Wicked Wednesday: Our 2018 Books!

Wicked Wednesday!We Wickeds were busy in 2017, and 2018 will be proof of that. Friends, what books under which names will be released when?

Liz: Cate Conte’s second Cat Cafe Mystery, Purrder, She Wrote, will be out next August. The 7th Pawsitively Organic Mystery, Murder, She Meowed, will be out next fall/winter sometime – no pub date yet!

Sherry: I Know What You Bid Last Summer the fifth Sarah Winston Garage Sale mystery releases on February 27th! And I think The Gun Also Rises (book six) will come out at the end of December. Like Liz, I’m waiting to hear for sure.

Barb: Yule Log Murder, the holiday novella collection by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and me comes out October 30, 2018. Steamed Open, the seventh Maine Clambake Mystery, comes out December 25, 2018.

Edith: Biscuits and Slashed Browns, Country Store Mystery #4, comes out in six days (written as Maddie Day)! The third Quaker Midwife Mystery, Turning the Tide, releases on April 8, followed shortly by my short story, “A Divination of Death” in Mystery Most Geographical, the Malice Domestic anthology which releases at Malice at the end of April. Mulch Ado About Murder, Local Foods Mystery #5, comes out in paperback June 26. And Death Over Easy, Country Store Mystery #5 (also written as Maddie Day), will be out at the end of July. Yes, it’s a busy year for me.

Jessie: I am looking forward to the release of the paperback version of Murder in an English Village in August. The second Beryl and Edwina Mystery, Murder Flies the Coop, launches a month later, at the end of September. And, I have plans to finally make the second Granite State Mystery, Body of Water, available. Look for it between June and August!

Julie: In 2018 I will have one book coming out–the next in my Theater Cop series, With A Kiss I Die. It will come out on September 8.  Can’t wait for you all to read Sully’s next adventure!

Writer friends, tell us about your 2018 books! Reader friends, any 2018 titles you’re particularly looking forward to?

Wicked Wednesday: Writing Goals for 2018

Wicked Wednesday!Well Wickeds, what are your writing goals for this new year? Are you using any new tools, or programs, to help? Let us know!

Jessie: I ordered the Plot Your work planner for 2018. I have loaded some projects into it and am pleased with the way it takes so many parts of the job into consideration. There is a lot to it and it can feel a bit daunting but for planner enthusiasts who are writers I would highly recommend giving it a look.

Liz: I ordered it too, Jessie! I’m diving in now. So actually using it is one of my goals…aside from that, I have three books to write and a non-contracted book that I’m desperately trying to revise and move forward with.

Sherry: Turning in three Sarah books in the last twelve months (okay one hasn’t been turned in yet but is due on February 1st) has kept me from writing much else. I started a light romance in June and it’s about halfway done. I’m looking forward to finishing it. I’m also writing a short story that’s due in June. Short stories are a huge challenge for me. And then my head is overflowing with ideas — everything from Sarah to new series ideas.

Edith: I have three and a half books to write from now until January, so my writing goal beyond finishing those on time is modest: write one new short story, my best yet. I’ve had a few glimmers of inspiration dancing around for a suspense novel, and if they make themselves more clear I’ll try to arrange some time for looking at that, too.

Barb: This year I want to write something really funny. Not only with the gentle humor that I hope readers find in the Maine Clambake Mysteries, but laugh-out-loud funny. I want to write a novel-length book in the third person. I want the eighth, as yet untitled, Maine Clambake Mystery to be the best book in the series to date. I’m daunted by each of these, but I think that’s good with goals.

Julie: Thanks to Jessie’s recommendation, I have the Plot Your Work Planner as well, and have been using it to do that, and to figure out how I am going to get it all done this year. I have two books on contract. I also have a suspense novel that is tapping on my brain. Like Barb, my goal is to stretch myself as a writer. Push to make these my best work, stretch to test new genres, and to dream about other goals. My other big writing goal is to give everything a chance to sit and marinate for a bit before I edit-that is a question of managing time.

Writer friends, what are your goals for 2018? Readers, work goals? Craft goals? Reading goals?

Wicked Wednesday: Business Goals for 2018

Wicked Wednesday!The Wickeds are working on their goals for the new year, and today we’re weighing in on goals for our author businesses. These may be different than writing goals, and could include new websites, podcasts, Pinterest or more!

Jessie: I will be starting work on another historical series. I am chomping at the bit to get going on it and I am already planning a research trip to D.C. very shortly in order to get a proposal written.

Edith: I wish my goal were to get more organized on my author record-keeping, especially in the financial area, but I’m afraid I wouldn’t meet it. I know my limits, and my 2018 and 2019 are already pretty overloaded, so I won’t even try.  I already accomplished the new web site last fall and I love it, but it’s a new platform, so I’ll set my business goal as getting more comfortable with the format and being able to easily post to the site myself (instead of paying my web designer to do it).

Liz: I’ve been taking some steps to approach my writing as more of a business, and this year I want to up my game even more. A website refresh is definitely on my list. My alter ego, Cate, needs some love, both on the website and marketing materials front, so that’s probably my first goal.

Sherry: I want to get out there and meet more people. I’m excited about a couple of upcoming trips this spring. And I need to finally get going on a newsletter something I’ve been reluctant to do. And my website could use a refresh too!

Barb: I’d like to make a financial investment in my writing career this year. I figure the most important thing I can buy myself is time, so I am investigating hiring a virtual assistant.

Julie: In 2019 there will be another JH name launched, and I want to spend this year prepping for that, and supporting Julianne Holmes and J.A. Hennrikus. I’d like to up my game regarding marketing, and connecting. Like Sherry, I may figure out a newsletter. (Do readers like newsletters?) I look forward to hearing how Barb’s virtual assistant works out as well. Very tempting.

Readers, do you have any business goals looming in this new year? Any skills you want to add to your toolbox?

Wicked Wednesday: Fun Goals for 2018

Wicked Wednesday!This month is a renewal month for many of us, so on Wednesdays we’re going to talk about goals of all sorts. Today the Wickeds weigh in on their fun goals for 2018!

Jessie: I am planning to start a podcast with one of my sons. It is an entirely new arena for me and I am really looking forward to it! We already have a theme, a name and some topics planned so I look forward to getting it underway before the year is out.

Edith: My goal is to spend regular time with my cherished young friends, Miss B and Mr. J. Because nothing is more fun than laughing with children (who, without asking my permission, are rapidly getting older, and threatening to get taller than me month by month).

Liz: I’m going to plan a trip this year – somewhere I want to go, when I feel like going. Usually I plan around other people, which often means my plans are edited or cancelled altogether. This year, I’m doing something for myself.

Julie: I am going to paint, with water colors. I have heretofore no known skills as a visual artist, but I have a niece who is very talented, and she’s inspiring me to try and develop my skills. I’ve realized over the years that many artistic or craft endeavors take practice, and that by quitting too soon I am short changing myself. Looking forward to exploring this side of myself.

Barb: Usually I do set goals in January, which is both the new year and my birthday month. But this year I have both a book and a novella due February 1–so I am going to kick the can down the road a little. 2017 was a busy year for me. I told at least half a dozen people, “Now that I’m in Maine, let’s get together for lunch (coffee, dinner, drinks, dessert).” I didn’t do it. Not a one. So this year, I am definitely doing that.

Sherry: My goal is much like Barb’s. I want to spend more time with friends going on adventures. My husband just took a class for his job that said laughter releases the same endorphins as running. So I plan on laughing a lot this year!

And you, dear readers, what is your fun goal for 2018?

Wicked Wednesday: Planners


Ink & Volt Planner, decorated by Julie

Well, it is 2017, and we all know what that means. Time to break out a new planner! For some of us, this decision took up a lot of time in late 2016. Wickeds, do you use a paper planner? Any particular brand? Do you use it for all aspects of your life, or one part only? What do you like best about your system? Let us know!

Liz: I love planners. I love planning for planners. And I love trying new ones. I have a couple that are high on my list to try, but towards the end of last year I got the Rituals for Living Dreambook and Planner from Dragontree. It doesn’t have pre-populated dates so you can start whenever. There’s a lot of planning involved meant to help you articulate your dreams and goals so the actual work makes sense and is following a path. I did a lot of the pre-work at the end of the year and now I’m looking forward to trying the actual monthly planning piece. It breaks it down as nitty-gritty as you want, with monthly/quarterly/yearly goals, monthly/weekly/daily tasks and life planning, and even gratitude reflections. I’ll let you all know how it turns out!

Jessie: Like Liz, I adore planners. I find that by writing things out by hand I manage to meet more of my goals. This year I am using a new planner from Ink and Volt and so far, it is all I could ask of a time management/ course setting tool. It has a great weekly spread with just the sort of flexible structure that helps me to mindfully manage my time without squeezing the joy from my existence. There are monthly goals and a habit tracker which I am using to develop a meditation practice. Since I work from home I use a single planner for my professional and private life. I have a second notebook that I use to track quarterly goals, evaluate my long-term plans and to record appreciations on a weekly basis. I know that sort of planning isn’t for everyone but it has worked extraordinarily well for me for several years. In fact, I don’t believe I would have my career without it.

plannerBarb: I love my planner. That must be a writer thing, based on what Liz and Jessie said above. However, being a person who loves her routines, I didn’t search out a new one this year. I’ve been using a Levenger Circa junior-sized notebook for almost two decades. I use the monthly calendar tabs as dividers and all my notes– business, volunteer, vacation journals, writing, home life, to-dos, etc.–are chronological. After three or four months, I archive the calendar pages and notes. I just did this for September-December 2016. I’ve found over the years, that I can remember when something happened much more easily than accessing the information any other way, so the chrono style suites me much better than dividing things into categories, some of which, inevitably don’t make sense in the long run. The one exception is my current book or short story. Because the Circa pages are so easy to move, I can take notes out of my chrono notebook and put them into the notebooks housing my writing projects. My husband makes fun of me for still using a paper calendar. But then, during our more-or-less-weekly meetings to sync up, I make fun of him because he has to wait for his computer to boot up and then needs all the details in order to make an entry.

Sherry: Oh, Barb — it’s not an all writers thing. I use my phone and my calendar for planning. My husband and I share a calendar so we can see each other’s events. It’s cold, it’s sterile, but it works for me. However, Liz was here over the weekend and she was looking at planners while we were out. I have to say her enthusiasm for them and all the beautiful ones we saw did tempt me. But did I succumb? No. I’ll make a note about it on my phone and set a reminder.

Barb: Sherry, laughing at this! I do think if my husband and I shared a calendar, we’d be better informed. But then we’d miss all those lovely “discussions.”

Jessie: Barb, my husband and I sit down every Sunday for a weekly planning and appreciations/goals date. It is one of the highlights of our week together. I had no idea anyone else did that!

Edith: I don’t use a planner and I still use a paper calendar – two, in fact, plus a table EdithCalendarof due dates and release dates. This year I finally got comfortable with my Google calendar, and I love that it syncs itself between my phone and my computers. (That SO ages me – of course our phones are also computers these days! Oh, well. I claim my position as the oldest Wicked and I’m proud of it. I earned these wisdom wrinkles.) The picture to the right is from two years ago. Nothing but the year has changed on the wall in front of my desk. I love my Tibetan Nuns Project calendar. It’s compact, easy to carry somewhere, and doesn’t take up a lot of real estate. And I also “archive” my calendars – that is, I don’t throw them away and can check back to see when something happened or where I went.

However, my additional responsibilities as President of Sisters in Crime New England has already overtaxed my planning skills, and it’s only been four days… I’ll figure something out. And for writing, I just put everything in Scrivener. So far it’s working for me. Why change that?


Last Year’s Decorated Planner Pad

Julie: I am a planner addict as well. In fact, Jessie introduced me to Ink and Volt, and so far I LOVE IT. Because of the way it is structured, around yearly and monthly goal setting, it inspires. But since time isn’t broken down into hours, but instead in blocks, it melds well with my “at some point this afternoon I have to write thank you note to donors” rather than “I failed because it was scheduled from 1-2, and something else happened.” I also use Google calendars for meetings and appointments, and update the paper calendar daily, but writing things down, including notes, color coding, making accountability lists? I love it. I was a huge Franklin Covey fan, so I use parts of that system as well. I also have a Bullet Journal that I use for notes, plotting, inspiring quotes. Basically, my planner is a diary that helps me stay organized. Other great planners include the Passion Planner and Planner Pad. I am intrigued by Liz’s Dragontree Planner, and may explore that when I have more time to noodle.


Friends, do you use a paper planner? What system do you use? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share?





Wicked Wednesday: Stress Busters

By Julie, overwhelmed in Somerville.

Friends, this time of year can be a big ball of stress for folks. Wickeds, what is your favorite way to bust stress? Naps, meditation, herbal tea, boxing–what is your img_0507secret? If you don’t have one, what would you like to try?

Jessie: I knit. I pull out a pair of needles, a ball of yarn and a pattern that is engaging
enough to hold my attention but easy enough not to lead to frustration. Within very few minutes I feel centered and much more like my best self.

Edith: Boxing! What a thought. I took a kick-boxing class a few (okay, eight) years ago and LOVED it. I remembered my karate roundhouse kicks, the horse stance, the best way to punch. I barely kept up, energy- and heart-rate wise with all the younger members of the class, but I was deeply into it … until I blew out my hamstring. I hobbled home and never went back, but you can’t beat complete exhaustion for stress-busting. Now my img_0612fresh-air power walk has to suffice as a stress-buster, or with enough snow, a good hour of cross-country skiing.

Sherry: Read! Books have been my escape for years — my drug of choice because they take me away from my problems and transport me to another world. And also walking. Because we don’t have a fenced yard I walk my dog Lily several times a day. Even when the weather is terrible it’s usually good to be outside if only for a few minutes.

Liz: I love kickboxing too, Edith! I’ve been doing a program called Combat on and off the past few years – it’s a mixed martial arts workout and it’s pretty awesome. That said, lately I’ve been more of a yoga person. Having been practicing fairly regularly since the summer, I am finding it truly is the best thing for mind, body and soul. Throw in some meditation and I might be on my way to zen in no time.

Barb: When it comes to holiday stress, I LEAN IN. If I’m not in a holiday mood, the best remedy for me is to “do all the things,”–put up the tree, decorate the house, bake the cookies, open the little doors on the Advent calendar, send out the cards, wrap the presents, have a lovely lunch in a festively decorated restaurant with good friends. By the time the big day rolls around, I am de-stressed and feeling very Christmas-y. Tradition and ritual are what do it for me. As my children have reminded me, both in words and in expectations, the years when you don’t feel like it are the most important times to do it.

Julie: Friends, as always you inspire. I am determined to get better about doing yoga. I recently knit a Christmas project for a friend, and found it really relaxing. I suspect my friends and family are going to benefit from clicking needles in the coming weeks.

Readers: What’s your favorite stress-buster?




Wicked Wednesday: Favorite Cocoa Recipe

By Julie, winding up the semester in Somerville.

cocoa-1A few years ago (three or four) my friend Amy and I went up to the Peabody Essex Museum. Afterwards we wandered around and went into a small shop, where we ordered Mexican hot chocolate. It was made to order, and I didn’t pay enough attention to what they added to the pot. It was sublime. I went back a few months later, and the shop is gone. I can’t recreate it, though I’ve been trying. So, Wickeds, what is your favorite cocoa recipe? Or hciderrumot drink?

Edith: I go simple with hot chocolate when Miss B or Mr. J comes over. Heat milk in the microwave, add a spoonful of Hershey’s chocolate syrup and tiny marshmallows to match their age plus one. They’ve never complained, mostly because they get neither hot chocolate nor marshmallows at home. But for an adult hot beverage, I like to mull local cider slowly with a cinnamon stick and a few whole cloves, and then add a couple of glugs of locally distilled rum. Mmmm!

Sherry: Years ago I lived in Grand Junction, Colorado. One of my favorite places to go (anytime of year) was Aspen, Colorado. It was only a two hour drive. I don’t ski so while my friends were, I’d wander around the shops or admire the Victorian houses in the various neighborhoods. When I tired of that I’d find a restaurant or bar with a view of the slopes and people watch. That’s where I discovered the delights of hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps and a dollop of whipped cream. Yum. So just take your favorite cocoa and add the schnapps and whipped cream and dream about your favorite winter spot.

Edith: I like the sound of that, Sherry! Must acquire some peppermint schnapps ASAP…

Barb: I was in high school when a friend introduced me to frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3 in New York City. It tasted amazing, frozen yet not supersweet–with a real kick like cocoa and lots of whipped cream on top. We thought we were so sophisticated roaming the city on our own. Very World of Henry Orient. Sadly, most of my hot chocolate today comes from a decidedly less glamorous souce–Dunkin Donuts in my Keurig.

Liz: I don’t remember where I first tried it, but butterscotch hot chocolate is absolutely amazing! I drink nut milk instead of regular milk, and it’s delicious with almond milk. I bet it would be even better with cashew milk – I’ll have to try and report back.

Jessie: I feel like such a downer! I absolutely do not like anything milky with chocolate. Not hot cocoa, not chocolate milk, never, ever, chocolate ice cream. As a child I didn’t even eat the chocolate bunnies in my Easter baskets. In fact, I actively disliked chocolate until I was pregnant with my second child. I love eggnog though! And tea and coffee!

Julie: Jessie, one of my holiday favorites are eggnog lattes. YUM. Aside from the elusive Mexican hot chocolate (readers, any ideas?) I like Hershey’s powder, sugar, milk. A dash of vanilla. If I am going the marshmallow route, I go with Fluff.

Readers, any recipes to share? What is your favorite oh-so-cozy hot drink?