During my high school years, I dabbled in poetry while dreams of a writing career dangled before me. But I gave in to my practical Italian side and pursued degrees in mathematics and education. While teaching was a good career fit, in my heart of hearts, I knew that I would write a novel at some point in my life. All I needed was more time and energy.
Be careful what you wish for…
Five months before my fiftieth birthday, I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and forced to take a leave of absence. With all my energies focused on healing, I searched for light and breezy novels that would distract me. I was grateful for the bags of books dropped off by well-meaning friends but couldn’t get into any of the storylines. I found the philosophical books too intense and the comedic books unsatisfying.
Instead, I gravitated toward cozies, those delightful murder mysteries that include a bloodless crime and contain little sex, violence, or coarse language. I was familiar with Agatha Christie’s novels and pleasantly surprised to discover more authors in the genre, among them Susan Wittig Albert, MC Beaton, Mary Jane Maffini, and Denise Swanson. I read voraciously, often finishing a cozy in one sitting.
Toward the end of chemo treatments, I decided to experiment with the genre and came up with the following premise: What if a woman won a major lottery, returned to her hometown, and then found herself embroiled in a murder investigation involving four blondes? Could she prove her innocence and solve this case?
I fleshed out the premise and completed the first draft of A Season for Killing Blondes during my sixteen- month “sabbatical.” I considered querying but realized the manuscript needed more work. Reluctantly, I set the cozy aside and focused on the last leg of my teaching career.
Three years later, I retired from teaching and revisited my writing dream. At first, I wrote nonfiction and watched with delight as my articles and book reviews started appearing in newspapers, magazines, and online. Buoyed by this success, I decided to revamp A Season for Killing Blondes. I added another sub-plot and several more characters. While shopping it around, I wrote Between Land and Sea, a paranormal romance about a middle-aged ex-mermaid.
I was thrilled when Senior Editor Debby Gilbert of Soul Mate Publishing offered me a contract for Between Land and Sea. I put aside the cozy and focused on promotion.
In August 2014, I heard from Johanna Melaragno of The Wild Rose Press. On Friday, June 12, A Season for Killing Blondes was officially released. It is the first book in the Gilda Greco Mystery Series. Based in Northern Ontario, these books feature a fifty-something Italian woman, her meddling relatives, deserving and undeserving men, multiple murders, and food.
Too Many Women in the Room was released in May 2017, and A Different Kind of Reunion will be released in late April 2018.
Giveaway – A Season for Killing Blondes
The audiobook of A Season for Killing Blondes was released last month. I’m offering 20 free UK codes to interested listeners. You can leave a message by clicking HERE.
Note: This offer is only available to residents of the United Kingdom.
Hours before the opening of her career counseling practice, Gilda Greco discovers the dead body of golden girl Carrie Ann Godfrey, neatly arranged in the dumpster outside her office. Gilda’s life and budding career are stalled as Detective Carlo Fantin, her former high school crush, conducts the investigation.
When three more dead blondes turn up all brutally strangled and deposited near Gilda’s favorite haunts, she is pegged as a prime suspect for the murders. Frustrated by Carlo’s chilly detective persona and the mean girl antics of Carrie Ann’s meddling relatives, Gilda decides to launch her own investigation. She discovers a gaggle of suspects, among them a yoga instructor in need of anger management training, a lecherous photographer, and fourteen ex-boyfriends.
As the puzzle pieces fall into place, shocking revelations emerge, forcing Gilda to confront the envy and deceit she has long overlooked.
About the author
In 2008, Joanne took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.
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