As Jess Montgomery, I write the Sheriff Lily Ross historical mystery series. Set in 1920s’ Ohio against the backdrop of coal mining, prohibition and women’s rights, the first title in the series,The Widows, is about two women whose lives collide when the man they both love is murdered. Inspired by the true stories of two historical figures, the novel is set for publication January 2019 by Minotaur Books. Learn more about my writing as Jess at www.jessmontgomeryauthor.com.
My first published fiction was the Patricia Delaney eGumshoe mystery series, published in the early 1990s in the U.S. by Fawcett Books (a division of Random House) and in the mid 1990s in the U.K. by Women's Press Ltd. In the early 1990s, personal computers were still cutting edge, and certainly a PI using computer research as part of her detective tool kit was rare in real life and, at that point, brand new in fiction. It was fun then to push the edge with what Patricia could do with computer technology; now what she was able to do in the 1990s seems positively commonplace. Her stories hold up, though, as tales of passion, crime, and human strengths and weaknesses, and if read as historical (because by now, the 1990s definitely are historical, and in terms of technology, ancient), they also provide an interesting insight into the early years of computer technology as it began to make its way into our every day lives.
Next came a decade writing a weekly humor column, Sanity Check, for the Dayton Daily News, from 2002-2012. I wrote a lot about parenting and family life (the column began when our youngest daughter was 8 and ended when she was 18, the week she graduated from high school.) My husband, daughters and friends were good sports about being included in my weekly dispatches about suburban life, partially because I always made sure that I was the butt of my own humor (which wasn't a stretch. I goof up. Often.) Usually funny, sometimes poignant, with topics from my houseplants getting fleas to the day I realized my lips had disappeared, at its heart was the belief that the best way to survive the inevitable foibles, heartaches and goof ups of life is through humor, community and forgiveness. Every now and then, I still write a Sanity Check style pieces for my blog.
At the same time that I wrote Sanity Check, I also wrote the humorous Josie Toadfern Stain-Busting mystery series, published in the 2000s by Avon Books (a division of HarperCollins). The 'hook' is that Josie owns a laundromat, and solves crimes in her small hometown--ironically named Paradise--using her wits, her inherent nosiness, and her stain-removal expertise. Or, as the tag line went, "Josie cleans up crime, one load at a time." Recurring characters and subplots carry from book to book in the series: Josie is the caretaker for her autistic cousin Guy; her love life is chaotic; her friends, especially Cherry, can be goofballs; her extended family is definitely trying. (An exploding Thanksgiving turkey. That's all I'm giving away here.) Funny and poignant, just like my Sanity Check column. (Apparently, there was something about rearing children that brought out the funny and poignant in me.)
In between all of the above, I've written (and still write) the occasional short story, poem and essay. Some of these works have been published in small journals and anthologies.