About JH Authors

J.A. (Julie) Hennrikus writes the Clock Shop Mystery Series (JUST KILLING TIME (2015), CLOCK AND DAGGER (2016), CHIME AND PUNISHMENT(2017)) under the name Julianne Holmes, the Theater Cop series (A CHRISTMAS PERIL(2017)) as J.A. Hennrikus, and the upcoming Garden Squad series as Julia Henry. Julie is an arts administrator and arts advocate. She tweets her writing life as @JHAuthors, and her other life as @JulieHennrikus. She is on Instagram as @JAHenn. Her website is jahennrikus.com, and she blogs with WickedCozyAuthors.com and KillerCharacters.com.

Introducing Julia Henry!

By Julie, thrilled to be introducing the latest JH Author!


Pruning The Dead MMI am beyond thrilled to tell you all about the new series I’m writing as Julia Henry for Kensington. The Garden Squad series is set in Goosebush, MA, a fictional town on the South Shore of Massachusetts. Lilly Jayne is a widow in her mid sixties. Her best friend, Tamara O’Connor is a real estate agent in town. Ernie Johnson owns the town home and garden store. Delia Greenway was Lilly’s late husband’s student, and lives with Lilly. They take care of each other. Together these four friends garden together–the kind of gardening that “solves” town problems rather than beautification work. They also solve mysteries.

Here’s the cover blurb for the first book, Pruning the Dead:

Post-retirement aches and pains can’t prevent sixty-five-year-old Lilly Jayne from keeping the most manicured garden in Goosebush, Massachusetts. But as a murder mystery blooms in the sleepy New England town, can a green thumb weed out a killer?

With hundreds flocking to her inaugural garden party, meticulous Lilly Jayne hasn’t left a single petal out of place. But the picture-perfect gathering turns unruly upon the arrival of Merilee Frank, Lily’s ex-husband’s catty third wife. Merilee lives for trouble, so no one is surprised after she drinks too much, shoves a guest into the koi pond, and gets escorted off the property. The real surprise comes days later—when Merilee is found dead in a pile of mulch . . .

Lilly wishes she could stick to pruning roses and forget about Merilee’s murder—until her best friend and ex become suspects in an overgrown homicide case. Now, aided by the Garden Squad, an unlikely group of amateur crime solvers with a knack for planting, Lilly knows she has limited time to identify the true culprit and restore order to Goosebush. Because if the murderer’s plot isn’t nipped in the bud, another victim could be pushing up daisies!

I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying writing this series! Though it won’t be out until January 29, 2019, it is available for pre-order now. You’ll be hearing more about it in the next few months, but today I wanted to share the news, share the cover, and let you all know that the Wickeds are adding another author to the masthead!

Readers, how much do you love this cover? Isn’t it beautiful?

Stepping Toward A Dream

Live Your Dream image with resume, pen, person jumping with joy, four leaf clover, and horseshoeFor three days this week, as part of my day job, I helped oversee over 400 actors who came in to do a monologue or sing for 41 different organizations. The organizations included theater companies, casting agents, tour companies, educational theater companies, and playwrights. As I checked each person in, collected their headshots, directed them to the green room, and answered several dozen questions over and over again, I could not help but cheer them on. They were putting themselves out there, trying to take a step towards living their dream and being hired to act. It also made me think of my time standing in lines to pitch agents and editors, hoping to make a connection to move me forward to living my dream of being a published author. Over the years, I’ve come to realize a few truths that make these journeys easier, so I thought I’d share them here.

Preparation is key. Know your monologue or song. In the case of a writing, know your pitch. Be ready to deliver it. Get there with enough time to get mentally prepared if possible, but know it in your bones.

Do your best, and understand that your best isn’t always great. When I asked folks how they did, if they felt good about their audition, they glowed. If it didn’t land, or they went up on a line, they were unhappy that they blew that moment. But it was just that, a moment, and they needed to let it go. I remember meeting agents, and the conversation went well. Other meetings did not go as well. All you can do it your best, and move on.

Give folks what they ask for, otherwise you may get taken out of the running. If people didn’t staple their headshots correctly, or didn’t have easily accessible contact information, their headshot got returned by a lot of folks. When you are seeing dozens of people, you need ways to sort through the pile, and not following directions is one way to do that. When you are submitting a query, read what folks want, and follow those guidelines. Don’t improvise, or give them what you think they need. Sometimes following directions is the first test.

Know that sometimes it isn’t you, it’s just that it isn’t a good fit. For writers, it could mean that the agent you are pitching doesn’t think they can find a home for your work. Or an editor may not need your genre for their catalog. That doesn’t mean you aren’t a good writer. It means you haven’t found the right fit.

Attitude is everything. For actors who go into an audition, you never know who is checking you in. Those folks will be asked about how you were in the waiting room. For writers, remember that writing is solitary, but getting published is a community effort. Disappointment is part of the business. How you handle that disappointment becomes part of your reputation.

Practice radical gratitude. Being grateful for opportunities makes the artistic journey much easier. If you are only grateful when you get what you want, you are going to have a tough ride. An actor I know (who works a lot) told me that she considered auditioning her job, so she loved it. Getting a gig was her vacation. Being an artist isn’t easy. But how lucky are we to be called to the artistic journey? For that, I am grateful.

Do you know what else I am grateful for, dear readers? Opportunities to meet you in person! I have two coming up in the next few days.

On Sunday, April 15 Barbara Ross, Edith Maxwell, and Leigh Perry/Toni Kelner and I will be doing a talk back after a performance of Miss Holmes at the Greater Boston Stage Company. I’m very excited about my two worlds (theater and writing) colliding at this event, and am also looking forward to seeing the show!

On Wednesday, April 18 I am going to be at the Westwood Library with Hank Phillippi Ryan, Elizabeth Elo, and Stephanie Gayle doing a talk about plotting in different genres. More information is here.

In the comments, let me know what you’ve discovered on your journey so far. Tips that you wish you could give your younger self. . .

Talking to You

By Julie, grateful someone else shovels the snow here in Somerville, because we got a lot on Tuesday

WHICH ONE_Dear Readers,

Do you have any idea how much your support of this blog means to all of us? A lot. That’s the answer. We love that you respond to our posts, we love that when we meet you in person we feel as if we know you already, we love the support you give our guests, and we love that you celebrate each new book with us. This year we will hit the fifty book mark (and go past it) on the blog, so there’s been a lot to celebrate!

Today I’d like to ask your opinion on a few things. There are so many paths to communicate with folks these days, but I wonder which are the most effective? Do you mind if I ask some questions, and you can let me know what you think in the comments?

First of all, do you like newsletters? What kind of content do you enjoy in the newsletter? Most of the other Wickeds do them, but I haven’t done one yet. Thinking I should, so I’d appreciate your thoughts. I’m thinking about a quarterly newsletter, BTW.

How would you feel about the occasional video post rather than a written one? I’ll admit, I had never been a video fan, but lately I’m rethinking that. I’m taking a class online right now, and like the video format. It makes me feel more engaged with the instructor. For my work at StageSource one of our interns has been doing videos for us, and they are getting great responses. Also, I needed to fix something so I did a search on YouTube. What a great resource for walking you through projects. Anyway, it’s made me wonder about doing short videos once in a while for all of you.

For the past few months I’ve been using Instagram more and more, though I’m not great at it. I’ve also started a Instagram for my writing life (@JHAuthors) which is separate from my personal life (@JAHenn). I am not a visual thinker, so it’s been a little tough, but I am trying. I am also on Facebook and Twitter. While I love these platforms for connecting with folks, I wonder if there is a preference for all of you? I am on Pinterest, but unlike some of the other Wickeds I don’t use it well.

Final question for all of you–I wonder if the Wickeds should try to Facebook live sometime we’re all together. Would that be fun to try? We’re all going to be at Malice–maybe we could pull something together there. Again, until recently I didn’t understand how compelling these could be, but now I see how much fun it can be to interact with folks.

Let me end this blog post the way I started. Thank you all for being part of the Wicked Cozy Authors community. I love blogging with the others, and interacting with you.

Thank you for indulging my curiosity. I look forward to reading your thoughts in the comments!

The Superpower of Fun

By Julie, in disbelief that it is going to be in the 50’s today

 

FunThis time of year is always a bit of a blah for me, and this year is no different. In fact, because of a bout with the flu, I’m feeling more blah than normal. And retrospective. My gratitude list, which is long, wasn’t doing the normal job of getting me out of my slump, so I decided to reboot a bit, and shift my lens.

Last week I went to a presentation on the most recent Culture Track study. Part of the presentation has been sticking with me all week. It was about the prime motivating factors for participating in culture. (The definition of culture is also shifting, which is fascinating.) These are the top five reasons their data pointed to:

5. Learning something new
4. Feeling less stressed
3. Experiencing new things
2. Interest in the content

And the number one reason people indicated motivated them to participate in something cultural?

Having fun.

Earlier this year, I went to the memorial service for a wonderful Boston actor, Tommy Derrah. One of Tommy’s mantra’s was “if it isn’t fun, don’t do it.” Tommy’s ability to find the fun in everyday is part of his legacy, and one of the reasons he will be greatly missed, but not soon forgotten. I’d already been thinking about that phrase, and what it means to me, and then I learned that fun is a prime motivator for a lot of folks.

That doesn’t mean don’t work hard. That doesn’t mean that the work has to be light-hearted all the time. I had fun going to Hamilton, hardly the happiest of stories and a musical that makes me ugly cry at the end every time I listen to it. But the experience of seeing it onstage gave me joy, a complex expression of fun.

I’ve been thinking about my own life. How do I shift from blah to fun? How do I ensure that my legacy will be “she had fun, and helped others have fun”? How do I shift to finding joy even in the tough times? How can I lighten up a bit, and enjoy the ride more?

What about my work? Certainly the cozy genre means that fun is part of the contract we make with our readers. Even when we take a darker turn, satisfaction for the reader is one of our goals. Is satisfaction another expression of fun? I think perhaps it is.

Lately I’ve been noodling a slightly darker suspense story. I’m writing down the ideas as they come to me, while I continue to work on the two novels I have plotted already. I’m wondering–will writing something new be fun? I acknowledge that the process will be challenging, but will I find it fun?

More precisely, if I don’t find it fun, why would I put myself through it?

As a middle-aged, cranky Yankee, I have undervalued fun. I see that now. My mid-February pondering leads me to the question–can I reframe, and find the fun?

I’m going to give it my best shot.

How about you, dear readers. Do you have fun? If you could do something fun right now, what would it be?

 

 

Wicked Wednesday: Biscuits and Slashed Browns

BiscuitsToday we are celebrating Maddie Day’s Biscuits and Slashed Browns release! A reminder about the book:

For country-store owner Robbie Jordan, the National Maple Syrup Festival is a sweet escape from late-winter in South Lick, Indiana—until murder saps the life out of the celebration . . .

As Robbie arranges a breakfast-themed cook-off at Pans ‘N Pancakes, visitors pour into Brown County for the annual maple extravaganza. Unfortunately, that includes Professor Connolly, a know-it-all academic from Boston who makes enemies everywhere he goes—and this time, bad manners prove deadly. Soon after clashing with several scientists at a maple tree panel, the professor is found dead outside a sugar shack, stabbed to death by a local restaurateur’s knife. When an innocent woman gets dragged into the investigation and a biologist mysteriously disappears, Robbie drops her winning maple biscuits to search for answers. But can she help police crack the case before another victim is caught in a sticky situation with a killer?

In honor of the newest Robbie Jordan adventure, let’s talk about breakfast, Wickeds. What is your favorite “eating out” breakfast?

Jessie: I don’t have a specific favorite place for breakfast. What I do favor is breakfast in beautiful hotels. I love to sleep in and then head down to a restaurant in the hotel about an hour before they stop serving. I like to ask the waitstaff for a carafe of coffee and then let them know they needn’t worry about me any further. I sit with a notebook and a stack of postcards and nibble and people watch. It is a bit of a travel ritual for me. I’ve done it in Orlando, Vegas, San Francisco, NY, China, Iceland, Brazil, and in the U.K.

Sherry: Jessie, that sounds like a fabulous way to spend a morning. Congratulations on the new book, Edith. I love to order something more complicate than we would make at home. Sigh, with my cooking skills that’s almost anything. It’s a great time to try something new, especially regional dishes. I have to say I tried fried toast in England and it wasn’t my favorite!

Barb: I love diners. For any meal, really, but especially for breakfast. My two favorites in Portland are Becky’s and the Miss Portland. Favorite orders: Omelet with cheese, ham and onions, or blueberry pancakes with syrup and bacon. I’m making myself hungry just typing this.

Liz: I love diners too! And I especially love when I find a diner that has food I can eat 🙂 Omelets are usually my go-to, with mushrooms and spinach, and home fries. And coffee. Lots of coffee!

Julie: I love breakfast, and could happily eat it for every meal. I am an Eggs Benedict fan. I usually order it, since I never make hollandaise sauce at home. Lately, the S&S (a favorite local spot) has expanded on my go-to with Eggs Oscar. Poached eggs on potato pancakes, topped with asparagus and crabmeat. And, of course, the sauce. So. Good. That said, I’m also a pancake fan, and if I’m in a diner I always ask about the special.

Edith: Thanks for helping me celebrate, Wickeds! For breakfast out, I often order crispy  hash browns, which are so hard to make at home, with a fried egg. Like Julie, though, I don’t make hollandaise sauce at home, and I once had a California Benedict with avocado to die for.

Readers, help us celebrate this book birthday by sharing your favorite breakfast!

Some of the Wickeds Plot Our Work

By Julie, scurrying to make January goals!

Jessie told me about the Plot Your Work Planner a few months ago. I bought it, started to use it, and told Liz about it. The three of us are writing several books in 2018, so there are high hopes for the efficacy of this planner. We got several questions about it on a Wicked Wednesday a few weeks ago, so we thought we’d let you all know how it is going.

Jessie: I’ve been really pleased with this partucular planner. I attended a session at the NINC conference back in October about it and was delighted to discover that someone had done the work setting up a planner that addressed the unique challenges multiple deadlines present. I use additional planners for other parts of my life but none of them have really helped me to keep on top of large, long term projects with several stages.

Taking a full year look at how all the moving parts fit and don’t fit together has helped me to have more clarity and accountability about what I can expect and cannot expect to accomplish. A nice extra touch is the paper quality. I love to use fountain pens whenever possible and lower quality paper doesn’t take the ink well. This planner doesn’t allow the ink to ghost, feather or bleed. A total win in my book!

Julie: Jessie, I can’t wait to see you in person and walk through this planner together. I am finding my way in, but am not sure I’m using it “correctly”. That said, one of the things I like is that I can make it work for me. I’ve got the two books I’m writing, the book that’s coming out in August, and the book I’m noodling all in the planner. The prompts for different sections take on different meanings depending on the project. Like Jessie, I find the ability to map it out really helpful.

I also have to agree on the quality of the paper. I’ve taken to fountain pens as well, and there isn’t any bleed. I was also encouraged that they just came out with an A5 size for a travelers notebook, and sort of wish I’d waited. I will likely try that next, since the large size stays at home, and it would be nice to have it with me. For folks wanting to try it out, that may be the ticket.

There’s a Facebook page, and an Etsy shop. I’d recommend ordering from them. This is a writer’s tool that works, at least so far.

Liz: I really like this planner too. Although I have to say I let it overwhelm me a little bit. I haven’t used anything other than pencil yet because I keep screwing up! And I’m terrified to use the stickers in case I mess up…

That said, I love all the pieces it pulls together to get you organized. The weekly action plans are awesome, and you can track your habits, identify the top items to focus on, and even list gratitude lists. And it has lots of notes pages, which is especially helpful. When I’m about three-quarters of the way through a book I often have to go back and write out timelines for both main and subplots, and those always end up getting done in random notebooks that I can never find again when I need them. So this is solving that problem!

Very happy with it, and have to stop being afraid of it and take full advantage of all the benefits.

Readers, any other planners out there that have helped you wrangle your life, writing or otherwise? Leave us a comment! (But don’t tell Julie, because she already has way too many planners going!)

Wicked Wednesday: Our 2018 Books!

Wicked Wednesday!We Wickeds were busy in 2017, and 2018 will be proof of that. Friends, what books under which names will be released when?

Liz: Cate Conte’s second Cat Cafe Mystery, Purrder, She Wrote, will be out next August. The 7th Pawsitively Organic Mystery, Murder, She Meowed, will be out next fall/winter sometime – no pub date yet!

Sherry: I Know What You Bid Last Summer the fifth Sarah Winston Garage Sale mystery releases on February 27th! And I think The Gun Also Rises (book six) will come out at the end of December. Like Liz, I’m waiting to hear for sure.

Barb: Yule Log Murder, the holiday novella collection by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and me comes out October 30, 2018. Steamed Open, the seventh Maine Clambake Mystery, comes out December 25, 2018.

Edith: Biscuits and Slashed Browns, Country Store Mystery #4, comes out in six days (written as Maddie Day)! The third Quaker Midwife Mystery, Turning the Tide, releases on April 8, followed shortly by my short story, “A Divination of Death” in Mystery Most Geographical, the Malice Domestic anthology which releases at Malice at the end of April. Mulch Ado About Murder, Local Foods Mystery #5, comes out in paperback June 26. And Death Over Easy, Country Store Mystery #5 (also written as Maddie Day), will be out at the end of July. Yes, it’s a busy year for me.

Jessie: I am looking forward to the release of the paperback version of Murder in an English Village in August. The second Beryl and Edwina Mystery, Murder Flies the Coop, launches a month later, at the end of September. And, I have plans to finally make the second Granite State Mystery, Body of Water, available. Look for it between June and August!

Julie: In 2018 I will have one book coming out–the next in my Theater Cop series, With A Kiss I Die. It will come out on September 8.  Can’t wait for you all to read Sully’s next adventure!

Writer friends, tell us about your 2018 books! Reader friends, any 2018 titles you’re particularly looking forward to?