Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mary Welk and Hearts & Daggers by Margot Justes

I would like to introduce my second partner in crime, Mary Welk. Just as with Amy Alessio, Mary and I go back a few years. I'm really happy to be working together with two fantastic ladies. Appropriately enough Mary included some pictures of beautiful frames; just a hint her novella is entitled Framed.

Mary posted the first chapter of her novella on

Two years ago Amy Alessio approached Margot Justes and me with a unique idea for a writing project. She suggested we each compose a story that not only highlighted our own protagonists, but also included the main characters of the other two writers. The end result would be a three-novella romantic suspense book based on the theme of Valentine's Day.

Amy's novella would feature Alana O'Neill, bookkeeper for an antiques store called Attic Treasures and the protagonist in several of Amy's short stories. Margot's tale would revolve around Rebecca Standish, a Chicago art gallery owner who first appeared in the anthology Heat of the Moment. As for me, I'd write about Caroline Rhodes, the star player in my 'Rhodes to Murder' mystery series.

My first thought was, this could be fun! Caroline Rhodes survived many a difficult moment in the four mystery novels in which she appeared, but never once had she faced a romantic dilemma. As a recent widow, she’d struggled to overcome feelings of loss in my first novel, A Merry Little Murder. By her fourth appearance in The Scarecrow Murders, she’d come to terms with her new role as a single working woman and had several good friends of the male persuasion. But romance had yet to enter her life; Amy’s novella project could prove the perfect remedy for that problem.

Then reality hit. Spicing up my savvy sleuth’s love life might be fun, but how was I to incorporate Amy’s and Margot’s characters into my story? What did Caroline, an ER nurse in a rural university town, have in common with an antiques store bookkeeper who collected vintage cookbooks and a wealthy proprietor of an upscale Chicago art gallery? Absolutely nothing. Nevertheless, I would have to come up with a plot that included a vital reason for Caroline to meet Alana O’Neill and Rebecca Standish.

After several sleepless nights wracking my brain for an answer, I came up with the idea of Caroline inheriting some questionable paintings from the wife of a former patient. As an expert on art, Rebecca could tell Caroline if her inheritance was worth anything. And as a person familiar with all kinds of antiques, Alana could also shed light on the value of the pictures.

So what kind of paintings would I have my heroine inherit? And what would make them questionable as to worth? Would they be long lost examples of some particular famous artist’s work, or would they be cleverly reproduced but ultimately worthless counterfeits? It was obvious that I’d need to do some research if I wanted to get my facts right, and so I started to dig around on the Internet, surfing websites dedicated to the visual arts and painting. It was while doing so that I stumbled across a site that ultimately changed the entire course of my story.

To say any more would give away a major plot point in FRAMED. What I can tell you is this: you’ll find a clue as to the direction my story took in the pictures accompanying this post.

I can also tell you what Anthony award winning mystery author Julie Hyzy had to say about FRAMED:

FRAMED is at once suspenseful, fun, charming, and touching (and) closes with a great scene that will leave fans impatient for Caroline’s next adventure. Julie Hyzy, New York Times bestselling author of AFFAIRS OF STEAK.

Yes, I had a lot of fun writing this novella. I hope you’ll have as much fun reading it! 

Mary V. Welk, www.marywelk and

Want to know more about HEARTS AND DAGGERS? Check out the following book description from

Cupid’s arrow gives way to Death’s scythe in this trilogy of Valentine’s Day novellas featuring love and murder Midwest style. Antiques mall bookkeeper Alana O’Neill researches events from sixty years ago to discover a murderer during a BLAST FROM THE PAST festival while her teen son resists romance in Amy Alessio’s novella. (15,500 words) Over twenty recipes plus variations from the author’s collection of vintage handwritten recipe boxes. Margot Justes’ A FIRE WITHIN finds rugged firefighter Kirk Adams struggling to keep Rebecca Standish, the love of his life, safe from someone bent on fiery vengeance. (43,500 words) Mary Welk’s FRAMED finds Caroline Rhodes gambling with danger when she falls for a handsome card shark who might be more than just a thief of hearts. (37,000 words) The three adventures interconnect as characters visit and help each other in these latest installments from the authors’ popular series.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
Hearts & Daggers


Morgan Mandel said...

Sometimes it helps to have items that have to go into the plot. Then your imagination can figure out how they intertwine. Sounds like yours worked very well!

Morgan Mandel

Deb Larson said...

What a great way to create a story. Hope this becomes a great success and maybe more stories down the road!
DL Larson

Margot Justes said...

It did work well, and we're planning another anthology together set at Halloween.
Margot Justes

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Margot Justes said...

Glad you like the blog. I'm not an expert in all the tech stuff-far from it-but if you give them this link it should work.

Margot Justes

Mary Welk said...

Hello, Margot, Morgan, Deb, and academic writing service (sure wish I knew your real name!). Margot, thanks for posting my blog article here, and thanks to the rest of you for reading and commenting on it. Yes, it was a unique way to create a story and demanded some creative thinking on my part. But it didn't turn out to be as hard a job as I thought it would be. Once I found the website describing antique frames and discovered how valuable some of them are, I knew I had the makings of a good plot. Research is always one of the most fun parts of writing. :)

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Thanks, this story is very interesting and absorbing! I'm looking forward to reading your new stories! You wield a formidable pen, my friend!