Winter Blogfest: Rekha Ambardar

From Winter Blues to Setting and Clues

By   Rekha Ambardar

We writers, like letter carriers, whom, neither snow nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays from the swift completion of their appointed rounds, have a job to perform, albeit in solitary splendor. We write. We pour out our heart spontaneously or write on spec. Either way, we have a job to do, and we try to hone our craft daily by writing.

We’re not required to produce written words every day by somebody standing over us with a whip, but if we don’t we feel starved, dehydrated, hollow, and spiritually adrift, as if we failed to make a connection with our inner soul that day. For us writers, writing isthe next thing to breathing and cleanliness.

All of this is easier said than done. Given that we should be writing a lot of the time, and thinking like writers when we are not writing, the reality is that we are assailed by moods – otherwise known as winter blahs (blues), especially if you live in the Upper Midwest, which a well-meaning analyst of various phenomena described as resembling the Arctic Circle more than any other form of civilization.

The other day, I happened to find a sizeable list of Agatha Christie Christmas mysteries featuring HerculePoirot, and some that didn’t, and it came home to me that the stark isolation of long winter evenings could inspire a host of winter-themed stories/books to fill dark, lengthy, blustery, days. Nothing creates tension and gloom like a protagonist snowed in and facing grave danger, with no hope of human intervention.. A dream-inducing cabin by the lake is one thing in the summer and quite another in a white-out under blizzard conditions, where a fir tree might easily be mistaken for Saskwatch. An old Victorian mansion at the edge of town viewed through swirls of snow drifts and whipping winds could appear doubly menacing, and simply beg for a gothic or mystery story to go along with it so that the setting can provide the nucleus of the action.

Oh, and the Creed stated above about neither snow nor rain etc – according to, this is commonly misidentified as belonging to mail carriers, but actually it is just the inscription found on the General Post Office in New York City at 8th Avenue and 33rd Street.

Here’s how the official Web site of the U.S. Postal Service describes the origin of the inscription:

“This inscription was supplied by William Mitchell Kendall of the firm of McKim, Mead & White, the architects who designed the New York General Post Office. Kendall said the sentence appears in the works of Herodotus and describes the expedition of the Greeks against the Persians under Cyrus, about 500 B.C. The Persians operated a system of mounted postal couriers, and the sentence describes the fidelity with which their work was done. Professor George H. Palmer of Harvard University supplied the translation, which he considered the most poetical of about seven translations from the Greek.” – The Editors

That bit of trivia aside, the analogy still serves to remind writers that mood and setting can deliver up the background for a riveting story, and a long winter hibernation might be just the catalyst for one’s creative impulses.

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Prize giveaway: “The Girl in the Portrait” Mystery.  

About The Girl in the Portrait:

Peggy Maynard goes down to the basement one morning to find her husband working on the painting of a young woman. He covers the painting as if to conceal it from her. Then, one day, both Will and the painting disappear from her home and from her life. This initiates a long journey of self-searching, while Peggy wonders why she didn’t see warning signs in her marriage, why she didn’t leave him before.

One day, Detective Byers, who’s on the case, tracks down a doctor who attended a former student of Will’s – Irma Vasquez. Eighteen years prior, she had a baby, and it appears the father is Will.

Peggy’s search for her missing husband leads her to Queretaro, Mexico, where a startling discovery forces her to decide what her relationship with Will was truly made of, or if they ever really had one.

Prize giveaway: “The Helper”


Evan Lavigne has his hands full being a single parent to his young son and daughter, plus dealing with life after his wife, Tessa, drowns in the lake near their cottage.

As if out of nowhere, a mysterious young woman, who calls herself Deirdre, appears and takes over the household and the children. Did she just materialize from the lake? She could well have, judging by her knowledge of marine life.

Just when they all settle into a tranquil domesticity and Evan asks Dierdre to marry him, Evan’s agent raises doubts in his mind. As the wedding day approaches, the mystery surrounding Dierdre deepens. Is Dierdre truly the new love of his life, or something far more malevolent?

A short story.

About the Author   

BIO for LASR Guest Blog


Rekha Ambardar is the author of two romance novels, HIS HARBOR GIRL (Whiskey Creek Press) and MAID TO ORDER (Echelon Press).


HIS HARBOR GIRL is set in Pelican Harbor, a fictitious town near an island, the prototype of which is Isle Royale in Upper Michigan, where the hero, a scientist, comes to study wolves, and coincidentally look for his lost love, (Amazon).


In MAID TO ORDER, the heroine, a Chicago heiress, masquerades as a cook/ housekeeper while paying her way through the famed Saunders Cooking Institute, America’s answer to the Cordon Bleu. She is determined not to use her parents’ name or money but make a life for herself on her own. She fortuitously lands a housekeeping job at the home of Mark Runyon, the internationally known architect, who’s just a tad suspicious of social-climbing women.


Rekha Ambardar has also published over one hundred  short genre and mainstream stories, articles, and essays in print and electronic magazines, including The Writer’s Journal, ByLine, The Indian Express, Writing, Her mysteries have been published in Futures, Nefarious, The Gumshoe Review, Orchard Mystery Press, Shots in the Dark and other anthologies.


She is a regular contributor to The World and I Online, a subsidiary of The Washington Times, and has published articles on topics of current interest and concern. She teaches business courses at a university in Upper Michigan.


Visit Rekha’s Web site at









  1. Happy Holidays, and best wishes for 2014!

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