HEATHER WEIDNER – Prolific Cozy Author

Through the years, Heather Weidner has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. Vintage Trailers and Blackmailers is the first in her cozy mystery series, the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries. She writes the Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series set in Virginia. Her Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mysteries debut in 2023.

Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Deadly Southern Charm, and Murder by the Glass, and her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Film Crews and Rendezvous – Hollywood has come to Fern Valley, and the one-stoplight town may never be the same. Everyone wants to get in on the act.

The crew from the wildly popular fan favorite, Fatal Impressions takes over Jules Keene’s glamping resort, and they bring a lot of offscreen drama and baggage that doesn’t include the scads of costumes, props, and crowds that descend on the bucolic resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Added security, hundreds of calls from hopeful extras, and some demanding divas keep Jules’s team hopping.

When the show’s prickly head writer ends up dead under the L. Frank Baum tiny house in what looks like a staged murder scene with a kitschy homage to the Wizard of Oz, Jules has to figure out who would want the writer dead. Then while they are still reeling from the first murder, the popular publicist gets lost after a long night at the local honky-tonk and winds up strangled. Jules needs to solve both crimes before filming is canceled and her business is ruined.

How did you come up with the title? This is my first cozy mystery series, and I was looking for titles that described the story but were fun. So far in this series, there’s VINTAGE TRAILERS AND BLACKMAILERS, FILM CREWS AND RENDEZVOUS, and CHRISTMAS LIGHTS AND CAT FIGHTS.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? My stories all have some sort of crime, and most have at least one murder. While I do write crime fiction, I think of them as stories of justice. Good triumphs over evil, and the truth comes out with the help of my amateur sleuth.

What are your current projects? Right now, I’m writing this series and two others. My Delanie Fitzgerald series, set in Richmond, Virginia, features a sassy private investigator who gets in way more trouble than I do. I also write the Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mysteries (2023), also set in Virginia, that feature a quaint beach town with unique shops and a penchant for attracting trouble.

Name one entity that you feel supports you outside of family members. I was so fortunate to find a group of writers, mentors, and friends when I found Sisters in Crime. This group of mystery and suspense writers has helped me hone my craft, learn the publishing business, and get my first mystery credit.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? I love the research and writing parts. I get so energized and excited to work that time just breezes by, but I must admit that revisions and edits are my least favorite part.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)? All of my novels and stories are set in Virginia. I’m a life-long native, and I love to show the beauty, the diverse landscapes, and the wonderful people of the region. We do a lot of day trips for my research. Right now, we live in Central Virginia, where we’re close to cities, the ocean, and the mountains. I love the art and culture of the region, and I will always be a beach girl at heart with my roots in the sand of Virginia Beach.

Do you have any advice for other writers? Writing is a business. If you want to be published, you need to work on your craft, read everything in your genre that you can get your hands on, and be persistent.

What is your favorite quote? I like Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s “Well behaved women rarely make history.” I also like the quote that’s been attributed to several folks. This is Ann Richards’s version “After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backward and in high heels.”

What is your favorite movie, and why? My favorite movie of all time is the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz. It has all the right elements for a perfect story: friends, a quest, a girl who fights evil, and her adorable dog.

Do you like audiobooks, physical books, or e-books better? Why? I was a diehard advocate of the physical book for years, and then the Pandemic hit. I was so thrilled to be able to get books electronically during the lockdown. So now, I read the turn-the-page kind and the electronic ones.

How do our viewers reach you and find your books?

Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherWeidner1
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherWeidnerAuthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heather_mystery_writer/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8121854.Heather_Weidner
Amazon Authors: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/HeatherBWeidner/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-weidner-0064b233?trk=hp-identity-name
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heather-weidner-d6430278-c5c9-4b10-b911-340828fc7003

Book Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BHLSYBZ9?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420


  1. Elizabeth Varadan

    Great interview. I llike her take on what makes a good story (The Wizard of Oz – one of my favorite books and movies of all time). Her books sound appealing. (My goodness, she’s prolific!)

  2. Michael A. Black

    Hey, regular book-books, The Wizard of Oz, and dedication to perfecting your writing craft…. It sounds like you’ve got a real goo grasp on things. Best of luck with your book series.

  3. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    Fantastic questions, George. And heather, I love your inspiring quotes about women meeting the challenges of the world.
    Thank you both,
    Pamela Ruth Meyer

  4. Dru Ann

    Great interview.

  5. Heather Weidner

    Thanks so much for letting me stop by the blog and chat! What a fun interview!

    • George Cramer

      Thank you for sharing your story. I enjoyed learning more about you and your work.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

KIRSTEN WEISS – Bringing Laughs & Entertaining Stories to Her Readers

Kirsten Weiss writes laugh-out-loud, page-turning mysteries. Her heroines aren’t perfect, but they’re smart, they struggle, and they succeed. Kirsten writes in a house high on a hill in the Colorado woods and occasionally ventures out for wine and chocolate. Or for a visit to the local pie shop.

Kirsten is best known for her Wits’ End, Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, and Tea & Tarot cozy mystery books. So, if you like funny, action-packed mysteries with complicated heroines, just turn the page.

Gingerbread Dead – Tea and Tarot room owner Abigail has her hands full for the holidays. But when a business owner on her street is murdered in her small California beach town, she and her Tarot-reading partner Hyperion are on the case. Now, with a cranky cop on their tails, the duo must find a way to solve the crime and stay out of the slammer. All before a killer cancels their Christmas.

Do you write in more than one genre? I stick to mystery novels, but that genre has been broken into several niches. I’ve written cozy mystery, witch mystery, urban fantasy mystery, and even some steampunk mystery/suspense.

Do your protagonists ever disappoint you? No, though the way I write them sometimes does. But that’s why I edit the heck out of all my books. That way, I can fix character and other issues before publication.

Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? My stories are chock full of subplots. Since I write comedic mysteries, I usually rely on subplots for most of the humor. (Murder isn’t all that funny). And I like my heroes to have a life outside amateur detecting, something that will give them room to grow.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I work with a loose outline that allows me to plot my clues and red herrings but gives me enough flexibility to change things up a bit as I go along. Sometimes the best ideas strike as I’m writing. It feels like plotting and writing use two different types of thinking. Character actions or plotting ideas can seem obvious in the middle of a scene, but I don’t seem to catch those obvious twists and turns during the plotting process. Maybe I can get into a flow state while writing which allows easier access to the intuition, whereas plotting doesn’t get me there.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? I like to stick to fictional locations based on real places. That way, if I mess up where a certain street or business is, no one will know! (And I most definitely will mess up actual locations).

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? I’m continuing to write in my Wits’ End, Tea and Tarot, and Paranormal Museum series. But I also have a literary fiction project coming out next year, tentatively titled The Mysteries of Tarot. It’s ostensibly a book on reading Tarot cards by Hyperion from the Tea and Tarot series, but it’s actually much, much more.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Successful writers are those who don’t give up, keep learning and writing, and just stick with it. So, stick with it!

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and your books? Since it’s the holiday season, readers may enjoy picking up the latest in my Tea and Tarot series, Gingerbread Dead. It’s got a lot of humor and holiday scone recipes in the back of the book.

How do our readers contact you? I’ve got a contact form on my website at KirstenWeiss.com. At the same site, readers can also pick up a free eBook copy of Fortune Favors the Grave, a Tea and Tarot novella.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kirsten.weiss
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KirstenWeiss
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kirstenweissauthor/
Where to buy Gingerbread Dead:
Kindle: https://amzn.to/3oMROVO
Apple Books: https://apple.co/3OS7VvL
Nook: https://bit.ly/3PPIJXX
Google Play: https://bit.ly/3Q7dxTW
Kobo: https://bit.ly/3cRy7cB


  1. ana

    Kirsten, I have Gingerbread Dead on my Kindle and can’t wait to read it (as soon as the NorCal SINC/MWA Holiday Party is over and my part of the organizing is done.) I enjoy your books. Thanks!

  2. Michael A. Black

    Nicely done interview, Kirsten. I think a successful run of your series is in the cards. Best of luck to you.

  3. Kirsten Weiss

    Thanks for having me on your blog today!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

NANCY J. COHEN -Look Out for Bad Hair Days

Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have been named Best Cozy Mystery by Suspense Magazine, won a Readers’ Favorite gold medal and a RONE Award, placed first in the Chanticleer International Book Awards, and third in the Arizona Literary Awards.



Her nonfiction titles, Writing the Cozy Mystery and A Bad Hair Day Cookbook, have won the FAPA President’s Book Award and the Royal Palm Literary Award. Active in the writing community, Nancy is a past president of Florida Romance Writers and the Florida Chapter of MWA. When not busy writing, she enjoys reading, fine dining, cruising, and visiting Disney World.

STYLED FOR MURDER – Hairstylist Marla Vail realizes the dead body in the bathroom wasn’t part of her mother’s home renovation plans. To flush out the culprit, she must tap into a pipeline of suspects. Can she demolish their alibis and assemble the clues to nail a killer?

Get Your Copy Here – https://books2read.com/StyledforMurder

Do you write in more than one genre? Not at present. Years ago, I started out writing SciFi/fantasy romances and later switched to mysteries. Currently, I write the Bad Hair Day mystery series featuring hairstylist and salon owner Marla Vail. This series has 17 full-length titles, a novella, a short story, and a cookbook. Permed to Death is book number one, but readers can jump into any installment to get started. The first four books are also in audiobook format, and I have box sets as well.

What brought you to writing? I’m an avid reader but can’t always find the stories I want. Sometimes you have to write the book of your heart that you can’t find anywhere else. I learned how to write a novel from a book called Structuring Your Novel and also by outlining stories I liked for the structure and pacing.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I work in my home office with a view out the front window. I don’t play music and prefer silence in the background.

Tell us about your writing process: I write a first draft straight through with few corrections. Then I’ll begin revisions. This may take two to three rounds and often more until the book is done to my satisfaction. I write early in the morning and spend afternoons on marketing and other author tasks.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process? Starting a new book is the hardest part for me. Until the characters come alive on the page, it’s slow-going at first. The story may not take off until the second half, when it begins to write itself. I have to trust the process because I always feel I’ll never make my word count. And yet, I do. Somehow the pages get filled in.

What are you currently working on? I’m working on Star Tangled Murder which is book #18 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Marla and her husband, Dalton, attend a battle reenactment over July 4th weekend where a fake skirmish turns up a real dead body. Currently, I’m in the revision phase.

Has an association membership helped you with your writing? I rely on my critique partners to steer me on a straight path. Otherwise, I belong to Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Novelists Inc., Florida Writers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, and Florida Authors & Publishers Association.

How long did it take you to write your first book? It took me a couple of years to write my very first book. That’s not the one that sold, however. I wrote six books before a critique partner inspired me to write a futuristic romance. Circle of Light was my first published title. It won the HOLT Medallion Award and began a trilogy for Dorchester Publishing. Aside from my mysteries and two nonfiction titles, I’ve written eight romances and a romantic mystery novella.

How long to get it published? Circle of Light sold within six months of submission. It was an agented query. That was the seventh novel I’d written. I still have rejection slips for those early manuscripts.

How do you come up with character names? I create names that are appropriate to the character. I keep a spreadsheet now, so I don’t duplicate them. If you’re planning a series, do this from the start to make things easier.

We hear of strong-willed characters. Do yours behave or run wild? Marla is independent and won’t let anyone slow her down once her mind is made up. She’s a dependable, caring friend and definitely not on the wild side. While she can be impulsive, she has a practical nature and focuses on getting things done.

Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? Subplots involve what is going on in a sleuth’s life with her friends and family. For example, Marla meets Detective Dalton Vail in book one. They both have conflicts to overcome before they can be together. These play into the next few stories until they’re engaged. Then there’s more conflict before their nuptials. It’s a push/pull situation. When they’re finally married, they work together as a team to solve crimes. Meanwhile, Marla’s mother has a role, as do Dalton’s parents and his teenage daughter from a previous marriage. There’s plenty of fodder for subplots among their relationships.

How do you raise the stakes for your protagonist—for the antagonist? When Marla starts getting too close to the truth, the killer will do what they must to stop her or warn her off. One caveat with a cozy is that nobody gets terribly hurt, at least not the sleuth. And definitely not her pets, either.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I used to write a synopsis before beginning the story, but for Star Tangled Murder, I mostly winged it. However, I already knew my suspects and the victim. It helps me to plan as much as I can ahead of time, so I have a direction to follow.

What kind of research do you do? This depends on what I set out to learn. I like to discover something new with each story. That’s what makes it exciting for me and keeps things fresh for my fans. For example, Easter Hair Hunt was fun to research. The setting was based on Hillwood Museum and Gardens in Washington, D.C. Topics that interested me for this story included beekeeping, Fabergé eggs, honey production, love bugs, postage stamp collecting, and Russian nesting dolls. Now for Star Tangled Banner, I’m into tea growing, fire starter kits, buttons, and battle reenactments, as well as the Seminole wars and historic Florida circa early 1900s. Styled for Murder involved Marla’s mother, who found a dead body in her shower during a bathroom remodel. For that story, I learned about copper thefts, among other topics. I like to share these topics with my readers in a fun manner.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? Mostly I use fictional locations, although these may be based on real ones like above. Sometimes I’ll mention real places depending on what happens in the story.

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? I’d like to put more of my mysteries into audiobook format and my revised earlier romances into trade paperbacks. Then we’ll see.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Join a professional writing organization, attend workshops and conferences, expand your contacts, and follow other authors. This is the best way to learn the business of writing. Meanwhile, keep the faith and keep writing.

Where to Find Nancy:

Website: https://nancyjcohen.com
Blog: https://nancyjcohen.com/blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/nancyjcohen
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nancyjcohen
Instagram: https://instagram.com/nancyjcohen
Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/njcohen/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/nancyjcohen
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/nancy-j-cohen



  1. Michael A. Black

    Your upbeat attitude and obvious sens of humor seems to be working well for you. Congratulations on your book series. I love the titles and laughed out loud at the description of the dead body in the shower. Good luck with your series. You’re an inspiration.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ANN CLAIRE – Geographer – Cat Herder – Busy Author

Ann Claire earned a degree in geography, which took her across the world. Now Claire lives with her geographer husband in Colorado, where the mountains beckon from their kitchen windows. When she’s not writing, you can find her hiking, gardening, herding housecats, and enjoying a good mystery, especially one by Agatha Christie.


DEAD AND GONDOLA – In this series debut, a mysterious bookshop visitor dies under murderous circumstances, compelling the Christie sisters and their cat, Agatha, to call on all they’ve learned about solving mysteries from their favorite novelist.

Hi, George and readers! I’m thrilled to be posting today. It’s launch day for the first book in my new cozy mystery series, Dead and Gondola, a Christie Bookshop Mystery. I’m also launching a new pen name, Ann Claire. I previously wrote the Bookmobile Mysteries as Nora Page and the Santa Fe Café Mysteries as Ann Myers.

I adore writing and reading cozy mysteries because everyday characters get to be the heroes and use their special skills to solve crimes. In Dead and Gondola, Ellie and Meg Christie are bookseller sisters with a love of mysteries. Although the only Agatha in their family tree is their cat, in Dead and Gondola, they summon all they’ve learned from their favorite author to catch a killer in their tiny Colorado hometown.

George asks some wonderful questions about writing and books, so I’ll turn to them now.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I write at home, which is great, but there are many distractions. I’m way too easily enticed by my garden, cats, baking, and—the worst distractor—the Internet. To combat web-surfing distraction, I got a popup screen tent so I can write out in the backyard, beyond the reach of Wi-Fi. Wonderful, but then I’ll see a weed to pull or flowers to admire… I wish I were distracted by useful household chores, like cleaning or doing the laundry. Alas!

What are you currently working on? I’m working on the second book in the Christie Bookshop Mystery series. The series is set in Last Word, a fictional Colorado mountain town, and features two bookseller sisters named Christie (sadly, no relation to their favorite author). When a matchmaking service based on bookish interests turns deadly, the Christie sisters must summon their inner Miss Marples to catch a killer.

Has an association membership helped you with your writing? Yes! Sisters in Crime has helped me immensely with its wonderful support, encouragement, training, and especially friendships.

How do you come up with character names? I spend a LOT of time on random-name generators, baby-naming websites, and occasionally online graveyard records. Google must wonder about me…

Do your protagonists ever disappoint you? Mmmm… I can’t think of a disappointment. Just the opposite, usually. I love writing cozy protagonists because they’re relatable but can also do things I’d never do—like track down killers while maintaining a bookshop and still taking time for tea and cookies. They have skills and bravery I can only wish I had.

What authors did you dislike at first but grew to enjoy? For me, it’s more discovering writers I should have read before but somehow missed. You mention Joyce Carol Oates. I recently read some of her short stories and loved them. How had I not read them before? So many books, so little time, right?

Given that I have such a towering to-be-read stack, I rarely reread books. When I do, sometimes I’ll see them in a different light. For instance, Rebecca. I first read it when I was much younger and considered it a romance. I reread it a few years ago and had a totally different impression of Maxim de Winter!

Do you base any of your characters on real people? I’ll use aspects of real people. My grandmother is an inspiration for intrepid senior characters in all three of my series. However, the characters take on lives and features of their own.

What kind of research do you do? I’ll do a lot of research about places and occupations. I’m a geographer by training and love sifting in regional details when I can. My current setting is fictional but loosely based on some real Colorado towns, Ouray, and Telluride, which I love to visit. I did some fun gondola-riding “research” in Telluride before starting Dead and Gondola.

Anything else you’d care to add? Most of all, thanks again for inviting me to post, George, and thanks so much to readers! I really appreciate your time and support!

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annclaireauthor/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnClaireMysteries/
My website: https://novelmystery.wixsite.com/books

You can hopefully find my series at your library: The Santa Fe Café Mysteries by Ann Myers, Bookmobile Mysteries by Nora Page, and Christie Bookshop Mysteries by Ann Claire.

Dead and Gondola, To order: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/690689/dead-and-gondola-by-ann-claire/

George, I don’t belong to many groups except Sisters in Crime (Colorado Chapter and Guppies) and the Facebook group Save Our Cozies, https://www.facebook.com/groups/726103940858234.

Thanks again! I appreciate this opportunity to post!



  1. Ann Claire

    George, thanks so much for inviting me! Also, from now on, I’m introducing myself as geographer, cat herder, and busy author. Thank you–it’s a perfect title! Congratulations on your new release!

    • George Cramer

      Thanks, Ann. I enjoyed your new TITLE and am thrilled you do as well. And thanks for the kind comment about Robbers and Cops.

  2. Michael A. Black

    Great observation about rereading Rebecca, Ann. It reminded me of what it often said about Don Quixote. When the book is read by a young man, he thinks it is a comedy. When reread at an older age, he realizes it is a tragedy. Best of luck with your new series and herding those cats.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Donna Schlachter is a hybrid author. She writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than fifty times in books, is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits, and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and is an avid oil painter.

Do you write in more than one genre? Yes, in historical and contemporary. All contain some romance, some mystery, and are squeaky clean.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I like to write at home, in my office. Distractions include two large cats, a husband who shares my office, and a basket of laundry that seems to grow exponentially with my lack of time to address it. I also like to write at a local coffee shop once a week so that I can say I do get out from time to time. Oh, yes, and so I can eavesdrop.

What are you currently working on? I am working on a contemporary Christmas romance to be released in November. Set in a mountain town called Christmas Ridge, I feature a woman who leads the local food ministry and a widowed veterinarian with a seven-year-old son.

Who’s your favorite author? Agatha Christie.

How long did it take you to write your first book? About two years, including edits and re-writing, although the first 50,000 words came together in 20 days (NaNoWriMo)

How long to get it published? Twelve years.

How do you come up with character names? For historical, gravestones in cemeteries. Or a contest in one of my newsletters, as with this book. Her name is Edith. A strong name for a strong woman.

What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? I want my men to sound like men, not like masculine women. Tricky until I took a course at a writer’s conference that explained how men talk to each other and how they talk to women. Eye-opening.

Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? I always have subplots, most of which come from one of my main character’s interests or job. I weave them in like spaghetti, and most often, they culminate at the end and are part of the main plot.

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? I am committed to several multi-author projects for books in 2023 and still have a couple of my own series I want to continue, as well as noodling around ideas for a brand new series.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Never. Quit.

Hollow Hearts: Middle-aged widow Edith Cooper walks away from the cemetery along the Green River near Simpson’s Hollow, Utah Territory. Away from the husband buried there this morning. Away from their plans and dreams for their future. Along the way, two men offer their hand in marriage. For her protection, one says. For his children’s sake, says the second. Were any of these reasons enough to marry? She must choose one. But which?

Albert Whitt, the stationmaster of the Pony Express Station, loves his independent life. Twice stood up by women, he takes the only course that ensures no more rejection: stay clear of them. But when he learns that the stoic Widow Cooper is considering two proposals from men not worthy of lacing her boots, he must do something. But what?

Can Edith and Albert find a new beginning in the midst of tragedy, or will they choose the most convenient path—alone?

You can find out more about the story or pre-order the eBook here: https://www.amazon.com/Hollow-Hearts-Book-Pony-Express-ebook/dp/B0B5B7H4XG

Leave a comment, and Donna will draw randomly for a print copy (US only) or an eBook of Hollow Hearts. Don’t forget to cleverly disguise your email address like this: Donna AT livebytheword DOT com.

How do our readers contact you?

www.DonnaSchlachter.com Stay connected so you learn about new releases, pre-orders, and presales, and check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free eBook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!
Check out previous blog posts at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com and www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com
Facebook: www.Facebook.com/DonnaschlachterAuthor
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/DonnaSchlachter
Books: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ci5Xqq
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/donna-schlachter
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=donna+schlachter
Etsy online shop of original artwork: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Dare2DreamUS



  1. Elizabeth Varadan

    What a prolific and varied author! Donna, you must have super energy. I like the idea of writing in a coffee shop once a week to vary your routine. Hollow Hearts sounds like a good read.

  2. Michael A. Black

    It sounds like you’re marching right along, Donna. Don’t let the cats or your husband slow you down. 😉 Best of luck with your books.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ELIZABETH VARADAN – Prolific Poet and Fiction Writer

Elizabeth Varadan is a former teacher who writes poetry, children’s fiction, and adult mysteries. She and her husband live in Sacramento, California. They love to travel and divide their time abroad between Braga, Portugal, and Galicia, Spain.

Varadan’s previous stories, flash fiction, and poems have appeared in literary magazines and anthologies. Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, a middle-grade mystery featuring Sherlock Holmes, was published in 2015 by MX Publishing. Her story, “Kidnapped,” was included in the 2016 Holmes-related story collection, Beyond Watson, by Belanger Books, and “What the Raven Knew” was included in 2019 in Sherlock Holmes, Adventures in the Realms of Edgar A Poe. In 2017 Belanger Books published her picture book, Dragonella, both in English and Spanish, followed in 2018 by a children’s story collection, Carnival of the Animals. Her chapbook, Saudade, Thirty Poems of Longing, was published in 2019 by Finishing Line Press.

Deadly Vintage, a cozy mystery for adults, released in November 2019, also published by Belanger Books, is set in Braga, Portugal, as is Deadly Verse, its sequel. At present, she is working on a third book in the series, Deadly Variation.

DEADLY VARIATION Carla spies an old friend who says he’s in Braga as a tourist. A street singer sings a song in two languages. A man pats the friend on the shoulder and disappears. Moments later, Carla’s friend is dead.

What brought you to writing? I’ve scribbled for as long as I can remember. My mother encouraged me when I was a child. (She was an unpublished writer.) However, writing full-time had to wait for retirement. I was an elementary/middle school teacher for over 20 years; before that, I worked in insurance (claims), and there were university classes. There wasn’t time to take writing seriously. As for what brought me to writing originally, I think you could say “reading.” There’s something about a well-written page that pricks the imagination.

Has an association membership helped you with your writing? Absolutely. I belong to two writing groups that operate as beta readers, as well as the organization Sisters In Crime and the local Sacramento chapter, Capitol Crimes. (The latter two get professional speakers and nationally known mystery authors who give invaluable information and advice. And my publishers have also interacted in ways that have turned fellow authors and myself into what feels like a group of colleagues working together, supporting each other. In differing ways, all of them have helped me grow as a writer.

Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? I generally have one or two subplots going just to keep it realistic: i.e., in my mysteries, there’s a mystery to be solved, the main plot. But characters have ongoing peripheral lives; solving the mystery can’t happen in a vacuum. I try to make sure the subplot isn’t more interesting than the main plot (lol).

Do you base any of your characters on real people? No. I write fiction but have a very literal mind. If I tried to base a character on a real person, I would keep thinking, “but that didn’t happen . . .,” or “it didn’t happen that way . . .” The reality part would keep tripping up my story.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? Panster. I’ve tried outlining. I outlined a whole book once and found I no longer wanted to write it. It was like the outlining had given me closure on the plot. I really do like, as I write, to find out what’s happening as it unfolds. Sometimes, once the story is underway, I’ll semi-outline what needs to happen in the next scene or two and usually have a light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel idea of how the story ends. But sometimes, I don’t until the very last chapters.

What kind of research do you do? Suppose I’m doing something from another era. In that case, I look up everything I can think of that might have a bearing on the story: Novels or poetry written in the era (that my protagonist might read), novels about the era or subject, timetables, newspaper articles, weather reports. If set in another country, I look up restaurants and contact police departments (if a mystery is involved). You can overdo research and get lost, but if you sift out things that could become an “information dump” on the reader, all those remaining details can provide great texture that makes a setting believable.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? Both. I use real towns, real restaurants, hotels, rivers, museums, whatever.

But if something bad happens, I make up the particular café or building where it happens – unless it’s some very public space like a plaza, say, or park, someplace where anything could happen without reflecting on an establishment.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Well, the conventional wisdom is to “write every day,” but sometimes you can’t. It’s still good advice, although “new writers” have usually been writing as often as they could all their lives. So, to that suggestion, I would add “read every day” and read everything, every genre, style, nonfiction, and fiction. Next: take a writing class or two. You don’t have to have an MFA, but a couple of classes or workshops will point you in a good direction, and good books on writing can be a great follow-up. What else? find a good writing group or set of “beta readers.” Shop around. A good writing group’s members should support your strengths while pointing out what doesn’t work for them as readers. (As in, “what I don’t quite understand is why . . ..”) And they catch a lot of errors, as well (typos, repeated words, omitted words, etc.) A good group is invaluable. And last but not least, don’t lose heart or give up. You write because you love it. Keep loving it. Keep writing.

How do our readers contact you?
Blog: http://elizabethvaradansfourthwish.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizabethvaradan
Twitter: https://twitter.com/4thWishVaradan
Link to Trailer by Belanger Books https://vimeo.com/724543646?fbclid=IwAR0IL0xIFpUWW82LGkq1Aq0_aC7gFQ9MBAkpLRjLrvQcq34ehOnLcwoDgbw
Author page and list of books on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Books-Elizabeth-Varadan/s?rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3AElizabeth+Varadan


  1. Donnell Ann Bell

    Thank you George for introducing me to a new author. Elizabeth sounds wise as well as fascinating.

    • Elizabeth Varadan

      Hello, Donnell, good to “meet” you, and thanks for the kind words. I nipped over to your site. I see you write mysteries, and they sound quite intriguing.

  2. Marie Sutro

    Shop around is great advice! No point forcing a square peg in a round hole.

    • Elizabeth Varadan

      Marie, exactly. The wrong group giving the wrong advice can discourage or derail your writing. Thanks for stopping by.


    I enjoyed both Deadly Vintage and Deadly Verse so much that my next trip will be to Portugal. Elizabeth creates memorable characters and descriptive scenes that keep you reading well into the night. I’m looking forward to Deadly Variation.

    • Elizabeth Varadan

      Thanks so much, Cindy. Love your “Dying for a …” Series, too. They make me laugh while I’m trying to puzzle out the mystery.

  4. Elizabeth Varadan

    Thank you, Michael. I’m glad you found the comments on writing useful. And thanks for the good wishes. These books are fun to write, and I’m a little excited about the next one that’s shaping up.

  5. Michael A. Black

    Lots of good advice on writing in this one. Thanks, Elizabeth and good luck with your new one.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *