Revisiting the Dream
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 more 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 considered the following scenario: 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 before it was too late?
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 and more attention. 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 an overweight and 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 relatives, deserving and undeserving me, and food. Several storylines are percolating for Books 2 and 3 of the series—Too Many Women in the Room and A Different Kind of Reunion.
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.
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In high school, Joanne dabbled in poetry, but it would be over three decades before she entertained the idea of writing as a career. She listened to her practical Italian side and earned degrees in mathematics and education. She experienced many fulfilling moments as she watched her students develop an appreciation (and sometimes, love) of mathematics. Later, she obtained a post-graduate diploma as a career development practitioner and put that skill set to use in the co-operative education classroom. She welcomed this opportunity to help her students experience personal growth and acquire career direction through their placements.
In 2008, she 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 Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.