And Another Sneak Peek…

It’s official – The Wild Rose Press will release A Different Kind of Reunion on Monday, April 23, 2018. In the meantime, I will provide sneak peaks on several days leading up to the release.

In today’s excerpt, protagonist Gilda Greco connects with private investigator Jim Nelson.

18544013_s

Jim whistled. “You sure don’t like it easy. With all your millions, you’d think this crap could somehow miss landing on you. But you do seem to attract it.” He chuckled. “Might be something to address with a therapist or maybe the psychic you’ve just met.”

“I didn’t just meet Cassandra. I got to know her and her parents very well during those seven months I taught in Parry Sound. They’re good people.” I could tell by his tone that he was dismissive of Cassandra’s psychic powers. While I was also skeptical, I did feel the urge to defend her. She had been so sincere and so open. I couldn’t fathom the notion of Cassandra faking or putting on the airs of a psychic. It wasn’t in her nature to be deceitful.

“I’m sure they are,” Jim said. “But let’s face some facts here. Most psychics need to make a living. I don’t doubt this lady has some intuitive ability—as many women do—but I don’t think it’s enough to catch a murderer. The constable is grasping at straws. What did you say his name was?”

“Leo. Leo Mulligan.”

“Tall, dark-haired guy. Good-looking and a bit of a rascal.”

“He’s evolved.” I immediately regretted my response. Knowing Jim, he would pounce and tease me.

“And you’re interested,” Jim said, chuckling. “What does your boyfriend think about this cozy reunion you’re having with a more evolved constable?”

Available for Pre-Order

Amazon (Canada) | Amazon (US) | Barnes & Noble | iTunes
The Wild Rose Press

Another Sneak Peek…

It’s official – The Wild Rose Press will release A Different Kind of Reunion on Monday, April 23, 2018. In the meantime, I will provide sneak peaks on several days leading up to the release.

In today’s excerpt, protagonist Gilda Greco meets two of her former students on the first evening of the reunion.

18544013_s

I recognized Jake from his Facebook picture. As soon as he saw me, his smile widened, and he rushed forward to hug me. “Gilda! Is it possible you have de-aged? You look even lovelier than you did twenty years ago.”

What a charmer! In spite of myself, I smiled and gave him the once-over. Every hair in place and signs of a summer tan lingering. His blue eyes sparkled and crinkled a bit, but the final effect was a flattering one. Bradley Cooper came to mind. Jake Coburn would age well, of that I was certain.

I turned my attention to Adam who was standing behind his twin brother, waiting patiently for his turn. I tried not to show my shock as I took in the receding hairline and crow’s feet that had taken permanent residence around Adam’s eyes, still beautiful in color but there were tinges of sadness and suffering. He also appeared puffier in his face and overall body frame. While Jake could pass for late twenties, I would put Adam’s outer age well into the forties. Life had not been kind to Adam Coburn.

I hugged Adam and held him close. I hoped we would have time for a long chat. I wanted to find out more about his past suffering and try to help him. From what Cassandra had said, I gathered Adam had lived elsewhere for a while. What had gone wrong? And why had he returned to Parry Sound?

Available for Pre-Order

Amazon (Canada) | Amazon (US) | Barnes & Noble | iTunes
The Wild Rose Press


Taking a Sneak Peek…

It’s official – The Wild Rose Press will release A Different Kind of Reunion on Monday, April 23, 2018. In the meantime, I will provide sneak peaks on several days leading up to the release.

In today’s excerpt, protagonist Gilda Greco learns of the tragic death of a former student.

18544013_s

One missed email. While I couldn’t be one hundred percent certain it was the only one I had ever overlooked, I knew this omission would haunt me. And matters weren’t helped when the cantankerous constable on the telephone said, “If you had read that email, Sarah McHenry might still be alive.”

Leaning back in my recliner, I closed my eyes and tried to recall Sarah’s face. But all I could see were curtains of blond hair or, more precisely, three sets of curtains of blond hair. The Barbies—Mean Barbie, Mellow Barbie, Moody Barbie—came to mind. How I had detested those nicknames and some of the more cruel ones the students tossed about like puffs of cotton candy, oblivious to the pain and potential scarring that could linger for decades and even lifetimes. I spent the first two weeks of my teaching stint calling out the children whenever they used those nicknames and giving detentions to anyone who persisted.

Moody Barbie. That had been Sarah’s moniker. Prone to tears and bouts of the silent treatment, she often retreated into her own world. A budding artist, she would take out her sketch pad and draw whenever she finished her work or needed to separate herself from the others. Had she decided life was much too difficult and retreated even farther? That had been my first thought when Constable Mulligan read the infamous email: We need your help. But the use of the first person, plural pronoun conjured up another meaning, one even more sinister.

Who was in danger? Family members? The Barbies? Other classmates? Why reach out to me after over two decades of silence? And how did she find my workplace email address? All these questions swirled through my mind, and I longed to ask for details. But I didn’t want to anger the grief-stricken constable who was bemoaning the senseless way Sarah had died, alone and exposed to the cool autumn evening. A shocking occurrence, but even more so in Parry Sound.

Available for Pre-Order

Amazon (Canada) | Amazon (US) | Barnes & Noble | iTunes
The Wild Rose Press


Cover and Trailer Reveal: A Different Kind of Reunion

I am thrilled to share this cover and trailer with you today!

Blurb

While not usually a big deal, one overlooked email would haunt teacher Gilda Greco. Had she read it, former student Sarah McHenry might still be alive.

Suspecting foul play, Constable Leo Mulligan plays on Gilda’s guilt and persuades her to participate in a séance facilitated by one of Canada’s best-known psychics. Six former students also agree to participate. At first co-operative and willing, the camaraderie is short-lived as old grudges and rivalries emerge. The séance is a bust.

Determined to solve Sarah’s murder, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers shocking revelations that could put several lives—including her own—in danger. Can Gilda and the psychic solve this case before the killer strikes again?

Excerpt

Jim whistled. “You sure don’t like it easy. With all your millions, you’d think this crap could somehow miss landing on you. But you do seem to attract it.” He chuckled. “Might be something to address with a therapist or maybe the psychic you’ve just met.”

“I didn’t just meet Cassandra. I got to know her and her parents very well during those seven months I taught in Parry Sound. They’re good people.” While I was also skeptical, I did feel the urge to defend her. She had been so sincere and so open. I couldn’t fathom the notion of Cassandra faking or putting on the airs of a psychic. It wasn’t in her nature to be deceitful.

“I’m sure they are,” Jim said. “But let’s face some facts here. Most psychics need to make a living. I don’t doubt this lady has some intuitive ability—as many women do—but I don’t think it’s enough to catch a murderer. The constable is grasping at straws. What did you say his name was?”

“Leo. Leo Mulligan.”

“Tall, dark-haired guy. Good-looking and a bit of a rascal.”

“He’s evolved.” I immediately regretted my response. Knowing Jim, he would pounce and tease me.

“And you’re interested,” Jim said, chuckling. “What does your boyfriend think about this cozy reunion you’re having?”

Release Date: April 23, 2018


Audiobook Release: A Season for Killing Blondes

I’m thrilled to announce the release of this audiobook!

Written by: Joanne Guidoccio
<

Narrated by: Eliza Huberth

Length: 6 hrs and 49 mins

Genre: Mystery

Release date: 2018-03-05

Language: English

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

You can now listen to this book wherever you are and with any of your devices. If you take advantage of a 30-day free trial with Audible, your first audiobook is free. You can keep the audiobook if you decide to cancel at the end of the month. Find out more here.

Blurb

Hours before the opening of her career counseling practice, Gilda Greco discovers the dead body of golden girl Carrie Ann Godfrey, neatly arranged in the dumpster outside her office. Gilda’s life and budding career are stalled as Detective Carlo Fantin, her former high school crush, conducts the investigation.

When three more dead blondes turn up all brutally strangled and deposited near Gilda’s favorite haunts, she is pegged as a prime suspect for the murders. Frustrated by Carlo’s chilly detective persona and the mean girl antics of Carrie Ann’s meddling relatives, Gilda decides to launch her own investigation. She discovers a gaggle of suspects, among them a yoga instructor in need of anger management training, a lecherous photographer, and fourteen ex-boyfriends.

As the puzzle pieces fall into place, shocking revelations emerge, forcing Gilda to confront the envy and deceit she has long overlooked.

Buy Links

Amazon (Canada) | Amazon (United States) | Audible


Idea → Sticky Idea → Premise

Writers can find inspiration almost anywhere, and they don’t have to go too far to find those ideas. Checking Twitter or Facebook feeds, reading a daily newspaper, watching a television program, visiting an art gallery, eavesdropping on conversations…

Which ideas work best?

Sticky ideas…those ideas that simply won’t go away.

Once that idea takes root, it’s like a song that you can’t get out of your head. You wake up thinking about it, dream about it, and fantasize about it. You can even imagine the A-list actors who will star in the screenplay based on your novel. You may seek validation from family and friends: “Don’t you think that would make a great novel?” Unfortunately, too many ideas remain fantasies and don’t make it to the next step: transforming an idea into a premise.

Continue reading on the Sisterhood of Suspense blog.


Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Gothic Suspense

I’m happy to welcome Canadian mystery author Anna Dowdall to the Power of 10 series. Today, Anna shares her extensive knowledge of Gothic suspense and her novels, After the Winter and The Au Pair.

What the heck is it anyway?

Everybody knows this type of story! It often features a decaying mansion, an isolated yet curious heroine, family secrets, sometimes a child in peril, dramatic weather, disguise and switched identities, and let us not forget menacing and/or intellectually-compromised lower orders. The book covers usually capture at least some of these things. As for what it’s all about, Gothic suspense, says Stephen Knight in Crime Fiction since 1800, “has powerful appeal as a genre speaking about—and validating—individual feeling, including fear and horror… It… makes central the female experience of powerlessness and oppression, and links these emotive forces to places redolent of the past, the obscure, the mysterious…” Nowadays the Gothic heroine is enterprising, she rises to the threat. She’s a brave inquirer into toxic secrecy and domestic chaos. She perceives danger where others are oblivious. She’s no shrinking violet either, her determination to act is the means of resolving the mystery. Which is why I reward her with a handsome and marriageable man sometimes, along with other desirable things such cold hard cash.

What’s the crossover with this domestic noir thing you keep reading about?

I think it was the American editor Sarah Weinman (check out her book Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives) who coined the term domestic noir, to describe some wonderful and under-recognized mid-century women writers who mix suspense and dangerous domestic scenarios and a female protagonist to tremendous effect. Writers like Ethel Lina White and Charlotte Armstrong. You have to go back a ways to discover that books like Gone Girl are really just standing on the shoulders of, imho, better antecedents. Lots of these domestic noir books are just saturated with Gothic mood, in a far from hokey way.

Why do you gravitate to it as a writer? What do you achieve with it?

Crime fiction is full of delicious cliches but some of the characters, especially in traditional hard-boiled tough-guy fiction, are pretty sexist. I want my Gothic ingenues, the ones wandering around the uncanny old house and picking up the “something is wrong” vibe, to have plenty of intellect as well as intuition. Also, I’ve taken the dangerous (because powerful) femme fatale cliche from old-school hard-boiled crime fiction and, after leading the reader down the garden path for a few hundred pages, turned it upside down. Plus, in my books femme fatales are actually allowed to live, they’re usually killed off! In fact, I like to mix up bedroom-eyed ingenues and soulful femme fatale types so you might have trouble distinguishing them by the time the book finishes. Sally Ryder in After the Winter might seem at first like just another ingenue on a romantic binge. But it’s her willingness to bend the rules and substitute other secrets for the ones she’s investigating that in the end gives her choices and decisions symbolic importance and moral weight, I hope.

How can escapist fiction be serious?

These conventions of the Gothic novel are perfect to explore the dangers that lurk within women’s domestic lives, and what is more serious and timely than that? Crime fiction in general allows writers to explore justice questions: questions like who really pays and who gets away with what. You can invest a fairly restrictive crime plot with as much social and moral significance as you want, for example by bending the conventions and changing the typical outcomes. You can present ideal revenges and undercut status quo justice outcomes that further victimize. That’s as good as Yann Martel and his talking tiger any day. What’s serious fiction anyway?

How does Canada lend itself to Gothic suspense?

Lots of bad weather (we know how to work those terrible winter storms), isolated countryside, brooding nature, big cities with seedy underbellies, ugly and/or suppressed history, and women on a mission.

What other writers flirt with its elements?

So many writers who are considered serious and literary have delved into the Gothic: all the Brontes, even Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey, our own Margaret Atwood and Nobel laureate Alice Munro. There’s that whole Ontario Gothic aspect in Munro, that atmosphere that’s creepy and clings. Although my books are so far situated in Quebec, I think I will have to mine that Ontario mood at some point, it’s just so rich.

You’ve described your genre as Gothic Cozy. Where does Cozy come into things?

That was probably a slightly playful description, but it’s meant to hit on a mix of things I go after. If I cited the British director Sally Wainwright, known to us all via Netflix, as an example of “feminist cozy,” people might question my judgment. But think of how her female victims find almost superhuman warrior strength to fight back, for example in Happy Valley. Or how Last Tango in Halifax presents a woman living happily ever after, with a certain light disregard for the spot of murder in her past. What’s cozier than that? My books After the Winter and The Au Pair explore the worst possible things that can happen to women and then contrive in the conclusion to leave most of the women characters in a much better place, for them if not for justice norms. That’s downright utopian in some respects, and in stark contrast to the real world. What I say, to myself and to readers, is this: let’s examine those unlikely outcomes, let’s indulge in the solace of dreaming about them as at least logically possible.



















So where does romance fit in?

Sometimes the terms romantic suspense and Gothic suspense are used almost interchangeably, and there’s usually a romance plot in Gothic suspense. The novel without sex and love is pretty rare, but as a writer of Gothic suspense I note a certain unstated or semi-stated distinction out there between “good” noir crime stories, that take a suitably cold and manly approach to romance and women in general, and allegedly sappy romance-based stories. All I can say is this: in so many instances of good Gothic suspense that I’ve read, while there are pro-forma romantic endings which usually symbolize the resolution of the mystery plot, the underlying themes often have little to do with romance. And the heroine in many cases seems to me to be less motivated by romance and interest in men than by other things—work, self-respect, children and their safety, relationships with other women, cats, revenge, money, equality, sticking her nose in where it doesn’t belong, exorcising demons, her place in the world. You just have to dig down a little. Take Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca as an example: is the theme the triumph of love or is it a book about exacting justice across the grave?

Where is your writing going?

A very kind and old friend, who happens to be a professor of English at UC/Irvine, is convinced that I will write a dozen of these playfully dark little feminist genre novels and that over time I will delve so deeply into the Gothic and its possibilities that I will write myself out the other side. That could be. I have told myself however that I would write a half dozen. And even as I wander through the conventions, savouring, twisting and discarding as I go, it’s just as likely I’ll end up in some other type of light genre fiction as anything that would qualify as serious. When I think of my characters, I realize my effort is to make them mixed. I want them to have characteristics of their stereotype (I do love my genre), but also a certain mutability, with traits that defy and contradict the stock type. For example, Ashley Smeeton, my PI and series heroine beginning with The Au Pair, is likeable in a quirkily aloof way—she’s meant to be a foil to the emotional Gothic suspense plots she finds herself in. So far, so standard. But then, unlike stock detectives who never change, I find she’s far from impervious to contact with the uncanny. So I’m not entirely sure where she’s headed. I can say though that in book three Ashley’s unlikely to escape a psychic wound. Does that mean my writing is getting “weightier?” Maybe in the sense of number of words, because the third book seems well on the way to becoming a longer book.

What are your final words on the Gothic?

I invite you to check out my website at http://www.annadowdall.com, where I muse about everything Gothic-related, from Kim Novak’s charm as a femme fatale and Hillary Clinton’s appetite for escapist crime fiction, to the unknown western side entrance, down dark and little-noticed steps, to Toronto’s High Park, scene of the Margaret Millar 1945 classic The Iron Gates.

Bio

Anna Dowdall was born in Montreal and currently lives in Toronto. She’s been a reporter, a college lecturer and a horticultural advisor, as well as other things too numerous to mention/best forgotten. She was semi-finalist for the US Katherine Paterson YA prize and for Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award in the unpublished category. She reads obscure fiction in English and French and thinks Quebec is an underrecognized mise en scène for mystery and the Gothic. AFTER THE WINTER and THE AU PAIR are the first two books in her new suspense series, The Ashley Smeeton Files.


10 Things about Susan Hogan…and Cozy Heroines

I’m happy to welcome multi-published author Judy Alter to the Power of 10 series. Today, Judy shares ten interesting facts about Susan Hogan, the protagonist of her latest release, Pigface and the Perfect Dog.

Here’s Judy!

Susan Hogan is the protagonist of my Oak Grove Mystery series. I meant her to be a bit different than the stereotypical cozy heroine. To some extent, I succeeded, because my main beta reader confessed he didn’t like her as well as the women in my other series, and one reviewer called her “prickly.”

With this list, I give readers a chance to judge for themselves, but I hope the list will make you want to read about Susan’s crime-solving adventures.

–Susan Hogan, associate professor of English at the fictional Oak Grove University, is thirty-five, single, and never married; she has, in fact, a bit of a fear of commitment that sometimes gets in the way of her relationship with Jake Phillips, chief of campus security.

–Susan Hogan’s romance with Jake pairis, a cop (pardon, law enforcement officer) and falls into the cozy cliché trap of heroine and police officer but works well for plot purposes.

–Susan is an energetic, stimulating classroom teacher; her field is American literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

–Raised by a maiden aunt in Wichita Falls, Texas Susan would like to feel she’s a free spirit, but she clings to many of Aunt Jenny’s preachings about life, morals, and manners.

—-She can cut up a salad and set a proper table, but don’t ask Susan to cook. Jake is a master at the grill, and Aunt Jenny cooks everything from pots of soup to King Ranch chicken, but Susan can’t figure out Hollandaise sauce.

–Susan wears her hair in a spikey cut and runs her hands through it all the time. She can’t be bothered with hair-styling and prefers jeans or, at the least, slacks, hasn’t worn a skirt in years.

–Susan is not status conscious. She drives a battered, old Honda but would really love to go back and forth to campus on Jake’s moped. Since she once wrecked it, Jake fears for the safety of both Susan and his moped and has forbidden her to ride it.

–Susan was at odds with the former chair of the English department, and she finds university rules and regulations cumbersome and restrictive. Professors whose field is Renaissance literature seem to irritate her.

–Susan is cautious about warming up to people—the city police lieutenant, the sheriff—and she can get crosswise, as she does with Marge the waitress who thinks she’s guilty of murder, but she’s fiercely loyal to those she loves—Jake, Aunt Jenny and her paramour Judge John Jackson, her fellow teacher Ellen Peck, and newcomer to the series, Gus Conroy.

–Susan Hogan is, at best a free spirit, representing contemporary feminist thinking in moderation and without the extremes, but tempering her freedom with a bit of the traditional role of women.

In short, Susan Hogan is someone I’d like to meet and hang out with.

Blurb

Susan Hogan thinks she’s about to meet her maker when she confronts a rifle-carrying man, who looks like a pig, in a grocery store. Jake investigates the body of a young college student, shot in the back and found in an empty pasture. Aunt Jenny showers love on the new puppy a young man from the grocery gave her but she has to get rid of that heavy collar.

Susan is associate professor of English at Oak Grove (Texas) University; her partner, Jake, is Chief of Campus Security. Aunt Jenny, the maiden lady who raised Jenny, came to Oak Grove to help Susan, who was accused of murdering a coed in The Perfect Coed, first book in the series How much help Jenny was is debatable, but she made a fast friend in Judge John Jackson and stayed in Oak Grove.

Trouble in Oak Grove begins with the open-carry protestors in the store and leads to a shooting, breaking and entering, threats and an attempted kidnapping, a clandestine trip to the woods late at night. Will Susan Hogan land in trouble…or the hospital…again? Will Susan and Jake survive this as a couple? Susan is still prickly but she learns some lessons about life, love, and herself in this second Oak Grove Mystery.

buynow

Bio

Judy Alter is the author of seven books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries, two books in the Blue Plate Café Mysteries; and two in the Oak Grove Mysteries. Pigface and the Perfect Dog follows The Perfect Coed in this series of mysteries set on a university campus. Judy is no stranger to college campuses. She attended the University of Chicago, Truman State University in Missouri, and Texas Christian University. For twenty years, she was director of TCU Press, the book publishing program of the university. The author of many books for both children and adults, primarily on women of the American West, she retired in 2010 and turned her attention to writing contemporary cozy mysteries.

The single parent of four and the grandmother of seven, she lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with her perfect dog, Sophie.

Where to find Judy Alter…

Blog | Amazon | Facebook


New Contract!

20014660_sYesterday, my contract for A Different Kind of Reunion was finalized by Editor Kinan Werdski and Publisher Rhonda Penders of The Wild Rose Press.

This is the third book in the Gilda Greco Mystery Series and includes characters from A Season for Killing Blondes and Too Many Women in the Room.

Several new characters are introduced, among them a silver fox constable and seven of Gilda Greco’s former students.

Logline

Determined to solve the murder of a former student and prevent another tragedy, a teacher agrees to participate in a psychic-led reunion.

murder2

Coming Spring 2018!