Wicked Wednesday: Fall Preview

A Wicked CozyFall PreviewJulie here. In my theater life, we had the Greater Boston Theater Expo yesterday, which was a preview of the coming season. Since we have three (three!!) Wicked releases this month, I thought it might be fun to catch up with what all of the Wickeds are up to this fall.

Liz: It’s all about the writing this fall! I’m wrapping up book two in the Cat Cafe Mysteries now–which is tentatively titled Purrder, She Wrote (cute title, right??) and then I’ll be on to Murder, She Meowed, the 7th book in the Pawsitively Organic series. And a couple other projects I’ll be working on simultaneously… I guess I better get used to not sleeping, right? And in between all that, I’ll be celebrating the release of Purring Around the Christmas Tree, book six in the Pawsitively series, out in late September!

Edith: I’m finishing Country Store mystery #5, Death Over Easy, polishing Quaker Midwife #4, possibly titled Seeking Unity, and starting Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery #2! But I’m also traveling to Toronto for almost a week in October like most of the other Wickeds for the big Bouchercon mystery convention, where among other activities I’ll hear if Delivering the Truth wins a Macavity Award.

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I’m looking forward to seeing almost all the Wickeds in one spot at the Lawrence Library on October 21, and am on a MWA panel at the Boston Book Festival on October 28. I’ll be moderating a panel at Crime Bake, and doing a couple of library gigs here and there, too. Most exciting for me personally will be providing labor support as my goddaughter gives birth to her first baby sometime in the next month. Squee!

Barb: The mass market paperback of Eggnog Murder comes out October 31. I’m working on another holiday novella for a new collection with Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis for 2018, as well as the seventh Maine Clambake Mystery, Steamed Open. Along with three other Wickeds, I’m headed to Bouchercon in October. I’m looking forward presenting an expert session, “Four Lies People Will Tell You about Marketing Your Novel,” at the New England Crime Bake in November. On the personal front, we’re moving to our new condo in Portland, Maine on September 21. Can’t wait!

Sherry: Time is flying by! I am writing book seven with a working title of Let’s Fake A Deal — I’m not sure it will make it to the shelf with that title. I’m waiting for the copy edits for I Know What You Bid Last Summer which come out on February 28th. I’m really looking forward to going to Bouchercon in Toronto. I’ve never been there and am going to go up a couple of days early to do some sightseeing with my husband. And shortly after is Crime Bake. It always feels like I’m home when I land in Boston.

Jessie: Wow! What a busy bunch! Right now I am finishing up the second book in my new Beryl and Edwina series. On September 19 the second Change of Fortune mystery, Whispers of Warning releases. I have a second launch date on Halloween for the first Beryl and Edwina mystery, Murder in an English Village. I’ll be heading to conference in Florida in October too as well as speaking on a panel at the NH Library Association conference and to the NH Romance Writers group. And, of course, I’ll be at Crime Bake in November with the rest of the Wickeds!

Julie: What a busy group we are! There area a couple of Wicked library events coming up this fall (stay tuned!). I will be at Bouchercon and Crime Bake as well. Additionally, I am expected edits on the second Theater Cop mystery, and have a December 1 deadline on another series I will be announcing later.

Friends, stay tuned for more information about events that gather more that one Wicked at a time–we will let you know! In the meantime, let us know what is coming up for you and yours this fall!

Bouchercon Swag Giveaway

We had so much fun at Bouchercon in New Orleans that we wanted to share a bit of that fun with you! We are giving away a Wicked Cozy fan signed by over twenty authors, beads, an umbrella and bandana from the second line parade, and three vintage postcards. But wait there’s more! We are also giving away one book written by either Barb, Edith, Jessie, Julie, Liz, or Sherry — you get to choose the book!

img_0935Look at all of these signatures!

img_0939And this fun swag:

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Readers: Leave a comment below by midnight tonight PDT for a chance to win! And don’t forget you will also get a book!

What We Did in New Orleans

Most of you know five of the six Wickeds spent last week in New Orleans at Bouchercon, the huge all-genre annual mystery and crime fiction convention (which changes locale every year: last year Raleigh, next year Toronto). logoHere are some of our pictorial highlights!

First a dinner with Barb and her husband Bill, Sherry, Julie, and Edith at Commander’s img_0683Palace. The food amazing, the company better, and the restaurant beautiful!

Wednesday morning was about getting registered and heading into the book room to select six books. That was like being a kid in a candy store — so many wonderful books to choose from!

Wednesday afternoon Barb, Edith, Julie and Sherry attended the Sisters In Crime SinC into Great Writing event on diversity. Speakers included Walter Mosley, Greg Herron, Cindy Brown, Linda Rodriquez, and Frankie Bailey, with Terri Bischoff in the wrap-up discussion. Each of the speakers gave a wonderful (and different) perspective on a wide range of topics.diverstytworkshop

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Thursday Barb, Edith, Liz, and Sherry attended the Librarian and Booksellers Tea sponsored by Kensington. Edith and Barb read. It was great fun to meet new people!

On Thursday the Wickeds with Kensington Publishing got to meet our editors! Gary Goldstein on the left edits Sherry and John Scognamiglio (don’t pronounce the Gs) edits Edith, Barb, and Liz.

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Friday was the Cozy and Proud meet up!

Friday was also the Second Line parade, closing down Canal Street for a grand musical march with guests of honor in floats, and Sisters in Crime founder/goddess Sara Paretsky posing with the woman on stilts. sarapandstilts

Then there were panels — so many great panels to choose from!

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Visiting friends is always a huge part of going to any conference!

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Editor/author Ramona DeFelice Long (right) and her cozy mystery superfan sister Annette Defelice Gavigan

Saturday brought the Sisters in Crime breakfast. Outgoing president Leslie Budewitz

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Diane and Leslie with Celine

summed up the year’s considerable accomplishments and handed the seal of office (named Celine) to incoming prez Diane Vallere. Then we toasted 30 years of this fabulous organization with champagne!

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Paula Benson, Terrie Moran, Debra Goldstein, and Edith at the breakfast

 

And then the sights of New Orleans!

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beignet And the fabulous beignets at the Cafe du Monde!

Readers: Have you been to New Orleans? Do you have a favorite spot?

 

3, 2, 1 Launch!

WhispersBeyond_FixJessie: In NH where we are finally getting some rain!

As many of you know I have been enthusiastically celebrating the release of my latest novel, Whispers Beyond the Veil this month. It has been a great deal of fun to post things here on the blog and over at Maine Crime Writers.

Reviews of the book have been spotted around the web on blogs like Carstairs Considers and Moonlight Rendezvous. Anna Lee Huber featured it on her monthly Sweet Sixteen Giveaway on Facebook. The other Wickeds were even nice enough to take a copy of the book with them to Bouchercon for a little show and tell since I was not able to attend.

And to top off all the long-distance celebrating I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to connect with readers and other writers in the physical world.  I was so delighted to be asked by the charming and gracious, Karen Baker,  owner of The Country Bookseller in Wolfeboro, NH to hold a launch party for the book at her shop this past Saturday.

The turnout was wonderful and I got to meet, or to reconnect, with so many delightful readers. There is just something so special about being surrounded by the sight and the feel of row upon row of books. Especially when you are sharing the experience with other people who love them as much as you do.

I hope all of you who have sent well-wishes from all around the web, and those of you I have had the pleasure of seeing in person, know just how grateful and appreciative I am of your support. Books are written in solitude. But they are meant to be shared. Thanks to you all for letting me share mine with you!

Readers, do you ever attend book launches? Writers, do you have a favorite launch story you’d like to share? 

 

 

Report from New Orleans

by Barb, at the New Orleans Marriott

My husband, Bill, and I came to New Orleans early to take advantage of the hotel conference rate to do a little touristing.

New Orleans BoucherconFirst News: We have a time and a place for the Cozy Meetup at Bouchercon– 12:00 noon Friday in the large lobby bar at the Marriott. Meet at the tables outside the Starbucks entrance. Bouchercon is so big, the point of the meetup is to provide cozy authors and fans with a rallying point to make sure we get to see one another other. People may drop by before they go to lunch, or may form lunch groups there, or may grab something from Starbucks, Urban Kitchen, or the Lobby Bar at the Marriott and hang out. We’re low-keying it. It is the Big Easy after all. We’d love to see you. All the Wicked Cozys will be there except Jessica Estevao who will be with us on a stick. Please pass the invite along to any cozy authors or readers who’ll be in New Orleans.

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Processed with Snapseed.In other news: It is hot here. But then, you are prepared for that. It’s not so much the heat, which is high 80s during the day and only goes down to the high 70s at night, but the humidity, which is a skibbletybillion percent.

The hotel is wonderful! Great location right at the edge of the French Quarter with terrific restaurants close by. (Which is important. Remember that heat thing.) The meeting rooms are right in the hotel (again, good, the heat thing) and look fantastic. The best news–the bar is ginormous. Kudos to the Bouchercon organizers!

Processed with Snapseed.The elevators are high tech and weird. They’re not really that weird, but let’s face it, you’ve been operating elevators the same way since you were tall enough to press the buttons, so a new way takes some getting used to.

It’s hard to judge what the hotel will be like with a big conference in it. From what I can see, most of the guests over the weekend are here for

  1. A bachelor party
  2. A bachelorette party
  3. Are Oakland Raiders fans here for the game
  4. Are New Orleans Saints fans here for the game.

(Just watched the end of the game with an enthusiastic crowd in the big lobby bar. I have to say for a game I could have cared less about, that was pretty exciting.)

Processed with Snapseed.Couple on the elevator, both wearing shirts that say, “Larry’s Rockin’ New Orleans 41st Birthday!”
Bill to the guy: “Are you Larry?”
Woman (vehement): “No, No, no, no. Oh no. No way.”
Man (annoyed): “He said, ‘Are you Larry?’ not ‘Are you married?'”
Woman and Bill (simultaneous): “Ohhhh…”

What we’ve been doing: We took a Greyline tour to get an overview of the city. We like to do that we first get somewhere and in this case, particularly, so Bill knows where he wants to explore farther and take photos while I’m at the conference. Also, AC on the bus.

Processed with Snapseed.Saturday night a friend of Bill’s who lives here invited us to a concert called “From NOLA with Love,” local musicians coming together to raise funds for flood victims in Baton Rouge and its environs. We saw six fantastic bands, each one better than the one before it, and it was touching to the point of choking up as the musicians talked about doing for Baton Rouge as Baton Rouge had done for them eleven years ago.

Processed with Snapseed.Sunday we took a riverboat ride, had brunch and listened to Dixie Land. Very touristy, but I realized I hadn’t been on the Mississippi in thirty years. It was wonderful to see a busy, working waterfront. Also, AC in the dining room and cooling river breezes on deck.

Other than that, we’ve walked around a lot and we haven’t had a bad meal, including the Cuban sandwich Bill bought me off a truck at the concert.

Can’t wait to see you all! I’ll be the one with hat-head, sun goop in her hair, and perspiring. But then, so will you!

[All photos in this post are by Bill Carito. If you like them and want to see more, you can friend him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bcarito and follow him on Instagram at billcarito and bill.carito.colorphotos.]

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Wicked Wednesday–Taking a Breath

It’s a busy time here at Wicked Cozy Authors World Headquarters. We have three book birthdays in October (Sheila Connolly, A Gala Event, Julianne Holmes, Just Killing Time and upcoming, Maddie Day, Flipped for Murder) and we have three in November  (Susannah Hardy Olive and Let Die, Level Best Books, Best New England Crime Stories 2016: Red Dawn and Sadie Hartwell, Yarned and Dangerous.) Throw in Bouchercon in October, and Crime Bake in November, and, well, it gets a little crazy.

So, today’s Wicked Wednesday is about taking a breath. Wickeds, how do you recharge your batteries when you only have a few down minutes or hours between one frantic activity and the next?

Edith: May I just add that IN BETWEEN Bouchercon and Crime Bake I’m headed out to MagnalogoIndiana for six days to personally launch Flipped for Murder at the Magna Cum Murder conference in Indianapolis and then at three author events around the lower third of the state. So recharging is going to be very important.

One thing I do at conferences is just lie down flat on the bed and breathe deeply for five minutes. Even if I wish I had time for a nap but don’t, having a mini-liedown/meditation (snort, I just typed “medication”…) break really helps. And if I have a half hour or more, I tie on my tennies and take a good brisk walk. Maybe I don’t have time to change into exercise clothes or take a shower afterward. Still, getting my blood moving, my oxygen replenished, and my energy recharged is a huge boost to me.

Liz: I’ve been trying to be more mindful and take mental breaks when I’m getting overwhelmed. Like Edith, I like to walk if I can fit it in, or even just run around the yard with the dogs for a few minutes. I also got one of those adult coloring books-I’ve always loved to color-and five minutes focusing on that improves my mood immediately.
I have a trampoline set up near my office, so if I’m working from home I can use that for five minutes here and there. I’m trying to meditate more, too…but I get distracted so easily!

Sherry: If I’m at a conference escaping to my room for five minutes alone or with a couple of good friends is great for relaxing. Eating a few nuts or some other protein if I’m feeling sluggish also helps. At home, taking a reading break helps me escape from whatever is making me feel overwhelmed.

Jessie: Whenever I feel frazzled and overwhelmed by what-all is swirling round my head, I sit down and make a list. So often everything is a lot more manageable when it is written down in black and white. I also always have a knitting project on the needles, and for me, there is no better way to unwind than to add a few rows to a work-in-progress.

Barb: I was going to say play solitaire on my computer (or iPad or phone or whatever device is at hand). Isn’t that what everybody does? But then I realized that might not be quite in the spirit, so I’ll go with the “water cure.” In Key West I swim in it, in Maine I gaze at it. Somehow, being near water relaxes me. I think it’s in the human DNA.

Readers, how do you take a breather during a busy day or week?

Pitch Perfect (Or how to interest readers in two minutes or less)

By Sherry in Northern Virginia who’s hoping it warms back up!

This is how I feel when I hear I have to pitch.

This is how I feel when I hear I have to pitch.

Just the word “pitch” strikes terror into my heart. Most of the articles I found on the topic were about pitching to an agent or editor but I’m writing about pitching to readers after your book is written. Creating the perfect pitch is hard. I had two opportunities to pitch at Bouchercon last week, once during speed dating — where two authors go from table to table and each has three minutes to talk about their books — and also at the new authors breakfast where we each had one minute. Both events are timed and both are designed to get readers interested in your writing.

Alice Loweecey and Barbara Early having fun at Malice Go Round.

Alice Loweecey and Barbara Early having fun at Malice Go Round.

Last year at Malice-Go-Round (the Malice Domestic version of speed dating) I listened to about forty authors pitching their books but I only remember two — Barbara Early aka Beverly Allen and Alice Loweecey. They had a routine and were very funny (and again I still remember it!).

So when Barb Goffman and I partnered up for speed dating at Bouchercon I suggested we come up with a joint intro. It went something like this (Barb’s part is in italics):

Hi, I’m Sherry Harris. And I’m Barb Goffman. We’re the long and the short of it. Because I write novels and I write short stories.

It got a laugh every time — It didn’t hurt that I’m tall and Barb, well, isn’t. Even the time keeper told us we were good. (So thank you Alice and Barbara for inspiring me!) I’ve come up with a few tips about pitching your book.

Don’t read — I’ve seen three different types of readers. First up — the nervous Nelly or Ned. I  get it, trust me, I was terrified but reading off a card in a wooden voice isn’t inspiring. What’s the worse thing that can happen — you blank in the middle. If you do, laugh it off and blame it on the early morning hour, the lack of caffeine, or your late night. If using notes helps calm the nerves, use them, but only rely on them in an emergency.

Next is the person who reads their back cover copy — I borrowed a line from the back cover copy — it’s well written, it worked in my pitch, but don’t take your book up and just read. That means you’re looking down, not connecting with your audience.

Last there were the blurb readers. Saying: Bestselling author Joe Blow said: This is a tightly written, action packed, thriller that is a must read and kept me up all night to the very last page — doesn’t really help because that blurb could be on the back of any thriller. It doesn’t tell me why I should read your book.

Don’t talk about your website or how if you buy one book, you’ll get another for free — why should I go to your website if you haven’t piqued my interest?

Don’t tell me what you think your book is about in general terms — it’s a charming, twisted tale of love and death, with a bit of humor. Be specific: who is your protagonist, what is his or her dilemma, what makes your story unique. I started mine like this: Sarah Winston’s happy life as an air force wife crash lands when her husband sleeps with a younger woman. Sarah’s self prescribe therapy is going to lots of yard sales (that’s the line I borrowed from the cover copy).

Wow, that was a lot of things I don’t think should be done in a pitch, so here are some things I think should be done.

Try to be conversational. Think of it as telling a good friend about your book. Practice with someone.

Be enthusiasticand put some pep in your pitch. Because if you tell me about your thriller, suspense or mystery but your voice is blasé or too cool for school, I’m not buying it — your pitch or your book

Look people in the eye and look around the room at different people, it helps engage them, and seeing a friendly face out in the audience helps calm your nerves.

IMG_5806Julie Hennrikus and I practiced on each other and Julie timed our pitches. Hers was only about 30 seconds but she said everything she needed to. I thought she should make it longer but Julie said short was better. And she was right! Being short is so much better than being cut off by the bell or buzzer. But if that does happen in the middle, smile, say thanks, and quit talking instead of continuing on.

Julie Hennrikus pointed out that the men at Bouchercon were much better than women about saying: Buy my book. Say it!

The thing I realized, once I stopped running around thinking and saying, I’m terrible at this, is: I’m really not terrible at the pitch and it doesn’t have to be perfect. And conference organizers — would someone please come up with a new authors cocktail party instead of the new authors breakfast?

Readers: Do you have tips for a good pitch?