Category Archives: Authors

Story Behind the Story: Crazy, Stupid, Dead by Wendy Delaney

The truth and memory are two important parts of all writing, especially so in the mysteries of Wendy Delaney. The seventh novel in her Working Stiffs mystery series confronts Delaney’s heroine with a death that may not be what it seems to be. Her goal as a mystery writer is to provide the reader with a story that keeps them guessing as they follow her “human lie detector” heroine all the way from the first clue to the solution. (And it kept me going, too, as her editor.)

What’s the theme behind your story? 

The theme behind Crazy, Stupid, Dead (Working Stiffs Mystery #7)—and all the books in my Working Stiffs Mystery series—is that things are not always what they seem. So the truth can take some time to reveal itself, even when you’re a deception detection expert (a.k.a. “human lie detector”) like my amateur sleuth, Charmaine Digby.

What’s the logline?

Drowning in your own bathtub is a stupid way to die—the recurring line that causes Charmaine to question how such a thing could have happened to a friend of her grandmother who was in relatively good health.

Nothing is as it appears in a Working Stiffs Mystery by Wendy Delaney, even with a “human lie detector.”

What were you thinking about when the idea occurred to you?

I’m always on the hunt for ways in which a well-motivated person could get away with murder. One afternoon, while combing through dozens of news stories on the subject (yes, I have an interesting search history!), I read a detective’s comments about how murder by drowning can be easier to get away with. If there are no witnesses and no evidence to suggest that it’s anything other than accidental… So it’s a murder that doesn’t necessarily look like a murder? Perfect! I already had the title I wanted to use—a twist on the movie title, Crazy, Stupid, Love—so all I had to do was to drown my story’s victim in her bathtub so that Charmaine and several other characters could think it was a crazy and/or stupid way to die—and maybe just a little bit suspicious! 

How did you conceive of your characters for this story?  

My mystery series is set in Port Merritt, a fictional popular retirement town located an easy ferry ride from Seattle, so I typically populate my stories with senior citizens whose middle-aged children live close by, and this story was no exception. The whole gang of recurring characters introduced in book 1, Trudy, Madly, Deeply, is back, so it’s always fun to explore those interrelationships as well as come up with likely suspects for them to interact with. I often draw on personal experience when I populate my stories. In Crazy, Stupid, Dead I feature a secondary character with dementia. That wasn’t my original intention, but seven years of caring for a mom with a failing memory taught me that similar nice old ladies can serve as delightfully unreliable witnesses—perfect for a light-hearted mystery. 

Are you pleased with the results, or do you wish you had done anything differently in the story?  

Overall, I’m very pleased with how the story turned out. Many of my readers commented about how I kept them guessing, so mission accomplished in terms of the main plot. Really, what fun would it be to read a mystery that is easy to solve? On a personal note, I love my main characters and want to do right by them in their personal lives. Char has some emotional wounds from the past that need to heal, and I feel like good progress was made in this story for her personal growth—something that leads nicely into book 8, A Kiwi Before Dying, which will be coming soon.  

Who would play your leads in the movie if you make a deal? 

That’s a tough one. I have pictures up on my wall of actors and actresses whom I’ve “cast” for my earlier books. I’d need a time machine for some. For example, Jill St. John. In her fifties, she would have been perfect as Charmaine’s actress mother. Same with Lou Diamond Phillips—the thirty-five year-old version could have been a great fit for Detective Steve Sixkiller. As for Char, since she looks a lot like her mom, the casting could present a challenge, but if Emma Stone would like to gain twenty pounds to play her, fantastic!

What else do you want readers to know?

Since Crazy, Stupid, Dead is the seventh book in my cozy mystery series, I always suggest that readers start with book one, Trudy, Madly, Deeply, not only for a good introduction to Char and her special ability as a human lie detector but because story threads run from book to book. And, yes, her ability is steeped in real science. I became interested in Dr. Paul Ekman’s work way back when and interviewed one of his test subjects, who was kind enough to help me when Char’s character was at the “what if my sleuth could do this” stage. I’ll always be grateful that she was so generous with her time.  


Wendy Delaney writes fun-filled cozy mysteries and is the award-winning author of the Working Stiffs Mystery series. A longtime member of Mystery Writers of America, she’s a Food Network addict and pastry chef wannabe. When she’s not killing off story people she can be found on her treadmill, working off the calories from her latest culinary adventure. Wendy lives in the Seattle area with the love of her life and is a proud grandma.

Buy Link

Crazy, Stupid, Dead is available at Amazon and is free to read for Kindle Unlimited subscribers: 

Story Behind the Story: The Way Home by Eliana West

Eliana West writes romances in which mistakes are forgiven. Writers can take heed from her own approach as an author for her forthcoming novel, The Way Home, which required her to rework an unsatisfactory first draft to redeem its promise. The result is a novel of which she’s totally delighted, providing a happily ever after for two characters whose heritage is completely different – and yet tangled in America’s history.

What’s the theme behind your story? 

The theme for all of the books in my Heart of Colton series is forgiveness. These are stories about forgiveness, redemption, and, of course, love.

What’s the logline?

A letter from the past will change their future.

What were you thinking about or what was happening when the idea occurred to you?

I was talking with my sister about our family history and the story came to me almost fully formed. I also wanted to figure out a way to tell a story about the complex relationships between the descendants of enslaved people and the descendants of those who enslaved them. 

Eliana West says interracial romance isn’t just for Black readers.

How did the original idea change as you went along?

My hero’s backstory changed quite a bit and new characters that evolved as the story went along, secondary characters that really became crucial to the story. Otherwise, the bones of the story have always stayed the same. 

How did you conceive of your characters for this story and how did they change?

Taylor Colton is kind of a combination of the Property Brothers and Ben Napier from Hometown on HGTV. For all of his success, he’s pretty insecure. When I had the idea for Taylor, I pictured him as a hero who struggles, not wanting to be the hero at first. For Josephine Martin, I wanted a heroine who worked in tech and a character with a strong will and a big heart. Ada Mae is based on my great aunt, and I drew a lot of inspiration from her personality and life. 

Are you pleased with the results, or do you wish you had done anything differently in the story? Why or why not?

The first draft of this story was just terrible and I had a point where I didn’t think I could salvage it. I took my time and did a major rewrite and now I’m so pleased with the result. I’m not sure at this point that I would do anything different.

Who would play your leads in the movie if (when!) you make a deal?

Oh boy, that’s a good question. Maybe Chris Evans for Taylor Colton, and Jaylen Barron for Josephine Martin.

What else do you want readers to know?

What I’d like readers to know is that interracial romance isn’t just for Black readers. Interracial romance is for any reader; diverse romance is just that diverse. If you haven’t read an interracial romance, give one a try. 

My books may be a challenging story for some people. I write stories that confront some uncomfortable aspects of race and history. But at the end of the day, these are romances. Love always wins.  


Eliana West writes contemporary interracial romance. Her first book, The Way Forward, establishing the Heart of Colton series, was published by Tule Publishing in 2020. When not writing, Eliana can be found exploring the many wineries in Oregon and Washington with her husband, traveling around in Bianca, their vintage Volkswagen Westfalia. She is the founder of Writers for Diversity (, a community for writers of all genres writing, creating diverse characters and worlds. Check out

Your general time period of preference for post


Buy link

Story Behind the Story: Lady Rample Steps Out by Shéa MacLeod

Apparently, when you dream a book, you should write it! Shéa MacLeod did just that, with a protagonist, Lady Rample, who burst from a midnight reverie as did Pallas Athena from Zeus. You might want to get into your head just as MacLeod did, because what she transmuted from dream to manuscript was a fun jazz-era English detective who was all parts Katharine Hepburn, no parts stodgy, and every bit feel-good solver of murders. (Or maybe solver of feel-good murders. Or both.)  If what’s in your head is anything like what’s in MacLeod’s, by all means, get it down on paper!

Lady Rample Mysteries feature Shéa MacLeod’s character from a dream.

What’s the theme behind your story?

I rarely have a conscious theme when writing. I simply start out to tell a fun story and somewhere along the way a theme sort of weaves itself in. If Lady Rample Steps Out had a theme, it’s about friendship, acceptance, and the wages of greed. 

What’s the logline?

When Lady Rample steps out, murder steps in.

What were you thinking about or what was happening when the idea for this series occurred to you?

I was dreaming. No, literally! I dreamed the character and two of the titles. It was incredibly clear, and I woke up just knowing I had to write about this woman’s adventures. It was about a year later that I put out the first book. 

How did you conceive of your characters for this story and how did they change?

As I mentioned, the main character, Lady Rample, appeared to me in a dream. She looked like Katharine Hepburn when she was young. She had zero forks to give, a cocktail in one hand, and a smirk on her lips. I’m not sure much has changed since then, except she does have more of a propensity for a bit of klutziness now and then. Other characters like Aunt Butty (of the crazy hats) came along later as I thought about the people who would occupy this woman’s inner circle. They wouldn’t be usual or ordinary. They would be quirky and a bit odd and thoroughly wonderful. 

Are you pleased with the results, or do you wish you had done anything differently in the story? Why or why not?

I love the story and I doubt I would do anything differently if I had the chance. I’m not the sort of person who dwells on stories already told—I’m too busy writing the next one! Besides, the beauty of a long-running series is that I can explore different aspects of personality, different characters, different experiences, and different locations. If I didn’t spend enough time on something as I wanted, I have the chance in the next book. It never gets boring!

Who would play the leads in the movie if (when!) you make a deal?

Well, since Katharine Hepburn is out, and so is Cary Grant (who would have played her best friend, Chaz), I shall have to search among contemporary actors! I think Evan Rachel Wood (although a bit young) would make a marvelous Lady Rample. Dame Judi Dench could play her eccentric, hat-loving Aunt Butty, and Dame Helen Mirren would be Aunt Butty’s BFF, Louise Pennyfather. Meanwhile, Lady R’s best friend Chaz would be played by Harry Lloyd, and her paramour, jazz musician Hale Davis, by Idris Elba.

What else do you want readers to know?

The Lady Rample Mysteries are set in 1930s London during the jazz era. Be prepared for lots of afternoon tea, vintage cocktails, lovely parties, madcap capers, and the occasional feel-good murder.


Shéa MacLeod is the author of over 65 titles including the popular cozy mystery series, Lady Rample Mysteries, and the bestselling urban fantasy/paranormal romance series, Sunwalker Saga. She has dreamed of writing novels since before she could hold a crayon. She totally blames her mother.

She resides in the leafy green hills outside Portland, Oregon, where she indulges in her fondness for strong coffee, Hopepunk, lemon curd, and dragons. She can usually be found at her desk dreaming of creative ways to off her characters. She quite loves a feel-good murder. Fictionally speaking, of course.

Buy Link

Story Behind The Story: The Highlander’s Rescued Maiden by Anna Campbell

How many times have you been inspired by a photograph, maybe of a place that made you wonder about its history? In Anna Campbell’s novel, a place was the inspiration, and she included photos of Coroghan Castle to demonstrate (and you’ve got to admit, it’s a beautiful, though forbidding spot!). 

What’s the theme behind your story?

True love can come unexpectedly, but when it does, it’s worth any risk. 

What’s the logline?

The Highlands just got hotter!

What were you thinking about or what was happening when the idea occurred to you?

In the spring of 2019, I visited the gorgeous Hebridean island of Canna in Scotland and found myself intrigued by what I thought was a ruined castle on the coast looking straight out across at the Isle of Skye. When I asked about it, I was told that it was called Coroghan Castle, and it was originally a jail! In the 17th century, a jealous husband locked his beautiful wife up in this small cell to keep her out of her lover’s reach. As you can imagine, this got my writer’s imagination working overtime. 

So my Rapunzel story was born. I changed the jealous husband to a tyrannical father and the beautiful wife became a lovely maiden, banished from her clan. The rather grim castle on Canna turned into a luxurious tower on a tiny islet out in the ocean. The guesthouse where I stayed looked out over the Atlantic toward an isolated lighthouse called Hyskeir, which became the basis for my heroine Ellen’s world.

You can read more about Coroghan Castle and the events that inspired the original idea for my story here:

I’ve included a couple of pictures of Coroghan Castle that I took on Canna. While the setting is beautiful, it’s a rather sad and forbidding place and not really a setting for romance. You can see why I turned Ellen’s lonely tower into a haven of luxury! 

How did the original idea change as you went along?

My original concept for the story was as a grand adventure with much derring-do and swashbuckling, but when I sat down to write it, it ended up becoming something much more intimate and sensual. For most of the story, it’s just Will and Ellen learning how to trust each other and falling in love. 

How did you conceive of your characters for this story and how did they change?

My heroine, Ellen Cameron, was always a strong and intelligent woman who was a victim of unspeakable injustice. As I wrote her, the effects of ten years of lonely exile became clearer, so the final product is more complex and rounded than my original idea (that always happens!). I first thought of my hero as a dashing, cynical rogue who stumbled into true love much against his will. On the page, though, Will Mackinnon was much more emotionally aware than I’d planned. He’d scoff at the idea of anyone calling him a hero, but he definitely ended up being one! 

Are you pleased with the results, or do you wish you had done anything differently in the story? Why or why not?

The story ended up being more of a poignant emotional journey than I originally thought it would be, and I’m pleased with that. There’s an intensity between these two characters that I hope readers will like. The love story is always front and center. I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to follow the flow of the characters and events, even if that takes you a long way from your original idea. The good stuff is what comes up unexpectedly! 

Who would play your leads in the movie if (when!) you make a deal? 

Oh, I’d love this to be a movie! For Will Mackinnon, the dashing hero, I think I’d go for a younger Ewan MacGregor (although he’s still pretty appealing now!). He’s got that combination of humor and intelligence that would suit the character. I must say as I was writing it, Errol Flynn was in my mind, so if they invent time travel, there’s my hero! For my heroine, I had Michelle Pfeiffer in mind when I wrote her. She has the intelligence and beauty. Out of the current crop of actresses, perhaps Emilia Clarke in one of her blond incarnations. 

What else do you want readers to know?

This is the last of my Lairds Most Likely books (there’s a tenth coming out, but it’s already been part of an anthology). While The Highlander’s Rescued Maiden can be read as a standalone, it ties up themes and characters in The Highlander’s Defiant Captive (currently only 99 cents!) and The Highlander’s Christmas Quest


Australian Anna Campbell has written 11 multi award-winning historical romances for Avon HarperCollins and Grand Central Publishing. As an independently published author, she’s released 27 bestselling stories, including 10 in her latest series, The Lairds Most Likely. Anna has won numerous awards for her stories, including RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice, the Booksellers Best, the Golden Quill (three times), the Heart of Excellence (twice), the Write Touch, the Aspen Gold (twice), and the Australian Romance Readers’ favorite historical romance (five times). 

Buy link


Story Behind the Story: Family Skeletons by Josie Malone

The latest in the Story Behind the Story series is the latest in Josie Malone’s Baker City Hearts and Haunts series, about a town that is teeming in ghosts, and seems to be fairly comfortable about it. I did some early editing on Malone’s first entry in this series, and I remember thinking about the town, and how it must feel to be that close to its ancestors! Josie is also offering a free ebook raffle of the first book in the series, so drop a comment at the website and I’ll choose a winner.

What’s the theme behind your story? 

Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting.

What’s the logline? 

Baker City Hearts and Haunts, “Where love is real and so are the ghosts!”

What were you thinking about or what was happening when the idea occurred to you? 

Family Skeletons is the third book in the series, and Tate Murphy, the career soldier hero, charmed me when his friends in More Than A Spirit (book 2) repeated what he said, that if he wanted a wife, the Army would issue one to him. He met the heroine, Sullivan Barlow, the night she buried her best friend, Raven, who’d died in combat. Neither of them immediately realize they’re being haunted by Raven, who plays Cupid for them.

How did the original idea change as you went along? 

Raven became a stronger character than I anticipated, but she was always enjoyable, especially when she began interacting with the town medium. 

How did you conceive of your characters for this story and how did they change? 

They both grew during the story, especially the heroine who learns to “embrace the suck,” as the hero says, and that she doesn’t have to give up her best friend, even if Raven isn’t what could be considered “real” any longer. Then again, what is “real”?

Are you pleased with the results, or do you wish you had done anything differently in the story? Why or why not? 

I always love the books when they’re finished. For now, the story is perfect. Of course, in ten years when I know more about writing and crafting stories, I’m sure some error will jump out at me.

Who would play your leads in the movie if (when!) you make a deal? 

Jennifer Lawrence and Sam Claflin. I could definitely see them kicking butt in a movie version.

What else do you want readers to know? 

Here’s the back-cover blurb:

Sergeant First Class Sullivan Barlow has plans for her future, and none of them include the guy she slept with in a night of weakness. Intending to forget the devastation of losing her best friend in Afghanistan, Sully woke the next morning still alone. Her only solace — she hadn’t told the man her real name. 

A career soldier, Tate Murphy has three more years in the Army until he’s eligible for retirement. Seven weeks ago, he met a woman in a hotel bar and spent the night with her. He hasn’t been able to get her out of his mind and can’t believe his luck when he finds her again.

Then they discover their first night together resulted in something they never expected. She’s pregnant and Tate immediately proposes. Pregnant and struggling with survivor guilt, the last thing Sully needs is to learn her best friend may have died, but hasn’t left yet. 

Tate says, “Sometimes courage is an act of survival.” Sully fears trust is a casualty of war. Will she and Tate ever find it again either by themselves, or with the help of those who have passed on before? 


Josie Malone lives and works at her family business, a riding stable in Washington state. Teaching kids to ride and know about horses since 1967, she finds in many cases, she’s taught three generations of families. Her life experiences span adventures from dealing cards in a casino, attending graduate school to get her master’s degree in teaching, being a substitute teacher, and serving in the Army Reserve — all leading to her second career as a published author. Visit her at her website,, to learn about her books. To sign up for her newsletter, go to

Here’s the link to the Family Skeletons trailer! 

Buy links:

Amazon-ebooks –

Amazon Print –

Nook Press –

Smashwords –

Kobo –

Story Behind the Story: Snowbound with the Sheriff by Laurel Greer

With my background in Wall Street, Laurel Greer’s story about a Wall Street hedge fund manager coming home to Montana had me curious about the romance take on the financial scene—what do Wall Street whistle-blowers do when they have to get out of town? I was pleased to find out that they go home and find romance! 

What’s the theme behind your story? 

Can we find redemption after past mistakes, and if so, what does it look like?

What’s the logline? 

A humiliated hedge fund manager is trapped with her sheriff ex-boyfriend during a blizzard and must face the pain of the past to break down the protective walls holding her back from love and fulfillment.

What were you thinking about or what was happening when the idea occurred to you? 

I really wanted to sell another trilogy to Harlequin Special Edition, and it was my first chance to sell three books in one arc and one contract. Starting with dogs seemed like a good plan, so I hung the trilogy on a family working together to start up a search-and-rescue dog training facility. Stella, the heroine of Snowbound with the Sheriff, is the angel investor. With her book coming third in the series, I was able to learn pieces of her history and dysfunctional relationship with her half-siblings while plotting the previous two books. One of the first things that came to me about her book was the title—I knew I wanted to call it Snowbound with the Sheriff. Forced proximity is a great tool for taking away a character’s ability to run from their problems, and a little cabin in the Montana woods seemed like a perfect place to make that happen to Stella and Ryan.

How did the original idea change as you went along?

I struggled with getting the beginning right for a long time. I originally had it start in New York with Stella deciding to come home. It just didn’t work. So I fast-forwarded to Stella arriving in Montana and getting pulled over for (marginally) speeding by Ryan on a snowy night. With the shorter word counts of series/category romance, it’s more effective to have the main romantic protagonists meet/interact in chapter one. My new beginning meant getting to the romantic conflict faster.

How did you conceive of your characters for this story and how did they change?

Ryan came to be as a tertiary character in Sutter Creek Book 3. Sheriffs make popular characters in series romance, and I knew I wanted him to be one of the heroes in my trilogy. With both Stella’s siblings being Sutter Creek homebodies, it made sense that she hadn’t lived in town in years, and that she had a past relationship with the now-sheriff that had ended in an ugly way. She needed a reason to have missed some big recent developments in her siblings’ lives and still be heroic—that’s where the whistleblowing came in. Another change for Stella was her having a different mom from her younger siblings. I had originally envisioned all three of them having the same parents.

Are you pleased with the results, or do you wish you had done anything differently in the story? Why or why not? 

I’m pleased with the results of this story. When I wrote it, I was going through a period of depression and was really disappointed with it. But my critique partners assured me it was fine, so I submitted it to my editor in order to make my deadline. Five months later when it was time for revisions, I was better managing my depression and was surprised to find I loved what I had done with Snowbound. I do have stories where I’d love to change things, but not so much with this one. 

Who would play your leads in the movie if (when!) you make a deal?

Oooh, fancasting—always fun. My cover characters look a little like Brad Paisley and Emily Blunt, so maybe them? LOL. Other choices would be Timothy Olyphant with slightly darker hair circa when he was in Catch and Release(time machine!) and Rachel McAdams with blond hair.

What else do you want readers to know?

Snowbound with the Sheriff is the third in a trilogy, but all my Special Edition books are written as standalones and can be read without reading any of the others in the series. If a reader started with this one, it would be obvious that Stella’s siblings had recently had their own love stories, but nothing is lost from Stella’s story. Also, I’m now writing a third Sutter Creek trilogy, and the first heroine is one of the side characters in Snowbound—Emma Halloran. It’s so much fun to get to pull secondary and tertiary characters from previous books and give them HEAs of their own. My other big project this year is an M/M second-chance romance (another one, I know—it’s often part of my core story) set in Sarina Bowen’s World of True North, about a Montreal businessman who returns home to Vermont to save his dad’s struggling artisan letterpress business and has to work with his hot, Scottish, college ex-boyfriend. What to expect: competence porn, interfering family, groveling, and a large helping of artisan stationery geekery.


Desperate for a hot hockey-player fix during an NHL lockout, Laurel picked up her laptop and started writing. She branched out from hockey romance while on a research trip to Montana. As she traveled along the Gallatin River, the town of Sutter Creek came to life and is now the setting of her six-book (soon to be nine!) miniseries with Harlequin Special Edition. She is also working on second-chance, M/M romance to be released in May 2021 in Sarina Bowen’s World of True North. She fills her creative well by staying up way too late reading romance novels, chugging vats of tea, and falling down Pinterest rabbit holes.

Buy link

Story Behind The Story: A Christmas Carol Murder by Heather Redmond

Meet Heather Redmond and the story behind her story, A Christmas Carol Murder. This is the third novel in her series of cozy murder mysteries featuring Charles Dickens as the protagonist. As Heather explains, it’s just a natural to use A Christmas Carol if you’re writing about Dickens and his fictional sleuthing. Especially at Christmastime! So meet the spirit of Christmas murders to be, Heather Redmond.

What’s the theme behind your story?

Christmas is a season of renewal.

Cover to A Christmas Carol Murder by Heather Redmond

What’s the logline?

Bah. Humbug. Murder…

What were you thinking about or what was happening when the idea occurred to you?

I was planning the first three books of the A Dickens of a Crime series with my editor. The series stars Charles Dickens as an amateur sleuth and takes inspiration from his novels. We knew one of the books had to feature Dickens’s A Christmas Carol since it is his most famous work.

How did the original idea change as you went along?

I learned that Dickens had done some great reporting on the Hatfield fire that happened a few weeks before Christmas, so I started the book there. It gave me a great chance to include a Christmas child that I could keep a secret from his fiancée Kate. The problem became how to keep her integrated into the story when she didn’t know what was going on. My editor also wanted to be sure there was no paranormal element to the book, so I had to solve any ghostly encounters with real life explanations.

How did you conceive of your characters for this story and how did they change?

My two main characters, Charles and Kate, were real people and as much as I can, I keep them true to life. The biggest change in my characters in this book was to finish the process of moving my mudlark characters off of the Thames foreshore and into the next phases of their lives. The girl, Lucy Fair, has entered service and most of the boys went to school. Dickens himself believed that some boys were simply natural, unredeemable criminals so I did leave one or two of the boys behind.

Are you pleased with the results, or do you wish you had done anything differently in the story? Why or why not?

I’m quite happy with this one as it worked out. As a writer I still tend to have to re-solve the mystery for myself at the end and make sure that the reason for the murders is truly justified. As I recall, I didn’t know what had happened to the missing corpse for quite a while.

Who would play your leads in the movie if (when!) you make a deal?

The main characters are very young so even though the series is less than three years old, I think the actors I might have envisioned have already aged out of the roles! I suspect unknowns would have to play roles, with a 23-year-old hero and a 20-year-old heroine. Maybe these roles would make stars!

What else do you want readers to know?

Dickens’s original novella A Christmas Carol is an amazing mix of comedy and horror and brilliant storytelling. I can’t account for the brilliant storytelling, but I did my best to include comedy and horror in my homage, while still being focused on telling a great mystery story.

The Heather Redmond Bio

Heather Redmond is an author of commercial fiction and also writes as Heather Hiestand. First published in mystery, she took a long detour through romance before returning. Though her last British-born ancestor departed London in the 1920s, she is a committed anglophile, Dickens devotee, and lover of all things nineteenth century.

She has lived in Illinois, California, and Texas, and now resides in a small town in Washington State with her husband and son. The author of many novels, novellas, and short stories, she has achieved best-seller status at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books. Her 2018 Heather Redmond debut, A Tale of Two Murders, reached #1 in Historical Mysteries at Amazon as well as being in the Top 100 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble (Top 20), and Apple Books (Top 40). It is also a multi-week Barnes & Noble Hardcover Mystery Bestseller and a Historical Mystery bestseller on Kobo Books.

Her two current mystery series are A Dickens of a Crime and the Journaling mysteries. She writes for Kensington and Severn House.

She is the 2020-21 President of the Columbia River Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC).

To buy A Christmas Carol Murder, click here.
For more about Heather Redmond, visit

The Story Behind the Story Behind the Story (and no, that’s not redundant)

Haven’t you wondered how a particular author came up with the story they did? We all know about Mary Shelley and her inspiration on a stormy night, coming up with Frankenstein. I woke up one night wondering what the source of a story is in an author’s mind, whether it’s sweet or horror or mystifying, and how long the idea had to germinate before at last that story bloomed into being. So I asked authors to tell me.

There’s always a story about how the story that you like so much got started. Here are glimpses at what fuels the imagination of the authors. I’ll be offering one author’s story or two a week. The Story Behind the Story starts for real in January, but until then, this is sort of what it’ll be:

His 30-Day Guarantee

It was the mid-1980s — so yeah, we’re talking about a long time ago. Ronald Reagan was president, I was living in New York City, and occasionally doing freelance as a break from my regular full-time job as a financial editor. My husband was working at DC Comics at that point, and I met their proofreader and learned she was a copy editor away from comics. One of her freelance gigs was copy editing romances for a Major Publisher, and she suggested I check it out. I did, and ended up copy editing a couple. 

It was interesting, and I enjoyed it, despite it being very different from what I was used to. But more than that, it inspired me to write my own romance. 

After a couple of fits and starts (you know how that goes), I came up with a fun idea after noticing a very distinctive sales pitch that occurs in so many offers: impulsive tech tycoon type falls for a recently divorced linguistical anthropology professor at the University of Washington and offers her a deal: go out with him for one month. If they don’t mesh well, she can step away, no harm, no foul. But he’s not telling her everything.

After I finished it and submitted it (using paper and everything, because this was an earlier time), I got a revise and resubmit letter. I didn’t know that was good (because I had no experience with such a thing), so I had to think about how to do those revisions. But then life got in the way (it was 1987 and there was a Wall Street crash, causing many people to lose their jobs, including me), and by the time I got back to it, it was 1989 and we had moved across the country. And by the time I actually revised and resubmitted, years had gone by and the publisher wasn’t interested anymore.

So the novel got slipped into an envelope and slipped under the bed (or a box or whatever; it’s been a while). I joined Romance Writers of America, wrote other things, and then, thirty years after I wrote that first book, I was asked by a digital publisher if I were interested in pitching a story for a graphic novella (I wrote some comic stories while I was in college, so I understood the medium). I said sure and adapted that novel into a script. They bought it, it got done, and a few years after that, they asked if I were interested in writing a novella based on the graphic novella based on the original manuscript (whew!). I said sure, I wrote it, and they liked it, but this time, we couldn’t come to terms, so the newly updated story was back in my hands again—and it was time. So at long last, the novel-turned-into-a-novella was published. His 30-Day Guarantee, originally titled 30-Day Guarantee, is available in digital form and in print, and it only took thirty years after I originally wrote it.

What’s the moral of this (long-winded) story? Never throw anything away. You just never know.

Elizabeth Flynn, who writes as Eilis Flynn, has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, fantasies, and contemporary romances. She’s also a professional editor and has been for more than 40 years, working with genre fiction, academia, technology, finance, and comic books. She can be reached at (if you’re looking for an editor) or at (if you’re looking for a good read). Her latest novel is The Unnamed World, a futuristic romance. 



There are ghosts along the Silk Road. And they're fascinating!

I Edit. I Write. I Talk About Ghosts.

Bringing Japanese Ghosts and Death Rituals to Sakura-Con 2019!

When I’m not editing (as E.M.S. Flynn), I’m writing (as Eilis Flynn), and when I’m not writing, I find myself presenting. And so it is this year at Seattle’s Sakura-Con on Saturday, April 20, when I present “Japanese Ghosts and Death Rituals,” complete with a spiffy PowerPoint presentation so attendees can see what I’m talking about! (New! This year! Spiffy!)

Which ghosts have one eye in their butt? Which ghosts are a demon and a fairy? Which ghosts are a lot like one you know from Harry Potter? Come to the panel and you’ll find out! I will be also having a Q&A!

It’s based on presentations for writers that I’ve done for years (with client Jacquie Rogers) in which we discuss all sorts of things that go bump in the night. Editors have to know these things, you know — and so much more!

For instance, for one of my writers I found myself making sure that the boxes into she was putting a million pounds worth of gold were big enough. Turned out they were too big. (Gold is dense.) I had to remind another that the title Ms. wasn’t commonly used until about a half-century ago. And pegging the proper century for the existence of penny dreadfuls — which required both sufficient technology and a critical mass of literate consumers — was important for another recent client. Naturally, there’s also the spelling and the grammar, but you probably expected that.

While that means no editing will be involved, you can see the result of my work and Jacquie’s on Saturday, April 20, 2019 at 4pm in 4C-4 at the Washington State Convention Center when I share some basics about Japanese ghosts and death rituals. There’ll also be copies of my book, Ghosts Along the Silk Road…and Beyond for sale (if you haven’t already purchased it from all the usual online sellers). There’s even a giveaway – a copy of Dragons Along the Silk Road!

If you can’t be there, you can check out the Ghosts Along The Silk Road book by clicking the links below. Even better, if you’re writing a book — I’d love to make it perfect. Even if it means there’s a ghost with an eye in its butt.

Nonfiction by Eilis Flynn with Jacquie Rogers:

Ghosts Along The Silk Road… And Beyond: Central Asia (paperback)(eBook) | Dragons Along the Silk Road…And Beyond (paperback)(eBook)|Vampires & Zombies Along the Silk Road…And Beyond (eBook)

Fiction by Eilis Flynn:

Festival of Stars (paperback)(eBook) | The Sleeper Awakes (paperback)(eBook) | His 30-Day Guarantee (paperback)(eBook) | The Riddle of Ryu (eBook)The Sonika Stories (paperback)(eBook) | Dreaming Beauty (World of Sonika) (paperback)(eBook) | Christmas in the Rain (eBook)Halloween for a Heroine (eBook)Static Shock (paperback)(eBook) |

With Heather Hiestand:

Wear Black (paperback)(eBook)| Dancing in Red (a Wear Black novella) (eBook)


Heather Redmond’s A Tale of Two Murders Is Two Times Two Elizabeth M.S. Flynn Tales, Too

Editor Elizabeth MS Flynn as author Eilis Flynn with client and co-author Heather Hiestand.

Authors Heather Hiestand and Eilis Flynn at Third Place Books and their book, “Wear Black.” There’s more to this story!

Last night I attended the Third Place Books author event in Lake City Way for Heather Redmond’s A Tale of Two Murders. There’s two things to everything to be said about it!

First, I’m affiliated with Heather two ways — as co-author (on Wear Black, which we’re holding here) and as editor for her independently published works.

Second, Heather writes with at least two pseudonyms — Heather Hiestand (the name on what she’s written with me) and Heather Redmond — the name she’s using for her successfully launched Charles Dickens murder mysteries.

Third, although I edit as Elizabeth M.S. Flynn, my pen name is Eilis Flynn. I’m sure you’ve found some of those books. I hope you’ve found them enjoyable. I’ve just reissued the book of my heart, Festival of Stars, a multicultural romance based on a beloved Japanese folk tale.

Fourth, (although you’ve figured this out) I’m both an editor and a published author. So I have a pretty good idea what authors go through and bring all of that experience to bear on any project I edit.

So that’s four twos. Is that too much?