Write Like a Mermaid — Guest Shari Randall

By Shari Randall, who is celebrating publication of her new book, Against the Claw.

Shari is giving away a copy of Against the Claw to someone who leaves a comment! Here’s a little about the book:

Welcome back to the seaside village of Mystic Bay, where someone’s been found sleeping with the fishes. . .Ballerina Allie Larkin is still back home, healing up from a broken ankle and lending a hand at her aunt’s Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack. But now that the famed restaurant is branching out into the world of catering, Allie’s help is needed more than ever―even on the lobster boat. The last thing she expects to find once she’s out on the bay, however, is the dead body of a beautiful young woman.

When days pass and not even the police can ID the corpse, Allie takes it upon herself to learn the truth about what happened. Her investigation leads her all the way from the local piers to the secluded estates of Mystic Bay’s posh elite. But how can she crack this case when everyone seems dead-set on keeping their secrets beneath the surface?

“If you can be anything, be a mermaid.” This is one of my favorite sayings.

I named the shack in my Lobster Shack mystery series The Lazy Mermaid because I love mermaids. One of my characters collects “mermaidabilia.” I have an Instagram account where I post mermaid photos on #Mermaid Mondays. It’s fun to see who else has a mermaid obsession.

It’s also fun to see how mermaids can help plot a book.

I was shopping for swag for a Facebook party when I came across this great pen. It’s the Mermazing ™ What Would a Mermaid Do? Predict-a-Pen. It’s a much sparklier version of a Magic Eight Ball, but instead of answering questions it offers advice.

The pen has been helpful as I write. Not only are the predictions good life advice (well, maybe “crash a ship” isn’t a good idea in real life) they’re great suggestions for a writer.

Here’s some writing advice from the Predict-A-Pen:

Pose on a Rock – I translated this into “showcase your character” – let the characters show the reader who they truly are – good and bad, fins and scales.

Make Friends with a Crab – Good advice. Every protagonist needs a friend, a sidekick to share the adventure and watch her back while swimming with sharks.

Brush Hair with a Fork – Okay, I had to give this one some thought. It’s a pretty funny image. Perhaps the magic pen is telling me to add some humor?

Grow Legs – As we all remember from The Little Mermaid, this was a turning point that changed the trajectory of Ariel’s life. For my writing purposes, it means take a chance, do something bold – even if it turns out to have life altering repercussions for my characters. We all like to see characters grow and change, especially if that growth comes from lessons learned by making mistakes and owning up to them.

Fall in Love with a Pirate – A little romance, especially with a dashing partner will add spice to a story.

Crash a Ship – Okay, very bad nautical advice, but great writing advice. Big conflict, disaster, and drama keep readers turning the pages.

Readers: Anyone else love mermaids? Or have a slightly embarrassing obsession?

Shari Randall lives in a mid-century money pit on the Connecticut shore. When she’s not committing murder (on the page, of course) she enjoys dancing, reading, and volunteering at her local library. You can see what’s new with her at https://us.macmillan.com/author/sharirandall/.

It’s Twins!

Edith here, delighted to share a book birthday with Liz!

When Liz and I learned our new books were coming out on the same day, we started plotting, of course. What could we do to celebrate the release of Purrder She Wrote, the second Cat Cafe Mystery, and Death Over Easy, the fifth Country Store Mystery? She and I live three hours apart, so bubbly for lunch was out. And we hadn’t planned far enough ahead (Liz is now rolling on the floor laughing) to arrange a joint bookstore event.

So I said, “How about a Facebook party?” Lots of folks are doing them. Everybody gets to sit at home in their comfy clothes, have fast and furious chatting via their fingertips, meet some new authors, and win fun prizes. Liz said, “Sure!” We’re both writing under pen names for these two books, but we don’t mind sharing our real identities.

We hope you’ll join us tonight from 7-9 Eastern (uh, daylight, not standard) time over on the party page.

Book Launch LM 2

We’re delighted that most of the Wickeds are going to join us, plus friends of the Wickeds Lucy Burdette, Shari Randall, and Maya Corrigan. You’ll be able to ask questions of these two as well as of Jessie, Sherry, and Julie – and Liz and me, of course – and enter to win a different giveaway every fifteen minutes.


Edith and Liz wearing their official Writer PD shirts!

The cake will be virtual, I’m afraid, and you’ll have to supply your own celebratory drink. But I promise it will be a lot of fun (like the fun Liz and I had at the Writers Police Academy nine years ago). You know you’re going to want to help us party tonight!

In Purrder She Wrote, Co-owner  of the Cat Cafe Maddie James becomes entangled in a petty drama between one of her volunteers, an ardent animal-rights activist, and a wealthy woman who insists on adopting a calico kitty-right this instant. But when the snubbed socialite is found dead, suspicion lands squarely on Maddie’s staffer, and Maddie must do whatever it takes to solve the crime-before her nine lives are up.

Death Over Easy gives us an annual  bluegrass festival at the Bill Monroe Music Park in neighboring Beanblossom. A few festival musicians are among Robbie’s first guests at her B&B, along with her father, Roberto, and his wife, Maria. When a performer is found choked to death by a banjo string, the musicians on stage are featured in a different kind of lineup. To clear their names, Robbie pairs up with an unexpected partner to pick at the clues and find the plucky killer before there’s an encore performance.

Readers: Have you been to other virtual parties? What works and what doesn’t? Will you be joining us tonight?


Wicked Wednesday: Celebrating Murder at the Mansion

Happy Wednesday readers! Liz here, and today we’re focused on celebrating Sheila Connolly’s newest, Murder at the Mansion, A Victorian Village Mystery. This is Sheila’s brand new series, and the book arrived yesterday. Here’s a sneak peek:

cover - birds fixed - Murder at the Mansion 12-11-17

From the cover:

Katherine Hamilton’s goal in high school was to escape from her dead-end hometown of Asheboro, Maryland. Fifteen years later she’s got a degree in hospitality management and a great job at a high-end boutique hotel in Baltimore. Until, that is, the hotel is acquired by a chain, and she’s laid off. When Kate’s high school best friend calls with a mysterious invitation to come talk with the town leaders of Asheboro, she agrees to make the trip, curious about where this new opportunity might lead.

Once Kate arrives, the town council members reveal that their town is on the verge of going bankrupt, and they’ve decided that Kate’s skills and knowledge make her the perfect person to cure all their ills. The town has used its last available funds to buy the huge Victorian mansion just outside of town, hoping to use it to attract some of the tourists who travel to visit the nearby Civil War battle sites. Kate has less-than-fond memories of the mansion, for personal reasons, but to make matters worse, the only person who has presented a possible alternate plan is Cordelia Walker―Kate’s high school nemesis.

But a few days later, while touring the mansion, Kate stumbles over a body―and it’s none other than Cordelia. Kate finds herself juggling the murder investigation and her growing fascination with the old house, which itself is full of long-hidden mysteries. Kate must clear her name and save her town―before she ends up in hot water.

Congratulations Sheila! Can’t wait to check out this new series! I know the rest of the Wickeds are psyched to read this too! Wickeds, would you move back to your hometown? What job would you want there if the town asked you to do something for them?

Edith: Yay, Sheila! I love seeing you start a new series, even with all your past and current successes under your virtual belt. Me, I would never move back to my hometown south of Pasadena, California. Sure, it’s lovely when the air is clean and you don’t have to venture forth onto the superslabs. But most of the time the air is not clean (Rose Parade day notwithstanding – although those are MY mountains that you see in the background) and there are way, way too many people who live in the sprawling LA megalopolis for my adopted New England tastes. Now, if someone offered me the job of paid busybody in my grad student town of Bloomington, Indiana? I might accept!

Jessie: Sheila, I wish you every good thing with the new series! My family moved around when I was a child and I don’t feel as though I have a hometown in the way most people mean. I can say that none of the places I lived as a child are places I would return to on purpose. I love my adult life and the places I spend time in now far too much to go back!

Barb: I’m in the same boat as Jessie. I don’t have a place I think of as my hometown. We moved from the northern New Jersey suburbs to the Philadelphia suburbs when I was in elementary school, then in the middle of seventh grade to northeastern Pennsylvania. I resented the move terribly and complained the whole time (which must have been delightful for my parents). I finally escaped early as an exchange student my senior year. So no, not going back there, even though my parents lived out their lives there and my brother and his wife live there still.

Downtown Davenport

Sherry: I love my hometown of Davenport, Iowa. There is so much to do there — an amazing art museum, library system, science museum, symphony, tons of parks, plays, a minor league baseball team that plays in a stadium right on the Mississippi, and so much more. BUT, the weather. I think that is the only thing that holds me back. It’s so hot in the summer and so cold in the winter. Way colder than it was when we lived in Massachusetts. So it’s unlikely, but not impossible that I would move back.

Readers, what about you? Would you move back to your hometown? What job would you want there if the town asked you to do something for them?


Guest: Marla Cooper

Edith here (on vacation but still doing a little work). Let’s extend a Wicked Welcome terror in taffeta book cover
to debut author Marla Cooper!
Her debut mystery, Terror in Taffeta, comes out next week, and she’s giving away a hardcover copy to one commenter. Let’s hear about the book first:

Kelsey McKenna has planned out every detail of her client’s destination wedding in San Miguel de Allende. But what she hadn’t planned on was a bridesmaid dropping dead in the middle of the ceremony. When the bride’s sister is arrested for murder, the mother of the bride demands that Kelsey fix the matter at once. Although Kelsey is pretty sure investigating a murder isn’t in her contract, crossing the well connected Mrs. Abernathy could be a career-killer. Before she can leave Mexico and get back to planning weddings, Kelsey will have to deal with stubborn detectives, late-night death threats—and guests who didn’t even RSVP.

Isn’t a wedding planner just a perfect protagonist for a murder? Take it away, Marla!

Thanks for having me, Edith. What a fun month this has been—including appearing here on Wickeds! My debut novel comes out on Tuesday, and as you can imagine, the last few weeks have been crazy. (According to a quick internet diagnosis, I am apparently “feeling all the feels.”)

Last week, my friend Cori Arnold posted the following quote on Facebook:Image 1 - quote

I immediately replied that yes, that was exactly what it was like. After waiting two years, my novel will finally be released into the world, and in a way I feel like I’ve been holding my breath the entire time, waiting to see if my joke is funny. Especially during that year or so when almost nothing seemed to be happening at all, and my non-writer friends were like, “So, is your book out yet? Is it ever coming out? Is this some kind of practical joke only writers understand?”

So here’s where I was two years ago. I had just completed my manuscript, and I headed off to Left Coast Crime in the hopes of learning everything I possibly could about getting a book published. While I was there, I bought an orchid that we now refer to as the Magical Image 2 - orchidBlossoming Oracle.

That sucker lasted for months. It had several stems full of tightly packed buds that blossomed oh-so-gradually, and it reminded me of my experiences at Left Coast Crime and everything that was ahead of me. It was still going strong when I found my agent a couple months later, and even a few weeks later when we started sending the manuscript out to different publishers.
As I started getting rejections back, a few of the blossoms started to drop, but I didn’t freak out. After all, I was in it for the long haul. The orchid wasn’t in any hurry to give up, and neither was I. Then a few more flowers fell. And a few more rejections came in.

At some point, I jokingly told my husband, “Maybe I’ll sell my book right when the last flower drops.” There were still enough blossoms left that it seemed reasonable, and he agreed that that’s pretty much exactly how it would go down, because we have a tendency to validate literally any banana-pants thing the other person says. (I believe this is the secret to a good marriage.)

Not long after, the orchid had dropped all but one blossom, which was wilted and looked like it would fall if you exhaled anywhere within a three-foot radius. (Yes, it was full-on pathetic to look at, but dang it, I was committed to finding out if I, in fact, had a magic orchid.)

One night, we went to dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant, and I got the following fortune:

You will soon be the center of attention. Look for good news.Image 3 - Fortune

And yes, I took a picture of it because I basically considered it a promise from the universe that I was going to get a book deal, probably the next day. Okay, maybe not, but just in case….

So after we got home from our meal of Szechuan chicken and shrimp with walnuts, we were sitting on the couch, and I heard the softest little plop from the corner of the living room.

Image 4 - orchid twoThe last blossom had fallen. Tim’s eyebrows shot up and he said, “It fell!” And then we both just giggled nervously as if to say, “Gosh, believing in the predictive ability of houseplants sure is silly!” and then I think we changed the subject. After all, I was almost guaranteed to be disappointed if I got too excited about my double-omen action.

The next morning, my agent called.

She’d sold my book.

Even as I’m writing this, I kind of can’t believe it, but why else would I have taken this picture of a near-dead orchid?

So, do I believe in signs? I’m willing to call the fortune cookie a coincidence, but the Magical Blossoming Oracle? Definitely a sign.

Which brings us back to today.

Even though I’ve known for over a year that my book was coming out on March 22, it still didn’t feel quite real to me. I mean, sure, I could see it listed right there on Amazon, and I was starting to get Goodreads reviews and everything, but still.

I guess after all this time, I still needed some convincing. But just the other day, I got the last and final sign that I needed: a copy of my book arrived in the mail.

Yep, this is happening.

Readers: If you had a Magical Blossoming Oracle, what would you want it to predict? Have you ever gotten an unmistakable sign? And how do you deal with anticipation? Remember, Marla is giving away a hardcover edition of the book to one commenter!

MCooper headshotMARLA COOPER is the author of Terror in Taffeta, a humorous cozy mystery about a destination wedding planner that is the first in a series. As a freelance writer, Marla has written all sorts of things, and it was while ghostwriting a guide to destination weddings that she found inspiration for her first novel. Originally hailing from Texas, Marla lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and her polydactyl tuxedo cat. You can find Marla at www.marla-cooper.com, on Goodreads, or on Facebook.