Author: Sharon Ward

Sharon is a successful freelance writer specializing in technology, manufacturing, and supply chain—even before the supply chain became the topic of the year. Before that, she worked at some of the most successful tech companies in the world, including Microsoft and Oracle. Her real love, though, is diving. As a PADI-certified divemaster, Sharon helped local dive shops with their training classes and has hundreds of dives under her weight belt. Wanting to share the joy and wonder of the underwater world, she wrote In Deep, her debut novel, released in August 2021. The second in the series, Sunken Death, is scheduled for release on December 31, 2021. The third, Dark Tide, will hit the shelves in the spring of 2022.

The Mystery Novel and a Realistic Modern Heroine

By Sharon Ward Every mystery novel has to have an appealing heroine or protagonist, and recently, the Miss Demeanors were talking about our protagonists’ super powers in our respective mystery novel series, and I was complaining about how many female protagonists are written as though they were “Jack Reacher in a dress.”  Most women, as people in the real world know, don’t act like Jack Reacher in one of Lee Child’s thriller novels. (Neither do most men.) Now, I love Jack Reacher. I eagerly await each new installment to find out how he is going to right the wrongs he encounters, and to vicariously enjoy the mayhem he creates while doing it. But Jack Reacher is a big guy. If he wants to kick the snot out of the bad guys, he’s got the brawn to do it. Which is why it makes me crazy when I read a mystery novel or a thriller with a so-called ‘modern heroine” where the petite protagonist hides behind the door and manages to best the bad guys purely because of her superior fighting skills and the element of surprise when she jumps out from behind the door.  No weapons. Bare hands. I think not. […]

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Mystery Series: Love ‘em or Not?

Sharon Ward Many readers enjoy reading mystery novels that are part of a series. Some mystery series go on forever, like Robert B. Parker’s Spenser, which still continues long after the original author’s death. Others disappear after two or three entries, often leaving readers frustrated. Some continue so long even the author seems to be sick of them, and astute readers can even tell when the author has subcontracted the new entries to a ghostwriter. Personally, I love reading mystery novels in a series, probably stemming back to my childhood when I devoured Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden and the like. As an adult, I’m hooked on several mystery and thriller series, including Michael Connolly’s Harry Bosch, Gregg Hurwitz’s’ Orphan X, Craig Johnson’s Longmire, and Lee Child’s Reacher, among many others. I’m interested in the opinions of the Miss Demeanors and our readers. Do you enjoy reading mystery novels in a series, or do you prefer to read standalone mysteries? Do you have any favorites, and have you ever been disappointed when a series ended too soon?  Connie Berry Since I write a mystery series, I obviously love them, and the reason is the opportunity to bond with a character and […]

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Five Reasons Setting is Important in a Mystery Novel

All about setting In honor of the publication of Michele’s latest standalone mystery novel, Oh Danny Girl, which is set Boston and one of the most Irish towns on the South Shore of Massachusetts, I thought this would be a good time to look at some of the reasons that setting is important to mystery readers. The right setting draws the reader in to the mystery, while the wrong setting can leave the whole story flat. Setting grounds the characters Some mysteries would fall flat without the strong setting surrounding the character. Think of how Robert B. Parker’s Spenser roamed around Boston, casually dropping in to places that local people knew and that out-of-towners had at least heard of. Hank Phillippi Ryan follows in his footsteps, since, like Hank, all the characters in her mystery and thriller books live in Boston or surrounding areas. Going back as far as the mysteries of Agatha Christie, we can see immediately that setting matters to a mystery. From genteel drawing rooms at the vicarage to the Orient Express and the Nile River, we had an immediate feeling for Christie’s character’s surroundings. Oh Danny Girl feels authentic as well, based on Michele’s life in […]

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Women Who Make History

Today is the first day of women’s history month, so even though we Miss Demeanors write fiction, I thought we should kick off the month by celebrating real-life women who make history. For many of us of ‘a certain age’ the concept of women as history-makers was rarely mentioned, but I’m happy to see that attitude changing, even at its current glacial pace.  Women are breaking ground in so many areas: business, politics, science, the arts. I have to say it’s a big change. Back when I was offered the first promotion of my career, I was not allowed to accept the job until I brought in a notarized letter from my husband stating that he understood the new job might require me to work late many evenings, to occasionally travel overnight, or to sometimes come in on weekends.  I was incensed. This was not some rinky-dink ‘Mom & Pop’ company, but a division of a Fortune 500, S&P behemoth. And with attitudes like that prevailing, it’s astonishing how much of history was made by women. So thank you to all the women like  Meg Whitman, Indra Nooyi, and Ginni Rometty who helped change that kind of thinking. You are heroes, and […]

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My Day-to-Day Writing Method

When people hear I’m an author of mystery novels, they often ask how I manage my work. I’d like to say that I am just a natural writer with words just flowing from my fingers each day, but I’m not. I don’t know anyone who is, actually. We all have our own tricks for staying on track.  Usually, I know the main points of my story. I know how it opens. I know how it ends. I may know one or two scenes I want to include, but in truth, I have no idea how to get from Point A—the first page—to Point B—the last page.  I don’t even really know how I’m going to get to the crime. Or who the victim will be. Or who the killer is. Or any characters except my main character. So I start writing.  After I’ve written one or two chapters, I take stock of what I’ve got. Does this feel like the start of a mystery novel? Or does it feel like the random scratching of someone who has no idea where they’re going? Assuming I’m reasonably happy with the first few chapters, I pull out my secret weapon—a pad of yellow […]

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How I Work

As a new member of Miss Demeanors, I’m working on helping regular readers—as well as new readers—get to know me. So I thought I’d tell you a little about how and where I work. I’ve been a fulltime freelance writer for about ten or twelve years, which means I’ve been lucky enough to have a nicely appointed home office. It started out with a bunch of mismatched hand-me-down furniture, but over the years, I’ve been able to upgrade until now it pretty much all matches and works well for me. My latest addition is an electric desk converter that lets me move my monitors and keyboard up and down, so I can move from standing to sitting, crouching, leaning, whatever works at the time, and it keeps my monitors and keyboards in an ergonomically correct position. I really love it, and it’s done wonders for my stiff shoulders and overstressed wrists. The fact that my desk moves up and down has also forced me to keep it neater. After the first few times my piles of papers went flying, I learned to keep them contained. Like in a file in a drawer, not a random pile. Speaking of monitors, I […]

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I often wonder about other writers’ snacking habits while we’re hard at work. We hear so much about a cup of tea and a cat, but neither of those work for me. I’m allergic to cats and I hate tea, so there’s that.

Besides, I concentrate so hard when I’m working that I don’t think about food until I come up for air. I even forget to drink water, although I always have a glass on my desk. My hands are busy, so I couldn’t snack anyway, but honestly, I rarely think of eating unless I take a break. Before I got Molly and my Apple watch, I would sit at my desk, fingers flying, for six or more hours without moving. Alas, I often made up for it by snacking before and after dinner. Now that Molly and Apple have teamed up to remind me to move every hour or so, I find I snack more. My weakness is anything small and easy to eat. A cookie. A handful of nuts. A piece of candy or a couple of M&Ms. The fit of my clothes is a testament to the ill effects of my newfound snacking habit. So, my fellow Miss Demeanors, I’m interested in what you have to say. Do you snack while you work, and if you do, what’s your snack of choice? Michele: I rarely snack while I write. I barely remember to sip water or my cold cup […]

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The Evolution of a Mystery Novel

Finding a premise Since I’m pretty new here I thought I’d focus my first few blogs on helping you get to know me, and one of the best ways to do that is show you how I work. Today, I’m going to discuss how I made my way from a blank slate to In Deep, my first published mystery novel. I had been working on another mystery series for several years, and finally realized that it wasn’t ever going to work. The whole premise needed to be put aside—at least for a while.  So I needed to come up with a new idea. Usually I work in my office. In addition to writing mysteries and thrillers, I run a freelance writing and editing business, so I have a terrific home office. It’s quiet and since it’s full of technology stuff, it’s very conducive to writing about technology, which is what my business specializes in. But not really set up for brainstorming. So I picked up a notebook and my favorite pen, grabbed a snuggly blanket, flipped on the fireplace, and let Molly, my long-haired miniature dachshund, sit on my lap. Now I was in the zone. Since I write in first […]

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Sunken Death Release

This New Year’s Eve will be especially exciting for me. First, because 2022 HAS to be better than 2021 was, right? We’ll be getting COVID under control, either through vaccinations or growing immunity, and soon we’ll have more options open for socialization and entertainment—at least I hope so. And there will be a ton of fabulous new mystery novels ready for publication, including Emilya’s Behind the Lie, coming February 8! The second reason I’m excited for 2022 is because book 2 in my Fin Fleming Sea Adventures Thriller series of books is coming out on January 31.  I love the main character in this series. Fin Fleming is a very accomplished underwater photographer, but she has trouble achieving the recognition she deserves because someone stole her work and then accused her of plagiarism. She also struggles with self-esteem and feelings of abandonment.  All the books in the series are rollicking adventures and mystery/thriller books, but the real underlying theme is Fin’s struggle to find acceptance and a sense of family. You’ll have to read the books to find out what sets her heroine’s journey in motion. Here’s the back cover copy for Sunken Death: A few months after a death in her […]

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I’m so Happy to be Here!

My First Miss Demeanors Blog as a Member This is my inaugural blog as an official Miss Demeanor, so I wanted to devote the blog to thanking the group for inviting me in and being so welcoming.  First, I have to thank C. Michele Dorsey for extending the invitation to join. About eighteen months ago, Michele and I started having a weekly phone call to discuss our work and the state of the publishing industry. I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer—I’m fine now, so no worries—but between the treatments and COVID, I wasn’t allowed to leave the house. Those weekly conversations were a life saver, and I can never thank Michele enough for her time and friendship. As you probably know, Michele is the author of the award winning Sabrina Salter mystery series, and she has several amazing “stand alones” as well as another Sabrina mystery book almost ready for publication. Can’t wait. We also managed to talk our way into starting a self-publishing journey, and that too has been a blessing! Thanks to her encouragement, I published my first mystery thriller novel, In Deep, this year, and the second book in the Fin Fleming Thriller series, Sunken Death, is coming out on […]

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