For the Love of Reading

By Sherry — Home from a chilly Northern Florida to a freezing Northern Virginia

I have a lot of things to thank my mom for, but probably none more than my love of books. We had lots of books in our house. We made weekly trips to the library from the time I was really little. Then the bookmobile started coming to a park an easy walk from our house once a week.

Mom would read a chapter of a Bobbsey Twin book to my sister and I every night. But she had a devious plan which was to get us to read on our own. I was a bit more of a reluctant reader than my sister. The plan worked because who could stand to wait until the next night to find out what was going to happen next.

There was a large collection of Bobbsey Twin and Nancy Drew books in our house. When there was a book fair at school we were each allowed to pick a few books. Oh, the joy! My second grade teacher wasn’t the best so I fell behind with my reading compared to my peers. Thankfully, I had a third grade teacher who noticed. She took to giving me extra books to take home to read out loud to my mom. And my mom always made time for me to do that. Soon I was back on track and have been a voracious reader ever since.

My dad loved to read too and as we grew up we were always trading around mysteries and thrillers. I remember us all reading the Deadly Sins series by Lawrence Sanders. And books by Sidney Sheldon. There’s an image in one of them I still can’t get out of my head.

My mom is a big fan of cozy mysteries and an avid reader of our blog. She’s introduced me to as many authors and series as I have to her. Years ago it was Lillian Jackson Braun and Dorothy Gilman, more recently Joann Fluke and Diane Mott Davidson. I’ve, of course, introduced the books by all the Wickeds and so many other friends. (A signed book makes a great gift!)

It’s something we will always share.

Readers: Who instilled a love of reading in you?

 

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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So Many Books…Part II

CONGRATULATIONS TO PAULA EMMONS! You are the winner of Linda Reilly’s book giveaway! Please contact: jessie at jessiecrockett.com with your mailing address!

By Liz, still trying to organize these darn books before I bring the next truckload here!

So last week I told you all about my angst sorting through my books. Now that they’re mostly sorted (I still have one bookcase at the old place that’s only about half done), it’s time to figure out how to set them up in their new homes (the bookcases I haven’t bought yet).

This part is kind of exciting, actually. I mean, I get to organize my books. What writer/book lover gets to say that? Usually we have so many they become towering piles of possible injury if a breeze blows past in the wrong direction. But all the sorting and donating has left me with just enough that I can now…organize. Theoretically.

I know, stop laughing. I swear I can do this. I’ve actually given it a lot of thought. I mean, do I set up a true To Be Read bookcase, and organize those books alphabetically? Nah, that wouldn’t work because the books are different sizes. Maybe by order in which I want to read them? Probably not, because that changes daily depending on my mood. Plus, if I did a TBR bookcase and then had to move the books to the other shelf when done, I’d have one bookcase that would be overflowing and probably collapse, while the other languished with extra space.

Oh, who am I kidding – I’d just go buy more books.

So this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to do it by category, combining both read and TBR. First, I’ll have my self-help stash, with everything from Brene Brown to Louise Hay to the Crystal Healing Guide. That way, when I’m cranky or depressed or simply just losing my mind, I can go right to the place and figure out who best to help me. Wayne Dyer will always be at my fingertips, because he’ll be on the easy-to-reach shelf.  IMG_2282

Then I’ll have my cozy mystery selection, which is self-explanatory. I reach for these when I want to start a book and feel like I’m visiting old friends, or going to a new small town to make new ones. Then there’ll be my dark and creepy offerings – my Tana French and Dennis Lehane and Stephen King and all the other gut wrenching, frightening, psychological books that keep me up at night. I love this pile!

Then there’s the writer/research pile. All my books on how to write in all their post-it-noted glory. All my research books on the FBI and police and the mafia. My copy of The Artist’s Way. Basically, my working pile.

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Then finally, there’ll be the miscellaneous pile. The copy of A Tale of Two Cities I’ve had since high school that I can’t part with. Lauren Graham’s new book, Talking As Fast As I Can, which is awesomely hilarious. My Joyce Carol Oates books. You get the idea.

I have no idea if this will work – I end up buying books and stashing them somewhere just to put them away with a promise that I’ll reorganize later – but I’m going to give it my best shot. Of course, I need to buy those bookcases first.

Readers, do you organize your books in any special way? Do I sound OCD? Chime in!

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

 

 

So Many Books, Not Enough Bookcases

By Liz, still slacking after turning in my latest book…

I recently undertook one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had to do – cleaning out bookcases. A lot of them. About six, to be exact, counting the makeshift crates rigged up in my old home office to account for the overflow. And if it wasn’t for my iPad, there’d be a heck of a lot more to sift through.

It was an interesting process, though, for a couple of reasons. One, because I knew I needed to part with some of them. I want less stuff, and less clutter. And I knew I was holding on to some of them for the wrong reasons. Especially once I got into the bookshelves I didn’t frequent as much. See, I had this system. The little bookshelf in the dining room had my writing books, and a few special fiction titles. The tall shelf in the living room was my newer books, and ones I loved so much I needed to keep handy. These sometimes rotated, depending on how many new books I got. The medium-sized shelf in the bedroom had all the inspirational books (remember my obsession with self-help? Yeah, it filled a bookshelf). And so on.

So I started sifting them into piles. There was the I’ve had this for years and will never read it but I feel bad so I kept it pile. The Books From College and Grad School pile. The I Loved This and Will Keep it Forever Pile. The I’ve Read This Once and That was Enough Pile. The I Really Should Read This pile. The real To Be Read pile. Jeez, I think it took me longer to pack up my books than anything else I was moving.

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Still, the thought of getting rid of any book makes me hyperventilate a little. It took a lot for me to start creating a new pile – the Books to Donate pile.

But I did it. This past weekend, I took two huge boxes to my local library, which has a year round book sale. It made me feel good to know they were going to a good home, and would help raise money to keep people reading.

Did I mention I’m still not done? I’ve got two shelves to go through…which means I need to buy a couple of new bookcases. But I’m hopeful I can consolidate to two shelves.

Tune in next week, when I’ll tell you all about how I’m organizing my To Be Read pile!

Readers, how do you handle too many books? Can you part with them? Where do they go?

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?