About J.A. Hennrikus/Julianne Holmes

J.A. (Julie) Hennrikus writes the Clock Shop Mystery Series under the name Julianne Holmes. JUST KILLING TIME, the first in the series, was published in Oct 2015 and was nominated for a BEST FIRST NOVEL Agatha award. CLOCK AND DAGGER was released in August 2016. CHIME AND PUNISHMENT will be released in August 2017. Julie's Theater Cop series will debut in the fall of 2017. A CHRISTMAS PERIL is the first in this series about an ex-cop who runs a theater company. wears two hats. Her short stories have been published by Level Best Books: “Tag, You’re Dead” in THIN ICE, “Her Wish” in DEAD CALM, and “The Pendulum Swings, Until It Doesn’t” in BLOOD MOON. Julie is an arts administrator and arts advocate. She tweets her writing life as @JHAuthors, and her other life as @JulieHennrikus. She is an avid theater goer and a member of Red Sox nation. Her website is jahennrikus.com, and she blogs with WickedCozyAuthors.com, KillerCharacters.com, and Write to Live/Live to Write (nhwn.wordpress.com).

Thinking Thoughts

By Julie, hoping spring will spring soon in Somerville

Crime thoughtsEarlier this year I went to a book event for The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact without Burnout, a terrific book by Beth Kanter and Aliza Sherman. In my day job, I run a small in size but large in scope nonprofit, so the topic was (is) of great interest to me. One of the steps I have taken since is to meditate for a few minutes every day, a practice that had been recommended for years. Thanks to the Calm app, it has been a very interesting process. I am much more aware–of my feelings, of the weather, of the taste of food, of whether or not I am hungry, of my thoughts in general.

I am a bit alarmed by how often my mind wanders to crime.

I am working on two books this year, and need to keep characters, settings, and crimes separate. I am committed to the cozy genre, so I am looking for crimes off the page, but that leave an impression. I’ve also subscribed to Acorn TV, and am inspired by  British, Australian, and New Zealand “cozy” characters and mysteries. Midsomer Murders, while fitting the genre, is over the top in the crimes (and the acting). I love the heightened reality of that show, Rosemary and Thyme, Mr. & Mrs. Murder, Agatha Raisin, and The Brokenwood Mysteries and other series in that vein.

The wonderful characters, inventive murders, and close knit community settings are my go to these days. But all of these are set in small villages, and I live in a city. I am very much a city girl. But meditation has cleared some of the muddle of my mind, and helped me look at my city with fresh eyes. It has also, as I mentioned, made me aware of where my mind drifts.  I see the small pockets of village life in Somerville, and my imagination kicks in gear. A block of eclectic shops in Union Square, some of which have been there for years, many of which are undergoing facelifts. What stories will those walls tell?  gather here, a place that encourages knitting, sewing, and other crafts. Crafters, as we all know, are a treasure trove of instruments that can be employed in devious ways,  and strong personalities.  Davis Square, the the movie/concert hall in the center of a bastion of wonderful restaurants. Date night gone wrong? The bike path, a lovely place to walk, run, or ride your bike all the way to Bedford. So many mysterious places to explore.

My imagination has been in overdrive. My mind wanders to crime, no matter who I am with. It does make it a bit dicey when folks don’t know I am a mystery writer, and likely puts some folks off. Granted, meditation probably shouldn’t heighten awareness of mysterious pursuits, but it has been a side effect of my new practice. I’m sure I’m not the only person constantly plotting dastardly deeds.

Am I?

Agatha Nominees for Best First 2017

Julie here, hoping this blizzard was the last for New England.

Last year I had the thrill of having Just Killing Time nominated for the Agatha award for Best First Novel. My fellow nominees and I became good friends during the run up to Malice Domestic, and did a small blog tour. Sherry did the same thing the year she was nominated. We’re thrilled to give a wicked welcome to this year’s nominees.

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Today they are going to answer the question who would play the main characters in the movie or TV show made from your novel?

Alexia Gordon, author of Murder in G Major (Henery Press)

Gosh, that’s a difficult question. Truthfully, I don’t know. I could see Thandie Newton or Zoe Saldana as Gethsemane. Maybe Richard Harrington (from the Welsh TV series Hinterland) as Eamon. A member of a book club that discussed Murder in G Major suggested Kerry Washington as Gethsemane.

When I watch movies and TV shows I forget (on purpose) who’s “starring” in the role and focus on the character being portrayed. For instance, Hugh Jackman isn’t Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine, he is Wolverine. Hugh Jackman ceases to exist for 120 minutes. Consequently, I’m pretty good with characters’ names but I’m pretty bad with actors’ names. Not what any actor wants to hear but I mean it as a compliment. It takes talent to convince a rational adult that you’re someone who doesn’t really exist.

I have this fantasy of WGBH Boston or BBC America turning my books into a series and holding an open casting call. Hundreds (oh, why not, thousands) of unknowns would line up to audition and the casting directors–the people who cast Midsomer Murders or Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot (David Suchet was brilliant as Poirot)–would discover the new “it” actors.

Renee Patrick (Rosemarie and Vince Keenan), author of Design for Dying (Forge)

This is a tricky one. Can we name the 1930s actors who could play our characters instead, because that’s when Design for Dying is set? No? Very well.

Let’s start with Lillian Frost, the toughest casting call for one reason: the role has to be played by an actress good enough to make us believe she’s terrible. It’s Lillian’s lack of skill in front of the camera, after all, that chases her out of pictures. She’s also got to be resourceful, kind, and look stellar in period wardrobe. On second thought, it’s not so tough, especially if you’ve seen Brooklyn. The Oscar-nominated star of that wonderful film Saoirse Ronan would be perfect as a young woman making a new home for herself in a strange and distant place. We know from Captain America that Chris Evans can sport vintage attire, and he’s got the low-key charm of Detective Gene Morrow down pat.

We considered plenty of names to play Lillian’s partner in sleuthing, legendary costume designer Edith Head, and settled on the wild card: pop provocateur Lady Gaga. No, really. It’s not only the resemblance. Gaga has blazed her own trail in show business, developing a distinctive persona and ensuring that everyone knows her name. Just like Edith did decades earlier.

Oh, and the 1930’s version? Priscilla Lane, Dennis O’Keefe, and Mary Astor.

Nadine Nettmann, author of Decanting a Murder (Midnight Ink)

Although a fun question, it’s always a tough one. One of the main characters in Decanting a Murder is Detective Dean, who I describe as tall with slicked back blond hair. While I didn’t have a specific actor in mind for this role when I wrote it, I watched some recent work of Mark-Paul Gosselaar and I think he would be great as Dean. I’m also a fan of Jason Lewis, from Sex and The City, as he has the stoic look that Dean carries, as well as Ryan Kwanten from True Blood. Though, I wouldn’t mind a brand new actor to play the part. It’s always great to see new talent.

As for the main protagonist, Katie Stillwell, I purposefully don’t describe her in the book as I want the reader to identify with her and perhaps put themselves in her shoes. So I’ll hold back on any potential actresses and let readers decide who they would like cast in that role.

Cynthia Kuhn, author of The Semester of Our Discontent (Henery Press)

All of the following not only “look” the part but have something else that makes them seem like strong contenders. (The age of the actor may not align perfectly with the age of the character in these choices, but that’s where the magic of the movies comes in, right?) And now, without further ado: for Lila, someone like Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Connelly, who have played strong characters who sometimes fumble (with amusing results) in certain situations; Reese Witherspoon or Kristen Bell for Calista, either of whom could capture the poet’s quirkiness; Paul Rudd has the right blend of earnestness and laid-back vibe for Nate; Michael Ealy seems like a perfect match for the confident and determined Francisco; and Armie Hammer has the charming, smooth qualities of Tad.

Marla Cooper, author of Terror in Taffeta (Minotaur)

I’ve gone back and forth about who I would cast as Kelsey McKenna, but right now Cristin Milioti from How I Met Your Mother and Fargo is my top pick. (I’m sure she’d be thrilled to know that she’s even being considered for the part—ha!) Her deadpan delivery and comic timing won my heart as the Mother in How I Met Your Mother, and I really, really want her to have a role where she doesn’t have a terminal disease.

As for the supporting roles, there’s only one that I can picture perfectly, and that’s Mrs. Abernathy. Now, I’d probably get outvoted because she’s slightly more “mature” than the role calls for, but Susan Sullivan (AKA Castle’s spitfire of a mom) would be the perfect choice to play the Mother of the Bride in Terror in Taffeta. I had so much fun writing the demanding Mrs. Abernathy, and I can perfectly picture Susan Sullivan delivering lines like, “Put your shoes on, girls. This is a wedding, not a hoedown!”

BIOS

Marla Cooper is the author of Terror in Taffeta, an Agatha and Lefty nominee for Best First Mystery and book one in the Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mysteries. Her second book, Dying on the Vine, is set in the California wine country and comes out April 4. As a freelance writer, Marla has written all sorts of things, from advertising copy to travel guidebooks to the occasional haiku, and it was while ghostwriting a guide to destination weddings that she found inspiration for her series. Originally hailing from Texas, Marla lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and her polydactyl tuxedo cat. Learn more at www.marla-cooper.com.

Alexia Gordon has been a writer since childhood. She continued writing through college but put literary endeavors on hold to finish medical school and Family Medicine residency training. Medical career established, she returned to writing fiction. She completed SMU’s Writer’s Path program in Dallas, Texas. Henery Press published her first novel, Murder in G Major, book one of the Gethsemane Brown mysteries, in September 2016. Book two, Death in D Minor, premiers July 2017. A member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Writers’ League of Texas, she listens to classical music, drinks whiskey, and blogs at www.missdemeanors.com. AlexiaGordon.net

Cynthia Kuhn writes the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery series, which includes The Semester of Our Discontent and The Art of Vanishing. She teaches English at MSU Denver and serves as president of Sisters in Crime-Colorado. For more information, please visit cynthiakuhn.net.

Nadine Nettmann, a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, is always on the lookout for great wines and the stories behind them. She has visited wine regions around the world, from France to Chile to South Africa, but chose Napa Valley as the setting for her debut novel, Decanting a Murder. The next book in the Sommelier Mystery Series, Uncorking a Lie, releases in May 2017. Chapters are paired with wine recommendations. NadineNettmann.com

Renee Patrick is the pseudonym of married authors Rosemarie and Vince Keenan. Rosemarie is a research administrator and a poet. Vince is a screenwriter and a journalist. Both native New Yorkers, they currently live in Seattle, Washington.

J.A. Hennrikus News!

I have told the story about the Clock Shop series and how I came to write it a number of times. I was and am thrilled that Berkley gave me that opportunity, and can’t wait for all of you to read Chime and Punishment in August.

christmas-perilBut like most of us on this blog, my first published novel was not the first novel I wrote. Not by a long shot. My first novel, never finished, was before I realized I should be writing mysteries. It is a not very good book that will never see the light of day. But it taught me to write a book.

My second and third books morphed into a single entity at some point, changed point of view, went through reading groups, critique groups, and was pitched a few times at Crime Bake. I tweaked, reworked, polished, and tried to find an agent for it. Then I got my contract for the Clock Shop series, and filed it away. But I never lost faith that I would hold it in my hand at some point.

So it is with great joy that I share some really wonderful news with all of you. Midnight Ink has bought that book, and two more in addition. In even better news, it was fast tracked into their fall catalog.

The Theater Cop series is about Edwina “Sully” Sullivan. Sully was forced to retire from the police force, and decides if she can’t wear the badge she isn’t going to do the job and become a PI. So she moves back to her hometown on the north shore of Massachusetts, divorces her philandering husband, and is hired to run a theater company. For a few years she throws herself into her new life. But then, her best friend’s father is killed, and he is on the suspect list.

The theater company is doing a production of A Chrismas Carol, and Sully is trying to keep the TV actor they hired sober while dealing with other production issues. At the same time, she tries to figure out who killed Peter Whitehall. What she doesn’t plan on is her ex-husband being part of her investigation.A Christmas Peril is a traditional/cozy book. I can’t wait for you to read it when it comes out this fall.

P.S. Don’t you LOVE the cover?

Wicked Congratulations to Barb, Jessie, and Edith!

Malice Domestic is a conference that celebrates the traditional novel. The Agatha nominations were announced this week, and Barbara Ross, Jessica Estevao, and Edith Maxwell were on the list! The awards will be given out April 29. We’ll all be there, dancing in the aisles.

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A Wicked Welcome to Diane Vallere

cart-horse-vallereWe’re delighted to welcome Diane Vallere back to the blog! Diane writes several series, is currently the President of Sisters in Crime, and is one of the best dressers around.

Putting The Cart Before the Horse | Diane Vallere

I had a birthday a few weeks ago, and one of my friends pointed out that I was born in the year of the horse. Which I quickly pushed to the back of my brain, because, outside of my Jordache jeans in Junior High, I’ve never been much of a horse person.

It wasn’t until later when I was emailing a writer friend about an idea I’d had for a new series that the subject of horses returned. I told her how I’d spent the morning mocking up covers for the as-yet-unwritten-series, and I wrote, “there is a cart, and there is a horse, but I am often confused by which one goes in the front…” which led to an amusing conversation about motivation.

She wrote: “On the cart and the horse and the barn door that’s slamming closed somewhere (I’m mixing my horse metaphors—is the barn door even relevant?). My opinion is that sometimes you need to make sure you have the cart in place first. This is important because when the horse eventually comes out of the barn(?) it will know where to stand.”

Frankly, this is so true that now I’m thinking anybody who doesn’t put the cart before the horse is wasting valuable time. Because here’s the thing: we all have ideas, goals, aspirations, objectives. We all want more. We all have projects on the back burner, projects that might not be more than the tickle of a thought at the part of the brain that other people use for long division (because our creative brain is already so full that our ideas are now spilling over onto the math side). And a lot of us have a plan to achieve some of those ideas/goals/aspirations/objectives. But in an increasingly busy world where our time is already split among countless obligations, our projects get scheduled when we have the time. And our ideas? They stay on the back burner.

It is known among successful people that if you can visualize the outcome of a project, you have a much better chance of completing the project. Seeing a cover for an as-yet-unwritten project isn’t counterproductive. The cover is simply a visual prompt that solidifies a concept: it’s not just an abstract thought. It’s real. This project can happen. This project will happen.

I say put the cart before the horse. Heck, push the cart off a hill and race to catch up. Unbridle your ideas! Let your passion—not your schedule–inspire your creativity. You’ll be amazed at how freeing it is to chase after that runaway cart. And when you catch up to it? You’ll be amazed at how much you accomplished when you weren’t even looking.

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pearls-gone-wildBio: 
After two decades working for a top luxury retailer, Diane Vallere traded fashion accessories for accessories to murder. PEARLS GONE WILD, #6 in her award-winning Samatha Kidd Mystery Series, came out December 2016. Diane is the president of Sisters in Crime. She also writes the Madison Night, and Lefty Award-nominated Material Witness and Costume Shop mystery series. She started her own detective agency at age ten and has maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since. 

www.dianevallere.com
F: facebook.com/dianevallere
T: @dianevallere
IG: @dianevallere
YouTube: DianeVallere

Wicked Wednesday: Wicked Goals for 2017

Wickeds, any big goals for the year? Any big happenings? Any “maybe this is the year” dreams?

Edith: Nope. As far as I know there are no family weddings coming up (although possibly stay tuned for news on that front…), no dream vacation scheduled, no grandbabies due. I have three books releasing this spring, and I do look forward to the year’s conferences: Malice in April, Bouchercon in October, Crime Bake in November. My only personal big happening is going under the knife for a new knee eight days from today. I think that’s enough!

Liz: My biggest happening is selling my house and moving. Although I’m staying in img_1804Connecticut for now, I’m looking forward to living in a more urban area. Mostly looking forward to NOT being a homeowner…

Barb: I have no idea what is going on this year. I have no book contract after March. I’m not co-editing the Level Best Books series anymore. There are a number of things brewing in my personal life that could lead to big changes, not all of them good. When I managed a lot of people, I generally found that planners are not good reactors, and reactors are not good planners. The people in our support organization thrived on coming into work without having an inkling of what the day would bring. The programmers hated a change made to the schedule six months down the road. I am a planner, so I keep telling myself the uncertainty is good for me. Roll with it, I tell myself. So far, myself doesn’t seem convinced.

Julie: I’m really trying to get into a yoga practice. So far I’ve started a Beachbody 21 day yoga retreat twice. Best of intentions, but it isn’t working out too well so far. Healthier is a definite goal over all. Two books to write, so that includes trying a standing desk.

Sherry: Barb, I love your planner/reactor thought. I’m a reactor. That said, I’m looking forward to A Good Day To Buy coming out in April, a couple of visits to Boston with the Wickeds, Malice, and Bouchercon in Toronto — I’ve only been to Canada once and that was in 5th grade. And I’m going to write a Hallmark movie and sell it — right?! If I say it enough times maybe it will happen.

Jessie: Like Barb, I’m a planner. At the beginning of every year I sit down and write out a few goals. This year mine include at least one international trip, mastering the art of dictating my writing and taking on a more active role in a volunteer organization. I also have two books set to release in the fall.

Readers, same questions for you. Any big goals for the year? Any big happenings?Any “maybe this is the year” dreams?

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A Wicked Welcome to Amanda Flower

By Julie, grateful for the balmy 40 degree days this week.

Friends, I’m thrilled to welcome Amanda Flower to the blog today! Amanda is a wonderful writer, and a really lovely person. She is also very prolific–tis the season for that! Thanks for visiting the blog Amanda!

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Winter Writing
By Amanda Flower

Growing up in Ohio, I loved winter as a child. I loved it because of sledding, snowmen, hot chocolate, and snow days. Who doesn’t love snow days? However as I got older, winter lost some of its appeal. I still love sledding, snowmen, hot chocolate, and snow days, but I don’t have the time for them like I did when I was a kid. To make matters worse, the library where I work only closes in case of a snowpocalypse. Snowpocalypses are a lot rarer than the Weather Channel would have you believe.editors2

However even though winter doesn’t bring me the same level of joy as it had when I was a child, it still has some perks. Namely, it gives me some time, and time is something I desperately need. It’s usually in the winter that I write the most and am the most prolific. That’s because I’m stuck inside. Trust me, my preference is to be outside. Always. But blustery winter forces me indoors where I can concentrate on my writing with fewer distractions. My books are my escape where I can write stories away from the cold and darkness. Stories that are set in faraway places or places just down the road.

This year, the time the winter season allows me is a very good thing because I’m under contract to write four novels in 2017. Two of which are due in early spring, which translates into writing two novels start to finish by the end of March. No, neither or done yet. One is started, the other is just a blurb the publisher bought. One is for Kensington as editors1part of The Amish Candy Mystery Series, and one is for Crooked Lane in the Forgotten Garden Mystery Series. The Amish Candy Mysteries are set in an Amish community in my home state of Ohio. The Forgotten Garden Mysteries are set in a magical garden in Scotland. Both are cozies but on opposite ends of the subgenre, and that’s how I like it. I’ve discovered that I like writing series that are worlds apart from each other. I told my agent once, “I’ll write whatever you want, set where you want, starring whoever you want, but let it be a mystery. That’s all I ask.” So far, she’s been able to do that for me.

Thankfully, through all the writing, rewriting, and rewriting some more, I have my trusty editors Cheeps and Tummy at my side. My two feline friends are my go-to guys for comic relief and snuggles when I feel like the deadlines are closing in, which happens about once a week. I’m going to need their support to get through this year. That’s for certain.

prosandconsSo it’s time to break out the yoga pants and the hoodie (AKA author uniform), the chocolate, enough coffee to sink and ocean liner, and get to work. These books aren’t going to write themselves. May you have a productive winter too. Spring will be here before you know it.

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Amanda Flower, a national bestselling and Agatha Award winning mystery author. She also writes mysteries as USA Today bestselling author Isabella Alan. In addition to being an author, Amanda is librarian in Northeast Ohio. Her latest novel is PROSE AND CONS. Follow Amanda on Social Media at: Facebook Twitter Instagram