Monday, October 23, 2017

An Unlikely Source of Inspiration

Once I get the initial spark of an idea, I like to play around with a What-If scenario and after much deliberation come up with a title for the novel. Only then can I start writing the first draft.

That MO worked well for Book 1 of the Gilda Greco Mystery Series:

Spark: Dead blondes turn up in dumpsters throughout the city.

What if…A woman wins a $19 million lottery and returns to her hometown, only to find herself the primary suspect in the murders of four blondes. Can she prove her innocence and solve this case before it’s too late?

Title: A Season for Killing Blondes

Book 2 presented a challenge. I toyed with several storylines about a Greek restaurant, a charismatic chef, two murders, and a group of women who didn’t always get along. Frustrated with these disjoint elements, I turned my attention to shorter pieces and hoped that inspiration would soon arrive.

It came from an unlikely source.

One day, I received a phone call from a former colleague. While reminiscing about the past, I recalled an incident from my early teaching years.

Circa 1982: I had just started a short-term placement in the mathematics department of a large composite high school. My timetable wasn’t a good one, and I gathered the other women in the department hadn’t fared much better.

The men outnumbered the women in a ratio of 3:1 and dominated most of the conversation at the monthly meetings. But as the semester drew to a close, three of the older women became more emboldened and started voicing their concerns. Legitimate concerns about timetables and room allotments.

Surprised by these outbursts, most of the men shrugged and said nothing. The department head glanced at his watch and started shuffling papers. But one senior male teacher in his sixties couldn’t contain himself. He stood, and shouted: “There are too many women in this room! And that’s why we’re having problems in this department.” He threw his binders on the table and stormed out of the room.

One woman muttered, “What else can you expect from a man of his generation?”

“Or any man born before 1950,” another woman added.

I don’t recall too many other details about that short teaching placement, but the older gentleman’s outburst has stayed with me. And provided the perfect title for Book 2 of the Gilda Greco Mystery Series: Too Many Women in the Room.

Postscript: In 2008, I retired from a mathematics department that was predominantly female. I also had the satisfaction of knowing I had positively influenced many young women to pursue mathematics, business, and science careers.


When Gilda Greco invites her closest friends to a VIP dinner, she plans to share David Korba’s signature dishes and launch their joint venture— Xenia, an innovative Greek restaurant near Sudbury, Ontario. Unknown to Gilda, David has also invited Michael Taylor, a lecherous photographer who has throughout the past three decades managed to annoy all the women in the room. One woman follows Michael to a deserted field for his midnight run and stabs him in the jugular.

Gilda’s life is awash with complications as she wrestles with a certain detective’s commitment issues and growing doubts about her risky investment in Xenia. Frustrated, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers decades-old secrets and resentments that have festered until they explode into untimely death. Can Gilda outwit a killer bent on killing again?

He couldn’t believe he was following his wife’s advice. After twelve years of paying lip service to deep yoga breaths, mindfulness, and all the other New Age crap she espoused, he had finally found a use for it. His midnight run usually sorted out all the stress, but tonight was different. He still couldn’t shake the venom that had been directed his way.

To make matters worse, it had come from eight women, eight very different and very annoying women. He had bedded four, but right now he couldn’t imagine having sex with any of them. As for the untouched four, well, only one interested him, and it had nothing to do with her feminine wiles and everything to do with her healthy bank account.

He would have to take something to get through the night, something a lot stronger than his wife’s herbal teas. The remnants of an old Percocet prescription came to mind. Two capsules might do the trick. The thought of a panacea, albeit a chemical one, calmed his racing thoughts. A good night’s sleep would make a world of difference. And tomorrow, he would sort it out.

The light patter of feet distracted him. Definitely a woman’s gait. Her breath was even, neither shallow nor panting. Younger, maybe in her thirties. His pulse quickened, and a smile spread over his features. A welcome distraction. Just what he needed to erase the built-up stress. To hell with deep breathing, affirmations, and Percocet. 

Buy Links

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In 2008, Joanne took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

Where to find Joanne...

Too Many Women in the Room is on Sale for 99¢

October 13 to October 27


  1. Wonderful to get behind the scenes and see how a spark ignites into a novel. Best of luck.

  2. This is such a great series!!! I can't wait for book 3!!! Write faster, Joanne.

    1. Good to see you here, Peggy. Book 3 will be out in the spring.As for writing faster...I write at tortoise speed.

  3. Love your inspiration! I, too, taught in a female-dominated environment. And oftentimes there were TOO MANY WOMEN IN THE ROOM. Thankfully I was one of them. :)
    Am enjoying your book very much!

  4. Love this series! Interesting hearing how it all came about, congrats, Joanne!

    1. Thanks Jacquie! Appreciate your ongoing support :)

  5. I enjoyed reading how you got your inspiration for the book. The title is spot on! Great excerpt and book trailer. Congratulations.

    1. Thanks Cat! I can't write until the title gels. Working titles don't work for me.


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