Welcome to the NEXT BIG THING Blog Hop.

What is a blog hop? Basically, it’s a way for readers to discover authors new to them.  I hope you’ll find new-to-you authors whose works you enjoy.  At this stop along the blog hop, you’ll find a bit of information on me and one of my books, along with links to two other authors you can explore!

My gratitude to fellow author Piper Bayard for inviting me to participate in this event.  You can click the following link to learn more about Piper and her book.

Bayard & Holmes

Buy her books: This spring at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

In this blog hop, I and my fellow authors, in their respective blogs, have answered ten questions about our book or work-in-progress.  Don’t you just love sneak peeks?  We’ve also included some behind-the-scenes information about how and why we write what we write–the characters, inspirations, plotting and other choices we make.

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions. Here is my Next Big Thing!

1: What is the working title of your book?

Dangerous and Unseemly: A Concordia Wells Mystery

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

My doctoral area of study was the nineteenth century, so I knew I wanted to go with that time period.  Once I had decided upon setting it in a women’s college (see my answer to question #9, below), I knew that my protagonist would be a young female professor, someone who, for her time period, was bucking social norms to follow her dream of independence through teaching and sharing her love of literature.  My own years in college teaching were of enormous help in creating her character, along with the interactions she had with students and fellow staff.

Of course, my protagonist never imagined that she’d be obliged to climb out of windows, or crouch in alcoves to eavesdrop on nefarious conversations – rather “dangerous and unseemly,” wouldn’t you say?  😉  She’s a reluctant amateur detective, and I like to play up the irony of that.

I picked Hartford as the locale because I lived in the area for a number of years, and loved its history.  For example, there was something of an artists’ enclave in Hartford, in the area of Nook Farm.  There you would find influential writers, suffragists, intellectuals, and business leaders: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Isabella Beecher Hooker, and Samuel Clemens, to name a few.  Speaking of Clemens, he built a monstrosity of a house in Hartford.  He termed it “part steamboat, part medieval stronghold, and part cuckoo clock.”  I’ve seen the house; it’s an apt description!

Twain house. Photo by Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC licensing

3: What genre does your book come under?

Cozy historical mystery.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

That’s a challenging question!  For the role of Concordia Wells, I like a friend’s suggestion of Amy Adams.  For Lady Principal Hamilton, maybe Emma Thompson.  For Concordia’s love interest David Bradley, either a young Greg Wise (from the BBC’s The Moonstone) or a young Hugh Grant.  And I can dream big and have Sir Derek Jacobi as Lt. Capshaw, right?


5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Murder is an unseemly subject for a proper woman of the 1890s, but literature professor Concordia Wells finds herself uncomfortably acquainted with the subject, as she looks to make sense of a string malicious pranks and suspicious deaths that threaten her beloved college; she must tread carefully, however, as there are some who do not appreciate the persistent inquiries of the lady professor.


6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

I’m represented by Miriam Goderich at Dystel and Goderich Literary Management.  I’ll be publishing Dangerous and Unseemly through their digital publishing program.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Waaayyy too long!  Years, really.  But there was a steep learning curve involved, and a lot of historical research, especially since I was setting up the “world” of my series.  The second book went a lot faster.  My goal for future books is four to six months.  We’ll see how that works out, LOL.  I’m not as fast as other writers I know.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers; the Kate Sheridan series by Robin Paige; and the Jane Austen series by Stephanie Barron.  I was also influenced by Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax books, in terms of tone and humor.


9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’d been wanting to write mysteries all my life, but only started to seriously consider it when my mother-in-law became gravely ill, and the resulting family responsibilities required me to take a sabbatical from college teaching.  During quiet moments, I started to research and plan.  When I discovered old letters and yearbooks from my mother-in-law’s time at an all-female community college back in the 1950s, I decided to set my novel at a women’s college, but farther back in time – the 1890s.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Since Concordia is a professor of literature, books are closely interwoven into her day-to-day life.  Each mystery in the series is based loosely upon a Shakespeare play that the protagonist is helping the students at the college produce.  The themes and villains of any given play echo throughout each novel.

Dangerous and Unseemly, the first book of the series, takes Macbeth as its inspiration, and Concordia actually uses the students’ production to catch one of the culprits.  The sequel, Unseemly Pursuits, is based upon Hamlet, but I’ll be sharing more about book #2 when the time comes.

Thanks for joining me today!  The formatting and cover art for Dangerous and Unseemly is in the works.  I’ll announce a release date on this site.

Here are the other authors on today’s Hop:

1.  Ellie Ann

2.  Jen L. Kirchner

3.  Kerry Schafer

4.  Susan Spann

The authors below will be blogging about their Next Big Thing next Wednesday, January 16th. Be sure to bookmark and add them to your calendars for updates on WIPs and New Releases! Happy Writing and Reading!

1.  Zack Kullis

2.  Margot Kinberg


Until next time,


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