News!

rabbit hole

I’ve been stuck in a research rabbit hole this week, which is only one of the reasons this post is late. But I have had a few other distractions that kept me from my blog.

I turned in my outline for book five! The title alone is a bit of a spoiler, so I’m keeping that to myself for a little while longer. My outlines are basically a series of plot points and they allow me to work through plot holes before I’ve invested ten to twelve weeks writing a first draft. They can be tricky so I’m always relieved to complete one successfully. Now fingers crossed that my editor approves it!

Earlier this week I learned I’d be doing a virtual event with The Poisoned Pen! Since in-person events aren’t possible right now, I’m very excited to sit down and chat virtually with John Charles from the ‘Pen’ and author Jennifer Ashley. We’re scheduled for 4:00 pm (EDT) on August 15th. I’ll post a link to the event as it gets closer. And if you haven’t tuned in for any of the Poisoned Pen events, here’s a link to their archive on You Tube and Facebook.

I poked my head out of the research hole again, this time to celebrate, when I learned A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder has been nominated for a Macavity Award—the Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Mystery! The books are chosen by the members of Mystery Readers International, and I cannot imagine a greater honor than being nominated for an award by readers! Even better, some of my favorite authors are my fellow nominees! Here’s the full list of Macavity nominees: https://mysteryreadersinc.blogspot.com/2020/07/macavity-award-nominees-2000.html

That very book, A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder, is on sale right now and throughDianne book this weekend for $1.99—ebook! So, if you haven’t had a chance to read it, now’s the time! You can find buy links here

And don’t forget, A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder releases on the 28th, just over a week! You can preorder here!

It’s been very busy around here and while I have a little time, I’m heading back to do a little more research. It’s about late 19th century photography and it’s fascinating! When I understand it better, I’ll happily share, but for now, I’m just hoping I will understand it better!

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The Right Words

July 2

Writers are always trying to find just the right word or phrase to convey a specific mood or emotion. As a writer of historical fiction, I also have to make sure the word or phrase was used in that context during the era where I set my books. I’ll do this after I’ve written my first draft and at times, I’ve had to stop three or four times per page to check a word for historical accuracy. (Imagine my surprise to learn that ‘codswollop’ didn’t come into common use until 1958!)

Fortunately, there are several tools to help me do just that. There are several online dictionaries that include etymology. Sometimes I can simply Google a word to find its origin. And by far, my favorite place to go is the Phrase Finder. This may sound like work, but it’s actually one of my favorite writing diversions.

Victorians had some of the best slang. Has your character been drinking too much? He might be half-shot, sozzled, squizzed, or boryeyed. The phrase ‘three sheets to the wind’ came from the Victorian era, as did this lovely; ‘He has been measuring sidewalks upside down.’ If he’s in love, he might be crushed or spoony.
Here are just a few of my favorite Victorian slang words:

Gigglemug – always smiling
Afternoonified – smart, fashionable
Bags o’ mystery – sausages
Rain napper – umbrella
Suggestionize – to prompt someone

The only downside of this diversion is most of my characters are very proper aristocrats who would never use slang. But once I find a character who does, I’m ready!

Do you know any vintage words you wish would come back into use? July 2 post

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News! The paperback version of A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder is now available at your favorite bookstore or online retailer! And it’s now less than a month until A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder is released! I recently received some copies of the new paperback. As you can see, I was very excited!

 

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Country Homes & A Giveaway!

Audley and lake

One of my favorite bits of research for A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder was finding just the right British manor to use as a model for Risings, the country home of the Hazeltons—the Earls of Hartfield. Nothing says “England” to me like a stately home in the countryside; hundreds of years old and sprawling across the landscape. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit a few and through the wonders of the internet, I was able to take virtual tours of many more and ultimately settled on Audley End House in Essex to be George Hazelton’s family home in Hampshire. If you are reading this on Goodreads, this would be the time to click over to my blog so you can see the photos of this fabulous house. Audley end house

You can find more of them here: You can also find copies of the floor plans here:

In Mischief and Murder, Frances needs a place in the country to hold her sister’s wedding and George steps up and offers Risings for her use. The home is currently in possession of his brother, the Earl of Hartfield, who is on an extended visit to the continent with his wife. George has agreed to keep up with the management of the place while is brother is away. He’s already arranged for a small shooting party, so why not add a wedding into the mix.

Audley inside hall

Entrance hall

I couldn’t resist the lure of a Victorian country house party and only wish I could attend one myself. Instead, I created one for my characters to enjoy. It’s October, so, of course, the gentlemen are shooting, but there’s no shortage of amusements for the ladies either—riding, a visit to the village, rambling across the extensive grounds, or challenging the maze. There are picnic luncheons and archery competitions, mysterious accidents, and murder! But of course, you knew that. What’s a country house party without a murder?

A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder releases July 28th, (you can pre-order here) but you can win an advanced reader copy this month! Enter the Goodreads Giveaway to win one of five copies!

A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder resized

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Summer Book Fun

I know it’s not officially summer yet, but June has always meant summer to me. Due to the pandemic, this one may be a little different. I hope those of you still stuck at home are hanging in there and those who are getting back to work, or never stopped working, please take care.
For the past two years, June has also meant a new book release for me, but this year the date was moved to July. So, it’s not officially book release time yet either, but as a creature of habit, I still set up some promotional fun for June. I hope you have some fun with it too!

If you are on Facebook or Instagram, are you following First Chapter Fun? This is a group run by the fabulous authors Hannah Mary McKinnon and Hank Phillippi Ryan.2020-06-11 Dianne Freeman Twitter post Every Tuesday and Thursday they read the first chapter of a new book. What a great way to learn about new releases and decide if you want to read them! I’m thrilled to say on June 11th at 11:30 EDT Hank Phillippi Ryan will be reading the first chapter of A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder! If you miss the live event, I’ll be holding a watch party on my page that you can watch at your convenience.

Here are the links for both Instagram and the Facebook group.

This is just a silly thing, but I love it. Since my husband and I have been stuck at home for awhile now, we’ve joined the puzzle craze. Here’s a small one I made using the cover of my upcoming book. I’m hoping if you click on the link below it will take you to Jigsaw Planet where you can put the puzzle together. In case it fails, I’ll also have it on my author Facebook page.

preview35pieceMischief and Murder

Finally, some good news for anyone who has yet to read A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder. My publisher has put the e-book on sale for $2.99 for the entire month of June! Having said that, various retailers will have it on sale at different times of the month and they aren’t sharing their schedules. Crazy, I know, but it will be on sale somewhere all month, so if you go to Amazon and see it for full price, check out B&N or Kobo.
Here are some of the links:

Amazon

B&N

Kobo

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Introducing Daisy Price

Since we celebrated Mother’s Day between my May posts, I thought I’d use this post to introduce Daisy Price. She’s my sleuth, Frances’ mom. The Countess of Harleigh mysteries are based loosely on the lives of the American heiresses who married into the British aristocracy in the late 19th century. Like most of those women, Frances would not have achieved that goal without the help of her mother. In fact, most of them would not have even held that goal without a good push from their mothers. Alva Vanderbilt

Book three in the series, A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder introduces Frances and Lily’s mother, Daisy Price. When it came to developing the character of Daisy, I immediately thought of one of the most notorious moms of the Gilded Age, Alva Vanderbilt. Alva was a strong-willed, highly disciplined, strategist. She planned her days like a general would plan a military campaign. The thought that her daughter, Consuelo might want to plan her own life, was immaterial. Alva would have her way. Consuelo would be a duchess and her training began at a very early age.

Alva, who was known to punish her children with a riding whip, supervised a rigorous education for her daughter. By the time she was eight, Consuelo could read and write in French, German, and English. She sat for her lessons with a steel rod strapped to her back to ensure proper posture. Alva supervised Consuelo’s social life—there was no contact with boys once she turned sixteen—chose all her clothing, reading material, the decorations for her bedroom, and even her thoughts. At one time she told her daughter, “I don’t ask you to think, I do the thinking, you do as you are told.”

Consuelo did put up some fight when it came to the choice of her husband, but ultimately, she gave in to her mother’s will. She married the Duke of MarA Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder resizedlborough and became the duchess her mother always wanted.

I knew I couldn’t make my character, Daisy exactly like Alva. For one thing, I didn’t like Alva and for another, fiction has to be believable. Alva, although a real person, was just too over the top. If Frances had grown up under her care, she wouldn’t be as strong and independent as she is. Daisy is a social climber and wanted Frances to marry well. But rather than brow-beat her daughter, she persuaded her that it was the right thing to do for her family. Daisy thought she was doing the right thing for Frances too. I also wanted to find something in Daisy to like, so while she can be very pushy, I think she redeems herself in the end. But up to that point, she does cause a lot of trouble for Frances and George.

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Introducing P.I. Kelly Pruett

Coffee cookies and a good book

Coffee, cookies, and a good book!

One of the best friends a writer can have is a critique partner. They’ve seen your best work and your worst. And then there’s the work you think is your best until they very gently, but persistently, help you to see that it really isn’t working and should be cut. A CP is there for the good days and the bad days. They celebrate and commiserate. And as a CP, you do the same for them.

For me and my CP, Mary Keliikoa, it’s time to celebrate.

In less than two weeks, Mary will release her debut mystery novel, Derailed! I couldn’t be happier if it were happening to me! I’ve known her protagonist, Kelly Pruett for quite some time now—I’ve even read book two in the series—and I can’t wait for readers to meet this tough, relatable, private investigator and see how she rises to the challenge of her first solo investigation.

Mary casual

Mary Keliikoa

Here’s my review of Derailed:

“After years of helping her late father with his private detective business, Kelly Pruitt is working her first solo case while juggling life as a single mom with a clingy ex-husband and a bossy ex-mother-in-law. The case was closed by the police as accidental death by commuter train, but the mother of the victim isn’t convinced. Neither is Kelly once she digs into the shady lifestyle of the victim.
As the investigation reveals more of the victim’s secret life, it brings to light the secrets Kelly’s father kept from her. The deeper she digs, the more her personal and professional lives converge until they meet in a very satisfying conclusion. Can’t wait for Kelly’s next case!”

Derailed releases May 12th! You can find out more about Mary or pre-order Derailed Here!

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I’m home all day, so why am I not getting any work done?

Greetings from my home/workplace in Arizona!

Last time I posted that staying home really isn’t a hardship for me since I already work from home and tend to be a homebody anyway. Looking back on the past month, I had to ask myself, if quarantine hasn’t changed my life, why am I not getting any work done?

I’ve accomplished very little in the past month, yet I seem to be spending even more time on my laptop. I’m Googling Covid-19 informaworking from hometion, messaging with friends and family, and spending way too much time on Facebook. In my defense, most of my friends and family are on Facebook and four of them had or have the virus. It’s much easier for them to update all of us with a single post than to contact us individually.

Having said that, I also spend too much social media time watching funny lock-down videos and reading memes. It’s just hard to focus on Victorian London, when my thoughts are all wrapped up in what’s happening today. But my deadlines haven’t changed, so to get my head back in the game, I decided to have a chat with one of my characters, Frances Wynn, main character and sleuth of the Countess of Harleigh mysteries.

Frances: Lovely to see you again. It’s been an age since we’ve been together.

Dianne: Um, well, it has been a few weeks, I guess. We’re currently dealing with a pandemic, and I’ve found it a little difficult to focus. I was wondering how you’d manage your life if you were faced with a pandemic?

Frances: What do you mean by “if?” I lived through the Russian influenza pandemic in the early 1890s. It began in 1889 in Russia and though we heard about it, it seemed so far away. Then it swept westward across Europe, and we saw our first cases here in January of 1890. Some 4 million Britons were sickened in that wave alone, but we had additional waves in 1891 and 1892. I’d say I’ve experienced a pandemic. What did you want to know?

Dianne: How did you avoid it? Or did you?

Frances: I never succumbed. Likely because I spent that time in the country at Harleigh Manor. I’d just married Reggie and he deposited me there. I was stuck. On a positive note, we had few cases in that area. They say it’s because we’re a bit removed from the closest town and the train station. The virus spread through train travel and hit large cities, mostly at places of business. The men who were stricken were often solicitors, post office workers, bankers, and insurance men.Me and my girl Post 4

Dianne: They were all men?

Frances: They were mostly men. Odd isn’t it?

Dianne: Not when you consider how viruses are spread. You generally need face to face contact. At that time, men had that contact, and women were in the home. So, you were at Harleigh Manor, essentially doing what we’re asked to do now—shelter at home?

Frances: I suppose there are similarities. For me it was just my life. But I wonder how you manage? From what I understand of your life, you have no servants. How do you obtain supplies and provisions? Do the merchants deliver them to you?

Dianne: Most of them do, but if we have to venture out, we can, as long as we’re wearing a mask and gloves.

Frances: My dear, no lady ever leaves the house without gloves, but a mask—that’s intriguing.

Dianne: Okay, you’re holding your fingers around your eyes. I’m talking about a mask that covers your nose and mouth.

Frances: So only your eyes show! That’s even more intriguing!

Dianne: Yes, well, now that I’m staying at home, I feel like I understand you a little better, like we have something in common.

Frances: Yes, you, me, and the rest of the world. But the question is: does this kinship inspire you to write?

Dianne: Yes, it does! I’m actually looking forward to it.

Frances: Well, it’s about time! I do have more stories to share. So, let’s get on with it, shall we?

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Books to Keep You Home

no-place-like-home-750x330I’ve always been a homebody. For me, there really is no place like home. Before I retired, I spent many a Michigan winter hunkered down at home, never leaving the house except for essentials, like work or food. Home was my happy place.

Coronavirus hasn’t changed that so much as it’s placed a new slant on it. Now it’s important to stay home—to prevent the spread of the virus, save lives, and ease the burden on doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel. Staying home is how we do our part.

If, like me, your favorite housebound activity is reading, I have a treat for you. With the permission of the authors, I’m sharing the first page from their recently released or up-coming books. These are some of my favorite authors. Hopefully you’ll be hooked by those first few paragraphs and find you next favorite book!

 The Ninja Daughter Tori Elridge Ninja Daughterby Tori Eldridge

This book has been on my TBR for months and after reading this page, I need to move it up to the top!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All We Buried by Elena Taylor

Elena TaylorComing April 7th!

This is the first book in the Sheriff Bet Rivers mystery series. I’m very excited to read this one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Keliikoa

Derailed                            (a Kelly Pruettt mystery) by Mary Keliikoa

This debut mystery will release May 12th, but I had a chance to read an early copy. I’m a fan of PI Kelly Pruett and eager for her next case!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If She had stayed Diane ByingtonIf She had Stayed        by Diane Byington

Time-travel, romance, thriller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The invisibles rachel dacusThe Invisibles                 by Rachel Dacus

A story of sisters and the supernatural, set on the Italian coast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poppy

Spycraft: Essentials    by Bayard & Holmes

Going out of my lane for non-fiction. If you’ve ever wanted to learn about the shadow world of spying…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Immortal delirium carolyn walker

Immortal Delirium                by Carolyn Walker

Book two in the Immortal series. Fantasy and paranormal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salt the Snow Carrie Calaghan

Salt The Snow                          by Carrie Callaghan

I love historical fiction. This one takes an American journalist to 1930s Russia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The scrooge of loon lake carrie Nichols

The Scrooge of Loon Lake    by Carrie Nichols

Ahh! Small town, holiday romance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Veiled Blessings Melissa Bennett

Veiled Blessings                  by Melissa Bennett

A sweet story of hope and redemption.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Virtual Authors’ Panel

TFOB-2018

I should be at the Tucson Festival of Books today, talking books with fellow readers and writers. Instead, due to Coronavirus, the festival was cancelled, and like most of you, I’m hunkering down at home. However, one of my panels had an advance copy of our questions from our moderator, David Nix. The show must go on, right? So, I’ve asked my fellow panelists to answer some of the questions, and I’m posting a virtual panel! This is a little longer than my usual post, so take a seat, and imagine yourself in sunny Tucson, Arizona, surrounded by thousands of book lovers.

Ready?

I give you the Then and Now panel.

First I’d like to ask each of you why do you choose to write historical mysteries and thrillers instead of mysteries set in contemporary settings.

Iona Whishaw: I think, quite simply, I like the idea of people having little recourse to technology. There is something intriguing and atavistic about people having to use their wits. There are things they cannot not know easily. If they are up a mountain and their horse has bolted, they can’t look for cell phone bars and get someone to come get them. It is a people and resourcefulness-driven world. Relationships between people become the central coin of the narrative, and in a past with no portable technology (ok, flashlights and guns) people must deal with each other more directly.Iona book

Rosemary Simpson: I’ve always loved to read historical fiction, including historical mysteries. The research is engrossing and recreating authentic settings and characters an enormous challenge. I think that if you are going to spend up to a year working on a book, it should be set in a time, place, and social structure that you really enjoy. I may live in the modern era, but I can write in a past of my choosing!

Dianne Freeman: Historical fiction is the genre I most love to read because it takes me to a world I can’t visit in reality. I can travel to London, but not Victorian era London. I’ve always been a history buff and with each book I write, I learn more about the era. It’s like time travel.

How and why did you choose the era and locations you write about in your newest books?

Rosemary Simpson: DEATH BRINGS A SHADOW is the fourth book in the Gilded Age Mystery series. The first book, WHAT THE DEAD LEAVE BEHIND, was set in March 1888 in New York City, which was really the center of the extravagant lifestyle that has come to be called the Gilded Age. By the time of DEATH BRINGS A SHADOW, we have moved on to May of 1889. Each book, in addition to being a mystery, also has a social issue as one of its themes. I chose to take Prudence and Geoffrey to a sea island off Rosemary bookthe coast of Georgia because the isolation of the island reflects the lack of fundamental change in the everyday lives of its inhabitants nearly a quarter century after the end of the Civil War.

Dianne Freeman: The Countess of Harleigh mysteries are set in London in 1899. The time and place came from my fascination with the transatlantic marriages between American heiresses and British lords during the last quarter of the 19th century. Hundreds of new-money millionaires traded their daughters, and large amounts of cash, for titles, by marrying them into the British aristocracy. This didn’t strike me as the basis for a happy marriage. The dowry was handed over to the husband, who often left his new bride at his country home, while he returned to his bachelor ways. I wanted my protagonist to be one of those heiresses, and the time to be about ten years after the exchange of title for cash. What could possibly go wrong?

Iona Whishaw: Post war Canada was almost a fluke for me…I wouldn’t have said I was that interested in the period before I started. I was born in 1948, just after the period I write about, so my parents and other even older people I knew had lived in that period and even in the period of the first war, so it is at once familiar and exotic to me. I started my first book simply as a way to imagine my own mother, unmarried, and thrilling to the purchase of her first house in her new country.

At the moment we are surrounded by people who are struggling with their experiences of having been at war, and I was interested in what that would have meant for people who’d just come out of the Second World War. We have of course heard that my parent’s generation is called the ‘greatest generation’. And while probably in reality not particularly better than gens before or after, there was an agreeable lack of what my mother would call ‘fuss’. She herself had experience doing espionage during the war, but it was simply something she knew to be her job. She had skills of languages, and unbelievable courage and charm to spare, and she was asked to use it on behalf of her country. When the war was over, it was relegated to a job she had done, the way my father having been a bomber pilot was. It was duty. I think people tend to think that women of the pre-“liberation: period must have been victims of the sexist laws and restrictions placed on their choices, but the women I knew thought feeling sorry for themselves was rubbish, and simply went about doing what they wanted. I know that is not true for every woman; my mother belonged to a relatively affluent well-educated British cohort, but she never believed in making herself a victim of anything.

And finally, post war Canada has proved, as I have continued the narrative over 7 books, to be full of intriguing material including, for example, being chock-a-block with Soviet spies.

Please tell us how the era in which you locate your mystery comments upon and illuminates the present, especially gender roles, racial stratification, issues of marriage, divorce, sexuality and economic dependency for women.

Dianne Freeman: The Victorian era brought a great deal of social change, but it didn’t always apply to every class. In England, the 1880s introduced laws that allowed women to own property in their own right. Acquiring that property in the first place was the hard part, particularly among the upper crust, the status of my protagonist. Working for a living was a middle-class lifestyle, beneath the aristocracy. Men could get away with it to some extent. Men needed something to occupy their minds and challenge them, as long as it didn’t interfere with their social obligations. Women were still expected to be satisfied with domestic pursuits and allow their families; husbands, fathers, sons, to take care of them. If an aristocratic woman let it be known she worked for a living, she was both accusing her family of neglect, and being “mannish,” a double whammy. Society wouldn’t put up with such eccentricity and the woman would likely be dropped from many invitation lists and lose her social standing.Dianne book Having said that, prominent women of the day headed many charitable and social organizations, showing they clearly had the skills, but they didn’t earn an income from this work.

Iona Whishaw: I was surprised to see how utterly relevant those issues as I cover them in books taking place during and after the second world war are today, and how they resonate with readers. In particular the role of women in society and within their families. In spite of the massive legal advances in the status of women, issues of domestic abuse, unequal treatment, and pay disparities continue. By the same token, I want to make the point that there were very ‘liberated’, strong independent women in those times. I knew them, from my own mother on, these were women of prodigious courage, intelligence and action. As well, one of my books deals with the callous and often abusive treatment of the Home Children, who were children who were scooped off the poverty-stricken streets of big English cities and sent to ‘better lives’ in places like Canada and Australia. In fact, the callous treatment of children who come into care, or indeed, arrive at the border, is as alive today as it was in the historical settings I depict. And finally, of course, the adaptation that are of necessity made by immigrants or refugees to a new country continue to be familiar across the many decades.

By the same token, I think it is important to depict the past with balance and fullness. I was once quite vociferously challenged when I was on a panel that it was unfair to have the ‘bad guy’ have the bad attitudes, and that things like racism were rampant…racism was certainly more open and accepted as the norm than it might be today, but then as now, there were people who did not have those attitudes.

I received a wonderful letter recently about my treatment of a gay couple in my fourth book, expressing gratitude for how the story was told. My point is, that even in an England where the police hunted down and persecuted homosexuals as they did during and after the war, there were policemen who were not inclined to do that and would rather concentrate on serious crime, and I wanted that story to be told as well.

Rosemary Simpson: One of the attractions of writing about the Gilded Age is that it was a period of rapid change throughout all aspects of American society. It was a time of invention, political upheaval, enormous wealth contrasting with deep poverty, mass immigration and the phenomenal growth of cities, immense industrialization, sprawling public transportation, and the growing demand by women for equality before the law. Think telephone, electricity, and the automobile, just to name three of the many things that changed daily life forever. Any era that embodies that kind of transformation also entails the conflict of social transformation and reordering. I find it mirrors many things that are happening today. And where you have social conflict you have a fertile field for the mystery author to plow.

What can you accomplish in an historical mystery that you can’t in a contemporary mystery?

Iona Whishaw: I think really allowing people to ‘get away’. Mystery fiction is by its nature escapist, and I think historical fiction is even more escapist. The world pummels us with anxiety producing information every minute of every day. Being able to get away to a simpler world is a boon. So while I take great care that any historical facts I use are as accurate as they can be, I still like to place readers in a world where they can be truly entertained and comforted. In fact, I receive numerous letters from readers who in particular use my books to get away, however briefly from the difficult stresses in their own lives.

Rosemary Simpson: I think one of the most important contributions of an historical mystery is that if the research is accurate and liberties are not taken with the events and personalities of the period, the reader learns a great deal about a past that she might not have explored otherwise. It’s a completely painless history lesson that entertains as well as instructs. There is also the challenge of solving a mystery when the protagonist cannot depend on modern technology such as DNA testing and instant communication.

Dianne Freeman: Crime fiction is always a social commentary. When it takes place in another time, it allows us into the lives of the people who lived in that time and shows us their hopes, fears, vices, and virtues. It’s time travel through reading.

Panelist bios: 

Iona Whishaw was born in 1948 to English parents in British Columbia and brought up in Mexico and the US. She worked as a youth worker, taught high school and served for 16 years as a high school administrator in Vancouver, Canada. She earned a Masters of Arts degree in creative writing from UBC and was the recipient of the YWCA Women oWhishaw_Iona_AnickViolettef Distinction in Education award and a Canada’s Top Principals award. Her first work was a children’s book, Henry and the Cow Problem, and because she has loved mysteries since her early love affair with Nancy Drew, she has recently embarked on a well-reviewed period mystery series beginning with A Killer In King’s Cove and Death In The Darkening Mist. The books are set in 1946 in a charming backwater community in BC that the author lived in as a child. It is a community that cannot, alas, escape the press of the wider darker forces of the world and the effects of the war they have just come through. Her main character is based to no small extent on her own mother who engaged in espionage during WW2, and provided a life of travel and high adventure for her daughter. Her next book in the series, A MATCH MADE FOR MURDER, releases in April.

Rosemary pic

 

Rosemary Simpson is the author of two standalone historical mysteries and the Gilded Age Mystery series featuring Prudence Mackenzie and Geoffrey Hunter. The fourth book in the series, DEATH BRINGS A SHADOW moves the protagonists from New York City to the sea islands off Georgia.

 
dianne amaz picDianne Freeman is the acclaimed author of the Countess of Harleigh Mystery series. She is an Agatha Award and Lefty Award winner, as well as a finalist for the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award from Mystery Writers of America. She spent thirty years working in corporate accounting and finance and now indulges her love of writing, history, and mystery. Born and raised in Michigan, she and her husband split their time between Michigan and Arizona. Her third novel in the series, A LADY’S GUIDE TO MISCHIEF AND MURDER, will release in July.

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Juggling Through February

A writer’s life often involves a lot of juggling, and apparently, so does the month of February. This short month had me juggling work on five different books. I know many authors do that, but since I write one book a year, it’s a little unusual for me, and can be very confusing!

When February began, I’d just finished the second draft of book 4 (Scandal and Murder!) and sent it off to my critique partner for her review. The same day, I was contacted by my Spanish publisher. Book 1, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder, had just released in Spanish. Hooray! They wanted me to do a short video introducing the book, and they’d add subtitles in Spanish. What a great idea—except I’ve been working on book 4 for the past six months. What’s book 1 about again? Once I refreshed my memory, this is what I came up with:

 

By the time I finished that little project, I received page proofs in the mail for book 3. (Mischief and Murder!) Page proofs are the final, type-set version of the book, and the author’s last chance to find and correct any errors. There is nothing automated about this process. You just go through the pages, with painstaking care, until your vision blurs. It’s a necessary evil. Page proofs
Before I finished the page proofs, my critique partner returned book 4 with her comments. I was eager to dig in, but I’d just come up with a great idea for book 5 and I had to jot down my thoughts before I forgot them. One thought led to another and that led to the end of the day, but I finished with a strong blurb and a shaky synopsis. I’ll call that a win.

By the third week of February, I’d finished the page proofs and was back into edits for book 4. But on the 21st I had to put them away to be part of a panel for the Desert Nights-Rising Stars Writers’ Conference at ASU with fellow Desert Sleuths Deborah Ledford, Shannon Baker, Denise Ganley. We were talking about crafting mysteries and our most recent books, which for me is book 2. (Gossip and Murder!)
I’m a very linear person. I like to work on one book until it’s done, then go on to the next one. That’s just how my brain works. But I have to admit, it was fun to have a little project going for each of them this month, even the one that’s just an idea!

Desert nights panel

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