What Has Writing Taught the Seven Sinister Sisters?

Edith here, delighted to host the Seven Sinister Sisters, a group I joined up with this winter and spring. We are seven authors with new books coming out, and we’ve been guest blogging all over cyberspace since January. You can see where we’ve been and where we’re still scheduled on our Facebook page. Commenters here today will be entered into our grand giveaway!

Seven Sinister Sisters

For today’s post I asked my sisters this question: What has writing taught you? Here are our answers in no particular order.

Becky Clark: Gosh, where to start? All the obvious ones: work ethic, self-discipline, organization, finish what you start. But also writing has given me a pretty thick skin. Don’t get me wrong, negative reviews always sting, but writing has taught me that everyone has different likes and dislikes. I’m sure I always knew that, but when you mostly hang out with your like-minded husband, kids or kids-in-law, you forget that not everyone has, say, your weird sense of humor, or sees what you were trying to do with your writing. I’ve learned not to take things too personally.

Sue Star: 1. Discipline—I can’t not write.  Even when I’m on vacation I write every day, even if it’s only a paragraph.  2.  Passion—if I don’t feel that burning desire to dig into a project, it’s not worth doing.  Passion is the magic footprint that makes a story sparkle.  3.  Instinct—I’ve learned to trust my instincts about a story. Then “magic” happens, and a story ends up writing itself.  4.  Art—I’ve learned that I can paint, too.  No matter the form, creativity is all about the journey, not necessarily the destination.

Pat Hale: Writing has taught me not to take things personally. In my early days of writing when I received a rejection, it would take days to get over the disappointment and self-doubt. I’ve learned that rejections are not personal and they’re often the best way to learn. After the initial disappointment (still happens, but doesn’t last as long), I remind myself that the editor/agent isn’t rejecting me, but telling me I need to work harder and make my work better. Not personalizing rejection has been a hard learned but excellent lesson that has carried over into every area of my life.

Shawn McGuire: Writing has taught me to be more present in life. I think I notice things more, partly because my writer’s brain is always looking for details, partly because I’m naturally nosey. Part of noticing more means understanding people better. There’s a reason why people are the way they are—whether they’re simply having a bad day or because something happened in their life to make them a curmudgeon. Writing makes me dig down to uncover those reasons. I feel like I’m more understanding of most people, less tolerant of others.

Leslie Karst: That even when a task seems terribly daunting—such as composing an eighty thousand-word manuscript—if you simply keep at it, following through with the process step by step (or page by page), before long you will have finished. Completing the first draft of the manuscript that became my first Sally Solari culinary mystery (Dying for a Taste) was an incredibly powerful confidence builder, both for my writing career and for my life in general. Reaching that goal is all about perseverance and follow-through, and about having a belief in yourself.

Cathy Perkins: The first thing writing taught me was patience! Not just the waiting to hear from agents, editors, and reviewers, but the patience to learn the craft. To not be in a rush to publish before the story is ready for prime time.  Equally important though, writing has shown me how generous the author community is. I’ll never forget how kind and inclusive Sophia Littlefield, Nicole Peeler and Janet Reed were at my first Malice – my first conference and my debut novel. Talk about nervous! They set the bar I’ve tried to reach in helping other authors in this crazy place we call publishing.

Edith Maxwell: For me, being a writer has taught me that I have to show up every morning and write, but also that I have to trust the story enough to let it float sometimes. I’ve learned the value of discipline, and much of writing is in fact hard work. I also now know I can’t control everything. Characters occasionally take their sweet time revealing what comes next or why they acted the way they did.

Readers: What has your occupation, favorite hobby, or pastime taught you?

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Our next stop on the tour is April 3 on the Killer Characters blog. Here’s where you can find each of us in the meantime:

http://www.patriciahale.org

http://www.edithmaxwell.com

http://www.lesliekarstauthor.com/

http://www.cperkinswrites.com

http://www.shawn-mcguire.com

http://www.rebeccawriter.blogspot.com

http://www.BeckyClarkBooks.com

To celebrate our new releases, the Seven Sinister Sisters are having a giveaway!

Seven lucky winners will receive an ebook from one of us.

One GRAND PRIZE winner will receive a signed copy from each of us!

Enter to win by leaving a comment. Our tour runs from January 6th to April 30th and we’re answering a different question at each blog. Leave a comment at every blog for more entries! We’ll draw the winner from the combined comments at the end of our tour.Tour graphic Seven Sinister Sisters

 

 

Thankful for Our Readers

Dearest Readers,

Once again this year, the Wicked Cozy Authors are thankful for the readers of our books and our blog.

Starting tomorrow, and every blog day until the end of November, the Wickeds, the Accomplices, or one of our wonderful guests will be giving a prize to a lucky commenter.

We love our readers, and we know we couldn’t be publishing or blogging without you. Thanks so much for all you do–and good luck!

And, as an extra bonus, Edgar Allan Cozy, the ebook of short stories and poems based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe and written by Sheila Connolly, Sherry Harris, Sadie Hartwell, Edith Maxwell and Barbara Ross. For this giveaway, there’s no need to comment. Simply follow this link.

Enjoy and good luck with the rest of the giveaways.

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Guest- Linda Reilly and a Giveaway!

FryingShame cover artJessie: I met Linda Reilly some years ago at the Malice Domestic conference. She was preparing for the release of her first mystery and was full of infectious enthusiasm for writing and for the sometimes surprising world of publishing. It is with great pleasure that I welcome her to visit with the Wickeds today!

A big thank you to Jessie Crockett and the fabulous Wickeds—Liz, Barb, Edith, Julie, and Sherry— for inviting me here today!

Funny thing is, I’m still not sure how I got here. Like most writers, I loved making up stories as a kid. If I wasn’t putting them down on paper, I was dreaming them up in my head. I was in sixth grade when my teacher gave us a list of vocabulary words and told the class to use all of them in a story. Back then, cowboy shows ruled prime time, so I used the words in a cowboy story and turned it in. The teacher waited until the end of the school year to read each story aloud to the class—talk about dragging out the suspense! I was elated when my name was announced as the winner.

It wasn’t long after that when a neighbor introduced me to Agatha Christie. Her name was Helen, and she lived a few doors away from ours. I don’t remember why I stopped in to visit her that hot summer day (probably to get out of the heat), but there was Helen sitting on her screened-in porch, reading from a paperback mystery. She told me how she loved Agatha Christie, and then lent me a few of her books. At the time, I was still devouring all the Nancy Drews I could get my hands on. But after that day something changed. Agatha Christie became my new heroine, and I couldn’t read her books fast enough. How did she write such intriguing mysteries? Where did she get her ideas? How did she know so much about poisons and other deadly devices?

I’ve since decided that the universe was already working its magic that day, setting things in place, preparing me to write mysteries. And yet, decades would elapse before I got serious about it. In 1994, I began writing short mysteries and submitting them to Woman’s World. Several were rejected. Then one day a different-looking envelope came in the mail. It wasn’t the self-addressed envelope I’d been sending with my submissions. It was an envelope (gulp!) from Woman’s World, with my first acceptance for publication.

So that’s how it started, and how I ended up here. In between, I toyed with writing psychological suspense. Then in 2008 I read an unforgettable cozy, triggering the memory of those charming Christie mysteries. I knew that’s what I wanted to write. I can’t help wondering if things might have been different if Helen had never introduced me to Agatha Christie on that lazy summer day. Would I have discovered her books on my own? Would I be a cozy writer today? Only the universe knows.

Writing the Deep Fried mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime has been an absolute blast. And I have to confess: A FRYING SHAME, which is being released today, is my favorite of the three. Once again, restaurateur Talia Marby is up to her eyeballs in sizzling hot oil—not to mention murder. And if she doesn’t figure out who killed the winner of the Steeltop Foods contest, the wrong chef is going to be sent off to prison, wearing that dreadful shade of orange.

I’m thrilled to reveal that I have a new series debuting late this year. In December, Kensington’s Lyrical Press will be releasing ESCAPE CLAWS, my first Cat Lady mystery, in e-format with a print-on-demand option.

Readers, I have to ask you: Have you ever experienced a moment in your life that you believe changed your path forever? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts! I’m pleased to give away a signed copy of A FRYING SHAME to one commenter.

Linda author photo 1Armed with a degree in Criminal Justice, Linda Reilly once contemplated a career in law enforcement. But life took a twist, and instead she found her niche in real estate closings and title examinations, where the dusty tomes in the Registry of Deeds enticed her into solving mysteries of a different sort. A dyed-in-the-wool New Englander, Linda lives in southern New Hampshire, where she loves solving mysteries of the cozy type. When she’s not pounding away at her keyboard, she can usually be found prowling the shelves of a local bookstore or library hunting for a new adventure. Visit Linda online at www.lindasreilly.com or at http://www.facebook.com/Lindasreillyauthor

 

 

Welcome, Sharon Farrow–and a Giveaway

thankful-for-our-readers-giveaway-3Our month of giveaways continues! Today, our guest Sharon Farrow offers up a copy of her new book, Dying for Strawberries, the first in the Berry Basket Mystery series. Friend of the blog, Mark Baker, over at Carstairs Considers says, “If you are looking for a delicious new series, look no further…”

To be entered to win, leave a comment on the post. Winners for the week will be announced in a special blog post on Sunday.

Take it away, Sharon!

 

RESORT RETAIL

saugatuckMost picturesque coastal towns no longer regard fishing as their main source of income. Instead, tourism drives the local economy. The heroine of my Berry Basket series, Marlee Jacob, is fortunate to live in a beautiful lakeshore town in western Michigan. Filled with galleries, boutiques, and one of a kind shops, Oriole Point also boasts a splendid view of Lake Michigan – sandy beaches and lighthouse included.

I, too, live in a scenic village nestled along my favorite Great Lake. Over the years, I have worked at various galleries and shops in town. This has given me a special insight as to what my heroine is likely to encounter on a daily basis at her berry themed store called The Berry Basket.

Questions, Questions, Questions

It’s only natural that tourists ask shopkeepers a constant stream of questions. Where is the best place to go for a lake perch dinner? How do we buy tickets for the dune buggy rides? What is the current musical playing at the local theater? And, of course, where is the nearest public rest room? There are important questions they never think to ask, but should: Where are the local speed traps? What should I do if I get caught in a rip tide? What local rivers should you NOT eat the fish from?

Given that my series is set along the Lake Michigan shore, tourists would ask Marlee all of the above questions. But most of all, they’d ask about the weather; by that, I mean the winter weather. Even though visitors usually come here for summer beach vacations and leaf peeping in autumn, our lake winters appear to weigh heavily on them. “What do you do here all winter?” they ask in a tone suggesting I live in a remote Yukon outpost. I remind them that a forty minute drive takes me to the second largest city in Michigan. Ten minutes away is a town boasting everything from Target and Barnes & Noble to Buffalo Wild Wings. And two hours south lies Chicago.

That answer leads to the next most asked question from tourists, ”How much snow do you get here?” Like me, Marlee would reply, “Not as much as everyone thinks.” Yes, we have lake effect snow, but we’re not buried in the white stuff all winter, like the intrepid residents of Buffalo, New York. And lake effect snow is usually over by mid-January when Lake Michigan finally freezes. Tourists are either disappointed by this answer, or don’t believe it. Somehow, they prefer to think of my fellow villagers and me snowed in and isolated like the unlucky family in The Shining.

Resort shopkeepers are accustomed to playing weather forecaster, tour guide, and restaurant reviewer. We know where to rent kayaks, who serves the best omelette in town, how to recognize rare types of beach glass, and which businesses keep dog treats behind the counter. However, some questions do surprise me, like the confused tourists who ask if the small bayou in the Kalamazoo River is Lake Michigan. Uh, no. When I worked in a local art gallery, a woman flung open the door one afternoon and pushed her way through a crowd of customers until she reached me. “I need your help,” she said in an urgent voice. “Where’s the closest place to buy authentic Mexican vanilla?” I usually have a ready answer for any tourist question, but this one left me stumped. A friend of mine later said, “I hope you told her ‘Mexico’.”

THE HONOR SYSTEM

With only 1,500 full-time residents, crime is rare in our town. The police force is small, with half the force part-time. I made Oriole Point twice as large as my village, but their local police would still have little experience handling serious crime. Which is why Marlee takes it upon herself to track down the killer in Dying for Strawberries. Indeed, most residents in Oriole Point (and my village) never lock their cars or worry about leaving purses unattended. This trusting attitude spills over to the shopkeepers.

The store I work at has a bench, a wooden slat chair, and a lovely old rocker on the sidewalk out front. On balmy days, those of us who work on that side of the street can be found lounging on those chairs as we talk for hours. It’s customary for us to greet customers as they enter our respective shops, reminding them to give a holler if they need assistance or have a question. It is possible one of those customers may have pocketed something they shouldn’t. If so, it was never apparent afterwards. And as one of the shop owners told me, “If they need something so bad they have to steal it, then let them.”

I have a friend who designs silk flower wreaths, which he sells in a local home décor store. This shop hangs some of his wreaths outside. They are clearly marked for sale – and at a hefty price – yet in all the years I have lived and worked here, not one of his floral creations has been stolen after hours. It’s as if the honor system so prevalent among the shopkeepers has rubbed off on our visitors. Although once in a great while, that trust is breached.

Recently, a customer in a gallery took a fancy to a small oil painting, prompting the gallery owner to tell her about the artwork. Holding the piece in her hands, she continued to browse. Ten minutes later, her hands were empty. And the painting was nowhere to be seen. However, the customer carried a large shoulder bag, where no doubt the painting was now tucked away. The owner chose not to confront her; no one was likely to be at the police station at that hour anyway. But he did follow her out the door and watched as she drove off in a brand new Mercedes. If she made a habit of stealing artwork, it could explain how she was able to afford the Mercedes.

I felt frustrated that this woman got away with her theft – which may have been repeated in other businesses in town. But I take comfort in the fact that if a customer pulls this in Marlee’s Berry Basket shop, there will be consequences. The local police might find a Mercedes abandoned just outside the town limits. And there on the front seat would be the stolen painting. With the dead body of the woman beside it. Life may be stranger than fiction, but fiction can be a lot more unforgiving.

spisacretacameraSharon Farrow is the latest pen name of award winning author Sharon Pisacreta. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Sharon has been a freelance writer since her twenties. Published in mystery, fantasy, and romance, Sharon currently writes The Berry Basket cozy mystery series, and is the editor of the travel site lakeeffectliving.com. She is also one half of the writing team D.E. Ireland, who co-author the Agatha nominated Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins mysteries. Visit Sharon at sharonfarrowauthor.com, on Facebook @SharonFarrowAuthor, or Twitter @SharonFarrowBB.

Back Cover Copy – Dying for Strawberries

dyingfor-strawberriesWith seasonal crowds flocking to its sandy beaches, lively downtown shops, and The Berry Basket, a berry emporium with something for everyone, the lakeshore village of Oriole Point is ripe for summer fun—and murder.
 
Much has changed for Marlee Jacob since she returned to Oriole Point, Michigan. Between running The Berry Basket, dodging local gossip, and whipping up strawberry muffins, smoothies, and margaritas to celebrate the town’s first annual Strawberry Moon Bash, the thirty-year-old hardly has time for her fiancé, let alone grim memories of her old life in New York . . .

But unfortunately for Marlee, Oriole Point is muddled with secrets of its own. First her friend Natasha disappears after an ominous dream. Next the seediest man in town threatens to crush her business. Then an unknown person nearly kills her on the night of the Bash. When she discovers a dead body, Marlee realizes she’ll have to foil a killer’s plot herself—before the past permanently stains her future.

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Celebrate the Fourth!

Jessie: Blissfully beachside in Maine with family and friends

It’s been quite a week. Some of you may have noticed that all the Wickeds have been helping to celebrate the launch of my newest mystery, Maple Mayhem. Tuesday was the official publication date but the merriment has continued and the week has been wonderful. And one of the best parts is that the week ends with the celebration of Independence Day. sparkler

I adore the Fourth of July. I love grilled foods and picnics of all sorts. I love sundresses and big, floppy hats. I have a childlike devotion to fireworks and sparklers. My husband and I even got married on the sixth which allows us to extend the festive atmosphere every year by two extra days.

I hope you have a chance to enjoy some old-fashioned fun this weekend and I hope you will help me to celebrate the end of this week by leaving a comment about your Fourth of July traditions, a favorite summer recipe or a best Independence Day memory. I’ll be giving away a copy of Maple Mayhem to one commenter and one of the first book in the Sugar Grove series, Drizzled with Death, to another.

CONTEST WINNERS!

Ronna and Mark you have each won a book! If you would contact me at my email address: jessie@jessiecrockett.com to let me know where to send it, I will get your books in the mail right away.