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.

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?

Ohio Author Spotlight: Tom Barlow

“I was raised in a dying steel town and educated in the crucible of the boomer rebellion.”

Tom Barlow

That’s just a scratch on the surface of this week’s author, Tom Barlow. With over 100 short stories and four novels on his writing resume, Tom’s work ranges from crime fiction to speculative to literary fiction and many flavors in between. His writing has been described by one reviewer as “brilliantly layered…and refreshingly off beat.” His work can be found in several anthologies, including Best American Mystery Stories 2013Dames and Sin, and Columbus Noir. He’s been writing regularly since 2004.

Welcome to the Goat Rodeo cover

He writes because conversation involves a lot of give and take, and he’s always thought of himself as more of a giver.

To read more of Tom’s work, check out the links below. 

http://www.tombarlowauthor.com

amazon.com/author/tombarlow

https://twitter.com/TomBarlow

https://www.facebook.com/barlow.thomas

Ohio Author Spotlight: Eileen Curley Hammond

Eileen’s mother was hooked on mysteries and was rarely found without a book in her hand. So it was natural Eileen became an avid reader, starting with the Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene. Her mother was pleased by that until the day Eileen and her childhood friend decided their ninety-plus-year-old house held a mystery of its own. After they pried the built-in desk in her parents’ room from the wall, they discovered a hidden room that contained—wait for it—a clothes hanger.

Eileen Curley Hammond

Eileen lives on the Far West side of the city and before early retirement, ran life and annuity marketing for a Fortune 100 company. After a long celebratory road trip through Canada to Maine and back, she decided to write a book (a mystery, of course). One of her first steps was to join Buckeye Crime Writers (then SICCO), and she hasn’t looked back since. She now serves BCW as the board member focusing on social media.

Eileen writes a cozy mystery series, which features Merry March, a divorcée, mom, and business owner in the small town of Hopeful. Merry has a seventeen-year-old daughter and loves food, wine, friends, and her cats, though not necessarily in that order. She’s kind of a control freak, but her life over the past five years has been anything but orderly.

The fifth book in the Merry March series, Murder So Hot, was released last Thursday. It chronicles her best friend’s husband’s journey as he goes to Phoenix to meet the birth mother he discovered after taking a DNA test. When a murder happens, Merry flies in to help her friends. She investigates and finds darkness hides in the sunniest of places.

Cover of Murder So Hot

When Eileen’s not working on her books, she’s tweeting micro fiction on Twitter, or acting as sous gardener to her husband. They have two demanding cats and assorted koi, shubunkins, and minnows that require regular attention and feeding. You can find Eileen at www.eileencurleyhammond.com and her latest book at https://www.amazon.com/Murder-So-Hot-Mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B08G3HXVGP/. You can also order her latest paperback from your favorite independent bookstore.

Ohio Author Spotlight: Karen Harper

Buckeye Crime Writers lost a true friend and advocate in April of this year with the passing of long-time member Karen Harper. A New York Times and USA Today bestseller and a winner of the Mary Higgins Clark award, Karen wrote over seventy novels including romantic suspense, historicals, and mysteries.  Her most recent mystery, Deep in the Alaskan Woods, was published in April, and her newest historical, The Queen’s Secret, came out in May.

Karen was born in Toledo and obtained her bachelor’s degree from Ohio University in Athens and her graduate degree from The Ohio State University in Columbus. She lived in Columbus for many years and spent a number of winters in Naples, Florida. She taught English at OSU and Westerville North High School.

Karen Harper

Although most people will remember Karen as a prolific and talented writer and a wonderful teacher, we at Buckeye Crime Writers will also remember her as a cherished friend and mentor. She joined our organization soon after it was formed in April 2008, and she was the first speaker at our annual holiday party. Always encouraging and generous with her time, she was a regular presence at our meetings and served as a speaker any time we asked her. She loved to travel, especially to the British Isles, and incorporated the details from her trips into her wonderful stories. She was an avid fan of OSU football, tireless in her love and care of her family, and a pillar in our local writing community. We miss her terribly, but we hope to honor her by continuing to read and promote her books.

Ohio Author Spotlight: Ray Wenck

First of all, Ray Wenck is a complicated guy. An active member of Buckeye Crime Writers for several years (going back to the days when we were Sisters In Crime of Columbus Ohio, a.k.a., SICCO), Ray truly defines the term ‘Renaissance man;’ former Toledo native, played baseball for the University of Toledo, then worked as an elementary school teacher during the day while running DeSimone’s Italian restaurant at night, to eventually become a lead cook for Hollywood Casinos and kitchen manager for the Toledo Mud Hens minor league baseball team. And what else? He plays the harmonica!

In addition, Ray is the author of thirty-six novels, including the post-apocalyptic Random Survival series, the Danny Roth mystery/suspense series, a zombie series, and a time travel series co-authored with Jason Nugent.

His latest releases are mysteries that include the soon-to-be-released, A Second Chance at Death. He has also begun releasing his titles as audiobooks, and has written the Pick-A-Path series where you can choose your own ending. Ray is both traditionally published and self-published, and is a frequent speaker and seller at book tours and conventions around the country. But mostly, Ray is a doer:  that rare individual who just puts his head down and figures it out. He’s also that guy you want to sit next to at the restaurant after a BCW presentation, because if you’ve got writing questions, he’s got answers. And on the rare occasions he doesn’t, he’s just fun to hang with. 

For more info about Ray and his work, go to:  http://raywenck.com/.