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Sex, Lies, and Videotape

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SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE: Midlife authors concoct a trio of unusual sleuths

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. Now the three women are hitting the road with an authors' tour they call "Sex, Lies and Videotape," to talk about shifting careers, creating characters, and getting published.

"We've had a great response from our readers and our audiences," says Donnelly, a former corporate speechwriter. "So many mystery fans aspire to be authors, and so many middle-aged women are looking for a new challenge. They're curious about how we did it, and we're having a blast sharing some inside stories."

Donnelly wrote VEILED THREATS after planning her own wedding and a good friend's simultaneously. Her sleuth is red-headed Carnegie Kincaid, a Seattle wedding planner with a houseboat for an office and a funny flair for cakes, flowers, and mysterious corpses. DIED TO MATCH was second in the wedding planner series, with MAY THE BEST MAN DIE coming in Fall 2003 from Bantam Dell, and DEATH TAKES A HONEYMOON the following year.

Combining her experience as a clinical psychologist and her passion for golf, Isleib set SIX STROKES UNDER at the fiercely competitive Qualifying School for the LPGA tour. Her main character, Cassie Burdette, carries more baggage in her golf bag than just the 14 regulation clubs. "Putting Cassie in therapy and including a psychologist allowed me to have fun with what I know best, and maybe do a little educating along the way," says Isleib. "But the professional golfer part is pure fantasy!" Isleib's second, A BURIED LIE, is due in May 2003 from Berkley Prime Crime.

Hellmann, a Chicago video producer, shares both her occupation and her wry take on motherhood through Ellie Foreman, the protagonist of AN EYE FOR MURDER, in which a secret buried since World War II triggers a terrifying chain of revelations buried deep in the memories and neighborhoods of Chicago's Jewish community. A PICTURE OF GUILT, which continues her Berkley Prime Crime series, will be released in July, 2003, with the third the following year.

And what about the tour name of Sex, Lies and Videotape?

"The 'videotape' is obvious," says Hellmann, "and 'lies' is a golf term. Maybe we stretched things a bit using 'sex' for the wedding planner, but it sure gets people's attention."

Sample chapters and reviews of each series can be found at the authors' websites:

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