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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Mystery Gala at New England Mobile Book Fair

(If you're reading this post on my website the feed may be faulty. Click here to read directly off my blog.)

New England Mobile Book Fair, 82-84 Needham Street, Newton Highlands, MA
Thursday, December 3, 2015 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Okay folks, listen up. This is the FOURTH ANNUAL mystery night featuring New York Times best selling authors from in and around New England. Tom Lyons (pictured below in his native habitat) continued the mystery night tradition started by the iconic (but sadly closed) Kate's Mystery Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Kate Mattes, owner, will be honored with the Robert B. Parker Award! Over fifty authors will be there (that is in number, not of a certain age) from best selling authors, to local faves, to hot indies. (Go ahead, think what you want!) Many members from Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime will be there, too.  

It's a terrific night and not one to miss. 


If you've never been to New England Mobile Book Fair, you need to get off your arse and go! For over 53 years, NEMBF has provided New Englanders with the best book selection and prices. They hold frequent events for readers to meet authors and are sure to have your sought after book in stock or will get it for you ASAP.

Please join me for another fun author meet and greet. I'll be signing copies of The Charity and its sequel, The Troubles.

Which authors do you want signed books from? Here's a partial list in no particular order:

Susan Conant
Clea Simon
Edith Maxwell
Toni L. P. Kelner
Hallie Ephron
Bill Landay
Liz Mugavero
Marshal Stein
Coralie H. Jensen
Hank Phillippi Ryan
Sarah Smith
Dale Phillips
Leslie Wheeler
Sheila Connolly
Steven P. Marini
Gary Goshgarian
Linda Barnes
Ray Daniel
Susan Oleksiw
Lea wait
Barbara Ross
Kate Flora
Steve Ulfelder

Ben Coes
Kyle Darcey
Chris Holm
Connie Johnson Hambley!
Chris Irvin
Joe Finder
Ray Anderson
Gayle Lynds
Shannon Kirk
Dick Bartlett
Lisa Lieberman
T Stephens
Barbara Struna
Jeffery Diamond
Carolyn Wilkins
Judy Copek
Ric Wasley
Arlene Kay
Daniel Palmer
David Zeltserman
Elisabeth Brink (Elo)
Len Rosen
Chris Zaniboni
William Martin
Bob Weintraub
Kevin Symmons

See you there! Click your interest in attending!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Strong Women Are Everywhere! by Barbara Hopkinson

I have the pleasure of sharing a writers’ community with my next guest, Barbara Hopkinson. I was drawn to her smile and positive outlook, and when I learned her story of a mother’s love and loss, I was floored. I think you will be, too.

Strong Women Are Everywhere! by Barbara Hopkinson

I’ve had the benefit throughout my life and career to know many strong women, and to have strong women as role models. I believe that I’ve become one, which is why Connie asked me to contribute to her blog. I am honored.

When I think of different types of strong women, I first think mothers, and my mother, Peggy, in particular. She was one of ten children, the oldest of eight who survived, growing up during the Great Depression in Maine. Mom is with me only in spirit now, but she still ranks as the hardest working woman, with the best values, I have ever known.

Peggy suffered with tuberculosis in her early thirties. Doctors used her as a guinea pig, removing half her ribs and collapsing one of her lungs, leaving her with one-fourth of normal lung capacity. That didn’t stop her from working full time, often swing shifts, and running a household. She had my older sister and endured the stillbirth of my brother.

Six years later, she became pregnant with me. Doctors told Peggy to end the pregnancy, saying it would kill her, but she refused, thankfully. She went home to Maine to her equally strong mother and sisters, to get help in caring for herself and the two-month premature baby I was. Miraculously, that pregnancy solved some of the medical issues she had struggled with. As Peggy grew older, she refused to be a burden to anyone and lived alone fourteen years after my father died. She was lovely and pleasant to everyone, even through her Alzheimers, until she passed away just before her 86th birthday.

I became another type of strong woman in the corporate world. My career was 38 years in international business, mostly technical companies, including IBM. Like me, many women were juggling family and career — not easy. We were often primary breadwinners, and did a lot of the housekeeping, shopping, bill paying and looking after our children’s welfare as well as commuting, working full time and traveling for business. I did have a supportive husband who was a great father. Not everyone does — some women do it alone. They don’t get much sleep!

I witnessed women’s strength in competing with men in the corporate world. Female executives were in the minority. I was often the only woman in the room, especially when I worked in male dominated countries like Japan or industries like petroleum, tobacco, and chemicals. Attitude was key. If you were oversensitive, you were unable to be effective. I found it was a lot more fun to make friends and allies out of the guys. You had to compete for performance ratings and pay. Women often worked harder and were paid less. Unfortunately, that still happens today, but female presence and power is growing in all arenas — business, politics, science, and influence. Women have a less competitive and more nurturing view of the world around us, which might eventually make the world a more peaceful place.

Nurturing; that brings me back to mothers. Who is stronger? No one I know. Whether or not they work outside the home — they raise their kids, support their partners, take care of elderly parents and help their community. Some especially strong Moms do it alone, sacrifice for their children, or almost unthinkably, endure the loss of a child.

In my case, the ultimate source of my strength is surviving the loss of three children — my 21-year old son Brent in a motorcycle accident, my stillborn son Robbie, and a miscarriage. The triple loss rocked my world and was the catalyst to end my 30-year marriage. 

The deaths and divorce almost did me in, but surviving it made me the strongest I’ve ever been. I climbed out of that dark hole, one day at a time. Enduring things like losing the sight in my right eye didn’t seem so bad in contrast. I feel strong and confident…like I can survive most anything. 

Twelve years ago, I founded and continued to run a support group for bereaved families. I see other mothers, grandmothers and sisters enduring the same kind of traumatic loss I did and see how strong they become. For myself, I’m happily remarried, with three adult step-children who I love. My remaining son Brad is 32, a successful chef, and recently became engaged to another wonderful, strong woman.

I am healed and thankful. My mission now is to help individuals and families survive acute grief and choose to heal from it — to find hope and a new normal. 


Barbara J Hopkinson has led bereaved families through the journey of grief for more than 12 years. Following her 21-year-old son’s death (and the loss of two babies before that), Hopkinson founded The Compassionate Friends of Greater Newburyport, MA -- a local chapter supporting families after a child dies.

She also founded the nonprofit, A Butterfly's Journey To A New Normal, offering resources to help recover from acute grief. Barbara is certified to provide GRI Grief Recovery Method GROUP or 1-on-1 classes.  

Barbara is a model of strength and hope, having recovered and found her new normal. She lives north of Boston with her husband, near her son and three adult stepchildren. She is also passionate about cooking, photography, and travel.


FRIDAY FEATURES is a steady presence on Out of the Fog where I explore the concept of "strong women." Who are they? What makes them strong? How do we see them in writing and/or in business? If you're an author, what is their place in the world of thrillers of mysteries? If you're in business, how is the working environment impacted by the presence of a "strong woman" and how are they seen as leaders and team members? If you're an emerging strong woman, tell us about your journey. Have other questions you find compelling? Ask away and I'll post the answers here. 

If you have something to say about the topic of 

strong women, contact me on Twitter: 



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Authors Talk About It Podcast

Link to podcast is here.

Being interviewed by two doctors could be an intimidating experience. Fortunately for me, relationship experts Drs. Rob and Janelle Alex put me right at ease and asked interesting and provocative questions. A refreshing twist on the usual "Tell me about your book" questions was how to forge relationships between readers and characters. We ended up having so much to talk about and they've invited me back for another visit.

Oh, just in case you're thinking that all podcasts are perfectly executed, you can hear my fluster at receiving a phone call in the middle of it! <sigh> Who was it? A reader wanting the inside scoop on my upcoming book, of course!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Why We Love Reading about Strong Women by Ursula Wong

Welcome to Friday Features! Maybe it's the fact that my guest grew up on a dairy farm that first sparked my interest. But a dairy girl turned author? I had to learn more. Once Ursula Wong and I began talking, I recognized a certain resolve and thought you'd like to meet her, too.  I asked Ursula to share her thoughts on "strong women." This is what she had to say:

Why We Love Reading about Strong Women by Ursula Wong

I love the conviction of women who are resolved to overcome bad situations, but does it mean that strong women appeal to us because we think they’re unique?  Does that say something about what we expect of ourselves and what we expect of women both in life and in what we read?

I write about women who overcome tremendous odds with creativity and hidden strength. To see how other writers were handling the subject, I did a Google search for ‘strong female literary characters’ and came up with a few surprises.

First, there were many lists and they were long.

Secondly, the lists didn’t have a lot of overlap. Perhaps too many novels exist for one set of ‘strong women’ tastes.

I noticed that some of the stories have been around for a while.  Lizzie Bennett in Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice wows us with her wit and mindfulness.  Charlotte Bronte’s ever-constant Jane Eyre builds strength over many bad situations. Don’t forget the nutty Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations who showed strength of conviction even though it involved waiting for her fiancé to show up.
Stories about strong girls also made the lists including the brilliant Matilda by Roald Dahl, Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Meg Mury from the wonderful A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle.

The lists also had many contemporary entries. Lisbeth Salander from Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a power-house. Katniss shows spectacular survival strength in Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Don’t forget Jessica Wyeth in TheCharity and The Troubles by Connie Johnson Hambley, and my own Lily Phelps in Purple Trees as two more examples of women struggling against terrible odds.

My personal all-time favorite is Janie Crawford in Their Eyes Were Watching God by ZoraHurston, for discovering her power by listening to her heart.

I don’t think strong women are unusual either in stories or in life. Sometimes, I think we don’t recognize our strength, and perhaps minimize it, thinking if I can do something, anyone can. I also think that stories of strong women will remain popular because of the different ways we solve our problems, so I’ll continue writing about them, and even aspire to be one.


Ursula Wong, author of "Purple Trees"
Ursula grew up on a dairy farm in central Massachusetts, and became a high tech engineer. Her stories have appeared in Everyday Fiction, Spinetingler Magazine, and the popular anthologies Insanity Tales and Insanity Tales II: The Sense of Fear. She runs the Nashua chapter of the New Hampshire Writer’s Project, and is Marketing Director of The Storyside Consortium, a publishing cooperative.

Her award-winning debut novel, Purple Trees, portrays rural New England life in the story of a naïve girl who must grow up fast to find work and build a future, when the weight of the past threatens everything she loves.

Ursula taps her Lithuanian heritage in her upcoming novel, Amber Wolf, a saga of love and war. Destitute after her mother is killed by Russian soldiers in 1944, young Ludmelia Kudirka joins farmers who are fighting for freedom in a David-and-Goliath struggle against the mighty Soviet war machine. Amber Wolf  will be available in 2016.

Visit Ursula’s popular Reaching Readers Blog on her website ( and signup for monthly mini-stories. Pin Ursula on Pinterest, and like her on Facebook.


FRIDAY FEATURES is a steady presence on Out of the Fog where I explore the concept of "strong women." Who are they? What makes them strong? How do we see them in writing and/or in business? If you're an author, what is their place in the world of thrillers of mysteries? If you're in business, how is the working environment impacted by the presence of a "strong woman" and how are they seen as leaders and team members? If you're an emerging strong woman, tell us about your journey. Have other questions you find compelling? Ask away and I'll post the answers here. 

If you have something to say about the topic of 

strong women, contact me on Twitter: 



Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bringing Books to Life

Author Tea at the Wenham Tea House

I live in an area of New England that is filled with physical beauty, history, and creative minds. Englishmen began to question their allegiance to Britain and witches were hunted steps from my home. Boston's history is as rich and colorful as the countryside it resides in. Is it any wonder that many novels are set here? Readers agree that walking the streets and paths they've read about deepens their understanding of the books and forges a deeper connection to the characters.

I'm excited to have a special author's high tea in the hometown of my book's main character, Jessica Wyeth. On Friday, December 18 from 3:30 to 5:30 pm, I will talk about the people and the places in my suspense thrillers. Hamilton, Massachusetts is the quintessential New England town. White colonials line the main streets. Split-rail fences dot the countryside. Horses are around every turn. Seriously. The picture below is a fairly common site.

Technically speaking, Hamilton is really Hamilton-Wenham. The two towns joined forces just to confuse everyone. The Wenham Tea House is an iconic establishment. My characters definitely would have been regulars there if they were real people.

But when you drive the streets and see the sights described in The Charity or understand the yearning for home Jessica feels in The Troubles, you just might get the sneaking suspicion that maybe these books aren't fiction after all.

I hope to see you on the 18th!

(More event dates for fall 2015 can be found here.)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Reaching Readers: Panels and Book Clubs

Sisters in Crime Panel at the Martha Canfield Library in Arlington, Vermont
I'll bet you're reading this post on your phone, tablet, or computer. Take a moment and look around you. See anyone you'd like to strike up a conversation with? No? Then you could be suffering from Digital Isolation Syndrome.

Writers definitely suffer DIS. Hours at the keyboard play havoc on the health of real-life relationships. A little known fact is that readers suffer from the affliction as well. Communication that cannot be distilled into a "like" or six-word comment is too taxing. Besides, what comes after placing a thumbs-up? A conversation? Banish the thought!

Established cures for DIS are author panels and book clubs. Both feature authors talking about their work to an audience that has more than a passing interest in the subject matter. These events are easy even for the shiest of colleagues. Ever meet a parent who doesn't like to talk about her kids? A table filled with books is the author's version of the accordion-pleated picture wallet filled with photos of grandchildren and dogs.

For me, panels are akin to a professional workshop and a great way to connect with readers. A topic is declared and a handful of questions are lobbed by the moderator. Once the conversation starts to roll, the authors usually take it from there by asking follow-on questions to delve deeper into the subject. The panel pictured above shows Nancy Means Wright, Ellen Larson, and me discussing "We're Not Making This Up," a panel of the Sisters in Crime New England. As fiction writers, we base our stories on historical figures, science, or current events, and readers want to know how we concoct. What was better than a full house? Having readers linger and listening to conversations ignited by the discussion. Relationships were formed and no one hid behind an illuminated screen.

The shared experience of reading the same book and meeting to discuss it over a potluck dinner is a surefire antidote to DIS. Think of book clubs as a personalized medicine for isolation, virtual or otherwise.

Kidding aside, I find these events are essential for maintaining the pulse on what readers want. (Yes, that's a cringe-worthy pun.) I'm deeply rewarded when I hear animated conversations about a book, especially when the people are meeting for the first time. "Oh! I read that book, too! What did you think?"

For all of the leveraging the digital world of social media provides us, it is still the connection that propels the relationship.

The next time you see a discussion hosted by your local library, go. Spend an hour listening, then look around you. I'll bet you'll find someone to strike up a conversation with.