Footloose

Jessie: In New Hampshire where the rain is pelting down.

above-1839587_1920Are you an enthusiastic traveler? Or do you prefer to stay closer to home where things are familiar? Did you feel one way about travel in the past and now are of a different mind?

Until a few years ago I was not a cheerful tourist. I dreaded the flights, the packing and the feeling of never quite knowing where I was or how things were done in an unfamiliar locale. But I married a man who gives absolutely no thought to throwing a few things in a bag at midnight to be on a long haul flight to Asia the next morning. I truly wanted to be a breezy jetsetter like he is, but the fact was, I was not.

Eventually, I sat myself down for a chat about it and asked whatever bits of one’s brain send out the sorts of worried signals mine always broadcast about travel, what was the real problem. It turned out it was one of longstanding.

My family moved several times when I was a child and as I was an extremely shy kid I absolutely loathed the upheavals. New friends, new environments, new school cultures. The goodbyes. Wondering if you will ever make it back. All of it left me in knots. Travel, on a subconcious level at least, felt the same. Even the packing and lugging things about.

As soon as I uncovered the reason I was so worried every time the opportunity to buzz off across the globe came up I was able to chat with myself about all the ways travel was not the same as moving house. I convinced myself with ease that a passport, a credit card and an age of majority make all the difference.

So, this weekend I am flying off to Scotland to visit one of my children. We have a place to stay for five nights but the rest of the trip is up in the air. The only two things I know for sure are that I fly back out of London and that I am really looking forward to going.

Readers, do you love to travel? Where is your favorite place to go? If not, why not?

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 Wednesday- Heros

Jessie-In NH awash in anticpation of Malice Domestic!

Breaking news! Here are the winners of the books from yesterday’s drawing. It was such a great response that I drew a third winner! Keep an eye out for future giveaways! The winners are: Jill @Bonnjill, Sharon Forrest, and Stephanie Clark! Thanks to all of you who entered!

We continue to celebrate the release of Sherry’s latest book, A Good Day to Buy. 

As Sherry mentioned yesterday one of the themes of the book is heroes. In your opinion, what defines a hero and who are some of yours?

Edith: That’s a thought-provoking question. For me heroes are the quiet people working selflessly to help others. A woman in my town has been tireless in her efforts to run a food pantry and soup kitchen, which, sadly, more and more people need to use. Our local women’s crisis center has quietly helped many women extract themselves from abusive situations and find a better life for them and their children.  My late friend Richard was responsible for planting a thousand trees locally over a ten-year period, to both beautify and clean the air. Those are my heroes.

Barb: On the day of the Boston Marathon bombing, if you were a victim, and you survived the blast, you lived. This to me is the most extraordinary thing. I don’t mean to minimize in any way the challenges faced by the survivors, but the amazing work of the first responders on the the scene, the volunteers in the medical tents, the medical and non-medical personnel at the eight Boston hospitals where victims were taken, and the ordinary people on the street who ran toward the carnage instead of fleeing, still takes my breath away and makes me a weepy. Fred Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” The helpers are my heroes.

Sherry: Wow, Barb! That is so beautifully said I think it’s a drop the mic moment! In A Good Day To Buy Sarah is called a hero and she doesn’t like it because she doesn’t feel like she is one. And maybe that is the strongest indication that you are a hero. Many of the people Barb mentioned would say they were just doing their job or that they were just doing what anyone would have. I think all of us have a bit of hero in us. It might not be something huge like saving someone’s life. Sometimes small things like listening to a friend or helping a neighbor are heroic.

Jessie: One of the things I believe defines a hero is a willingness to take on risk. For that reason immigrants are amongst my heroes. I am in awe of those who leave familiar lives, languages, customs and families to start lives in far away lands. No matter what motivates them to strike out I admire their grit and determination and am so grateful for the richness they add to all our lives.

Julie: I am having such challenges with this question! To me, heroes are folks who do something brave, not because they aren’t afraid, but despite the fact that they are afraid. Heroes aren’t athletes, or titans of Wall Street. Heroes are the folks Barb mentioned. Heroes are the folks our society holds in disdain who still leave the house every day, and try to live with dignity. Heroes are the folks who do what they can do to create the change they want to see in the world.

Liz: Wow, you guys have all said this so well. For the past seven years I’ve worked with Safe Futures, an organization that is working to end domestic violence, and every single one of the people involved there is a hero. They work tirelessly, they work endlessly and they put the survivors and those in need of help first, no matter what it takes. Someone who is that committed to a cause for good is truly a hero.

Readers: Who are your heroes?

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Wicked Wednesday- Author Events

Jessie- In NH where the crocuses are blooming and the robins are frolicking with abandon!

In a rare turn of events all the Wickeds are together today for two author events. We will be in Nashua, NH for both, first at Rivier College for a R.I.S. E. presentation at midday and then at the Barnes and Noble in the evening. We are ridiculously excited about gathering together for these two occasions and would love to have you all join us. It promises to be memorable. Which got me to wondering about memorable events the other Wickeds have held. So, any favorite memories you’d love to share?

maxwellEdith: Other than my double launch party a couple of weeks ago, I’d have to say my first launch party was an unforgettable evening, for all the right reasons. Speaking of Murder had just released in September 2012 (written as Tace Baker), and I’d invited everyone I knew. The young man managing the Newburyport bookstore had set out ten chairs. I said, “Um, I think you’re going to need more chairs.” I was right. 55 people were there from all different areas of my life: church, work, town, family, and Sisters in Crime, including several Wickeds. The bookstore sold out but I had a box of books in the car to supplement their order. The whole night was touching, exhilarating, just perfect.

Liz: I have to say my first launch party, for Kneading to Die, was also my most memorable. Full of family, friends and dogs, it was held at The Big Biscuit in Franklin, Mass. Shaggy even got her own doggie cake for the occasion!

Sherry: I’ve had so much fun going to author events that it is so hard to pick one. The first time I was on a panel as an author was at Left Coast Crime in Monterey, California in 2014. The women on the panel with me have become friends — Lori Rader-Day (doing a post here on Friday), Carlene O’Neil, Martha Cooley, and Holly West. I was so nervous I don’t think I said much. Afterwards we had a signing time and this was the order of the table Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller, Jan Burke, then me. I didn’t even have a book out yet, but a couple of people had me sign their programs. It’s an experience I’ll never forget and Jan Burke was very gracious the one second she didn’t have someone in front of her.

Barb: I enjoy author events, too. Most memorable was the launch of my first book, The Death of an Ambitious Woman. It seemed like everyone I’d ever mentioned I was writing a book to came. Porter Square ran out of books. I did a little talk and a reading and thanked my friends and family. My sister-in-law pointed at me and said to my daughter, “This is what it looks like when your dreams come true,” which is such a lovely, heartfelt sentiment.

CAKE KILLERJulie: My launch party for Just Killing Time was a blast. Friends and family packed the New England Mobile Book Fair. Three of my mentors–Hank Phillippi Ryan, Kate Flora, and Hallie Ephron–sat right up front, and cheered me on. My friend Courtney made me a cookie cake decorated to look like a clock. It was just lovely. This year Liz and I both have August and September books–2 women, 4 names, 4 books, 2 new series being launched. We are going to do something to celebrate, so stay tuned.

Readers: Do you like to attend author events? What’s your most memorable one?

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What’s Your Super Power?

girl-standing-1789334_1280Jessie: In New Hampshire, watching my first daffodils opening on the south side of the house.

Since I live in a household filled with men I’ve had more than my fair share of contact with the realm of superheroes. Capt. America is a favorite in my household along with Spider-Man, Superman, and Batman.

When my sons were younger the merits of different super powers were frequently debated. The boys wanted super speed or super strength or laser beams they could shoot from their eyes. My vote often went to invisibility or the ability to teleport. I’m not really sure I’d like to know the future, and I’m quite certain I don’t want to hear other people’s thoughts.

The reality is while I don’t have super speed, I do have some super powers of my own. They may not be glamorous and Hollywood has yet to feature them in a big budget film, but they’re mine all the same. I have a knack for finding bargains almost everywhere I look. I can take a heaping mound of containers filled with leftovers and make all of them fit in the refrigerator. I can peek into a pantry that appears almost empty and turn out a dinner for at least six, with dessert, probably with home-baked bread. I can also spot crumbs on the kitchen counter that are apparently invisible to every other member of my family.

As a writer I’ve often wished I had another set of super powers. Superfast typing speed, fully plotted outlines springing immediately to the page just because I wished it to be so, manuscripts turned in with zero errors every time. In my line of work it would be very helpful to be a super grammarian, and unwaveringly accurate speller, or someone whose wrists never suffered with carpal tunnel. I would even settle for the ability to produce paper and pen from thin air whenever an idea threatened to flit away. Probably the best ability of all would be the ability to infinitely stretch time before deadlines.

So until I end up in some sort of lab experiment gone wrong, the recipient of an unusual spider bite, or radioactive exposure, I heroically content myself with dreaming up super levels of sleuthing ability for my characters.

Readers, do you have a real life super power? Writers, have you ever given a superpower to one of your characters?

Wicked Wednesday-4th of July Memories

NEWS: Mary Lou H is the winner of Mulch Ado About Murder! Check your Inbox or Spam folder, Mary Lou. And congratulations!

called-to-justiceJessie, In NH, dreaming of warmer weather!

Edith’s latest release, Called to Justice, opens on Independence Day. Which got me thinking fondly of the 4th of July which happens to be one of my favorite holidays. So, Wickeds, do you have any special memories of our nation’s birthday?

Barb: I, too, love 4th of July. I love barbecues with friends and family, parades, and fireworks. I have many happy memories of 4th of Julys past, from childhood to last year. Our front porch in Boothbay Harbor offers a fantastic view of the town fireworks, which are set off over the water. For the last several years, both my kids, their spouses, and my granddaughter have been with us, which makes it extra special. I especially love that my granddaughter shares my love of fireworks.

Edith: When my sons were growing up we had a one-acre back yard. On the 4th of July we’d invite everyone we knew and fill up the place, sometimes with more than a hundred friends. Kids jumped on the trampoline or splashed in the kiddie pool. Adults played horseshoes and volleyball. We set African rugs around on the grass for lounging. People brought sides or desserts, we grilled meats, and a keg of beer flowed under the big shade tree. It was a splendid way to gather community for a relaxing celebration, although I don’t miss the work it took to pull it off!

Liz: When I was a kid, we used to have family cookouts for the 4th. It was a big deal to have lobsters. My grandfather loved them and he would devour every piece that he could, right down to the icky green stuff. It wasn’t my thing, but I’ll always remember how happy he was sitting at the picnic table eating his lobsters and watching us play on the swing set.

Jessie: There is a Fourth of July parade that goes right past my house every year. There are antique cars, kids on bikes decorated bikes and the town fire and rescue vehicles. It is organized by volunteers and has a very small-town, nostalgic feel to it. The parade route is so short that they often go around twice. Ahh, village life!

Sherry: One of my most interesting Fourth of July experiences is when we were flying from Miami to Boston on a flight that left at 8:00 pm and landed around 10:00. For almost the entire flight we could see fireworks displays from above. It was so beautiful and we even saw part of the Boston celebration.

Barb: Sherry–I had a similar experience one year on the ferry from Provincetown to Boston. It was wonderful!

Julie: I adore the 4th of July. I have a ton of fond memories, including one year at Old Orchard Beach.  But my favorite thing to do is to watch the Boston fireworks, whether from my house (I can see them through my living room windows) or down on the Esplanade, which is very crowded but stunning. My favorite time was when my friend Mary was in town on the tour of Mama Mia (she played Rosie), and they were going to sing at the Pops concert. Knowing how much I love the holiday, she invited me to be one of her special guests! It was beyond thrilling, and a memory I will treasure forever!

Readers: Do you have a favorite Fourth of July memory?

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Self-induced Stress

Jessie: In New Hampshire, looking out over  the snowdrifts.

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As much as I might hate to admit such a thing, the truth is, I’m a binge watcher. I love Netflix, Hulu, and Acorn TV.  When I find a program that I love it is hard to stop watching after just one episode. The interest builds, the connection to the characters deepens, and conflict ratchets up.

That’s where the problem comes in. I get stressed out. Really stressed out. So stressed out I have to stop watching. Invariably, three episodes or maybe four, into a series something happens that makes me hit pause. It might make me hit stop. It sends me scrambling for something on the lighter end of the tension spectrum.

It might be trouble in a family. It could be a legal difficulty. It might just be that zombies are getting too close. Whatever it is, I find myself watching a few scenes through half-closed eyes or from behind my hands.  Sometimes, if I’m watching the show with someone else, I will find an excuse to leave the room. I hover outside the doorway listening, rather than watching, as if that will make it all easier to endure somehow.

Sometimes it  is just that I’ve had a hard day and don’t have room for anymore difficulties. Often if that is the case I’m eager to continue the show the next time the desire for programming strikes me. Other times the stressors are ones that always bothered me and I either end up watching the shows in five or ten minute bites. Or I stop watching a series entirely.

The thing is, I almost never have that happen with well written books. When difficult things happen I trust the author to make the emotional roller coaster worth the ride. Even when loves remain lost, diseases turn out to be terminal and dreams turn to dust,  books seem to have conclusions that make me glad I persisted.

I might draw in a quick breath or avert my eyes momentarily from the page but generally, I continue to the end without requiring an emotional health break. When I get to the end I feel enriched rather than drained.  Perhaps that’s why my dream job is working with the publishing houses rather than the movie houses!

Readers, do you find television programming stressful? Do you stop watching mid-program? Do you have a different experience with books?