Am I Blue?

By Julie, happy that we broke the 60 degree mark, even if was only for a couple of days

The winter blahs are tough to shake here in New England. For a while, I am able to feign being a hearty New Englander. My current work in progress is the second in the Theater Cop series, and it takes place in February. So research brain took note of what it feels like to slip on ice, to haul myself over snowbanks, and to be so cold my bones hurt. But I only need to do so much research. This winter lasted a long time. (It may be back in the 30’s today, so it hasn’t really left yet.)

By the end of March I am done. Done with wearing layers of clothes. Done with my winter shoes. Done with tracking sand/salt/blue stuff into the house. Done with the “is it ice or is it water?” shuffle down sidewalks at night when I walk home from the T. Done with thinking I am stepping into an inch of slush, but it is six inches. Done with the lack of fresh air in the apartment. Done with dry skin, static hair, and achy knees. Just done.

And so April brings the revolt. It starts with not wearing a hat, even if I am cold. (Unless I’m going to a Red Sox game. Then I bring several layers, and use them all by the time I start singing “Sweet Caroline”.) I wear pinks and bright greens. (Scarves only, but it is a step.) I do what I can do to not wear boots and live with wet socks when I misjudge the slush. I crack open a window or two, even though the air is brisk. I refuse to wear the coat that looks like a sleeping bag. I clean, fold and store the long underwear.

But sometimes that isn’t enough. We are in the double digits of April. Spring is flirting with us, but it is playing coy. So I needed to step it up a bit. This is what I came up with:

Julie Hennrikus with blue hair

Am I blue? Looks like!

A bold step, don’t you think? It will wear down a bit, but will still be blue for the Wicked New Hampshire events next week. (More information on the noontime event here, and the evening Nashua Barnes & Noble event here.) And for the Bethesda Barnes and Noble event we’re doing on April 27. And, of course, for Malice. After that, who knows? Will I still be blue?

Or maybe pink. . .

Dear readers, have you made a bold move to shake things up? Let us know!

Welcome to the family, CLOCK AND DAGGER

Perfect Beach Reads! Instagram post 2 (1)Three years ago this month I was writing proposal after proposal for the Clock Shop Mystery series. It seems like yesterday in some ways, a million years ago in others. Back then, I had a couple of books in drawers, and some short stories that had been published. Several of my friends were well down the path of becoming a published author. Getting that proposal accepted, and a book contract, put me on my own path of publication. It was a dream come true, and for that I will always be grateful.

I love writing this series for so many reasons! Ruth Clagan is a great protagonist–a clockmaker who is always late, a woman who’s had some hard knocks but keeps going, a person who is getting a second chance.

ClockandDaggerOrchard, MA is fictitious, but not. The town is set in the Berkshires, one of my favorite places to visit, especially in the summer. It is based on Williamsburg, MA, which is technically in Western, MA, not the Berkshires, but nonetheless west of Boston. (Boston-centric joke there.) I love thinking about Orchard, and creating more details to the town.

Clocks are fascinating. I love the research. How lucky am I to have David Roberts of The Clockfolk of New England to give me details and insights. He has helped me understand clocks, but to also understand the passion of the clockmaker. Also, what a great resource the American Clock and Watch Museum in Bristol, CT is–a few details in Clock and Dagger came from my wandering around there for hours.

Last but not least–I am a huge fan of mystery novels. I’ve always loved reading them.  Writing them, and being published in the genre? TRULY a dream come true.

Today is the day Clock and Dagger joins Just Killing Time as part of the Clock Shop Mystery series. I’m thrilled to be here on the Wicked Cozys on the day of the launch with all of you! To celebrate the arrival of book #2, I’d like to offer a commenter a copy of Clock and Dagger. I’m going to leave the comments open for a couple of days, and will post the winner later this week. I’m also doing a blog tour, some with giveaways. That schedule is here.

Welcome to the world Clock and Dagger! I can’t wait to hear what you all think!

It’s All In My Head

I am very close (next week close) to the deadline on Chime and Punishment, the third book in my Clock Shop Mystery series. Book two, Clock and Dagger, is coming out next month, so I am starting to think about the launch, and how I am going to promote the book. A friend at work read Just Killing Time on his vacation last week. “Is she going to end up with Ben?” was the first question he asked this morning. I couldn’t answer, though I had answers. Actually, a couple of different answers, depending on which books have been read in the series.


Fred would like to be Bezel if there is ever a movie

Busy times, but also a bit of a lull as I wait for readers to give me feedback on Chime and Punishment and wait for my copies of Clock and Dagger to arrive. (My editor sent me one of her copies. Fred likes the cover.) Time for the characters to take over. Right now, Ruth Clagan and the gang–the Reed family, Ada and Mac Clark, handsome Ben, Chief Paisley, Aunt Flo–they’re all real. Real to me, at least, these days. I eat a cookie and wonder if Moira should serve it at the Sleeping Latte. I see steam punk earrings, and think “Ruth would like these.” In both cases, and the half dozen others that happen every day, I need to remind myself that neither Ruth nor Moira are real.

As a reader, I am used to characters coming off the page, and being part of my psyche while I am immersed in a book. I love reading a new book in a series, revisiting old friends. I’ve often wondered how authors keep characters fresh. I don’t know that I have any answers in that regard, but I do know that characters move into a part of your brain and never really leave.

But I’ve never had this experience before, probably because I’ve never written three books in a series before. The characters have opinions on the edits. They’re all fighting for page time. It is like having a Shakespeare repertory company who do a play a year. Same people, different stories. Best not to forget if you are doing Loves Labor Lost or Hamlet. Best not to talk about the plot of Chime and Punishment while trying to get folks interested in Clock and Dagger.

Friends who write multiple series, I don’t know how you do it without having inadvertent character crossovers (which could actually be sort of fun). Though I will confess, a minor character who had a featured role in one scene has taken up residence in my imagination. She wants her own story. This is a good, albeit complicated, problem to have.

Dear readers, what books or characters have taken over your imagination? Writer friends, do you characters move in?

In the Field: Visiting a Clock Tower


I didn’t know much about clocks before I started writing the Clock Shop Mystery series, so I needed to dive into research. I read, a lot. I googled. I visited the Amercan Clock & Watch Museum in Bristol, Connecticut. The museum gave me a lot to think about regarding styles, craftsmanship, and the history of clocks in New England. (Wonderful place to visit, highly recommended.)

I needed to meet a clockmaker, and mentioned that to my friend Susan Roberts. “My husband is a clockmaker,” she said. Bam.

I wrote to David Roberts a few weeks ago to ask some questions. I’d met him before, on a trip to the store he runs with his brother James, The Clockfolk of New England in Wilmington, MA. That visit helped me learn about the shop. But now I needed to learn about clock towers. “Well, I can give you a tour of one,” he said. We agreed to meet Saturday in Reading. He and his brother alternate weeks winding the clock tower there.


I climbed up two ladders, and got up to the tower. It was perfect. A four-sided clock with huge faces that let light in. Four arms are attached to a central mechanism, which was installed just over one-hundred years ago. With incredible patience, David talked me through how the clock works. He let me help wind it–which is quite a workout. 50 revolutions per day, and it needs to run for a week. The clock weights come in at 450 pounds, but because of counterweights, it took work but I could do it.


The Seth Thomas clock is a marvel of craftsmanship. Not many people will actually see the clock itself, yet it is painted with details, with beautifully crafted pieces. Everything serves a purpose, and it all needs to work together in order to work at all. We timed the visit so I could hear the bell ring, another mechanized activity that was amazing to learn about.


I am not ever going to remember everything David told me. But what I will remember, and what struck me the first time I went to the shop and met he and James, was the passion of the clockmaker. It takes years to learn the craft, and more years to hone it. Like writing, or performing, or any other craft, there has to be joy in the process, otherwise why do it? The Roberts brothers ARE clockfolk, and I am grateful that they share their passion with me.

Now, why did I need to visit a clock tower? You’ll have to wait until next August to find out! But get ready for the next adventure of our intrepid clockmaker Ruth Clagan when Clock and Dagger is released this August.

Crossing the Line

By Julie, hopeful that spring may be here to stay in Somerville

Fred & GingerA few weeks ago I got an email from a friend who is part of a cat rescue network. She was reaching out to folks about some cats who had been rescued from an abandoned house in Hartford. The cats were FIV positive, and they were having trouble finding them homes.

“Do you know anyone who is looking for a cat? Are you ready?”

I’ve had three cats in my adult life, loved them well, and mourned them when they’d gone to the Rainbow Bridge. It had a bit over a year since I’d  been a cat’s person when I got Kim’s email, and I wrote to another friend, asking about the FIV. She assured me that they would be fine for a long time, may have some issues when they were older. She also told me that placing FIV positive cats was almost impossible. I wrote Kim back and said yes, I’d take two of them. I connected with the rescue person who was boarding them, and on a rainy afternoon I picked them up.

I named them Fred and Ginger. They are two or three years old, tops. Fred, a handsome gray tuxedo cat, is a sweetheart. He was already fixed when he was rescued, so he must have been dumped. He loves to be petted, and uses his paw to draw my hand back when I stop. Just this week he started jumping up on my bed in the morning. I suspect that before the end of the summer he will be sleeping on beds and couches. Maybe even laps, which will make writing tough, but I’ll manage. He is giving me some moves for my series cat, Bezel.

Ginger is lovely, a gray longish hair cat. She is also  a hot mess.  I don’t think she’s ever had a home before, and she has some trust issues, mildly put. For the first two weeks I couldn’t touch her. Then she started to talk to me, and about two weeks ago she started winding herself around my legs when I am in the kitchen. Still, I was wondering what I’d gotten myself into with Ginger. Would we ever connect?

ginger the destroyer2

Ginger the Destroyer

I got them each a cat bed, though Ginger still prefers a blanket on the floor. I bought two Feliway diffusers, hoping that cat pheromones would help relax them. (I have a three month supply.) I invested in cat toys and a nice cat litter box table thing that they like. I got them a cat scratcher that Ginger is especially fond of.  I have been using patience, my best cat voice, and lots of petting to make them feel at home.

But this weekend, Ginger pushed me over the line. I became a crazy cat lady.

Sundays are my writing/housekeeping/no makeup days. Book 3 is due in July, so writing was the main event on Sunday, with laundry, taking out the trash, litterbox cleaning, and sheet changing being done in between writing scenes. I live in a 4th floor walk-up, so taking the trash and recycling out is a balancing act of boxes and bags I only like to do once. Now, taking the trash downstairs was the only planned excursion out. My hair was piled on top of my head, Marge Simpson style. I had my PJ top on, with a sweatshirt cover-up. I had yoga pants on, no socks, clogs.

This past Sunday was wicked windy, and my door didn’t latch carefully. I came back upstairs to find my front door blown open. I walked in, and Fred gave me a “hey” meow. I asked him where Ginger was, and he didn’t respond. I looked around, but she wasn’t in the apartment. I went into full panic mode. I ran out of the apartment, down the stairs, calling her name. When I got to the second floor I saw one of my neighbors, and told her my plight. I heard Ginger’s meow from the floor below. I ran down the stairs. She saw me, did a fake run, and darted up the stairs behind me. I closed the fire door, and lumbered behind her. She ran up to the third floor, and ran down the hall. I closed that fire door, and followed her. She ran all the way to the end, and down the stairs back to the second floor. On and on it went until we were closed in on the second floor. She’d dart, I’d call her name, she’d stop, do a double fake, and run the other way.

atrestGinger barely let me pet her, never mind pick her up. Finally, after about twenty minutes of the chase, we were both panting, but she wasn’t giving up. So I took off my sweatshirt, and threw it on top of her. It took me two tries (running around in my PJ top mind you) but I was finally able to scoop her up. She fought me, but I got her by the scruff and got her back into the house.

I live a fairly controlled life, intentionally so. Fred and Ginger have disrupted that. They are different than the other cats I’ve adopted–they needed a good home, and don’t quite trust it yet. They  also don’t trust me yet, though I think Sunday proved something to Ginger. She’s on a kiss a day regimen now–I hold her for ten seconds, kiss her head, and then keep holding her until she’s done.

As a writer, I control my characters, and their lives. Fred and Ginger are teaching me to shake up expectations, and be comfortable with whatever happens. It will be interesting to see what their impact is on Book #3. If nothing else, the Bezel scenes will be a little more fleshed out.

So Proud of My Wicked Cozys!

by Barb, on the Jersey shore in a house with ten adults and two toddlers

Today, I’m celebrating the Wicked Cozy Authors. Yes, I am one, but nonetheless, I’m stunned by the group’s accomplishments and want to celebrate them.

In early June, 2012, four of us gathered for the first time in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Over the previous winter, Jessie, Edith, Liz and I had all signed with agent John Talbot and sold our first mystery series. We all had deadlines looming, and were excited and happy and scared out of our minds.


At that time, Jessie and I had published one book each with a small press. Mine was The Death of an Ambitious Woman, published in August, 2010. Jessie’s was Live Free or Die, also published in August, 2010. In case you didn’t know about Jessie’s first book, Live Free or Die has sold almost 100,000 ebooks and won the 2011 Mainstream Daphne DuMaurier Award for Excellence in Mystery. It’s currently being translated into German and will be available in that language in time for the holidays. So check it out, yo!

But anyway, we were four terrified, but hopeful people.

By the next retreat, in June of 2013, we’d added Sherry and Julie to our ranks and started this blog (at Sherry’s instigation). Sherry had also signed with John Talbot, and sold her Sarah Winston Garage Sales Mystery series. Julie had a proposal out with John.


Note that in the photo above we’re all in sweatshirts and a year later, same weekend, in this photo, we’re in short sleeves. This is normal in New England.

Liz and Edith’s first books in their new series, Kneading to Die and A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die, were out, as was the first book in Edith’s second series (as Tace Baker), Speaking of Murder. Jessie and I were still awaiting our series debuts and we were all writing like crazy.

This is us at this year’s retreat, in April 2014.


Picture by Meg Manion Silliker

And, as of July 15, when Jessie’s second Sugar Grove Mystery, Maple Mayhem, was released, here are our accomplishments.

Wicked Cozy Accomplishments from June, 2012 to July, 2014

  • 9 books published
  • 5 books submitted, awaiting publication
  • 4 manuscripts currently being completed for deadline
  • 2 new series sold (Sherry’s Garage Sale Mysteries and Julie’s Clock Shop Mysteries, written as Julianne Holmes)
  • 7 proposals awaiting decisions by publishers (4 for continuing series, 3 new–WATCH THIS SPACE FOR UPDATES. Shhhh, we can’t tell. BUT WE REALLY WANNA TELL. But we can’t.)
  • 3 Agatha nominations–for Kneading to Die, Clammed Up and “Bread Baby
  • 330+ blog posts.

No wonder we all look so happy!

One Wicked Year

Today the Wicked Cozy Authors celebrate one year of blogging, and what a year it’s been.i-And-Streamers-At-A-Party Each of us is telling you about another’s accomplishments, plus the occasional low point we’ve managed to get through. We have much to celebrate!

Edith: My conference roomie Liz Mugavero launched Kneading to Die, which was nominated for an Agatha award for Best First Novel (results to be announced May 3)! She turned in and celebrated the launch of A Biscuit, a Casket, and also turned in book three, Icing on the Corpse, (today!) despite a few struggles. She started a really cool new day job last June, too. She received good feedback from an agent on a thriller she’d written before the Pawsitively Organic Gourmet Pet Food series, and will be doing revisions this summer to see if she can find a home for it. [Edith: LizShaggyI’ve read a few scenes from it and loved it, so fingers crossed, Liz!] She spoke on panels at Bouchercon, New England Crime Bake, and at a bunch of other library and Sister in Crime NE events (many with Shaggy the adorable schnoodle). And she survived the year! That’s a high, for sure.

Liz: Highs and lows are a part of life, right? Barb Ross had some incredible highs this year, from launching Clammed Up to great acclaim – it’s nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice, Best Book of 2013–Amateur Sleuth, as well as an Agatha award for Best Contemporary Novel! – to turning in Boiled Over, coming May 6. The same day as the audiobook of Clammed Up, in fact. barbandviolaShe also celebrated the release of Best New England Crime Stories: Stone Cold (with co-editors Mark Ammons, Katherine Fast and Leslie Wheeler) in November, co-chaired the New England Crime Bake (Liz: which was fabulous!) and spoke on an also fabulous food panel at Bouchercon. And let’s not forget her short story success: her story “Bread Baby,” which appeared in Best New England Crime Stories: Stone Cold, was nominated for an Agatha for Best Short Story. (Liz: Is this an accomplished lady, or what?). Personal highs? Aside from making lots of new friends in the world of traditional mysteries, Barb became a grandmother for the first time to the fabulous Viola. Unfortunately, Barb also lost her mom during this time period. And all our hearts ache for her loss. As she so eloquently says, it’s the alpha and omega of life. But still so tough.

Jessie: We all have Sherry to thank for starting this blog in the first place. I guess that’s no real surprise since Sherry is one of those people who just has a genius for getting people together and making them feel great about the experience. When we first started this blog Sherry had signed a contract to write the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series but wasn’t able to announce her news publicly. She was hard at work writing the first book, Tagged for Death and turned it in on November 14. Now she’s working on the second in the series. Sherry traveled quite a bit this year too. She returned to New England  and joined the other Wickeds for two different writing retreats in Old Orchard Beach and she attended Crime Bake in Dedham, MA. Her wanderings took her to the other coast as well, where she appeared on the IMG_3472Deadly New Voices panel at her first Left Coast Crime conference, something she describes as “a fabulous, fun experience”. She also says “One of the best things about this year was building this blog with these amazing women and getting to know them all in the process”.  I’d say we are all lucky to know Sherry too!

Sherry: I had to pop in here and say while I may have had the idea for the blog, there wouldn’t be one without the rest of you. I’d still be thinking about it. You all jumped in, got it going and taught me how to blog.

Julie: A year ago (was it only a year?) Edith made the leap to full time writer. So much has happened since then. Her first Local Foods mystery (A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die) came out to positive reviews, including being on the Edible Boston recommended summer reading list. ‘Til Dirt Do Us Part was finished on time, and is coming out on May 27, already getting rave reviews. She just submitted book #3, Farmed and Dangerous, to her editor.


Edith in San Franciso at Borderlands Books, with her author-uncle’s sweetie, a cousin and his wife, a former coworker, and an exchange-student friend from Brazil, 1970!

Edith traveled–a lot. She was on panels at Malice Domestic, California Crime Writers Conference, Bouchercon, the New England Crime Bake, and Left Coast Crime on top of many bookstore and library appearances. Not one to rest on her writing laurels, Edith also had her historical mystery short story “Breaking the Silence” published in Level Best’s  Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold, and the story won an Honorable Mention in the Al Blanchard Short Crime Fiction contest. Tace Baker, Edith’s alter ego, finished Bluffing is Murder, which will be released in late fall this year by Barking Rain Press. AND she worked on another book which is close to her heart. All of this while real life happened, including a dear friend passing away. Me and Julie Crime Bake 2013

Sherry: Getting to interview Julie was special for me since she is the first of the Wickeds I met — read about that in my networking post. Julie’s big writing news this year is that she became a new woman! Julianne Holmes will be making her debut in 2015, writing the Clock Shop Mystery Series for Berkley Prime Crime. This year, Julie is writing the book, which is due in September. There will likely be blog posts about that. She also started her second one-year term as Sisters in Crime New England president (from now on they will be two year terms), and joined the national board of Sisters in Crime. And this year she is really excited to be the co-chair of the New England Crime Bake. Her other lives (as the Executive Director of StageSource, and an adjunct faculty member at Emerson College) also kept her busy.

Jessie Crockett holding DRIZZLED TO DEATH! How thrilling is that?

Jessie Crockett holding DRIZZLED TO DEATH! How thrilling is that?

Barb: So many wonderful things have happened for Jessie since last May 1. She released Drizzled with Death which went on to become a national bestseller. She turned the second manuscript in her Sugar Grove series, Maple Mayhem on time despite kids being home for summer break as the deadline loomed. She sold the German rights to her first mystery, Live Free or Die, which will be releasing in Germany in time for Christmas this year. Jessie attended Bouchercon for the first time along with all the other Wickeds except Sherry, who attended on a stick. She had a wonderful time back in November serving as a panelist at Crime Bake for the first time.  (Barb: Jessie’s too modest tell you she’s the hostess with the mostest who hosts the Wicked annual retreat, so I will. She’s an amazing host and organizer who makes the retreat the highlight of the Wicked calendar.) Jessie’s met a lot of new booksellers, librarians and readers over the past year at book events and other sorts of talks. She especially enjoyed being a presenter at the New Hampshire Writers’ Day Conference. Even with all that fun in mind, she says creating and maintaining this blog with the Wickeds has been the most enjoyable experience of the year. Sheila Connolly

We are very lucky to have two wicked awesome monthly columnists. Sheila Connolly joined us in July and her column appears on the first Monday of each month. Sheila has three ongoing and very successful series, plus several recent standalone novels. What’s next, Sheila?


Kim and Julie

Kim and Julie

Kim Gray started writing The Detective’s Daughter column in January. You can find it on the third Tuesday each month. In it she shares her stories of growing up with her father, a detective in Baltimore City. Kim won the William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers for her novel Ghost of a Chance.

So we’re all thrilled and challenged by our year together. Delighted to have found a support group, and delighted for each others’ successes. Part of the thrill has been getting to know you, our cherished readers. Please keep stopping by and let us know what kinds of posts you’d like to see in the future. Be well, and keep reading!