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.

The Night of the Flood

I fell in love, first with the concept of The Night of the Flood, and then the book when it came out in March. It’s interesting, unique, gripping, and in turn poignant and funny. I loved it so much I’m giving away a copy to one person who leaves a comment.

Alan Orloff, one of the contributors, interviews the two intrepid editors, E.A. Aymar and Sarah M. Chen.

Alan Orloff: You two (Ed Aymar and Sarah M. Chen) should be commended, not only for the sterling end product, a buzz-generating novel-in-stories (THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD), but for surviving the task of editing/babysitting/torturing 14 thriller writers, all with mayhem on their minds. Let’s start at the beginning. Can you describe the genesis of this fascinating project?

E.A. Aymar: It was an idea originally proposed, in a different form, by J.J. Hensley. He, along with seven other writers in this book, regularly contributes to The Thrill Begins, and we had all become good friends and fans/supporters of each other’s work. He had the idea to do a joint collaboration on a project, and it morphed into THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD.

That said, J.J.’s a terrible person and we really don’t want his further association with this project. So Sarah and I kept his name off the cover, refused to give him credit, and you should probably just delete that preceding paragraph. Fine to keep this one, though. (Sherry here. For those of you who don’t know this crew — this is a joke and J.J. has a story in the book.)

Author Alan Orloff

AO: Getting fourteen writers all on the same page seems daunting. How did you manage it (without bloodshed or lawsuits)?

EA: Oh, we all weren’t on one page. That would have been a very short book. 

AO: Ha ha, that was a good one.

EA: Anyway, we had a very loose outline to which everyone adhered, and the stories were split hourly. Writers were free to borrow elements from each other’s work and occasionally did, and that worked well turning an anthology into a novel. We did take pains to avoid repetition, more in word choice than theme. For example, there were a lot of references to the town name (Everton) and “The Daughters,” the group of women who blow up the town’s dam and instigate the rioting that night. We made sure to space those out.

AO: Getting two editors on the same page seems daunting. How did you manage that? Can you describe your east coast/west coast working relationship? 

EA: First off, let me say that Sarah M. Chen is the best partner a co-editor can have. She’s thorough, funny, and razor smart. We paired up sort of incidentally, and she’s really an absolute dream to work with. And I don’t know how or why she puts up with my crap.

Regarding communications, we exploited all sorts of modern technology and went back and forth on texts, e-mails, vaped smoke signals, and (very rarely) phone calls. From ideas to editing to promotion, we ran stuff by each other and made sure we were on the same page. Safe to say that we’re both intensely proud of this book, and want to give it the best treatment possible.

AO: With fourteen different stories/writers, I imagine there were some significant continuity issues. How did you make sure the book flowed as a unified story?

Author E. A. Aymar

EA: I kind of addressed that earlier, but I’ll add something to that earlier point. Having good writers makes editing so much easier. Good writers tend to be inventive, and the contributors did a great job of ensuring continuity on their own. And then Sarah’s sharp eye caught discrepancies like the position of the moon or the changing height of the water.

We approached this idea as a group, so we all, essentially, began at the same starting point. That was a huge, and unforeseen, help in unifying the concept.

AO: Publishing a book is more than just writing words, doing a few revision passes, and shipping it off to the publisher (the wonderful Down & Out Books). After it’s complete, there’s the “other” stuff: promotion, marketing, sales, making book trailers, collecting awards, enforcing restraining orders against disgruntled authors. Can you describe some of those efforts?

Author Sarah M. Chen

Sarah M. Chen: It was a collaborative effort from everyone as we pooled our ideas together on different ways to market and promote. One of the benefits of working with such experienced writers is that I learned so much. Normally I just go through the usual social media channels, but there’s so much more than that. Like the UrbanaAMA app. Ed and I answered questions about editing / writing an anthology via video and it was a blast. I’d never had a book trailer done before and thanks to Ed, we had our very own cool book trailer. I want to say that Ed was really good at organizing our promo efforts, generating ideas, and just getting us psyched about our little project. He was a great cheerleader. Other contributors promoted the book through their respective newsletters and did things like scavenger hunts. And I don’t want to forget Down & Out’s efforts. They did an incredible job sending out review copies to everyone, including Publisher’s Weekly, Foreword Reviews (they even made FLOOD a Book of the Day!), and Crimespree. D&O provided us with some awesome promo graphics to spread all over social media.

AO: What has been the response to THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD within the crime-fiction community, from both writers and readers?

 SMC: It’s been amazingly positive so far and I’m grateful for every single review. The blurbs we received early on blew me away as well. (AO adds: From Lee Child – “A brave concept brilliantly executed.)

AO: A second book with a similar multiple-author novel-in-stories concept, THE MORNING OF THE KILLERS, is on the drawing board. A brief description, please? What lessons learned from FLOOD will you apply as you plan, edit, and promote it?

SMC: It’s a novel-in-stories so it’s similar in concept but it’s not a sequel. Contributors can use their FLOOD characters though if they’d like. We haven’t officially announced it and we’re still hashing it out but it involves a crime boss, infidelity, and bounty hunters. I’m really excited to be working with the same writers as well as new ones. And of course, co-editing with Ed again is a bonus. He really knows how to rally all of us together and spearhead a lot of the promotional efforts. I’m telling you, he’s our cheerleader.

 We have more writers involved in this project, so Ed and I are cobbling together a loose outline after all of us agreed on the basic premise. From there, all the contributors will bounce ideas off each other and flesh out the storyline even further. Chris (Rhatigan) is a fantastic editor and we’re excited to be working with D&O again on this project. A perk working with so many writers is that there’s a good chance I’ll learn of some new platforms and ideas on promotion as I did with FLOOD.

AO: What other projects do you have on the horizon?

 EA: The first half of this year has been all about THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD, chiefly in regards to promotions. I have a standalone coming out from Down and Out Books in March 2019, called THE UNREPENTANT, and Sarah and I are going back and forth on THE MORNING OF THE KILLERS. We haven’t officially announced it as of this writing, but Down and Out likes the concept and we’re set for a 2020 publishing date (with many of the same contributors as THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD, along with some new faces). And I have an essay coming out in the second UNLOADED anthology this July. And…oh, I guess that’s it.

SMC: I have a few short stories that are set to be released in upcoming anthologies, including MURDER A GO-GOS, edited by Holly West and released by Down & Out Books. All stories are inspired by song titles of The Go-Go’s. This is one I’m extremely proud to be a part of. All proceeds are to go to Planned Parenthood.

AO: Thanks for a great interview, Sarah and Ed, and stay dry!

Readers: Do you have a favorite theme (or hook) for a book or anthology?

Bios

Sarah M. Chen has published crime fiction short stories with Shotgun Honey, Crime Factory, and Betty Fedora, to name a few. Cleaning Up Finn, her noir novella with All Due Respect Books, was an Anthony finalist and IPPY award winner. For more info, visit sarahmchen.com

In addition to The Night of the Flood, E.A. Aymar writes a monthly column for the Washington Independent Review of Books and is the Managing Editor of The Thrill Begins, ITW’s online resource for aspiring and debut thriller writers. He also runs the Noir at the Bar series for Washington, D.C., and has hosted and spoken at a variety of crime fiction, writing, and publishing events nationwide. He has never won an award, so let’s get on that. For more info, visit eaymar.com

Alan Orloff has been a finalist for the Agatha and Derringer Awards. His eighth novel, Pray for the Innocent, came out earlier this year. He’s published numerous short stories, including “Rule Number One,” which was selected for The Best American Mystery Stories 2018 anthology edited by Louise Penny and Otto Penzler. For more info, visit alanorloff.com

About THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD

“Each of the 14 varied and fitfully amusing stories in this solid anthology takes as its starting point the destruction of a dam and the subsequent flooding of Everton, PA. Aymar and Chen deserve kudos for putting together a distinctive anthology.” —Publishers Weekly

It happened the night Maggie Wilbourne was to be put to death, the first woman executed by the state of Pennsylvania in modern times. That was when a group of women passionately protesting Maggie’s imprisonment struck. They blew up a local dam, flooding the town of Everton and indirectly inspiring a hellish night of crime and chaos.

Fourteen of today’s most exciting contemporary crime writers will take you to the fictional town of Everton, with stories from criminals, cops, and civilians that explore the thin line between the rich and the poor, the insider and the outsider, the innocent and the guilty. Whether it’s a store owner grimly protecting his property from looters, an opportunistic servant who sees her time to strike, or two misguided youths taking their anger out against any available victim, The Night of the Flood is an intricate and intimate examination of the moment when chaos is released—in both society and the human spirit.

Contributors: E.A. Aymar, Rob Brunet, Sarah M. Chen, Angel Luis Colón, Hilary Davidson, Mark Edwards, Gwen Florio, Elizabeth Heiter, J.J. Hensley, Jennifer Hillier, Shannon Kirk, Jenny Milchman, Alan Orloff, and Wendy Tyson.

Praise for THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD:

“Plenty of complex characters and hard edges. Take a breath, then hang on and enjoy this entertaining romp.” —Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author

“Bravo to all the authors who contributed to The Night of the Flood, a collection of brilliant short stories about residents of the dysfunctional town of Everton who are thrust into the turbulence of decisions that will forever change who they thought they were. A stormy page-turner that will leave you wanting more.” —Sandra Brannan, author of the award-winning Liv Bergen Mystery Series

“A brilliant, multi-leveled concept, Faulknerian in its structure. A novel in stories. Wow. Fourteen exciting crime writers create a rare three-dimensional mosaic of a doomed town and the night hell flooded through it. Terrifically exciting. Wonderfully inventive.” —David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of Murder As a Fine Art

“A brave concept brilliantly executed.” —Lee Child, bestselling author of the Jack Reacher Series

“An impressive collection of stories from some of the most talented writers working in the crime genre today.” —BOLO Books Review

A Very Very Very Fine House — Welcome Guest Kaitlyn Dunnett

Kimberley is the winner of Crime and Punctuation. Watch for an email from Kaitlyn.

We are delighted to celebrate Crime & Punctuation by prolific writer Kaitlyn Dunnett. It’s the first in a new series from Kensington. Kathy is giving away a copy (US only) to someone who leaves a comment!

Here’s a bit about the book: After splurging to buy her childhood home in the Catskills, recently widowed Mikki Lincoln emerges from retirement as a freelance editor. With her ability to spot details that others fail to see, it’s not long before Mikki earns clients—and realizes that the village of Lenape Hollow isn’t the thriving tourist destination it was decades ago. Not with a murderer on the loose . . . When perky novice writer Tiffany Scott knocks at her door holding a towering manuscript, Mikki expects another debut novel plagued by typos and sloppy prose. Instead, she finds a murder mystery ripped from the headlines of Lenape Hollow’s not-too-distant past. The opening scene is a graphic page-turner, but it sends a real chill down Mikki’s spine after the young author turns up dead just like the victim in her story . . .

Mikki refuses to believe that Tiffany’s death was accidental, and suspicions of foul play solidify as she uncovers a strange inconsistency in the manuscript and a possible motive in the notes. Then there’s Tiffany’s grandmother and husband, who aren’t exactly on friendly terms over the local area’s planned rejuvenation efforts . . . Unable to convince police that they are focused on the wrong suspect, Mikki must rely on her keen eyes to catch the truth hidden in Lenape Hollow. As she gets closer to cracking the case, only one person takes Mikki’s investigation seriously—the cunning killer who will do anything to make this chapter of her life come to a very abrupt ending . . .

My thanks to Sherry Harris and the other Wicked Cozy Authors for inviting me to blog here about my new “Deadly Edits” series. Crime & Punctuation, featuring amateur detective Mikki Lincoln, a retired-schoolteacher-turned-book-doctor, is in stores now in hardcover and ebook formats, with large print and audiobooks to come.

My grandparents’ farm

The first thing you need to know about me is that I’m sentimental about houses, especially those I lived in during significant periods of my life. When it comes time to create a home for one of my fictional characters, I almost always end up drawing a floor plan that bears a striking resemblance to someplace I knew well in real life. Years ago, when I wrote romance, I made use of my parents’ modular home in Florida and my grandparents’ farm in rural New York State, as well as houses I’d lived in myself. In the Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries, Liss and Dan’s house in Moosetookalook, Maine is loosely patterned on my other grandfather’s house.

My other grandparents’ house

My house 1960s

In the “Deadly Edits” series, Mikki Lincoln returns to her old home town after fifty years away and buys the house she grew up in. It not only looks just like the house I grew up in, it is located in the same place relative to other buildings in the village. I’d claim that it’s exactly like that house, except that I have no idea what changes various owners have made in the real place during the last fifty years. The house that Mikki moves into is what I imagine my house might be like today.

There are many advantages to using a familiar place as a setting. In this case, the most important one is that I can give Mikki the benefit of my memories. She knows what the house looked like back in the 1950s and 1960s and all the family stories that go with it. My father tore down the old barn in the back yard and used the wood to build a garage at the side of the house. So did Mikki’s. Mikki’s room as a teen was the one I had—right down to its own little balcony and a big, walk-in closet.

My house today

The reason Mikki sets up as a freelance editor has to do with the need to make repairs on the house. Her retirement income will only stretch so far! But since she has to have carpenters, plumbers, and electricians in the house anyway, and since she’s now going to sleep in the master bedroom, she opts to expand her former bedroom, making it into the office of her (and my) dreams.

I wish I had interior photos of the upstairs of my childhood home, but I do have have plenty of pictures of the living and dining room, thanks to holidays and birthdays. There are exterior photos, too, of both the front and the back of the house. What doesn’t really show are how close the neighbors are on both sides, something Mikki has forgotten during her time away and has to get used to again. Her memories of, shall we say “observing” her neighbors when she was young, weren’t hard to imagine. All I had to do was tap into my own memories.

As soon as she returns to Lenape Hollow, New York to live, Mikki reunites with a high school friend, Darlene, which meant I needed to design a house for her, too. I based it on my friend Leslie’s house, a place I visited so often that I knew it almost as well as I knew my own house. The school on Main Street is one I attended. The church is the church I went to. But I did run into one problem. I’d already transported my home town’s municipal building, containing the town office, the fire department, and the library, to Moosetookalook, Maine to use in the Liss MacCrimmon books. Fortunately, fifty years along, my old home town has both a new library and a new police station. So does Lenape Hollow.

I wouldn’t want you to think I’m not using my imagination to write this new series. There’s plenty that’s pure fiction, starting with the characters. And I think I can guarantee that there will never be any real murders quite like the ones Mikki comes in contact with in Crime & Punctuation and next year’s sequel, Clause & Effect. A setting comes to life when it’s based on a real place. Basing characters on real people or plots on real crimes? Nope. In those areas, it’s much better to make stuff up.

Readers: Do you have a favorite house you’ve lived in? Or one that means a lot to you?

Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of more than fifty-five traditionally published books written under several names. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries and the “Deadly Edits” series (Crime & Punctuation—2018) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in a Cornish Alehouse) as Kathy. The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” mysteries and is set in Elizabethan England. Her most recent collection of short stories is Different Times, Different Crimes. Her websites are www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com and she maintains a website about women who lived in England between 1485 and 1603 at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women

Confession

By Sherry — I’m looking forward to seeing all of the Wickeds tomorrow at our annual retreat in Maine!

I announced my new Chloe Jackson Redneck Riviera series here on April 18th.

But as you might have guessed from the title of this piece, I have a confession to make. I vacillate between joy and terror as I start on this new adventure with Chloe. For some reason when I started writing the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries, Sarah came to me almost fully formed. I knew where she lived, what she drove, how she felt about life.

Chloe is a bit more of a mystery to me. Instead of popping into my head like Sarah did, she’s holding bits of herself back. I know she was a children’s librarian in Chicago until she moved to the Emerald Coast to keep a promise to a friend and help his grandmother out at her beach bar. I knew the grandmother didn’t want her there, but Chloe was raised that a promise made was a promise kept.

Two weeks ago I was down at the Redneck Riviera visiting my mom and doing some research. (Isn’t that convenient?!) The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. The Gulf of Mexico was at its show offy best. The emerald color of the water against the white sand couldn’t have been more beautiful. Digging my toes in the sand as the cool water washed over my feet felt like a bit of heaven. I knew that Chloe would feel the same way.

My friend Clare and I went out on a research trip  — going to a few beach bars and talking about the new series.

First, we stopped at the Whale’s Tail in Miramar Beach, Florida. If you click here you can go to their website and checkout live beach cam. I’ve eaten there fairly often (the view is amazing and we saw dolphins) but didn’t know until Clare told me that there was a bar underneath the restaurant. It’s pretty plain but maybe the perfect spot for the Seaglass Bar.

Next we headed to the small town of Grayton Beach to go to the Red Bar. There’s another bar/restaurant there. It’s not right on the beach but only a block away. It’s one of those places that’s crammed full of interesting things. And just in case you wonder what was in that Bloody Mary there were green beans, olives, banana peppers and of course celery.

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And finally we stopped at The Other End — a bar on Destin harbor. It’s a cool little place with an Airstream as its building. But I think I want something more permanent for The Seaglass Bar.

None of these was the perfect bar but I think I can incorporate bits of all of them into the Chloe books. Then there are so many other decisions. Where does she live? What does she drive? What is her family like and where are they? More on all of this another day.

The area has a definite Southern feel with the heat, sweet tea, and drawls. I started using “you all” while I lived there after a life time of “you guys” that is part of my Iowa roots. The area attracts tourist, Midwesterners, spring breakers. A mix of old/young, South/North, that creates a clash of cultures. I know all of this is fodder for the books.

So I’m excited to learn more about Chloe and scared at the same time.

Readers: Does anyone have advice for me? How do you handle new characters? How do you face your fears?

 

 

 

 

Cover Reveal for The Gun Also Rises

Kristin 5chadler is the winner of a copy of one of my books. Kristin watch for an email from me! Thanks to all of you who entered!

It’s always exciting to see your next book up for pre-order. I’m especially excited about The Gun Also Rises because it uses a real bit of history as part of the plot. But more on that on another day.

 

Here’s the blurb for the book:

TO RECOVER A PRICELESS MANUSCRIPT . . .
 
A wealthy widow has asked Sarah Winston to sell her massive collection of mysteries through her garage sale business. While sorting through piles of books stashed in the woman’s attic, Sarah is amazed to discover a case of lost Hemingway stories, stolen from a train in Paris back in 1922. How did they end up in Belle Winthrop Granville’s attic in Ellington, Massachusetts, almost one hundred years later?
 
WILL SARAH HAVE TO PAY WITH HER LIFE?

Before Sarah can get any answers, Belle is assaulted, the case is stolen, a maid is killed, and Sarah herself is dodging bullets. And when rumors spread that Belle has a limited edition of The Sun Also Rises in her house, Sarah is soon mixed up with a mobster, the fanatical League of Literary Treasure Hunters, and a hard-to-read rare book dealer. With someone willing to kill for the Hemingway, Sarah has to race to catch the culprit—or the bell may toll for her . . .

Thank you to the amazing team at Kensington for the great cover and back cover copy! And in case you missed it Kensington also did a fantastic job on Julia Henry‘s (it’s stunning) and Liz Mugavero’s (it made me laugh) new covers. Click on their names for a link to their posts. All three of our books come out on January 29, 2019! We will be celebrating here on the blog!

Readers: Fess up — do you ever buy a book based on the cover? I’m going to give away a copy of one of my books (your choice) to someone who leaves a comment!

 

Ah Malice Domestic

By Sherry — I’m home recovering from the lack of sleep and all the fun at Malice

Malice Domestic is the annual conference for fans of the traditional mystery. The first time I went was in 2003 as fan and hopeful writer. I was amazed by the crime fiction community then and continue to be now. I didn’t know a soul at that first conference. I stood in line at the restaurant for lunch and the woman in front of me turned and asked me to join her and her friend. It turns out that she was the prolific writer Lee Harris.

I have talked often about meeting Julie Hennrikus at Malice and how that changed the trajectory of my writing life. I gave Malice a shout out in the acknowledgements of my first book, Tagged for Death. For me Malice is all about connecting with people – seeing old friend and making new ones.

Here are Jessie and Edith with Rhys Bowen getting their certificates for their Agatha Best Historical nomination.

I don’t get to see the Wickeds very often. While it may seem like we are running over to each other’s houses for tea every other day, the truth is we are spread out all over the place. And poor me – I’m the farthest away. So Malice is one of the three or four times a year that I get to see them.

Photo by Eleanor Carwood Jones

This year I was on a panel, Murder in New England, with friends Shari Randall and Julie Hennrikus  — how lucky is that? The other panel member was writer Leslie Meier who writes the Lucy Stone mystery series. I confess when I saw her name on the list of panel members I went total fan girl, but managed to maintain my cool on the actual panel.

Some people you only see long enough to give them a quick hug. Others you are lucky enough to sit down with for a chat. And some people you see photos of and wonder how you never managed to glimpse them!

 

This year my publisher Kensington gave away books. I sat by Debra Goldstein. Her new book, One Taste Too Many, doesn’t come out until December 18, 2018, but she passed out bookmarks. Then she said to each person, “I only have a bookmark, but Sherry has a great book you can get.” Did I mention how generous the crime writing community is? Oh, and Debra’s book is available for pre-order.

Attending the Sisters in Crime breakfast and the New Authors breakfast is always fun but oh so early when you’ve stayed up late so you don’t miss a minute of talking to someone. I keep campaigning for New Authors cocktail parties but no one listens to me. I confess I was a bit late to the New Authors breakfast but got to hear most of the authors. The short interviews are always a lot of fun. Here are just a few of the many wonderful debut authors:

Then there is getting to meet people you’ve only known online. The banquet, the Agatha Awards… Aw, heck, I could go on and on about how wonderful Malice is, but I’m guessing you get the point.

This year my Malice experience was extended for a bit because author Leslie Budewitz came home with me. We yakked until the wee hours and then got up at 5:30 to get Leslie to the Metro station for her flight home. Boo-hoo – why do you live so far away Leslie? And now it’s all over for another year. I’ve gotten some sleep (including a two hour nap Monday morning) and am now recharged and renewed.

I hope if you’ve never been to Malice that you get to go some day. It’s special. They give out scholarships to people who might not otherwise be able to attend. Here is the contact information: MaliceAngels@comcast.net

Readers: Is there a place you go to see old friends and meet new ones?

 

Celebrating Five Years of the Wicked Cozy Blog

Thank you, Wicked readers, for being with us for five years! Okay, so maybe you haven’t been with us all five years (here’s a link to our very first blog which, unsurprisingly, didn’t have any comments), but we are so glad you found us and are part of our writing adventures. When we started out we had three published books between us. Since then each of us has had at least one Agatha Award nomination.

This is the very first picture we uploaded to our website. It’s still on our about page.

It’s been so lovely to swap stories with our readers and learn about you through your comments. We’ve had so many fantastic guests along the way. We consider them and all of you, part of our Wicked family. We’ve been lucky enough to meet some of you at conferences, but the rest of you we meet here.

During the first few weeks of the blog we interviewed each other so readers could get to know us. Wickeds, how has your life changed since we first started the blog five years ago?

This is a picture from the Seascape Writers Retreat where so many of us met.

Jessie: How quickly the time has passed! Five years ago I had one book in print through a small regional press. Since then I have published three Sugar Grove books, two Change of Fortune books and one Beryl and Edwina mystery with two more at least on the way. I’ve had my first novel published by a company in Germany, enjoyed the pleasure of having a book released as an audio version and have been nominated for two Agatha awards.

Most importantly, I have come to find my confidence as a writer, to trust my own voice on and off the page and to be more grateful than I ever could say to have been supported in pursuing my dreams by my blog mates as well as all of our readers! Thanks so very much everyone! Click here to read the first Wicked interview with me.

Sherry: When we first started the blog I had just gotten the contract for the first three Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries. Now I’m writing the eighth book, then the ninth, and will be starting a new series. I never dreamed I’d be so lucky. I didn’t realize how much publishing a book would change my life. I’ve met and made so many wonderful friends in the writing and reading community. The best part has been doing it with the Wickeds and our accomplices. Each of you bring a unique perspective to life and have enriched mine. Click here to read the first Wicked interview with me. Thank you for celebrating with us!

Here are the first book covers we uploaded:

 

Julie: When we started the blog, I was the only Wicked without a contract. Since then, I’ve signed three contracts for three separate series. More than that, I’ve gotten to know the other Wickeds, and consider each and every one of them a dear friend. As much as I love to celebrate my own successes, there has been such joy celebrating all of their successes as well. I have no doubt that this journey would not be as much fun without Barb, Sherry, Edith, Liz, and Jessie. I also love that Sheila, Kim, and Jane are part of this blog, as are the dozens of guests we’ve hosted over the years. Writing is solitary, being an author requires community. This is one heck of a community, Thank you, dear readers, for being part of it. Click here to read the first Wicked interview with me.

Edith: So many changes! When we started the blog I had one book out – Speaking of Murder, written as Tace Baker, from a small press – and my first Local Foods mystery, A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die was about to release in June. My mom, who taught me through example to love reading mysteries, had died the month before without ever reading one of my novels.

Now? Five books featuring organic farmer Cam Flaherty are out in the world. The second Tace Baker book. Three Quaker Midwife Mysteries, with two (or more) to come. And four Country Store Mysteries, written as Maddie Day, with at least five more in the future! I’ve been nominated for five Agatha Awards, had ten short stories published, and won awards. Mostly, I’ve had the company of these wicked awesome women to keep me company, make me laugh, and provide comfort. And I’ve gotten to know so many devoted mystery readers and fans, on this blog and elsewhere. Thank you for keeping us in business, and for sharing what our stories mean to you. Click here to read the first Wicked interview with me.

Sheila’s first blog post was on July 1, 2013. She’s been on the first Monday of the month ever since. Click here to read her first post.

Liz: When we first started the blog, we were racing to get it launched in time for my first book, Kneading to Die. It’s been such a wild ride since then! In five years, I’ve had six Pawsitively Organic books published, with the seventh coming out this year, and started my new Cat Cafe Mystery Series as Cate Conte. This blog has been a life-changer for me, too – being able to share these experiences with five amazing friends has been one of the high points of this career. And meeting and interacting with all the readers – priceless. Thank you for coming along for the ride with us! Click here to read the first Wicked interview with me.

Our first guest was Connie Archer on June 13, 2013. Click here to read the interview.

Barb: When we first started the blog, Clammed Up, the first book in the Maine Clambake Mystery series, wasn’t out yet. That would come in September. Since then, there have been six books and a novella, with a seventh book, Steamed Open, and a second novella collection, Yule Log Murder coming this year. During the initial period when we started the blog, my granddaughter was born and my mother died, so it has very much been the circle of life for me over the last five years. Click here to read the first Wicked interview with me.

Kim joined us on January 21, 2014. Click here to read her first post.

Jane Haertel joined us on February 6, 2015. Click here to read her first post.

Readers: How has your life changed in past five years?

Welcome Guest Lena Gregory

Welcome, Lena Gregory! Lena is giving away a copy of Clairvoyant and Present Danger to someone who leaves a comment. Here’s a bit about the book:

Whoever said that dead men tell no tales has never met Cass Donnovan…

Cass has always relied on her abilities to guide her, but after communications with a ghost land her in the middle of a murder investigation, she has to wonder if her gifts are really more a curse.

Cass knows she is meant to help track down the killer–much to the chagrin of local law enforcement–when the apparition leads her to a dead body on the beach near her psychic shop, Mystical Musings. But the police are not the only ones who wish Cass would stick to reading palms. Someone is trying to scare her off, and it will take all her powers of premonition to catch the killer before Cass herself becomes the next victim…

Thank you to the Wicked Cozy Authors and Sherry Harris for inviting me to guest blog today. I’m so excited to be here and visit with all of you!

Whether or not ghosts are real is a huge debate in my house. My husband doesn’t believe in anything “otherworldly,” and my daughter and I are firm believers. Have you ever had a brush with the paranormal? And encounter you couldn’t quite explain away, no matter how hard you tried to convince yourself there was a logical explanation? I’ve had several over the years, but I’ll only share a couple.

I have three kids, and not one of them slept through the night, so I can only assume it’s something I did wrong. Of course, neither my husband nor I sleep through the night either, so I guess it’s no surprise.

Anyway, one night, when my middle guy, Nicky, was around a year and a half old, he just would not go to sleep. I was so exhausted I couldn’t keep my eyes open another minute, and I was afraid to bring him in my bed for fear he’d fall down the stairs if he got up and wandered, which he did even then, so I crawled into the crib with him and closed my eyes.

The next think I knew, someone was shaking my shoulder. Startled, I opened my eyes and looked up, fully expecting to find my husband standing over me wondering what in the world was going on, but there was no one there. I was absolutely positive a hand had gripped my shoulder and shaken me, so I sat up and looked around the room, figuring either my husband or my ten-year-old daughter had tried to wake me then walked away when I didn’t respond.

When I looked down, I didn’t see Nicky. Terrified, I jumped up and found him tangled in the blanket. I quickly unwrapped the blanket from his head. His face was beet red, and he was breathing hard but, thankfully, he was okay. It might have ended much differently if something hadn’t nudged me awake that morning. When I finally calmed down enough to get up, my husband and daughter were both still asleep and hadn’t been up to wake me.

To this day, sixteen years later, I still get chills and hug my son whenever that memory surfaces.

On a lighter note, I used to teach dance for a living, until Nicky was about three. I’d always brought my kids to the studio with me while I was teaching, but he couldn’t handle the noise. The kids talking and laughing, the music blasting, tap shoes hitting the wood floor, all proved to be too much for him. He would always want to be in my arms with his hands over his ears.

Within the year, he was diagnosed on the autistic spectrum. He needed physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech, so I gave up teaching and started cleaning houses to give me the flexibility necessary to bring him to therapy five days a week.

One of the houses I took was a beautiful, old house on the bay. The view was gorgeous, as was the house, which was built in the 1800s. One of the first times I went in to clean, I put the garbage pail back in the bathroom beside the shower. Then I realized there was an old stain beneath the pipe under the sink where the pail had been. I figured it must leak sometimes and put the pail back under it. When I returned a few minutes later, the pail was beside the shower again.

That freaked me out a little, but I figured maybe I’d left the floor a little wet and it slid over a couple of feet, or maybe I’d meant to put it under the pipe but then forgot to actually do it. So, I made sure the floor was dry and put it back. The next time I looked in the bathroom, it was back beside the shower. Needless to say, that’s where it stayed that time.

Every time I returned to the house after that day, I put the pail under the pipe and it stayed where it was.

Then, one day, I was in the basement doing laundry when there was a weird sort of scratchy, tapping sound. It was coming from the ceiling rafters in the basement beneath the foyer. It definitely freaked me out, but I finally decided it must be mice or something, and I filed the incident away to use in a book somewhere down the line—which I haven’t yet but still intend to.

When the homeowner asked how everything was going and if I was finding everything okay, I told her everything was fine, but I thought the house was haunted, and I sort of laughed.

She laughed too and asked me what had happened.

I told her about the garbage pail, but not the tapping, since I’d already explained that to myself.

She then told me the house definitely was haunted, and what was now the foyer was originally a bedroom, and someone died in there. She also said they often here a strange knocking sound in the foyer.

The existence of the unexplainable has always fascinated me. Is there truly a world beyond our own that sometimes overlaps with ours? Or are we just creatures with extremely vivid imaginations?

Cass Donovan, from Death at First Sight, Occult and Battery, and Clairvoyant and Present Danger makes a living delving into that world, “contacting” the dead. At least, that’s what her customers think. She thinks she’s just very intuitive. What do you think?

Readers: Have you ever had a brush with the paranormal? For a chance to win a copy of Clairvoyant and Present Danger, leave a comment and let me know!

Bio:

Lena Gregory is the author of the Bay Island Psychic Mystery series, Death at First Sight, Occult and Battery, and Clairvoyant and Present Danger, which take place on a small island between the north and south forks of Long Island, New York, and the All-Day Breakfast Café Mystery series, Scone Cold Killer, Murder Made to Order, and Cold Brew Killing, which are set on the outskirts of Florida’s Ocala National Forest.

Lena Grew up in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island, where she still lives with her husband, three kids, and two dogs. When she was growing up, she spent many lazy afternoons on the beach, in the yard, anywhere she could find to curl up with a good book. She loves reading as much now as she did then, but she now enjoys the added pleasure of creating her own stories.

Website: http://www.lenagregory.com/

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14956514.Lena_Gregory