I am getting to be quite the party hostess, over here in my little blog. Maybe it’s the holidays, maybe it’s that I’ve learned just how to put out the right tea towels and make the little sandwiches with the crusts cut off…but lately people seem to want to come visit and write things here.

I’m flattered.

Today’s guest blogger is ROBERTA ISLEIB, who just happens to live in the same community I do, but perhaps because we’re both writers who are so self-disciplined that we do not go out in public when we are writing our books, we have rarely had the chance to see each other. Still, she signed on with Dorothy Thompson of Pump Up Your Book Promotion, who so wonderfully managed my own book tour through the blogosphere last May, and now here she is, on my blog.

  Here is a picture of Roberta, on warmer days. (We just had a major ice storm, so even looking at this picture is making me shiver). And here is a picture of her book, Preaching to the Corpse, a murder mystery set right in our own home town. It’s fabulous, believe me. I can’t wait to buy copies for everybody I know.

And here is Roberta’s blog post:


The OTHER advice column novel

About a year and a half ago, a month before I’d turned in DEADLY ADVICE, thefirst book in my new mystery series, I ran into Nancy, a writer friend in town. We exchanged news about our careers and I told her my latest book would be published in the spring.

“What’s it about?” she asked.

“The main character is a psychologist who lives in Connecticut and writes an advice column,” I said. “She’s drawn into the murder investigation of a neighbor who was pegged as a suicide because she feels dreadfully guilty about not noticing anything wrong.”

She congratulated me and wished me luck, as writer friends do. Though maybe her face looked a little funny…

Just a week later I read that Sandi Kahn Shelton would be reading from her new book, featuring AN ADVICE COLUMNIST WHO LIVES IN CONNECTICUT. I realized right then that Nancy had known about Sandi’s book. And she also knew that I’d BUST A GUT once I heard that an ESTEEMED WRITER like Sandi had BEAT ME TO MY OWN THESIS. Every writer’s nightmare. Sigh.

So I went to Sandi’s booksigning, bought her book, asked her to sign it, and slapped it in a drawer where I wouldn’t be tempted to read it and crib every good idea I found. Only after I’d turned in my own manuscript and gotten well along into the sequel, PREACHING TO THE CORPSE, could I allow myself to enjoy A PIECE OF NORMAL. All while trying not to say, “Oh, I wish I’d thought of that” more than once a chapter.

That said, my new character, Dr. Rebecca Butterman is a 30-something, freshly single woman living in Guilford, CT. She has a complicated family history (don’t we all) that colors her reactions to her life and her work.

And she’s still raw from her recent divorce. Which puts her in the funny position of giving advice to the lovelorn in Bloom! Magazine and conducting a psychotherapy practice, while struggling with her own issues. All realistic enough, I hope.

The excitement in the new book begins when Rebecca’s minister wakes her up in the middle of the night, about to be charged with murder. He begs her to join the committee charged with hiring a new minister. There she uncovers cutthroat church politics rather than the joys of the holiday season. It seems that “thou shalt not kill” has been qualified: “…unless thou art eliminating the competition.”

Rebecca has strong relationships with two women friends and her younger sister. She’s an amazing cook and much of her detective work is done while enjoying a good meal, either at home or out with friends. In fact, I can imagine Rebecca and Lily getting together for lunch one day. Maybe Claire’s in New Haven, or the Hidden Kitchen in Guilford. Anyway, I’ll leave that to them. I think they’ll like each other though…

I hope you’ll enjoy reading about her as much as I’ve enjoyed the writing.

Thank you thank you to Sandi for writing wonderful books and being such a good hostess!

Roberta Isleib