In The Middle

By Sherry — another rainy day in Northern Virginia

Marci Konecny is the winner of the Sarah Winston books! Thanks to all of you who stopped by! I used to draw the winner.

Usually no one wants to be in the middle, but I am and here is why I’m so happy to be.

Tagged for Death mech.inddThe second anniversary of the release of Tagged For Death was last Friday, December 2nd (look for the celebratory giveaway at the bottom of the post). And this anniversary made me reflect on where I’ve been, where am, and where I’m going. I started thinking about all of the people who helped me along the way – too many to list here but I do want to mention some pivotal moments.

My first writers conference run by the Cambria Writers Workshop was in Monterey, California where I received gentle criticism and lots of encouragement.

I also attended the now defunct Seaside Writers Conference run by the faculty of the Florida International University’s creative writing department. I learned so much about structure and passion for writing. Plus I met some wonderful local writers.


You meet the nicest people at Malice. Here I’m with Dru Ann Love, Aimee Hix, Shari Randall, and Kathryn O’Sullivan

Malice Domestic in Bethesda, Maryland was life changing in so many ways. (I gave them a shout out in the acknowledgements of Tagged For Death.) I also made a lot of friends there and met Julie Hennrikus who told me about the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime and Crime Bake and of course became my dear, dear friend.

When I joined the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crimes Hallie Ephron, Roberta Isleib (aka Lucy Burdette), and Hank Phillippi Ryan were the head honchos of the chapter. They are all amazingly generous to me and so many other writers.

Crime Bake gave me a chance to meet authors, agents (lots of rejections), and pre-published friends.

seascapeSeacape run by Hallie Ephron, Roberta Isleib, and S.W. Hubbard (the year I attended). Never has so much learning and opportunity been packed into less than forty-eight hours. But even more important were the friendships that were formed. I met Edith Maxwell, Liz Mugavero, Barbara Ross, and Kim Gray that weekend – Wicked Cozy Authors wasn’t even a twinkle in our eye then. I also met Ramona DeFelice Long, and Christine Hillman who is from Australia – both are amazing women and writers.

Then of course there’s Barbara Ross who thought of me when agent John Talbot asked her if she knew anyone who could write a series about garage sales.


Photo by Meg Manion Silliker

And there are my dear Wickeds. What would I do without all of you?!

When I moved back to Virginia I joined the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime and found another group of people who encourage and support me in so many ways.

I’m also very grateful to so many friends, readers, bloggers, and reviewers who are with me on this journey.

So with all this talk of the past why did I title the post “In The Middle”? I realized I get to help other writers now. It is so much fun! And I have had such gracious examples of how to do that from people who have helped me in the past and continue to help me now.

There are so many ways to help other writers. Sometimes it’s reading a manuscript and making suggestions. Or it’s saying to someone my agent is looking for someone to write a series. It could be an introduction, just an encouraging word, writing a blurb for someone, or telling people to join Sisters in Crime.

A few weeks ago I did a panel on getting published with Maya Corrigan and Kathryn O’Sullivan at the Barnes and Noble in Fairfax, VA. We had a small but enthusiastic crowd. We ended up talking to a man for quite a while after the panel and encouraged him to join Sisters in Crime.

Photo by Eleanor Carwood Jones who took the selfie!

Photo by Eleanor Carwood Jones who took the selfie!

Last weekend was the Chesapeake Chapter Mystery Extravaganza where chapter members who’ve published a book or short story during the year get a couple of minutes to talk about their work. While I was up at the podium talking I spotted someone in the crowd and thought that guy looks familiar. I started racking my brain to figure out why (I think I kept talking while that was going on).

Then I realized it was the man from the Barnes and Noble panel. I had a chance to speak with him after the event was over. His eyes lit up and he said he’d written eight chapters since the panel. That he’d put off grading papers (he’s a high school psychology teacher) and doing things around the house to write. Seeing his enthusiasm warmed my heart.

Being in the middle is a wonderful place to be.

threebooksReaders: Who have you given a hand up to?

I’m giving away a set of all three Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries to one reader. Leave a comment for a chance to win.




Wicked Wednesday: Dru Ann on Stick at Crime Bake

The fabulous book blogger and cozy mystery reviewer Dru Ann Love won our contest to accompany the Wicked Cozies to Crime Bake on a stick. (You can find Dru’s blog here and on Facebook here.) We’re happy to report that Dru Ann had a wonderful time. In fact, you could say she was the Belle of the Ball.

Here are but some of the photos of Dru-Ann-on-a-Stick at the New England Crime Bake.

Dru Ann arrives at Crime Bake and finds Robin Templeton, Liz Mugavero and Sheila Connolly at the bar.

Dru Ann arrives at Crime Bake and finds Robin Templeton, Liz Mugavero and Sheila Connolly at the bar.

Next Dru Ann spots guest of honor Craig Johnson talking with Julie Hennrikus.

Next Dru Ann spots guest of honor Craig Johnson talking with Julie Hennrikus.


Sherry and Jessie are so glad to see Dru Ann!

Sherry and Jessie are so glad to see Dru Ann!







Roberta Islieb aka Lucy Burdette is so happy to see Dru Ann!

Roberta Isleib aka Lucy Burdette is so happy to see Dru Ann!

Shari Randall is surprised to see Dru Ann at Crime Bake.

Shari Randall is surprised to see Dru Ann at Crime Bake.








Dru Ann gets her sheriff's badge.

Dru Ann gets her sheriff’s badge.


Dru Ann talks with author Vicki Doudera.

Dru Ann talks with author Vicki Doudera.








Dru Ann visits with author James Hayman.

Dru Ann visits with author James Hayman.

Dru Ann stops by to see the mock crime scene room and solves the case.

Dru Ann stops by to see the mock crime scene room and solves the case.










After seeing so many authors it's time for lunch.

After seeing so many authors it’s time for lunch.









Dru finds Barbara Ross.

Dru finds Barbara Ross.

Then Dru runs into Barb's husband Bill Carito!

Then Dru runs into Barb’s husband Bill Carito!










After a quick cup of coffee Dru decides it's time to get ready for the banquet.

After a quick cup of coffee Dru decides it’s time to get ready for the banquet.










Dru hopes to do some line dancing in her red boots.

Dru hopes to do some line dancing in her red boots.

On the way to the banquet Dru stops to have a drink with private investigator and author John Nardizzi.

On the way to the banquet Dru stops to have a drink with private investigator and author John Nardizzi.

Julie Hennrikus makes sure Dru has a cowboy hat for the banquet.

Julie Hennrikus makes sure Dru has a cowboy hat for the banquet.










Dru peaks over Craig Johnson's shoulder to watch the line dancing.

Flat Dru Ann and Flat Craig are looking for Flat Stanley to go have a drink.










Dru shows off her bareback riding skills.

Dru shows off her bareback riding skills.

Time for the banquet.

Time for the banquet.




It's time to partee!

It’s time to partee!

Dru stops by to say hi to Hank Phillipi Ryan

Dru stops by to say hi to Hank Phillippi Ryan


Sheriff Edith, Dru Ann, Shari Randall, and Kim Gray!


Sheriff Edith cuffs Dru. What was the crime?


Dru and the girls party down.


All the Wickeds, regular guests, and fan Dru Ann!


After a long day Dru is happy to go to bed.

After an action packed weekend Dru is happy to go to bed.

Readers: Did any of you spot Dru Ann at Crime Bake? Who’s up for going on a stick to Malice Domestic?


by Barbara Ross
on the seacoast, in Maine

Recently, Jessie wrote a one-word titled post, “Kindness.” That got me thinking about maybe doing a series of posts with one-word titles. The one I have to pick right now is “Gratitude.”

Clammed UpIf you had told me, three years ago, or even two, that a book by me would be sitting right there on the shelf at Barnes & Noble between Kathy Reichs and Hank Phillippi Ryan, I would have told you, you were crazy.

But it happened. And it continues to happen. Clammed Up has been well-reviewed and on the B&N in-store Mass Market paperback bestseller list for three weeks now. The audio and large print rights have been sold.

Which is even more unbelievable.

So I want to take a moment to be grateful. Because I know it takes a special combination of luck and timing for all this to have happened for me.

Luck, timing and support.

Writing is a solitary pursuit, but it really takes a village to publish a book.

So thank you, thank you, thank you.

To my fabulous writer’s group of seventeen years–Mark Ammons, Kathy Fast, Cheryl Marceau and Leslie Wheeler. They kept me writing during all the years of kids and jobs, when it would have been so easy to give up. And they have taught me more than anybody.

To Sisters in Crime New England and the New England Crime Bake. Especially to 2011 SinCNE President Sheila Connolly who fielded an inquiry from agent John Talbot, vetted it and sent it to the group.

To the Maine Crime Writers, who took a chance on me when I had only one book published and was only a summer resident of Maine. They gave me the desire not only to write a book about Maine, but to get it right.

To my agent, John Talbot who had a vision and sold the series, my editor John Scognamiglio and the entire team at Kensington. Consummate professionals.

To the Grub Street Launch Lab pilot class. What an amazing, inspiring, crazy smart, crazy talented group. If you are a writer in Boston and you haven’t used the resource that is Grub Street, do it now. If you’re not in Boston, Grub is now offering online classes, and the Launch Lab is scheduled so out-of-towners can attend.

The Wicked Cozys

The Wicked Cozies

To the teachers at Seascape, Roberta Isleib (Lucy Burdette), Hallie Ephron and S.W. Hubbard and everyone in the class of ’09.

To the Wicked Cozies. My sisters in arms. I can’t tell you what its meant to have gone through this together.

barbandviolaAnd finally to my family. My kids, my new grandchild. Especially my brother Rip Ross without whom I never would have finished the second book in the series this summer.

And most especially my husband, Bill Carito.

The dedication to Clammed Up reads:

This book is dedicated to Bill Carito, my best friend, the love of my life, who has supported me in everything I’ve ever done. Honey, I’m sorry I got mad at you for breathing while I was trying to write.

I think that says it all.

Manuscript Sent — What’s Next?

By Sherry Harris

Last week the Wickeds and I had a conversation about what they did the day after hitting the send button. I’m looking forward (in November) to my “day after” submission and asked some fellow authors what they did after hitting send.

Sheila Connolly: Start the next book? Kidding, I think. My editor is usually so backed up that I know I won’t see edits for months, so I can stop thinking about that book for a while. I guess the next step is to purge the finished book from my mind to make room for whatever the next one is—and there usually is one. So I have to forcibly evict one set of characters to let the others in for their time on stage.

I don’t seem to know what to do with down time. Something physical. I’ve re-caned four chairs, and I’m currently stripping a side table to refinish. It’s nice to switch gears and do something that has a physical result. Mind you, it took me ten years to get those chairs done, and I’m a year into the stripping process now!

il_fullxfull.2283478601Barb Goffman: It’s exciting to reach the point of submitting a short story. By that point I’ve plugged any plot holes. I’ve added description (something I tend to forget during the first draft). I’ve polished the writing and have reached the point where I’m happy—perhaps delighted—with the story. I’m hopeful, every hopeful, that the editor will like it, too. So I hit send (or, in some cases, mail the story at the post office) and then…I obsess about the story.

Yep. For a day or two at least, my mind will return to the story over and over. Has the editor read it yet? (Hardly likely.) Is she reading it right now? Maybe this will be an unusual case and I’ll hear a glowing “I love it” right away. (Dare to dream.) At the same time, I’ll be mentally slapping my cheek, telling myself to stop obsessing; I won’t hear for a while so I should think about something else. Anything else.

Sometimes that something else will be another story. Coming up with an idea, making notes, (cleaning up my desk’s notes from the prior story to make room for the new notes), and writing. Blessed writing. It helps if I have a deadline approaching, as I work well under pressure.

11040535-bucket-and-window-cleaning-equipment-over-white-backgroundRoberta Isleib (aka Lucy Burdette): Unbelievable as it might sound, I’ve been saving the job of rooting through my closet and throwing out clothes for after the manuscript was turned in J. So I headed there as soon as I hit send. In the pile: long underwear for skiing (I haven’t been 8iin ten years and can’t imagine going again. Besides, there’s not much call for long underwear in Key West! Also going to get a pedicure. And tackle the long “to-do” list on my desk. And make almond cloud cookies. And go to the library tomorrow to look at children’s picture books—might be my next project. And of course, immediately thought of some ideas that might make the book stronger—restrained myself from emailing editor and asking for it back. I’ll see it again soon anyway…

Toni L.P. Kelner: Panic is definitely on the list, but the major steps are: 1) Do the happy dance 2) Play a computer game or two or three 3) Start obsessively watching email from my editor to see if she likes it.

Edith Maxwell: I felt like a weight was lifted the day after I submitted my second Local Foods mystery. I set up Scrivener and went through the tutorial. I spent some time in the historical archives of my town library, researching for another series. I brainstormed Book Three! I wanted to go to the beach, but those pesky rainstorms and threatened tornadoes kept me away. I fully intended to open the bottle of chilled champagne but settled for a nice G&T instead.

Liz Mugavero: Ugh, my day after was spent in an 8 hour class studying for my Series 6 license. Yep, I sure know how to party! In the evening I went to my Chinese healer for some Tong Ren therapy. And of course, I worried about both the last one and the next one!

mixed-drinkKathryn O’Sullivan:  The first thing I do, since I’ve usually been in my writer’s cave as a deadline approaches, is take a shower. Then I go out to eat with my husband and have a key lime or lemon drop martini (or some other tasty concoction) to celebrate. The next day I tackle cleaning my office and, inevitably, my mind drifts back to the manuscript or play that I sent off and I panic about something I’d already like to rewrite or change.

Sara Rosett: After I send the manuscript off, I usually do something to celebrate. Go see a movie, dinner at my favorite Mexican food restaurant, something like that. I always say I’m going to take a day to relax, but I’m always thinking about the next book–plotting and planning in my head even when I’m “off.”

Barbara Ross: The day after I handed book one in, I also took a class. It was the last day of the Grub Street Launch Lab, and I was desperate to go, to the point I handed in the book a day early. This time I’m supposed to be going to Ecuador (to join Julian Assange and Ed Snowden?) the day after I hand my book in. Oy.

What do you do after submitting your manuscript? Celebrate? Panic? Or plot– there seems to be a lot of plotting going on!