The creation of “Regrets Only”… the 5th story in the Gwen Andrews mystery series… required more hours than the previous tales. Opting to take Gwen and her sister out to Nantucket for a Halloween party brought with it an entirely different challenge.

And here’s why. The first four stories in the series took place in the fictional town of Harbor Falls, Massachusetts, a place of my imagination with street names I’d chosen and buildings where I needed them.

But on Nantucket, streets carry established names. The ferry docks, police station, and mid-island grocery store are located in particular sections of the island. Because I couldn’t fake these details, my daytrip friend suggested we ride the ferry to explore the island’s nooks and crannies. After three days of gaining a good sense of the island and its details, we headed back to the mainland and I continued the writing.

But as usually happens, my original plot veered off, taking twists and turns, leading me to a ending different than I’d planned.

Now here I sit, working through my completed manuscript one scene at a time. Adjusting character dialogue. Eliminating unnecessary words. Summarizing repeated passages. Tightening the prose. Making sure the foreshadowing matches the events that eventually take place.

When I finish this last edit and feel proud to release “Regrets Only” to mystery lovers, I’ll place the file in the hands of my very capable publisher for her review and final suggestions. When all adjustments are applied, she’ll upload to my Amazon page, and submit the order for printed copies to be autographed.

When that banner day arrives, I’ll turn to Gwen in my mind and ask, “What mystery would you like to solve next?”

For my New England followers, here are a few upcoming Author Talks if you’re interested in hearing me speak about my writing journey:

Fri, Sept 16, 10am… Carver COA, Carver, MA
Thurs, Sept 22, 2pm… Taft Library/Sr Ctr combo, Mendon, MA
Sat, Sept 24, 1-3pm… Tatnuck Booksellers, Westborough, MA
Wed, Sept 28, 10:30am… Rochester COA Book Club, Rochester, MA
Thurs, Sept 29, 10am… E. Bridgewater COA, E. Bridgewater, MA
Wed, Oct 12, 10am… Bridgewater COA, Bridgewater, MA
Tues, Oct 18, 6:30-8… Lakeville Library, Lakeville, MA

If you’re able to attend any of these events, be sure to come up and say hello!

With four Gwen Andrews mysteries published, I’ve been struggling to create Gwen’s story #5.

The location determined, multiple characters introduced, and victim discovered, I was hard-pressed to choose one of them as the culprit. The names have been tumbling over each other in an attempt to convince me of their reason for the crime.

When I awoke from dreamland this morning, the culprit was revealed! I now have a clear path and can write with abandon as I incorporate the innocent suspects into the chapters, dropping clues as I go like Hansel and Gretel.

The other half of this story involves the romantic… or non-romantic… subplot between my Gwen and her hopeful love interest. And let’s not forget the ghost of her deceased husband!

As always since my retirement, I enjoy creating a story that my readers will enjoy. Now get to work!

I’m thrilled to share with you that my latest novel ‘The Life She Left Behind’ is now available on Amazon.com as either a softcover book or eBook for those of you who prefer your Kindle for reading.

Please note that ‘The Life’ is a contemporary standalone novel and not a story in the Gwen Andrews mystery series. But have no fear, I’m writing Gwen’s next amateur sleuthing adventure as we speak!

Such an exciting time fo an author and her readers!

Thank you for being fans!

Debi Graham-Leard

After a year of no speakers because of mandated virus precautions, venues down here in Florida are beginning to open their activity calendars.

Recently, I’ve been successful in scheduling my Author Talks at retirement facilities because their residents are year-round and a reliable audience is possible.

On the other hand, retirement communities in 55+ parks have advised that a good portion of their residents will not be available until the 2022 winter season. Some of them never arrived [mostly restricted Canadians] and snowbirds are beginning the exodus to their northern homes.

Nothing to do but move each of these venues forward in my personal calendar and cross my fingers that they’ll be open to my Author Talk next year.

After publishing the 4th story in my Gwen Andrews mystery series last summer, I decided to try my hand at a different genre…. women’s fiction. Perhaps you savvier writers out there will have a different genre suggestion after reading the following first pass at the book cover blurb.

Working title: The Life We Leave Behind

It’s mid-October, and thirty-something Morgan Stone finds herself driving from New England to Delaware for her 20th high school reunion, the perfectly-timed destination chosen to flee yet another disastrous relationship. When plans to stay with her mom fall apart, Morgan rents a cabin in a local vineyard. Enchanted by her surroundings, she seizes the opportunity to extend her stay through the end-of-the-year holidays. A simmering high school flame, his jealous wife, an attempt to improve her mother/daughter relationship, and a surprise visit from the Boston heart-breaker add interest to Morgan’s days and nights as she searches for the perfect place to call home.

As always, creating the characters and settling on their relationships is challenging but fulfilling. How do they talk to each other? Where do the scenes take place? Does every word, sentence, and paragraph move the story toward its final conclusion?

As with my previous mysteries, when I finally type “The End” after many months of re-vamping, re-sequencing, and re-editing, I wonder why I didn’t write the finished story just that way from the beginning!

P.S. if you’re wondering why I haven’t posted in this blog recently, my WordPress dashboard was locked up with no apparent way to unlock it. But smarter heads to the rescue, and I’m back online!

hands on laptopTo all the writers out there… whether you write fiction or non-fiction, regardless of your genre…¬† have you been more productive¬†during our self-isolation?

I know I have!  With outside activities pared down to a bare minimum, the page numbers in my WIP swell on a daily basis.

Chapters have been flying back and forth with my writers group via email. Critiques are returned much faster. Because I plan to publish this summer, Riverhaven Books has placed me in the queue for mid-June. A looming deadline provides incentive.

So forge ahead, writers! Follow your characters from your self-isolation into the world you’ve created for them!


A_Woman_Reading_Papers_At_Her_DeskWhile snow-birding in Florida, I’ve scheduled my Author Talk at local retirement communities. Those planned events came to a screaming halt earlier this week when the governor issued suggested restrictions to tamp down the spread of this nasty little virus.

Because our elderly citizens are the most susceptible to this years flu bug, the local administrators are following the safety guidelines and cancelling outside vendors, such as authors like myself.

All we can do is stay clear of each other and avoid crowds at indoor venues. Not to mention wash our hands, wash our hands, and WASH OUR HANDS!

The silver lining of this outbreak is that I can devote the hours of self-isolation to work on my latest WIP… the 4th story in my Gwen Andrews mystery series titled ‘Wedding Interrupted’. If the plotting and writing moves along at a good clip, I have a chance at publishing this summer.

Stay well, everyone!


Revamping the Plot

cartoon lady with pencil and notepadEvery fiction writer knows the frustration of plotting their story. Especially with a mystery, such as I create, the plot not only needs to proceed logically toward the climax, but the characters, dialogue, and actions within each scene need to be believable to the reader as the clues are subtly inserted into the story.

Such is the case with ‘Wedding Interrupted’, the 4th story in my Gwen Andrews series. My writers group commented that one of my secondary characters was leaving the story too early and suggested expanding his role to heighten the tension, releasing him only after he’d served his purpose in the plot.

And so for the past few days, I’ve been wrestling with Fred. He has finally surrendered to my vision of his role in the conflict and I have sent him on his way.


book club at tableAs I settle into my third year of snow-birding in Florida, I continue to work with my writing group back in Massachusetts by emailing chapters back and forth, soliciting comments and suggestions. Our system seems to work very well, and in fact, I think we’re more productive!

The comedic light bulb above my head blinked on that I shouldn’t sacrifice face to face critiquing sessions simply because I’m 1500 miles from home, and so I googled writing groups in Pinellas County. I was pleasantly surprised to learn several exist within a few miles of me:

Pinellas Writers, Largo … Saturday mornings

Gulf Beaches Library Writers Group, Madeira Beach … Monday mornings

Clearwater Writers Meet-up Group, Clearwater … Monday evenings

Now that I’m penning the 4th story in my mystery series, other pairs of eyes reading my words would ensure that this story can stand alone if a reader delves into the adventures of my amateur sleuth out of sequence.

And so, I need to choose one of these groups and make the commitment to close down my tablet, walk out my door, get into the SUV, and drive to a meeting!