Friday, May 22, 2015

Do Mystery Writers See the World in a Different Way??????

Do Mystery Writers See the World in a Different Way?? 
by Debra H. Goldstein

Do you think mystery writers see the world in a different way? My husband, children and friends do.

For the past few years they have accused me of seeing events in our lives as fodder for storytelling. Recently, they complained that when we go on vacation I view the sites as possible crime settings instead of for the beauty of the moment. I heartily disagreed; but, between us, maybe they’re right.

I try to keep my reactions in check. For example, when I saw the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls, I didn’t immediately say, “If someone fell off….” Art gallerias and museums in Santa Fe, New York, London, Florence and Paris impressed me, but I couldn’t help wondering what it would take to slip a crown jewel, Mona Lisa, or a simple watercolor out the door. During the water architecture cruises in Seattle and Chicago, my mind wandered to the infinite possibilities created by approaching one of the imposing buildings or homes (think Bill Gates) from the water.

This past weekend, we visited the Biltmore House in Asheville. In addition to the normal house tour, there was a special Downton Abbey costume exhibit. Dresses, suits, and uniforms were shown in the rooms they might have been worn in. While my family oohed and aahed at the architecture and clothing, I couldn’t help but think “if I was in the in drawing room with …” or “the servant’s bell rang, but the housemaid never came.”

Even when I stay home, people question my intentions. One of my best beta readers, who has read Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery (February 2016 from Five Star) and most of the short stories published in 2014 and 2015, recently took my husband aside to warn him “don’t eat Debra’s oatmeal. She has a propensity for killing off spouses.”

These accusations hurt, but what can I say? At least for me, they’re true. I do see the world in a different way. What about you?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

On the Tube (Or, Should I say, Flat Screen)

By Laura Bradford

I'm not a TV watcher.

I suppose some of that is my dislike for sitting still for too long (I feel guilt over all the things I should be doing). And some is simply not wanting to get wrapped up in something that I then have to add to my already brimming to-do list.

That said, there are a few shows over the years that have captured my attention...

1) As a little girl, I was a huge Little House on the Prairie fan. I adored Michael Landon as Pa, and I wanted to be Melissa Gilbert.

2) In 7th and 8th grade, I was a huge General Hospital watcher (Ice Princess, anyone?). My friend, Diane, and I used to talk on the phone after each episode to rehash what happened.

3) In high school, I fell in love with Family Ties (or, more accurately, Michael J. Fox). :)  I never missed a show.

4) In the early 1990's As The World Turns was at its best. Great acting, great actors, great storylines (there was one about a guy with a split personality--Royce, I think--and the actor playing that part was phenomenal) That show was taped while my then-husband and I were at work, and then watched later in the evening.

5) I didn't really latch on to too much in the mid to late 90's, other than Barney. :)

6) I was an original (as in first show, first season) Survivor watcher when that came on the air (it is the only show I watch in real time--my treat). Last night's finale was great! ;)

7) Other than that, my husband and I watch a few shows on DVD. That way, when we have time, we watch an episode. We watched Breaking Bad that way (I hated that show), Dexter, and Castle.

8) I'm a little bit of an HGTV junkie as I'm drifting off to sleep (I have fellow author and former Stiletto Gang member, Maggie Barbieri to thank for this). My favorite is Fixer Upper (I love Chip!).

And that's it. As you can see, that's not a lot, especially when the first 5 of the 8 numbers were pre-2000.

So what are some of your favorites? What am I missing?


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Multi-tasking at Its Finest

By Kay Kendall 

By the time you are reading this posting, I will be busily multi-tasking in Vienna, Austria. This two-week trip with my husband combines a boatload of pleasures and missions. First, it marks our fortieth wedding anniversary and also the completion of Bruce’s arduous treatments for neck cancer only four months ago. So what if our pace will be slower than on previous journeys? We will be there and thankful. Many years ago we spent three days in Vienna and always vowed to return. This is our time.

We will return to places we enjoyed before and see others we missed—like the museum located in Sigmund Freud’s old apartment and office, where psychoanalysis was born. There is a famous coffeehouse I want to return to, CafĂ© Sperl, and of course we will return—perhaps even daily—to the Sacher
Hotel to partake of its stupendous culinary creation, the Sacher torte. Then there will be the museums and palaces of the old Hapsburg Empire and the Mozart concerts in old churches.

So much for frivolity! In addition, I will be researching some of these locations and many more for inspiration for my third mystery in the Austin Starr series. I know, I know. The second one, RAINY DAY WOMEN, isn’t even published officially until July 7, but I am keen to begin my next writing project.

In this new book my amateur sleuth Austin Starr will get ensnared in an East-West spy plot when she accompanies her husband David to an academic conference in Vienna. As I’ve often stated, I’m a student of the Cold War years—a fan, sort of—and Vienna was the epicenter for spying during many of those years.

If you’ve seen the beloved classic film THE THIN MAN, then you have some idea of what I’m talking about. After World War II, the victorious Allied powers divided control of Austria and its capital city, Vienna. This stage lasted from 1945 to 1955 as the Western powers (the U.S., Great Britain, and France) confronted their previous ally, the Soviet Union. As a consequence, both sides—West as well as East—had their spies entrenched and embattled in Vienna for a decade. 

The problems caused by divided control of Berlin culminated in the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and then ultimately its tearing down in 1989. The historic period of a divided Vienna is less well known, and Austria’s geographic location—providing a nexus between East and West—ensured that tensions would remain high even after Austria gained self-government in 1955. Fourteen years after that, I will plunk my poor unsuspecting amateur sleuth into a hornet’s nest of spies.

 All that political turmoil lends itself to drama, intrigue, and murder. So you bet I can hardly wait to dig into Vienna. While Austin Starr will come along for the ride—at least in my brain—my three house rabbits have to stay home with the dog. But don’t worry about them too much. The live-in pet sitter we hire spoils them rotten while we are away.

Kay Kendall is a long-time fan of historical mysteries and now writes atmospheric mysteries that  capture the spirit and turbulence of the sixties. She is also an award-winning international PR executive who lives in Texas with her husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to the bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles show she’s a Bob Dylan buff too. RAINY DAY WOMEN publishes on July 7 and is the second in her Austin Starr mystery series. The E-book version is available for pre-order now and the trade paperback will be soon. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Connie Johnson Hambley is my guest today

I'm thrilled to introduce you to Connie Johnson Hambley who is taking my spot for the day.

I asked her to tell me a bit about her book, The Troubles, and this is what she told me..

I’m so excited to be a guest of the Stiletto Gang! Hi all! (or for some, that would be “Hi, y’all!”)
This week marks the launch of my second thriller. “The Troubles” continues the story of Jessica Wyeth, a woman whose family was destroyed by the business of terrorism. I know–business? There is more to an act of terrorism than two kids with backpacks or a truck filled with explosives. My books go into the world beyond the obvious to explore the how’s, why’s and who’s of terrorism and its impact.

I have people ask me why I wrote “The Troubles.” The simple answer is that my readers wanted to know what happens to Jessica after the end of “The Charity,” the first book in the series. In “The Charity,” Jessica discovered her world of comfort and security in a nuclear family is not what it appeared to be. She stumbled upon a money laundering scheme for the Irish Republican Army her father’s business was involved in and was forced to hide after being framed for murder. The process of untangling herself from that mess made readers fall in love with her grit and resourcefulness. They related to her as a real person and wanted to know more. When they asked for more, I realized I had the answers burrowed away inside of me. I wrote “The Troubles” to answer why Jessica’s birth mother hid her true identity.  Oh yeah, and to show whether Jessica ended up with the right guy––or not.

The harder answer of why I wrote this book is because I had to. I grew up in a small town in New York where my family was the target of an arsonist. I know what it feels like to live in a world where the bubble of security and safety has burst. Subtle and pervasive fear shapes who we are in unseen ways. What drives a person to do an extreme act? A theme in my books is that truth is in the eye of the beholder. Answers are not black and white, and good is shaded by evil. Sometimes, being seen as a freedom fighter or a terrorist depends on which side of the match––or gun or bomb––you’re on. We live in an increasingly complex world and I believe these themes are worthy of exploration.

I use real events to tell my stories. “The Troubles” unfolds several mysteries at once by taking the reader into Northern Ireland’s unrest and into Jessica’s mother’s life. Is giving your daughter away at birth a selfish act or one of profound love? The story brings the readers to the Irelands and England and into the world of high-stakes horse training.

“The Troubles” is available for pre-orders with a release date of May 20.
I love chatting with readers, so please find me on Twitter @conniehambley, and at my author page on Facebook!

Quick Summary:

On June 15, 1996, a box truck parked in front of the Marks & Spencer store in the Arndale shopping district of Manchester, England. Phone calls made to news organizations and police ensured no bystanders remained in the area when the truck exploded. The Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility.

Twenty years later, the crime remains unsolved.

Jessica Wyeth is no longer a fugitive hiding under assumed identities. Through sheer grit, she has reclaimed her life only to discover what she fought for was an illusion. She is not the child of the picture perfect New England family, but an unwanted castaway. Her frail and reclusive aunt died without exposing the secret that she was Jessica’s mother. Jessica travels to Ireland – her mother’s home – to learn why.

When Jessica rides a world-class steeplechase, she is unwittingly used as an accomplice for a devastating bombing in an English shopping mall. The group behind the bombing is the Charity, a generations old support network of the IRA. Michael Conant, reluctant heir to the Charity and Jessica’s lover, must choose his allegiance to his violent family legacy or the woman he loves. Meanwhile, Jessica’s fight for her life leads her to uncover her mother’s secrets and the divided soul of the Irelands.

The Troubles is a high-concept suspense novel that views the conflict in Northern Ireland through the prism of American involvement. With vision, desire, and an ever-unfolding world, The Troubles is a sweeping, multi-generational tale.


Connie Johnson Hambley grew up on a small dairy farm just north of New York City. When she was five years old, an arsonist burned her family’s barn to the ground. Memories from that experience grew the stories that have become The Charity and The Troubles.

Hambley uses every bit of personal experience to create a story that is as believable as it is suspenseful. Leveraging her law and investment background in ways unique, creative, but not altogether logical, she has enjoyed robust professional pursuits that include writing for Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Massachusetts High Tech, and Nature Biotechnology. Proving that truth can be stranger than fiction, her experience at a major bank in Boston introduced her to the clever schemes people dream up to launder money.

Interviews include: Boston’s Literati Scene TV Show; Hallie Ephron of Jungle Red Writers: Ireland, Horses and Senseless Fire; Pawling Public Radio; Blog Talk Radio; Rounded Corner of the Writing World; (Australian Author) Penny de Byl’s Five Minute Profile; and Poughkeepsie Journal In Minutes, A Generation’s Work Destroyed by Flames.

Hambley writes page-turners and The Charity is the first in a series. Its sequel, The Troubles is due out May 2015. Look for updates and information on and

Hambley writes about strong women from their perspective in situations that demand the most from them. No special powers, no gadgets, no super human abilities. Just a woman caught up or embroiled in something that she has to get out of, hopefully alive.

Find her at:
Twitter: @conniehambley