About J.A. Hennrikus/Julianne Holmes

J.A. (Julie) Hennrikus wears two hats. With her arts administrator hat, she is the Executive Director of StageSource and teaches as adjunct faculty at Emerson College. Wearing her other hat, she is a mystery writer. 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. She publishes 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 will be released in August 2016. She is a social media fan, and tweets under @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).

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.


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.


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. 

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?



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!


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.


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

Wicked Wednesday: Reading Goals for 2017

(Julie here) Personally, I’ve decided that I need to read more for pleasure in 2017. I’m working on a reading list now. Any suggestions Wickeds? Any specific goals for the year?

Edith: Since I’m heading into knee-replacement recuperation at the start of February, I’mshorttime
looking forward to doing some series binge reading in between PT and naps. I want to read the Cara Black mysteries set in Paris. Alyssa Maxwell’s new historicals. All of Kathy Lynn Emerson’s (and her alter ego Caitlin Dunnett) that I’ve missed. Plus new books by friends like Susan Bickford, Bruce Coffin, Deb Crombie, and Brenda Buchanan,and the new Jungle Red blogger Ingrid Thoft. So many books, so little time!

Liz: I’ve got so many books on my TBR list I don’t even know where to start. And I’ve been remiss in my reading over the past few months, so I feel really behind! I’m looking forward to reading William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series, and catching up on my Lee Child and Longmire books. Also want to read Wally Lamb’s new one, I’ll Take You There. And, as many of you know, I’m a self-help junkie – so in that vein, I’m reading all of Gabrielle Bernstein‘s books to try and sharpen my meditation skills. That should keep me busy for a bit!

gardenoflamentationsBarb: Like Julie, I have a goal this year to do a lot more pleasure reading. That means less time allowing myself to be distracted by the various screens in my life. I’ll keep up with my favorite series: Deb Crombie, Louise Penny, Paul Doiron, Craig Johnson and William Kent Krueger. I also want to finally get to read some of the non-mysteries everyone is talking about. The Light Between the Oceans and The Nightingale are two. (I know, I know.)

Jessie: I have quite a bit of non-fiction reading planned. My Beryl and Edwina series is set in England in the 1920s and there are so many interesting resources written about that time! I am currently reading The Long Week-End: A Social History of Great Britain 1918-1939 by Robert R. Graves and Alan Hodge. Next up are Borrowed Time: The Story of Britain Between the Wars by Roy Hattersley and Independent Women: Work and Community for SOngle Women i1850-1920  by Martha Vicinus. For some fiction I am looking forward to The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths and Thrice the Binded Cat Hath Mewed by Alan Bradley.

huntersSherry: I just started reading Ingrid Thoft’s book first book Loyalty. Her protagonist, Fina Ludlow, is a private investigator for her dysfunctional family’s law firm in Boston. Like Edith, she hit my radar when she joined Jungle Red Writers. I’m only a few chapters in, but it’s hard to put down. For Christmas my mom gave me a copy of my favorite Phyllis A. Whitney book from when I was young. I’m really looking forward to reading it and wonder if I will still love it. I should branch out more from mysteries and thrillers but I love them.

Julie: Hamilton by Ron Chernow has been put on the bedside table along side Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye. I also got some non-fiction books at Bouchercon that I am looking forward . Thinking a lot about the Golden Age of mysteries, wondering if we’re in another one.

Readers: What’s on your reading list this year?


Endless Possibilities

by Julie, confused by 50 degree weather in Somerville


The Cover for CHIME AND PUNISHMENT–isn’t it great?

At the beginning of the year I had two packs of 3×5 index cards, wrapped in plastic. Both have been opened, and are spread out on my dining room table. Each pack of cards will be a book by the end of the year. January is my plotting month for both projects.

As we’ve mentioned before, and Hallie discussed on Tuesday, there are different ways to start a book. Some of us are pantsers–write by the seat of your pants. I am a plotter. I plan the entire book, figure out the dramatic structure, add subplots, figure out twists and turns, and then I start writing. (For a great method of plotting, read Paula Munier’s PLOT PERFECT.)

My index cards become my roadmap. After I rough out a plot, I make notes about who is in each scene, where it takes place. I shuffle the cards–should the body be found that early? Should I make him a suspect? How does she get from here to there so quickly–let’s add another scene. How can I add to the drama? Should I have a subplot about the blue shoe? All of these ideas swirl around, and are possibilities. I think, shuffle, add, combine, separate, shuffle again until it all makes sense.

I love the blank card phase of my book. The possibilities are endless, and the plotting is intense. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be changes–but it does mean that I’ve thought it through enough that I’ve worked out the places where I might get stuck later on. This is the way I think, and create. For some it is torture–for me it is bliss. Anything is possible at this phase of the project. I just have to make it all work.

This year will be a busy one for me. January is for plotting, and filling up index cards with ideas. I couldn’t be happier.

Writer friends, how do you plot? Do you love that phase, or dread it? Does the muse visit as you write, or does she front load you with ideas?