Wicked Wednesday: Wicked Goals for 2017

Wickeds, any big goals for the year? Any big happenings? Any “maybe this is the year” dreams?

Edith: Nope. As far as I know there are no family weddings coming up (although possibly stay tuned for news on that front…), no dream vacation scheduled, no grandbabies due. I have three books releasing this spring, and I do look forward to the year’s conferences: Malice in April, Bouchercon in October, Crime Bake in November. My only personal big happening is going under the knife for a new knee eight days from today. I think that’s enough!

Liz: My biggest happening is selling my house and moving. Although I’m staying in img_1804Connecticut for now, I’m looking forward to living in a more urban area. Mostly looking forward to NOT being a homeowner…

Barb: I have no idea what is going on this year. I have no book contract after March. I’m not co-editing the Level Best Books series anymore. There are a number of things brewing in my personal life that could lead to big changes, not all of them good. When I managed a lot of people, I generally found that planners are not good reactors, and reactors are not good planners. The people in our support organization thrived on coming into work without having an inkling of what the day would bring. The programmers hated a change made to the schedule six months down the road. I am a planner, so I keep telling myself the uncertainty is good for me. Roll with it, I tell myself. So far, myself doesn’t seem convinced.

Julie: I’m really trying to get into a yoga practice. So far I’ve started a Beachbody 21 day yoga retreat twice. Best of intentions, but it isn’t working out too well so far. Healthier is a definite goal over all. Two books to write, so that includes trying a standing desk.

Sherry: Barb, I love your planner/reactor thought. I’m a reactor. That said, I’m looking forward to A Good Day To Buy coming out in April, a couple of visits to Boston with the Wickeds, Malice, and Bouchercon in Toronto — I’ve only been to Canada once and that was in 5th grade. And I’m going to write a Hallmark movie and sell it — right?! If I say it enough times maybe it will happen.

Jessie: Like Barb, I’m a planner. At the beginning of every year I sit down and write out a few goals. This year mine include at least one international trip, mastering the art of dictating my writing and taking on a more active role in a volunteer organization. I also have two books set to release in the fall.

Readers, same questions for you. Any big goals for the year? Any big happenings?Any “maybe this is the year” dreams?



Writers in the Big Easy

by Sheila Connolly, who’s still reeling from a week in NOLA

At last I get to dither on about the glories of New Orleans and Bouchercon, where most of the Wickeds were gathered a couple of weeks ago. If you don’t know of it, Bouchercon is an amazing writers conference by any standard, raised to another level by its location in NOLA this year.

While it is always a joy to gather with other writers—our tribe!—I also wanted to treat myself to some sightseeing, so I stayed an extra day. Way back in 1970 I visited New Orleans with a group of college friends, and I wanted to see how my memories compared with today’s reality.

I was shocked to find that I had absolutely no memory of where we had been, or at least how one place connected to another. I remember vaguely where we stayed (with the parents of one friend, in the Garden District), and that we rode a streetcar, and we visited the zoo, but the French Quarter was kind of a blank to me, with brief flashes of recognition. On this trip I found myself standing in front of Preservation Hall, where I know I went to hear the music, but I couldn’t remember the façade facing the street. (I do remember being very hot, though!)


So I decided to reset my memory files and enjoy the New Orleans of today. Despite the 90-degree heat and the 80% humidity, I did. I walked almost everywhere in the French Quarter. I ate lots of things (beignets!). I took pictures. I visited a church, a cemetery, a convent; I waved at the mighty Mississippi. I loved every minute of it.

Once again it drove home how different places can be, and how much that matters to a writer. I’ve visited many major cities in this country and abroad, but New Orleans has its own strong character (at least in the French Quarter—I didn’t venture beyond that). Certainly most cities have their own identity, but few seemed to me so “in your face” as New Orleans, where the sights and sounds and smells and even the air itself assault you from all sides.


One thing I noticed was the plaques on many buildings—celebrating authors. Tennessee Williams wrote here, William Faulkner lived there. The tour guide I was following around counted off more names: Anne Rice, of course, plus O. Henry, Truman Capote, Sherwood Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and more. Standing where they stood, looking at their views, the streets where they walked (and most likely the bars they visited), it made perfect sense that they would have been drawn to the place. Even if you write about the Arctic Circle, you cannot walk away from New Orleans unaffected.

My books are set in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ireland—all places where I’ve spent time and know fairly well. I wouldn’t even try to write about New Orleans without spending some serious time there soaking it all in. Five days was not enough. Now, how do I get back again?


My next Orchard Mystery is due out tomorrow, October 4th. It’s set in western Massachusetts, in February. That’s about as far from New Orleans as I can get. Massachusetts has its apples, but New Orleans has—bananas in Jackson Square? It’s another world.


Coming tomorrow! Seeds of Deception (Orchard Mystery #10). Yes, that’s snow on the cover–a nice change from NOLA.


Wicked Wednesday–What Did the Wickeds Learn at Bouchercon?

Last week, three of the Wickeds, Julie, Edith and Sherry were at Bouchercon (along with Accomplice Sheila Connolly). Jessie, Liz and Barb had to miss it this year, so we’re dying to know–what did you learn? What surprised you, or informed you? What was the precious nugget you’ve carried home?

Edith: I learned I could make writing about murder in villages pertinent to a panel called MypanelCrime in the Metropolis! Seriously, that was my panel assignment, and we made it work. This year I didn’t get to very many sessions, though, because I was catching up with people, attending meetings (like the Sisters in Crime chapter officers’ meeting), or working in my room, with the occasional nap thrown in, too. And that was fine. It was also delightful to see both Julie and fellow New Englander Michele Dorsey on their first panels as a published author, and to eat some fabulous southern food.

Dinner with friends!

Dinner with friends! L-R starting at the top, Cheryl Hollon (another new author!), Sheila Connolly, Sherry Harris, and Leslie Budewitz, new president of Sister in Crime. Edith joined us shortly after this photo was taken.

Julie: What a whirlwind weekend! I am on the national board of Sisters in Crime, so I had a couple of meetings while I was in Raleigh, and went to the SinC breakfast to see the passing of the presidency. It was a great reminder about the importance of this organization in my life. Thrilling that Writes of Passage won the Anthony and the Macavity. I also participated in a panel EARLY Sunday morning, but Edith, Sheila and Sherry were still there, cheering me on.

Sheila Connolly toasting the Orchard Series with and appletini

Sheila Connolly with an Appletini–what else do you expect from the author of the Orchard series?

The New Authors breakfast required a one minute pitch, but Sherry and I practiced, and got it down. When I got up there, I looked up and saw Edith and Dru Ann both standing along the wall, give me big smiles and thumbs up. I had a little bit of a line at my signing, which was also great. Loved seeing so many writing friends, but also meeting so many readers. It was both humbling and invigorating, and reinforced the fact that I am a very fortunate woman.

Sherry: What I learn over and over at conferences is how generous authors and fans are. It is always a thrill to meet readers who are so excited to meet authors. And it is always so wonderful to run in to so many authors who want to hear about what you are working on and are willing to share their experiences with you.

I never think I’m very good at doing pitches and I ended up doing two — one at Speed Dating and one at the New Authors Breakfast. The Speed Dating one (authors move from table to table full of readers) was three minutes long so I had time to talk about Tagged for Death and The Longest Yard Sale and the New Author event was one minute

Ray Daniel, Julie Hennrikus, and Michele Dorsey holding a photo of the Wickeds who couldn't make it to Bouchercon.

Ray Daniel, Julie Hennrikus, and Michele Dorsey holding a photo of the Wickeds who couldn’t make it to Bouchercon.

so I concentrated on Tagged. I learned I’m better at doing a pitch than I thought I was.

Part of going to conferences like Bouchercon is getting to see writer friends who live far away — whether it’s a quick hi and hug or a long conversation — it’s one of the best things about attending.

Readers: Share a favorite conference (it doesn’t have to be Bouchercon) moment with us!