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Friday, July 7, 2017


Each baby step taken leads to a journey coming to a close.

THE WAKE, the third book in The Jessica Trilogy, is available for pre-order on Amazon!

But seriously? You have too much beach time on your hands. Read THE CHARITY and THE TROUBLES. Oh, and put on sunscreen before you start reading. I may be responsible for sleepless nights and burned dinners, but I will not be blamed for burned readers.

Sunday, July 2, 2017


Bookstock Literary Festival

Bookstock Literary Festival
Date: Friday, July 28 to Sunday July 30
Time: 9 am to 5 pm
Place: Woodstock, Vermont

Sisters in Crime Panel: 12:00 pm

On Friday, July 28, author Connie Johnson Hambley will moderate a panel entitled, “We’re Not Making This Up,” a discussion of how authors use threads of real life to weave better stories. Authors Kate George and Robbie Harold from the New England chapter of Sisters in Crime, a national organization of mystery and thriller authors, will talk about how great fiction starts in the real world.

The panel will be held at noon on Friday in the Norman Williams Library Mezzanine. Sisters in Crime authors will be available all weekend to meet readers, sign books, and talk murder and mystery!

Bookstock supports the cultural richness and diversity of the Upper Valley and celebrates authors and poets, both established and emerging, from our region. New England is home to many talented writers representing diverse genres, from national Poet Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners to emerging young writers and those who have found their compelling voice at midlife. Bookstock encourages appreciation for good writing and other artistic endeavors by introducing residents and visitors of all ages to writers, musicians and artists in an intimate setting.

Most events take place in historic buildings around Woodstock’s lovely Green, within three minutes’ walk to the center of Woodstock village, with its unique shops and superb dining.  In addition, ArtisTree Gallery in South Pomfret, hosts the opening reception, as well as the UnBound exhibition of book art. Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park hosts a writing workshop and presentation. Bentley’s Restaurant holds a brunch reading Sunday morning.

Monday, June 26, 2017

So, You Want to Write a Trilogy? Never Say Never

I didn’t start out being an author by declaring I was going to write a trilogy. I wrote one novel and thought my next was going to be related only by genre. No shared characters. No continuing story lines. No recurring settings.

Boy, was I wrong.

Write a sequel? Or a series? Nope, not me! Yet, this summer marks the launch of my final installment in The Jessica Trilogy. Just goes to show that sometimes writing takes you to places you never dreamed.

So, what happened?

Simple. Readers wanted more.

I write mainstream thrillers with a strong emotional pull. I love a fast-paced plot and lots of action, but I also like to create three-dimensional characters that resonate with readers. My main character is Jessica Wyeth, a world-class equestrian with a good share of grit and a longing for a simple life in a home of her own. Events propel Jessica into a world of organized crime. Oh, and she might have fallen in love with the wrong guy.

The Charity: Witness to a gang-style slaying, a young woman is hunted to stop her from exposing the money and the people behind a Boston-based terrorist cell .

Speaking with fans of the first book, they consistently asked what happened to Jessica after The Charity ended? They wanted to know what happened next.

I realized I had the answer. I also realized I needed a lot more than knowing where Jessica went or what her next adventure was. Unlike a mystery or detective series where the sleuth solves a different crime in each series installment, I knew my story was going to evolve and deepen like Stieg Larsson’s Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, Girl Who Played with Fire, and Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. I also knew I didn’t want a story series that could go on forever, so I decided a trilogy structure was most suited to the world and characters I was creating.

I had seeded the first book with many turning points. [Mini spoiler alert here!] The most compelling was Jessica had been raised by her aunt who turned out to be her biological mother. The question that rattled around my head was, how could a woman live with her daughter for years and never say the words, “I’m your mother.” What happened in that mother’s life to have her keep a secret like that? From that question, more flowed. My second book formed.

The Troubles: Deceived by her family, a rebellious woman seeks to unearth how Northern Ireland’s Troubles are buried in her mother’s secret past.

I must have done something right, because fans loved the direction of the story. Think sweeping, multi-generational tale ala Colleen McCullough meets the world of John Grisham’s tightly knit thrillers. The Troubles won Best Fiction at the EQUUS Film Festival in New York City. Why is the EQUUS award a big deal? Horses play a large part in Jessica’s life and each book features an equestrian discipline. When concocting the plot for The Wake, I knew the discipline I was going to focus on was Hippotherapy, horse-based therapy for physical, occupational, and behavioral needs.

As Jessica’s backstory deepened, so did the complexity of her life. The stickiest question was the trilogy’s secondary main character, Michael. Michael is a tortured soul. He loves Jessica, but forces beyond his control test his loyalties. Going back to the first book, I had opened questions about him I needed to close. A recurring theme in each book was the struggle of a strong moral code in the face of extreme pressure. The main question I needed to answer was, is a terrorist born or made? From that question flowed, what does that look like? How far will someone go for love?

The Wake: A shattered heiress’ family secret is exploited by her spurned lover to blackmail her into engaging in international terrorism.

Hmm. I guess from the log line above you can see how Jessica and Michael’s relationship is going. The Wake is already gathering great reviews. I’m excited about each one, but receiving praise from the CEO of the Professional Association of TherapeuticHorsemanship International is wonderful. Not only did I write another suspense-filled tale, but highlighting horses’ therapeutic value gave my story and my characters another dimension.

I realized I could have written ten thrillers with the world I created for this trilogy, but I’m glad I decided to keep with the trilogy structure.

With The Wake's launch a little over a month away, you still have time to catch up on the story! Follow the links above and get your copy today!

Connie Johnson Hambley's newest book, THE WAKE, is coming this summer!

THE WAKE: Is a terrorist born or made?

World-class equestrian, Jessica Wyeth, is thrust into the middle of a game of geopolitical warfare. Reeling from revelations of her connection to the violent struggles to expunge Britain from Northern Ireland, she’s blocked by unseen forces from returning to the United States. 

The facts of Jessica’s birth become her deepest secret. Her late mother was considered by Northern Ireland to be a terrorist and her father is a key negotiator between violent Irish Republican Army (IRA) factions in Belfast and the British Government.
Jessica vows to keep her father’s identity hidden at all costs.

Only one man knows Jessica’s truth. Michael Connaught, heir to an international crime family who profits from political uprisings, struggles with his own legacy. He is torn between protecting the woman he loves or using her secrets as a catalyst for inciting global unrest.

When a terrorist bomb rips through the crowd at the Atlanta-based Summer Olympic Games, Jessica is forced to fight for her life in ways she never dreamed.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Countdown to Launch: THE WAKE has early fans!

I've been very excited and pleased with the early response to The Wake and want to share a few reviews with you. 

“What a wonderful read. Connie Johnson Hambley does a masterful job of weaving the incredible healing power and positive impact of the horse into an edge of your seat story. It’s very clear that Jessica’s healing–both emotional and physical–is intertwined with horses. But that is just one of the facets to this multi-layered story that keeps you riveted throughout the tale.”

“In The Wake, Connie Johnson Hambley delivers a fast-paced, emotional conclusion to The Jessica Triology, a series that focuses on competitive steeplechase rider Jessica Wyeth and her search for answers to long-held family secrets. The political background of a divided Ireland and acts of terrorism on behalf of nationalism make this an especially timely book, and horse lovers will fall in love with Hambley's powerful portrayal of the deep, healing bond between horses and humans.” 


“For fans of high speed suspense, international political intrigue, and strong female characters, Connie Johnson Hambley delivers on all fronts in The Wake. This third book in the Jessica Trilogy is as exciting as Hambley's first two titles, and Jessica Wyeth is a compelling heroine that lives on in the reader's imagination. A terrific read!”


It's not too late to begin the trilogy from the beginning. Click through for more information.

Thursday, June 1, 2017


What makes for a great mystery? 

An author who knows his stuff, sees the world through a slightly warped frame, and seduces the reader with great story telling.

I met Ray at a writers' conference several years ago and was immediately taken with his quick wit and sharp insights. He had just won the coveted Derringer Award for a short story and he had released the first in his Tucker mystery series. On June 8, his fourth book, Hacked, will be launched. With summer coming, you'll have time to binge read to learn what makes Aloysius Tucker a compelling character. 

What is #Tuckergate? Follow the hashtag on Twitter to find out.

HACKED by Ray Daniel

Someone is murdering hackers and the Internet thinks Tucker is doing it. 
Hacked is the fourth book in the Tucker series of first-person, wise-cracking, Boston-based, mysteries featuring hacker/sleuth Tucker.

Aloysius Tucker vows vengeance when a hacker terrorizes his ten-year-old cousin online. But the situation goes sideways fast, threatening to take Tucker off-line for good. #TuckerGate

Promising his cousin that he’ll get an apology from an Internet bully, Tucker finds himself in a flame war that goes nuclear after a hacker is murdered. Now more hackers, the whole Twitterverse, and a relentless bounty hunter agree on one thing—Tucker is the killer and he must be stopped.
With death threats filling his inbox, Tucker battles Anonymous, Chinese spies, and his own self-destructive rage while chasing a murderer the online community has named the HackMaster. Can Tucker clear his name and build a case against the killer before the death threats come true?

Publishers Weekly says in a starred review that Hacked is "outstanding" and "supremely readable".

"This outing, despite some nasty revelations about cyberbullying, is the most upbeat of the [Tucker Mysteries]."—Kirkus Reviews
"Lock down your social media accounts, put some tape across your webcam, and close your blinds before you settle in to read this, because Ray Daniel—like his wry, world-weary hacker protagonist, Aloysius Tucker—is damn good at what he does. Hacked is more than just a thrilling story—it's also a timely takedown of internet outrage culture, and a harrowing exploration of the very consequences of online bullying."—Chris Holm, Anthony Award-winning author of The Killing Kind


Ray Daniel is the award-winning author of Boston-based crime fiction. His short stories “Give Me a Dollar” won a 2014 Derringer Award for short fiction and “Driving Miss Rachel” was chosen as a 2013 distinguished short story by Otto Penzler, editor of The Best American Mystery Stories 2013. 

Daniel’s work has been published in the Level Best Books anthologies Thin Ice, Blood Moon, and Stone Cold.

For more information, visit him online at and follow him on twitter @raydanielmystry.

TERMINATED: Uber-geek Tucker and his beautiful wife, Carol, developed controversial security software together until the day he was fired and she was murdered. Now, six months later, another software engineer is dead, bringing new clues to light in Carol's cold case.

CORRUPTED MEMORY: Tucker didn't know he had a brother until the guy was found murdered in front of Tucker's house.

CHILD NOT FOUND: Tucker takes Cousin Sal's daughter sledding on Boston Common and loses her. Now Tucker must survive a gang war to get her back.  

Friday, May 26, 2017

Writing Prompts: News from a Writers' Group

Writing prompts helped empty the junk drawer that is this writer's brain.

I belong to three groups. Two are active and focus on writing support and one is on an as-needed basis for the business of writing questions. 

The group that focuses on the craft starts with five minutes dedicated to a writing prompt. One author chooses a prompt either from a list or creates one and reads it to rest of the group. We have five minutes to write whatever comes to mind. Not only is it fun, but the exercise helps empty and organize that grey-matter mess we call the writer's brain.

I was emptying out my junk drawer - the exterior physical one - and came across responses to prompts from past meetings. For fun, I decided to share them with you so I can toss out the papers from one junk drawer while preserving the fruits of the other.

The prompts are in bold and are set apart from responses which follow. 

So, an hour after prohibition ends... daddy drove up in his brand spanking new Packard -- chrome all shining and seats smelling like a tack shop.

"Where'd you get the money for that?" I asked.

He grinned in his way which was more slanting eyes than full tooth smile.

"Where'd ya think?" he said, looking at my uniform. My badge reflection glinted off his eyeglasses.

I didn't want to answer, but heaved a sigh of relief.

"No more," I said.

"No more what?"

"You know."

Yeah, I sure as scat knew! No more 2 AM sounds of engines in my barn. No more women in beaded gowns hanging 'round the shed.

Yep. One hour after prohibition ended I got my daddy back.


I looked around the room. Nothing seemed unusual, but then... feet left the ground. Not all at once as if I had jumped, but slowly, heels first, then toes as if I was trying to hang on to the earth like a chimpanzee to a tree.The chairs slid to one side, then a table crashed into the armoire.

"Mom! What the Fah..."

My son, all 6'2" of him rippled in front of me as an image in a funhouse mirror.

"Oh! Ry! So sorry," I murmured, trying to sound like this was nothing new. "Just a little housekeeping."

"No. You said no more witchcraft."

Damn him. A promise not to do spells is meant to be broken. Can a horse not neigh? Can an elephant not trumpet?

All at once, the room righted itself and the dust, motes, and webs settled into one ball in the center of the sideboard.

"See? All done!"


There is a knock on the door. When *you* open the door, there is a man standing there with an envelope...

...Kathy eyed it suspiciously. A long tail emerges from the fold. The man doesn't seem to notice.

"So, um, seen anything interesting lately?" She winces. What the hell is she thinking.

"Nyah. Just some kids next door making a racket," he replies.

Almost on cue, they hear a loud crash from upstairs. The man turns his head.

"Your son is one of their friends, right?"


"I have this more him." With that, the man gives Kathy a silver ball. "Just toss it in his room. Go ahead. I'll wait."

Kathy goes and returns. All is quiet.

They talk for a few minutes. The man leaves, envelope in hand.

"Let me know if you see anything interesting," he says over his shoulder.

Kathy goes to her son's room. Inside the room she finds only a silver ball and a snake.


(Hey, I know these suck, but for five minutes worth of writing, it's fun to see where your mind goes!)

Are you part of a writer's group? Do you do writing exercised like these? 

Friday, April 28, 2017


Gabriel Valjan and I connected because our short stories share the pages of the WINDWARD: Best New England Crime Stories anthology. His take on Lizzie Borden's life after giving her father forty-one whacks is a marvel of great story telling as well as terrific research. When we finally met at an author event (and via multiple tweets), I learned we shared many interests as well as a love of great writing. When the conversation turned to making great characters, I knew I had to share his insights with you. Enjoy! -cjh


In 1997, eight-year old Alice Newton stayed up all night to finish reading a manuscript after her father had teased her with the first chapter. The next morning she insisted — no, she demanded — that her father Nigel, the chairman of Bloomsbury Publishing, publish the book twelve publishers had considered either too long or demanding for children. The book? Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. A Muggle had intervened and saved Kathleen Rowling, the writer on welfare and single parent, from obscurity. J.K. Rowling is now the world’s most lucrative author.

In 1929, Virginia Woolf asserted the barest of necessities a woman writer needed for success: “A room of her own and five hundred a year.” Chance once again interceded. The death of an aunt provided her with the £500 [about $45,000 today] per year for life. Though she self-published most of her work, she experienced success. Virginia Woolf is considered both a great stylist and an innovator of the English novel.
Talented as they were, success had come to them through luck. Let me introduce you to the world’s first successful women writer. Another strong woman. Born in Venice, Italy in 1364, Christine de Pizan would live most of her life in France, where her father served Charles V as physician and astrologer. Her father believed that she should have an education. Christine married at the age of fifteen. Girls in her day married at twelve, boys at fourteen. Ten years later, with three children, she is a widow. Worse yet, Charles V and her father and another child died, so Christine lost her standing in court and became the sole means of support for her children, her mother, and a niece. She turned to writing to support her family.

Christine wrote whatever would fill the money purse. She started with poetry, moved onto biographies, moral treatises, and military theory. Gunpowder was new and artillery fascinated her. The Hundred Years War was raging and she had patrons in England and France, on both sides of the conflict. Her last work was a poem in honor of Joan of Arc. Christine supervised the production of all her books, oversaw their translations from Middle French into Middle English, and hired women scribes and an illustrator named Anastasia. She controlled every aspect of publication. She believed in quality artwork and design. The printing press would not exist until 1450 and an illuminated manuscript was a work of art.

Not only did she live off her quill, she defended women in print. Women were then thought of as morally and intellectually inferior to men, and they were portrayed as such in the works of Boccaccio and especially in Jean de Meun’s Romance of the Rose. She tackled misogyny by accusing male authors of ingratitude and slander against all women. Christine used sophisticated rhetorical strategies to point out the ironic contradictions that men would create the genre of courtly love to seduce women only to mock and devalue them in society. Christine advocated for the education of women and for greater roles in society. Though prolific, she is best known for The Book of the City of Ladies and The Treasure of the City of Ladies, which provide insights into the daily lives of women, autobiographical details, and chronicle the lives of famous women throughout history. Both works speak directly to women readers. Christine de Pizan died in 1430. Almost forgotten, even by medievalists until the mid-twentieth century, these two works were translated into modern English in 1982 and 1985, respectively.

At a time when books by women are reviewed less, awarded fewer literary prizes, the risk for disappearance is greater. The underlying, less obvious, theme here is strength, of women helping women. A girl, Alice Newton, helped J.K. Rowling, who in turn created Harry Potter, a worldwide social phenomenon. Had Virginia Woolf not received an inheritance, had she not written her novels, Hogarth Press, which she founded with her husband Leonard in 1917, would have nonetheless secured her place in letters. She and Leonard would go on to publish Vanessa Bell, T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, Sigmund Freud, and Katherine Mansfield. In the long interlude of centuries between Christine de Pizan and us, we glimpse a strong independent woman who created art and commerce for women and by women.


Gabriel Valjan is the author of the Roma Series from Winter Goose Publishing as well as numerous short stories. He lives in Boston’s South End, where he enjoys the local restaurants, and his two cats, Squeak and Squawk, keep him honest to the story on the screen.

The first book in his historical fiction series will be out in fall 2017.

Twitter: @GValjan
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