A Wicked Excellent Retreat

by Julie, still basking in the glow of hard work, good food, and wonderful friends

A WICKED EXCELLENT RETREATSix years ago Jessie, Barb, Edith and Liz had newly minted contracts, and decided to get together for a weekend to figure out what that meant. The next year Sherry had a contract, and she and I were invited to join the weekend retreat. That weekend the Wickeds were born. We got the blog up a few weeks later, in time for Liz’s release, followed shortly by Edith and Barb.

My contract came through shortly thereafter, and the six of us have been gathering for this 48 hour retreat ever since. Some years have been mostly about writing. This year the focus was on the business of being a Wicked. That isn’t to say that there wasn’t laughter, great food, lots of wine, and fabulous conversations. There was all of that, and more. But five years into this community that we all cherish, we had conversations about how to continue to build, celebrate our successes, support one another through deadlines, and navigate the twists of turns of life.

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We are six very different women, with different points of view. We don’t always agree, but we do always listen to one another. Over these six years we’ve become friends, certainly. We’ve also come to respect one another enormously, respect our paths, and offer advice when asked for it.

This year we helped each other plot, met up with Lea Wait (who’s new book Death and a Pot of Chowder by Cornelia Kidd comes out tomorrow!), talked about an editorial calendar for the blog, had a conversation about the book business that lasted the better part of a morning, shared new skills with each other, created some new work flow for the blog, and wrote down releases and deadlines through 2019. My mind is whirring, but I’m excited about the conversations, and rejuvenated by spending time with my friends. I know you will all love these new ideas, which we’ll be rolling out this summer.

One personal note–as I mentioned earlier, I did not have a contract when I joined the blog. I will forever be grateful to these women for inviting me on board, lifting me up along my journey, and becoming dear friends. We’ve been figuring out the best way to be Wickeds along the way, and are so grateful to you, dear readers, for coming along with us.

Readers, do you go on retreat with friends? Tell us about it in the comments!

Wickeds, what did I miss in my recap?

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.

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE WICKEDS!

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Dear Readers, as we ring in the new year, we wanted to take a moment and thank all of you, from the bottom of our hearts, for being part of this wicked excellent adventure. You mean the world to us!  In that spirit, each of us will offer a toast for the new year!

Jessie: May any sleepless nights be caused by good books and any stomach aches from fits of laughter.

Edith: May we take a minute each day to tell and show our loved ones we love them, because, while life is good, it can be unpredictably short.

Sheila: It is a privilege to be part of the writers’ community, and we’re so glad you’re sharing it with us!

Sherry: My toast is one of thanks. When we started this blog five years ago this May we had no idea what was ahead. You, our readers, have made me laugh and cry with your stories. So thank you for what you’ve given us. Cheers.

Liz: To good friends, good books and the best year ever for all of us!

Barb: To health and happiness, love and fulfillment.

Julie: My toast is to you, dear readers. Our Wicked community has grown over the years, and your ongoing support of this blogs, our books, and the mystery genre is a tonic. Happy New Year to you all–with great thanks.

Happy New Year to all! We look forward to many Wicked Cozy adventures throughout 2018!

Happy Double Launch Day!

By Liz/Cate and Julie/Julianne

Woo hoo! We have lots to celebrate today! It’s launch day for Chime and Punishment, the third in  Julianne Holmes’ Clock Shop Mystery Series, and Cat About Town, the first in Cate Conte’s Cat Cafe Mystery Series!

Picture of Cate Conte's CAT ABOUT TOWN and Julianne Holmes's CHIME AND PUNISHMENT with the caption DOUBLE LAUNCH DAY

To commemorate this huge day, Julie and I are going to discuss a few of our favorite topics: Cats, writing, and maybe even cafes and clocks. So let’s start with the nitty gritty writing stuff – Julie, what was it like to write the third book in this awesome series?

Liz, it was wonderful to revisit Orchard, Massachusetts and talk more about the adventures of Ruth Clagan as she works on getting the clock tower in the Town Hall. It was important to me that folks could read this as a stand-alone, but that folks who have read Just Killing Time and Clock and Dagger could revisit with familiar characters and see what happened on some arcing stories.

Liz, what was it like for you to create a new series? Was it easier or more fun this time around?

You know, I wouldn’t say easy…it’s harder to start from scratch, I think. The Pawsitively books have a cast of characters I’m so familiar with at this point, it’s easier to imagine them in their little town, going about their business. But there’s something to be said for jumping into a whole new world and a new character’s head. I wrote this book in first person instead of third, which was different, and it actually seemed a bit easier, which was surprising to me. But I really did slip right into Maddie James’s head, and found her voice right away. And I loved writing about her cat rescue antics!

So Julie, speaking of cats…what’s your fictional furry friend up to? Does Bezel have a big part in the book?

Bezel always has a role in these books, though Ruth spends most of this book out of the shop, and Bezel is an indoor cat. The importance of Bezel is the love she and Ruth have established. Bezel grounds Ruth. Speaking of cats, tell me about the cat on the cover your new book!

The infamous Junkyard Johnny! The cat on the cover happens to be the fictional version of my real life cat of the same name, JJ for short. In the book, Maddie finds JJ in the cemetery, but she figures he could very well have lived in the junkyard, so it works. In the real JJ’s case, he was living in a junkyard in New Hampshire when he was rescued. An interesting fact about the real JJ – he’s on Prozac because of his hatred for fluffy cats!  Poor Tuffy, who’s the inspiration for Nutty in the Pawsitively series, would get beat up all the time. So JJ had to get some help for his behavior.

And last question for you Julie – you must’ve visited a few clock shops when researching this series. Tell us about your favorite, and why!

The Clockfolk of New England have been my go to clockmakers. Last year, David Roberts took me up to a clock tower to help me really understand how they work, and what it feels like to be in the tower. I have also visited the American Clock and Watch Museum in Bristol CT. WONDERFUL place to be inspired by clocks.

Your last question Liz, tell us about the business Maddie James runs. We’re all going to be spending a lot of time there–give us the inside scoop! Is it based on a real place?

So, cat cafes are real things, but mine is going to be very different from the ones you’d find on an urban streetcorner, which is where they usually live. The way the cafe comes to life plays out during the first book, so I don’t want to give too much away just yet. But I hope you love it!

Julie, this was so much fun! So happy to be sharing launch day with you. Readers, are you looking forward to these two books? We hope so!!

Popcorn Alert: SITE UNSEEN on Hallmark this Sunday!

By Julie, finding it hard to believe it is already June

full size DC for CrimespreemagFriends, we are so excited to celebrate some wonderful news from our friend Dana Cameron on the blog today. Dana’s book, Site Unseen, is going to be a Hallmark movie! It premieres on Sunday June 4 on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel. A few of us will be tweeting during the show–follow the hashtag #Sleuthers and #EmmaFielding

A personal note about Dana. I met her at Malice Domestic many years ago. She was then the vice-president of Sisters in Crime New England, and encouraged my friend and I to join. I may have found my way to this organization that changed my life, but her kindness made me feel welcome.

siteunseen_cropSite Unseen is the first in her Emma Fielding mystery series. I love this series, and can’t wait to see how they adapted it for television. Most importantly, we Wickeds are wicked happy for our friend. I emailed Dana a few questions about her road to Hallmark.

Tell us about the books, and how you came to write them?

DANA: I’d always loved reading, but never thought I’d be a writer, because I thought you had to have “adventures” to write. I was happier with the opposite of “adventures,” which to me was spending time in the library. So I decided by the time I was ten to be an archaeologist, and it was a job I’ve always loved.

Fast forward many years later, and a looter with a metal detector showed up on an archaeological site where I was working with a colleague. When we protested, he pulled a pistol on us. Eventually he left, but at the time, it was really scary. We reported the incident and that was that. Or so I thought.

Months later, I told a friend about this, along with some other “interesting” things that had happened to me and my colleagues in the course of doing fieldwork, and she said that I needed to write it down. Suddenly, that instinct I had as a kid came back. I tried writing a mystery, because I’d always loved them, and after a lot of drafts, and a lot of good, tough criticism, I had a book. That sounds quick but it was a process that about took eight years until the first book came out.

When did you hear that Hallmark was interested in making a movie? What was that like?

site unseen slateDANA: I heard there was interest in optioning the books in late summer of 2016, and we finalized and announced the deal in November. After that, I celebrated and then went back to work, because it’s usually such a long shot that an option will be exercised. And then in February of this year, I got a call from Muse Entertainment that they were developing Site Unseen, most likely for Hallmark Movies and Mysteries; in March, the movie was greenlit, with Courtney Thorne-Smith attached. And in April, I was visiting the sets in Victoria, B.C.!

It all happened so quickly that it didn’t become real until I saw the Maine state flag flying over a Canadian town hall that was standing in for the sheriff’s office and the words “Site Unseen” on the marker! Since then, my feet haven’t left the ground, and I’m given to spontaneous bursts of dancing.

Wow, that is fast! We’d be dancing too! Was that a dream of yours?

DANA: It had been, of course—I think it’s a dream of every writer to see their work performed—but since it’s been about ten years since the most recent book in the series came out, Ashes and Bones, I thought the time was past for Emma to reach an audience in another medium. I spent the time since then writing my urban fantasy series, lots of short fiction, and finishing the historical noir novel based on my Anna Hoyt short stories. So this interest was a real surprise!

When the series started, my goal was to show what real fieldwork was like. With a few notable exceptions (including Elizabeth Peters and Aaron Elkins), a lot of books treat archaeology as merely an excuse for an exotic setting or a source of obsessive characters. I loved teaching, and it had always been a goal of mine to bring some of that to my books, using situations very loosely based on my own experiences. To be able to bring Emma to a wider audience, and know how hard the screen writer, cast, and crew have worked to keep her passion for science and archaeology—and justice—central to the project is absolutely a dream come true!

We couldn’t be happier for you, and can’t wait to tune in on Sunday night at 9/8C!

DANA: Julie, thanks to you and the Wickeds for the chance to chat with you!

The world premiere of “Site Unseen: An Emma Fielding Mystery” is June 4, 9/8C on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

Movie Info:
Stars: Courtney Thorne-Smith and James Tupper.

Brilliant, dedicated, and driven, archaeologist Emma Fielding is trying to unearth evidence of a 17th century coastal Maine settlement that predates Jamestown, one of the most significant archaeological finds in years. But the dead body that accompanies it has embroiled Emma and her students in a different kind of exploration.

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Here are some clips from the show:

 

 

A Santa Bonanza!

Look what Santa brought, dear Reader! The Wickeds’ 2016 books. Of course, 2017 will bring many more by all of us, so please stay tuned.

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Thank you for being part of our Wicked Cozy community. We value your comments and company, and have so enjoyed getting to know you over these years.

Whatever holiday you celebrate (or don’t), we wish you a quiet cozy time of family, good food, and most important, reading!

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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