I was so excited to be asked to write a short story for the Central Virginia Chapter of Sisters in Crime. In my story “Country Song Gone Wrong” Sarah Winston goes to Virginia to help run a yard sale she really, really doesn’t want to do. It is one of eighteen stories by a group of wonderful authors. I’m giving away a copy to someone who leaves a comment.
How did Deadly Southern Charm come be?
We are all members of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, and this is our third anthology. For the first two anthologies in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, we partnered with another Sisters in Crime chapter, Mysteries by the Sea.
Deadly Southern Charm is a mystery anthology. The stories had to have a female sleuth and be set in a locale in the southern United States. Our editors for this project are Mary Burton and Mary Miley.
The authors are Frances Aylor, Mollie Cox Bryan, Lynn Cahoon, J.A. Chalkley, Stacie Giles, Barb Goffman, Libby Hall, Bradley Harper, Sherry Harris, Maggie King, Kristin Kisska, Samantha McGraw, K.L. Murphy, Genilee Swope Parente, Deb Rolfe, Rod Sterling, S.E. Warwick, and Heather Weidner.
Tell us about your story and where it is set.
Mollie: My story is “Mourning Glory” and it’s set in a fictional town. Victoria Town is based on several small Virginia towns, especially Staunton, which has lovely Victorian homes and celebrates with “Victorian Days” each year.
Heather: My story is “Art Attack,” and it’s set in the Shockoe Bottom area of Richmond, Virginia. I write where I know. All of my stories and novels are set in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Frances: My story is “The Girl in the Airport.” It’s set in the Atlanta airport, which I have traveled through many times.
Kristin: My story, “Unbridled” is set in an equestrian riding center in South Carolina’s Lowcountry.
Genilee: “Who Killed Billy Joe,” is set in New Iberia, Louisiana, whose residents are baffled that such a popular figure would be bludgeoned, shot and stabbed.
J.A.: My story is “Keepsakes,” and it is set in Dinwiddie, Virginia. It centers around a forty year old murder that occurred on the banks of Lake Chesdin.
How did you choose the setting for your story?
Mollie: I’ve been watching a lot of “Victoria” on PBS. Lol. And I thought about the rich history of Virginia and how some towns really take advantage of it in delightful ways. Hence Victoria Town, which is a pristinely saved Victorian Town that capitalizes on its history.
Heather: I’ve lived in Virginia all my life, and I think it’s the perfect setting for mysteries. I live near the capital Richmond, and I’m a car ride away from the cities, beach, or mountains. I love to share the history, recreational areas, museums, and wonderful restaurants in the Commonwealth, and there’s always an interesting place for a murder or a caper.
Frances: I wanted the story to be a prequel to my thriller Money Grab. In the thriller, Robbie is a wife, mother and career woman. In the story, Robbie is a college student who heads to Europe for the summer to escape an unfaithful boyfriend. In the airport she meets an older woman dealing with an unfaithful husband.
Kristin: The equestrian center was critical to my story, but I set it in South Carolina’s coastal area purely because I’m enchanted by the region with the live old oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, the palmetto trees, the Southern hospitality, and yes, even the no-see-ums.
Genilee: I lived in Lafayette, Louisiana and worked for the mayor there for three years. I love the culture of that area. New Iberia is close to Lafayette, but a smaller town, which I wanted for purposes of this plot.
J.A.: I’m a native Virginian, and I grew up in a rural farming community. Southern charm is a real thing, but often if you dig beyond the sweet smiles and lemonade, there are dark secrets lurking. Things whispered about at Sunday socials, but never spoken of beyond family and close friends.
What was the first story/book that you had published and how long did the writing/editing/publishing part take?
Mollie: My first novel was “Scrapbook of Secrets.” It took about four months to write and another month of rewrites. A few months later, I had my first books deal with Kensington.
Heather: My first, published short story, “Washed up,” appeared in the Sisters in Crime anthology, Virginia is for Mysteries. It gave me my first writing credit, and I learned so much from the other authors. I love being part of anthologies and working with so many talented authors. It took me about three months to write, edit, and my story.
Frances: My first published book was Money Grab. It took about five years to write, edit and publish the book.
Kristin: Though my first work of fiction was a suspense novel, my first published work was my story, “The Sevens” in the Bouchercon anthology, MURDER UNDER THE OAKS. From starting to draft to finally holding the trade paperback book in my hands, the process took about ten months. Publishing is slow!
Genilee: Twist of Fate is the first book of The Fate Series. It took my mother four months to write the first draft. It then took me six months to edit/rewrite, then find a publisher and get it on the shelf.
J.A.: My first published story was, Bikes, Books and Berries. It was part of the Virginia is for Mysteries Vol II mystery anthology. It took about six months to write and rewrite before submission.
Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia has a detailed marketing campaign for this anthology. Tell us about what you’re involved in and what you’ve learned so far.
Heather: For Deadly Southern Charm, the anthology team/chapter leaders brainstormed the tasks that it would take to put together an anthology. I am the social media chair, and I’m responsible for the chapter website, social media sites, social media campaigns, and announcements. I love working with anthology projects because I learn so much from the other authors. This year, we had a marketing boot camp and a social media workshop. This is our chapter’s third anthology, and I think the team learns what works and doesn’t work over time. We have a marketing and events calendar to track our in-person events, Facebook parties, and blog tours. With so many authors and our editors, we have quite the social media reach when we post, share, and comment.
Frances: As president of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, I have been thrilled with the enthusiastic response of our authors to the marketing of the anthology. We have chairmen handling publicity, events, getting our book “on the shelf,” getting reviews, and handling social media. These ladies have done an amazing job of taking ownership of these committees and getting the membership involved. After an initial brainstorming session, we opened our updating meeting to the membership as a Marketing Bootcamp and Social Media 101, so other members could see what was involved in marketing. We also sent out detailed minutes to the membership so they would have a list of the various resources we’ve used. I’ve learned a lot about social media and blogging.
Kristin: DEADLY SOUTHERN CHARM is my second Sisters In Crime-Central Virginia anthology. I’ve learned so much about the editing process, the pre-launch work, planning a launch party, and promoting it at local book festivals and conferences. But by far, my favorite activity is discussing my work with book clubs!
Genilee: We are all working together on various projects headed up by a few brave souls in charge of certain aspects of marketing such as social media, events and publicity. Anything you learn during a process like this benefits you in marketing your own work.
J.A.: This is my second Sisters In Crime-Central Virginia anthology. It has been a wonderful learning experience. From the submission process to the launch of the book. I’ve learned a great deal about the business end of writing, especially marketing.
What is your favorite thing about this anthology?
Mollie: So far, it’s the cover. I’ve not read it year. But I’m so eager! What a rich subject area, right?
Heather: I love the cover. I also am impressed with all the talent and the variety of stories. There is something for everyone here, and you’ll definitely get a flavor of the south.
Frances: My favorite thing is how much we all worked together to make this happen. Our two editors spearheaded the entire project and selected participating stories. Each author has been so generous with her time and talents to make this anthology a success.
Kristin: Honestly, they had me at *Southern*. Some of my favorite novels have been set in the South, and I jumped at the chance to whip up a mystery deserving of the title, DEADLY SOUTHERN CHARM!
Genilee: Connecting with other talented mystery writers has been a privilege and delight.
J.A.: I have to agree with Heather. The cover is beautiful. I think it sets the perfect tone for the book. I’ve enjoyed working with my fellow Sisters In Crime. Everyone has brought great creative energy to the project.
Frances Aylor, CFA combines her investing experience and love of travel in her financial thrillers. MONEY GRAB is the first in the series. www.francesaylor.com
Mollie Cox Bryan is the author of cookbooks, articles, essays, poetry, and fiction. An Agatha Award nominee, she lives in Central Virginia. www.molliecoxbryan.com
Lynn Cahoon is the NYT and USA Today author of the best-selling Tourist Trap, Cat Latimer and Farm-to-Fork mystery series. www.lynncahoon.com
A. Chalkley is a native Virginian. She is a writer, retired public safety communications officer, and a member of Sisters in Crime.
Stacie Giles, after a career as a political scientist, linguist, and CIA analyst, is now writing historical cozies with a twist. Her first short story is in honor of her grandfather who was a policeman in Memphis in the 1920s.
Barb Goffman has won the Agatha, Macavity, and Silver Falchion awards for her short stories, and is a twenty-three-time finalist for US crime-writing awards.www.Barbgoffman.com
Libby Hall is a communication analyst with a consulting firm in Richmond, Virginia. She is also a blogger, freelance writer, wife, and mother of two.
Bradley Harper is a retired Army pathologist. Library Journal named his debut novel, A KNIFE IN THE FOG, Debut of the Month for October 2018, and is a finalist for the 2019 Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American author. www.bharperauthor.com
Sherry Harris is the Agatha Award-nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mystery series and is the president of Sisters in Crime. www.sherryharrisauthor.com
Maggie King penned the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries and 50 Shades of Cabernet anthologies. www.maggieking.com
Kristin Kisska is a member of International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime, and programs chair of the Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia chapter. www.kristinkisska.com
Samantha McGraw has a love of mysteries and afternoon tea. She lives in Richmond with her husband and blogs at Tea Cottage Mysteries.www.samanthamcgraw.com
K.L. Murphy is a freelance writer and the author of the Detective Cancini Mysteries. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, four children, and two dogs.www.Kellielarsenmurphy.com
Genilee Swope Parente has written the romantic mystery The Fate Series with her mother F. Sharon Swope. The two also have several collections of short stories. www.swopeparente.com
Deb Rolfe primarily writes mystery novels. This is her first published short story. She and her husband enjoy life in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Ronald Sterling is the author of six books and draws upon his colorful and varied life experience as a U.S. Airman, saloonkeeper, private detective, realtor, and New Jersey mayor.
S.E. Warwick, in the last century earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies. Ever since, she has been trying to decipher the American enigma.
Heather Weidner is the author of the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries. She has short stories in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 SHADES OF CABERNET and TO FETCH A THIEF. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and Jack Russell terriers. www.heatherweidner.com
Mary Burton is a New York Times, USA Today and Kindle best-selling author. She is currently working on her latest suspense. www.maryburton.com
Mary Miley is a historian and writer with 14 nonfiction books and 5 mystery novels to her credit. www.marymileytheobald.com
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Readers: Do you like books set in the South? Or just say hi for a chance to win Deadly Southern Charm.