Connie Shelton has been writing for more than twenty years and has taught writing (both fiction and nonfiction) since 2001. She is the author of three cozy romantic-mystery series and has been a contributor to several anthologies, including Chicken Soup For the Writer's Soul.
"My husband and I love to do adventures. He flew helicopters for 35 years, a career that I've borrowed from in my Charlie Parker mysteries. We have traveled quite a lot and now divide our time between the American Southwest and a place on the Sea of Cortez. For relaxation I love art -- painting and drawing can completely consume me. I also really enjoy cooking, with whatever ingredients I find in whatever country we are in at the moment. We walk every day and love watching and photographing wildlife."
When did you first start writing?
Writing was something I always enjoyed in school but as far as serious writing with a career in mind, I didn't really start on that until I was in my thirties. I began with no knowledge of the process other than what I'd read in a how-to book on writing romances. I'm not sure what I was thinking....I really didn't read a lot of romances at that point, but I knew that I wanted to write.
I began with a family saga that ultimately ran over 500 pages long. I entered the first three chapters in a contest and took third place. That, I think, is what gave me the confidence to keep writing. I did a second book, another saga of nearly 400 pages (it would take me awhile to figure out that family sagas were about fifteen years out of date at that point!). Neither of those first two books were ever published, but that's okay. Looking back on the quality of my writing that that point---it's really a relief that they never made it to print. Anyhow, while those manuscripts were making the rounds of NY I turned to my first love in reading....mysteries.
I attended a lot of writers conferences in those days, meeting some of the big names in mystery like Tony Hillerman, Mary Higgins Clark and Sue Grafton. I began to see that writing is a learned craft that takes a lot of practice, not something that most people can dash off quickly and hope for publishing recognition.
Tell us a little about your path to publication.
I finished two mysteries and noticed that my rejection letters were getting more complimentary. I ran into the same things that so many writers today are saying. Editors would say, "I love the characters, but--" or "The writing is really good, but--" There were always too few slots and too many manuscripts under consideration at any given time.
After I'd been at the game for nearly ten years (I did a LOT of writing during this time, really practicing and honing my craft) I decided to take a big risk. These were the days of print-only publishing and a time when self-published was a dirty word. I made the leap and invested a lot of my savings and started my own publishing company. I guess you could say that I was indie when indie wasn't cool (to paraphrase the country song). Pretending it really wasn't me at the helm, I published a few of my own books in hardcover, picked up other authors, and built the press into a thriving little house, one that gained the approval of some fairly stodgy organizations (no names shall be mentioned) and we garnered good reviews in nearly all the prestige publications, such as Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal.
We got enough attention that about six years into the venture I got an offer and sold out to a larger company. Suddenly, I was being traditionally published---hardcover, paperback, book club deals, audio and movie rights. While I missed working with my authors, I was very appreciative of the additional time to write my own books.
A few more years went by, and then things began to slip. My editor and publicist moved on and no one seemed to be taking over their jobs. I had a manuscript ready to go but no indication of when I might see it published. It was deja vu all over again, except this time I had fans of my mystery series who were repeatedly asking me when my next book would be out. When a series of shakeups occurred at the publishing house I requested and received my rights back on my older titles. At last I owned my whole series and could do anything I wanted. This was 2009 and you can guess the rest of the story. Amazon initiated its Kindle Direct program . . . Smashwords came along. Suddenly, indie actually was cool!
I immediately republished all my backlist, along with the new manuscript-in-waiting. I started a second series, sales were picking up and now whenever a fan asked about my next book I had an answer for them. From ten books that were barely scratching out enough for lunch money, I've gone to twenty-two titles and am approaching sales of a million books total. Mostly, I'm making a decent living at what I love to do. Every time I get a letter from a fan, my gratitude meter pings---I feel very, very lucky.
Lucy Richeson has her life all planned—sort of. Her summer job as a lifeguard is okay. Nicholas Wilde just wants to run his ranch, but dreads his mother’s constant matchmaking. Then Lucy gets fired and her friend Chloe offers an out—come work at the ranch. Only then does Lucy realize she’s sleeping in the room next to the guy who got her fired.
Who would dare steal from homeless people, especially at Christmas! Mary Holbrook and Sandy Warner are volunteering at Heaven Sent, a homeless shelter, and discover it has been the scene of some thefts. The Heist Ladies decide to investigate and that's when they discover so much more is going on.
At the annual Valentine’s Ball everyone is convinced Paris Nobleman will propose to Juliet Da Vinci. However, she isn’t sure of her answer. Later, when a young woman in their social circle is murdered, Paris is spotted at the scene of the crime. He runs, Juliet follows, determined to track down the real killer and decide if Paris is the man for her.
On his wedding eve, Major James Mallory receives an invite to a reunion of his old Army comrades, to be held at the Wyoming ranch home of his former commander. James and Anneka decide the trip will suffice as a honeymoon, for now. Hilltop Ranch is remote and secluded and by the second day the dozen guests, their wives, and the household staff are snowbound. And that’s when the murders begin.
Ben Pecos finds himself on assignment in Moose Flats, Alaska. His job is to set up a new clinic to address community problems.
He soon discovers that alcoholism, drugs, and domestic violence aren’t the only issues in this tiny village. In the midst of three murders, it becomes complicated. But not as much as the surprise his ex-girlfriend has in store for him.
A fortune in stolen coins, a bag of loose diamonds, and two dead men. Pinkerton detective Sherwood Garth teams up with Major James Mallory to find the missing diamonds, only to discover the thief, murdered, and there’s no shortage of suspects. Garth’s keen skills of observation pair perfectly with Mallory’s pure brawn, right up to the surprise conclusion.
A cryptic message in a fortune cookie sends Charlie again to England, to visit her favorite aunt. She’s having lunch in a local café when construction workers come upon a human skeleton behind a wall. Charlie begins sleuthing around on a cold-case crime website, only to discover Aunt Louisa was one of the last to see the victim alive.
Juliet Da Vinci’s life is almost back to normal after tracking a killer last summer, that is until a woman is knifed to death in the family wine cellar during the festivities at the Harvest Ball. When the Da Vinci’s estate manager is accused of the crime, Juliet goes undercover at her family’s wine company, finding no shortage of suspects.
It’s a beautiful night at the Stresa Festival in Verona’s Vineyard—except that Juliet Da Vinci’s boyfriend belongs to the wrong side of the local feud, and she doesn’t have the nerve to tell her father she loves him. Then her mother brings along Paris Nobleman, Mom’s choice as Juliet’s future mate. She tries to lose Paris, until they find the body of Mariotto Romeo, that’s when it really goes bad.
Samantha Sweet’s life is a little crazy right now, beginning with her daughter’s wedding, which coincides with Sam’s receiving a huge new contract for her chocolate factory. The day after the wedding someone takes a shot at Sam and she discovers her life is about to change forever.
"Compelling, extraordinary"--Midwest Book Review. In 1976 Nancy Weintraub was a rebellious teen who set out for Mexico, against her parents wishes, to study art and language. It was the adventure of a lifetime--until the bus crashed. Family, friends, doctors, and complete strangers battled to save her life. She appeared to be a miracle, but untreated PTSD nearly killed her. This is her true story.
When Luke buried his brother and sister-in-law on a raw October day he took in their two children to raise as his own. He didn’t account for the fact that in 1890s small-town Mississippi, single fatherhood was not an option. Stephanie is living with the scandal of having broken off her engagement. She’ll do anything to get out of Seattle. Including marriage to a man in Mississippi?
Charlie and Drake are working a helicopter job in rural Maine when a man asks for their help. At first glance, it seems he’s just an old man needing a ride to his son’s remote cabin. But the cabin holds more secrets than Fergus McNab will admit, and it isn’t until Charlie returns to Albuquerque that she discovers they may have just aided and abetted a criminal who has escaped the law back home.
In The Namaste Effect, master teacher, storyteller and healer Nischala Joy Devi shows the way to connect with others by tapping into our higher consciousness through the subtle energy centers known as chakras, to spark the release of love from our hearts and send it to others. With that action, we affect each other and eventually the Namaste Effect enriches the entire globe.
It’s Christmas in St. Augustine, where Dan and Elaine Mahoney are taking an extended honeymoon. But not all is sunny in Florida when Dan’s company sends him to investigate the theft of 1.2 million dollars’ worth of religious relics from the famed Basilica. A visit from Elaine’s son Jason brings the family together for a fun Mahoney Christmas, but not before there’s a murder in Dragon’s Bend.
Newlywed Pauly Caton watches, horrified, as the hot air balloon—the one she should have been riding in—falls from the sky. She races to the wrecked basket to discover both the pilot and her husband Randy dead in the fiery crash. The lone survivor appears to be an unknown child, who runs from the scene, naked and fearful, and disappears from sight.
Women are flocking to invest in film producer Robert Williams’ latest project, and Gracie Nelson’s mother is no exception. She has sunk her life savings into his latest movie investment scheme. Big returns were promised, along with the chance to hobnob with famous actors. Now, the money’s gone and the Heist Ladies hatch a plan to get it back.
Hair of the Dog sees Dan Mahoney and fiancée Elaine Linden traveling to Florida for his next investigation, where five insured racing greyhounds supposedly died in a kennel fire. But circumstances are suspicious right from the start. Who is the dead body at the kennel entrance, and how is it possible the knife sticking out of his back is not the cause of death?
When international bestselling author Susan Slater puts facts and imagination together, she comes up with a dynamic mystery novel based on this unsolved bank heist. Insurance investigator Dan Mahoney is sent to find out what happened and whether his company will have to cover the loss of a spectacular heirloom sapphire and diamond necklace, insured for half a million dollars.
Chicago insurance investigator Dan Mahoney is sent to the prosperous Double Horseshoe Ranch in southern New Mexico to investigate the deaths of several prized—and well-insured—cattle. The stakes are high, and Dan hasn’t counted on witnessing a murder or falling in love. But it’s the flash flood that changes everything, sweeping away a vintage Cadillac and its occupants in a torrent of raging water
Ben Pecos takes a job transfer to Florida, which puts him right in the middle of a terrifying case where a student threatens his teacher with a gun. Ben works with the traumatized teacher, Maureen Beltzer. When Mo is offered a new job at the prestigious Whitney Labs, she jumps at the chance little knowing that photographing rare orchids could bring her more danger than her pint-sized adversary.
Breaking into another house, creating chocolates worth $200 a box, and helping her sheriff husband solve a traffic accident-turned-murder … Samantha Sweet has her hands more than a little full as the new year begins. USA Today bestselling author Connie Shelton has nearly 2 million books sold and downloaded in more than 60 countries. Find out what the fuss is all about!
Ben Pecos has the opportunity to work in Albuquerque on a research project for the Indian Health Service. Ben and Julie are hardly settled when people begin dying, and they find themselves swept into the midst of another mystery. The twists and turns in this complex plot will keep readers guessing to the very end!
The fiery midnight crash of a Stealth fighter on a New Mexico reservation and the disappearance of a young Navajo woman put psychologist Ben Pecos and tribal police officer Tommy Spottedhorse on a sinister and mysterious trail. Tribal police lock horns with air force personnel over jurisdiction and the right to search for the missing woman.
Mary Holbrook worked alongside her husband to build a successful business, but when she wasn’t looking, all their money vanished and Clint found himself a cute new wife. Mary might be homeless now but she certainly isn’t helpless. She teams up with the Heist Ladies whose mission is to see justice done, and Clint Holbrook is the perfect guy to do it to. "Such an awesome book!"--Goodreads review
Salvador Zuni is a master carver of traditional Native American fetishes. He is also a cheat. He makes synthetic amber that rivals anything to be found in nature, complete down to the insects he places inside. His recipe is worth a fortune, and someone is after it. Ben Pecos arrives and immediately finds himself caught up in a murder investigation.
Newly edited first e-book edition.
Native American psychologist Ben Pecos has returned to the New Mexico pueblo of his birth as an intern with the Indian Health Service. Still struggling with the demons of his past, he is plunged into the nightmare rampage of a mysterious illness that is killing the residents of the pueblo, including his own grandmother.
Newly edited first e-book edition.
A week before Christmas Charlene Toya, local teen basketball star, goes missing on the way to her Tewa pueblo home. Native American psychologist Ben Pecos offers to help the family and begins to piece together some disturbing facts—Charlene’s dark and painful secret has likely put her on a collision course with some very nasty bad guys.
It’s Halloween, crazy busy for Samantha's pastry shop, Sweet’s Sweets. After baking a zillion pumpkin cookies, ghostly cupcakes, and an all-black cake for a young witch’s wedding, the gang is looking forward to a gala costume party at the neighborhood bookshop. But when one of the guests is murdered and a rare book vanishes, Sam is in the midst of another mystery. 10 dessert recipes included!
A missing million-dollar necklace, a nearly flawless museum robbery, a stalled police investigation. Caught in the middle, successful novelist Penelope Fitzpatrick stands to lose her family treasure. But Pen doesn’t give up that easily. When no one else is willing to act, she and a group of friends band together. They’ll simply catch the crooks and steal back the priceless legacy.
Cheating spouses, a pawned Super Bowl ring, a hundred-thousand-dollar scam. That's only one of Charlotte "Charlie" Parker's new cases. The second has Charlie tracking teenage twin girls who practically live on social media. One case turns into a comedy of errors, while the other has dark and potentially deadly implications, and Charlie is right in the middle.
Samantha Sweet has a contract to provide her special handmade chocolates for the wealthy jet-set clients of Book It Travel, and her bakery is taking on a whole new dimension. Only problem, Sam isn’t ready. It’s almost Halloween, her pastry shop is bursting at the seams and she needs more employees. A spooky old Victorian house might provide just the right space--or it might be haunted.
It's Ron Parker's wedding day but when his sister Charlie stops by to pick up the bride, the house is in disarray and the bride is missing. Ron's dilemma--a terrible argument with his fiancee the night before and no alibi. It gets worse when the media jumps on the story and the police treat Ron as a suspect. Charlie has her hands full solving this one. "Charlie is just what readers want." Booklist
When a woman walks into Samantha Sweet’s pastry shop, claiming to have amnesia, it’s a puzzle that seems unrelated to Sam’s new commission for a fantastic one-of-a-kind order of chocolates, although "Jane Doe" seems to know a lot about chocolate. Sam calls Sheriff Beau and the clues get tricky before this dynamic pair figure out the solution.
"I'm addicted to this series!" --5 star online review
For John Carver, a 12th century Celtic woodworker, life is a struggle. Then one summer day, as he walks past a near-dead alder tree, lightning strikes. Carver recovers and takes the usable pieces of the tree to his workshop. From the shards John creates three boxes. Then the unexplained happens—shortly after handling one of them, John’s touch brings his young son back from the brink of death.
Charlie and Drake take a job with Gold Trail Adventures in Skagway, Alaska, flying visitors by helicopter to remote cabin sites to try the outdoor lifestyle and look for gold. Before long, one guest finds a set of bones in an old mine, remains that date back decades. Swamped with present-day cases, the police chief tells Charlie she is free to investigate, but someone is determined to stop her.
Come visit New Mexico at Christmas! Four books by USA Today and international bestselling author, Connie Shelton. Featuring the characters from both of her popular cozy mystery series, each of these stories features a holiday setting that is sure to whet your appetite for the season!
Set includes: Sweet Holidays, Honeymoons Can Be Murder, Buried Secrets Can Be Murder and Holidays Can Be Murder
Two things are on Samantha Sweet’s mind this summer—organizing a chocolate festival and finding information on the mystical carved wooden box that came into her life two years ago. At last, she believes she has located the person who can give the answers. But death comes to the festival and as new facts come to light, Sam's own life is in danger. Here is book #9 in this bestselling mystery series!
Revenge is often a cold dish, but in the tiny northern New Mexico town of Sembramos emotions are running decidedly hot. When two men convicted of murdering a
local girl are released from prison after serving only a few years, their convictions overturned, the town’s old pain rises and tempers flare. Samantha Sweet and Sheriff Beau Cardwell get right in the thick of it, with three deaths to solve.
Investigator Charlie Parker and family are ready for a quiet Christmas at home but along comes a new case which made national headlines. Five years earlier, Tali Donovan was acquitted of killing her two children and then she vanished. Now, at the anniversary of the children’s disappearance, their father wants answers, knowing he will not find peace until he knows what really happened.
In this seventh book in Connie Shelton’s bestselling mystery series, Samantha Sweet learns that an Irish great-uncle left her an inheritance. Will the gift be something lavish and wonderful, or is there no pot of gold for Sam?
Meanwhile a local charter boat is found adrift near the rocky Irish coast, its occupants missing, and Sam and Beau find themselves on the trail of another mystery.
Samantha and Beau are ready for their autumn wedding. Dealing with the family may turn out to be the least of Sam’s problems when an unwelcome visitor walks into her shop—Sam’s old heart-throb, the charmer, Jake Calendar. Jake wants money for a Hollywood get-rich-quick scheme and he wants Sam to finance it. Can Sam convince him that the answer is ‘no’ or will he sabotage the plans for her wedding?
Charlie returns from her Hawaiian vacation to discover that her brother Ron is in love. But the younger woman, Vicky, seems manipulative and full of secrets. Meanwhile, Charlie offers to help a friend whose business partner apparently committed suicide. But did he? The questions get tricky as Charlie starts to investigate financial fraud and finds her own life on the line.
It’s the wedding season at Sweet’s Sweets and Sam scrambles to stay ahead of the rush of bakery orders. Her side job—breaking into houses—isn’t allowing much time off either. Not to mention that her mother is pressuring Sam and Beau to set their wedding date.
When two older women suddenly die and Sam and Beau begin to investigate, they suddenly realize Beau's mother may have been a victim too.
An enigmatic letter from her namesake aunt, a trip to England, and Charlie is seeing ghosts in the medieval Suffolk town of Bury St. Edmunds. But it isn’t only slightly-eccentric Aunt Louisa’s beliefs in the occult or her spooky “haunted sites” tours that pique Charlie’s interest. Something sinister is brewing and Charlie finds herself drawn into an investigation of crimes that are far too real.
Samantha Sweet is planning her wedding to Beau Cardwell, coping with record Valentine sales at her bakery, and she takes on a new mystery when a dying woman begs Sam to find her missing son before it's too late. And if life weren't complicated enough, an ex-girlfriend of Beau's shows up to announce that she plans to win him back. Midwest Book Review: "Connie Shelton gets better with every book."
In this third installment in the Samantha Sweet mystery series, it's Christmas and a chocolatier shows up at Sweet's Sweets, offering to create a special line of hand-dipped chocolates for Sam's customers. But she learns that he has connections to the wooden box that seems to give Sam her mystical powers, and discovers that certain evil people will do just about anything to take it away from her.
It’s a terrible case of mistaken identity when a gang of bank robbers think that Charlie is a famous movie star. Disappointed with their take from the bank, they decide that a hefty ransom will be their ticket to riches. But what will happen when the real star steps forward? Charlie knows that only her wits will save her from this band of desperate men.
Samantha Sweet is realizing her dream of opening her pastry shop, Sweet's Sweets. But she still has the obligations of her other job, breaking into houses. When a blood-soaked garment shows up among the discards at one of Samantha's properties, and when a friend makes a shocking confession, Sam finds herself in the midst of a complex mystery.
"Connie Shelton has another winner." The Book Report
New from USA Today bestselling author Connie Shelton! Samantha Sweet breaks into houses for a living. When she finds an unmarked grave, Sam calls the authorities. A small mural in the abandoned house provides clues--add a fortune in artwork, a bogus will, and a wooden box that gives Sam powers she never dreamed she possessed and it's a dynamic paranormal mystery.
"Another winner!" The Book Report
Bad guys sometimes win. But these five spunky females are determined not to let them get away with their crimes. It's vigilante justice with a woman's touch when the Heist Ladies jump in to steal it back--jewels, money, dignity, reputation. They'll get it every time!
A modern twist on the great classics, CJ Love's Shakespearean Murder Mysteries delight the senses with mystery, intrigue, romance, adventure, and a lot of humor. The characters are a modern-day cast based loosely on Shakespeare's stories.
Her first trilogy in this series centers around Juliet Da Vinci and her large Italian family who are full of surprises. Between dead Romeo as well as loved ones who are blamed for murders, Juliet finds herself smack dab in the middle of several crime scenes. And while saving loved ones, she realizes she is caught between two great loves herself. Where will her heart lead her? And will she keep out of trouble and stay alive long enough to find out?
Garth Sherwood, a Pinkerton detective in the 1920s, team up with former Army Major James Mallory, and his wife, Anneka to form the MG&M Detective Agency Mysteries. Set in the roaring twenties, this jazz-age mystery series will keep you on your toes while these detectives unravel one complex crime after another.
This nearly-cozy mystery series by USA Today bestselling author Connie Shelton introduces Albuquerque CPA Charlotte "Charlie" Parker. Charlie and her trusty sidekick dog are supposed to handle the business side of RJP Investigations while her brother, Ron, does the detecting. However, somehow Charlie always manages to get more involved than she wants to be.
Insurance investigator Dan Mahoney travels wherever United Life & Casualty sends him to investigate suspicious claims. But when the mystery goes beyond a missing item or unbelievable tale, Dan finds himself involved in murder.