Meet the Mesdames, Joan O’Callaghan ~ by Donna Carrick

Authors, teachers, business-women and so much more!

This wonderful series on our very own Mesdames has been brought to you by Joan O’Callaghan, who today is being interviewed by Donna Carrick.

In addition to being a teacher and author in her own right, Joan is also the driving force behind most publicity efforts made on behalf of the Mesdames of Mayhem. A good portion of our successes to date can be attributed to those efforts, so we owe Joan a debt of gratitude.

Joan is a recipient of the Golden Apple Award from Queen’s University Faculty of Education for Excellence in Teaching; named Professor of the Year by OISE/UT Students Council, as well as Most Engaging English Instructor and Most Inspirational Instructor.

Most recently, her story “Runaway”, which appeared in the Excerpt Flight Deck 2014 anthology World Enough and Crime (Carrick Publishing), was a runner-up for the Bony Pete Short Story Contest Award.

Joan O'CallaghanDonna Carrick interviews author Joan O’Callaghan:

Donna: What have you written?

Joan: I’ve written three books which have been published, all non-fiction. Amazing Days (Scholastic Canada); Places to Go, People to See, Things to Do…All Across Canada (Scholastic Canada) was a best-seller with a press run of 16,000. It sold out. And Headlines – this is a teacher resource published as part of the Bold Print series by Rubicon (Canada). Amazing Days has been re-released as an e-book (Carrick Publishing), and Places to Go is being readied for e-publication (Carrick Publishing).

I’ve written a number of short stories; two are available in e-format (“George” and “For Elise”); “Stooping to Conquer” is included in the 2012 Excerpt Flight Deck anthology, EFD1: Starship Goodwords, while “Sugar ‘N’ Spice” is in Thirteen by the Mesdames of Mayhem (Carrick Publishing, 2013). Another story, “Runaway” appears in the 2014 Excerpt Flight Deck anthology, World Enough and Crime (Carrick Publishing).

I have written a novel which I am currently revising. I have also written or collaborated on more than 30 educational resources.

Donna: When did you start writing?

Joan: I have been writing as long as I can remember. I have recollections of a poem I wrote about Marco Polo when I was 6 or 7. And when I was 11, I wrote a play called Dr. Aspirin’s Angel Patients, starring me and my classmates. We actually got to perform it for the whole school.

I got sidetracked by academic and professional writing projects. but am now following my heart.

OK – I still do professional writing (educational) on a freelance basis. I have a couple of projects pending….

Donna: Why write mysteries?

Joan: Mysteries pose an interesting challenge. In essence you are structuring a puzzle but it has to be sufficiently entertaining to draw people in and hold them. I like exploring the vagaries of human nature, why people act as they do and how other people respond – a whole range of motivations and responses.

Donna: Why do you think people like to read mysteries?

Joan: Since the beginning of time, people have longed for order and for justice, in a world where both are so frequently lacking. Sophocles taught that things happen because the gods order them to happen and it is not our place to question. Shakespeare and the Elizabethans believed in the Elizabethan World Order whereby if someone disturbed the Order of things, disorder followed and a then slow but inevitable process of purging the agents of disorder and re-establishing order.

Milton believed that at some point every human being comes face to face with the temptation to commit evil. They are completely alone when this happens, even though they may be in a crowd, and alone they have to either succumb or resist.

So this is part of being human. Mysteries satisfy that desire innate in us all – to see evil vanquished and justice done.

Donna: Is there a favourite place you like to write or ritual you go through when writing?

Joan: I write in my den which is where the computer resides. I do not have a particular ritual unless you count checking email or playing a game or two of Mah-Jong on the computer first.

Donna: How do you balance writing with the demands of a day job and/or family?

Joan: With great difficulty. I am a widow and I do not have children. I do however have a very demanding cat. He likes to sit on the arm of my chair and lean into me when I am at my desk.

My job as an instructor at the University of Toronto gives me lots of flexibility. There are times however, such as when students complete assignments for marking, when I have to set my writing (and other things aside) and get the job done.

Donna: What awards or other forms of recognition have you received for your writing?

Joan: I am very happy that my short story “Runaway” took third prize in the 2014 Bony Pete contest. “Runaway” appears in the 2014 Excerpt Flight Deck anthology World Enough and Crime (Carrick Publishing).

One of my freelance projects for the Montreal Gazette’s Newspaper in Education program a number of years ago, won a newspaper award.

Donna: What are you working on now?

Joan: I am currently researching the Middle Ages for a short story I’m planning to write for Thirteen O’Clock, the new anthology of the Mesdames of Mayhem (to be released in the fall of 2015). I am also doing the revisions to my novel.

Donna: As a writer, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Joan: I’ve received lots of valuable advice but the two that stand out are: Just keep writing no matter how good or bad you think it is –there is nothing you can’t fix on rewrite!
and

As soon as you finish one thing, start the next. That way you won’t get hung up on it……(thanks Mel Campbell!)

Donna: What do you like about being one of the Mesdames ?

Joan: What a ride it’s been!!! The Mesdames are the most amazing group of women it’s been my privilege to know. They are so creative, talented and supportive to each other!! I am thrilled to be one of them.

Donna: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Joan: Watch for the two new anthologies: World Enough and Crime and Thirteen O’Clock. Great reading in both!!

Joan O’Callaghan is the author of educational books and short stories, including Sugar ‘N’ Spice in the anthology THIRTEEN (Carrick Publishing, 2013). Her short story George is available for e-readers everywhere, including Amazon Kindle.

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Meet the Mesdames, Lynne Murphy ~ by Joan O’Callaghan

Joan O'CallaghanAuthors, teachers, business-women, and so much more…

Our own Joan O’Callaghan presents a series of interviews with each of our Mesdames.

Lynne Murphy read her first mystery when she was about eight. It was “The Secret in the Old Well” by Carolyn Keene and she has been addicted ever since.

She studied journalism at Carleton University and worked as a reporter on the now defunct “Ottawa Journal” and then as an editor for CBC Radio News. (It was in the sixties and Lynne was the first woman editor they ever hired.) It was there she learned to “write tight”.


Lynne MurphyJoan O’Callaghan interviews author Lynne Murphy:

Joan: What have you written?

Lynne: A number of prepublished novels and several short stories. I am a journalist by profession so I’ve had newspaper stories and magazine articles published.

Joan: When did you start writing?

Lynne: Long, long, long ago.(Longer even than Cathy Dunphy.) I won a prize in a poetry contest in The Western Producer ( a prairie weekly) when I was about 7. It was called “Peaceful Thoughts Disturbed”. Do you want to hear the ending? “How lovely it is, here to sit, watching the beautiful butterflies flit. And oh, the green hills, they call and beck. Yeeeow! There’s a bug down the back of my neck.” So I was writing comedy even then.

Joan: Why write mysteries?

Lynne: I love reading them. I like the idea of there being rules to follow although my lawbreakers don’t always get punished.

Joan: Why do you think people like to read mysteries?

Lynne: Probably for the same reason I like to write them.

Joan: Is there a favourite place you like to write or ritual you go through when writing?

Lynne: The ritual is trying to force myself to sit at the computer.

Joan: How do you balance writing with the demands of a day job and/or family?

Lynne: I am happily retired and a grandmother so no problem.

Joan: What awards or other forms of recognition have you received for your writing?

Lynne: See the aforementioned poetry prize. I think it was an embroidery set. I was not thrilled because I was not the sort of little girl who did embroidery.

Joan: What are you working on now?

Lynne: A short story for the next Mesdames anthology, about warfare among seniors, living in a condo.

Write what you know!

Joan: As a writer, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Lynne: From Howard Engel, in a writing class at Humber College. “Sometimes it doesn’t help to move things around. Sometimes you just have to start over.”

Joan: What do you like about being one of the Mesdames ?

Lynne: The support and encouragement.

Joan: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Lynne: I have never much liked reading short stories so I’m rather surprised that I am having some success with them.

Lynne has sold articles through the years, but The Troublemaker in the Sisters in Crime anthology The Whole She-Bang is her first published work of fiction.

Her story Saving Bessie’s Worms brought a sparkle of humor to the Mesdames’ Crime anthology, THIRTEEN. (Carrick Publishing, 2013)

Lynne’s story Potluck will appear in the Fall, 2014 anthology, WORLD ENOUGH AND CRIME. (Carrick Publishing)

In 1992 Lynne helped found the Toronto Chapter of Sisters in Crime and is proud that it continues to thrive.

Joan O’Callaghan is the author of educational books and short stories, including Sugar ‘N’ Spice in the anthology THIRTEEN (Carrick Publishing, 2013). Her short story George is available for e-readers everywhere, including Amazon Kindle.

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Meet the Mesdames, D.J. (Dorothy) McIntosh~ by Joan O’Callaghan

Joan O'CallaghanAuthors, teachers, business-women, and so much more…

Our own Joan O’Callaghan presents a series of interviews with each of our Mesdames.

D.J. (Dorothy) McIntosh left her professional job to carve out a career as an author. It took almost ten years to research and write her novel, The Witch of Babylon but it’s now been released in North America and has sold in twenty countries around the world.

The novel was chosen by Amazon.ca as one of the best books of the year and by CNN International as one of six enduring historical thrillers along with notable writers like Agatha Christie, Umberto Eco and Dan Brown.

D.J. McIntoshJoan O’Callaghan interviews author Dorothy McIntosh:

JO: What have you written?

DM: Two novels: The Witch of Babylon and The Book of Stolen Tales, in addition to several short stories.

JO: When did you start writing?

DM: I discovered in elementary school how much I loved writing but it wasn’t until I left my profession after twenty years as a city planner, that I went back to my old love. I began with a short story in 1997.

JO: Why write mysteries?

DM: Crime novels provide a great platform for a very wide range of themes and so they enable me to explore ideas and history in my own writing but within the context of a strong, narrative driven work. The endless variety of the many sub genres of crime writing within a highly entertaining format has always attracted me in both my reading and my own writing.

JO: Why do you think people like to read mysteries?

DM: I think readers like engrossing page turners and worlds they can easily escape into.

JO: Is there a favourite place you like to write or ritual you go through when writing?

DM: My favourite place to write is on the back deck of my cottage. No distractions (other than the blue jays and chippies), easier to concentrate and peaceful.

JO: How do you balance writing with the demands of a day job and/or family?

DM: My daughter is all grown up and I no longer have a 9-5 office job, so I’m in the fortunate position of being able to devote myself to my full time job as an author.

JO: What awards or other forms of recognition have you received for your writing?

DM: The Witch of Babylon was a Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger finalist and it won the Arthur Ellis Award for best unpublished novel.

JO: What are you working on now?

DM: The third book in the Mesopotamian series of antiquity thrillers featuring New York art dealer John Madison. In the new book John discovers his true birth story.

JO: As a writer, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

DM: I’ve received much good advice over the years and it’s hard to pick out one particular statement as being better than another. What I would say is that the review process of input from my editor, Adrienne Kerr, has been invaluable and helped me to hone my craft.

JO: What do you like about being one of the Mesdames?

DM: My thirteen colleagues of course! Many of whom I’ve known for years and are very good friends.

JO: Is there anything you’d like to add?

DM: A thank you to Mesdames for tirelessly promoting our work.

The Book of Stolen TalesIn 2011, D.J. McIntosh took the book world by storm with her debut novel, The Witch of Babylon. Praised for its “stellar research” and “superb writing”, it introduced readers to John Madison, a rakish New York art dealer with a past, who uncovered a fabulous treasure trove of antiquities in the hills outside of Baghdad and the truth behind a famous story long believed to by a myth.

In the highly anticipated sequel, The Book of Stolen Tales, New York art dealer John Madison travels to London to purchase at auction a rare seventeenth-century Italian book of fairy tales for an anonymous client. Before he can deliver it to the buyer, he is robbed by a mysterious man claiming to be the book’s author.

Joan O’Callaghan is the author of educational books and short stories, including Sugar ‘N’ Spice in the anthology THIRTEEN (Carrick Publishing, 2013). Her short story George is available for e-readers everywhere, including Amazon Kindle.

Joan’s story Runaway was a runner-up for the 2014 Bony Pete Story Awards. It will appear in the anthology World Enough And Crime, to be released Fall, 2014 (Carrick Publishing).

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THE OCTOBER WALK OF FAME! by M.H. Callway

M.H. CallwayThe Mesdames of Mayhem are storming October with books launches, sales and readings galore! Here are the entries in our Brag Book:

Mesdames Mad Windigo FireMme M. H. Callway launched her debut novel, Windigo Fire, with great success at events in Toronto and Hamilton/Dundas. Seraphim Editions, her publisher, organized the launches for the “Magnificent Seven”, including Shawna Lemay, Chris Laing, John Delacourt and David Whitehouse. Editor Bernadette Rule presented Engravings, a collection of stories from World War One, including a contribution by Mme Vicki Delany. Visit http://www.thebookband.com for details on all these remarkable books.

Mme Mad is hosting a book party for Windigo Fire, this Saturday, October 18th, 4 to 6 pm at Sleuth of Baker Street, 907 Millwood Road. Admission free, readings and refreshments.

Mme Melodie Campbell, our own Queen of Comedy, launches the third book in her hilarious, Arthur and Derringer-winning Goddaughter series, The Artful Goddaughter. TODAY, Thursday, October 16th, 7 pm at the Ancaster Branch of the Hamilton Public Library, 300 Wilson Street East, Ancaster. Don’t miss the chance to sample fabulous cannolis and cupcakes while listening to award-winning comedy. Fedoras are optional.

More good news: Mme Joan O’Callaghan’s flash crime story, Torch Song for two Voices, was chosen for the anthology, That Golden Summer, to be published in December, 2014 by Polar Expressions. It is in competition for the prize for best story, the winner to be announced December, 2014.

Mme Donna Carrick is putting the finishing touches to Carrick Publishing’s mystery anthology, World Enough and Crime, which includes 22 stories and 1 poem by award-winning established authors and talented emerging writers. The works of eight Mesdames of Mayhem are part of the book. Readers are invited to the Virtual Launch Party on FaceBook: World Enough and Crime, on Sunday, October 26th from 2 to 6 pm EST.

Mme Vicki Delany and Japanese crime writer Fuminori Nakamura meet on Friday, October 24th, 6:30 to 8:30 pm, at the Japanese Foundation, 131 Bloor Street West, 2nd floor for a literary discussion. They will exchange views on writing for diverse audiences and the genre of crime writing. Full details at http://jftor.org/event/japan-canada-literary-dialogue/

The Mesdames of Mayhem collectively storm the Barrie Public Library, Saturday, October 25th, 2 to 4 pm, 60 Worsley Street. The Barrie Examiner will be reporting on the doings of Mesdames Cathy Astolfo, Rosemary Aubert, M. H. Callway, Cathy Dunphy, Rosemary McCracken and Joan O’Callaghan.

Several of the Mesdames are doing individual readings this month. Mme Rosemary McCracken reads at the book launch event for authors Sharon Crawford and Klaus Jakelski, Sunday, October 19th, 3 pm, Paintbox Bistro, 555 Dundas Street East.

Mme Rosemary Aubert has a Crime Writers of Canada book group appearance at the Bendale Public Library at 1515 Danforth Road (not Danforth Avenue) on October 21st from 2-3:30 pm.

Mme M. H. Callway joins the author line-up of Junction Reads Series, Sunday, October 26th, 4 to 7 pm, 3030 Dundas Street West.

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Launch Party: The Artful Goddaughter, by Melodie Campbell

You’re Invited to the Party — FEDORAS OPTIONAL!
What could be better than cupcakes, cannoli and a great book?

Where? At the Ancaster Branch of the Hamilton Public Library, 300 Wilson St. East, Ancaster

When? Thursday, October 16, at 7pm

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Meet the Mesdames, Rosemary McCracken ~ by Joan O’Callaghan

Joan O'CallaghanAuthors, teachers, business-women, and so much more…

Our own Joan O’Callaghan presents a series of interviews with each of our Mesdames.

Born and raised in Montreal, Rosemary McCracken has worked on newspapers across Canada as a reporter, arts writer and reviewer, and editor. She is now a Toronto-based freelance journalist, specializing in personal finance and the financial service industry.

Rosemary’s short fiction has been published by Room of One’s Own Press, Kaleidoscope Books and Sisters in Crime Canada.


Joan O’Callaghan interviews author Rosemary McCracken:

JO: What have you written?

RM: Safe Harbor and Black Water are my two mystery novels featuring financial advisor Pat Tierney, and are published by Imajin Books. I’ve also written a number of short stories, the most recent of which was “The Sweetheart Scamster” that appeared in the Mesdames of Mayhem’s 2013 crime fiction anthology, Thirteen. Other short stories have been published in Nefarious North, in Sister in Crime Canada’s The Whole She-Bang, in Mother Margaret and the Rhinoceroses Café and by Room of One’s Own Press.

And I’ve made my living, and continue to do so, writing non-fiction in my decades-long career as a journalist. Working on daily newspapers across Canada, I covered everything from courts to entertainment (specializing in dance) to religion and business; the only beat I haven’t covered is sports. For the past 15 years, I’ve been a freelance writer, focusing on personal finance and the financial services industry.

JO: When did you start writing?

RM: I wrote several stories when I was a child. They were dreadful and I knew it, but at the age of ten or eleven I had no idea how to make them better. So I stopped writing fiction.

I became an avid reader and went on to study English literature in university. I wrote many, many academic papers, including a master’s thesis on the Canadian novel. After university, I decided to become a journalist because that involved writing. And I’ve been writing and editing newspaper and magazine articles ever since. I edited my first book (non-fiction) this spring.

But all along, I wanted to write instead of reporting facts. I wanted to create my own stories.

Ironically, my entry into business journalism nudged me into fiction writing. When I joined The Financial Post in Toronto in the early 1990s, it was “highly recommended” that I take the Canadian Securities Course, an intensive self-study course that is the starting point for becoming licensed to work in Canada’s investment industry. For six months, when I wasn’t at work, I was studying and writing assignments for the course. It eventually hit me that if I could hunker down and learn about stocks, bonds and mutual funds, I could learn to write fiction. When I finished the course, I did just that.

JO: Why do you write mysteries?

RM: When I began writing fiction as an adult, I wrote mainstream literary fiction. Somewhere along the way, I realized I needed to learn about plotting. I hadn’t read a lot of mysteries up to that point, but I knew that this genre was known for its plots. So I started reading. I read Ruth Rendell and P.D. James and Elizabeth George, and some of our fine Canadian mystery writer such as Howard Engel. And I fell in love with the genre.

Mysteries encompass many sub-genres—cozies, thrillers, historicals, police procedurals, to name a few—and this gives writers a lot of scope. I’m a character-driven writer, and there is plenty of room to build great characters in the mystery format. I will never compromise character for the sake of plot; my characters always have to act “in character.”

JO: Why do you think people like to read mysteries?

RM: What readers enjoy most about mysteries—and this also applies to thrillers—is the sense of resolution at the end of the story. The world—or the small community—is thrown into chaos with the discovery of the body, the ticking time bomb or whatever mischief has been cooked up by the villain(s). At the end of the story, some sort of order is restored, although it may only be temporary and incomplete. Readers find this comforting. They relate to the chaos because their own lives and the world in which they live are often chaotic and unstable. They want to see order restored in the story they’re reading, just as they would like to see it in their own lives.

JO: Is there a favourite place where you like to write?

RM: As a working journalist, I find it difficult to carve out a set chunk of time for fiction writing every day. My days are often shaped by interviews for articles and publication deadlines. But because I am now a freelancer, I have more control of my schedule and I try to keep my summers free for writing fiction. I spend most of the summer at my cottage in the Haliburton Highlands north of Toronto, an idyllic part of Ontario that bears a very strong resemblance to the fictional Glencoe Highlands in Black Water. And I generally manage to get a lot of fiction writing done there.

JO: How do you balance writing with the demands of a day job and/or family?

RM: As I said in my answer above, I’m a working journalist and assignments from newspaper and magazine editors mean that I can’t write as much fiction as I would like in the fall, winter and early spring. But even then, there are days when I can put on my fiction hat. I spend the first two or three hours at my laptop (I use my “big” PC for non-fiction writing) plugging away at a novel or a short story. I find mornings more productive for writing fiction. At noon or 1 p.m., I take a lunch break and move on to other work.

And my “day job” of writing articles about money has nurtured my Pat Tierney stories. I interview financial professionals for these articles and I attend their conferences. I know the issues they face in their work and their concerns. They are in a challenging business. Investment markets have been murder in recent years.

So when I was looking for a central character for a mystery series, Pat appeared full-blown in my mind. She has the traits of the people I admire most in the industry. She cares about her clients. She’s a champion on small investors. She has sleepless nights when markets are down.

“The Sweetheart Scamster” is one example of a Pat Tierney story that evolved from my work as a journalist. I’d written several articles about “sweetheart scams” in which fraudsters target vulnerable wealthy people, pretending a romantic interest in them. It was a perfect fit for Pat, who would recognize the red flags of a sweetheart scam from her vantage point as a financial advisor.

A second Pat Tierney story, “Antonia,” will appear in Carrick Publishing’s
anthology World Enough and Crime, which will be released later this fall.

JO: What awards or other forms of recognition have you received for your writing?

RM: “The Sweetheart Scamster” in Thirteen was shortlisted for a 2014 Derringer Award.

Safe Harbor, the first book in my Pat Tierney mystery series, was shortlisted for Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger Award in 2010.

Last Date, my very first and still unpublished Pat Tierney mystery, was shortlisted for the inaugural Arthur Ellis Award for Best Unpublished Novel (A.K.A. The Unhanged Arthur Award) in 2007.

JO: What are you working on now?

RM: I’m writing my third Pat Tierney novel. Its working title is Red Kayak but that could very well change in coming months. It is summer and Pat is still in the Glencoe Highlands. She’s rented a cottage on Black Bear Lake and she’s looking forward to a blissful summer of R&R. Until trouble come to paradise.

JO: As a writer, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

RM: When I was a reporter at The Calgary Herald, I overheard a conversation between an editor and a fellow reporter. This reporter was a terrific newshound. She could sniff out a good story and track down wonderful sources. But she had trouble writing it all up, building an article out of her wealth of information. She’d get stuck on the first sentence and be unable to continue.

“Jump in and start writing,” the editor told her. “Don’t worry about the lede paragraph. You can come back and fix it. Turn off your internal editor, and write the story as though you’re telling it to me.”

Turn off your internal editor. The words resonated with me. As a journalist, I never had problems with my internal editor; I was too busy dealing with my editors in the newsroom. I had to write to deadlines, and at daily newspapers, those were usually daily deadlines. I had to submit an article as quickly as I could and move on to the next.

But I realized I had listened to that internal editor when I was writing fiction as a child. I realized how vulnerable I had been to that voice when I working completely on my own.

I decided to take another run at fiction. I tuned out my internal editor while I was writing. I focused on getting my stories out, sentence by sentence, page by page. Later, the following day or the following week, I revisited these pages with my editor’s voice turned on but firmly in check. I worked on tightening sentences and paragraphs, discarding entire pages if necessary.

I joined a writers’ group that meets once a month, providing deadlines. In the early days, I sometimes had to tune out the “editors” in the group, but they often provided excellent feedback. I joined networking groups such as Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime. Finally, I left my full-time job at a Toronto newspaper and became a freelance journalist to free up more time for fiction writing. I submitted work to literary contests.

And, slowly, I made progress.

JO: What do you like about being one of the Mesdames of Mayhem?

RM: The idea of a collective of writers—in our case, crime fiction writers—is a brilliant one. It allows author members to cross-promote our works. Over the past several months, Joan, you have organized a wealth of speaking opportunities for us at libraries, book clubs and theatre events, and I have tried to participate in as many as I could.

By sheer good fortune, “The Sweetheart Scamster,” the story I submitted to the Mesdames’ anthology Thirteen, featured Pat Tierney, the protagonist of my novels. Reading from “Scamster” at the Mesdames’ events provided a natural segue into speaking about my novels. Sometimes I even read a page or so from them.

And that’s been perfectly fine and dandy with the Mesdames!

Black Water, a Pat Tierney mysteryRosemary’s second Pat Tierney mystery, Black Water, (Imajin Books, 2013) is available in Print and e-Book format.

Her story “The Sweetheart Scamster” published in THIRTEEN, an anthology of crime stories (Carrick Publishing, 2013) was shortlisted for a 2014 Derringer Award.

Safe Harbor, the first book in the Pat Tierney mystery series, was shortlisted for Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger Award in 2010.

Joan O’Callaghan is the author of educational books and short stories, including Sugar ‘N’ Spice in the anthology THIRTEEN (Carrick Publishing, 2013). Her short story George is available for e-readers everywhere, including Amazon Kindle.

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Meet the Mesdames, Sylvia Maultash Warsh~ by Joan O’Callaghan

Joan O'Callaghan
Authors, teachers, business-women, and so much more…

Our own Joan O’Callaghan presents a series of interviews with each of our Mesdames.

Arthur Ellis FinalistSylvia Maultash Warsh writes the award-winning Dr. Rebecca Temple mystery series.

Her historical novel, The Queen of Unforgetting, published in 2010, was chosen for a plaque by Project Bookmark Canada.

Best Girl, a Rapid Reads book, came out in 2012.


Sylvia Maultash WarshJoan O’Callaghan interviews author Sylvia Maultash Warsh:

Joan: What have you written?

Sylvia: I wrote the Dr. Rebecca Temple historical mystery series, To Die in Spring, Find Me Again, and Season of Iron. After that I wrote an historical novel, The Queen of Unforgetting. My last book length publication was Best Girl, a Rapid Reads novella. I have also written numerous short stories, published in magazines and anthologies.

Joan: When did you start writing?

Sylvia: I was in my early twenties.

Joan: Why write mysteries?

Sylvia: I didn’t start with mysteries. I wrote 3 literary novels as a kind of apprenticeship. I had high hopes for the third one, but publishers weren’t interested. For a while I switched to stories and poetry. Finally l became practical and looked at the marketplace to see what publishers were buying and what people were reading. Mysteries were high on the list. And I loved reading them myself.

Joan: Why do you think people like to read mysteries?

Sylvia: People like to solve problems. Our lives are filled with problems we can’t resolve, so people get a sense of satisfaction when reading a mystery that by definition presents some problem for the protagonist to unravel in the course of the book or story. Mysteries bring some order into our chaotic world.

Joan: Is there a favourite place you like to write or ritual you go through when writing?

Sylvia: I like to write in bed so I can spread out all my papers and see what I’ve got. I usually compose using a pen and pen, then after a few pages, type it into my computer. But my composing brain works best with a pen in my hand.

Joan: How do you balance writing with the demands of a day job and/or family?

Sylvia: With difficulty. I like to start writing mid morning, work through lunch, and stop around 2pm. Then I do whatever chores, etc. I can’t get out of.

Joan: What awards or other forms of recognition have you received for your writing?

Sylvia: My first novel, To Die in Spring, was nominated for an Arthur Ellis. Find Me Again won the Edgar and was nominated for 2 Anthonys. Season of Iron was nominated for a ReLit Award. Project Bookmark Canada chose The Queen of Unforgetting for a plaque in Midland, Ontario, where the novel takes place.

Joan: What are you working on now?

Sylvia: I’m working on an historical novel, tentatively titled, The Book of Samuel, about a boy in 1840s Washington DC and Virginia. It has various elements in it, some coming of age, some speculative. Maybe it’s a difficult book to write because it’s a hybrid.

Joan: As a writer, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Sylvia: Revise, revise, revise. Write the best book you can.

Joan: What do you like about being one of the Mesdames ?

Sylvia: Writing is a lonely business, so being part of a group of writers is a lot more fun. That it’s such a generous and accomplished group makes it especially satisfying.

Joan: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Sylvia: I’d like to thank all the Mesdames that put so much time and effort into getting our work out there. You’re a super bunch.

Find Me AgainSylvia lives in Toronto where she teaches writing to seniors.

Visit Sylvia at her Website
or look for her books at Amazon.com

Joan O’Callaghan is the author of educational books and short stories, including Sugar ‘N’ Spice in the anthology THIRTEEN (Carrick Publishing, 2013). Her short story George is available for e-readers everywhere, including Amazon Kindle.

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Windigo Fire, by M.H. Callway, Don’t miss the launch dates!

For all you mystery and thriller lovers, please take note: WINDIGO FIRE (Seraphim Editions) by our very own M.H. Callway is about to be released!

In fact, you can pre-order your copy now from The BookBand, or from Amazon.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE LAUNCH DATES:
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Windigo Fire, by M.H. Callway ~ Launching October, 2014!

“This is the most ambitious publishing program in our 19-year history,” says publisher Maureen Whyte. (Seraphim Editions)

Madeleine Harris-CallwayWe’re thrilled to bring you this fabulous news from Mesdames’ founder M.H. Callway: her debut novel WINDIGO FIRE is scheduled for release in October, 2014!

Fall 2014 Book Launches:
Saturday, October 4 at the Women’s Art Association Gallery, 23 Prince Arthur Ave., Toronto, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, October 5 at the Hamilton Air Force Association Clubhouse, 128 King St. East, Dundas, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Free; short readings by the authors; refreshments served.

Saturday, October 18th at the Sleuth of Baker Street, 4 to 6 pm. 907 Millwood Rd., Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4G 1X2 416-483-3111 e-mail sleuth@SleuthOfBakerStreet.ca

Here’s the exciting Press Release from Seraphim Editions!
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Meet the Mesdames, Lisa de Nikolits ~ by Joan O’Callaghan

Joan O'CallaghanAuthors, teachers, business-women, and so much more…

Our own Joan O’Callaghan presents a series of interviews with each of our Mesdames.

Lisa has a great passion for mystery, crime and short stories and is thrilled to be invited to join the Mesdames of Mayhem.

She has worked on international titles such as Vogue Australia, Vogue Living, Cosmopolitan, marie claire and SHE.

Lisa designed the book covers for A Glittering Chaos and The Witchdoctor’s Bones and provided the artwork for West of Wawa (photo by Bradford Dunlop).


imageJoan O’Callaghan interviews author Lisa de Nikolits:

Joan: What have you written?

Lisa: I am the author of four published novels, The Hungry Mirror, West of Wawa, A Glittering Chaos, The Witchdoctor’s Bones (all Inanna Publications) and I have a new novel coming out in Fall 2015, Between The Cracks She Fell. I also have a first draft of a novel titled The Nearly Girl and another, Purgatory. I have a short story which I hope will be included in the next anthology by the Mesdames of Mayhem, “Troubled Times”. I also have a short story, “Bleach”, due in 2015 Postscripts to Darkness and two stories, “Henry and Hannah” and “The Love Triangle”, in Maud.Lin House, a new literary anthology.

Joan: When did you start writing?

Lisa: I started in my early teens but I really put my mind to learning the craft in 2005. I have worked on my writing every day since July 2005, treating it as if it were a full time job.

Joan: Why write mysteries?

Lisa: I actually write all kinds of novels but I love writing mysteries because not only does one get to explore the darker side of life and human nature (which you can do in literary fiction) but you also get to create and resolve a puzzle. That’s a lot of hard work but it’s also a lot of fun!

Joan: Why do you think people like to read mysteries?

Lisa: Mysteries are fascinating! They’re entertaining and complex and the characters are so multi-dimensional. People are intrigued by crimes and all the mischief out there and there is nothing better than to fall into a good book and get carried away into a dangerous place where you can hold your breathe in horror while the protagonist goes from one life-threatening situation to another.

Joan: Is there a favourite place you like to write or ritual you go through when writing?

Lisa: I don’t have any particular place, in fact, I have a few places! I like to write in bed sometimes, with my laptop balanced on a pillow. In summer, I like to write in my little sun room and I watch the world go by while I am furiously typing. I also have a wonderful study that is crammed with knick knacks from my travels and adventures and I like to write there, using my Grandfather’s old dining room table for a desk. I like to wear a hat when I am writing. I have quite a few hats!

I used to light a candle but then I realized I am irresponsible and I have left a few burning and so I stopped doing this for fear of burning down the house. I write at all times of the day and night.

I take a notebook with me when I take a bath since it’s very annoying to be hit by inspiration and have to rush out, dripping water everywhere.

Joan: How do you balance writing with the demands of a day job and/or family?

Lisa: I have always prided myself on being a very good time manager. I juggle things well. However, the writing comes first, after having a job thas it, although I am currently unemployed (that said, looking for a job is even more work than having a job!).

My husband is very patient, as are my friends, and I think they let me go off and write because if they don’t, I am impossible to be around, I am distracted and annoying, so it’s better if I just hunker down and write! Sometimes the house becomes quite feral with dust bunnies the size of rats and we run out of groceries and I live on pancakes because they are easy and there’s always a box of Aunt Jemima’s for emergencies!

I am extremely disciplined about my time and I map it all out carefully: there’s the job (or job search), the writing, the family, the guitar playing (I study the classical guitar), friends and recreational time (of which I really have very little). It may all sound dreadfully dull but when writing matters so much, and it really is the thing I love to be doing the most, then in a way, it is the recreation.

Joan: What awards or other forms of recognition have you received for your writing?

Lisa: I have been very fortunate: The Hungry Mirror won the 2011 IPPY Awards Gold Medal for Women’s Issues Fiction and was long-listed for a ReLit Award. West of Wawa won a 2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction and was a Chatelaine Editor’s Pick and was featured extensively on the Chatelaine Book Club. A Glittering Chaos tied to win the 2014 Silver IPPY for Popular Fiction and was endorsed by the literary magazine Broken Pencil. The Witchdoctor’s Bones was endorsed by Canadian Living magazine.

Joan: What are you working on now?

Lisa: I am working on the novel titled Purgatory, revising the first draft. Then I am going to return to The Nearly Girl and work that novel harder; I have some plot ideas that I need to address. Then I am going to do a thorough self-edit of Between The Cracks She Fell before sending that off to my publisher. One of the things I love about my publisher is that she is very happy for me to sculpt to my heart’s content. I will submit that to her by year-end. I am aiming for all these to be completed by year-end, and then I can start work on a new novel, about a man with two families.

That’s all I’ve got for now, he’s polygamist with two families and then, there’s murder and two families become tangled.

Joan: As a writer, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Lisa: Keep writing! Keep coming up with new ideas for novels, short stories and even poems. Write something, every day. Be it a small paragraph or thousands of words, just keep writing! And then, keep revising, keep sculpting, keep looking for ways to improve. Study style guides and books on characterization. Keep writing, keep revising, keep studying about writing.

Joan: What do you like about being one of the Mesdames?

Lisa: The Mesdames are all such amazingly talented and dedicated writers that I am hugely honoured to be among them. I think I will only really feel like a real Mesdame once the next anthology is out and hopefully I will have a short story in it. Only then will I feel like I am really part of the wonderful gang!

Joan: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Lisa: Love, friendship, books and writing are what make the world go round! Oh, and pets! Any information about me would be utterly incomplete without a mention of Isabella Creamy Diva, my moody, loveable, adorable and spectacular blue point Himalayan cat.

Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has been a proud Canadian citizen since 2003. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain.

Her first novel, The Hungry Mirror, won the 2011 Independent Publishers Awards (IPPY) Gold Medal for Women’s Issues Fiction and was long-listed for a ReLit Award.

Her second novel, West of Wawa won the 2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction and was one of Chatelaine’s four Editor’s Picks.

Her third novel, A Glittering Chaos, launched in Spring 2013 to reader and reviewer acclaim, and is about murder, madness, illicit love and poetry. A Glittering Chaos tied to win an IPPY Silver Medal for Popular Fiction.

Her fourth novel, The Witchdoctor’s Bones launched in Spring 2014. The Witchdoctor’s Bones is a thriller about the darkest secrets of African evil; the novel seamlessly weaves witchcraft and ancient folklore into a plot of loss, passion and intrigue and a holiday becomes a test of moral character.

All books are published by Inanna Publications.

Joan O’Callaghan is the author of educational books and short stories, including Sugar ‘N’ Spice in the anthology THIRTEEN (Carrick Publishing, 2013). Her short story George is available for e-readers everywhere, including Amazon Kindle.

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