Write What (and Where) You Know: Location as Character

by Heather Weidner

Thank you so much for letting me visit. I’m Heather Weidner, and I write the Delanie Fitzgerald mysteries, Secret Lives and Private Eyes, The Tulip Shirt Murders, and Glitter, Glam, and Contraband. All are set in and around Central Virginia, primarily in Chesterfield, Amelia, Henrico, Farmville, Petersburg, Goochland, and Richmond.

My husband and I (and our two crazy Jack Russell terriers) have called his region home since 1991. I’m a transplant from Virginia Beach, but I love the Central Virginia area. The region with its mix of rural, suburbia, and urban neighborhoods is a great place to live and write novels. I work in downtown Richmond on a hill above the former Tredegar Ironworks with one of the best views in RVA. This region is home to the state capital, but in many ways, it’s still a close-knit community. And I’m excited to share the big city/small town feel of the area with my readers.

The location gives me a lot of freedom to develop my mystery in a world with trees, cows, farmland, suburbia, skyscrapers, and the mighty James River. My sleuth, Delanie Fitzgerald, is a spunky private investigator with a knack for getting in and out of humorous situations. She lives in a quaint Sears and Roebuck catalog bungalow that fits her quirky style. While there are some catalog homes in the Hopewell area, I took the liberty of moving one to Chesterfield County for my private eye. From 1908 to 1940, the homes were originally ordered and delivered by rail to the owners who assembled them on their property. Delanie’s home is the Yates model, and new, the price ranged from $1,812 to $2,058 in 1938.

Central Virginia is on the I-95 corridor, close to Washington, DC, the beach, and the mountains. My character zips around the countryside and through the city in her black Mustang. She investigates clues or tails suspects in and around many historic and popular locales, including: Belle Island, Bon Air, Brandermill, Byrd Park, Carytown, Church Hill, Kanawha Canal, Library of Virginia, Main Street Station, Maymont, the Poe Museum, and Shockoe Slip. In the back of my novels, I always include a short list of the locales that are real.

I also write short stories, and so far, these have all been set in Virginia. The idea for “Spring Cleaning” (Virginia is for Mysteries Volume II, 2016) came when we moved our offices at work. The moving company brought in large rolling bins for packing, and that gave me idea for some office spring cleaning when I realized the bin could hold a body.

Sometimes, I get ideas for crimes and capers from real cases, but I usually take liberties with the details. In my short story, “Washed up,” (Virginia is for Mysteries, 2014) a beat-up suitcase washes up on Chick’s Beach (Virginia Beach), and it’s filled with some mysterious contents. Back in the ‘80s, there was a real case where suitcases filled with body parts did wash up on beaches along the East Coast. In my story, I thought it would be interesting for beachgoers to find something old and sinister in an unexpected place.

In “Par for the Course” (50 Shades of Cabernet, 2017), a murder/accident (you decide) occurs on a Richmond golf course. While the city and its surroundings are real, I made up the golf course on the granite cliffs overlooking the James River. I try not to have horrific crimes occur at real locations.

In “Art Attack” in Deadly Southern Charm (2019), the murder takes place in a gallery in the Shockoe Bottom area of downtown Richmond.

While the story, characters, and the murders are fiction, many of the locales are real, and I hope it provides readers some insight into a region jam-packed with four hundred years of American history, unique restaurants, and Southern flair.

Glitter, Glam, and Contraband is Heather Weidner’s third novel in the Delanie Fitzgerald series. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and Deadly Southern Charm. Her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series. She is a member of Sisters in Crime Central Virginia, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan University and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager.

Synopsis of Glitter, Glam, and Contraband

Private investigator, Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, are back for more sleuthing in Glitter, Glam and Contraband. In this fast-paced mystery, the Falcon Investigations team is hired to find out who is stealing from the talent at a local drag show. Delanie gets more than she bargains for and a few makeup tips in the process. Meanwhile, a mysterious sound in the ceiling of her office vexes Delanie. She uses her sleuthing skills to track down the source and uncover a creepy contraband operation.

Glitter, Glam, and Contraband features a strong female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations like helping sleazy strip club owner, Chaz Smith on his quest to become Richmond’s next mayor, tracking down missing reptiles, and uncovering hidden valuables from a 100-year-old crime with a Poe connection.

Book Links for Glitter, Glam, and Contraband

Amazon: https://amzn.to/36kd3ms

Apple Books: https://apple.co/2rxFTB6

Barnes and Noble: https://bit.ly/359T4H0

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/glitter-glam-and-contraband-by-heather-weidner

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/glitter-glam-and-contraband

Scribd: https://bit.ly/35lz83O

Connect with Heather

Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherWeidner1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherWeidnerAuthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heather_mystery_writer/

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2sd357O

Amazon Authors: https://amzn.to/2LITTPh

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/HeatherBWeidner/

LinkedIn: https://bit.ly/2rpvvLQ

BookBub: https://bit.ly/36lib9P

AllAuthor: https://allauthor.com/profile/heatherweidner/

YouTube: https://bit.ly/349Wecz

Thanks for visiting, Heather, and best wishes as you continue your launch. I can’t wait to get my copy of Glitter, Glam, and Contraband. -Maggie 




The Natalie McMasters Mysteries

by Thomas A. Burns, Jr.

I write the Natalie McMasters Mysteries. Natalie McMasters is a detective for the new millennium. As the series opens, Nattie is twenty, short and blonde (OK, it’s bleached!), way cute, and a pre-law student at State. She’s also straight, or at least she thinks so. To put herself through school, she’s moonlighting as a private detective trainee at her uncle Amos Murdoch’s 3M Detective Agency, where the most exciting thing she does is sit in a car, staking out people who’ve claimed workers’ compensation to be sure they’re hurt as badly as they say. It’s the perfect gig for a college student, because she can study on the job. But one day she directly confronts a subject on a stakeout, and Amos fires her. That’s the plot of the first Natalie McMasters short story, Stakeout!, which you can read for free on my website.

Stripper! audio cover

In Stripper!, the first novel, Nattie meets another student who bears an uncanny resemblance to her, and everything in her life changes. When her new best friend is brutally murdered and Amos is critically injured, Nattie immerses herself in the seamy world of web cams and strip clubs to hunt the killer. Her investigation forces her to reassess many of the ideas that she’s lived by her whole life and do things she’s never considered before – strip on a stage, question her sexuality, and rediscover the meaning of love itself. Nattie eventually exposes a drug ring, police corruption, and an assassin-for-hire online. Then she stumbles upon the true face of evil, and her encounter does not leave her unscathed.

Revenge! is the second Natalie McMasters novel. A steamy video of Nattie making love appears on the campus-wide closed-circuit TV system. That’s only the first of a series of distressing events that affects every aspect of Nattie’s life and threatens the well-being of her family and friends as well. What could Nattie have possibly done in her short life to deserve the callous revenge her unseen tormentor is so brutally exacting?

In the third book, Trafficked!, Nattie must trace the most important person in her life – who doesn’t want to be found – through the squalid sex world of New York City. Even with help from old and new friends, she will need more persistence and courage than she’s ever shown before if she is to prevail in her most difficult and personal challenge.

To make Nattie available to a wider audience, I’ve decided to enter the audiobook market, currently the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry, with Stripper! You’ll be able to download Stripper! on your phone, plug the phone into the audio system in your car and get your daily mystery fix during your commute. Some Audible books (available on Amazon) also have the Whispersync feature, which lets you listen or read your book on Kindle, and updates either the print or the audio file as you switch back and forth.

The narrator of an audiobook is arguably as important as the author, because a poor narrator can ruin an otherwise great book. The narrator for Stripper! is the talented Lisa Ware, who captures Nattie’s voice perfectly, as well as those of the other diverse characters in Stripper! I’m sure you’ll find her work enjoyable. For more on Lisa, visit her Facebook page.

The audio version of Stripper! is scheduled for release sometime in November, 2019. Look for it on Amazon.

I’m also looking for audiobook reviewers. Anyone interested can contact me, and I’ll send you a credit (provided by Audible) for a free audio copy if you’ll commit to leaving a review on Amazon.

About the Author

Thomas A. Burns, Jr. is the author of the Natalie McMasters Mysteries. He was born and grew up in New Jersey, attended Xavier High School in Manhattan, earned B.S degrees in Zoology and Microbiology at Michigan State University and a M.S. in Microbiology at North Carolina State University. He currently resides in Wendell, North Carolina. As a kid, Tom started reading mysteries with the Hardy Boys, Ken Holt and Rick Brant, and graduated to the classic stories by authors such as A. Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, John Dickson Carr, Erle Stanley Gardner and Rex Stout, to name a few. Tom has written fiction as a hobby all of his life, starting with Man from U.N.C.L.E. stories in marble-backed copybooks in grade school. He built a career as a technical, science and medical writer and editor for nearly thirty years in industry and government. Now that he’s truly on his own as a novelist, he’s excited to publish his own mystery series, as well as to contribute stories about his second most favorite detective to the MX Books of New Sherlock Holmes Stories.

Buy Links

Stripper! (audio): 

Stripper! (non-audio): https://amzn.to/2JoBINS



Connect with Tom

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/541595279667727/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/3Mdetective
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/3mdetective/?hl=en
Tumblr: https://nataliemcmasters.tumblr.com/
Website & blog: https://www.3mdetectiveagency.com/


Bradley Harper: Forensics …  or “Whodunnit?”

I welcome Bradley Harper to the blog. Brad is the author of Knife in the Fog, a pastiche novel that has Arthur Conan Doyle, Margaret Harkness, and Dr. Joseph Bell tackling the unresolved mystery of Jack the Ripper. Brad’s also one of the “Misters” in the Sisters in Crime Central Virginia chapter.

Today he tells us all about Forensics …  or “Whodunnit?” Take it away, Brad!

Aristotle said there are only three arguments: Blame, Values, and Choice.

Think of Professor Henry Hill in the musical, The Music Man, in his famous song, “We got trouble right here, right here in River City!” (The current situation is not acceptable to our values.)

“That starts with T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Pool!” (The new pool hall is to blame for the current situation.)

He goes on to suggest a community band would lead the youth back onto the path of righteousness, which is an argument of choice.

Arguments which center on assigning blame are called Forensics.

The oldest use of Forensic science I’ve found was three thousand years ago, and the detective in our story was a magistrate in a small village in China who happened upon the body of a woman hacked to death, near a field where some men were working. When he questioned them, they all denied any knowledge regarding her death, so he had them line up and lay their sickles on a table in front of them, instructing each man to stand beside his tool.

Imagine the scene now. It must have been a warm day for them to be out harvesting, and the sweat on their brow could have been from exertion… or the fear of being found out. After a few minutes a familiar buzzing was heard, and slowly more and more flies appeared and settled on one blade, and one blade only. The dried blood, invisible to the naked eye, drew the flies nonetheless, who served as witnesses for the prosecution.

Despite this promising start, forensic science had no significant new developments until around the middle of the nineteenth century when Rudolf Virchow, a German pathologist in Würzburg, developed the discipline of pathology, and his students coined the term “autopsy,” which means “to see for yourself,” and the use of medical science to assist law enforcement began.

Still, when Arthur Conan Doyle penned his first Holmes Story, “A Study in Scarlet” in 1887, police investigations relied primarily on eye witness accounts and interrogations. The techniques Doyle uses in his stories were for all practicality science fiction when they were written, and it took a French admirer of Doyle’s detective to make Holmes’ methods a practical reality.

Edmond Locard was both a physician and a lawyer, and in 1910 he persuaded the chief of police in Lyon, France, to give him two small attic rooms and two assistants to create the world’s first crime lab. He was given two years to prove the concept, and as these two years drew near to ending without a significant breakthrough he became concerned his lab would be closed.

Then a young woman was found strangled in her apartment, and her lover was suspected as the killer, but four men swore he was playing cards with them in his apartment at the time the woman was probably murdered. Locard suspected the man right away, and scraped the man’s fingernails and retained the scrapings.

Cosmetics were common, but there were no large companies at the time, so women purchased them from the local pharmacy, each one having its own formula. Locard went to the pharmacy the murder victim used, and when this pharmacy’s cosmetics were compared under a microscope with the scrapings from the suspect’s fingernails, they matched perfectly. Confronted with this evidence, the man confessed he was the murderer, and had moved the clock back one hour in the room he’d played cards with his friends.

The conviction of the killer saved Locard’s lab, and soon crime labs sprang up in police departments around the world, turning Doyle’s science fiction, into fact.

Returning to the three types of arguments: values are always argued in the present tense: things are or are not acceptable. Forensic arguments of course are waged in the past tense: someone did, or did not. Choice pertains to the future: we should or should not take a particular course of action. So, if you hear a couple arguing, and notice they are not both using the same verb tense, one of their problems is they’re not having the same argument!

Bradley Harper is a retired US Army Pathologist with over thirty-seven years of worldwide military/medical experience, ultimately serving as a Colonel/Physician in the Pentagon. During his Army career, Harper performed some two hundred autopsies, twenty of which were forensic.

Upon retiring from the Army, Harper earned an Associate’s Degree in Creative Writing from Full Sail University. He has been published in The Strand MagazineFlash Fiction Magazine, The Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine and a short story he wrote involving Professor Moriarty in the Holmes tale of The Red Headed League (entitled The Red Herring League) won Honorable Mention in an international short fiction contest. A member of the Mystery Writers of America, Authors Guild, and Sisters in Crime, Harper is a regular contributor to the Sisters in Crime bi-monthly newsletter.

Harper’s first novel, A Knife in the Fog, involves a young Arthur Conan Doyle joining in the hunt for Jack the Ripper, and was a finalist for an 2019 Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America for Best First Novel by an American Author. His second book, Queen’s Gambit, is scheduled for release September 17.

Connect with Brad:

Website: www.bharperauthor.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/bharperauthor
Facebook: www.facebook.com/bharperauthor
Instagram: www.instagram.com/bharperauthor
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/bharperauthor
Podcast: bharperauthor.podbean.com/

A Knife in the Fog is available at most booksellers, but also online:


Barnes & Noble:

Audible (audiobook):






Sometimes southern charm is … DEADLY.

I’m thrilled to announce the release of DEADLY SOUTHERN CHARM: A LETHAL LADIES MYSTERY ANTHOLOGY. This outstanding collection features original mysteries set in southern locales with female sleuths.

The authors are members of Sisters in Crime Central Virginia. Today several of them agreed to be interviewed here.

The following is a complete list of the  authors who contributed stories:

Frances Aylor, CFA combines her investing experience and love of travel in her financial thrillers. MONEY GRAB is the first in the series. www.francesaylor.com

Mollie Cox Bryan is the author of cookbooks, articles, essays, poetry, and fiction. An Agatha Award nominee, she lives in Central Virginia. www.molliecoxbryan.com

Lynn Cahoon is the NYT and USA Today author of the best-selling Tourist Trap, Cat Latimer and Farm-to-Fork mystery series. www.lynncahoon.com

J.A. Chalkley is a native Virginian. She is a writer, retired public safety communications officer, and a member of Sisters in Crime.

Stacie Giles, after a career as a political scientist, linguist, and CIA analyst, is now writing historical cozies with a twist. Her first short story is in honor of her grandfather who was a policeman in Memphis in the 1920s.

Barb Goffman has won the Agatha, Macavity, and Silver Falchion awards for her short stories, and is a twenty-three-time finalist for US crime-writing awards.www.Barbgoffman.com

Libby Hall is a communication analyst with a consulting firm in Richmond, Virginia. She is also a blogger, freelance writer, wife, and mother of two.  

Bradley Harper is a retired Army pathologist. Library Journal named his debut novel, A KNIFE IN THE FOG, Debut of the Month for October 2018, and is a finalist for the 2019 Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American author. www.bharperauthor.com

Sherry Harris is the Agatha Award-nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mystery series and is the president of Sisters in Crime.www.sherryharrisauthor.com 

Maggie King penned the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries. Her short stories appear in the VIRGINIA IS FOR MYSTERIES and 50 SHADES OF CABERNET anthologies. “Keep Your Friends Close” appears in DEADLY SOUTHERN CHARM.  www.maggieking.com

Kristin Kisska is a member of International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime, and programs chair of the Sisters in Crime Central Virginia chapter. www.kristinkisska.com

Samantha McGraw has a love of mysteries and afternoon tea. She lives in Richmond with her husband and blogs at Tea Cottage Mysteries.www.samanthamcgraw.com 

K.L. Murphy is a freelance writer and author of the Detective Cancini Mysteries. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, four children, and two dogs.www.Kellielarsenmurphy.com 

Genilee Swope Parente has written the The Fate Series (a romantic mystery series) with her mother, F. Sharon Swope. The two also have several collections of short stories. www.swopeparente.com

Deb Rolfe primarily writes mystery novels. This is her first published short story. She and her husband enjoy life in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. 

Ronald Sterling is the author of six books and draws upon his colorful and varied life experience as a U.S. Airman, saloonkeeper, private detective, realtor, and New Jersey mayor.

S.E. Warwick earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies in the last century. Ever since, she has been trying to decipher the American enigma.

Heather Weidner is the author of the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries. She has short stories in the VIRGINIA IS FOR MYSTERIES series, 50 SHADES OF CABERNET and TO FETCH A THIEF. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and Jack Russell terriers. www.heatherweidner.com


Mary Burton is a New York Times, USA Today and Kindle best-selling author. She is currently working on her latest suspense novel. www.maryburton.com

Mary Miley is a historian and writer with 14 nonfiction books and 5 mystery novels to her credit. www.marymileytheobald.com

◊ ◊ ◊

Here’s my interview with DEADLY SOUTHERN CHARM authors:

Maggie: How did you pick your setting and what is unique about it?

Mollie: “Mourning Glory” is set in the fictional Victoria Town, Virginia. It’s a historical town that has taken advantage of their history and built a little tourist haven for Victoriana fans. My main character Viv comes to town to help her aunt with her B&B, but also takes a part-time job in “Mourning Arts,” a store full of mourning gear, like mourning jewelry and black crepe. 

Heather: My story, “Art Attack” is set in an art gallery in downtown Richmond, Virginia. In a former life, the building was an old warehouse. I am a Virginia native, and my stories and novels are set in the Commonwealth.

Lynn: “Cayce’s Treasures” is set in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The first time I visited the area I felt a pull to the shops, the people.

Genilee: “Who Killed Billy Joe” is set in New Iberia, Louisiana. I lived in nearby Lafayette for three years and have always been fascinated by the Cajun and Creole cultures. I picked New Iberia because I wanted a small town setting close to a larger metropolitan area (New Orleans). I am a small town gal myself and love the life.

Frances: “The Girl in the Airport” is set in the Atlanta airport. Robbie, my main character, is heading to England for the summer to escape a broken college romance. I’ve been in this airport many times. It’s fun to watch all the other passengers and imagine what secrets they are hiding. 

Kristin: “Unbridled” is set in an equestrian center in Low Country, South Carolina. I grew up taking horseback riding lessons (English saddle) and competing in shows. Though I never owned my own horse (never say never), I’ve always wanted to write a story set in a stable.

J.A.: “Keepsakes” is set in Dinwiddie County, Virginia and revolves around a forty-year-old murder that occurred on the banks of Lake Chesdin. I grew up in the area and find that such places hold many untold stories and unsolved mysteries.

Maggie: Can you share something about your main character that readers wouldn’t know?

Mollie: Viv is in her 20s and trying to find her way as a game designer. Victoria Town is just a stopover for her. She plans to move on to bigger things, like designing her own computer games. But she’s very close to her aging aunt who owns the B&B and loves helping her out.

Heather: My character, Jillian Holmes, is an assistant at an art gallery in downtown Richmond, and she aspires one day to manage a gallery of her own. But right now, she’s at the beck and call of the current gallery manager, the narcissistic Harvey Owens.

Lynn: Cayce is part of a grifter family who has ruled New Orleans’ fortune telling profession for years. She’s broken out of the family business and got a degree in design and art – mostly antiques. When she receives her inheritance, she moves home to buy an antique dealership on Royal Street. The story (and future series) is a spinoff of my Tourist Trap series. Cayce’s brother is Esmeralda’s (from Tourist Trap) first love.

Genilee: Chief of Police Clareese Guidry is not your typical police officer. She has returned to her small town after cutting her teeth on the New Orleans police force and fought her way to the top of the ladder. She’s tiny but formidable and well-respected among her colleagues. I loved her so much, I’ve made her a part of an upcoming mystery series.

Frances: “The Girl in the Airport” is a prequel to my financial thriller Money Grab. In the story, Robbie is a college student struggling with an unfaithful boyfriend who is dating her roommate. These same three characters reappear as adults in Money Grab, where Robbie is a wife, mother and successful financial advisor.

Kristin: Courtney lives, works, and breathes to keep her horse, Baymont Blues, in oats. Even though her bestie Gina is training with her to compete in the upcoming spring riding show season, Courtney has no intention of losing.

J.A.: Lynn wants to make it big. She wants to see justice for the victim, but she’s also hoping that solving the mystery will open the door to big opportunities.

Maggie: Tell us your favorite authors and/or influences.

Mollie: Toni Morrison is my all-time favorite. But I also love Louise Penny and J.D. Robb. As far as influences, I think Sue Monk Kidd was a huge influence—The Secret Life of Bees was a book that shaped me as a writer. After reading that book, I knew I wanted to write books about the power of women, friendship, family, and community. Mine just happen to involve murder.

Heather: My favorite authors are Agatha Christie, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Lee Child, Steve Berry, and John Grisham. I have always loved mysteries since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. I enjoy history and biography too, but I always return to mysteries and thrillers.

Lynn: I loved Scooby and the gang! I started reading series mysteries when I was in sixth grade and found a lovely place to hide out in the library. Maggie Sefton was my first taste of cozies. And I love a good paranormal twist especially if the magic is just part of the world. Favorite authors include Stephen King (especially when he does fantasy and other worlds), Robyn Carr for her Thunder Point series, Richard Bach for Illusions. Deborah Harkness for her All Souls world. Currently I’m obsessed with Louise Penny and Neil Gaiman (American Gods was amazing.) And I’m reading The Magicians after falling in love with the TV show.

Genilee: Although I usually say Mary Higgins Clark because she has an uncanny ability to throw readers off base and then reel them back in, I don’t like all of her books. I always enjoy reading the J.D. Robb series (Nora Roberts) because I love the strong female character and I think Nora Roberts writes very well. But again, I don’t like all of her books because I don’t like straight romance. I like anyone who writes well and doesn’t stumble on his or her own language.

One of my biggest pleasures is just finding someone new to read in the mystery genre, which is why being part of this anthology is so rewarding.

Frances: Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca was one of my favorite books in high school. I loved the tension of a woman struggling to establish herself in her marriage while constantly being undercut by everyone’s memories of her husband’s dead wife. Tana French writes psychological thrillers with evocative descriptions that pull the reader into the story. I’ve read her first book, In the Woods, three times.

Kristin: The book that inspired me to start writing was Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, which was set in Washington D.C. Since I grew up near there, I could picture every scene he described. I decided to try writing a story set at my alma mater. From there, authors Mary Kubica and, of course, Agatha Christie have been major influences in my story.

J.A.: I love the dialogue in Elmore Leonard’s books. He does an amazing job of making characters sound real. He is an expert at dialect, and a good example of less is more. Charlaine Harris is great at delivering backstory with just a line or two. Agatha Christie was the first mystery writer I remind reading; Then There Where None is still one of my favorite books. I’m also a big fan of Rod Serling and Alfred Hitchcock.

Social Media Links 

Facebook: Lethal Ladies Write

Twitter: Lethal Ladies Write 

Website: Sisters in Crime Central Virginia Anthologies 


Wildside Press Paperback

Wildside Press eBook



DEADLY SOUTHERN CHARM is a keep-you-up-at-night collection loaded with well-crafted characters and perfect plotting by some of today’s best mystery writers. Brava!
USA Today and NYT Best-selling author, Ellery Adams 

Deliciously devious and absolutely delightful, these marvelous stories will keep you captivated! Sweeter than sweet tea on the surface, but with smartly sinister secrets only a true southern writer can provide. What a joy to read!
Hank Phillippi Ryan best-selling Agatha and Mary Higgins Clark Awards winner

This collection of short crime fiction charms even as the stories immerse you in murder, revenge, and deadly deeds. Set all over the south, from Virginia to North and South Carolina, in Atlanta, Memphis, and New Orleans, the stories by eighteen authors engage and entertain with rich imagery and dialog from the region – and nefarious plots, too. Pour a glass of sweet tea and settle in on the porch swing for a fabulous read.
Edith Maxwell, Agatha and Macavity Awards nominee

This can’t-put-it-down collection of mystery short stories is flavored with the oft-eerie ambiance of the South, where the most genteel manners may hide a dark and murderous intent. Enjoy DEADLY SOUTHERN CHARM with a Mint Julep in hand – a strong one.
Ellen Byron, USA Today best-selling author, Agatha and Daphne Awards nominee and Lefty winner





The Classics: In Appreciation

Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Middlemarch, Anna Karenina, Scarlet Letter—all classics I’ve read and loved over the years.

My love affair with the classics started in 1989 when I worked in downtown Los Angeles. One day at lunch a co-worker asked if I wanted to go to the library with her. Surprised, I said, “Sure!” I’d never worked with anyone who spent her lunch hour at the library.

We walked to the Los Angeles Public Library and I checked out Jane Eyre. I had a vague memory of reading Charlotte Bronte’s tome in high school and decided to try it again. To this day, it tops my list of favorite classics. Over the next few years, I read—in many cases revisiting my high school reading list—An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser; Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy; Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence; and House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, to name just a few. I also enjoyed the complete works of Jane Austen and Willa Cather (Ms. Cather’s short stories remain on my TBR list).

Most I liked, with a few being okay. Sad to say, I didn’t like Wuthering Heights any better in the early nineties than I had in high school. Heathcliff was just too dark.

In 1993 I joined a mystery group and became obsessed with that genre. Up to that point, I’d read many Agatha Christies (are they classics?) but few other mysteries. A few years later, I started penning my own.

These days, writing cuts into my reading time, but I try to read at least one classic a year, and it’s sometimes a mystery. Read my post about Wilkie Collins’ early example of detective fiction, Woman in White. Last year I finished the epic War in Peace. Read my thoughts about Leo Tolstoy’s magnum opus here. I just finished Little Women and will eventually share about the delightful autobiographical novel by Louisa May Alcott.

Why do I love the classics? They have a timeless quality and universal appeal, essential traits that make a classic a classic. Little Women—despite the lack of texting and social media—could be a contemporary coming-of-age novel.

The classics are known for well-drawn characters and compelling story lines. That said, it can take time for a classic story to be compelling. Contemporary books have to grab the reader on page one; classics require more patience, but are worth the wait. My friend who took me to the LAPL and I started Middlemarch together. Several times I was ready to close the book for good, but, being a faster reader, my friend assured me that the story would pick up. Sure enough, George Eliot’s masterpiece became a page turner.

What’s next for me? Many of my author friends rave about The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. It’s a revenge tale and I do love revenge tales. And I’ve had Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters queued up on my Nook for some time.

Back to where the classics began for me: below is a photo of the beautiful and impressive Los Angeles Public Library. During my stint working downtown, this building was closed for renovations due to two fires. The collection had been relocated to a building on South Spring St. By the time the original building reopened in 1993, I was working elsewhere, but occasionally returned to visit this stunning structure. If you can visit, do so, but at least read about it here.

In closing, I send a big thanks to Alison, my long ago library pal!

Readers, what are your favorite classics?