How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
What a silly question, they want a dark and stormy night.
Last year I was tickled pink when Joanna Campbell Slan asked me if I might be interested in being a contributing writer in an anthology. Eventually the project came together as a Christmas anthology to be named Happy Homicides. So there I was, watching the fireworks on the Fourth of July writing about Christmas. My very favorite kind of story to write has always been set at Christmas. Even before I started my Pecan Bayou series, I usually wrote a Christmas story every year. The psychological boost I receive every Christmas season from heartwarming tales of hope and renewal is awesome, so creating my own story was just plain good for my soul. Of course, this was a mystery anthology which meant every story had to have a homicide, which is not very renewing, but that was okay. This was the first Christmas mystery I have written and truth be told, I hated to put the murder in!
I grew up loving authors like Faith Baldwin and remembered thinking Stephen King was wicked…but wonderful. So when I write my Christmas stories, I try to channel a little Faith and maybe a little faith as well. I was writing my yearly story, but this time I was in a group of other storytellers. Here are some of the benefits I received from this project.
I found a knowledge base of writing, publishing, and marketing in the other writers. Every question that was asked by anybody in the group led me to learn something. When writers spend time creating their own little worlds, it can be easy to forget to come out of the clouds and see the rest of world. There have been dinners when my family discussed what went on during the day, and I would tell them about what happened in Pecan Bayou. They always gave me a look like, “You know it’s not a real place, right?” Many of these writers in the group were bestselling authors and way up on the food chain from me. Some of the information I gleaned from them was better than what I’ve learned at writing conferences. Then, as we grew closer to publication time, they pulled out their marketing resources. Again I was astonished.
I’ll admit, I’ve always been pretty cautious of co-writing and partnerships, but in this case it was pretty painless. Joyfully, my readers reaped the benefits. They found a new Pecan Bayou story with Betsy Livingston, but they also discovered the characters Kiki Lowenstein, Cara Mia Delgatto, Savannah Martin, Neil Plakcy’s dogs, Nancy Jill Thames Teddy series, the wonderful prequel to a new series by Camille Minichino and so much more.
So, maybe the Beatles had it right when they sang, “Everybody come together, right now…”
Good news! If you’ve already finished the Christmas anthology, Happy Homicides, there is a Valentine’s anthology in the final stages right now. I’ll keep you posted on this one, and yes, there is new Pecan Bayou story coming, just for you.
Photo found on Morgue File and used with permission