Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Crunch Time!

by Bethany Maines

Ack!  I should be baking. Or possibly cleaning my filthy office.  Or writing any of the multiple stories I'm supposed to be completing. It's crunch time for me.  I've got a sci-fi novella that is due back from the editor at any second (more info to come after the holidays!), a Christmas short story that needs completing ASAP, and mystery novel that is supposed to be way more underway than it is. And my business partner at my day job is about to go on maternity leave at any moment. I could use a holiday.  Oh, wait, one has just turned up.  Now I get to add baking to the list.  So excuse me, if I just complain for a minute and then dash off to put a pie in the oven.

But in the spirit of the holidays, how about a chance to win a print copy of Shark's Instinct?  Reviewers are calling it an "amazing mystery with loads of action."  Click the link below to enter!  And come back tomorrow for some instant GIVEAWAYS from the whole Stiletto Gang!




Goodreads Book Giveaway

Shark's Instinct by Bethany Maines

Shark's Instinct

by Bethany Maines

Giveaway ends November 30, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Spark

by J.M. Phillippe
Sometimes, I feel stuck. Sometimes, all I have in me is a stream of consciousness dump...
I am fumbling for words, searching my memory for rich sensory details, imagery and metaphor, a perfect picture painted with perspicacity, brought forth from my fertile imagination. 
I am new again, raw, an amateur who is just barely beginning to understand what creative writing is. I am spilling out consciousness on the page in rambling streams of poorly relayed emotion. Write what you know, but what do I know, anyway? What stories are mine to tell?
Oh, and I thought I was dark before, thought I had some sense of loss or grief, of the thousand natural shocks, but I am only a Horatio, battered witness of the twists and turns all around me. Transferred trauma, and they tell me to take care, but care has been taken to take such time away. I have no time. I have no energy to use what time I have.
I don’t take the time. I don’t spare the energy.
I sleep too much and not enough.
I fall back on the old words, the easy words. It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a shot rings out. Once upon a time, in a land far far away. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Call me Ishmael.
In the room the women come and go, talking of Michaelangelo. And how should I presume?
All words are old, all words used so many times already. Should I dig up my vocabulary books, reacquaint myself with the archaic and obsolete, so that I may impress myself with my own prolix prose? 
And the seven (less or more?) great plot lines continue to unfold, over and over, and as Aimee Mann sings, “But nobody wants to hear this tale, The plot is clichéd, the jokes are stale, And baby we’ve all heard it all before.”

The only thing that’s mine is my voice. The only thing that can be new, the only thing that could make a story I tell different than any other.
But my voice needs words.
Words words words.
Lost in page counts, lost in deadlines, lost in pressures and anxieties floating all around me like ash, so thick it coats you, so thick it chokes you.
But even in the ash, a spark may fly, a tiny flake of potential floating on eddies, looking for the right tinder to settle on, the right wind to blow, and kindle standing by, waiting to burn.
I am a pile of kindle, ready to burn. I am waiting for my spark to find me.
***
J.M. Phillippe is the author of Perfect Likeness and the short story The Sight. She has lived in the deserts of California, the suburbs of Seattle, and the mad rush of New York City. She works as a family therapist in Brooklyn, New York and spends her free-time decorating her tiny apartment to her cat Oscar Wilde’s liking, drinking cider at her favorite British-style pub, and training to be the next Karate Kid, one wax-on at a time.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Plimouth or Plymouth?


by Paula Gail Benson

In school, I learned that the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620.

On the map, there is an oceanfront town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, which is a lovely place to spend a carefree summer day.

Within the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, there is a living history Museum called Plimouth Plantation.

Why is the Plantation name spelled differently from the town’s?

According to a United States History Project webpage, the definitive journal detailing the organization of the colony by William Bradford had “Of Plimouth Planation” written at the top. “Plymouth” is considered the more modern spelling.

Visiting Plimouth Plantation gives modern guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in 17th century culture, both from the colonists’ and Native Americans’ viewpoints. The museum was established in 1947 by Henry Hornblower II (1917-1985), who worked in his family’s business of finance, but had a love for American history and archaeology that grew from his boyhood spent in the family’s Plymouth summer house. He became determined to present the story of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag People with the greatest accuracy and integrity possible.

From its humble beginnings, the museum has grown to include a replica of the Mayflower (known as the Mayflower II and now residing in Mystic Seaport being restored for the 400th anniversary of the crossing to take place in 2020--Queen Elizabeth II is expected to be in attendance for the celebration); recreations of an English village and Wampanoag Homesite; a visitors’ center (featuring a café where foods from the 17th century are served), craft center (where artisans use tools, materials, and techniques to create items that might have been used by the early colonists), barn with native and historical animals, and grist mill. All these venues are open to the public with interpreters and other guides.

This summer, I had the opportunity to spend a morning at Plimouth Plantation. As we approach Thanksgiving, here are a few pictures of the buildings and depictions of how the early settlers and Native Americans lived.

Visitors' Center

Nye Barn

Craft Center

Wampanoag Homesite
The Wampanoag Homesite features Native Americans demonstrating skills used by their ancestors. On the day I visited, they were cooking rabbit over the fire.

 Here are photos of the English village and interpreters.



The Grist Mill is at Jenny Pond. Visitors can watch the grinding and purchase corn meal.


May you all find joy in your celebration of Thanksgiving this year!

Friday, November 17, 2017

What We Really Write About--by T.K. Thorne

T.K. Thorne

      

        Writer, humanist,
           dog-mom, horse servant
and cat-slave,

       Lover of solitude
           and the company of good friends,
        New places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.

  

       


Hi ya'll!

 

With my first two words as a new member of the Stiletto Gang, I have given away that I am a Southern girl. Okay, I am . . . um . . . a bit past the dictionary definition of “girl,” but where I’m from, we are still girls no matter our age.


I never thought I’d be a member of a Stiletto Gang, as I never met a pair of high heels I didn’t run from, but here I am. There is much in my life I never thought I would be or do, such as becoming a police officer after graduating college. Actually, it was an accident (that lasted over two decades), but that is a post for another day. Today, I am introducing myself.


So here are some “fun facts” about me:

  • I’m a 4th degree black belt in the martial art of Aikido.


  • At age 8, I won a ribbon for being stubborn.


  • I dove the Great Blue Hole in Belize, the largest sea hole in the world.


  • As a rookie police officer, I had to devise a different way to hold a gun because my hands were too small.

  • 
I once had an M-16 rifle pointed at me while researching a book.


  • Frogs make me smile.


For as long as I can remember, I wanted to have adventures. I blame my Granny for inspiring that desire. She read Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to me long before I could read them for myself. For many years I decided the biggest adventure ev-er would be to meet aliens (the kind from outer space). Every night I checked out the back window to see if the spaceship had arrived to pick me up. I guess that is why, after life had twisted my path a few times, I picked up a gun and badge.


As you can imagine, being a police officer provided plenty of adventures and enriched my writing. I never met aliens, but I did encounter lots of strange people. Another way to say that—my experiences exposed me to a side of humanity I would never have otherwise encountered and deepened my understanding of human nature. And that, I truly believe, regardless of the genre, is the real essence of what we all write about—what it means to be human.

 


T.K. has written two award-winning historical novels, NOAH'S WIFE and ANGELS AT THE GATE, filling in the untold backstories of extraordinary unnamed women—the wives of Noah and Lot—in two of the world’s most famous sagas. The New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list featured her first non-fiction book, LAST CHANCE FOR JUSTICE, which details the investigators’ behind-the-scenes stories of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing case. Her next project is HOUSE OF ROSE, the first novel of a trilogy in the paranormal-crime genre. She loves traveling and speaking about her books and life lessons. T.K. writes at her mountaintop home near Birmingham, Alabama, often with two dogs and a cat vying for her lap. She blogs about “What Moves Me” on her website, TKThorne.com. Join her private newsletter email list and receive two free short stories at “TK’s Korner.”

 

P.S. After the holidays, my normal day to post will be the 4th Friday of each month. See y'all then!


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Retreating...

By Cathy Perkins

What's the appeal of a writing retreat? There are as many types of writing retreats as there are writers. Some are world famous organized affairs, while most are events planned with friends. Drop “writing retreat” into your internet browser and pages of links will fill the screen.

Stepping back, though, let’s look at the big picture. What’s mentioned most often as the key ingredient for a writing retreat?

Time.

A retreat reduces our usual distractions for guilt free writing time. Away from home, spouse, family, friends, pets, day-jobs, laundry, and stacks of unopened mail, we can relish the time and the freshness of a new place. When we step through the door of our temporary haven, there are no defining expectations, no history. In this place we are Writer rather than cook, chauffeur, pet walker, diaper changer, Scout leader, event planner, or any of the myriad roles layered on by our usual routine.

Of course, this giddy freedom can also produce overly ambitious goals. I’ll work day and night and crank out a hundred new pages, thousands of words!
Given how difficult it can be to carve out time away from our jobs and lives, we might feel pressured to be uber productive. We feel guilty if we’re not making every minute count. But that’s missing the other primary goal of a writing retreat – a chance to rest, renew, and refill the creative well. The goal is not to return home feeling you’ve just pulled a series of all-nighters.
Somewhere in between these two goals lives an individual balance point. I have friends whose ideal writing retreat is a hotel room with in-room dining service and a view of the roof top air-handling equipment. They are there to write. Period. End of sentence. Maybe they have a deadline to meet or that’s their personality, but the separation from the world is purely functional.
Other friends roll the retreat into a mini-vacation. Write a couple of hours in the morning and afternoon and then indulge the rest of the day with friends or, as The Artist’s Way calls it, feeding the inner child. Visit galleries, spend time with writing friends, walk on the beach or hike a mountain trail. Read in a clawfoot bathtub or bing-watch a complete season of Outlander. The writing time flies by with flowing words and the writer goes home ready to tackle the rest of the novel and the rest of her life.

I’m somewhere in the middle of these extremes. 
For several years. I’ve go to our fall retreat to write and I always get a lot done. “Done” can be words written, a story spine planned, or the minutia of an upcoming release scheduled. 
But it’s also a time of creative renewal for me to visit with friends, to talk story with people who don’t roll their eyes (cough, cough, family) and to walk for hours on the beach. 


What does your favorite or ideal writing retreat look like?





An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories.  When not writing, she battles with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd. Her latest release is Double Down, available at major online retailers. 

Amazon       B&N      Kobo      iBooks   

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

If Austin Starr Could Talk to You *

By Kay Kendall

My dear friend Larissa is in big trouble. She just called me long distance to say she’s a suspect in a murder case. Good grief, it’s only been a year since my husband David was suspected of murder, and now it’s Larissa. This is too much. I’ll need to get a trench coat and fedora—pretend I’m a private eye—if I keep getting pulled into these cases on a routine basis. 

            Larissa wants me to fly across the continent to give her moral support. The Mounties say she’s the one who killed the leader of her women’s lib group. Of course she didn’t do it. The idea is ludicrous. And, I know I owe her, big time, and want to help her, but I don’t see how I can. Believe me, I’d leave right now if I could. But things have changed since we talked.

            The life-changing event is, well, I’m a mother now. Wyatt is three months old and cute as can be. I can’t possibly take him with me because last time I went sleuthing around, I was almost killed. However, I can’t go alone and leave Wy at home either. David would have a perfect fit if I asked him to babysit. Of course I juggle Wyatt’s child care with my own courses work, but that’s expected. After all, I mean, gosh, I’m the mom. Dads don’t do things like that—not much anyway.

 
           Still, I cannot leave Larissa in the lurch. She’s the only real friend I’ve made since I pulled up stakes and left my home and family in Texas to join my new husband up here, in the Great White North, Canada. You know, it really was kinda neat—how Larissa and I clicked right away. Usually I avoid anyone who is petite like she is. They make me feel like such an oaf. Here I am at five feet eleven, and Larissa is a good ten inches shorter. But she is so much fun, and smart too. The two years difference in our ages seems like nothing. She just turned twenty-one and is still an undergrad.
            I tell Larissa everything. For instance, she’s the only one who knows I was being trained as a spy by the CIA right before I married David. But I could never tell him that. He would not approve, that’s for sure. But Larissa knows and keeps all my secrets. Here’s a funny thing, though. Why didn’t she confide in me she joined a women’s lib group?

            Oh my gosh, the more I think about it, I must fly out to be with her during her time of trouble. I’ll have to put a plan in place. She’ll call me back in an hour and ask if I’m coming.
            Hey, maybe you can help me out. What do you think I should do?  

* Austin Starr is the amateur sleuth in Kay Kendall's two mysteries. Here Austin sets out on her second murder case, Rainy Day Women, the sequel to Kay’s debut Desolation Row. Both are published by Stairway Press.

Meet the author                                                                 



Kay Kendall is a long-time fan of historical novels and now writes atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit and turbulence of the sixties. A reformed PR executive who won international awards for her projects, Kay lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to her bunnies, she loves them anyway!
Her book titles show she's a Bob Dylan buff too. Rainy Day Women  won two Silver Falchion Awards at Killer Nashville in 2016.
Visit Kay at her website  http://www.austinstarr.com/
or on Facebook 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

FAKE NEWS, FOX NEWS, REAL NEWS, THANKSGIVING

By AB Plum


Thanksgiving is always a tough subject for me. Both my parents died—twenty years apart—on the holiday. A good friend also died in between that timeframe. I was an adult, but roasting turkey can still stir up some tough memories. Sometimes all the food porn in every magazine out there gives me a tummy ache and a conscience twinge for serving so many different—and rich—dishes.

But this blog isn’t a sermon. Instead, I want to share a story that someone sent my husband recently. Skeptic that I am, always on the lookout for fake news—especially from Fox News—I did a little research on the story. I think it’s real news and perfect for Thanksgiving—a reminder of how much we have to be thankful for.

Maybe you’ve read about this project or seen the pictures, but I hope you’ll check out The Fallen: 9000 Silhouettes on Normandy Beach. WARNING: Content sadly joyful. NOT A BUMMER.

Happy Thanksgiving!
********************

AB’s latest book, The Reckless Year is the fourth in her dark, gritty psychological thriller MisFit Series. It was released in early November. Quite frankly, she often questions why she wrote this noir series …. but believes darkness does lurk in the human heart. However, she's grateful for an overly active imagination and how much she's learned from writing about a psychopath from his birth to falling for his first love.





Friday, November 10, 2017

Why I Like the Word Send by Debra H. Goldstein

For a writer, “end” often is considered the most wonderful word. I prefer adding an “s” and changing “end” to “send.” Why? Because until a story is accepted and published, I don’t consider it to be a final piece. Rather, the story can be edited and improved.

Often, a writer thinks a story is ready for publication, but when it is rejected, the writer realizes there are ways to make it better. For example, I recently submitted a story, Day After Thanksgiving Soup, to an open anthology call. The story received fair consideration, but ultimately was rejected. After receiving notice of the rejection, I read the story again and several things jumped out at me. Even though I had thought the story was written and edited to perfection before I submitted it, I now saw several flaws. There was an instance of poor word choice and several places I could tighten the tale. I revised the piece and sent it to Mystery Weekly. A few days later, I received word Mystery Weekly wanted to purchase it. Last week, not only did Day After Thanksgiving Soup appear in the paperback version of Mystery Weekly, it was featured on the cover.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written a short story, submitted it, had it rejected, rewritten it and found a home for the “new and improved” version. In fact, in a few instances, the rejection step occurred multiple times, but the final published piece was always far better than the one I started with. The same has held true with my novels.

Whenever they were rejected or criticized by an agent, publisher, or beta reader, I carefully reviewed their comments and looked to see if there was a way to make the manuscript better. There almost always was.

Writing is an ongoing process. If one willingly revises and is flexible, one’s writing is going to improve. The consequence of improvement is more acceptances – even if it isn’t at the first point of submission.

How many times was your typed “end” really “send?”






Thursday, November 9, 2017

Wow! I just had an epiphany...I'm a Ph.D. in life. By Juliana Aragon Fatula

https://www.facebook.com/juliana.aragonfatula

Crazy Chicana in Catholic City my first book of poetry Conundrum Press


Photo of Juliana by the incredible photo journalist, Tracy Harmon

Favorite photo of one of my poetry readings. I look hot in red, que no?

I was minding my own business and doing what I do, reading, writing, revising, writing, researching...and I had a realization come on me. I should be proud of the work I've done and the fact that I'm a lifelong learner and continue to study and master my writing. I didn't stop learning when I graduated from CSU Pueblo with my degree in English. I continued to study master writers and to attend writing workshops and network with the finest writers in the country.

I'm blessed. I've had so many opportunities. I don't know why I'm so blessed. I feel the spirits of my loved one who've passed on standing beside me pushing me forward to tell their stories, my stories, the truth. If I don't tell the stories, no one will ever know how wonderful my parents were, how hard my grandparents struggled with racism and inequality, how hard my bisabuelos sacrificed their lives so that I could grow up and get a college education. I have a duty to honor them.

This dia de los muertos I'm building an alter for my little sister, Lynette. She never had the chances I had and she never went to college. What her life would have been like if she had gotten an education instead of an addiction, abuse, mental illness. I have an obligation to tell her story and the stories of all of those I've loved who have left this world and gone to the other side.

So sometimes when I doubt myself and I wonder why my house is such a mess, why the laundry and dishes are piled high and the floors are sticky, the guilt overwhelms me. Then I remember, I'm not a housewife, I'm a writer, a student, a researcher, an editor, a mentor, a teacher, a performing artist. Whew, no wonder I don't have time to clean house and cook. I'm too busy creating. I realized that I do so much more than just stay home and write.

I am still learning how to be the best writer I can possibly be and I owe it to myself to give credit to my hard work and quit feeling sorry for myself because my house doesn't sparkle. Y que?

Chingao! If my house did sparkle, I'd be depressed because I wouldn't be writing and creating and researching, and learning, and passing the knowledge to my mentees.

So when you visit and my house is dusty with spider webs in the corners and dog and cat fur everywhere, remember I am a Ph.D in life and don't have time for dusting and mopping and cooking, and baking.

I'm doing the best I can. It's good enough for me. I'd rather write and have a messy house than live in a home without happiness and writing makes me happy.

Link to my publisher where my books are available. Please support small presses. Thank you.
http://calebseeling.com/category/publishing/

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Incoming

By Bethany Maines 

The holidays are coming. I can feel them barreling toward me with the speed of one of those fancy Japanese trains that float on magnets and go like three hundred miles an hour. Of course, the train type doesn’t really matter. Amtrak or coal trains will both kill you just as dead.



Yes, death and trains. That’s the holiday metaphor I went with. That should tell you all you need to know about how I’m feeling about this upcoming season. I think one of the most unfair parts about being an adult is that we no longer get to enjoy the seasons like we did as children. For adults, time compresses until you’re blinking through the seasons like you’re in an H.G. Wells time machine.

And with that as a backdrop it’s easy to go down the trail of “Why put up holiday decorations when it’s just going to be over in a minute?” But I’m putting my foot down. Christmas will be enjoyed. There will be décor. I might even décor it up pre-Thanksgiving. Holiday rules be damned. And I’m banning guilt. Didn’t buy someone a present? Well, presents aren’t obligatory. Didn’t bring a potluck dish? How fortunate that some other mom showed off and made extra. Decided not to do the holiday shuffle between in-laws and stay at your house in the morning? Tough cookies, Grandma. The stockings are still up, the munchkin will still get sugar-high, you can wait the extra hour.

You know what else I’m going to do over the holidays? I’m going to read at least one book. I used to enjoy doing that before I tried to have kids, see my husband periodically, and write all the words into new books. I’m going to pick out something awesome, probably fluffy, and enjoy the crap out of it.

That's my 2017 Holiday Manifesto. Who’s with me?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Essential Self-Care

by J.M. Phillippe


The news isn't good again. I can't remember the last time I read the news and felt anything other than dread and sadness. I feel like a collective anxiety has taken over most everyone I know. In times like these, it is important to remember to take care of yourself -- and easy to forget.

Everyone pushes the concept of self-care these days, but it too often feels like yet another thing people feel like they should do, and never get around to doing. First, self-care is not all yoga classes and bubble baths. Self-care of it is all those things you do to take care of yourself, your mental and physical health, and your environment. These things are essential, not just for your physical health, but for your mental health. Here are some ways you can focus on self-care when you are feeling tired and tapped out:


Body Maintenance: did you shower today? That counts! Eat food, drink water, brush your teeth? This is all literal self-care in that you are taking care of your body. Anything you do to take care of your body, from a haircut to trimming your nails, is all a part of self care. While you may not have energy for full blown exercising on your low days, try stretching for five minutes for both a sense of accomplishment and to relieve tension in your body. I personally love doing a forward bend that is supported by a sturdy chair (mostly because I have zero flexibility.) The chair helps me feel steady while the bend takes a lot of tension out of my back. 

Space Maintenance: doing the dishes, the laundry, taking out the recycling (my own personal struggle) -- all of this is actually about taking care of yourself. Not only is your life better when you have clean clothes, clean dishes, and room to walk in your kitchen (again, I struggle with recycling), it is a way of saying "I matter." This stuff is not fun and is often the first to go when we're stressed out. And then it piles up. And then we feel really bad about it. So do yourself a favor and pick one of these chores and work on it for five to ten minutes. Wash two dishes, sort your laundry, bag your recycling -- you don't have to do it all, and you will feel better after.

Social Maintenance: Reaching out to friends via text, email, or even social media is another way of taking care of yourself. Everyone needs a support network, and any time you spend maintaining yours will ultimately help you better take care of yourself. Feeling extra ambitious? Don't just reach out -- make plans! And even if you feel really tired and like you just can't, I encourage you to keep those plans. Again, you'll likely feel better after. It helps to make plans closer to your house or even at your house if you are feeling extra low energy.

Luxury Maintenance: Here is where all the usual self-care stuff happens -- shopping, bubble baths, vacations, spas, resorts, etc. These definitely have a place in self-care, but they are not always as accessible as some folks need/want them to be. Self-care doesn't have to look like a wine tasting or yoga retreat. But if that is the type of thing that helps you take time for yourself, go for it! But also spending extra money on time saving can be a great form of self-care. For example, I get my groceries delivered (yay NYC!). I know a lot of people who use laundry drop off services. Some folks use meal kit services to inspire them to eat more variety. Research has suggested that people feel better about spending money that saves them time more than other purchases. 

Dream Maintenance: This one is harder to define, because everyone had different dreams when they were growing up, and a lot of people have had their "dream life" change as they got older. But we all want something. Finding a way to keep that dream alive, however small, is a huge part of taking care of ourselves. For me, it is constantly trying to make room for writing in my life when I have so many other things (like recycling) taking up my time. I also have been actively pursuing my professional dreams like starting my own private therapy practice, and while these goals are hard to focus on and sometimes seem impossible to accomplish, even sitting down and brainstorming steps helps me feel better. Doing research, planning to take a class, finding fellow hobby enthusiasts -- these are all ways that people keep their dreams and interests alive. Dream maintenance is all about keeping hope going -- imagining a future that is better than where you are right now. Even in these hard times -- especially in these hard times -- it is essential that we can picture a brighter tomorrow. 


Try making and keeping a list of ways you like to take care of yourself to refer to when you feel sad, down, and stuck in your life. 

***

J.M. Phillippe is the author of Perfect Likeness and the short story The Sight. She has lived in the deserts of California, the suburbs of Seattle, and the mad rush of New York City. She works as a family therapist in Brooklyn, New York and spends her free-time decorating her tiny apartment to her cat Oscar Wilde’s liking, drinking cider at her favorite British-style pub, and training to be the next Karate Kid, one wax-on at a time.



Monday, November 6, 2017

10 Things You Might (or Might Not) Know About Me By Judy Penz Sheluk

I’m beyond excited to join the regular cast of authors on The Stiletto Gang as your “first Monday of the month” author -- although I’ll admit I was grateful to learn I didn’t actually have to wear stilettos to be part of the gang.

Hopefully you know that I’m the author of two mystery series: the Glass Dolphin Mysteries (The Hanged Man’s Noose 2015, A Hole in One, coming March 2018), and the Marketville Mysteries (Skeletons in the Attic 2016, Past & Present, coming 2018/2019). I'm a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Fiction Mystery Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where I'm also on the Board of Directors, representing Toronto/Southern Ontario. 

But this is my first post, so I thought I’d share 10 things you might (or might not) know about me.

  1. I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and while I prefer small towns to big cities, I’ve lived within a two-hour commute of Toronto all my life, and sometimes think it would be nice to own a condo in Toronto for the times my small-town soul craves the intensity of the city. Like a part-time thing, you know? Only way more part than full.
  2. I’ve owned five dogs: Sandy, a Golden “mix” as a kid, and as an adult, four purebred Golden Retrievers: Einstein, Ranger, Copper, and my current two-year-old, Gibbs, who was named after Mark Harmon’s character, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, on NCIS
    Gibbs
  3. I write my books listening to talk radio, either Newstalk 1010 Toronto or Talk 640 Toronto, depending on the host, show, and topic. I even listen to the Saturday and Sunday paid “infomercial” type of shows on cars, real estate, and employment law. Maybe it’s all those years of working in an office, but I can tune out talk radio in a way I can’t tune out music.
  4. When not listening to talk radio (like when I’m writing blogs, such as this one), I mostly listen to country music. Favorite song: It’s a tossup between George Strait’s I Got a Car, Patsy Cline’s Crazy, Garth Brooks Friends in Low Places, Luke Combs When It Rains it Pours, and Carrie Underwood’s Church Bells. Ask me next week… the answer might be different.
  5. I’ve completed several half marathons (13.1 miles) and four full marathons (26.2 miles) – Ottawa, Ontario, Mississauga, Ontario (twice), and Cincinnati, Ohio. I sometimes think I might want to do another full marathon some day. Then sanity sets back in.
  6. Like my protagonist, Callie Barnstable, in Skeletons in the Attic, I am addicted to cocoa butter lip balm and have tubes of it everywhere: office, bedside table, purse… you get the idea. In fact, when The Body Shop announced they were discontinuing the cocoa butter line, I went online and ordered the last 13 tubes!
  7. A sheepdog once jumped out of a car window and landed on my back—while I was cycling in the Holland Marsh with a friend and training for my first (and last) half-ironman triathlon. The dog and I both survived to tell the tale (although I did have a few scrapes, cuts, bruises, and a sprained right wrist from the fall). I also managed to complete the 70.3 in Benton Harbor, Michigan, two months later. I sold my bike the next year. Can’t say as I miss cycling.
  8. The first time I dated my husband, Mike, we broke up after he criticized the way I made Kraft Dinner (it wasn’t “cheesy enough”). It would be 10 years before we met again. We bought a house together six months later. He claims I was unreasonably stubborn the first time around. I claim he was a pompous ass who finally figured out how to be nice. I’ll let you decide who was right (hint…it was me).
  9. I’m the Senior Editor for New England Antiques Journal, a position I’ve held (and loved) since 2008. The knowledge gained at NEAJ inspired my Glass Dolphin Mystery series.
  10. My favorite food is cheese pizza. I consider myself a connoisseur, and will try a slice of cheese pizza wherever my travels take me. Know any great pizza places in Reno, Nevada? I’m planning to be there in March 2018 for Left Coast Crime. 

Thanks for taking the time to get to know a bit more about me. I hope I can get to know some of you. You can find more about me, and my books, at www.judypenzsheluk.com, and they have kindly added all my social media links in the right hand sidebar. Looking forward to first month Mondays on the Stiletto Gang!