Published in the Albert Lea Tribune August 15, 2016
As my blank mind stared at the computer screen this week and my fingers froze over my keyboard, a friend suggested I should write about my sisters. Sisters? I know, many of you know I have no siblings, but yes, I do have sisters, Sisters in Crime that is.
The title, Sisters In Crime, doesn’t mean we get into trouble and have the law after us, though maybe if you looked at our search history on our computers, the law might be tempted to investigate. Sisters In Crime is a national organization. Its mission statement is to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers. To belong to the state chapter you must belong to the national chapter.
Being new to the writing scene in 2012, I was surprised to hear we had an organization like this in the state of Minnesota. A friend of mine, Allen Eskens, author of “The Life We Bury” and “The Guise of Another,” advised me to join the group. Even though he is not a sister, they accepted him and other brothers into the organization. I took his advice and found by joining the group it provided me with a group that not only supports each other’s writing, but also provides valuable information for writers.
The Twin Cities chapter of Sisters In Crime and Iowa Sisters In Crime, of which I am also a member, (Iowa Sisters, if you are reading this I will pay my dues soon) is comprised of a varied group of writers and guppies, those who belong who don’t have books published yet. Because creative people have different talents and styles of writing, it is a win-win situation because we learn from our differences.
Twin Cities Sisters In Crime and Iowa Sinc meet every month. Unfortunately, I don’t get to attend many meetings because of the distance, but I still feel a part of the organization because of opportunities to meet outside of the cities.
Now what do we do at a Sisters In Crime meeting? Our meetings are not boring. Usually there is a presentation by an author or professional guests who give information on bookkeeping for taxes, what happens during an autopsy, different styles of guns and poisons and law enforcement, to name a few.
You see, readers are smart and they pick up on anything that might not be accurate, although in my books, Granny and Fuchsia don’t need to be accurate because it is the high end of fiction and fantasy and nothing should be too real. But for crime writers or true crime, details are important, and the organization provides information to help us become better writers. Yes, published authors still take classes. We are never too old to learn something new about the written word.
My fifth Fuchsia, Minnesota, Mystery, Granny Pins A Pilferer, was released last week. Belonging to the Sisters In Crime keeps my spirits and energy up to keep on writing when the going gets tough. It helps connecting with those that understand what happens during the writing process and after the book gets published.
When a book is published the real work begins and that is promotion. Promotion means social media, interviews and speaking engagements. The Twin Cities Sisters In Crime travels and provides panel discussions on writing at libraries and book stores. Various authors take turns taking part. I love being a part of these panels. It is easier to do things together then alone.
If you sit at a table near us when we are talking, please don’t call the police. We might be discussing the best way to murder someone or the best poison to use that can’t be detected. We might be looking for new places to stash bodies or new hiding places in buildings and houses. Or the best way to pick a lock.
We might be having a more mundane discussion on the best way to use Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to promote books. Sharing different festivals and book conferences also might be thrown into the conversation. And of course we also might run a character past the other Sisters to get their opinion.
Our organization also connects with professionals to give us information. I am excited to attend a workshop which includes FBI 101, cyber crime and violent crime. Since I was a computer technician, I am especially excited about the cyber crime workshop.
I guess if I think about what I want you to know about authors is that writers work hard. It is our dream job, but it involves more than putting pen to paper or getting on the computer and writing away. There are many hours of research, many hours of promotion and many hours of editing. I am working harder now than I did at a nine to five job. Writing is a solitary profession unless you reach out to those who share the profession along with you.
It is a profession we chose, a profession we love, but it can also be a profession where you are lonely and that burns you out unless you take time with people like the Sisters who walk the walk with you. The reward is not only the writing, but friendships that will last a lifetime.
I was nervous while writing the first book in my new Brilliant Minnesota series, The Penderghast Puzzle Protectors. After finishing the mystery and falling in love with my new characters I felt it was perhaps the best book of both series. The plot had twists and turns which I hoped kept readers interested.
I introduced a main character, Jezabelle Jingle, who has ties to Fuchsia Minnesota. Her niece Delight Delure runs the Pink Percolator in Fuchsia. Jezabelle is younger that Granny in my Fuchsia Series. She is somewhere in her sixties and has a snappy style with not only her life, but also her quick wit. While a little calmer then Granny she gets herself into as much trouble when she and her neighbors find puzzles and mystery where they live in the Penderghast neighborhood.
Jezabelle doesn’t snoop on her neighbors, but she keeps her eye on them, as well she should, as they are a strange lot of many ages.
There is Mr. Warbler who feeds the birds and makes strange sojourns at night into neighboring yards.
We have Rock Stone who comes home at exactly 10:00 p.m., revs the engine of his car, has a smoke and disappears inside his house. And…he never puts his car in his garage.
Miranda Covington never comes out during the day, but Jezabelle has seen her sprint down the street in the middle of the night. Of course there is a mysterious reason Jezabelle is up at 2:00 a.m. too.
And then there is Phoebe Harkins, who insists she is rich and beautiful. The neighbors are never sure exactly what is going to come out of Phoebe’s mouth.
Jezabelle leads her gang and her best friend Lizzy, through twists and turns as you’ve never seen, sputtering direction and giving somewhat addled advice.
However even though I think this is the best book I have written, and my reviews have been excellent sales have been slow. I had a reader I didn’t know, find my phone number and tell me how much she loved the book and wanted to know when the next one would be out. She stayed up all night reading it.
When I ask why the hesitation for the Brilliant series the answer always is: We want Granny. So I am here to tell you that you will love Jezabelle and her crew in the Penderghast Puzzle Protectors as much as Granny. As the series progresses you will follow the quest to find all the puzzles the founders of Brilliant left for their ancestors. I promise you won’t be disappointed. And Granny is still living and alive in the next series book coming out soon, Granny Pins A Pilferer.
Because my next Fuchsia Minnesota book is due out soon I am making The Penderghast Puzzle Protectors e-book for sale on Amazon $.99 for the next week,August 3 – 10. Take a chance to get to know Jezabelle and don’t forget she is also on Audiobook. Spread the word. Jingle with Jezabelle and the Penderghast Puzzle Protectors.