Ohio Author Spotlight: Connie Berry

Connie Berry initially dreamed of becoming an archaeologist, but that ended when she learned there was more to it than discovering the tombs of lost pharaohs. Deciding to write about history rather than uncover it, she created the Kate Hamilton Mystery series, set in the UK and featuring an American antiques dealer with a gift for solving crimes. Two books in the well-received series have been published, A Dream of Death and A Legacy of Murder. The third book in the series, The Art of Betrayal, is scheduled for release in June 2021.

Connie Berry
Connie Berry

Like her protagonist, Connie was raised by charmingly eccentric antiques collectors who opened a shop, not to sell antiques but to give them an excuse to keep buying them. Besides reading mysteries and writing them, Connie loves foreign travel, cute animals, and all things British. She lives in central Ohio with her husband and adorable dog, Emmie.

Connie’s passion for all things British came naturally. Her paternal grandparents were born in Scotland, so she grew up with the accents, tastes, and tales of the “auld country” in her ears, mouth, and heart. To her, the best thing about the British Isles is the richness and depth of history — the past. She’s a history junkie, which means the older the better. Everywhere you go in the British Isles, history lives and breathes.

Emmie

Connie is especially interested in the complex dynamics of villages. She believes that may stem from her early exposure to Agatha Christie, but she likes nothing better than writing about a small community with plenty of interconnections and conflicts to create havoc — and murder.

In addition to writing the Kate Hamilton series, Connie’s been writing articles on the craft of writing for several trade publications, including the Sisters in Crime Quarterly and the Mystery Writers of America newsletter. 

Connie has degrees in English from DePauw University and The Ohio State University. She also studied at the University of Freiburg in southern Germany and St. Clare’s College in Oxford, England. Connie is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, is on the board of her local SinC chapter, Buckeye Crime Writers, and is on the Steering Committee for the SinC Guppies chapter.

The Art of Betrayal: Connie Berry

Connie’s debut novel A Dream of Death was a finalist for an Agatha Award and the Silver Falchion and won the Independent Publisher Book Awards for Mystery.

Ohio Author Spotlight: Robin Yocum

The work of acclaimed crime fiction writer Robin Yocum has been strongly influenced by his upbringing in the heart of the industrialized Ohio River Valley. Born in Steubenville into a family of steelworkers, coal miners, and railroaders, he grew up in Brilliant, a small town in Eastern Ohio. Determined to forge a different path, Yocum was the first in his family to attend college. A journalism major at Bowling Green University, Yocum worked at a variety of jobs ranging from newspaper carrier and truck driver to gas station attendant and night janitor at the Steubenville Country Club.

Robin Yocum

After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he started his journalism career at the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, moved to the Martins Ferry Times Leader and finally landed at the Columbus Dispatch from 1980 to 1991, where he started out on the crime beat and was later the senior reporter on the newspaper’s investigative team. During his time as a newspaper reporter and investigator, he received more than 30 local, state, and national journalism awards in categories ranging from investigative reporting to feature writing, the most important of which were from the Press Club of Ohio and the Associated Press.

Yocum, the father of three grown children, is now the president of Yocum Communications, a public relations and marketing firm in Westerville, Ohio, as well as a crime fiction writer. He uses the Ohio River Valley where he grew up as the setting for several of his novels. He also uses some of the people he grew up with and his family as inspiration for some of the characters. 

Yocum is the author of two non-fiction books and five critically acclaimed novels: A Welcome Murder, A Brilliant Death, Favorite Sons, The Essay, and A Perfect Shot. Favorite Sons was named the 2011 USA Book News’ Book of the Year for Mystery/Suspense. It was selected for the Choose to Read Ohio program for 2013 – 2014 and was a featured book of the Ohioana Book Festival. A Brilliant Death was a finalist for the 2017 Edgar Allen Poe Awards presented by the Mystery Writers of America.

A Brilliant Death/Robin Yocum

Yocum has also turned his prodigious talents to writing short stories. He was a contributor to Columbus Noir, an anthology edited by local author Andrew Welsh-Huggins, and his short story The Last Hit was one of 20 stories selected for the Best American Mystery Stories 2020, an annual anthology edited by the legendary Otto Preminger. Yocum’s many fans anxiously await his next contribution to the world of crime fiction, The Sacrifice of Lester Yates

The Sacrifice of Lester Yates/Robin Yocum

Annual BCW Critique!

It’s here! It’s finally here! The annual BCW writing critique! Now you can submit what you’ve been working on the past several months, trapped in your house or apartment, with nothing but deep thoughts, a mountain of dirty facemasks, empty bottles of hand sanitizer and a laptop. Working on that detective novel? Psychological thriller? Murder mystery? A small, warm cozy where that little old lady next door (the one who grows those delicious tomatoes that win the grand prize each year at the county fair) is discovered fertilizing those same ‘maters with the bodies of her last five husbands buried in her garden plot? Now’s your chance to get that sick puppy in front of some eyeballs for some good old-fashioned input from fellow writers! So here’s the details:

  • Meeting date: 11/21/20 (Saturday), 11:00 – 12:30 p.m. (Zoom meeting).
  • Due date: 11/14/20 (Saturday), midnight.
  • Send manuscripts to buckeyecrimewriters@gmail.com. Note: if you submit, you’ll also need to participate as a reviewer. A Zoom link to the meeting will be provided.
  • What to send: manuscripts should be 10 pages, maximum (if not starting at the beginning, try to provide a few sentences for context). Manuscripts can be from a budding novel, novella, short story, etc.. Since these are partials, please do not send your entire work.
  • Manuscripts: double-spaced, 1” margins, 12 pt. font (no fancy/cursive fonts please). For simplicity, all submissions should be in the form of Word documents (no PDFs . . . otherwise we can’t return manuscripts with comments). Also, please include your name and email address (necessary for reviewers to email back comments).
  • All reviews will be sent back to the authors so please make any changes/comments using the ‘Track Changes’ and ‘Comments’ feature in Word.
  • If you don’t want to send anything but are happy to be a reviewer, please contact us for copies of submissions and a link to the Zoom meeting.
  • After the meeting, please email your comments of each manuscript back to the author.

Note: due to brevity of critique time we will be focusing on the first 5 – 6 manuscript submittals only; if we get more interest, we will look into having another critique at a later date. Additional instructions and updates will be provided so keep an eye out for emails. But word to the wise: this is one of our more popular programs so anyone interested in submitting a manuscript, it’s first come, first serve. Otherwise, hope to see you there!

Ohio Author Spotlight: Jean A. Smith

What better way to learn about an author than from her own words?

I was born in Marion, Ohio and have lived here most of my life. I spent several years at Ohio University earning an English degree and a teaching certificate in high school Language Arts. After a couple of years of subbing, I took a caseworker position with the county welfare office and moved to the child support where I worked for five years. Through part-time tutoring jobs I found a teaching position with Pleasant Local Schools. I have taught high school language arts for 24 years and directed and produced the fall play productions for 22 years.

Jean A. Smith

Reading and writing have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I had always wanted to write mystery novels, because that is the genre that holds the most appeal to me. Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown were a big part of my reading life as a kid. 

As an adult, I have grown to appreciate Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler and Ian Fleming, After years of teaching an appreciation for reading and writing, and earning a master’s degree in Literacy and Technology, I decided to see if I could reach another goal I had set for myself – write a novel.

In 2018, I self-published Turn the Page. I then started work on a suspense novel which I published in 2020, Taking Care of Grace. This novel is the first in the Camden Falls series and features Jack Phillips, a former cop who has come back to his hometown to teach at the local university. His contacts at the local police department use him as a consultant. He also has a couple of potential love interests in his future.

Turn the Page

Book two in the series is underway. Characters from the first novel will be featured as well as other citizens of Camden Falls.

The aspect of mystery writing that I love is piecing together the puzzle that will drive the story. The biggest struggle for me is finding the time to write.

Taking Care of Grace

Ohio Author Spotlight: Ric Black

Ric Black suffers from an overactive imagination. He remembers looking forward to Show and Tell in elementary school; it gave him his opportunity to tell tall tales — and with vigor. Once he’d tell a story, the truth would often get jumbled in the process, such that the actual facts could become lost. This didn’t bother him too much; after all, the story was the main event. Truth became a matter of personal taste, and a teacher once interrupted his story: “Now, Ric, it didn’t really happen that way, did it?” to which he gave an emphatic, “Yes, it did.” She looked at him with less favor ever since.

Ric Black

Ric’s passion for storytelling remained a constant throughout his life. After graduating from medical school and completing training in two different medical specialties, the urge to entertain persisted. When his children were younger, bedtime stories were nightly events; few people showed up at those events, but they were popular. Bedtime stories morphed into written ones and a fantasy adventure novel got its first start. Then he wrote several children’s picture book stories. Later, he searched his ancestral roots and wrote a family history. He also wrote a fictional account of a child who had brain cancer, inspired by one of his own patients. He’s now working on his third novel with plans for more.

Jason’s Song

Throughout Ric’s life adventure has been a driving motivation. He’s tried his hand in skydiving, scuba diving, mountaineering and marathon running. His flair for high-wire adventure in natural settings often supplies inspiration for telling new stories. Ric now lives with his family in Ohio and practices as a child psychiatrist. He is board certified in child and adult psychiatry and enjoys his work, but when he’s not doctoring you’ll see him writing. His background as a psychiatrist and diverse experiences bring life and vitality to his writing. See if you don’t find yourself drawn into his stories.

Ohio Author Spotlight: Kandy Williams

Author Spotlight: Kandy Williams

We all know somebody who effortlessly juggles a daily schedule that would have the rest of us jabbering like Lady Macbeth within a week. Kandy Williams is one of those people. Also known as “Mercedes King” (her author nom de plume), and who knows what other aliases, Kandy Williams is, to put it succinctly, a force of nature.

Mercedes King
Mercedes King

With a degree in criminology from Capital University, she endures the spastic fortunes of the Chicago Cubs, extensive travels to New York City (often to research her favorite subjects, i.e., John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis or Marilyn Monroe), and the responsibilities of being a founding and current board member of Buckeye Crime Writers (all the way back to when we were Sisters In Crime of Columbus Ohio, a.k.a. SICCO). She’s also a 2016 and 2017 finalist for the Killer Nashville/Claymore Award, and she’s that person who will march right up to you at one of our monthly meetings, stranger or no, and within five minutes have you talking like you’ve known her since the second grade. 

Plantation Nation (left) and Grave Secrets

Finally, Kandy also writes a crazy amount of books. Both self-published and traditionally published, her work includes a short story in the recent collection Columbus Noir (by Akashic Books), the upcoming release Grave Secrets (self-published) and Plantation Nation (by Astraea Press). More books are on the way, including a four-book series set to launch in 2021. For more info about Kandy and her work, go to mercedesking.com.

Ohio Author Spotlight: Susan Bradley

Susan Bradley spent her childhood in South Texas, about ten miles from the U.S.-Mexican border. As a child, she spent the summers in Mexico with her grandparents and extended family. Inspired by Nancy Drew, Susan frequently created mysteries that her siblings and cousins could solve during these vacations.

She began writing young adult mystery novels featuring strong Latina characters and is committed to creating and celebrating diverse characters. Her books, Unraveled and Uncovered, were published by Evernight Teen while she was completing her Master in Fine Arts: Writing for Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Her class curriculum exposed her to additional genres, and she now also enjoys writing horror as well.

Unraveled

Susan loves to travel with her daughter. They’ve set the goal of traveling to all seven continents and enjoy learning about the people and cultures around the world. They live in Columbus, Ohio with their two miniature schnauzers, Bolt and Lexi.

You can find her on www.sxbradley.com or https://www.instagram.com/sxbradley_author

Uncovered

Ohio Author Spotlight: John Hegenberger

One thing about John Hegenberger; he doesn’t hesitate to try different things. His range includes 1950’s Los Angeles noir, science fiction, westerns, thrillers, short stories, non-fiction, podcasts, audible books, series and stand-alone novels. So in other words, John strikes first and asks questions later.

John Hegenberger

He’s also funny. Personable. Knowledgeable. Someone who simply writes because he wants to write. And when John attends a BCW meeting, he’s the guy who settles in, asks smart questions, and then hangs out for a beer and lunch afterwards, with anecdotes and information you can’t get anywhere else.  

John was born and raised in Columbus. His background includes a degree in Comparative Literature from Capital University, and a professional life in advertising and marketing with Fortune 500 companies, before retiring to write full-time. And due to the whole COVID thing, we don’t get to see him anywhere near as much as we’d like. But hopefully you can take a look at his work and get an indication of him yourself:

Stan Wade series (1950’s Los Angeles, private investigator series, Black Opal Books)

Spyfall

Tripleye series (22nd century, science fiction)

Blaze series (western)

Blaze

The Last Martian Chronicles (short stories, science fiction/fantasy, Rough Edge Press)

The Last Martian Chronicles

The Pandora Block (modern thriller)

The Pandora Block

Note: John can be found at https://www.facebook.com/johnhegenbergerauthor/, and you can sign up for his newsletter at johnhegenberger.com. You can also hear him on a 2016 podcast at Meet the Thriller.

Coming soon: Independent publishing panel

Thinking of going Indie but not sure where to start?

Mark your calendar: Saturday, Oct. 17, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. EST. Virtual meeting via Zoom. RSVP: buckeyecrimewriters@gmail.com.

Join panelists Alicia Anthony, Trudy Brandenburg, Kandy Williams, and moderator Eileen Curley Hammond as they talk about their journeys, give nuts-and-bolts advice, and provide critical resources to help you on your way.

Alicia Anthony
Alicia Anthony

Alicia Anthony is the author of the Blood Secrets Saga, a three-book psychological thriller series about the cost of truth and the price we pay for love. She is a two-time Golden Heart® finalist and Silver Quill award winner.

Trudy Brandenburg

Trudy Brandenburg is the author of The Emma Haines Kayak Mystery Series. Former insurance fraud investigator Emma Haines loves to kayak—and sometimes—she paddles into trouble. But Emma’s spunky tenacity, investigative experience, and connections help her solve the crimes. Trudy’s writing has appeared in various publications, including The Columbus Dispatch, My Scioto Valley Magazine, and Canoe & Kayak Magazine. Her books were read on VoiceCorp, a service that provides audio broadcasting for the blind or people who have conditions that prevent them from reading print. Trudy speaks at book clubs and events, teaches writing classes, and is a researcher at a Fortune 100 insurance company.

Mercedes King
Mercedes King

Kandy Williams, who writes under the name Mercedes King, is a founding member of Buckeye Crime Writers and a Columbus, Ohio, native. With a degree in Criminology from Capital University, she has a passion for crafting true crime into fiction and exploring the depths of deviant behavior. Her upcoming novel, GRAVE SECRETS, features an abuse survivor intent on unraveling the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. 

Eileen Curley Hammond
Eileen Curley Hammond

Eileen Curley Hammond is the author of the Merry March Cozy Mystery series; her fifth book, Murder So Hot, was released in September. Eileen’s micro-fiction appeared in the first VSS365 Anthology (released last year). She has also been featured in several online blogs and will have a recipe in a soon to be released cookbook, Cooking with Fire.

Ohio Author Spotlight: Marianne Beck

Writers need to read. A lot. Marianne Beck, a retired registered nurse, is one of those writers. She reads everything she can lay her hands on.

Marianne Beck

Marianne never considered writing until one day she began reading a mystery novel and became disappointed with a boring plot and one-dimensional characters. She decided to write and publish her own novel, Murder Rule #1, and has now published a second novel, Revenge Rule #1. She also has a third novel, Deception Rule #1, coming out by the end of the year.

Murder Rule #1

Born and raised in Ohio, Marianne currently resides in Florida and visits the Buckeye State during the summer.

Deception Rule #1: While working a cold case, a detective struggles to save her own sister from a relentless stalker. But with deception, lies, and secrets in her way, can either case be solved?