Get to Do

Jessie: In NH where it is finally warm enough to wear dresses.office-3154815_1920

I am on deadline. June 1 to be exact. I love deadlines and I hate them. The constant pressure of the clock ticking away in my ear, the calendar pages that seem to whip by in a whirl feel oppressive half the time. The other half of the time it feels like the universe has taken me firmly in hand and demanded I behave like a professional adult.

I have always been at my writerly best when under time pressure. As a high school student I would often write papers due in the afternoon during the lunch period. It clarified and focused my thoughts and I think I enjoyed the frenzied pace such a strategy demanded.

Now although my writing projects are far more complex and cannot be left to the day before I still find I thrive on writing at a rapid clip. I love to set audacious writing goals and to challenge myself to reach them each day. I love dashing each morning into the story and galloping furiously along until I’ve met my projected word count, especially if I am worried that I can’t do it.

But despite the pleasure I take from working that way there are some unexpected consequences. My usually tidy office is heaped and piled with delayed decisions and unfinished tasks. Emails go unanswered. I switch off my phone. The interior of my fridge is a sad, echoing sort of place. I don’t always make it out of my pajamas before noon. Which brings me to the final pleasure of writing with single-minded focus: the get to do list. 

Every time a deadline is drawing near I start keeping a list of all the things I am itching to do just as soon as it passes. The fact that I cannot seem to get to some things makes them seem all the more interesting. The trip to the grocer, steaming the wrinkles out of the new duvet, updating my website. All these things and more take on the air of forbidden fruit. Not only do I get to write the way I prefer but I end up looking forward to those tasks I would consider mundane under most circumstances and would likely put off doing them. It is all a little crazy. It is a little slice of heaven.

Readers and writers, do you love or hate deadlines? Do you keep get to do lists?

 

 

Guess Which Wicked

Hello friends!

On this very snowy and cold day in New England, we have a game for you! Each Wicked gave us a clue to the picture they shared. Guess which is which! We’ll post the answers on Saturday.

WCA GUESSING GAME

Liz: These have helped get me through long days of baking!
Barb: An appropriate Christmas gift.
Sherry: What I love to do on Saturdays.
Edith: Spied this in a certain Indiana country store.
Jessie: Purchased purely in the name of research!
Julie: Part of a theme.

Favorite Things

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Jessie: In New Hampshire where the ground is covered with snow and the birds flit merrily round the feeders throughout the day.

I am an inveterate list maker. I have lists of knitting projects, recipes to try, movies to watch, tasks to finish. I have a Ravelry account for my knitting, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video queues and a recipe box on Epicurious. Amazon’s Echo helps me to wrangle my grocery lists.  I pin all sorts of visual lists to my Pinterest boards.

But although I am always up for digital lists of all sorts I find myself scribbling lists on sticky notes and in whichever notebook I have to hand. Writing lists by hand allows me to indulge in my passion for fountain pens as well as for notebooks and papers and I always enjoy encountering lists I had made in the past. They serve as a diary of sorts, a kind of snapshot of a moment in time and often remind me of things I had forgotten.

Just this week I was planning a gathering for friends and needed to sort out a menu so naturally I reached for a pen and paper to start a list of menu ideas. I grabbed a notebook I keep in my nightstand drawer, a little A5 number with a cheerful Hello Kitty cover that my husband brought back for me from China a couple of years ago. As I thumbed through looking for a fresh page my glance fell on another sort of list entirely and one I cannot for the life of me remember writing, or even my reason for doing so.

It seems to be a list of favorite things. Just reading it over made me smile so I thought I would share it with you. Here are a few of the items listed:

  • Bento boxes
  • Fair Isle Socks
  • Vintage convertibles
  • Cardinals
  • Silk scarves
  • High ceilings and long windows
  • Fountain pens
  • Champagne
  • Brick sidewalks
  • Cashmere
  • The Atlantic
  • Fireplaces
  • Extravagant hats
  • Window boxes
  • Sparkling glassware
  • Louis Armstrong music
  • Plump goldfish

So what I am wondering dear readers is what would be on your list of favorite things? Do we have any shared loves? Writers, do you scribble down lists here, there and everywhere too? Does any of it ever make it into your writing?

Guest Victoria Thompson and Giveaway!

Jessie: In New Hampshire where the leaves have mostly rattled off the trees and the winter birds have returned to the feeders.

Today it is my  very great pleasure to welcome Victoria Thompson to the blog! I met Victoria several years ago at Malice Domestic. She is as charming and personable in life as she is in her writing.

 Victoria Thompson is the author of the bestselling Gaslight Mystery Series. Her new book, City of Lies, is the first in her new Counterfeit Lady Series, which releases on November 7. To celebrate, she’ll give away a signed hardcover copy to one commenter here today (US entries only).

ThompsonVictoria-CityofliesLooking for Inspiration…

I’m very excited that City of Lies will finally be released into the wild! I’d been wanting to write a second historical mystery series for a long time, and I’d been doing a lot of research on the early twentieth century, hoping for inspiration. During that process, I learned a lot about the Women’s Suffrage Movement, and I realized that when my own mother was born, women didn’t have the right to vote in America! It was that recent! I also learned that many women endured beatings and imprisonment to earn females the right to vote. I’d never heard about this in history class, and no other women I spoke with had either. I wanted to tell this story, but how could I make it more interesting than a dry history lesson? That’s when I decided to add a less than honest heroine, a dashing hero, and a dastardly villain.

Every woman wears a mask…

Every woman has, at one time or another, hidden who she really is in order to get along or get ahead. Elizabeth Miles has made a career of it, however. As a con artist, her job is cheating rich and greedy men, but when she cheats the wrong man, she ends up running for her life.

Elizabeth finds temporary safety by getting herself arrested with the Suffragists who have been demonstrating outside the White House for months. This gets her away from Thornton for the moment, but she and the other women are sentenced to three months of hard labor at a workhouse were they are starved and abused. Much to her own surprise, Elizabeth bonds with these women and learns to respect them while they are imprisoned, and she emerges a new person.

Out of the frying pan, into the fire…

Elizabeth may feel like a new person, but Oscar Thornton still wants to kill her. How can she escape him and still keep her secrets? Because her new friends would lose all respect for her if they knew who she really was, and the man she has come to love can’t even bring himself to tell a lie. How can she trick them into helping her pull off a con that will save her life without losing everything she has learned to value?

The more things change, the more they stay the same…

Elizabeth’s experiences in City of Lies are based on real historical events that happened in November of 1917, exactly 100 years to the month when the book is being published! In 1917, society was changing, and women were fighting to be taken seriously, to be valued, and to have a seat at the table. A hundred years later, women are still fighting for the very same things. Elizabeth lived in exciting times and so do we. I hope you enjoy reading about her adventures, which are not so very different from our own.

 

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Edgar® and Agatha Nominated author Victoria Thompson writes the Gaslight Mystery Victoria Thompson photoSeries, set in turn-of-the-century New York City and featuring midwife Sarah Brandt. Her latest, Murder in the Bowery, was a May 2017 release. City of Lies is the first book in her new Counterfeit Lady series, a November 2017 release from Berkley. She also contributed to the award winning writing textbook Many Genres/One Craft. Victoria teaches in the Seton Hill University master’s program in writing popular fiction. She lives in Illinois with her husband and a very spoiled little dog.

Launch Day and Giveaway- Murder in an English Village!

Jessie: In New Hampshire where a recent storm has downed trees and ended the foliage season abruptly!

MURDER IN AN ENGLISH VILLAGEToday is the launch day for my seventh published novel. Seven. Seven whole novels! As I type this I am hugging myself with delight. How is life such a wonderment?

Not only is it the launch of a novel but it is the debut is a whole new series. I cannot tell you how much pleasure this new imaginary world has brought me! Murder in an English Village simply poured out of me with a flow I had never before experienced. It was magical. It was almost entirely fun.

I am utterly in love with Beryl and Edwina, the dual protagonists of this series. They represent the things I love, the things I am and the things I most long to be. They live in a time and a place I have so often imagined through deep dives into the magic of the Golden Age of Detection and the beguiling works of E.F. Benson and P.G. Wodehouse.

But it is more than that. It isn’t just the era and all its alluring accoutrements like soda siphons and Rolls Royce Silver Ghosts. It is the characters themselves with whom I am totally smitten. They feel so much like two sides of the same coin to me and I have loved tipping and tossing them this way and that. I love the way they play off each other and highlight the strengths or weaknesses of the other. I love how they each have expertise and preference. I love discovering what those things are.

Cards on the table, I really want to be Beryl when I grow up. Well, minus the string of ex-husbands. After all, I told my husband, before we married, that the only man I would ever consider leaving him for was Hercule Poirot. Beryl has no such compunctions which, not surprisingly, baffles spinster Edwina. I admire Edwina’s deep connection to place and understand her love of her gardens and her feeling of responsiblilty for the small creatures that live there like wild birds and families of rabbits.

I adore writing about gnarled jobbing gardener Simpkins and gossipy postmistress Prudence Rathbone. I wish I owned Beryl’s motorcar or Edwina’s hat collection. I would love to shop the High Street of imaginary Walmsley Parva with my wicker basket draped over my arm and Crumpet the dog capering along at my side snuffling at the hedgerows and generally making merry. I wish I could stop right this minute for a cuppa and a scone at Minnie Mumford’s Silver Spoon Tearoom.

And although it is all in my mind, I still cannot quite believe I get to spend my time with such delightful imaginary friends. I am even more astonished that others are able to visit with them too through the wizardry of books. I can only hope you enjoy it all as much as I do!

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Murder in an English Village! I’d love to hear about your favorite characters from books, your favorite historical era or your favorite part of your own job. 

 

Newsworthy?

Jessie: In New Hampshire where autumn has well adn truly arrived.

Last week I attended a conference for novelists down in Florida. There is a lot to thinkfullsizeoutput_5c7 about and I left with a head crammed full of possibilities and things to ponder. One of the workshops that I attended was on the subject of newsletters.

I must admit, rather shamefacedly, that I do not currently have a newsletter. I have meant to put one together, told myself I should put one together, added it to my projects list and agonized thoroughly over the lack of one. But somehow, I have never seemed to have managed it. The workshop presenter convinced me it was time to change all that.

Apparently, a newsletter is not all that difficult to produce and according to the presenter readers actually truly love to find them in their email inboxes.  she made the entire thing seem like fun instead of like something overwhelming and tedious. Which brings me to the point of this post. I could use a little help from all of you.

I would love to know which sorts of things you like to hear from writers when you subscribe to a newsletter. I’d love to know how frequently you like to receive such things. I’d like to know if you value notifications about upcoming releases, author appearances, exclusive content available only to newsletter subscribers, or newsy tidbits and behind-the-scenes information about what went into the books that you like to read.

I also would love to grow the numbers of people interested in receiving the inaugural issue of my newsletter. I do have a sign-up link  for one on my website and have added it here should any of you be interested in signing up.

Readers, I’d love to hear the answers to the questions above. Writers, do you send out a newsletter?

Wicked Wednesday: Whispers of Fortune

whispersWickeds, we are celebrating Jessica Estevao’s Whispers of Warning. A reminder about what the book is about:

Free from the clutches of her con artist father, Ruby Proulx is starting to settle in at the Belden, her aunt Honoria’s seaside hotel. She loves finally being rooted in one place and also feels a sense of purpose as she helps Honoria keep her business afloat by acting as a psychic medium for the hotel’s metaphysically inclined guests.

When one of the guests, renowned Spiritualist and outspoken suffragist Sophronia Foster Eldridge, checks into the hotel for a monthlong stay, Ruby finds her sense of purpose expands outside the confines of home and family. Sophronia takes Ruby under her wing and mentors her in the mediumistic abilities, encouraging her to fight for women’s rights.

But not everyone is as happy with Sophronia’s appearance in Old Orchard. When a dangerous act of sabotage is carried out and a body is found floating in the pool of a local bathhouse, Ruby takes it upon herself to find answers— and in the process learns that her new friend has been hiding some deadly secrets of her own…

Today’s question for the Wickeds–Jessie has built up a wonderful world that touches on spiritualism. Tell us–are you a believer?

Edith: Wow. Just hit us with the easy question, Julie! I have a vague sense of the “beyond” – and vague is where it’s going to stay. I certainly think the universe contains something larger than us all, and that a continuation of spirit beyond our earthly shells is possible. That said, I love Jessie’s Change of Fortune Mysteries and can’t wait to pick up my pre-ordered copy from my local indy bookstore.

Liz: I am a TOTAL believer! I love all this woo-woo stuff – which is one of the reasons why I love this series. The rest of the Wickeds can attest to my, shall we say, quirkiness in this area. I think they love me anyway, even if they do think I’m a bit strange half the time…

Barb: I’m one of the non-woo-woo Wickeds. I don’t believe there’s a place we go when we die, and I don’t believe we’re ourselves (or anyone else) once we get there, so returning to visit is out of the question. However, I fully admit there are many things about our universe we don’t yet understand. There was a time when the rational people believed the sun revolved around the earth and that illnesses were caused by humours. They weren’t entirely wrong. Bodies did rotate and invisible (or should I say not yet seeable) entities cause diseases. We’re always learning new things, so I’m not going to knock anyone else’s beliefs.

Sherry: I’m never quite sure where I stand on this. I believe in God and angels. I believe that some people are very perceptive (Jessie, Julie, I’m looking at you two). After that it all gets a little blurry for me. There’s a dark side of all of this that scares me which is why I hate horror books and movies.

Jessie: I think the world is vast and strange and there are a lot of ways of knowing things, not all of which can be explained. I adore things that can’t be explained. After all, isn’t that the allure of mysteries, that which has yet to be explained?

Julie: Wickeds, you went deep on this one! I am one of the woo-woo people. And I do believe in spirits, and guides. I’m figuring out what it all means, and am fascinated by Tarot cards and their uses. Another reason I love this series–the exploration of this world. Congratulations again, Jessie!

Readers, what do you think? Are you a believer in psychics? Save

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