If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

WWK's May interviews will be: 5/2--indie author Bobbi Holmes, 5/9--TG Wolff (aka--Anita Devito), 5/16--Chocolate Bonbon author Dorothy St. James, 5/23--Lida Sideris, 5/30--Food Lovers' Village (and multiple Agatha winner) Leslie Budwitz. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our May Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 5/5--John Carenen, 5/12--Judy Penz Sheluk, 5/19--Margaret S. Hamilton, 5/26--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), will be available on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here.

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with the authors in this anthology on 4/14! Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in August, 2018.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

For the love of community

by Julie Tollefson

For the last few months, I’ve been slogging through revisions on both a novel-length manuscript and a short story. Some days, I read a bit of something I’ve written in the past and cringe. Some days, I think, “Hey, that’s not half bad.” But the process of revision is daunting and, to be honest, not as much fun as drafting something new. Add in a couple of big life events, and my energy for the work was seriously flagging.

Then last week, I had the pleasure of spending an entire day with a terrific group of writers and readers at an event organized by the Border Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime. Thanks to the grant writing efforts of past president Lisa Harkrader, support from the national SinC organization, and hard work of a team of local members, Border Crimes hosted a one-day workshop with prolific award winning author Rhys Bowen (you might know her as the author of the Royal Spyness series, the Molly Murphy mysteries, the Constable Evans mysteries…). 

Rhys, charming and witty, shared her deep knowledge of the mystery business, from the basics—“Mystery, thriller, suspense: What the heck am I writing?”—to more concrete methods for crafting plot or conveying the nuances of time and place.

Power panel (from left): Lisa Harkrader, Nancy Pickard, Sally Goldenbaum, and Rhys Bowen.

At the end of the day, I had notes filled with good advice. 

Some made me laugh: If you love your character, make her suffer. 

Some made me think: If you’re writing about your own time and place, you have to work harder at observations. It’s much easier for outsiders to see the unique qualities of setting.

Some warmed the heart of this former copy editor: Double check even the things you think you know.

And to my great pleasure, I won first place in a “Mystery Starts” contest held in conjunction with Rhys’s visit. Writers were invited to submit the first 250 words of a mystery. Judges Lisa Harkrader, Nancy Pickard, and Sally Goldenbaum narrowed the entries down to four and Rhys made the final judgment. What a confidence booster!

My excellent raffle prize,
donated by author Denise Osborne.
But the biggest gift of the day came not from the talks or the formal afternoon tea (though the scones were delicious) or the raffle (though I won a terrific set of reference books), but from the energy and enthusiasm of spending a day among people who love to read and write mysteries. There’s a kinship in the mystery community that is hard to beat. I returned home in the evening physically tired but mentally rejuvenated, ready to attack my continuing revisions with a renewed vigor.

And that, to me, is the greatest benefit of belonging to the mystery community in general and Sisters in Crime in particular.

While I’m gushing over my love for Sisters in Crime, I’ll put in a plug for the organization’s Report for Change, the 2016 Publishing Summit Report on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Mystery Community. This document combines stories and research with resources and concrete action steps. For an easy, practical step toward supporting diversity in the mystery community, check out “Frankie’s List: Diverse Mystery Writers” (Appendix A in the report).


Kait said...

Great post, Julie. An interviewer once asked me what I wish I had known about writing before I started. I answered that I wished I had known how warm and accepting the mystery writing community is as it would have helped me overcome the fear factor. Writing conferences, retreats, meetings are wonderful and a great way to recharge.

Thank you for including the link to the SinC Diversity Report. Thirty years ago SinC started as a way to level the playing field for women in a male dominated genre. I'm proud to be a part of an organization that realises that the work is not done and is reaching out to expand the conversation.

Jim Jackson said...

As Kait says, the mystery community is a very warm and welcoming group of people both collectively and individually. It sounds like you had a great experience, Julie. Write on!

~ Jim

Margaret Turkevich said...

I enjoyed learning the ideas that you took away from the conference, particularly to double-check facts you think you know.

Warren Bull said...

I really miss that community of writers.

Julie Tollefson said...

Well said, Kait. SinC's mission is so important.

Jim - Thanks! I'm so glad to be part of this community.

Julie Tollefson said...

Margaret - that tip really struck home for me, too. And Rhys used personal stories to illustrate her point that really drove home how faulty memory can be - something I see in my own life more and more!

Julie Tollefson said...

Warren - we miss you, too! Your contribution to the raffle was thoughtful. Thank you!

KM Rockwood said...

I just came away from my local critique group's monthly breakfast meeting with, as usual, a renewed commitment to settle down to work.

Every once in a while, something I'm working on just zings for me, but I have learned that other people may not have the same reaction.

Fact checking is important. Nothing pulls me (and I suspect many other people) out of a story as quickly as a totally erroneous statement presented as fact. I don't have to agree with opinions, but wrong facts bother me.

Sounds like it was a great meeting, and that you have a great group. I love my SINC chapter, and in many ways I wish I'd joined it earlier. I went to one meeting several years before I joined, and it was so unwelcoming that I didn't think I'd ever go back. Thank you to Gloria Alden, who strongly suggested I give it another try. I'm so glad I did!

Sally Goldenbaum said...

What an informative post. Thank you. You refreshed my recollection on some of the helpful writing tips Rhys made. It was truly a wonderful day, and your novel 'beginning' was wonderful too.
(And Warren, you were thought of and like Julie said, MISSED!)

Linda Rodriguez said...

Great summary of the day, Julie! And thanks for pointing out the diversity report. I"m so pleased that SinC initiated this work and continues with it. We're so lucky to have Sisters in Crime, and I often bless Sara Paretsky and Nancy Pickard for their pioneering work in starting it.

Gloria Alden said...

Julies, what a great day that had to have been. I've heard Rhys Bownen speak more than once and found her delightful. Yes, the mystery writing community is a great one and so accepting. My attendance at Malice Domestic is one of the highlights of my year. Congratulations on winning that award.

Georgia Ruth said...

Julie, the first part of your post sounded as though I had written it. But the ending was different from my experience. I don't have the close connection to SinC mystery writers as I did when I lived in Nashville. However, I have made friendships with several writers whose opinion I value. I do have a tribe. Congratulations on your contest win. That is always a boost.

Shari Randall said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful day! It is so energizing to spend time around other authors. I miss my Virginia SINC group like crazy, but I am very lucky that some new writer friends have embraced me here in CT.

Julie Tollefson said...

Thank you all for your comments and I'm so sorry I didn't respond yesterday. I was in a car most of the day - no Internet!

KM - I get so much out of my local chapter meetings, and the SinC international listserve and publications are so valuable!

Aww, Sally - thank you!

Linda - The work SinC is doing on diversity is so very important. We are lucky.

Gloria - Yes! Rhys was a delight!

Georgia - Thank you! I'm so glad you have a tribe. Writing can be isolating and lonely in many ways, but writing friendships are the best.

Shari - It's so great you've found new writers friends in CT - and can keep the old ones through the miracle of modern technology!