About Sherry Harris

Sherry Harris started bargain hunting in second grade at her best friend’s yard sale. She honed her bartering skills as she moved around the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Sherry uses her love of garage sales, her life as a military spouse, and her time living in Massachusetts as inspiration for the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series. Tagged for Death, first in the series, will be out in December 2014.

Exciting News!

By Sherry — I’m in Bowling Green, Kentucky today for the Southern Kentucky Book Fest!

I am so excited to announce that I am writing a second series for Kensington – the Chloe Jackson Redneck Riviera series. The setting is in the panhandle of Florida and the town is a fictional version of Destin, Florida. The area is known as the Emerald Coast, LA – lower Alabama, and yes, the Redneck Riviera.

Why am I setting a book there? My parents used to winter on the Emerald Coast and eventually moved to Destin in 1991. My husband was stationed there in the early 2000s. We lived in the area for almost three years. When we left our daughter said “yes, ma’am, no sir,” called her gym teachers coach, and we all ended up talking slower and saying “y’all.” It’s hotter than the blazes in the summer, people hold open doors for you even when your halfway across the parking lot, the beaches are the whitest, softest I’ve ever been to, and the water is a stunning shade of green.

It’s even beautiful on a rainy day!

Here is a bit about the series from the proposal I turned in:  

There are some promises you hope you never have to keep. Thirty-year-old Chloe Jackson made such a promise to her friend Boone Parker before he left for a deployment in Afghanistan. When he didn’t come back, Chloe packed her bags to go help Boone’s grandmother, Vivi, run her Seaglass Bar on the white sand beaches of Destiny, Florida. Destiny is in the panhandle of Florida which is also known as the Redneck Riviera and LA — Lower Alabama. Destiny has four seasons – snowbirds, spring breakers, summer people, and the month and a half in the fall where it’s just the locals.

Chloe won’t miss the cold winters of Chicago, but giving up her job as a children’s librarian just about broke her heart. However, her late father had told her a promise made must be a promise kept. It’s the code Chloe has always lived by.

Chloe thought Vivi would be grateful for her help — she’s anything but grateful. Because what could a children’s librarian who has never mixed a drink add to her business? However, Vivi quickly realizes that Chloe’s past as a children’s librarian gives her a unique ability to handle unruly customers and employees.

Destiny is a town that grew too fast. Greedy developers made shady deals while lining the back pockets of the town council. Resources – police, utilities, and roads – are strained as is the environment. Rich people don’t want the locals to have access to the beach and fights about the mean high tide are ongoing. Harley riding local doctors don’t like the Speedo wearing foreigners coming to town.

Will Wade has owned the Briny Pirate restaurant next door to the Seaglass for thirty years. The two buildings are so close they might as well share a wall. When a Seaglass customer is hungry Vivi calls in an order and someone from the Briny Pirate runs it over.

Cast of Characters:

Chloe Jackson – is a thirty-year-old former children’s librarian who moves to Destiny, Florida to help her college friend’s grandmother run her bar on the beach.

Vivi Slidell – has run Seaglass Bar on the beach in Destiny for the past forty years long before the sleepy fishing village became a tourist hot spot. Vivi doesn’t think she needs help from anyone. She’s grieving the loss of her grandson whose support meant more to her than she ever realized. Vivi is reluctant to accept help from anyone and especially a Yankee who shows up every day unbidden.

Joaquin Diaz – the handsome bartender, a fisherman by day, who ladies flock to see. Overworked, Joaquin seems to be the only one who is happy that Chloe has arrived.

Will Wade – owns the Briny Pirate restaurant next door and has been in love with Vivi for thirty years. Will is a cranky native who doesn’t like how tourists, land developers, and northerners have ruined the once quiet beaches.

I hope you will join me in this new adventure!

Readers: Have you ever been to the Redneck Riviera? If not what is your favorite beach town? I’m at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest today, but will stop by as possible!

 

 

 

Wicked Wednesday — I’m A Fool for Spring Books

Spring is in the air and it’s a great time to sit out in the sun and read. Wickeds, what are you reading or what are you looking forward to reading?

Edith: Last week I picked up several new releases I’d ordered from my local independent bookstore. What a treat to have a stack of great books – written by friends – to read!GreatBooks

Barb: Edith, I’m reading Scot Free, too. We must discuss.

Liz: Scot Free is on my list too! I’ve been writing so much this winter that I’ve barely had time to read anything, so I’m planning on catching up on my pile once I turn in my next book on May 1. Finishing up The Snowman, then will tackle The Handmaid’s Tale, Walter Mosley’s Little Green (in prep for Crime Bake!) and I just picked up Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield, who wrote The War of Art.

Jessie: I am hard in the last throes of a double deadline so I am reading Wine Spectator magazine and collections of Agatha Christie short stories. After June 4 I will be reading The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley and The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths.

Sherry: I just finished two amazing books. The Night of the Flood — an Anthology in Stories edited by E.A. Aymar and Sarah M. Chen — each story is an hour on the night of the flood. The whole concept of the anthology intrigued me and it surpassed all of my high expectations.  Oh, and The Daughters part in the anthology — fascinating. The second book is The Dangerous Edge of Things by Tina Whittle. I could not put this book down and I’m now in the throes of trying to decide whether to power through the series one after the other or savor the books. I’m looking forward to reading The Bad Break by Jill Orr and Scot Free.

Readers: What are you reading or looking forward to reading?

The Detective’s Daughter – The New York Trip, Part 2

By Kim

There’s lots of exciting things to see in the Big Apple –  Central Park, Broadway shows and Times Square – but for me it’s all about the bookstores, coffee shops and cocktails.

My trips to NYC always begin at The Strand. The Strand Bookstore opened in 1927 and is a day trip in itself. I’ve been there numerous times and have yet to make it to the second floor. I always purchase a notebook and a book that takes place in NYC. This last trip I bought The Odd Woman and the City, which is a memoir by Vivian Gornick. I have to limit myself otherwise all my mad money would be spent on books. That would be a lot to carry back to the Jane Hotel which is quite a hike from the Strand!

I have several coffee shops I frequent when in the West Village. My favorites are The Hudson Cafe – which also serves an awesome breakfast burrito – The Bean, and Kava Cafe. All three are wonderful and worth checking out next time you’re in the city.

No trip is complete without a visit to the altar of Dorothy Parker. The  Algonquin Hotel spent many years as host to The Vicious Circle, a group started by Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley not long after the end of WWI. They met everyday for lunch along with other writers and editors of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. Their table was reserved for them and became known as the Algonquin Round Table. The Algonquin Hotel is now a National Literary Landmark.I sit at the same table each visit and order my favorite drink – a Dorothy Parker, of course!

 

 

The Algonquin Hotel’s Dorothy Parker

5-6oz. of gin (there’s even a brand called Dorothy Parker!)

1/2oz. St. Germain

Lemon, honey and basil to taste.

Shake. Pour. Enjoy!

Readers: Hope you have enjoyed my mini tour of NYC. Please tell me about your favorite spots in the city in the comments!

Welcome Agatha Award Best First Novel Nominees — Superstitions

Agatha Award Nominees for Best First Novel talk about Superstition

Welcome to the Agatha Award Nominees for Best First Novel. Julie, Liz, and I were all nominated in that category and know what an exciting and nerve racking time this is. The Agatha Awards are voted on by the attendees of the fabulous Malice Domestic conference for fans of traditional mysteries. I love that since it is Friday the 13th you decided to talk about superstitions!

Micki Browning, author of Adrift: A Mer Cavallo Mystery

Superstition and I parted ways the day I discovered that stepping on a crack would not, in fact, break my mother’s back. Yet, I find superstitions fascinating. Mer, my protagonist in Adrift, is a woman of science. To her, superstition is nonsense, yet her grandmother had given her a pendant when she was a child, and before every rescue she touches it. To an observer, it appears she does it for luck. She would argue she touches it for comfort. But isn’t that what superstitious responses are designed to do? They impart a sense of comfort when events are otherwise out of our control. Maybe we should all knock on wood that it works.

V.M. Burns, author of The Plot is Murder: Mystery Bookshop Mystery Series     

I don’t consider myself superstitious. I don’t avoid black cats and I don’t walk under ladders because…well, dangerous. However, superstitions also involve rituals, like wearing lucky socks to sporting event. In that regard, I have a writing ritual. Similar to my protagonist in THE PLOT IS MURDER, Samantha Washington, for many years, I wrote in secret. Only a handful of trusted friends and family knew my heart’s desire was to be a published writer. Even after two manuscripts, I didn’t announce to the world that I was a writer. A stack of rejections and a huge pile of self-doubt convinced me I wasn’t a ‘real’ writer. However, after learning one of my favorite writers was an adjunct professor at Seton Hill University. I enrolled and got my MFA. That helped to boost my confidence enough to declare to the world (and the IRS) that I am a writer. To maintain the feeling whenever I sit down to write, I almost always wear my Seton Hill T-shirt, Sweatshirt or baseball cap to remind myself that I am, indeed a writer.

Kellye Garrett, author of Hollywood Homicide, a Detective by Day Mystery

For me, superstition is a Stevie Wonder song. I don’t have them! I am not afraid of black cats. (I am allergic though.) I don’t freak out on Friday the 13th. (Mainly because I usually forget what day it is.) If I see a penny, I’m not picking it up. (Now if it was a twenty dollar bill…) Like I said, I don’t have superstitions. I do, however, have preferences. For instance, I prefer to not open an umbrella inside. Not because I’m superstitious but because it usually doesn’t rain indoors. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) I also prefer to knock on wood. I don’t encounter a lot of ladders but if I did, I definitely won’t be walking under them. Mainly because I can’t fit.

Laura Oles, author of Daughters of Bad Men

Superstitious? Me? I might be a little skittish, but I come by it honestly.

My father, who passed away a few years ago, was a huge baseball fan. Like– reschedule chemotherapy because it conflicts with spring training– huge. As is the case with many passionate fans, he had his own rituals, and if he went to the kitchen to get something and his team scored, guess who was going to the kitchen every inning for the remainder of the game?

I like to err on the side of luck and don’t see any reason to stack the deck, so I won’t walk under a ladder without a REALLY GOOD REASON. Black cats don’t scare me, although a broken mirror might give me pause. Maybe I’m selective with my superstitions, and I realize that it’s all in my head, but why take the chance?

The Indians are down by two, so I’m going to the kitchen. Need anything while I’m there?

Kathleen Valenti, author of Protocol: A Maggie O’Malley Mystery

I’ve never been one for superstitions. Spill some salt? Clean it up. Open an umbrella inside? Why not? Walk under a ladder? Don’t mind if I do. Ritual, on the other hand, is another story.

In the early days of writing Protocol, I created a rite for writing: wearing headphones. Not headphones to listen to music or tune into podcasts. Just…headphones. Donning those glorified earmuffs helped me shut out the outside world and concentrate on the universe of my characters. It also helped me listen to my own voice, something I tend to lose since I write in my clients’ voices on the daily as an advertising copywriter.

Strange? Uh huh. Alarming? Definitely for anyone who witnessed me wearing headphones with the cord plugged into nothing. But it seemed to work when I needed it.

Now I find myself leaning less on ritual and instead trusting that I’ll find my voice and remember that the path to The End is paved with hard work, relentless reading, copious amounts of caffeine and the friendship of other authors, like my fellow Agatha nominees. But I’m keeping the headphones handy, just in case.

BIOS

A retired police captain, Micki Browning writes the Mer Cavallo Mystery series set in the Florida Keys. In addition to the Agatha nomination for Best First Novel, Adrift, has won both the Daphne du Maurier and the Royal Palm Literary Awards. Beached, her second novel, launched January 2018. Micki’s work has appeared in dive magazines, anthologies, mystery magazines, and textbooks. She lives in South Florida with her partner in crime and a vast array of scuba equipment she uses for “research.” Learn more about Micki at MickiBrowning.com.

V.M. (Valerie) Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Receiving the Agatha nomination for Best First Novel has been a dream come true. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at vmburns.com.

Kellye Garrett writes the Detective by Day mysteries about a semi-famous, mega-broke black actress who takes on the deadliest role of her life; Homicide Detective. The first, Hollywood Homicide, was recently nominated for Agatha, Lefty and Barry awards. The second, Hollywood Ending, will be released on August 8, 2018 from Midnight Ink. Prior to writing novels, Kellye spent eight years working in Hollywood, including a stint writing for the TV drama Cold Case. The New Jersey native now works for a leading media company in New York City and serves on the national Board of Directors for Sisters in Crime. You can learn more about her at KellyeGarrett.com and ChicksontheCase.com.

Laura Oles is a photo industry journalist who spent twenty years covering tech and trends before turning to crime fiction. She served as a columnist for numerous photography magazines and publications. Laura’s short stories have appeared in several anthologies, including MURDER ON WHEELS, which won the Silver Falchion Award in 2016. Her debut mystery, DAUGHTERS OF BAD MEN, is a Claymore Award Finalist and an Agatha nominee for Best First Novel. She is also a Writers’ League of Texas Award Finalist. Laura is a member of Austin Mystery Writers, Sisters in Crime and Writers’ League of Texas. Laura lives on the edge of the Texas Hill Country with her husband, daughter and twin sons. Visit her online at lauraoles.com.

Kathleen Valenti is the author of the Maggie O’Malley mystery series. The series’ first book, Agatha- and Lefty-nominated Protocol, introduces us to Maggie, a pharmaceutical researcher with a new job, a used phone and a deadly problem. The series’ second book, 39 Winks, releases May 22. When Kathleen isn’t writing page-turning mysteries that combine humor and suspense, she works as a nationally award-winning advertising copywriter. She lives in Oregon with her family where she pretends to enjoy running. Learn more at www.kathleenvalenti.com.

Readers: Are you superstitious? Do you have a superstition that you can’t get over?

 

Wicked Wednesday — Celebrating Turning the Tide

We are celebrating the release of Turning the Tide, the third book in Edith’s Quaker Midwife Mysteries series. Here is a little bit about the book:

A suffragist is murdered in Quaker midwife Rose Carroll’s Massachusetts town

Excitement runs high during Presidential election week in 1888. The Woman Suffrage Association plans a demonstration and movement leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton comes to town to rally the troops. When Quaker midwife Rose Carroll finds the body of the group’s local organizer the next morning, she can’t help but wonder who could have committed the murder.

Rose quickly discovers several people who have motives. The victim had planned to leave her controlling husband, and a recent promotion had cost a male colleague his job. She had also recently spurned a fellow suffragist’s affections. After Rose’s own life is threatened, identifying the killer takes on a personal sense of urgency.

Riding in carriages was commonplace during the late 1800s. Wickeds, have you ever ridden in a carriage? Where was it and where did you go? If not is there one you wish you could have ridden in?

Barb: My husband and I took a lovely carriage tour of Charleston, South Carolina. It was a marvelous way to view the narrow, colonial streets, and so quiet with only the clip-clop of the horses’ hooves.

Edith: As part of my research for this series I’ve ridden in several carriages. (I wrote a blog post about it here.) My favorite ride was on carriage trails through woods and pastures in Ipswich, Massachusetts, scenery that wouldn’t have looked any different in the late 1880s. And it was bumpy! No seat belts! I wore my long full linen skirt to get the feel of climbing in and out – not easy. But the experience helped me write about it more accurately.

Sherry: I have some distant memory of a stagecoach ride as a child. My husband and I took an open carriage ride on our tenth anniversary in New Orleans. It sounded so romantic however it was in the middle of the day, it was in the 90s with a gazillion percent humidity. The sun beat down on us and we leaned away from each other on the small seat because we were so sweaty. The only good thing was my hair formed these lovely curls that I’ve never had since. Sadly, we had a similar experience (sans beautiful curls) on a later anniversary on a duck boat in Boston.

Jessie: I don’t believe I have ever ridden in a carriage. The closest thing I can think of was a pedicab ride I took with my husband one evening in Old Orchard Beach, ME. It sounds like something to add to my adventures list!

Julie: I don’t think I have ever ridden in a carriage. But I’ve always wanted to. Have you ever seen the Dancing in the Dark number from The Bandwagon? That’s my kind of carriage ride!

Readers: Have you ever take a carriage ride?

Writing Through the Tough Times — Guest Annette Dashofy

Anjana is the winner of Uneasy Prey! Look for an email from Annette!

Welcome back, Annette Dashofy. Annette is the author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series. No Way Home, the fifth book in the series, is nominated for an Agatha Award for best contemporary novel. Uneasy Prey, the sixth book in the series, released on March 27, 2018. Annette is going to give away a copy of Uneasy Prey to one of our commenters. Here’s a little about the book:

On the way to the emergency room, an elderly woman regains consciousness long enough to inform paramedic Zoe Chambers that her fall down the basement steps was no accident. Before she can say more, she succumbs to her injuries, launching Zoe and Police Chief Pete Adams into the investigation of a burglary ring targeting the area’s vulnerable senior citizens.

Zoe—in spite of Pete’s objections—takes it upon herself to act as protection detail after the con men, disguised as water company employees, set their sights on Zoe’s beloved former landlady. It’s a decision that eventually puts Zoe in harm’s way.

With Zoe already recovering from one close call, Pete must race against time to stop the crime ring—and a dangerous killer—before they strike again.

I recently asked the fabulous members of my “street team” (AKA “Zoe Chambers Mysteries & Friends” on Facebook) to list some topics they’d like to see me blog about. The list was filled with terrific ideas, but one suggestion kept repeating in various forms.

How do you keep writing when life gets in the way?

It’s a subject I’m well versed in. I wrote through my dad’s final days, although back then it was more for therapy than for publication. And I wrote through my mom’s failing health and death while under contract for my new book, Uneasy Prey.

The reasons and methods for writing through hardships vary widely. No one-size-fits-all solutions here, folks. Sorry.

When my dad had Alzheimer’s in addition to a series of strokes, I wasn’t a published author yet, but it was during this time that I rekindled my love of writing fiction. I wrote a truly horrible novel that will never see the light of day. A romantic suspense set in Las Vegas (where I’d never been), it was pure fun rubbish. But it served its purpose. It was my daily escape from reality. I would spend the morning visiting Dad, feed him lunch, and then come home a frazzled bundle of nerves and sometimes tears. My routine was simple. I’d fix a cup of coffee, eat some medicinal chocolate, and sit down at my computer. I’d tell my family, “I’m going to Las Vegas.” Translation: “I’m going to write. Do. Not. Bother. Me.”

Ten years later, by the time my mom’s health had started to go south, I had a handful of published novels under my belt and a contract and a deadline. My life situation had changed so my writing routine had to change as well. Mom was in assisted living. My husband worked steady daylight instead of afternoon shifts. Writing after I returned home from visiting Mom didn’t work because Hubby rolled in about then.

I started writing first thing in the morning. And I do mean first thing. My dear friend Ramona Long has a morning “sprint” thread on Facebook where writers leave a comment telling of their intent to log off and just write for an hour. Most days, I would supplement that morning one-hour sprint with another couple of hours.

The key to getting that book completed was that pre-dawn one hour. Ship Hubby off to work and write before the rest of the world woke up to dump problems in my lap.

Did I meet my deadline for that book? Heck no. But I knew I wouldn’t. I saw the proverbial writing on the wall with my mom and asked my publisher for an extension well in advance. They were fabulous and gave me an addition 3 ½ months. I did meet that second deadline.

Yes, there were days when Mom was in hospice that I didn’t write. There were days when planning her funeral and dealing with her estate wiped me out mentally leaving no functioning brain cells and no energy to even look at the manuscript.

And there were days when I did write but what I wrote was crap. That’s okay. I could and did fix it later.

By way of advice for those who are also dealing with life while trying to write, I offer the following:

  1. Find a time of day that works for you, whether it’s before dawn, during your lunch break, afternoon, or late at night, and make a ritual of writing. It might be one hour. It might be 20 minutes. Let your family know this is your sacred time to “go to Las Vegas.”
  2. Be flexible. Stuff will happen. You may have to change your routine depending on life’s demands.
  3. Allow yourself to write crap. If your brain isn’t into the story, that’s okay. Put down words with the knowledge and intention that you’ll fix them later. Sometimes the simple act of getting words on a page can prove cathartic.
  4. Above all else, be kind to yourself. Ask for a deadline extension if things are that dire. Don’t add to the stress by beating yourself up about needing to write when you simply can’t. Remind yourself that everything is fodder. You might be going through hell, but you can draw from those emotions later. Instead of writing fiction, journal. Blog. Or pour your heart out in some form that no one else will ever read.

Whether you’re dealing with a family illness or simply the everyday grind of work, school, and keeping the kids fed, the trick is…there is no trick. Find a small chunk of time each day and designate it as your sacred writing time. Maybe it’s an hour, maybe it’s fifteen minutes. Maybe you’ll write 1,000 words or maybe only half a page. But that daily routine will keep your head in the story and will keep your story moving in the right direction.

Readers and fellow writers, what methods do you employ to get through the rough patches life throws at you? Annette will answer your comments as she can today.

Bio: Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. She’s a three-time finalist for the Agatha Award: Best First Novel of 2014 and Best Contemporary Novel of 2015 and NO WAY HOME has been nominated for the 2017 Agatha for Best Contemporary Novel. UNEASY PREY (March 2018) is the sixth in the series. You can find Annette at http://www.annettedashofy.com/

Chance Meetings

Sherry here in Northern Virginia where the weather can’t decide on a season

When I look back on my life I think of how much of it came down to chance meetings.

Meeting my husband is right up there. We both happened to be at the same place for a few hours. If not for that, we wouldn’t have met.

Many of my dear friends from our military days are friends because we chose and/or were assigned to live in unit A and not unit B on a different section of the base. One of my friends, Nancy, and I had a lot in common even though I was older and grew up in Iowa and she grew up in California and, yes, was younger. We both had worked for financial planning companies, Nancy in Colorado Springs and me just up the road in Cheyenne, Wyoming. We had almost identical Dansk dishes – white with blue rims. We both loved antiques and all things blue and white. We both loved yard sales and spent many a happy hour while we were stationed in Los Angeles heading out on Saturday mornings to hunt for treasures.

And then there is my chance meeting with Julie Hennrikus. We sat at the same table at the Malice Domestic banquet in 2005. I often think how different my life might have been if we’d been seated at different tables. My family was moving to the Boston area that summer. Julie, being Julie, told me I had to join the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime (an organization I knew nothing about) and go to Crime Bake. That singular meeting opened up a whole new world to me and blossomed into so many friendships and opportunities. Maybe, eventually, I would have found Sisters in Crime on my own, but maybe not.

This made me think about chance meetings in fiction. Sarah met CJ by chance when she was defying her mother who told her to stay away from military men on the base near their house. Sarah met Seth when she went out for a drink alone, raw and lonely because of her recent divorce.

And that got me thinking about the difference between chance and coincidence.

One definition of chance in Merriam-Webster is: the assumed impersonal purposeless determiner of unaccountable happenings

Merriam-Webster defines coincidence as: the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection

Another dictionary said coincidence is: a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances

So chance is more haphazard and coincidence is a bigger event with some connectedness.

I’ve heard many writing instructors say that your book shouldn’t have more than one coincidence in it – if any. Do a search of “coincidence in writing” and hundreds of articles pop up. I often call Barb Goffman, my independent editor and friend, to ask if she thinks this or that is too big of a coincidence. Sometimes the answer is yes (then the rewriting begins) and sometimes the answer is, “yes but if you did this, is won’t be a coincidence.”

I find it interesting that we accept coincidences in life but not fiction. I find it fascinating that chance plays such a huge role in our lives.

Readers: What role has chance played in your life? How do you feel about it in fiction?