before I was able to have her again. Had I been good to her? Had I taken the time and given her my best? Was she satisfied? Should I have spent just a little more time? Was I … Good enough?

Doubt. Second guessing … regret.

Now I wait each night by my computer—alone and hopeful that any day I’ll hear the ding of my email and she would return for more of me. Kimberley’s round of edits and redrafting—her own thoughts and suggestions to make this affair one to remember. And she—Double Effect—would be in my embrace once again. I would go to work caressing her plots and stroking her characters until, when the time was right, we would reach the end together—my novel and me. Just the two of us. Well, at least until I was ready to share her with all of you.

After all, this love of mine—this affair that steals me and controls my every waking hour—is but just another notch on my bookshelf. And sadly it is true, in time, Double Effect will be a past fling—a summer thing—and I’ll move on to yet another.

We’ll talk again next month.

Tj O’CONNOR IS THE GOLD MEDAL WINNER OF THE 2015 INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS BOOK AWARDS (IPPY) FOR MYSTERIES. He is the author of Dying to Know, Dying for the Past, and Dying to Tell—and New Sins for Old Scores, a new paranormal mystery coming in 2017! He recently finished his new thriller and is beginning three sequels to previous series. Tj is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, investigations, and threat analysis—life experiences that drive his novels. With his former life as a government agent and years as a consultant, he has lived and worked around the world in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the Americas—among others. He was raised in New York's Hudson Valley and lives with his wife and Lab companions in Virginia where they raised five children. Dying to Know is also the 2015 Bronze Medal winner of the Reader’s Favorite Book Review Awards, a finalist for the Silver Falchion Best Books of 2014, and a finalist for the Foreword Review’s 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award.

Learn about Tj’s world at:

Web Site:


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Real or Not Real?

Sorry Peta, I'm not talking about your catch phrase.


Novels, by definition, are fiction. But what about where that fictitious story takes place? Sometimes it can be fun for an author to create an entirely made up town, but other times a place we visit can inspire us to set our characters and scenes in the heart of reality.

In my Nov. 8 release, Deadly Dog Days, my story takes place in Metamora, Indiana. This is a tiny (did I mention TINY) historic canal town in southeast Indiana. In the summer of 2014, I visited Metamora with my mom, my grandma and my great-aunt. We stayed at a bed and breakfast from Thursday to Sunday. The town has shops and restaurants along the canal in old buildings, a grist mill that's still operating, and the only wooden aqueduct still around in the US. Not to mention the canal boat pulled by two giant horses on the banks and the Whitewater River Vally scenic train that pulls in and out of the station taking tourists for rides along the canal. But those are the least of its charm.
Metamora, Indiana, summer 2014

It's the people that make Metamora the interesting and inspiring place to set a novel. For instance, check out this short video of the making of a documentary featuring one of the prominent people in town:

To me, that was the summer I traveled to Cicely, Alaska and walked onto the set of my favorite T.V. show of all time, Northern Exposure. Sure, Metamora isn't in Alaska, but the feel was the same. The eccentric characters and close-knit community was the same. As we walked through the deserted streets on Thursday afternoon--the shops are only open on the weekend, little did we know when we planned our stay--after meeting our outgoing hostess at the B&B with quite the quirky decorating style, my mom looked at me and said, "You have to write about this place."

So, I did.

All of the characters in Deadly Dog Days are fictional. You might find people in Metamora who you think are in the novel, but I assure you, any similarity is from my research online and in the town. All of the names are made up, and I don't personally know any of the shop owners or residents.

I'm excited for you to come to Metamora with me via my cozy mystery and my main character, Cameron Cripps-Hayman, who stumbles onto a body floating in the canal and has many humorous situations while figuring out who done it.

Until next time! ~ Jamie Blair

Deadly Dog Days
Nov. 8, 2016

Monday, August 22, 2016

Mystery Goes to the Dogs

One of the most delightful aspects of being a writer is having the opportunity to go out and make new fans--especially when they're of the four-footed variety!   So imagine how ecstatic I was to be invited with three other dog writing friends to DogFest in downtown Seattle! 

Below is my photo journal of the day!

The event started with some photo opps for fellow writers:
 Kizzie Elizabeth Jones, David R Gross, Waverly Curtis, and yours truly.

Then I spent a few minutes meeting some of my new canine friends.

This little cutie was up for adoption!
My favorite, of course, was this two-year-old German shepherd beauty. 
I did a short reading.

And posed for a photo in the doggie "Kissing Booth"

Before I knew it the event was over, and it was time to say goodbye!

Thanks so much to the Downtown Dog Lounge for hosting me at this fabulous and fun event. It proved to me once again what I've known all along: the best fans have four legs!

Tracy Weber

books available
PS--all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at  Thanks for reading!