What We’re Working on Right Now

No doubt about it, authors experience plenty of ups and downs on the crazy roller coaster of Publishing. Sometimes it’s a thrilling ride, and sometimes it’s…less thrilling. But one thing writers can count on: We are ALWAYS busy. Here’s what some of the Chicks are working on at this very minute…

Lisa Q. Mathews

CotC Word balloons

I just finished a short story, which was a new format and style for me (I admit, I scared myself a few times), and now I’m back at work on a new series proposal that has so far taken on many incarnations. This time, though, I think I’m on the right track. I’m spending a lot of time down the rabbit hole of “research,” which is so much fun I have to remind myself to Actually Write Something. Said research includes revisiting some of my favorite Gothic novels–but then I get into the juicy stories of the authors’ even more fascinating lives and…Did you know Victoria Holt died (and was also buried) at sea between Greece and Egypt?

 Ellen Byron


I’ve got a few balls in the air. On Wednesday I turned in the revisions for Here Comes the Body, my First Catering Hall Mystery, written under the name Maria DiRico. After that, I launched into shaping a decent draft of my as-yet-untitled-but-revolves-around-Halloween 6th Cajun Country Mystery that I can send to a couple of beta readers for notes. And once the draft is done, my plan is to noodle around with a proposal for a new series idea I’m excited about. It would be very easy for me to skate around that particular task, so send some motivation my way! (Also, it’s TV staffing season here in Lalaland, which has taken on a whole new dimension with the WGA v. agents standoff, and that’s been super distracting.)

Vickie Fee


I’m in book jail right now with 10 days to go until the manuscript is due for My Fair Latté, first book in my Café Cinema Mysteries. I’m drinking copious amounts of coffee and trying to remember to breathe.

Sneak peek: Broke, unemployed barista Halley Greer inherits a timeworn movie theater and moves to the charming tourist town of Utopia Springs, Arkansas to claim her legacy. In addition to the theater, she discovers she’s also inherited a trash-heaped apartment, family secrets, her late uncle’s friends, a stealthy calico kitty—and an adversary.

The feisty barista fixes up and re-opens the theater as a coffee/wine bar, showing classic films. The opening night screening of My Fair Lady is a hit, and her new life feels like a bit of movie magic, until a customer turns up dead during intermission. With the cops eyeing her as a suspect, Halley digs into the victim’s life and runs into a tangle of blackmail and secrets to unravel, much like a mystery in her friend’s escape rooms business. The theater and her budding romance could both be DOA unless Halley can find a killer—before the curtain comes down for keeps.

Cynthia Kuhn

cynthiaThis isn’t mystery-related but I just turned in final grades for spring semester! (Pause for celebration.) It’s the first time in two decades that I have not taught a summer class, and I don’t even know what to do with myself! Actually, I do know because The Subject of Malice (Lila #4) is launching July 23rd and there’s much to be done in the meantime. In addition, I’ve agreed to beta read manuscripts for several friends and I’m hoping to finish Lila #5 soon. And by finish, I mean start. Just kidding: I have a title.

Leslie Karst

Leslie graphic

No rest for this Chick. Although my latest mystery, Murder from Scratch, was released just weeks ago, I’m burning up my laptop keyboard working on the as-yet untitled Sally Solari number five:

Family rivalry is all good fun when it’s Sally Solari competing against her dad, Mario, at the annual Artichoke Cook-Off out on the Santa Cruz Wharf. But when Sally wakes up the morning of the competition to discover the sinus infection she’s been fighting has caused her to lose her sense of smell, she’s in no mood for laughter. And then, after one of the cook-off competitors is found dead behind a restaurant dumpster—bashed on the head with his own cleaver and with one of the tasty thistles stuffed into his mouth—the festivities turn downright sinister.

Kathleen Valenti

Right now I’m basking in the post-release glow of AS DIRECTED, the third book in my Maggie O’Malley Mystery Series. Actually, that’s a lie. I’m not so much basking as sharing—as in blog-touring, podcasting, Facebook-living, event-ing, and other verbs that allow me to talk about the book but take me away from my keyboard. When I’m not doing those things, I’m plotting the next book, which for me means writing an extensive outline that helps me see what happens, to whom, and why. The exciting part? I’m creating two outlines: one for a Maggie book and one for a standalone. Right now it’s a race to see which book wants to be written first. We’ll see what the muse has to say.

We know we aren’t the only busy ones. What are YOU reading, writing, or working on? Let us know in the comments below!

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36 thoughts on “What We’re Working on Right Now

  1. Well, best of luck to you all. Sounds fascinating. One question here: how long does it take you to write a new book? Writing multiple series must take prior planning. Do you schedule out months during the year or just start writing and hope for the best?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I think most of the Chicks are on a one-year schedule (more or less), which means you about about six months to write the book, then another six for revisions, line edits, printing, and pre-publication promotion.

      We generally know in advance about when we’ll be on the six-month writing marathon, but we don’t have much control over when it is. And if you have a three-week European trip planned right when your first round of revisions comes back from the editor, tough luck…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Our replies just crossed, Leslie! Now which Chick is on an extended European trip right now? Becky? Hello? How are those deadlines coming?


    2. Connie, I am the wrong Chick to ask about scheduling. I am terrible at it in general, and I’m also not writing multiple series at the moment (just working on multiple projects!). When I was a ghostwriter, though, we had 8 weeks to write a series book of 200 pages, and I usually wrote them all in the last 2 weeks. Could I do that now, with my own books? Yes, but not on purpose! For the most part, though, multiple series authors plan their deadlines and schedules very carefully. Usually the books are in different stages (ex. outline or first draft or revisions or copyediting) at any particular moment in time. BUT if publishers are slow in returning a stage (which often happens), an author’s careful schedule can become moot (and a nightmare!).

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Connie, when I’m not working a day job in TV, it takes me about 2-4 weeks to write an outline, then 8-12-16 weeks to write a draft. Another week or two to get the draft in shape for beta readers, then after they get back to me with notes, a week or two to address them. If I’m staff, the process takes longer.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This summer I’m voicing Minnie Crockwell and her ghostly sidekick, Ben, as they travel in an RV solving murder mysteries in Will Travel for Trouble, books 10-12. Then by July I should be digging in to the last installment(Custard’s Last Stand) of When the Fat Ladies Sing by Linda Kozar, for more deliciously southern-fried wackiness with two gal-pal sleuths who have been compared to “Lucy and Ethel is West Texas.”

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I just finished the (very) rough draft of a short story I intend to submit for this year’s Malice Domestic anthology, “Murder Most Theatrical.” It’s my first foray into using an unreliable narrator, so we’ll see how that goes.

    I’m gearing up for the August release of HEAVEN HAS NO RAGE, #2 in The Laurel Highlands Mysteries, while I’m working on a draft for the yet-untitled, yet-uncontracted book #4 (Bruce Coffin calls this “writing on spec”).

    And I have to pull out and dust off my WWII mystery, THE ENEMY WE DONT SEE for submission. Think Rosie the Riveter meets Sam Spade.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Christine, It sounds as though you’re well on your way toward that goal! I’m trying to read each night before bed now, to make my way through my towering nightstand book pile. I love to paint, because it’s so relaxing for me, but I am a complete amateur. ( A little too…”painterly.”)


  4. As some may know, my last permanent job ended just about 13 months ago when my company was sold and my job moved to Texas without me. I’ve worked a couple of temp jobs since then, and my temp job of 9 months is turning permanent on Tuesday!! I’ve been enjoying working at this company, it’s in town, and it’s been my dream company to work at for years. I’m jazzed.

    Other than that, just trying how I will get to all the works I want to read with all the cool new books coming out I also want to read.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Huge congrats, Mark!! Of course they made you a permanent employee–well-deserved. And I hear you on that growing queue–SO many new books, especially from author friends–that I can’t wait to read.


    2. Yaaay Mark! (High five) Thanks for letting us know the great news.

      I’m just headed back to work after 3 months of maternity leave. So I’m at a point where wearing pants still feels like an accomplishment. So amazed by everyone’s updates. Such a good group

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t know how all of you keep up with your commitments! I’m working on book 2 in my Laura Bishop home staging series–in between dealing with lots of family responsibilities. Retirement wasn’t supposed to be this busy.

    Liked by 3 people

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