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? 

 

Something New

Jessie: in New Hampshire hunkering down for the long winter slog.

One of the best things about being a writer is the built in necessity of trying new things. You expect to be asked to create new books, imagine new characters, describe new settings. There are new themes to explore, new voices to use, even new publishers to partner with. But some parts of the process seem set in stone . They appear inflexible and unlikely to invite new methods or ways of doing things. Which is why outside influence is so important.

I’ve noticed from my friendships with other writers artistic types often find life partners who are tech savvy. It’s a pattern I’ve followed. My beloved husband is one such man and he is always delighted when I show the slightest inclination to be interested in technology. I should’ve known that when I mentioned I had read an article on dictating novels he would pounce on the notion.

I should’ve realized when I was handed a light weight box from under our Christmas tree that my life was about to change. On Christmas morning I slipped the wrapping from a beautifully packaged gift to reveal my very own copy of dictation software. Truth be told, I felt as though I’d been offered a dare and I wasn’t sure I was up to it.

I kept the box, unopened, in a credenza next to my desk, until today. I had put it off for  long enough, I told myself. It wasn’t as though I had no idea how to speak. It wasn’t as though I was a particularly good typist. I’m still not sure what made me wait so long.

I think I felt as though my stories came out my fingers, as if they couldn’t find their way past my lips. But it turns out they could. This afternoon I wrote an entire outline for my next Beryl and Edwina novel. I at least doubled my word count per hour compared with my typing speed on the first try. I can’t imagine what it will be like when I’ve mastered the technology! I feel like a whole world has opened up in front of me.

As a matter of fact, I dictated this entire blog post. I may never type anything again!

Readers, which things have you tried lately that have surprised you? Writers, have you ever tried dictation software?

 

Best of Intentions

Jessie: In NH, where Christmas is sure to be white.

‘Tis the season of gift knitting in my world. Which is to say, nothing is going the way I had planned.I have projects on the needles and others stretched out on racks still damp and drying into shape. I have balls of wool and alpaca and silk rolling round the floor near all my favorite knitting spots as I consider how best to use them.

But mostly I have re-starts and surprises. I love to gift knit for people who value such offerings and I set out to create such tokens every season. One of my sons loves to open such packages. One of my sisters does too. A few friends and even friends of friends are on the list. So each fall I sit down with the best of intentions.

I search for just the right pattern, pick out the ideal yarn and reach for what I hope will be the correctly sized needles. Then I cast on and begin to play with the project by swatching. For those non-knitting readers, swatching is simply knitting a small piece of fabric to check that the needle is the correct size and that the knitter likes the fabric produced. More often than not the needles are too big or too small and the fabric is not at all what I had imagined. So, I start again with different needles. After a few tries it often occurs to me that the pattern is not correct for the yarn or the yarn is not right for the pattern and I go back to the drawing board.

Eventually, if I am paying attention to how the yarn behaves once unwound from the ball and formed into stitches, I manage to match a pattern and yarn in a way that pleases me. I knit along happily, usually at a good clip, and before long I have a completed project in my hands. Which often leads to another problem. I am forever knitting things for the wrong person.

This year I thought a neckerchief of handspun, hand-dyed Blue Faced Leicester wool was for my son’s friend. But the color is more green than turquoise with a defiant tendency towards yellow undertones. I despaired of it until I realised I had been making it for another son’s girlfriend all along instead. It looks perfect for her. I have a sumptious alpaca cowl I thought was for one someone when really it is for another person on my list. I thought a third person was going to receive a hat. They ended up with a scarf instead.

Some of me is aggravated and befuddled by my inability to make plans that don’t go awry. The rest of me is pleased to see how it all works out in the end. It is a lot like writing a mystery. You try out some characters, some scenes and some motives. You end up with plot twists you didn’t see coming and a satisfying ending!

Readers, do you have projects that seem to have minds of their own? Do your gifting plans always go the way you imagine that they will?