In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I am working on book #3 in the Winds of Freedom series, a teen adventure series set in the 1850s in North Danville, Vermont. My 1852 Vermont adventure THIS ARDENT FLAME is scheduled for June 2021 publication with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you updates and early order information as soon as I know! I'm also writing a memoir; revising a mystery; in the midst of a novel about a grandmother and her granddaughter; and always writing poems. Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?

Friday, March 1, 2019

How to Rely on Your Best Friend: A Sisters in Crime Story

Remember those "series" books from way back when? Nancy Drew, Happy Hollisters, Cherry Ames, the Hardy Boys? (Also Swallows and Amazons.) They got me through the toughest years of learning how to be and have a friend.

Think it looks sort of Nancy?
Jennifer Fisher, the American expert on Nancy Drew history, writes about the teen sleuth this way: "She offered American girls a sense of resourcefulness. She taught us to signal S.O.S. with a tube of lipstick, to break out of a window using spike heels and to keep an overnight bag in our car — a girl never knew when she’d encounter a sleuthing adventure. Real-life kidnapping victims have said that Nancy Drew stories inspired them use their wits to escape."

Years ago, I joined Sisters in Crime (New England and National) because of the annual get-together, called the Crime Bake: a cheerful, noisy, exuberant gathering where my husband Dave and I could meet more mystery authors, seek their signatures (he's a VERY serious collector), figure out trends (for our mystery book business at the time, Kingdom Books), and delight in knowing that if we said "what are you reading?" to anyone, there'd be an interesting answer.

I knew, also, that I'd be sharing my own mysteries with authors (published and not yet) at the Crime Bake: my very New England YA (young adult) mysteries Cold Midnight and The Secret Room, as well as my history-hinged adventures that rely on a teenaged "girl" to figure out how to handle risk, danger, and crises (like The Long Shadow, an 1852 adventure).

What I couldn't know ahead of time was, I'd make new friends. Well, sure, we all hope for that, in any big gathering or organization. The nice thing is, I'm now old enough to know the basics of "how" and to apply them:
1. Pay more attention to the other person than to yourself. (You can talk with yourself later.) Find out name, home, work in progress, and what kind of sense of humor the person has.

2. Remember that their work matters to them as much as yours does to you -- so if you have a chance (at a shared table, or co-leading a panel), point others' attention to what you've learned about them and their book. I saw Nancy Pickard do this with intelligent grace, for five authors in a row. (She'd read a book by each and had great comments, too.)

3. Watch for their "posts" during or after the conference -- leave a hello or "like" to assure them you think they are interesting (maybe even nice!) and will write an awesome book, if they haven't already.
Those sound pretty ordinary, right? Here's the tough one:
 4. When you next wish you had a friend to lean on -- be a little bit open about it. Leave room for someone to step forward, with words or a hug or a "like." Just the way you'd do for them, if you knew they were having a challenging day (or month, or year). 
That's where the Nancy Drew roots, and the "Sisters" aspect, come into play. We're more than just "people working in the same field" -- we're people who, in our own way, CARE. We do it in the stories we write, and we do it in person.

So this is a thank-you to two special groups of friends from Sisters in Crime New England:
(a) The ones who said "oh, your books are good for Nancy Drew readers? give me one" and thus inspired me to write my teen sleuth mystery, All That Glitters. Thank you so much!!

(b) The ones who heard me whisper "oh sh**, I've got breast cancer," and made room for an extra seat at a book event, an extra Facebook message, an extra steady hand while I wobbled through the year of revelation, treatment, recovery, and buckling down to writing the next book. I really COULD NOT have done this without you.
Bottom line: You've helped me to be sure I could still and always be my own core self: a little shy, a little nerdy, always "in" a book, and totally aware that I can't be here in this way without you.

Two short notes:

* You can pre-order All That Glitters here. It really matters ... it only gets published when we reach 750 pre-orders (gulp), so I'd love your help.

* And don't forget that I still review mysteries that are not self-published (because this is a resource for collectors), at, and more at the New York Journal of Books, and would love your comments there, on the wonderful books coming through!

PS -- I got the next book written! It's called This Ardent Flame, and it went to the publisher last Friday. Fingers crossed that they like it and think it will earn them some money and joy!


Sherry Harris said...

I feel the same way Beth!

Beth Kanell said...

In this together, Sherry!