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.

IMG_1137

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!

Save

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.

IMG_2371

Wickeds

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.

3WickedNominees

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.

IMG_2387

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

IMG_2378

IMG_2377

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!

IMG_4770

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

18278157_10155293436559321_5513403511877814072_o

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.

EdithTable

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?

Save

Save

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.

Dance to the Beat of Your Own Drum

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.

Drums

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?

Save

Wicked Wednesday: Marching in Parades

Edith here, with the second of five Wednesdays in March. Today let’s talk about our youthful experiences marching in parades. Were you in marching band in high school, either with an instrument or as part of the pep squad? How about with your Scout troop or sports team? If you never marched in a parade, did you sit on the curb and watch? Do you like to take in the Macy’s or Rose Parades on television as an adult? Dish! Bonus points for a picture or two of you marching.

Liz: I’ve never been a big parade marcher. The one and only time I did – under duress – was when I worked for a chamber of commerce and we had to march in some holiday parade in the freezing cold. Luckily my coworker brought us shots of brandy… That said, I did love watching Mardi Gras parades when I used to visit New Orleans often. I’d much rather watch than participate!

Edith: I marched in my town’s Camellia Parade from my Brownie years through junior high in Girl Scouts, and then in my high school’s drill team.

browniesparade

I loved putting on the uniform and lining up. (Can you spot me in the front row? Third from right…) As an adult, despite being a pacifist Quaker, I still love watching small town parades with bands marching with military precision, goofy Little League teams in their uniforms, and decorated floats. At Bouchercon in New Orleans last October I had a ball walking in the Second Line parade down a wide boulevard despite the rain – and the the music was definitely not militaristic. I even got a photo with Sara Paretsky at the end!

Jessie: My village holds a Fourth of July parade every year that marches right past my house. It is a small parade with a very short route. In fact, the route is so short the marchers go around twice! Charming!

Barb: The most recent parade I went to was for the opening of the Kelly McGillis Classic International Women’s Flag Football Association Tournament. (Wow, that’s a mouthful.) Our friend, author Lucy Burdette was a speaker, along with distance swimmer Diana Nyad. When it came time for the parade, Diana got to ride in the convertible, but Lucy marched behind a sign that said, “Lucy Burdette, Famous Author,” which we, her entourage, found hilarious for some reason. But Lucy was ever the good sport.

Sherry: I love the picture of Lucy! The only time I’ve been in a parade was during college. My sorority made a float with a fraternity. It was a big purple (school color) camera made out of tissue paper stuck in chicken wire. If anyone ever asks you to do that run! A friend and I rode on the float pushing down a button pretending we were taking pictures. It was fun. I have always loved marching bands.

Readers: How do you feel about parades? Love watching them or hate they way they clog up your town’s streets? Have you marched in a parade as an adult or a child? Tell us your story!

Save

Save

Save

After The Contract

We are looking forward to having three guests — Shari Randall (Feb. 3), Aimee Hix (Feb. 10), and Debra Sennefelder (Feb. 24) —  this month who all have contracts for books, but their books aren’t out yet. They will be talking about their experiences leading up to their books being published. Since all of us have been in the same boat we thought it would be fun to share some of our experiences too.

Jessie: I would say to try to have as much fun with the journey as you possibly can. Releasing a first book involves so many new experiences and it can be a bit overwhelming at times. But it only happens once this way, so taking as much pleasure in it as you can is my best advice.

Sherry: After the jumping around and champagne popping ended, panic set in. What had I gotten myself in? I start envisioning empty launch parties, bad reviews, trolls, the series being dropped before it hit publication. In other words the wild imagination that makes it possible to write took a very dark turn. I took some deep breaths and started reaching out to my author friends for help and support. The Wickeds are my safety net and lifeboat. Find yours!

Barb: You will find yourself lost in a strange land. Traditional publishing is like no business you’ve ever been in. And no one will explain it to you, since most people who work in it have done so since college and to them, everything they do seems, “normal.” Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even though when you do, you’ll be able to hear the sighs of impatience on the other end of the line or e-mail. And as Sherry says, ask your writer friends.

guestblogsched

Part of Edith’s book two guest post schedule from May, 2014

Edith: All of the above! Plus, try to stay organized. I reached out ahead of time and requested guest blog posts around the time of my release, and was even invited to do a few. I felt like I was going to lose track of them all, so I created a Word table, a kind of spreadsheet. I listed each blog, the blog topic, the due date, the sent date, and the release date. It helped so much to see the schedule and know I wasn’t dropping the ball somewhere. Then for the second book I already had a list of friendly bloggers.

Julie: Great advice on this feed! I’m going to add advice that Hank Phillippi Ryan gave me–enjoy every moment of this journey. We tend to hit a goal post and immediately move it down the field. Instead stop, and say “I did this.” You will never be a first time published author again. Enjoy the journey.

Liz: Love all of this advice – especially the celebrating of your accomplishments. You’ll only have one first book, so enjoy it to the fullest. Take pride in everything you’ve done, enjoy the company of fellow writers and don’t be so focused on getting to the next place/book/success that you don’t stop and appreciate the moment.

Readers: What advice have you given people when they embark on a new journey?

Save