I already was nervous about writing a blog introducing myself to Writers Who Kill readers when Elaine Douts (E.B. Davis) asked me for a nefarious picture for the sidebar. Many words, including judge, author, litigator, wife, step-mom, mother of twins, community volunteer, Sisters in Crime Guppy president and national board member, Southeast Mystery Writers vice-president, and loyal friend have been used to describe me, but I’ve rarely been accused of engaging in activities characterized as wicked, evil, sinful, or criminal.
There was a time, early in my career as a trial attorney for the Department of Labor, when I was co-counsel on a case of first impression dealing with equal pay in higher education in the state of Georgia that the other side, when being kind, referred to me as “That Damn Lady Lawyer,” but it was for my hard work digging into the facts and evidence rather than for monstrous behavior. During the years I sat on the bench as a federal Administrative Law Judge, I’m sure the attorneys appearing before me said different things, but I hope most included integrity and fairness as opposed to fiendish or diabolical.
Since my first book, Maze in Blue, a mystery set on the University of Michigan’s campus in the 1970’s, was published in 2011 and won an IPPY award in 2012, the standard headshot I’ve used, as seen above, has been meant to be friendly and open rather than depraved or monstrous. In fact, even though my two novels are mysteries, their covers hint at crime while making it clear they have cozy elements.
2017 allowed me to call myself a “Cover Girl” when my name for two short stories made the covers of the magazines they appeared in. Believe me, I was on top of the world when my best story to that point, The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place, my first attempt to be published by Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine succeeded (May/June 2017). It was icing on the cake when Mystery Weekly featured Day After Thanksgiving Soup on its cover. Each time, I smiled and danced with such abandon that anyone would have been hard-pressed to attach a negative adjective to my behavior.
Faced with a busy schedule and the need to submit a nefarious picture, I mentioned my dilemma to a friend while we were at dinner at another friend’s home on a rainy night. The next thing I knew, she had me sticking my face out from behind the wrought iron of our host’s front door while she snapped a picture with my cellphone. Between the weather and my deliberately stern pose, I thought we had my nefarious picture. My friend wasn’t satisfied. She suggested we create a picture around a colored steam machine. A shout-out to Penny H. who, as you can see from the sidebar picture, captured my nefarious side. The irony is, after a life on the straight and narrow except for my murderous writings, I liked the feeling. Stay tuned – every third Monday.