Ohio Author Spotlight: Shelly Costa

Cleveland author Shelley Costa started out like many of us, with the world of Nancy Drew, where even clocks have secrets.  As a child, growing up in Garwood, New Jersey, Shelley spent time reading, writing in her room, and hanging out at rehearsals at her parents’ little theater group.

Shelly Costa

After graduating from Rutgers, she took a job at Holt, Rinehart and Winston in New York City, where she ended up in the Adult Trade Division.  From there, she moved on to graduate school and a PhD in English from Case Western Reserve University, with a dissertation on the nature of suspense.  And along the way, she started writing mysteries. When she is not writing her novels, she teaches creative writing at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

An Edgar nominee for Best Short Story, Shelley is the author of You Cannoli Die Once (Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel) and Basil Instinct, both part of her Italian Restaurant Series.  Practical Sins for Cold Climates is the first book in her new Val Cameron mystery series.  The second book in the series is entitled A Killer’s Guide to Good Works.  Shelley’s mystery stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Blood on Their Hands, The World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories, and Crimewave (UK).  She has also written The Everything Guide to Edgar Allan Poe.

On her website, Shelley says that anything she wants to read or write comes down to three words:  Good Person Struggling. With institutions that don’t make sense.  With relationships that strip the heart bare.  With wickedness we can never quite believe exists.  What she likes about traditional mysteries is their cockeyed belief in our ability as intrepid amateurs to solve crimes.  Murder becomes our business.

Ohio Author Spotlight: Amanda Flower

If you’re looking for a dictionary definition of “prolific author,” look no further than USA Today best-selling author Amanda Flower. Like many writers, Amanda has been weaving tales since she was a child, but she recently celebrated ten years as a published author.

Amanda Flower

Books have always been a major part of Amanda’s life. She began her career as a college librarian. Now she writes full time—and no wonder. Since her very first book was hit the shelves, Amanda has published no fewer than thirty-seven cozy mysteries (do the math!) in a number of series with several publishers. In 2015, Amanda won an Agatha Award for Best Children’s/YA novel with Andi Unstoppable, the third in the Andi Boggs series. Her books are known for their humor, quirky characters, and down-to-earth settings, many of which are taken from Amanda’s own life and experience with the Ohio Amish community.

Her most recent books include Courting Can Be Killer (from An Amish Matchmaker series); Candy Cane Crime (from the Amish Candy Shop mysteries); and Dead-End Detective (the Piper & Porter Mysteries). Coming in 2021 is Farm to Trouble, the first in the Farm to Table Mysteries.

Amanda got married this past October. Currently she and her husband are building a house on their farm. They have two cats, Cheeps and Tummy. In her spare time, Amanda loves to make beaded jewelry, which she sells in her Etsy shop.

Links to everything can be found on her website: www.amandaflower.com, where you can find more about Amanda and her books and sign up for her newsletter.

Ohio Author Spotlight: Julie Anne Lindsey

Julie Anne Lindsey is an award-winning and bestselling author of mystery and romantic suspense. She’s published more than 30 novels since her debut in 2013 and currently writes series as herself, as well as under multiple pen names, for Harlequin, Kensington, Sourcebooks and Crooked Lane Books.

Julie Anne Lindsey

When she’s not writing the stories that keep her up at night, Julie stays busy in Ohio with her husband and three amazing kids. When she’s not throwing epic birthday parties for one of her kids or capturing cute snaps of her cats, she manages to write. To date, she has three series that readers can’t get enough of – The Cider Shop series (set in her beloved home state of West Virginia), the Fortress Defense series (part of Harlequin Intrigue), and the Christmas Tree Farm series (written under the pen name of Jacqueline Frost).

Today she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world. Julie is represented by Jill Marsal at the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency and is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America. Learn more about Julie at julieannelindsey.com.

Ohio Author Spotlight: Casey Daniels

If you are fascinated by multiple personalities and the pen names to go with them, Cleveland author, Casey Daniels, is right up your alley. Casey aka Kylie Logan, Miranda Bliss, Zoe Daniels, Constance Laux, Connie Deka, Connie Lane, and Connie Laux has written numerous romance novels and cozy mysteries. Casey was once lucky enough to interview mystery great Elizabeth Peters for an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Elizabeth wrote her novels under more than one name too, and she described the experience this way: “If you’re only one person, you’re boring.”

Casey is anything but boring.  When she came to one of our meetings and spoke about using tarot cards to plot a mystery novel, she was Casey.  When we ran into her at the Ohioana Book Festival, she was Kylie. As Casey Daniels, she has written the Pepper Martin Mystery series which features a cemetery tour guide as the protagonist and includes ten novels, the most recent of which, Graveyard Shift, was released in July 2020. As Kylie Logan, she has written five League of Literary Ladies Mysteries, three Chili Cook-Off Mysteries, four Button Box Mysteries, and an Ethnic Eats Mystery. 

Graveyard Shift/Casey Daniels

So, who is Casey, aka Kylie, aka Miranda, aka Connie, etc. anyway?  She’s a fulltime writer who has loved mysteries since she was a kid. Her dad was a Cleveland Police detective, and he introduced her to the Sherlock Holmes stories. He also gave Casey her first investigating experiences when on his days off, they would pile into the car and hit the streets to look for stolen cars. Later, she read her way through every mystery story she could get her hands on.

Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle are still among her favorites.

Casey has a degree in English and experience as a journalist and writing teacher. When she’s not writing, she’s usually with her family and their two dogs, Ernie, an adorable Airedale pup, and Oscar, a rescued Jack Russell who spends far too much time watching TV. She enjoys knitting, gardening and stomping through cemeteries in search of history, stories and inspiration.

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.


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

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.


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