Our next guest on the Crime Cafe podcast will be mystery author Karen Neary Smithson.

And she’s not just a crime fiction writer, but also an amazing artist! The things one can find on the Internet, huh? 🙂

But I digress …

Along with her guest post today, Karen is offering a digital copy of Death in Disguise, the first book in the Beth Getty Mystery Series. To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is email Karen at cfsken[at]verizon[dot]net.

And, now, let’s hear from the author! Take it away, Karen! 🙂


I never dreamed I’d be a writer. My aspirations focused on creating art and I longed to be an oil painter. But not the starving variety. So I hunted for jobs that would allow the luxury of painting but also brought with it a consistent paycheck. Not long into my search, I started working as a children’s counselor at a spouse abuse shelter in Florida. The plight of the women and their kids was heartbreaking. I wanted to do something to educate women. But what? I didn’t want to spurt our statics or sound preachy.

An idea popped into my mind. I’d write a novel. How hard could it be? After all, I’ve read hundreds of them. I pulled out my portable Royal and started typing. An unexpected thing happened. I discovered that I enjoyed the act of turning a blank page into a piece of art not created by paints and oil but with words. Well, the truth is, I’d enjoyed writing all those research papers in college. But penning fiction was different. I discovered a new found freedom in creating my own world with characters whose fate laid in my hands. I was hooked.

Of course, that was before I had an inkling as to what the world of publishing involved.

I finally settled on being a public school art teacher in Baltimore City. When I found time I wrote and painted. But the writing consisted of lesson plans and papers once again, for a graduate degree.

It wasn’t until I left teaching that I jumped full-time into writing. But instead of working on historical fiction I switched to whodunits which required a totally different kind of writing. Along with searching for a perfect voice—gritty or funny—or somewhere in between, there had to be a crime, a sleuth, and a villain. Not to mention a trail of clues, red-herrings, and a satisfying ending.

My first mystery novel went through a series of rewrites, critiques, and a developmental edit. Finally, I was satisfied with the manuscript and without too much effort snagged a literary agent. My debut, Death in Disguise was published in 2018. The sequel, Death Unmasked will be released Spring 2021 (later than originally scheduled due to the pandemic).

If you’d like to view some of my paintings and learn more about Death in Disguise, please check out my website at https://www.karennearysmithsonbooks.com/. Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you!


Writing had never been on my radar. My passion was art—I wanted to be a painter—but not a starving artist. So I experienced a variety of careers such as a child advocate, a human rights commissioner, and an art educator. Somewhere along the line I began writing and found the act of creating my own world magical. I still paint and my work has been exhibited in local galleries and shows. I’m also a numismatic and am crazy about ancient coins of the Hellenistic period and the Roman Empire. I’ve been known to pop up as an extra in Baltimore based movies and television shows. I love the beach and spend many hours there planning and writing my stories. I live with my husband and three rescued turned show cats in Ellicott City, Maryland.

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