Something Wicked This Way Comes

Jessie: In Washington D.C. wondering how it could possibly be so hot on Planet Earth.

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The Wickeds have been thinking about additional, interesting ways to connect with our readers. At this year’s retreat we decided that a Wickeds newsletter seemed like it might be just the ticket. So, we wanted to let you all know that as of Autumn 2018 we will begin sending out a newsletter.

To quote Barb, “It will arrive in email boxes on a regular but not annoyingly frequent basis.”

If you would like to receive notice of our upcoming releases, book cover reveals, appearances, giveaways, and bonus content, we hope you will consider clicking below and using the form to sign up. We look forward to visiting your in boxes starting in the autumn!

Readers, what do you like to see featured in author newsletters? Writers, do you send one out yourself? Any tips you would like to share?

Mindful Writing

By Kim in Baltimore, reading fascinating short stories.

A few years ago I joined a group called the Mindful Writers. Each year I attend two retreats, one in the fall and the other in spring, where I am able to write for hours in peace and take hikes and meditate. These have been some of the most glorious times of my life.

Last year the group decided to compile some of our writings into a book and the result is Into The Woods. All of the proceeds from the sale of this anthology will be donated to The Children’s Heart Foundation. I have invited Lori M. Jones, Ramona Long and Kathleen Shoop to the blog to share with our readers more about this wonderful anthology and why this foundation matters to our group.

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In 2005, I was pregnant with what appeared to be a healthy baby girl. Then at a routine 24 week check-up, the doctor said, “I can’t find your baby’s heartbeat.” When the doctor finally did it was only at half the rate the heartbeat should have been. There are 40 known heart defects, and she was diagnosed with one of them – Complete Heart Block – which is a defect in the heart’s electrical system. She would need a pacemaker as an infant in order to survive. She is now 12, on her second pacemaker, and doing very well. But when she was a baby, I had no idea what her future would entail, or more specifically, how she’d handle being different. I dissected my emotions through writing which led to me being offered a contract for my first children’s book – Riley’s Heart Machine – about a girl dealing with being different from her peers because she has heart machinery.

I searched for a heart charity to donate some of the proceeds to which led me to discovering the amazing work of The Children’s Heart Foundation. I eventually became more involved with the charity, from chairing the Pittsburgh Congenital Heart Walk and sitting on the PA Chapter board and the national board to eventually leading the PA Chapter as its president.

Since writing Riley’s Heart Machine, I’ve traveled to schools delivering assemblies on Writing from the Heart and have published another book, Confetti the Croc, which celebrates our unique qualities. I also have written two novels, Renaissance of the Heart and Late for Fate.

One of the best gems I discovered in my writing journey was The Mindful Writing Group. Through the discipline of writing together, I was able to complete my manuscripts. More importantly, I have found my tribe!

The anthology means so much to me because it’s a full circle moment for me. This book was a chance to join forces with all of my tribe members and create one beautiful project. And then they told me the proceeds were going to The Children’s Heart Foundation, to help the very charity that was fighting to make sure my daughter and other children have a bright future.

Kathleen Shoop on why the anthology is titled Into the WoodsIMG_6751.PNG

Into the Woods was a natural outgrowth for us, The Mindful Writers Retreat Authors. We write together a lot – in person and online. After years of retreating together we decided it was time to create something, a sound bite of the variety of voices that make up the group.

An anthology is a fabulous way for authors to pool their energy into a project while maintaining independence in what each person produces for the book. The collection creates a unique and vibrant body of work that can be read in short spurts or in its entirety. The theme – Into the Woods – seemed like the perfect idea for The Mindful Retreat Authors’ first collaboration since so much inspiration, ideas and wonder has grown out of our times in the lovely woods.

Ramona Long on why she wanted to be the editor of this anthology

I volunteered to edit Into the Woods because I wanted to support The Children’s  Heart Foundation and this was a way I could do that. Like any anthology, working with a group of authors is always a learning experience, but I was particularly happy to work with this group because we are so closely bonded as Mindful Writers. We are all a part of one another’s stories, in a way.

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Dear Readers, thank you for joining us today. Please share your stories about a group or organization that is close to your own heart.

Thankful For Our Readers Giveaway

thankful-for-our-readers-giveaway-3November is a time to be thankful for things and one thing we are thankful for is our readers. We love reading your comments from the funny to the poignant. When we started this blog we didn’t want it to be about just us. We hoped to celebrate our fellow authors, writers working on getting published, and readers. Thanks to all of you who stop by.

During November we will have a giveaway every blog day (Monday-Friday). All you have to do is leave a comment on the blog each day for a chance to win. Thank you so much for being part of the Wicked Cozy Authors!

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Mystery, friendship, persistence, and lots of laughs at Windsor Locks Public Library

Liz here, and today I’m excited to welcome a very special guest – Eileen Pearce, librarian at Windsor Locks Public Library here in Connecticut. I first met Eileen last year when she invited Edith and me to do an event at the library. You never know how library events are going to go, but we were thrilled – the crowd was plentiful, the interest and enthusiasm were high, and we had such fun! The library has an active mystery book club that really welcomes authors. This past summer, Barb joined me and Edith for a second event, and as long as Eileen will have us, we plan on returning as often as possible! I invited Eileen to tell us about the group, the Christie Capers Book Club. All yours, Eileen!

eileen2015Many of you haven’t heard of the town that I have called home for 30 years.  Windsor Locks, CT is 9.2 square miles and has a population of 12,500.  We are the home of Bradley International Airport, which most people think is in Hartford.  Our Little League team won the World Championship in 1965 and Ella Tambussi Grasso, governor of Connecticut from 1975-1980 (and the first woman in the United States elected governor in her own right) was born here in 1919.  Oh, and our latest claim to fame is that one of the finalists on this year’s version of The Bachelorette is from Windsor Locks!

Christie Capers co-founders Janet Lomba and Eileen

Christie Capers co-founders Janet Lomba and Eileen

I like to think that the Windsor Locks Public Library’s Christie Capers Book Club is another distinctive selling point of our small town.  My good friend Janet, a library volunteer, and I, the Adult Services Librarian, started the group in 2002.   We appropriated the name, Christie Capers, from one of author Carolyn G. Hart’s Death on Demand mysteries, and she was gracious enough to offer a signed copy of one of her novels as a door prize for our first meeting in September 2002.  Our first book was, appropriately, Agatha Christie’s The Body in the Library.  Our plan was to read and discuss “traditional” mysteries, which feature a murder, the gathering of clues by a professional or amateur sleuth, and the solution to the crime.  We were thrilled to have a dozen people attend that first meeting, but quickly lost some of our enthusiasm when only a few showed up for our second.  Traditional mysteries, especially cozies, can be difficult to discuss since they all follow a basic formula and don’t usually have intense psychological plotlines or a lot of complex characters.  A couple of our members kept pushing for thrillers over the first few years that we met, so we did read some Harlan Coben and Patricia Cornwell during those early years, but our hearts really weren’t in it. Now we read only traditional mysteries, some cozy and some more “noir,” choosing a different theme each year.  Fortunately there are SO many great mysteries around that that we never want for ideas! We’ve read female sleuths, professional vs. amateur sleuths, mysteries set in different countries, mysteries featuring real people as detectives, and craft-based mysteries, to name a few of our themes. During this past year we’ve been reading novels featuring religious sleuths and our upcoming theme is mysteries featuring a strong sense of place, novels in which the setting is key to the series, like those of Colin Cotterrill, Louise Penny, and Charles Finch.  I’m thinking that it is definitely getting to be time to focus on some culinary series soon!

Christie Capers Tea

Christie Capers Tea

We spent about a decade as a pretty small group, but over the past few years interest in discussing mysteries has apparently exploded here in north central Connecticut!  We now have about 25 members, many from surrounding towns and several from Massachusetts.  We have hosted many wonderful authors, enjoying fascinating discussions with three of the Wicked Cozies, Edith Maxwell, Liz Mugavero, and Barbara Ross.  Laura Bradford (aka Elizabeth Lynn Casey), author of an Amish mystery series and the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries, has visited 5 times and essentially become our library’s mystery mascot.  Sandra Parshall, a wonderful writer based in the D.C. area, donated a whole box of Under the Dog Star, one of her Rachel Goddard mysteries, to our delighted group, all big fans of hers.  Anne Canadeo, author of the Black Sheep Knitting Mysteries has stopped in to see us twice, and we were thrilled to be one of the first libraries to introduce Susannah Hardy, author of the Greek to Me Mysteries, to the world.  We look forward to meeting Roberta Isleib (Lucy Burdette) in August.

Reading and discussing mysteries are always great pastimes and meeting our favorite (and future favorite) authors is a thrill, but the most wonderful things about a book club, even one as big as ours, are the friendship and the laughter.  Every month different combinations of members meet.  Diane is our chocolate martini expert, always a hit at our annual Christmas pot-luck meeting.  Karen, originally from Fall River (or “Fall Rivah”, as she says), and Shirley, from England, add a bit of an exotic flair to our meetings with their accents.  Geri is our deadpan comedienne (“they grilled him like a cheeseburger”) and Terry is an expert at faux-cluelessness.  Janet’s explosive laughter, Mary P’s sweet girlish voice, Nancy’s travel anecdotes…all of these contribute to a wonderful sense of comraderie.  We have sympathized with each other’s losses, worried about illnesses, and expressed joy at marriages, children’s graduations, and new jobs. There might be 12 of us or there might be 24 at a meeting.  When someone doesn’t show up and we haven’t heard from them, we worry about them.  When others, whose active lives, jobs, and varied interests sometimes prevent them from attending, DO show up, we let them know how much we missed them.  Sometimes we love the book and clamor to read more of the series, while at other times Janet and I get the stink-eye for choosing a book that is not to everyone’s taste.  But no matter how we feel about our book, the library’s community room is always filled happy voices and the frequent sound of laughter on the third Wednesday of every month.  This is Christie Capers, still going strong after 13 years, 122 books, 15 author visits, and many, many holiday chocolate martinis.

Wicked Wednesday–Retreat, and Not Just From the Heat

Jessie Crockett authorJessie Crockett was our wicked awesome hostess for the Old Orchard Beach Wicked Cozy Retreat.

Sherry: A weekend can’t get much better! Who wouldn’t want to stay here — in Jessie’s wicked cozy bunkhouse?! Julie graciously agreed to take the top bunk. The weekend was all about writing, working on our blog, a Twitter lesson for me, and catching up with the wonderful women of the Wicked Cozy Authors. And yes, I cried when I left.

beach house bunkhouseJulie: It was a great weekend, though getting down from the top bunk was a bit of a challenge! But conversations about writing, plotting, Scrivener, social media, life, love, mysteries, and reading combined with good food and a couple of naps? I couldn’t have asked for a better 48 hours.

Jessie Crockett, Sherry Harris, Barbara RossBarb: Sigh. What can I say? We wrote a lot, we laughed a lot, we ate a lot, we drank a lot of wine. But more than that, we supported each other on this journey. Writing and the business of writing are so complex and largely invisible to the individual author. In both activities I often feel like the blind man trying to figure out what the elephant looks like by touching one part of it. Support–whether it’s believing while writing a first draft that you will find your story, or putting yourself and your art out there to be judged, or figuring out the labyrinth that is publishing and promotion–is so essential.

One thing I do miss from my corporate life is being on a team. So I’ve taken on board Julie’s mantra that not every one of us has to be good at everything (except the writing of course, we all have to be good at that). It is such a relief.

Liz MugaveroLiz: These retreats are one of my favorite annual events. Being in the company of such amazing writers and friends does wonders for my soul, not to mention my writing. The camaraderie, the support, the ocean – and of course, the food – combined gives me the energy to keep going and to realize I’m not in this alone.

My favorite activity of the weekend was the one where we talked about strengths – our own and each other’s. I’m not always great at talking about myself. In fact, I managed to postpone the discussion for a couple of hours before Jessie caught on to me and steered us back on course. But it was a great exercise and really showcased our strengths and, as Barb said, our ability to be a great team. I’m so thrilled to be part of this group.

Edith: What a supportive group I have found my way into! As I described the retreat to my son, we spent time ignoring each other and working madly on our word counts, or, in my case, on polishing my completed manuscript. And then we joined up to talk about craft, promotion, how-to’s, why-to’s, where-to’s, who-to’s, and more! I sort of wished I was in the middle of a new project, because this kind of atmosphere fosters that kind of creativity, but my looming deadline drove me to do revisions, instead.

patio tableHaving the beach nearby for a mind-clearing brisk walk was wonderful, and I even took a plunge in the Atlantic, which was amazingly warm for Maine at any time, not to mention barely June. We ate well, too. Asian noodles with grilled shrimp and chicken and home-grown salad greens, plus Julie’s Asian cabbage slaw. Amazingly rich baked breakfasts. Lots of fruit, some tasty local pizza, and the now-traditional opening night cheese fondue ála Jessie. It’s hard to be back home, but this team and these friendships will endure for a long time to come.

Jessie:I’ve been looking forward to the retreat for months. We planned it back in the winter when it didn’t seem possible that anyone would ever want to swim again. But before I knew it, May had arrived, the other Wickeds were parking their cars at the beach house and unpacking laptops. And Edith and I both managed to enjoy a swim.

The energy of the group and the peer pressure of people you admire being productive is  extremely motivating. You don’t want to be the one leaving your desk to stare into the refrigerator, searching for your second plot point in the box of leftover cake!

I felt like everyone got what they needed from the time together, whether that was a high word count, carefully revising what was already written or deliberate thinking about goals and dreams.

I feel so grateful to be a part of this group and to spend time with other people who truly understand the joys and frustrations of writing. If you are a writer and are finding yourself in need of a jump start, a retreat of your own may be just what you need! But be sure to bring along some friends; it makes all the difference.