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Lucky Number Seven

Today we are celebrating the seventh anniversary of our blog. Can you believe it Wickeds? I can’t! Here’s a link you can click on to read our very first post and our very first Wicked Wednesday:  We slated our start for May first because Liz’s first book Kneading to Die was coming out on May seventh and we wanted to celebrate. Since that very first post we’ve shared joys, tears, laughter, and frustrations. The birth of new series and the end of others. We’ve been on retreats, to conferences, and talked via Zoom. We’ve met wonderful readers, bloggers, and loved the stories left in our comments. So many guest bloggers have joined us sharing their books and adventures with us. Thanks for being part of The Wickeds!

The picture above is the very first Wicked retreat in June of 2013. Jessie generously opened her house in Old Orchard Beach, Maine to us.

Since it’s been seven years, I have seven questions to ask you Wickeds.

When we started the blog did you have any books or short stories published and what was/were the titles?

Julie: First of all, that picture! A lifetime ago. I had one short stories published, by Level Best books. “Her Wish” was in Dead Calm.

Barb: I had one book published, The Death of an Ambitious Woman, and maybe a half a dozen short stories.

Sherry: I didn’t have anything published! And Julie, I agree the picture seems like ions ago!

Jessie: My first book, Live Free or Die had released but I felt like a real newbie still!

Edith/Maddie: My first mystery, Speaking of Murder, was out, published under the name Tace Baker by a micro press, and A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die, my first Local Foods Mystery, was about to be released in at the end of June. Like Barb, I also had six short stories in print.

Liz: I had a short story published – Headaches and Mad Cows.

Did you have any books under contract?

Julie: I didn’t have a contract!

Barb: The first three Maine Clambake Mysteries were under contract. Clammed Up was turned in and I was working on Boiled Over.

Edith/Maddie: I had a three-book contract for the Local Foods Mysteries. I was about to turn in ‘Til Dirt Do Us Part, the second book.

Sherry: I had a contract for the first three Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries. I was writing Tagged for Death.

Liz: I had a contract for the first three books in my Pawsitively Organic series. I think I’d just turned in Kneading to Die.

Jessie: I had my first three book contract for the Sugar Grove Mysteries. I cannot remember which book I was working on at the time but I think it was the second one, Maple Mayhem.

How many books do you have out now?

Julie: Digging Up the Remains will be out in August. It’s my eighth book and my third series. Hard to believe!

Barb: I have eight Maine Clambake books, and one Jane Darrowfield book and The Death of an Ambitious Woman, though arguably it’s not out, since the ebook is no longer available and you can only get used copies of the print book. So, nine or ten, depending on how you count, plus contributions to three novella collections.

Edith/Maddie: Rather unbelievably, Murder at the Taffy Shop was my twentieth – plus a novella in a three-novella collection (following in Barb’s big footsteps!).

Sherry: I have eight books out in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries.

Liz: I have seven Pawsitively Organics, three Cat Cafes (as Cate Conte), and my first Full Moon Mystery (also as Cate) is out soon!

Jessie: So far, I have released nine books under three different names. Lucky number ten, Murder Comes to Call will release this October.

How did you feel before your first book came out?

Julie: Excited, thrilled, grateful, nervous. I also felt like “finally!” since I was the last Wicked to be published.

Barb: So nervous. I had done a lot of things in my life, but I had never put myself out there to be judged in quite that way. On the other hand, it truly was a dream come true.

Edith/Maddie: I was excited and nervous and elated! I’d wanted to have a published novel for eighteen years, and I was finally there.

Sherry: I was so nervous! I was afraid everyone would hate it and write terrible reviews. It felt like taking my baby out in public and then having someone criticize the size of its nose. But whew — it was actually lovely.

Liz: I was totally nervous too, but so excited. It had been my dream since I was a little kid.

Jessie: I felt like it was such a line to be crossing, as though there was no turning back. I agree with Barb about the tredidation of public scrutiny! I think the jumble of emotions was a bit of a surprise since I had expected to only feel delight.

How do you feel now before a book comes out?

Julie: I still weep when I get my box of books. I’m mostly grateful that I’m on this journey, and thrilled that readers enjoy my work.

Barb: My books have been coming out between Christmas and New Year’s for the last three years, so mostly I’m too busy to feel anything, except grateful that the timing means I don’t have to do any in person events.

Edith/Maddie: I also still squeal and clap when I get a box filled with copies of a book I wrote, one I agonized over, one where the story surprised me (that is, all of them), one I put my all into. There’s nothing like it.

Sherry: I’m still nervous when a new book comes out. I still think people are going to write terrible reviews or say “Well, she had a good run.” I’m always trying to challenge myself to try something new in my books. But there is no better feeling than holding your next book in your hands.

Liz: Usually I’m busy trying to finish the next one so I don’t have time to be nervous anymore! But I always make a trip to the bookstore to see it on the shelf – that never gets old.

Jessie: I still feel amazed at every stage of the process. I can never believe I have managed to write a whole book. I get caught up in the cover art. I am thrilled to receive the galleys when my manuscript looks like a book. I always take a deep breath and let the joy of it wash over me when my box of author copies arrives on my front porch.

What has surprised you in the past seven years?

Julie: There have been ebbs and flows for sure, but I’ve worked in the arts for years, so I felt prepared for that. I think the thing that surprises me the most is how much I love it. Publishing was a dream, for sure. But I had no idea how much I’d love it.

Barb: It has surprised me that the community of readers and writers I have become a part of has come to mean so much in my life.

Edith/Maddie: Seriously, what Julie and Barb both said. Also, it surprises me that characters continue to surprise me. It’s like channeling. Yesterday my character Robbie Jordan was about to open her restaurant’s service door to a food delivery person. Instead a suspect stood there glaring at her. Whoa! And I typed it…

Sherry: When we started the blog I had no idea how close we would all become. Or how much I would enjoy reading everyone’s comments day after day. I love how our readers share their stories with us. They feel like part of my family.

Liz: All the connections I’ve made with readers and how lovely people are, and how interested they are in my writing and my life! It’s been amazing.

Jessie: I am shocked at how easy it has been to do author events. I really struggled as a child with crippling shyness but it never rears its head when I am interacting with readers or other writers. I am still amazed and delighted by how calm I feel every time I head out for a signing or a panel.

What writing tip do you have?

Julie: That it’s a journey, and you have to keep moving to stay on it. Progress over perfection. Oh, and that writing mysteries is great for stress relief because you dispose of real life difficulties in your work. Keeps you calm.

Barb: If you are a new writing, get to know your peers. Go to SinC or MWA meetings and conferences. Turn to the person next to you at lunch and ask, “What are you working on?” That little question may result in some of the most significant relationships in your life.

Edith/Maddie: Again, what they said, wise ladies both! Plus, if you want to write the best book you can, you will. No excuses. Butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard. It’s the only way. I’ve done it twenty-five times, and no job has ever made me happier.

Sherry: Don’t give up. I have two and a half books written that haven’t ever been published and stacks of rejection letters. Work at the craft of writing — take classes, and read writing books.

Liz: Write what’s calling to you! Don’t worry about other people’s opinions or “trends.”

Jessie: I agree with everything the other Wickeds have said. My own work motto is “follow the fun”. The work asks a lot and there are no guarantees about the way things will turn out. If you enjoy the process of creation along the way then no matter what happens you will hav e spent time doing a thing that brought you joy. What could be better than that?

Readers: If you are a writer answer the questions. If you are a reader, what has surprised you about the past seven years?

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