Summer Reads 2017

NEWS FLASH: Meg is the winner of Peg’s book for commenting yesterday. Congratulations, Meg! Peg will be contacting you by email.

It’s full summer in New England – sun-kissed tomatoes, sun-pinked skin from the beach, sunny yellow flowers abloom. So what are we reading, Wickeds and friends? Share your favorite kick-back-and-lose-yourself-in-a-story choices.

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Edith: I have the great honor of being nominated for a Macavity Award, the Sue FederMemorial Award for Best Historical Novel, along with Catriona McPherson, Ann Parker, James Ziskin, Lyndsay Faye, and Susanna Calkins (in no particular order). I’m reading each of their nominated books before I head to Toronto for Bouchercon in October. So far I’ve loved Catriona’s The Reek of Red Herrings and Lynsday’s Jane Steele. Next up is Ann’s What Gold Buys, which I’m eagerly anticipating.

Sherry: I’ve read a lot of great books over the past few weeks. First up was Identity by Ingrid Thoft. I love this series and have to keep myself from binge reading it. Second I was delighted to read my friend Kim Stockley’s YA fantasy A Shattered Moon the first in a trilogy with the concept: There is still an Eden but it’s no longer paradise. I read an early version and loved it even more now. Then I read Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen. What a plot and full of his usual quirks. I just started Murder with Chicken and Waffles by A.L. Herbert who I met at an event on Saturday. When a book starts with cornbread you know it’s  going to be good.

Liz: I have so many books on my list! I just finished World Gone By by Dennis Lehane, and Spirit Junkie by Gabrielle Bernstein. Next on my list is Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz.

Julie: Diane Vallere and I were on a panel together at Malice. She mentioned that she will read through an entire series at a time–both to enjoy and to learn from. With that as an inspiration, and with a vacation coming up, I’ve decided to read Louise Penny’s series. She is a favorite of so many, and I am already glad I’m diving in.

Barb: I feel like a broken record, because I think every time we do this I’m reading William Kent Krueger. However, I am almost caught up to the present. Currently reading Manitou Canyon. Like Julie, I have vacation coming up. I’m planning to bring Paul Doiron’s latest, Knife Creek, and Bruce Robert Coffin’s second novel, Beneath the Depths. And, like every year, the last week in August, I’ll be at Sherman’s in Boothbay Harbor, picking up a copy of Louise Penny’s latest, Glass Houses this year, for my Labor Day weekend reading pleasure.

Jessie: I am currently reading Radha Vatsal’s A Front Page Affair and am enjoying it immensely! I recently finished Cold Comfort by Quentin Bates and Herbie’s Game by Timothy Hallinan. For non-fiction I am savoring Naturalists in Paradise: Wallace, Bates and Spruce in the Amazon by John Hemming.

Readers: Share your summer reads!

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The Air Force Made Me Do It

Sherry Harris
from Northern Virginia

Being an Air Force spouse had a lot to do with how I ended up writing. Having a regular career is difficult when you are moving all of the time. Climbing a corporate ladder is next to impossible.

080508-F-0672W-005We were stationed in Dayton, Ohio at Wright-Patterson AFB when I spotted a short story contest in the local newspaper. I thought why not and started writing.  I realized right away the story was bigger than the parameters of the contest. And I set off on my writing journey moving it with me from Dayton, to Monterey, to Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Northern Virginia, Bedford, Massachusetts and back to Northern Virginia.

During that time I worked on the craft of writing by attending conferences. At one I met fellow Air Force wife and author Sara Rosett, whose protagonist is a military spouse. I  joined critique groups and wrote and wrote and revised. It eventually led to my current series. Tagged for Death features Sarah Winston, a former Air Force spouse, and is set in the fictional town of Ellington, Massachusetts and the very real Hanscom Air Force Base. I’m excited to use a part of my life that I loved so much in my novels.

I decided to ask two other military spouses how the military influenced their writing careers. I met Kim Stokely when our kids were in the same first grade class while we were stationed at Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California. I met Gwen Hernandez recently. She taught a class on Scrivener offered through the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime. I read her bio and found out she was an Air Force wife and also lived near me in Northern Virginia.

KimstokelyKim: Newly married to a naval officer, I found myself alone 275 days of our first year stationed in Virginia Beach, VA. I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in dramatic communication as a way to keep my sanity. My advisor warned me at my graduation that I needed to find ways to be creative even as I moved around and started a family. He suggested I try writing as an outlet. I got the idea for Woman of Flames, soon to be released on Amazon.com, from a play woman-of-flames7cI performed while working toward my degree. I jotted down notes for the story for over a decade before I finally had the time to research my subject and time period. It took another year to write the first draft. Our various duty stations gave me ample opportunity to see the country and I’ve used several of our homes as settings for my novels including Monterey, CA; Saratoga Springs, NY and Omaha, NE. Although I’m working on a fantasy trilogy now, I’m still using my different memories to inspire my settings.

scrivenerfdcoverGwen: I didn’t start writing because my husband is in the military—though his income stability didn’t hurt—but it’s the perfect job for someone who’s always on the move. Assuming you can actually get paid for your writing, there’s no more worrying about lack of career advancement or finding employment in each new city. I can take my work anywhere in the world and set my own hours. Definitely a plus when it comes to reducing the stresses of relocating and caring for my family.

gwenhernandezAnd since I write romantic suspense—often featuring military, or former military, heroes and heroines—it’s nice to have a built-in resource at home. If my husband doesn’t know something, one of the many friends we’ve made over the years probably does, or can help me find an expert. Plus, having lived in and visited so many parts of the world, I don’t always have to set my books where I currently live to be able to write credibly about an area.

It’s not easy earning a living as a writer, but if it’s something you love to do, I can’t imagine a better career for a military spouse.

How has your life influenced your career choice?