Wednesday, April 20, 2016



I’ve got a thing going on…with William Shakespeare.

Yes, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time with the Bard recently. I’ve always had a special affinity for Will, but over the past six months it has become a more intimate relationship.

As in, I’ve been borrowing his words, his lines, even the superstitions surrounding at least one of his plays.

And, like people all over the world, I’m celebrating William Shakespeare this month. This Saturday it will be 400 years since he died—April 23, 1616.

My love for Shakespeare’s work led me to set my new cozy mystery series in a fictional American small town renowned for its Shakespeare Festival. I’m borrowing the Bard’s words for my titles, and am having a wonderful time weaving Shakespeare’s words and quite a bit of Bard trivia throughout the books.

But when I set out to write this series I had missed the fact that this month, the month the first two books in the Stratford Upon Avondale Mysteries were released, was also the month the world would be celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. So, I can’t help but celebrate along with the world. I mean, I’m taking my titles straight from him, I’m quoting his sonnets and plays in my books, I owe him a little celebration!

However, if I’m celebrating the great writer’s life because I’ve been quoting him left and right, then you, dear reader, should too. You quote him daily. Have you been feeling a little generous lately? Gone on a rant about something? Taken the kids out to watch for shooting stars? Are you fashionable, or maybe instead, frugal? Ever given into the green-eyed monster? Tempted to elbow your way to the front of the line at Starbucks? Have any misgivings about a decision you made? Written a love letter? There are hundreds of words and phrases Shakespeare added to our language. We don’t go a day without borrowing some of his words.

As a mystery writer, I’m also borrowing from some of the curses associated with Will. In the second book in my series, COME, BITTER POISON, the famous Macbeth curse plays a role. In researching it and its ‘remedies’, I knew my sleuth, Maggie O’Flynn, would have to have a little run-in with this curse and its ramifications. Ever since Macbeth’s opening night on August 7, 1606 when the young actor playing Lady Macbeth died backstage before the show, the play has been haunted by superstitions and rumors of curses. To this day, no one is to say the word Macbeth in a theater except during the performance or rehearsal, otherwise tragedy is supposed to befall someone associated with the speaker. The play may only be referred to as ‘the Scottish play,’ or ‘the Bard’s play.’ If someone does say Macbeth there are remedies that must be performed to ward off evil, as Maggie unfortunately discovers. The fact that the play contains scenes with witches performing curses and spells most likely led to the superstitions that plague the play to this day. Double, double toil and trouble…

There have certainly been no curses on William Shakespeare’s legacy. What is remarkable is that 400 years after Shakespeare’s death we are still enamored with the glorious words and turns of phrase he wrote. His plays are still produced the world over. Students still study his work. We still speak the words he coined. And a little-known mystery writer is using the words he wrote to title her books, and to flavor those books.

So as we celebrate William Shakespeare this month, let us raise a toast. “Heaven give you many, many merry days!” (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts…”
As You Like It


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

It's a Mystery!

YES, I’ve been AWOL for a while!! But there’s been a good reason…

I’ve recently been spending a significant amount of time in a charming little faux-English village, drinking tea, discussing Shakespeare, getting to know the inhabitants, and dreaming up ways those people can kill one another.

After a lifetime of reading mysteries I decided it was time to try my hand at writing one. I had a few requirements, though, going into this adventure. It had to be a series so I could enjoy building my world and developing characters my readers and I would care about over time. But more importantly, the books needed to be cozy mysteries. (Cozy mystery: a mystery subgenre in which the violence takes place ‘off stage’ or is downplayed, and there is little or no sexual content. They often take place in charming, small communities.)

Now, when it comes to reading mysteries, I read all the subgenres: traditional, cozy, police procedural, psychological thriller, etc. While I don’t mind reading the more gory stuff, I know I wouldn’t enjoy writing it. Cozies fit the bill perfectly.

Once I conceived of the general premise for the series I spent a delightful afternoon building my world. If I was going to be spending a lot of time there it had to be a place I’d enjoy. As an Anglophile, the setting of my series is as English as it can be without actually being set in England. STRATFORD UPON AVONDALE is nestled into a bucolic corner of a Western state of the U.S. It’s claim to fame is its renowned Shakespeare Festival and the über-faux English look of the charming village. It is in this delightful setting that Maggie O’Flynn, ex-novice nun turned steamy romance writer tries out her burgeoning amateur sleuth skills. And she has to do so while running her shop, the Merry Wives Tea Room.

This project has been so much fun so far, that I liken it to playing with paper dolls when I try to explain it to non-writer friends. Books one and two come out in ebook form on Tuesday, April 12th. Book three is waiting, rather impatiently, to be written. It’s been shouting at me a lot, as I’ve been busy on the final touches on one and two.

Here’s a bit more about the first two books in the STRATFORD UPON AVONDALE MYSTERY series. 


Murder. Betrayal. Duplicity.

When ex-novice nun, turned steamy romance writer, Maggie O’Flynn moves to the charming village of Stratford Upon Avondale to open a tea room she expects plenty of murders, betrayal, and duplicity. On the stages of the town’s renowned Shakespeare Festival. But when a theater critic is found murdered on the town’s riverbank and the prime suspect turns out to be the sexy bookshop owner Maggie has had her eye on, she takes matters into her own hands. Will she be able to dig through the layers of betrayal and duplicity to find the true murderer before that handsome bookseller, Nate Larimer, finds himself behind bars? With the help of her loud, brash, spitfire of a friend, Gina Mattucci, Maggie plans to do just that.

With a bit of Shakespeare, copious amounts of tea, and a faux-English setting to rival anything the real England has to offer, ALAS, SHE DROWNED is the first book in THE STRATFORD UPON AVONDALE mystery series. Lovers of cozy mysteries will find a cozy home in Stratford Upon Avondale.   Available April 12th from Amazon:

Sexy film star. Long-held secrets. Murder by poison.

When international stage and film star Miles Elliot comes to Stratford Upon Avondale to play MacBeth, Maggie O’Flynn is thrilled. He’s been her actor crush for years. But when Miles ends up at the center of a murder investigation Maggie finds herself slipping back into the role of amateur sleuth. Before long many of her friends become suspects in not just one murder, but two. Maggie must discover who’s poisoning people associated with the Shakespeare Festival before one of her friends gets slapped with a murder charge. And she must do so while dodging paparazzi that are stalking her due to a supposed love affair she’s having with Miles Elliot.

With a bit of Shakespeare, copious amounts of tea, and a faux-English setting to rival anything the real England has to offer, COME, BITTER POISON is the second book in THE STRATFORD UPON AVONDALE mystery series. Though part of a series, COME, BITTER POISON can be read and enjoyed as a standalone. Lovers of cozy mysteries will find a cozy home in Stratford Upon Avondale.
Available April 12th from Amazon: