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Sex, Lies, and Videotape

Deborah Donnelly
Roberta Isleib
Libby Fischer Hellmann

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Sex, Lies, and Videotape Newsletter: November, 2005

Deborah says: You may now read the review...

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A big moment for any author is when Publishers Weekly reviews your new book. PW took a look at the fifth Wedding Planner mystery, YOU MAY NOW KILL THE BRIDE, and called it “as invigorating as a shot of espresso” – so I’m feeling pumped!

This new adventure finds Carnegie traveling to Puget Sound’s picturesque San Juan Island to direct her best friend Lily’s wedding at a lavender farm. But when murder comes down the aisle, will Carnegie be the prime suspect?

Good question, but what my readers have really been asking is, “What happened to Aaron in that forest fire at the end of DEATH TAKES A HONEYMOON?” Well, Publishers Weekly spilled the beans, so I will too: Aaron survived, but with severe injuries, so that he and Carnegie are seriously reconsidering their relationship. YOU MAY NOW KILL THE BRIDE goes on sale January 30, and I promise not to leave you in suspense this time – no more cliffhangers! For a sneak preview or to pre-order, please visit my website.

Looking forward, I’ve started work on Carnegie’s sixth adventure. BRIDE AND DOOM finds her back in downtown Seattle, assisting her old nemesis Beau Paliére with the wedding of a major league baseball star and a misbehaving punk rocker. The research for this story has been a kick, beginning with a backstage tour of Safeco Field. And I’m having fun bringing back some favorite characters. Can you say Killer B’s?

Roberta’s on the back nine with Final Fore…

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I learned a few things while researching and writing my March release, FINAL FORE. First, my days of reveling in college dorm life are over. Second, golf organizations aren’t keen on offering press passes to murder mystery writers: someone always ends up dead!

In FINAL FORE, set on the bucolic Mount Holyoke College campus, Cassie Burdette is steeling her nerves for the US Women's Open, the most prestigious—and toughest—women's golf event in the world. Then a rival dies, and Cassie learns that in high-stakes golf, competition can literally mean murder. Read more about all of this on my website.

With Cassie safely living her childhood dream, I’ve started a brand new series. Featuring a psychologist who also writes an online advice column, the first book—DEATH AND THE SINGLE GIRL—is scheduled for April 2007. If I need details for the setting, I drive to the town next door. If I need colorful characters, I take one of my psychologist buddies to lunch. And the advice column is a natural—my family hopes it will help channel my “tips” into the book—and away from them!

Meanwhile, Libby may be too modest to say so, but she’s been elected president of Sisters in Crime, a national organization founded to promote equity for women mystery writers. I’ve joined the board of directors too, and we’re gearing up for a grand 20th anniversary birthday bash.

And Libby’s got news to die for…

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A SHOT TO DIE FOR, the fourth Ellie Foreman mystery, came out in hardcover in August and paperback in September to excellent reviews. I’m now in the final stages of my spin-off: Georgia Davis, a cop who was featured in AN IMAGE OF DEATH, is the protagonist of a dark tale that involves the murder of a high school girl during a hazing incident. Look for it in 2007. The working title is EASY INNOCENCE, although knowing how publishers like to change things, that might well be different by the time it’s published.

Good news about AN EYE FOR MURDER, the first Ellie Foreman novel, which has become increasingly hard to find in paperback. Poisoned Pen Press will be printing a trade paper version sometime next year! Look for the Michigan Avenue Bridge on the cover.

Finally, I have a short story called “Detour” coming out in 2006 in THESE GUNS FOR HIRE, a hit man (and woman) anthology from Bleak House. It’s a hardboiled story – my first ever – and I loved writing it!

Happy holidays,
Deborah, Roberta, and Libby

PS What makes the best stocking stuffer? A good mystery!

We've provided links to, but we love supporting independent and mystery bookstores. Go to to find a store near you!


Sex, Lies, and Videotape Newsletter: November, 2004

Seasonal greetings to all our readers! Here's the latest news from Deborah, Roberta and Libby...

Deborah's Putting Out Fires.....Roberta's Bouncing Ideas.....Libby's Spinning Off

Deborah's Putting Out Fires...

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It's winter time, but I'm thinking of spring - May 1st to be exact. That's the publication date for the fourth Wedding Planner Mystery, DEATH TAKES A HONEYMOON, which finds Carnegie Kincaid in Sun Valley at the wedding of an
old friend who's a TV star and an old flame who's a smokejumper. The cover art is a hoot so watch for it soon at my website.

Meanwhile I've just started work on the fifth book in the series, YOU MAY NOW KILL THE BRIDE. It's set on picturesque San Juan Island, up in Puget Sound, where Carnegie's dear friend Lily is about to marry police detective
Michael Graham. Their wedding takes place at a lovely lavender farm, but a gloomy old mausoleum in the nearby woods is the scene of much spookier doings. Will Carnegie's mom continue her own romance if her beau is a murder suspect? Hmm...

I love scoping out new locations for weddings and murders. From Mount Rainier to Sun Valley to San Juan Island, I visit the scene, collect tourist brochures, and take dozens of photos, which keep the mood of a place fresh in my mind as I write about it months later. To suggest a wedding venue for Carnegie, drop me a line. But only in the Northwest area, please. Research in Paris or Tahiti is a bit out of my scope!

Roberta's Bouncing Ideas...

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I'm thick in the middle again--this time with Cassie's fifth adventure, FINAL FORE. I had a ball with the research: spent a July week in South Hadley, MA at the US Women's Open. How did a murder mystery author wangle a press pass
to the most prestigious women's golf tournament in the World? By taking a temporary position as a golf writer at the New Haven Register--click here to read "Bidding on Major Takes Toll on Psyche."

Book four in the series, FAIRWAY TO HEAVEN, will debut in March, 2005. Cassie's playing in a tournament at Pinehurst, NC, one of the gems of the golf course world. Although she's finally got her game together, she's handicapped by her team, consisting of her estranged father and her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Mike. Besides that, she's agreed to serve as maid of honor at a dear friend's wedding--practical, no-nonsense Cassie is now up to her ears in society details. Where's Carnegie Kincaid when she needs her?

I'm also bouncing around ideas for a possible sixth Cassie mystery--the British Open, the Solheim Cup, a golf course design contest in Hawaii? Let's face it, choosing a magnificent setting is always easier than coming up with the plot! I'll post details as they emerge on my website, along with the tour schedule for FAIRWAY.

Libby's Spinning Off...

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The fourth Ellie Foreman novel, A SHOT OF DEATH, is at my publishers. The Berkley release date has been pushed ahead to September, 2005, but the Poisoned Pen collectors' edition will be out in August. In SHOT, Ellie is producing a video at a resort in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. She's at a highway rest stop minding her own business when a woman standing next to her is killed by an apparently random sniper attack. The victim turns out to be from Lake Geneva ­ and when her sister and mother visit Ellie after the fact, she can't help getting involved.

I also have two new short stories out this year, and one more coming in January. 'A Berlin Story'--with appropriate deference to Christopher Isherwood--appears in the MWA Anthology SHOW BUSINESS IS MURDER. 'Common Scents' is in the BLONDS IN TROUBLE anthology from Intrigue Press. This story features Georgia Davis, the female police officer with whom Ellie worked in AN IMAGE OF DEATH. And debuting in January 2005, "House Rules" will appear in MURDER IN VEGAS (Forge), edited by Michael Connelly.

Speaking of Georgia, my next book will be a stand-alone, well, technically, a spin-off. After four outings, Ellie is tired and deserves a rest. Happily, Georgia is eager to take up the slack. In my next mystery, EASY INNOCENCE, Georgia will be a private investigator looking into a high school hazing incident during which a teenage girl was killed. Look for it sometime in 2006. Check out my busy schedule on

Happy holidays to all!

Deborah, Roberta, and Libby

PS. Don't forget, SLV mysteries make great stocking stuffers!

We've provided links to, but we love supporting independent and mystery bookstores. Go to to find a store near you!

Sex, Lies, and Videotape Newsletter December, 2003

What do a wedding planner, a golf pro, and a video producer have in common? They're all fictional sleuths, created by three women who reached 'a certain age' and turned to a life of crime-on paper, that is.

Deborah Donnelly, Roberta Isleib and Libby Fischer Hellmann each saw a debut novel in her mystery series hit the bookstore shelves in 2002. Then we hit the road with an authors' tour we called "Sex, Lies and Videotape," to talk about shifting careers, creating characters, and getting published. With no joint travels in our immediate future, we've joined the information highway to bring you SLV news.

Deborah's Got a Yuletide Caper…..Roberta's Muddling in the Middle…..Libby's in Rehab

Deborah's Got a Yuletide Caper…

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Autumn has been exciting this year. My third Wedding Planner Mystery, MAY THE BEST MAN DIE, came out in October as a paperback from Bantam Dell. As you can tell from the cover, it's set at Christmas time. The story opens at a bachelor party attended by Carnegie Kincaid's ex-boyfriend, her friend Lily's kid brother, and a stripper in a Santa suit. Needless to say, things get complicated...

The research for this book was especially interesting, because several scenes occur at a coffee roasting plant. (You thought I meant the stripper, didn't you?) I toured the Seattle's Best Coffee roasterie on Vashon Island near Seattle, and had fun asking ghoulish questions like, "If a big coffee sack fell on you, would it kill you?" and "If this place burned down, would the coffee beans roast and smell really good?"

These days I'm deep into research for the fourth Carnegie Kincaid adventure, titled DEATH TAKES A HONEYMOON. It takes place in Sun Valley, at the summertime wedding of a TV star and a smokejumper who's an old flame (so to speak) of Carnegie's. Interviewing the men and women who jump out of planes and into forest fires has been fascinating.

Meanwhile, the reviews of MAY THE BEST MAN DIE have been excellent, and although the new "chick-lit" styling of the cover was a bit of a shock at first, I've been won over-and so have my readers, apparently. I just did some booksignings in Seattle and Portland, where I heard that people are buying copies for themselves, but also as a stocking stuffer for their mystery-loving friends.

To read more about the Wedding Planner Mysteries, including Chapter One of MAY THE BEST MAN DIE, visit my website at

Happy holidays,


Roberta's Muddling in the Middle…

Trust me, there's nothing harder than being mired in the middle of a book. The beginning is all excitement and "what if's." Like in any new relationship, your infatuation with the possibilities disguises the hard work that lies ahead. The finish goes easy too-you've laid the groundwork so all that remains is tying up loose ends. But oh, the middle…

"What does your outline say?" my husband asked when I complained that I didn't know where I was headed with book #4, FAIRWAY TO HEAVEN. I looked back to the few scanty pages I handed over to my editor last May. They sure don't say anything about what happens in the middle…

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Unfortunately, I have no obvious outs: A BURIED LIE was launched six months ago, PUTT TO DEATH doesn't hit the bookshelves until next year, and the golf season in Connecticut is over. Plugging along on FAIRWAY is my only option.

But even as I grind, I'm looking forward to April 2004, and the launch of PUTT TO DEATH, Cassie's third adventure. Having spent a fortune on a wonderful research experience for book two, I stayed close to home for the third. P TO D finds Cassie taking a temporary job as a touring pro at a Connecticut shoreline country club. When environmental and women's rights advocates get into trouble, she realizes that more than birdhouses and tee times must be at stake.

As a member of my club's board of directors and the chair of our green committee, the research for this book was easy. Just don't forget that the characters are fictional! If you'd like to read about my real life position on the green committee, check out the December feature on the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America website--click on "Surviving your rookie green chair."

While you wait, the first chapter of PUTT TO DEATH is posted on my website: I'm hunkering down to write-see you in the spring!

Wishing you a joyful holiday season,


Libby's in Rehab…

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A busy autumn came to a precipitous halt in November when I underwent hip replacement surgery. The worst is thankfully over but I have months of rehab ahead - I told Deborah and Roberta I'd be dancing on top of the tables by March. Immobility does have its advantages, however - it's forced me to slow down. And for a person who is usually running at ninety miles an hour, it's given me a different perspective.

Not for long. My third mystery, AN IMAGE OF DEATH, will be released in January by Poisoned Pen Press (a hard cover collector's edition) and in February in mass market by Berkley Prime Crime. In this the third Ellie Foreman mystery, a surveillance tape is delivered to Ellie's house. When she screens it, she sees the brutal murder of an unidentified woman. Subsequent sleuthing brings her up against unscrupulous real estate developers, bankers… and the Russian mafia.

One of the challenges of IMAGE was telling the story of the woman who's murdered. Ellie doesn't know her, and there's no logical reason she should. Indeed, the victim doesn't even come from the U.S. Yet her back story, which came to me one rainy afternoon, was fascinating, and I felt strongly it should be included in the book. Ultimately, I decided that in order to be faithful to her character, I would combine first person (Ellie's point of view) with Arin's third person voice.

There are contradictory schools of thought about combining first and third person. Purists say it should never be done, while others say, "Hey, go for it." I was a little apprehensive, but I went for it. It allowed me to stretch as a writer, and it turned out to be fun. I hope you'll let me know what you think; I'll be touring extensively in February and March. My schedule - and the first two chapters of Image -- are on my website:

Cheers and a happy new year,


We've provided links to, but we love supporting independent and mystery bookstores. Go to to find a store near you!



Who We Are Our Books Our Trip Journal Press Release PW Article