Monday, October 16, 2023

Art Inspires Art

by Mary Aalgaard

I have been rather disconnected from this group and blog, and I'm glad to be reconnected. When my story, "One More Minute" was selected for the 2018 anthology, Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime, I was thrilled. I loved being part of the group who were promoting the book and their stories. I miss that camaraderie. I even made a book trailer for the book!

I've tried writing novels. I get to a certain point, then abandon them. I've written a couple short stories, now, that have been published. I like getting the writing prompts and know the parameters for the story. The challenge of keeping the word count down and still creating a compelling story appeals to me.

Mary Aalgaard and Jeanne Cooney
It's Murder, Dontcha Know?
Stage Play Reading at Central Lakes College
Brainerd, MN
In addition to writing, I enjoy going to the theater and have built up a reputation in the Minneapolis/St. Paul theater community for writing reviews. I'm studying the craft all the time. So, when Jeanne Cooney, a local author and friend, asked me to write a stage adaptation for her book, It's Murder, Dontcha Know?, I said, yes, without hesitation. I've enjoyed the process of bringing the page to the stage, as they say, reading and rereading the novel, pulling out dialogue and looking for the most dramatic parts. I worked with the local community college theater department and director Joseph Yow to develop it. We had a stage reading of the play at the end of September with local actors reading the parts. Jeanne was in the audience and took extensive notes! I have work to do to revise and edit the play and have great expectations of seeing it fully produced some day.

Mary Aalgaard with cast and crew

Playwright Mary Aalgaard and
Director Joey Yow

After the reading, several people talked to me about the process. They told me that they felt inspired to do more creative work after being part of this project. In my opinion, the project is already a success. I'm so glad that people told me about their inspiration and what they plan to work on in the future.

I believe that Art inspires Art. When we see people doing something they love, from making music to writing stories, and all the other creative endeavors you can imagine, we feel the stirrings to also create. I hope that you all have wonderful, creative projects in the works and that you are able to see them through and witness the wonderful ripple effect of putting it out there to inspire others!

Mary Aalgaard writes theater reviews and supports the arts through her blog Play off the Page. She teaches youth theater workshops in the Brainerd lakes area of Minnesota, writes articles for regional magazines, and works with both seniors and youth in multi-generational programs to enhance quality of life and build community. Email her at Find out more:

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Happy “almost” Halloween!

October is my favorite month of the year. Fall is finally here, the weather has cooled off, but most of all it’s Halloween month! And that means good, clean fun. I don’t do horror—I’m a big chicken. (There, I said it!) I want to be fun-scared, not scared-scared (see my bio below). I even have the viewing tastes of a child. Give me It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown any day. Or Hocus Pocus, or Casper. 

My point is that I don’t do scary, and real world stuff fits into that category. That’s why I write paranormal cozy mysteries. You get the fun ghostly stuff, along with a nice, gentle, murder mystery. Because with cozy, anything involving violence happens off the page. And in the books and stories I write, it’s the ghost who shows up first, and the murder investigation happens afterwards. 

But it’s not always about murder. In A Stitch and Crime, from the third Insecure Writer’s Support Group short story anthology, the story involves a little ghost girl, the old nun who raised her, and a candy shop mystery. Reluctant Ghost Whisperer Indigo Eady, along with her ghost pal Franny Bishop, a former Victorian madam of some repute, solved the case and reunited the girl and nun who had been lost to each other for years. The story is fun, lighthearted, heartwarming, and most of all, has no violence. And a candy store background is a pretty sweet setting 😉

I have a friend with breast cancer recently say that she started reading cozy mysteries because in this increasingly violent, crazy world we currently live in, she enjoys escaping to the low stress of a cozy mystery. 

If you’d like to escape into a cozy world…
From the same series as A Stitch in Crime…
And currently FREE at all outlets…

by Gwen Gardner

Indigo Eady can’t live on ramen noodles forever…She jumps on the first job offered. All she has to do is work undercover at Sabrina Shores Theatre, find a ghost thief, and cross him over. Easy-peasy, right? Until an actor is murdered and Indigo’s fingerprints are all over the pistol like ink on a Rorschach test. 
Forced to dust off her rusty sleuthing skills to clear herself, Indigo enlists the help of her ghost friend Franny and her sort of hunky ex-boyfriend Badger to help solve the crime. Now, how to keep her investigation from the handsome inspector?


Indigo Eady is a reluctant ghost whisperer, but she’s grown quite attached to Franny Bishop, a former Victorian ghost madam of some repute. Franny’s afterlife makes Indigo’s life look like she has one foot in the grave. Much to Indigo’s chagrin, Franny is determined to find her a man. After all, there are plenty of handsome men around ripe for the picking, and Franny’s an expert. In the meantime, Indigo and Franny have murders to solve.

Gwen Gardner writes clean, cozy, lighthearted mysteries with a strong ghostly element. Since ghosts feature prominently in her books, she has a secret desire to meet one face to face — but will run screaming for the hills if she ever does.

Her lifelong love of books and reading transitioned naturally into a love of writing, where adventure can be found around every corner—or down a dark, twisting alley. She thinks there is nothing better than a good mystery (being an excellent armchair detective herself), unless it’s throwing a ghost or two into the mix to “liven” things up. Don’t worry, though. Ghosts may be tricky to keep in line, but it turns out they’re darn good sleuths.

Find out more about her writing journey at (and watch for ghost-crossings!) or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.