It’s A Full Moon

Today is the full moon. Not just any full moon, but the smallest and the lowest of the year. In the northern part of the country, even at it’s highest point, at 1:00 a.m., the tiny moon is only a third of the way up in the sky. Because it’s so low, it often has an amber color, which is why some call it the honey moon.

I know the Wickeds run from hot to cold on the woo-woo stuff, but tell me, fellow writers, are you affected by the full moon? Do you believe others are?

Liz:¬†Oooh, my kind of post ūüôā I love learning about the moon phases and what they mean. So for this strawberry moon, I learned it’s in my sign (Sagittarius), and that means I can be rewarded for “hard and smart work and passions,” according to one horoscope site. Unfortunately it also means my emotions can be stronger as well, which isn’t necessarily a good thing these days!

Sherry: I’m on the not so woo-woo side of the Wicked woo-woo spectrum. That said, our dog Lily barks more in the middle of the night the few days before and the night of the full moon. I’ve also noticed that people seem to drive crazier around the full moon. But maybe that’s because they are tired from their dog barking in the middle of the night.

Julie: I love the moon. I took a class once, and had to go out for three nights and chart the path of the moon. It was October, and I was really grouchy about it the first night. Then I loved learning, watching. That, and From the Earth to the Moon was one of my favorite TV series ever. So full moons make me smile. But I also do feel affected by the moon, and notice it in others. According to an astrology site, I should stay clear of emotional triggers during the full moon. Considering Friday I have a graduation (morning) and wedding (evening) on the docket, fat chance of that!

Jessie: I am all about the woo-woo and the moon is no exception! Some people believe that the new moon is for setting intentions and plans for those things you wish to accomplish or to bring into your life before the next new moon. They believe the full moon is for letting go of things that no longer serve you like bad habits or clutter. I confess, more often than not I try to use that rhythm to move through my life.

Edith'sChartEdith: I’m also not a particularly woo-woo person, but I do think there is something to be said for astrology. My sun and rising sign are in Scorpio – intense, given to extremes – but my moon (and I was born during a full moon) is in Taurus, which is how most people see me – the “crunchy granola” type (truth – I’m both). I love following the progress of the moon. As a former doula and now author who writes about a midwife, I can say that midwives swear there are more births during a full moon. The moon affects the oceans, why wouldn’t it affect the amniotic fluid in a full-term pregnant woman?

Barb: My mother-in-law held the moon in great esteem. She called herself a “lunatic” and swore she couldn’t sleep when the moon was full. The problem was, she never checked to see if was actually full, and often claimed not to have slept when it was not. I’m the blog skeptic, I know. I don’t believe in astrology. And I just read an article from a scientific journal that showed statistically that emergency rooms are not busier when the moon is full, even though we all believe they are and remark on it. I think it’s a noticing bias. But, the moon does exert a gravitational pull and control the tides–so on that level I’ll concede, who knows what it might be up to? And I do love looking at the moon, no matter what it is or is not doing.

Readers: Are you moon believers, or moon skeptics? Any good moon stories?

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Memorial Day Moments

It’s Memorial Day – summer is kicking off, it’s a long weekend (for us day-jobbers, anyway) and hopefully the weather is beautiful where you are! We’re talking today about our favorite things to do on this day – traditions, trips, and more. So Wickeds, what’s the plan for today?

Jessie: I will be in the U.K. over the holiday weekend. One of my kids is planning the trip and is keeping everything a surprise so I have no idea what my plans are yet. It should be fun!

Julie: Jessie, have a wonderful trip! I love Memorial Day weekend. It is a time of reflection (the reason for the holiday). It also marks the end of winter, and the kick off to summer. Summer in New England is a marvel, and I relish it. I always toast the ocean (or a body of water), and paint my toenails. Not at the same time.

Barb: Julie, I love the idea of painting your toenails. I always welcome barefoot weather, the best months of the year. I’ve wracked my brain, but I can’t think of any Memorial Day traditions. Patriot’s Day (mid-April), yes. Fourth of July, for sure. But in New England Memorial Day is as apt to be cold and gray as sunny and warm, so it’s hard to make plans and I got nothin’.

Sherry: We don’t have any big traditions for Memorial Day either. Growing up we didn’t live close to any family so there was no visiting graves. This Memorial Day will find me writing as I try to meet a self-imposed deadline. Wish me luck!

Edith: It’s time for me to start a new book, Sherry, so¬†I’ll be writing, too, until we go to some friends for a cookout or maybe a cook-in, because, as Barb said, this year the day is forecast to be rainy and chilly.

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Artist Ellen Rogers with the banners. Photo by Bryan Eaton, Newburyport Daily News.

But I’ll also walk across town to visit an amazing memorial a local artist has created this year. She filled a field across from her house with 7000 white banners. Each has the name of an American service person who died in Irag and Afganhistan, and each includes the number of dead on that date. Sobering.

Readers: What’s your plan for today? Traditions?

The Annual Wicked Retreat

It’s that time of year again – the Wickeds are going on retreat, starting today. This year, we’re changing things up a bit and heading to Boothbay Harbor, Maine, to stay at Barb’s famous former B&B. We’re planning a lot of fun, food,¬†and drinks – and of course, work. So, Wickeds, what do you hope to accomplish this year?

Edith: I might still be polishing Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery number one, due June first. But I might start plotting (did I, a Pantser, just use the PL-word?) and writing Quaker Midwife Mystery number four, since that’s next on the schedule. Conversation with the Wickeds is high on the agenda, as always, and I hope to get a Canva tutorial from Julie and Sherry, so I can get over my graphics ineptitude. Can’t wait!

Sherry: I hope to get some plotting done too — yikes, Edith maybe the others are converting us! I will be working on book six which has a possible title of For Whom The Belle Tolls.¬†I love our late night late night chats when we are settled down with a glass of wine. See you all soon.

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Animal socks Liz brought each of us to the retreat one year! Guess whose foot is whose…

Liz:¬†Hoping to get a bunch of words written in the second Cat Cafe Mystery, as well as a plotting session for book seven in the Pawsitively Organic Series. And some quality time with my besties…

Jessie:¬†When I am writing I’ll be working on the second book in my new Beryl and Edwina series. Liz and I also plan to demonstrate interactive plotting/ brainstorming/ book noodling for those Wickeds who are not quite convinced about the upside of plotting ahead. I hope to convince at least one of them that premeditated crimes can be as much¬†fun as those that are crimes of passion!

Barb: I’ll be finishing up a short story and getting it to my writers’ group. I also hope to make good progress on two synopses.

Julie: I have copy edits due next week for Theater Cop series book one, A CHRISTMAS PERIL. Pages are printed out, and I will be doing another read through and some final tweaking. I also just finished a draft of Theater Cop series book two, tentatively titled WITH A KIISS I DIE. I want to do a read through so I can get it to my first reader, Jason Allen-Forrest. I also want to talk to Edith and Liz about this juggling two series business. Plus, wine.

Readers: What do you like to accomplish when you go away from your everyday routine? Do you have a list, or prefer just chilling? And if we’re a little slow on responses to comments today, it’s because many of us are traveling north!

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Malice Domestic Highlights

Another Malice down! We’re getting back in the swing of real life, but thought we’d share the best and brightest moments from our time in Bethesda last week.

Edith: We all, including Accomplice Sheila Connolly, united for a panel at the Barnes & Noble the night before Malice started.

Sherry: It’s all about the people! I love seeing only friends and meeting new ones!

Jessie: I agree with Sherry about the people. It is such fun to catch up with friends and to make new ones.

Barb: The Best Contemporary Novel panel was a highlight for me I was on it with fellow nominees with Ellen Byron, Catriona McPherson, and Hank Phillippi Ryan, moderated by Shawn Reilly Simmons. Congratulations to the winner, the amazing Louise Penny. Catching up with my college friend Vida Antolin-Jenkins and meeting the super-impressive Kate Carlisle.

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The Sisters in Crime breakfast honored quite a few past presidents (that is, Goddesses) for our 30th anniversary celebration. Many of us credit Sisters in Crime with our writing making it into publication.

Past SINC Prez

Edith: It was such a treat and an honor that three of us were nominated for four Agatha Awards this year! Here are Barb, Jessie, and me before the awards banquet.

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Liz:¬†As usual, we had a really amazing time seeing friends and enjoying each other’s company. Here’s us getting ready for the banquet.

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Sherry, Julie and I had a lovely group sitting at our banquet table. And notice Julie’s really cool skull necklace!!

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I met Elisa Varey, who won the bid on our Malice basket we put together for the auction. She came by my 5pm signing to say hello, and have me sign on of the books. Thanks for bidding on the Wickeds Elisa!

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Winning bidder on our Wicked basket at the Malice Auction. Photo by Cheryl Hollon.

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Hollon and Holmes, signing together again! Thanks for taking the picture Dru Ann Love.

Edith: I had a fabulous group at my table, too, including Elisa! Midnight Ink kindly donated copies of my new Quaker Midwife mystery.

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Malice Domestic- Where are the Wickeds?

The winners of the two advance reader copies of A KNIT BEFORE DYING are ASHLEY CATE and TOMEKA. Please contact Sadie through her website, http://www.sadiehartwell.com and let her know where to send your books. Thanks, everyone, for playing along!

Jessie: Having a great time at Malice Domestic with all the Wickeds! 

Since all of the Wickeds are busy as can be at the conference today we decided to post our panel and signing schedules here on the blog. We hope to see many of you while we are here!

Friday

*Barb– Simply the Best: The Agatha Nominees for Best Contemporary Novel, 1:00-1:50

*Edith– Making History: The Agatha Nominees for Best Historical Novel, 3:00-3:50, Anthology Signing 9:00-10:00

*Jessica-Making History: The Agatha Nominees for Best Historical Novel, 3:00-3:50

*Barb, Edith and Jessica – Opening Ceremonies 5:00-5:30

Saturday

*Sherry– What’s Your Line?, 9:00-9:50, Signing 11:00

*Edith– Make it Snappy: The Agatha Best Short Story Nominees, 10:00-10:50, Signing 11:00

*Julie– Little Shop of Murder, 11:00-11:50, Signing 5:00

*Liz- Small Town Murder, 11:00-11:50, Signing 5:00

*Barb– Signing 11:00

*Jessica-Signing 11:00

*All the Wickeds will attend the Agatha Awards Banquet, 7:00-10:00

Wicked New England: Spring Outings

Okay, gang, Spring has officially arrived. We all know it takes its sweet time here in New England. But when the weather does finally warm and the last ice is melted, where are your favorite places to wander about and catch glimpses of new life? Where do you like to spy early daffodils and carpets of tulips? See birds building nests? Hear choruses of spring peepers? Smell garden or farm soil being turned to warm in the lengthening days? Finally walk without being totally bundled up in scarves, boots, and ear warmers? Dish about your favorite early spring outing.

Jessie: I love to head for Old Orchard Beach. As soon as I possibly can stand it I peel off my shoes and socks and roll up my pant cuffs in order to walk barefooted along the sand. There is something so wonderful about feeling the sand between your toes after a long, cold winter!

Liz:¬†The beach – any beach! Like Jessie, I feel completely at home with my toes in the sand, and I look so forward to the first visit each year when it’s warm enough to peel off some layers. This really is my happy place.

IMG_3754Edith: I head out to my garden and watch my garlic come up. Not much of an outing, I know, but it’s a marvel every spring to see the crop I planted in the fall pop its green shoots through the hay mulch and start to reach skyward. Getting the rest of the garden ready for planting is a treat, too. We also like to take walks on streets where there are lots of bulbs blooming.

Barb: For the last several years, spring has meant the ritual of opening our house in Maine. Checking out which restaurants and businesses survived the winter, what new places are popping up. Putting out the porch furniture, inspecting the basement and attic for signs of winter “guests.” That’s spring for me.

Sherry: When I lived in Massachusetts I always loved to drive up to Rockport, Massachusetts. It’s an old historic town with lots of shops and stunning scenery! I’ll let the pictures below speak for themselves!

Julie: Chalk up another beach goer as soon as I can get there. I also LOVE walking through the Public Gardens in Boston, and watching the morph from winter to spring. As Edith said, it comes late here in New England, but it is greatly cherished by us all.

Readers: What are your favorite spring outings, wherever you live?

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Wicked Wednesday: Marching Out of Step

Edith here, on the Ides of March. But instead of talking about seers’ warnings, assassinations, or the start of civil wars (which Caesar’s killing kicked off), let’s talk about one way in which we have always marched out of step with our peers, with the rest of society, or with our families. I take it as a positive trait¬†when a person is out of the ordinary, but it can also cause problems, even bullying. Sometimes we need a great deal of strength to keep our heads up and march to the drummer we¬†feel led by, not that of everyone around us.

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Sherry: Thinking over this topic made me realize what a middle of the road person I am. I reached out to some long-time friends to ask them¬† if they thought there was any way I’d marched out of step with my peers. They had nothing. I’m just a normal, middle-aged woman, who lives in the suburbs, dresses conservatively (other than the occasional animal print), and loves my family and friends. I know, I know, I’m boring. Wait — I married a younger, shorter man — strictly against social norms. There you go.

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Liz:¬†What a great topic. I’ve always been just a bit out of step in so many places – especially my family! We just didn’t see eye to eye on most (important) things. But I find that even in my day job, while I enjoy the people I work with, I seem to think just a bit differently than most other people. Not surprisingly, it’s the few creative folks in the environment toward whom I gravitate. So I’ll blame it on having a creative brain. Or really, maybe I’m just weird?

Edith: I think I’ve pretty much always been a little out of step. I was always the shortest and youngest in my grade (yay, Bob Harris!), and felt a great injustice that I wasn’t asked to¬†carry¬†the books (with the boys) from the book room. As a young adult, I rejected social norms of women’s beauty (all that shaving, all that makeup, all those heels). In some sense I was in step with my (early 1970s) cohort, but¬†pretty much out of step with the rest of society. And I have other examples. But I like Liz’s analysis of blaming it on the creative brain. Or maybe we’re just weird?

Barb: It’s hard to see my own life through any prism that tells me what was usual and what was un. I did what I did. I came to a variety of crossroads and took the path I thought was best based on what I knew at the time. Sometimes I was right, sometimes wrong. My sense is that’s the way it is for most people. I was never consciously swayed by fears or hopes about what other people would think of my choices, but my parents’ very American, very middle-class values are wound tightly around my soul, so I’m sure they play a part. I guess the most unusual thing I’ve ever done is write that novel I kept talking about.

Julie: As I get older I realize that I have chosen my own path for my entire life, though quietly. I have always been a daydreamer, for example, and just assumed everyone else was. Not so, I came to realize. My daydreams, alternate realities, were part of the forming writer’s brain. I work in the arts, and am surrounded by folks who create the beat of life. I’m thrilled to be along for the ride–marching out of step helps me notice who else is in the parade, what the scenery looks like. It also makes me aware of who isn’t keeping up, so I can lend a hand.

Jessie: I found this to be a difficult topic. Painful even. Those who have met me as an adult  may find it difficult to believe, but as a child and a teenager I always felt completely out of step. My family moved very often in my early years and I always felt like an outsider with every new school, each new town. I was excruciatingly shy and found the experience harrowing every single time. I became entirely used to the idea that others belonged and I was foreign. As an adult I have settled down in one place for many years but still find that I often think of myself as an observer on the fringes. Fortunately, a witnessing role on the outskirts is a perfect place for a writer to be!

Edith: I’m sorry to have proposed a painful topic, Jessie. We moved our kids twice to West Africa (but then back to their home town after a year), and I saw how excruciating it was for my shy, introverted son. I’m so pleased you have found your one place now, and that you can use your observer role to such good ends – being a brilliant writer. And I love how we are all different from each other on this topic, and yet have found common ground in our friendship and our writing goals.

Readers: How do you march with the rest of your cohort, your culture, your peers, and where have you struck out on your own path? Has being out of step – or in step –¬†been easy, painful, useful?

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