Guest Blogger ~ Ben Wiener

“A well-designed thriller that I didnt want to put down! “ — Nicolas Colin, author of Hedge

This is a real book! You wrote this?” – My daughter

Here’s a very short mystery for you: How does a male venture capitalist find himself penning a guest post for a blog named “Ladies of Mystery?”

Murder at First Principles, my debut novel, is a Silicon Valley murder mystery told from the first-person point of view of a young woman, Addie Morita. Addie is a frustrated junior staffer at the Northern California Computer Crime Task Force, questioning her decision to enter public service rather than the lavish startup industry that has swept up her friends and former classmates from a prestigious local college, when her life takes a sudden turn. One by one, former classmates show up in body bags, and soon Addie receives anonymous, taunting messages with hints about the crimes. Addie must match wits with both the mysterious killer, potential suspects and a stubborn, famed Special Agent, Hope Pearson, as she pursues her “big break” and tries to break the case.

Female readers have been the biggest fans of Murder at First Principles so far. While my stated purpose in writing the novel was to enlighten and entertain, with startup business strategies woven into the plot, the story is engaging and electrifying for any mystery lover.

I decided to make the two main characters female to break the stereotypical “detective drama” format and make the two characters’ contrasts and tensions poignant and dramatic. Like most people in the real world, Addie, Hope and the rest of the diverse cast of characters have things to hide, cloudy motivations and challenges to overcome.

Ironically, as a male writer, writing from the POV of a woman drove me to greater clarity. I have found in other contexts, as I write male characters, that I am prone to take certain traits, motivations or thought processes for granted. Writing Addie’s story forced me to get to know her first. The process of figuring her out, as opposed to starting to write assuming I was, or knew, the main character myself, made the writing a joyful and enriching experience, and produced a superior product.

Murder at First Principles is not just about women, it benefits women. Proceeds from my books support FemForward, a nonprofit with which I’m affiliated that promotes young women in tech.

Seth Godin says “Art is generosity.” Murder at First Principles is my mischievous, rollicking, topsy-turvy gift to mystery lovers. It will keep you turning pages and guessing, up to the very end.

Murder at First Principles

Addie Morita, a frustrated young crime researcher, finally gets her big career break when a serial killer targets her successful former classmates from an elite San Francisco Bay Area college. Addie must match wits with both the taunting killer and the intimidating Special Agent assigned to the case, racing to decipher key clues buried in a famous startup strategy book — before it’s too late.

Murder at First Principles is the debut Startup Fiction novel by successful venture capitalist Ben Wiener. Written as a murder mystery, the plot is designed to enlighten and entertain, introducing readers to Hamilton Helmer’s iconic work, 7 Powers, and its seven market-proven strategies for sustained competitive advantage. Every suspect in this story is hiding something — strap yourself in and try to uncover their secrets while discovering the secret “powers” innovative businesses harness to create persistent differential returns.


Ben Wiener is a venture capitalist and author. He founded and manages Jumpspeed Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund, and he has authored two full-length novels, Murder at First Principles and the forthcoming Fever Pitch. His motivation for writing is to “enlighten and entertain.” In addition to his novels he has published a number of short stories and humor essays.

Ben grew up in Allentown, PA and graduated (with honors) from Columbia Law School. He clerked on Israel’s Supreme Court and practiced corporate law in New York City and Tel Aviv. He moved permanently to Israel with his young family and co-founded his first software startup in 1999. Ben worked for a variety of startups and larger companies before founding Jumpspeed Ventures in 2014.


Twitter: @beninJLM

Do you like SWAG? by Paty Jager

While I enjoy writing my books more than promoting or marketing, I do enjoy coming up with items to give away as swag. S.W.AG.= Something We All Got. I had to look that up! LOL I didn’t realize it actually meant something.

Anyway, as I chortle over the definition… With the new series I needed bookmarks. My awesome daughter to has designed most of my covers and all of my bookmarks and swag, came up with this design for my Spotted Pony Casino Mystery bookmark.

And because I’m headed to Bouchercon this month and wanted items to give away during the event, she also designed these chocolate poker chips I’ll be handing out. I wanted something that said “Casino Mystery” and was lucky enough to find a promotion site that made custom chocolate poker chips.

The one on the left is fuzzy due to the setting on my camera.

For my Gabriel Hawke fans, I ordered these fun flashlights for Bouchercon last year. A conference that never happened. Good thing flashlights hold over well. 😉 Worried about transporting this on the plane, I asked a security person when we took our grandson to the airport if they would be allowed and he said, “yes.”

Over the years I’ve given away ereader covers I made, Dream catchers I’ve made, and I hand out small tote bags with purchase at the Sumpter Flea Market twice a year. The bags do help. I had one woman tell me that seeing someone carrying one of my bags reminded her she needed more of my books. I am finding out that while I’ve picked up swag over the years that didn’t move me to purchase a book, it does seem that a bit of the freebies handed out do help to sell the next book by an author.

For Bouchercon, I also made a 4″ x 6″ chap book with the first chapter from each of the first books in my mystery series and my Romantic Suspense trilogy. I’ll be handing those out during my “Speed Dating” event. I’ve made several of these over the years that I hand out at conferences. I have one that is the first book of my historical western romance series. One that is the first chapter of the first book of my trilogies or series with Native American elements. And one with the first chapters of my mystery books, like this one, only minus the new mystery series.

As an author what are some of the things you’ve given away over the years? As a reader what are some of the items you’ve received that you kept? Did that every remind you to look for a book by that author?

SINCE WRITING THIS POST BOUCHERCON HAS BEEN CANCELED. So the swag will have to wait for another conference.

Guest Blogger ~ Randy Overbeck

“An accomplished work of haunting mystery fiction fans of the genre won’t want to miss.”—

A mystery is a mystery is a mystery—not.

Readers who enjoy solving a whodunnit with their fiction can chose a cozy, a hard-boiled detective mystery, a police procedural, a noir mystery or even a historical mystery.

They each have their own conventions, required elements and fans. But they all have in common one thing …a body, often on the first page, almost always within the first chapter. Readers of these sub-genres will usually meet the victim—sometimes a nice, unwitting fellow, sometimes a despicable character even a mother couldn’t love—within the first few pages and learn about them, often with a nice dash of back story thrown in. Just before the victim, well, becomes the victim.

Then the reader spends the remainder of the novel trying to unravel the puzzle as they encounter character after character, searching each for motive, means and opportunity, dodging red herrings to try to arrive at the culprit, hopefully right before the great reveal by the author.

It’s how it’s done, it’s expected. For all the types of mystery—except mine.

Like the other types, my Haunted Shores Mysteries are classic whodunits, with the parade of possible bad guys (and girls), turns down wrong alleys, and a meticulous shifting through clues—though all these are harder to navigate because each is a cold case murder, the deed occurring years earlier.

But the aspect that sets my narratives apart from these other mysteries is the victim. Oh, Darrell—and the reader—encounters the victim in the first few pages, but he has no idea who the victim is. And it’s not a simple case of mistaken identity. You see, when Darrell first stumbles onto the victim—or more likely he/she runs into him—he/she is a ghost.

And his or her death has been covered up so as to not look like murder. The challenge for Darrell—and the reader, I hope—is to sift through clues together to first learn who the victim really was, then determine how he/she died, then try to unravel the clues that lead to the murderer. It’s a complicated process fraught with peril.

In CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY, the newest novel in the series, a tall, injured female chases Darrell down the street of Cape May—all in the first few pages. He has no idea who she is, why she is following him or that she is a victim. Until she reveals she is a ghost and pleads for his help. Even when he finally decides to help this poor woman find justice, he has no idea who she is, how she really died, much less who could be possible suspects for the murder. A tall mountain to climb.

If you’re a mystery lover who enjoys solving a complicated puzzle, check out CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY (or the other #1 best selling entry in the series, BLOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE). See if you can get to the top of the proverbial mountain before Darrell. I’ll guarantee it will be fun trying.

No matter how far you run, you can never really escape a haunted past.

Darrell Henshaw—teacher, coach, and paranormal sensitive—learned this lesson the hard way. With his job gone and few options, he heads for Cape May to coach a summer football camp. The resort town, with gorgeous beaches, rich history and famous Victorian mansions, might just be the getaway he needs. Only, no one told him Cape May is the most haunted seaport on the East Coast. One resident ghost, the Haunted Bride, stalks Darrell, begging for his help.

He can’t refuse. 

Joining forces with Cassie, a street-wise teen and another sensitive, he investigates the bride’s death and discovers her murder is connected to a far greater horror. But can Darrell and Cassie expose those behind the crimes before they end up being the killer’s next victims? 

Incredible sale on the entire Haunted Shores Mysteries series! 


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Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author and speaker. As an educator, he served children for more than three decades in a range of roles captured in his novels, from teacher and coach to principal and superintendent. His thriller, Leave No Child Behind (2012) and his recent mysteries, the Amazon and B & N No. 1 Best Seller, Blood on the Chesapeake and Crimson at Cape May have earned five star reviews and garnered national awards including “Thriller of the Year–, “Gold Award”—Literary Titan, “Mystery of the Year”— and “Crowned Heart of Excellence”—InD’Tale Magazine. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation “Things Still Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.


Randy Overbeck


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Guest Blogger ~ Susie Black

No matter what stage an author’s writing career is at, one thing that is constantly drilled into their head is to only write what you know. If you don’t know it, either do the research and learn it or don’t you dare write it. If you don’t have the creds for what you write, you are toast because readers can spot a phony by the second paragraph and never finish reading your book. This concept is one I never lose sight of and is the reason I write about the subjects I do. 

Like the protagonist in my Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, I am a ladies’ swimwear sales exec in the greater Los Angeles area. From the beginning of my career, I have kept a daily journal chronicling the interesting, quirky, and sometimes quite challenging people I have encountered as well as the crazy situations I’ve gotten myself into and out of. My daily journal entries are the foundation of everything I write.

I came to write in the cozy mystery genre because I love solving puzzles. My parents would certainly confirm I have always asked a lot of questions, and I am naturally curious (some narrow-minded people say I am nosy…go figure…LOL). So, writing mysteries was the natural next step for me to take. it is also the genre I read, am comfortable in, and enjoy the most. The bonus is that it was an excellent way to knock off some people on paper who I would have loved to eliminate in real life and still not end up in prison. Extremely therapeutic. I highly recommend it.

As a female who has succeeded in a historically male-dominated industry, it was important to me to write about the apparel business from a woman’s point of view. All of my characters are based on real people, and the central characters are all strong, successful women who have beaten the odds and broken the glass ceiling. Holly Schlivnik, the main character, is based on me with some poetic license taken, of course. The plots and premises of my stories all take place in the fast-paced ladies’ apparel industry. The premise behind the story in Death by Sample Size is what if a buying office big shot in the apparel industry so universally disliked that when she was murdered, there were so many potential suspects that it wasn’t a question of who wanted her dead, it was a question of who didn’t.


Everyone wanted her dead…but who actually killed her?

The last thing swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected was to discover ruthless buying office big wig Bunny Frank’s corpse trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey with a bikini stuffed down her throat. When Holly’s colleague is arrested for Bunny’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth jumps into action to find the real killer.  Nothing turns out the way Holly thinks it will as she matches wits with a wily killer hellbent on revenge. Get ready to laugh out loud as Susie Black’s Death by Sample Size takes you on a rollicking adventure ride through the Los Angeles apparel industry.



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Just behind my college graduation, wedding day, and the birth of my son, June 9th was truly one of the most amazing days of my entire life. My debut cozy mystery Death by Sample Size was released for publication. I am humbled, honored, and proud to be able to say that now I am officially a published author! A life-long dream has come true, a hard-fought-for goal has been accomplished.

Born in the Big Apple, Susie Black now calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries.

She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect.

Looking for more? Reach her at

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Instagram: Susie Black (@hollyswimsuit) • Instagram photos and videos




Writing Makes me Happy by Paty Jager

I started this writing journey decades ago because I had a need to write. That sounds hokey or corny to some but it was my husband who first realized when I didn’t have time to write, I became cranky. LOL I would become irritable and crabby when I was so busy raising kids and taking care of the chores that I didn’t have time to write. He would say, “Go write for a while. Leave the dishes, or do the laundry later.” And I would go write, and the real world would once again be a happy place for me.

My best guess would be, anyway from what I’ve noticed over the years, my overactive imagination would keep me up at night with ‘what ifs’ and tragedies befalling family members. When I write and am engrossed in causing all kinds of trouble for my characters, my mind is at ease and I sleep better. If I don’t write, I put all of the danger into potential threats to my family members and friends. Weird, right?

I also enjoy the research. Over the years, even as a child, I would read books and discover new places, new people, new cultures, and learn about things I didn’t have where I lived. That was exciting to me! As a teen I loved the old Gothic Romances by Phyliss Whitney, Mary Stewart, and Victoria Holt. I enjoyed living in mansions, the terror of crossing a moor in the dark, experiencing a time and country that was so different from what I lived. I also liked they were the thickest books in the school library. I could go through a thin novel in two days, reading during lunch, afterschool and when I was supposed to be sleeping. 😉

I started reading mysteries then and continued as an adult. A good mystery for me has twists and turns and engaging characters. I devoured books by Agatha Christie, Dick Francis, Dorothy Gilman. Lilian Jackson Braun, Tony Hillerman, and Sue Grafton.

Putting a bit of mystery in everything I write has shown me that I am a writer who has to write mystery to feel I’ve built a complete story. And that is why I write mystery books. It is what, is deep in my core. I like writing twists and turns and having justice at the end of the story.

My innate need to always write about justice or injustice has brought me to writing mysteries with Native American influences. Whether it is characters or setting. Their plight has always tugged at my conscious and now, with writing, I have a way to show they are human and viable people just like everyone else. They have been trod upon and nearly annihilated, yet because of their faith and resilience they are growing stronger and becoming a voice that needs to be heard.

Writing mysteries with Native American elements is what makes me happy. I have a couple of romance series I need to finish, and I tried. However, my heart isn’t into those at this time, so I will continue to write the stories that are calling to me.

Here is the latest release of my new Spotted Pony Casino Mystery series.

Poker Face

Spotted Pony Casino Mystery

Book 1

Dela Alvaro is a disabled veteran who grew up on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. When an IED in Iraq ended her military career, she came home to reassess her life and landed a job in security at the Indian run casino on the reservation.

Not even a year into being the assistant to the head of security, Dela is promoted on a trial basis. When one of the casino employees is found stabbed and stuffed in a laundry chute, she knows she can kiss head of security good-bye if she doesn’t find the killer before the media gets hold of the story.

While she is in over her head, she can’t decide if the FBI Special Agent called in to help is a blessing or a curse. It’s a man she ran across in Iraq who overrode her authority. When a second casino employee is killed, Dela has to decide if she can trust the special agent with not only keeping her job but keeping the rest of the casino employees safe.

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