What’s Your Super Power?

girl-standing-1789334_1280Jessie: In New Hampshire, watching my first daffodils opening on the south side of the house.

Since I live in a household filled with men I’ve had more than my fair share of contact with the realm of superheroes. Capt. America is a favorite in my household along with Spider-Man, Superman, and Batman.

When my sons were younger the merits of different super powers were frequently debated. The boys wanted super speed or super strength or laser beams they could shoot from their eyes. My vote often went to invisibility or the ability to teleport. I’m not really sure I’d like to know the future, and I’m quite certain I don’t want to hear other people’s thoughts.

The reality is while I don’t have super speed, I do have some super powers of my own. They may not be glamorous and Hollywood has yet to feature them in a big budget film, but they’re mine all the same. I have a knack for finding bargains almost everywhere I look. I can take a heaping mound of containers filled with leftovers and make all of them fit in the refrigerator. I can peek into a pantry that appears almost empty and turn out a dinner for at least six, with dessert, probably with home-baked bread. I can also spot crumbs on the kitchen counter that are apparently invisible to every other member of my family.

As a writer I’ve often wished I had another set of super powers. Superfast typing speed, fully plotted outlines springing immediately to the page just because I wished it to be so, manuscripts turned in with zero errors every time. In my line of work it would be very helpful to be a super grammarian, and unwaveringly accurate speller, or someone whose wrists never suffered with carpal tunnel. I would even settle for the ability to produce paper and pen from thin air whenever an idea threatened to flit away. Probably the best ability of all would be the ability to infinitely stretch time before deadlines.

So until I end up in some sort of lab experiment gone wrong, the recipient of an unusual spider bite, or radioactive exposure, I heroically content myself with dreaming up super levels of sleuthing ability for my characters.

Readers, do you have a real life super power? Writers, have you ever given a superpower to one of your characters?

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

 

 

Recapping 2016 and Looking Forward to 2017

You know, dear readers, we Wickeds haven’t been blogging together all that long. Four years this May, is that right? And though Jessie, Barb and Edith (aka Tace Baker) had published books prior to the Wickeds forming, this blog coincided with the launching of several series. 2016 was a bumper crop for all of us, and 2017 promises to top this year. So we thought today we’d celebrate this past year, and give you some books to look forward to in 2017.

WhispersBeyond_FixJessica Estevao/Jessie Crockett/Jessica Ellicott

2016:
Whispers Beyond the Veil by Jessica Estevao, Book 1 Change of Fortune Mysteries, September, 2016

2017:
Body of Water by Jessie Crockett, Book 2 The Granite State Mysteries, Spring 2017
Whispers of Warning by Jessica Estevao, Book 2 Change of Fortune Mysteries, September, 2017
Murder in an English Village by Jessica Ellicott, Book 1 The Beryl and Edwina Mysteries, November, 2017

ALL MURDERS FINAL mech.inddSherry Harris

2016:
All Murders Final, Kensington
“The Lighthouse” in Edgar Allan Cozy
“Anna, Belle, and Lee” in Edgar Allan Cozy

2017:
A Good Day To Buy, April

ClockandDaggerJ.A. Hennrikus/Julianne Holmes

2016:
Clock and Dagger by Julianne Holmes

2017:
Chime and Punishment by Julianne Holmes, August
J.A. Hennrikus will have news soon!

Edith Maxwell/Maddie Day

2016:
Delivering the Truth – April (Quaker Midwife Mystery #1)
Grilled for Murder (as Maddie Day) (Country Store Mystery #2)
Murder Most Fowl – May (Local Foods Mystery #4)
“An Intolerable Intrusion” in Edgar Allan Cozy – January
“The Mayor and the Midwife” in Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016 – September

2017:
When the Grits Hit the Fan (as Maddie Day) March (Country Store Mystery #3)
Called to Justice – April (Quaker Midwife Mystery #2)
“The Tragic Death of Mrs. Edna Fogg” in Malic Domestic 12: Mystery Most Historical – April
Mulch Ado About Murder – May (Local Foods Mystery #5)

MurdermostfinickyLiz Mugavero/Cate Conte

2016:
Murder Most Finicky (A Pawsitively Organic Mystery Book 4), January

2017:

Custom Baked Murder, (A Pawsitively Organic Mystery Book 5), December/Jan.
Pawsitively Organic Mystery Book 6, December 2017
Cate Conte’s first, Cat About Town, Aug. 1, 2017

catbouttown

Barbara Ross

2016:
Fogged Inn
, Maine Clambake Mystery #4, February
Eggnog Murder (with Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis), October

2017:

Iced Under, Maine Clambake Mystery #5, January
Stowed Away, Maine Clambake #6, late 2017

Sheila Connolly

2016:
A Turn for the Bad (County Cork Mystery #5), February 2016
Dead End Street (Museum Mystery #7), June 2016
Seeds of Deception (Orchard Mystery #10), October 2016
Search for the Dead (Relatively Dead Mystery #5), October 2016

2017:
Cruel Winter (County Cork Mystery #6), March 2017
A Late Frost (Orchard Mystery #11), October 2017

Susannah Hardy/Sadie Hartwell

A Killer Kebab Cover2016:
Edgar Allan Cozy (Susannah, Barb, Edith, Sherry, Sheila)
A Killer Kebab by Susannah Hardy

2017:
A Knit Before Dying by Sadie Hartwell, August

Edgar

Readers: What’s on your docket for this year’s reading? And were you able to keep up with all our 2016 publications? (Don’t worry, it’s not quiz!)

Books, Bagels, and Wicked Cozys

By Julie, feeling a bit of holiday spirit in Somerville

wicked-cozy-authorsRay Daniel is a good friend to the Wicked Cozys. This past Sunday he invited us to his temple, Congregation B’nai Torah in Sudbury, MA. It was a Books and Bagels event. When he asked us to participate back in October, he may have expect the more local Wickeds would make it. Instead, we turned it into an event. Sherry flew up for the weekend, Liz drove up from Connecticut, and Jessie drove down from New Hampshire. For the first time EVER, all six Wickeds were on a panel together. To cap the day, we went to the Wayside Inn afterwards. Ray and his wife Karen (an amazing quilter and HUGE cozy fan) came with us, along with Elias (Jessie’s husband) and Bill (Barb’s husband and frequent dead body model for Sherry’s first line photos).

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Wickeds at the Wayside Inn. Clockwise from bottom left: Barb, Bill, Edith, Julie, Sherry, Jessie, Elias, Karen, Liz. Photo by Ray Daniel.

Each of us sat at a different table for breakfast. Afterwards, we all  did a panel that Ray moderated. Conversation ranged from genre to our protagonists, to new series coming up. None of the Wickeds is shy, and we all have opinions, so the conversation was lively. The audience was also very engaged, so it was a great conversation that lasted over an hour.

Now, I’m going to spill the beans about the Wickeds. We all really like each other. We take the business of writing and selling books seriously, and support one another in that. But we also care about each other as people, and seeing each other is a tonic. Ray Daniel (a wonderful writer in his own right) is a good friend of the Wickeds. He gave us an excuse to spend some time together this past Sunday.

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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? 

 

 

Tuning In

Jessie: In book jail on the coast of Maine.

WHISPERSHIRESI have a confession. After having written five books I still don’t know where the stories come from. I don’t really mean the little snippets and nuggets of ideas that you tuck away and think “Oh, wouldn’t that be interesting to use in a book someday”. I mean the whole complex thing of starting with almost nothing and ending up with a whole world complete with complex people, vibrant settings and intriguing conflicts.

I wish I could say it had something to do with me but I am not really sure that it does. As I work I find myself wondering if my role is that of a conduit through which an existing story flows. I often have a sneaking suspicion that rather than making my books up I somehow happened to tune into a sort of radio frequency and I simply hear them and then write them down.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately as I’ve been doing time in book jail, putting the finishing touches on my second Change of Fortune mystery. The main character, Ruby Proulx, is clairaudient. She has the benefit of a voice she hears from time to that gives her advice. Throughout the course of the first book in the series, Whispers Beyond the Veil, with effort, she manages to hear the voice more clearly and to tap into it at will rather than by chance.

I find myself hoping that life will imitate art and that my own ability to tune in will improve as much as Ruby’s. Is it possible to get a clearer signal? Is there some way to make the rest of life quieter so the story is more easily heard? Is that all wishful thinking?

In the end it probably doesn’t matter where the stories come from as long as they manage to get told. As long as the voices come out through the fingertips and onto the page, and readers enjoy the results, it really makes no difference if I thought of it all, or none of it at all. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Readers, do you have any suggestions for quieting the outside world? Writers, where do you think the stories come from?

 

Research Beyond the Veil and A Giveaway

Announcing the ARC Winners!

Congratulations Crafty Momma, Lecky and Kristie Dilcher! You are the winners of the ARC giveaway. Please get in touch with jessie@jessiecrockett.com to let her know where to send your copy!

Jessie: At the seaside in Old Orchard, just back from a week away

One of the very best parts of my job as a writer is the research involved. Now that I am working on my new historical mystery series there is more research than ever. And since the series is both historical and paranormal the research can be a little unusual. A trip I took with a dear friend last week is a case in point.

Lily Dale, NY is the self-proclaimed “world’s largest center for the science, philosophy and religion of Spiritualism”. Located about an hour southwest of Buffalo, Lily Dale is like nowhere else I have ever been. The village is filled to bursting with mediums, Reiki practitioners, spirit painters and herbalists. When I booked a room at the Maplewood, a supposedly haunted, Victorian era hotel, I was hoping to have a taste of some of the same sorts of experiences the characters in my novel Whispers Beyond the Veil enjoy at the fictional Hotel Belden. Luckily for me, the Maplewood did not disappoint.

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The Belden is imagined as a hotel that caters to paranormal practitioners and metaphysical enthusiasts of every ilk. I was delighted to see this sign hanging in the lobby:

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I couldn’t help but feel my protagonist Ruby Proulx would feel quite at home in such a place. Her Spiritualist aunt Honoria certainly would! Although she would have no qualms about spontaneous séances and development circles cropping up in the hotel wherever the guests might wish. There were no telephones, televisions or alarm clocks in the rooms. Mine didn’t even have a bathroom. I couldn’t have asked for a more authentically immersive experience.

The town had plenty of activities for visitors to partake in, much like the hotel in my books. There were meditation sessions, healing services and development circles. There were special speakers, ghost walks, a library and a historical museum. There were even gift shops filled with divination cards, dowsing pendulums and healing crystals. For the contemplative visitor there was a labyrinth.

IMG_0206But the most popular were the platform-reading services held twice daily at a place called Inspiration Stump. People hoping to hear messages from loved ones gathered on benches in a cool and shady grove and awaited the notice of the mediums conducting the readings. I had the enjoyment of being chosen for a reading just after we arrived.

The medium who read for me told me a pair of elderly sisters on the other side wanted to say hello. She was quite certain one of the ladies was one of my grandmothers. From the medium’s description of the women I found myself thinking of Elva and Dovie Velmont. These two are amongst my favorite characters in the book and were in fact based on my great-grandmother Elva and her sister Minerva. Such fun!

Everywhere in Lily Dale there are tiny houses covered in ornate gingerbread trim and fronted by inviting porches. House after house along each of the quiet streets displayed signs announcing the name of a practicing medium who lived and worked thIMG_0191erein. Contact information was provided and waiting areas dotted the front yards. All up and down the streets you would see people sitting in outdoor waiting rooms until called in by the medium for their appointments.

Whether the spirits in Lily Dale are more real than in other places I am not certain I could
say. But I do know it was a perfect place to read, to write and to soak up the feeling of times gone by. In my book and my books that made it magical enough for me.

WhispersBeyond_Fix

 

Readers, have you ever gone on an unusual vacation? Have you ever visited a medium? I am giving away three advanced reading copies of my new book, Whispers Beyond the Veil to commenters today!