10 Interesting Facts About Sir Kay

I’m happy to welcome back author Rusty Rhoad to the Power of 10 series. Today, Rusty shares interesting facts about the hero in his latest novel.

Here’s Rusty!

Sir Kay, my hero in Kaffka, the Holy Grail, and a Woman Who Reads: The Quests of Sir Kay is a particularly interesting character to me. If you’ve seen the old Disney movie The Sword in the Stone, you undoubtedly remember Sir Kay—the loutish buffoon who forgets his sword and sends Arthur into the churchyard to fetch the one stuck into an anvil there so he’ll have one for the tournament.

Lies, all lies. So in my friend Joanne’s blog today, I’m going to tell you 10 things about Sir Kay to set the story straight.

1. In the original Welsh legends, Kay (known then as Cei) was Arthur’s closest and most loyal companion. Along with Bedivere, he is one of the earliest characters associated with Arthur.

2. Kay’s reputation was seriously besmirched by the 12th century French romancers, most notably Chrétien de Troyes. In his search for a foil for the far more appealing Sir Lancelot, these writers sort of settled on Kay as a suitable target. Shows you how much the French can be trusted. When Mallory used their treatment as the basis for Sir Kay in Le Morte d’Arthur, Kay character was tarnished for centuries—perhaps forever, had I not labored to restore his good name.

3. If you search for “Sir Kay” in Amazon, you come up with only two works: my novel and a short story by Samantha Warren (which I haven’t read but just downloaded). That is not to say that other authors haven’t recognized the unfairness of Kay’s treatment and attempted redemption—they have. But you can tell from that evidence alone that I’m the foremost authority on the subject. And so . . .

4. Kay was born in 467AD, far earlier than smack in the late Middle Ages as Mallory and others would have you believe. Britain was in dire straits in the late 5th century. The Romans had pulled their legions out more than 50 years before, and the Saxons and other Germanic tribesman had their sights set on the rich, fertile farmlands of the British Isles.

5. Not one to change diapers, Merlin took the opportunity to travel, notably in the Middle East, while Arthur was an infant (it is rumored that he brought the Holy Grail back when he returned, but that is a subject of a yet-to-be published novel, so we’ll leave it as mere speculation). He returned when Arthur was 10 (and Kay 13) and took up residence in a cottage on the land of Sir Ector, Kay’s father and Arthur’s foster father.

While he was there, as we all know, he taught Arthur how to be a king. But finding in Kay an eager, nimble mind, he taught him the arcane arts of mathematics. During the height of Arthur’s reign, Kay was the only person in Britain who could solve algebra word problems.

6. Kay is geek chic, beloved by the commoners as well as most of the knights. He’s constantly posing questions like “If a knight rides forth from Camelot at 2 miles per hour …), to the groans but ultimate admiration of the folks in the taverns.

7. It doesn’t hurt that Arthur’s kitchen, supervised by Kay, provides the best fare north of Rome. When Arthur denies Kay a simple quest because he’s “needed” at home, Kay goes on strike and the food goes to hell. After only one meal, Arthur reconsiders.

8. Kay is the only person who has slept with TWO of Arthur’s half sisters. Morgan le Fay, of course, who uses enchantment to seduce him—although to be fair, he doesn’t put up much of a fight. And then there’s Morgan’s and Morgause’s older sister Elaine—I’ll bet you didn’t even know they had an older sister. Their romance is part of the story in Kaffka, the Holy Grail, and a Woman Who Reads: The Quests of Sir Kay, so I won’t spoil the ending by telling you how it works out.

9. To be truthful, Kay is more of a thinker than a fighter—that much of his later reputation is at least partially true. But he’s nowhere near incompetent. He fought at Arthur’s side during the barons’ rebellion and later in the Saxon wars, and still competes in tournaments, albeit begrudgingly, to keep his hand in. Still, he’s somewhat below average at best. When he challenges Count Maleagan to a death match to free Elaine, he does so knowing that, barring magical intervention, he’s going to die in the process. So let’s not discount his martial prowess entirely, nor his courage even a little bit.

10. Kay is a lot more like me than I’d like to admit. And an excellent example of my typical “beta male” hero—he’s far less likely to beat up the bad guy and save the world and far more likely to make sardonic comments about it all.


Peace has finally been achieved—and it sucks. At least for Sir Kay.

I mean, nobody really likes the cold and the fear of war, but compared with now? That delicious, dark-roasted heady beverage Merlin brought back from the Middle East, kaffka, is long gone. Arthur expects Kay to run castle and kingdom, just because he’s the only person in 6th century Britain who can do algebra (if a knight rides forth from Camelot at three leagues per hour . . .). Guinevere treats him as her personal gofer. Middle age is fast upon Kay, and the only quest available is to rescue Miffy, a fair-but-empty-headed lady’s imprisoned dog.

Ah, but who knows what adventures lie out there, away from the comforts of Camelot? The Holy Grail, if one were interested in such a bauble? Magic, in the form of an ageless beauty with a treacherous reputation, Morgan le Fay?

Perhaps the ultimate prize, a woman who reads.

Or maybe just a night under the stars with no liveried page, face and fingernails scrubbed clean of any trace of dirt, uttering those detested words, “Sire, the Queen requests your presence.”

Kaffka, the Holy Grail, and a Woman Who Reads: The Quests of Sir Kay is a warm, humorous glimpse of Arthurian times through the eyes of a Knight of the Round Table who also happens to be a little . . . shall we say, geeky? Sir Kay is a keen observer—witty, introspective, and sarcastic at times—driven by a sharp intellect and a deep longing for something more.



Rusty Rhoad grew up in Bluffton, South Carolina—the town that is the model for White Sands in Avalon, South Carolina as well as appearing in the novel in its current state of population and trendiness—before going to school in Houston, Texas (location of as yet unpublished novel Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail). After a stint in the army at Fort Polk, Louisiana—not currently in any novel, for better or for worse—Rusty and his wife Kate took a year-long camping trip in their VW bus, covering some of the same territory that Arnie Penders explores in Return from Avalon (and Points West) before temporarily suspending their wanderlust near Houston.

During the last decade of a 32-year career as a chemical engineer, Rusty began writing novels over lunch. And now safely out of the grip of the complexity of the military-industrial rat race, he continues to write. He has four novels published, a fifth looking for an adventurous publisher, a sixth in editing, and a seventh in progress.

Where to find Rusty…

Website | Facebook


Spotlight on Never Too Late Holiday Anthology

I’m happy to welcome multi-published author Caroline Warfield and the Bluestocking Belles. Today, Caroline shares their holiday anthology, Never Too Late, and her contribution, Roses in Picardy.

Here’s Caroline!

We are currently in the centennial of The Great War, the war to end all wars, that sad failure that led to a Second World War and endless conflict in the Middle East. Caroline Warfield presents a story of light in the midst of despair set in 1916. When hope begins to flicker out, love still catches fire. It is never too late.

On a trip to Amiens a few years ago I fell in love with les hortillonnages, the city’s famous “floating islands” along the river that generations used as the garden basket of the city, growing vegetables and flowers on little plots, set in a maze of canals, many dotted with colorfully painted cottages. A leisurely cruise through them with Amien’s massive medieval cathedral visible in the distance filled me with peace. That horrific battles had been fought nearby seemed unreal.

Photos of the battle scarred Valley of the Somme in 1916 show trees stripped of leaves or any sign of life, men coated with mud, war machines of all kinds, and endless trenches. Yet, a few miles away lay the city of Amiens, its great cathedral enshrouded in sandbags, and its floating islands. How could a soldier who stumbled out of the trenches fail to be drawn to les hortillonnages?


Eight authors and eight different takes on four dramatic elements selected by our readers—an older heroine, a wise man, a Bible, and a compromising situation that isn’t.

Set in a variety of locations around the world over eight centuries, welcome to the romance of the Bluestocking Belles’ 2017 Holiday and More Anthology.

It’s Never Too Late to find love.

25% of proceeds benefit the Malala Fund.

The Stories of Never Too Late…

The Piper’s Lady by Sherry Ewing
True love binds them. Deceit divides them. Will they choose love?

Her Wounded Heart by Nicole Zoltack
A solitary widow, a landless knight, and a crumbling castle.

A Year Without Christmas by Jessica Cale
An earl and his housekeeper face their feelings for one another in the midst of the English Civil War.

The Night of the Feast by Elizabeth Ellen Carter
One night to risk it all in the midst of the French Revolution.

The Umbrella Chronicles: George & Dorothea’s Story by Amy Quinton
The Umbrella Strikes Again: St. Vincent’s downfall (aka betrothal) is assured.

A Malicious Rumor by Susana Ellis
A harmonious duo is better than two lonely solos for a violinist and a lady gardener.

Forged in Fire by Jude Knight
Forged in volcanic fire, their love will create them anew.

Roses in Picardy by Caroline Warfield
In the darkness of war, hope flickers. In the gardens of Picardy, love catches fire.

Excerpt – Roses in Picardy

Are men in Hell happier for a glimpse of Heaven?”

The piercing eyes gentled. “Perhaps not,” the old man said, “but a store of memories might be medicinal in coming months. Will you come back?”

Will I? He turned around to face forward, and the priest poled the boat out of the shallows, seemingly content to allow him his silence.

“How did you arrange my leave?” Harry asked at last, giving voice to a sudden insight.

“Prayer,” the priest said. Several moments later he, added, “And Col. Sutherland in the logistics office has become a friend. I suggested he had a pressing need for someone who could translate requests from villagers.”

“Don’t meddle, old man. Even if they use me, I’ll end up back in the trenches. Visits to Rosemarie Legrand would be futile in any case. The war is no closer to an end than it was two years ago.”

“Despair can be deadly in a soldier, corporal. You must hold on to hope. We all need hope, but to you, it can be life or death,” the priest said.

Life or death. He thought of the feel of the toddler on his shoulder and the colors of les hortillonnages. Life indeed.

The sound of the pole propelling them forward filled several minutes.

“So will you come back?” the old man asked softly. He didn’t appear discomforted by the long silence that followed.

“If I have a chance to come, I won’t be able to stay away,” Harry murmured, keeping his back to the priest.

“Then I will pray you have a chance,” the old man said softly.


Bio – Caroline Warfield

Caroline Warfield has been many things. Now retired to the urban wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania, she divides her time between writing and seeking adventures with her grandbuddy and the prince among men she married. Her new series sends the children of the heroes of her earlier books to seek their own happiness in the far-flung corners of the British Empire.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter | Pinterest

Bio – The Bluestocking Belles

The Bluestocking Belles (the “BellesInBlue”) are eight very different writers united by a love of history and a history of writing about love. From sweet to steamy, from light-hearted fun to dark tortured tales full of angst, from London ballrooms to country cottages to the sultan’s seraglio, one or more of us will have a tale to suit your tastes and mood.

Website | Teatime Tattler | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest


I will give an ebook copy of any of my earlier books (winner’s choice) to one randomly chosen person who comments.

Spotlight on Perfectly Crazy in Love

I’m happy to welcome back Soul Mate author Linda O’Connor. Today, Linda shares her latest release, Perfectly Crazy in Love.

Here’s Linda!

I’m very excited to share my latest release, Perfectly Crazy in Love. It is one of 22 hot romances in the Sultry Nights Boxed Set. Available now for only 99 cents!

About Perfectly Crazy in Love (Perfectly Series novella)…

Dr. Patty Kelt is trying to get Dr. Ken Marshall’s attention. They’ve been friends for four years, and it’s time to turn it up a notch. She wants him to see her as smart, competent, strong, and sexy. So far she’s just managed crazy.

Ken’s used to solving problems and giving advice. Crazy he could handle. But dealing with crazy in love? That’s entirely new.

Perfectly Crazy in Love…it’s not as easy as it looks.

Landing Pages

Romance Collection | Pronoun

Buy links

Amazon | Kobo | Google Play | iTunes | Barnes & Noble

About Linda…

linda-oconnor-author-copy-2Linda O’Connor started writing a few years ago when she needed a creative outlet other than subtly rearranging the displays at the local home décor store. It turns out she loves writing romantic comedies and has a few more stories to tell. When not writing, she’s a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic (well, even when she is writing she’s a physician, and it shows up in her stories).

Laugh every day. Love every minute.

Where to find Linda…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Blog | Newsletter

10 Interesting Facts About “Hotter than the Caribbean”

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Stacy Hoff to the Power of 10 series. Today, Stacy shares the ten interesting facts about her latest release, Hotter than the Caribbean.

Here’s Stacy!

It’s always a pleasure to be on Joanne’s blog! I love sharing ten interesting facts about my new releases. Here are my top ten for HOTTER THAN THE CARIBBEAN (Building Love #2)

1. The Building Love series is a sexy soap opera. Each Building Love book is grounded in family scandals, fortunes, and secrets. I grew up watching Dynasty and Dallas, and was completely entranced by them. Apparently, I’m still an eighties gal at heart since I wrote not just one soap-opera style book, but three. (Or more! Who knows how long my desire for drama will last?)

2. The series is based on the resort construction industry. In my “day job” as a lawyer, I handle construction contracts. This gave me solid ground; the construction-related descriptions in the book were fast for me to write. (I don’t always write about the fields I know. JOCKEYING FOR YOU, set in the world of New York horse racing, required months of research, plus travel to the Belmont and Saratoga racetracks, and the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Fortunately, these destinations were only a few hours away from where I live.)

3. There were some aspects to HOTTER THAN THE CARIBBEAN that I did have to research. The heroine is an interior designer, one that specializes in hospitality design (used by the hotel industry). I had an interior designer friend of mine fact-check my draft. I am grateful for her help, because errors make me crazy. (I guess it’s my inner-lawyer.) Her name appears in the acknowledgment page.

4. I had the Spanish phrases (including some cursing) doubled-checked, too. I stopped taking Spanish classes in high school. Not because I didn’t like it, but because I wasn’t good at it. I had a Spanish teacher friend of mine proof-read HOTTER THAN THE CARIBBEAN to make sure my Spanish was correct. Her name appears in the acknowledgment page as well. (Believe me, it takes a village!)

5. Each book in the Building Love series can be read as a stand-alone novel, with its own HEA (“happy ever after”). That said, it’s fun to read the books in order. Some of the characters in BETTING ON LOVE IN VEGAS (Building Love #1) reappear in subsequent books.

6. I have traveled to Puerto Rico, where HOTTER THAN THE CARIBBEAN takes place. In fact, I’ve traveled there many times, including Condado Beach and Old San Juan. Most of HOTTER takes place in these two locations. When I was growing up, my mother had the travel bug, and a love for the Caribbean. She’s been taking me there since I was five. This summer, my mom and I once again returned to the Caribbean, although we headed to Puerto Rico’s next-door-neighbor, Dominican Republic. We traveled from Punta Cana to Santo Domingo. We took my kids, who were amazed by the eco beaches, sugar crops, and banana trees.

7. My husband and I traveled to Puerto Rico five years ago. The trip was my surprise present to him for his fortieth birthday. (My mother’s gift to him was babysitting for the week.) I have a deep fondness for Puerto Rico and wanted my husband to have the same. Mission accomplished! Fun fact: my husband and I stayed at the Marriott hotel on Condado Beach that coincidentally appears on the cover of HOTTER THAN THE CARIBBEAN. I should send the cover artist flowers for giving me a book cover that doubles as a memento.

8. I already finished writing the third book in the Building Love series. It takes place in Madrid, Spain. I traveled to Madrid with my husband and kids last year. I’ll be blogging all about our journey soon. I’m excited to say that Building Love #3 will be released in March, 2018!

9. Several years ago, I traveled Las Vegas where BETTING ON LOVE IN VEGAS (Building Love #1) takes place. Who knows where I will travel next? Wherever it is could be inspiration for Building Love #4. (Any place can set off my imagination. My parents took me to Florida’s Everglades when I was a teenager. Roughly thirty years later the first book I had published, DESIRE IN THE EVERGLADES (Desire #1), was born. But perhaps I should mention that I did not travel to Gates of the Arctic National Park, where DESIRE IN THE ARCTIC (Desire #2) takes place. I’m too timid to expose myself to either Arctic temperatures or hungry bears.)

10. Despite my periodic travels, my regular life is pretty staid. When I’m at work, I slog away at contracts. The only book I’ve written that is somewhat like of my normal life is LAWFULLY YOURS. (Although I never did sleep with the boss!)


Luis Serrano, the unwanted love child of a hotel construction magnate, is determined to reach his father’s level of success. When Luis finds himself pitted against his half-brother for control over their ailing father’s company, sibling rivalry comes to a head. The stakes are high. The brother who best completes their portion of the Caribbean construction project will gain control over the entire company. To win, Luis hires an interior design firm. But the firm will have to perform difficult work under serious time constraints.

Melanie Merritt is used to sibling rivalry. She’s always been second best to her older sister, the “golden child” of their parents’ interior design firm. Melanie’s desire is to be an artist. She works for her family to appease them. Her newest task is to implement a complex project for Luis Serrano under an impossibly short deadline. If she fails, her family’s company may go bankrupt. But Melanie can’t keep her too-creative ideas away from her family, and the client.

Completing work on time won’t be easy. Especially when dual sibling rivalries threaten to destroy the project, and a passion hotter than the Caribbean.



Stacy Hoff is a contemporary romance author, as well as an attorney. She has practiced law for over two decades, primarily handling contracts. Romance novels have always been her secret passion. She writes her romantic stories until the wee hours of the night. Stacy lives in New England with her husband and two boys.

Where to find Stacy…

Amazon | Twitter | Author Website | Publisher Website

Third Time’s the Charm

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have USA best-selling and award-winning author Lois Winston sharing her three-act life and her latest release, Scrapbook of Murder.

Here’s Lois!

My Second Act is actually a Third Act. I have a degree in graphic design and illustration. After graduating college I spent a short period of time working at two different advertising agencies run by misogynistic male chauvinists before landing a position as a layout artist for John Wanamaker, the premier department store in Philadelphia.

Then I got pregnant.

Childcare back then wasn’t what it is today. I quickly learned that if I wanted to continue working, I’d have to hand over most of my weekly paycheck to KinderCare, the only available option at the time. I had a very sweet, albeit chauvinistic boss who believed mothers should stay home with their babies, but he did realize I needed to continue working, both for the salary and my own sanity. We worked out a freelancing arrangement that enabled me to work from home. The situation was ideal until the family-run department store was sold to a conglomerate and eventually went the way of the dodo.

Luckily for me, I enjoyed crafts and needlework. While in a needlework shop one day, I overheard a conversation between the shop owner and another customer and learned that a needlework kit manufacturer located not too far from my home bought freelance designs. As someone with an art degree, I designed my own pieces rather than stitching others’ designs. I went home and placed a call to the company. A few days later I walked out of the interview with six assignments.

Working for that company led to a new design career for me, one that lasted for decades. I freelanced for various companies and publishers and spent time as an editor for McCall’s craft book division, head designer and editor for a kit manufacturer, and one of DMC’s go-to designers (a position I still hold.) For those of you unfamiliar with DMC, it’s the world’s leading manufacturer of embroidery floss and has been in business about twice as long as the United States has been a country.

Life was good, even during those times the economy wasn’t. When people are counting their pennies, they don’t spend money on entertainment. They stay home—and spend their leisure time doing crafts. Or at least they did until the advent of the home computer. Suddenly, instead of crafting, people were spending their free time online. Craft companies went out of business; magazines folded. I had less and less work at a time when I needed more and more income, thanks to my kids’ tuition bills.

One day the idea for a story popped into my head. I hadn’t written any fiction since Freshman Comp in college, but I started writing, and before I knew it, I had completed a novel. Thus began a decade-long journey toward publication. My first book debuted ten years, almost to the day, that I first began writing.

I still design, but I now earn in a year what I used to bill out in a good month because there’s so little design work available. Most of my time is spent writing. My first books were romances, but I eventually took my experiences in the craft industry and used them to create my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series. Many of Anastasia’s experiences are my own—minus the dead bodies.

Scrapbook of Murder is the sixth full-length mystery in the series. The others are Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, Death By Killer Mop Doll, Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, Decoupage Can Be Deadly, and A Stitch To Die For. There are also three novellas connected to the series—Crewel Intentions, Mosaic Mayhem, and Patchwork Peril.


Crafts and murder don’t normally go hand-in-hand, but normal deserted craft editor Anastasia Pollack’s world nearly a year ago. Now, tripping over dead bodies seems to be the “new normal” for this reluctant amateur sleuth.

When the daughter of a murdered neighbor asks Anastasia to create a family scrapbook from old photographs and memorabilia discovered in a battered suitcase, she agrees—not only out of friendship but also from a sense of guilt over the older woman’s death. However, as Anastasia begins sorting through the contents of the suitcase, she discovers a letter revealing a fifty-year-old secret, one that unearths a long-buried scandal and unleashes a killer. Suddenly Anastasia is back in sleuthing mode as she races to prevent a suitcase full of trouble from leading to more deaths.

Buy Links

Kindle | Kobo | iTunes | Nook | Paperback


USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

Where to find Lois…

Website | Blog | Pinterest | Twitter | Newsletter Sign-Up

Joanne here!

Lois, you are a crafty and clever lady! Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey. Best of luck with Scrapbook of Murder.

10 Cool Facts About the Mesdames of Mayhem

I’m happy to welcome M.H. Callway and the Mesdames of Mayhem. Today, Madeleine (M.H.) will share ten cool facts about this intriguing group of Canadian authors and their anthologies: Thirteen, Thirteen O’Clock, and 13 Claws.

Here’s Madeleine!

On Saturday, October 28th, 2 pm, the Mesdames of Mayhem are launching their third anthology, 13 Claws at Sleuth of Baker Street bookstore, 907 Millwood Rd, Toronto. Our new book contains 17 crime fiction stories by 15 authors, all of the tales centred on animals. Three stories are by writers new to the crime fiction genre.

Here are 10 cool facts about the Mesdames of Mayhem:

1. We are all CANADIAN

Our goal is to promote Canadian crime fiction at home and abroad. Many readers don’t know that their favorite crime writers are Canadian – and many people in the USA and in Europe know little about Canadian crime fiction though it has been flourishing for decades!

2. We are four years young

Early in 2013 M. H. Callway persuaded her two literary critique groups to get together to learn more about and to master social media. Donna Carrick designed our website, set up our FaceBook and Twitter accounts – and the Mesdames of Mayhem were born.

To get our name out there, we decided to put together an anthology so that readers could sample our writing. If they liked our story telling, they could go to read more of our books. Promoting our anthology led to numerous public readings, warm partnerships with our public libraries and community theatres, participation in literary festivals like Word on The Street, radio interviews, you name it – more publicity than we ever anticipated or imagined.

3. Thirteen is our lucky number

When we put together our first anthology, we puzzled over the title. As luck would have it, 13 of us were able to contribute stories. With 13 authors in the book, we thought why not simply call our collection Thirteen? Even better, Thirteen launched close to Halloween.

To our delight, Thirteen, did really well with readers. Stories by Donna Carrick and Sylvia Warsh were nominated for the Arthur Ellis Short Story award. We were so encouraged, we went on to our second anthology, 13 O’Clock with crime stories focused on time. And now we have our third collection, 13 Claws.

4. We are not all women

In 2013, when the Mesdames first formed, we were all women. And indeed, one of our most important goals is to support the work of Canadian women crime writers.

Most of us are also members of Sisters in Crime, which has been working for more than 30 years to promote equality for women crime writers. Readers may not know that Sisters in Crime has Brother members, men who also strive for better recognition of women authors. The Mesdames also have a Monsieur of Mayhem, Ed Piwowarczyk.

5. Most of us are published novelists

Most of the Mesdames of Mayhem are published crime fiction novelists and many of us have written several books as standalones or as part of a series.

Many of the Mesdames are also proficient in other forms of fiction: Lisa De Nikolits and Sylvia Warsh are both literary authors; Melodie Campbell and Caro Soles have written many books in fantasy and speculative fiction; and Rosemary Aubert is a respected poet.

6. All of us are published short crime fiction writers

All of the Mesdames – and our Monsieur – are traditionally published short crime fiction writers. In addition to our three anthologies: Thirteen, 13 O’Clock and 13 Claws, many of our stories appear in the three Toronto Sisters in Crime anthologies, The Whole Shebang series.

7. All of us love animals

Choosing animals as the connecting element for 13 Claws came naturally, because everyone of us loves animals. Caro Soles has worked for many years rescuing dachshunds from puppy mills and Melodie Campbell‘s pet, affectionately known as “Frankenpoodle”, works as a therapy dog. All of us own – or have owned – a cat or a dog and in many cases, several of each at the same time! Cheryl Freedman though favours much more exotic pets: ferrets!

8. We love to teach

One of the best ways to promote Canadian crime fiction is to seek out and encourage emerging writers. Several of the Mesdames teach or have taught creative writing: Rosemary Aubert, Mel Campbell, Cathy Dunphy, Lynne Murphy, Rosemary McCracken, Caro Soles and Sylvia Warsh.

When compiling 13 Claws, we decided to run a contest for writers who had never before published a crime fiction story. Our winner, Mary Patterson, penned a delightful story about a cat detective though she’s actually a dog lover. Our finalist, Roz Place, had published literary stories, but had never before attempted crime fiction: she wrote a chilling suspense tale about a disappearance revealed by a cat. And in runner-up Marilyn Kay’s police procedural, a stray cat is at the heart of dark crime.

9. We are truth seekers

Many of us are working or retired journalists like Cathy Dunphy, Rosemary McCracken and Lynne Murphy, spent their career in regulatory agencies like M. H. Callway or were down in the trenches teaching like Cathy Astolfo. And consequently, we don’t shy away from touchy subjects like financial fraud, residential schools and mental illness in our fiction. Readers might expect that 13 Claws contains nothing but cozies, but though we do have some in our collection, on the whole we have, in fact, taken a darker turn.

10. We are critically acclaimed.

Most of us have won or been nominated for awards: the Arthur Ellis, Edgar, Derringer, Debut Dagger, Bony Pete and Ippy. (For details visit the Mesdames website at http://www.mesdamesofmayhem.com)

Our previous anthologies have been warmly reviewed but we were especially delighted to be singled out by Jack Batten, the crime fiction reviewer at the Toronto Star, who had this to say about 13 Claws:

“In one especially clever story by Catherine Dunphy, we get a plot built around boxes of animal crackers.

But just because the contributors to the collection write out of an affection for animals doesn’t mean readers need similar feelings to appreciate the stories. There’s enough suspense and intellectual fascination built into the plots of the majority of stories to satisfy even the most ferociously cynophobic reader. Catherine Astolfo’s story involving a pig offers an intriguing way of giving Paul Bernardo himself a case of the chills. And M. H. Callway’s tale mixes snakes and the real estate business in a way that will make readers run a mile from both.”

Amazon Buy Links

Thirteen | 13 O’Clock | 13 Claws

Preparing for a Wonderland Adventure

May 1997

I was in the thick of my teaching career and very much involved in the extra-curricular life of the school. So, when admin asked for volunteers, I agreed (along with four other teachers) to accompany a bus-load of students to Canada’s Wonderland, the 330-acre theme park located in Vaughan, Ontario about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Toronto.

It would be my first time visiting the theme park, and I was determined to go on a few roller coaster rides. Having shied away from the experience during my childhood and adolescence, I knew it was now or never. To ensure that I wouldn’t back out, I shared my goal with colleagues and students.

Continue reading on Vicki Batman’s blog.