Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Camaraderie of Writers

Hello, everyone. Today our guest at Five Scribes is Marilyn Levinson, author of A MURDERER AMONG US, which currently holds the #1 spot of Wings ePress books sold at Fictionwise.com for Nook readers. Please welcome Marilyn Levinson.

About A Murderer Among Us...

The envelope contained half a dozen photographs. Lydia stifled a gasp as she stared at more than she’d ever hoped to see of Viv Maguire. A shawl had been draped over one shoulder, discretely hiding her bulging middle and considerable thighs, while displaying one drooping breast. The smile, no doubt meant to be enticing, had a gruesome intensity that sent shivers down Lydia’s back.

Lydia shoved the photos back into the envelope and returned it to its hiding place amid the napery in the drawer. Whatever doubts she’d had about the extent of Marshall’s involvement with Viv had been laid to rest. The question was, had their affair begun before Claire was murdered or after? If is was before... Lydia shuddered, hating to speculate further. But the thought pushed itself forward for consideration. If they’d been lovers before Claire was murdered, it stood to reason that they might have conspired to kill her.

For love? Money?


Fiction writing is a lonely profession. We writers come up with a plot, invent some characters, and set about creating a world that, if we’re lucky, will live on in the memories of our readers. To get through the process, we depend on the camaraderie of our fellow writers.

Many years ago, I took a writing course with Roberta Gellis. Roberta helped me through my first novel, a romantic suspense, which never saw the light of day. I went on to write novels for kids. Roberta and I spent a good deal of time together -- mostly doing ordinary activities like shopping and eating out. She continued to help me resolve plot problems, but eventually became more of my sounding board. I’d present the situation, she’d make a suggestion, and I’d come up with a completely different solution than the one she’d suggested. To this day, Roberta remains one of my dearest friends.

I sold my first children’s book, and joined a children’s writing group. The group’s meetings centered around the business-side of being a children’s book author. Roberta brought me along to the first meeting of the Long Island Romance Writers. I was awed by how organized romance writers seemed to be -- their conferences, their on-line courses on writing. Years later, while writing my second romantic suspense novel, I joined the group. Though I soon went on to write mysteries, I remained a member of LIRW because I continued to learn a good deal about writing and publishing through them and their speakers. I formed a critique group with fellow LIRWers and I continue to participate on their annual author-editor luncheon committee. At the luncheon this past June, I was touched by how many members came over to congratulate me on the sale of my first mystery.

I’ve no idea how many years ago I joined Sisters in Crime and the Guppies. Every new mystery writer should join the Guppies, The Great Unpubbed. A misnomer since many Guppies get published but rarely leave the group because of our great camaraderie. We buoy each other up through disappointments and rejections; we share information from such topics as agent hunting to forming critique groups. I’ve made wonderful Guppy friendships through the years.

Don’t ask me why, but I dreaded attending conferences. Finally, in 2010, the year my mystery, MURDER A LA CHRISTIE, was a finalist in the Malice Domestic contest, I ventured to go to Malice. What a smart decision that was! I got to meet so many of my fellow Sisters in Crime, and came away convinced it was time to start a Long Island chapter of Sisters in Crime. I asked my friend and fellow writer, Bernardine Fagan, to co-found the chapter. I’d never undertaken anything of the sort, but my participation in LIRW helped, along with assistance from Beth Wasson and Sandy Parshall, Teresa Inge and Meredith Cole. Hank Phillippi Ryan heard of our new chapter and offered to be our first speaker. Many LIRW members attended Hank’s talk.

When my first mystery novel debuted in June, I was struck by how much publishing had changed since my last children’s book came out. I was suddenly overwhelmed by all I had to do to get A MURDERER AMONG US into the hands of readers. I was responsible for PR and marketing, reviews and announcements, tweeting, guest blogging, and Facebook. The fate of A MURDERER AMONG US rested on my shoulders.

I asked for help on the listservs of the various writers’ group I belong to, and my mystery writer comrades responded. They ushered me along the path of post-publication every step of the way. Two fellow Wings ePress authors offered to review my book. They each read A MURDERER AMONG US in a day or two and wrote marvelous things about it. One writer friend told me about Murder Must Advertise and the importance of guest blogs. Another helped me design a bookmark. Still another sent me notices of conferences, where I’d be on panels and have the chance to sell copies of my books.

Writers are a wonderful group of people. We cheer each other up over rejections; we rejoice in each other’s successes. I continue to make new writer friends online. When we finally meet in person, we greet one another as if we’ve known each other forever.

I wrote that the fate of A Murderer Among Us rests upon my shoulders. Thanks to the people I've met both online and in person, the load doesn't seem as heavy.

Isn't it wonderful that writers don't have to hole up in their caves these days? What do you do when you start to feel all alone in the world? Social networking, in-person meetings? Which do you prefer?

Marilyn Levinson’s debut mystery, A MURDERER AMONG US, came out with Wings ePress in June of this year. Her ghost mystery, GIVING UP THE GHOST, will be out next spring with Uncial Press. Her novel, MURDER A LA CHRISTIE, was a 2010 Malice Domestic finalist. All of her mysteries take place on Long Island, where she’s lived since moving from Brooklyn at the age of fourteen and a half.

Marilyn is the author of several novels for children and young adults. Her first, AND DON’T BRING JEREMY, was a nominee for six state book awards. RUFUS AND MAGIC RUN AMOK was selected by the International Reading Association and the Children’s Book Council for “Children’s Choices for 2002.”

After attending her first Malice in 2010, Marilyn decided it was time to start a Long Island chapter of Sisters in Crime. With Bernardine Fagan, she co-founded the chapter, which held its first meeting August of 2010. She is the chapter’s current president. She also belongs to the Authors Guild, MWA, RWA, and the Guppies. She was a Spanish teacher many years ago.

Marilyn's book can be found at the Wings ePress site: http://bit.ly/kOZgcz
at Fictionwise.com for Nook readers and


Patricia said...

Thanks for this post, Marilyn. I've found lots of virtual comrades in my online groups like RWA/Women's Fiction and RWA/Elements and WANAMinions (Kristen Lamb's group). I know I could ask any question in the world and someone would have an answer and be willing to share their knowledge. THAT is priceless.

Sandy L. Rowland said...

Thanks for the post. I didn't know Marilyn had written all those children's books. Learn something every day. Best of luck on your latest!

Maggie Van Well said...

It never ceases to amaze me how giving and willing to help fellow writers are. Best of luck on your new releases, Marilyn!

Donnell said...

Marilyn, my apologies! I had a memorial service to get to today and just walked in the door. Gosh, camaraderie of writers. So, so important. Even more so than it was in early days, say when Daphne du Maurier sat at her keyboard and then took her lonely walks at Cornwall.

It sounds real appealing, this alone time for a writer, but the truth is, too much alone time in my opinion stifles the muse. You need to interact, see how other writers do it, and, unfortunately, yes, unfortunately promote yourself.

Sounds to me like you've done a bang up job in networking and establishing longtime friendships, attending conferences and reaching #1.

Well done. Thanks for joining us here today and guest blogging.

Donnell said...

P.S. I love the fact that since Marilyn didn't have a writer's group, she went out and started one. How's that for initiative. ;

catierhodes.com said...

Marilyn, you're so right that we writers need each other to get the job done. You're doing a great job marketing your book. If there's anything I can do to help you, let me know.

Sally Carpenter said...

Hi Marilyn, great post. Writers are so supportive and helpful. Sisters in Crime is the greatest thing that happened to me. I heard about SinC four years ago through a newspaper article about an upcoming author panel. At the time I couldn't give away anything I wrote. I joined SinC, started writing a mystery, and now my book will be published! Thanks to all the writers who share advice and support with one another.
Sally Carpenter
"The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper"
Oak Tree Press

Vince said...

Hi Marilyn:

I’m curious. Did you write your mystery before all the murders started popping up on Long Island? BTW: I was born on Long Island. If I remember right we pronounced it: Long guy-land. Do they still do that? Also, do you mention Rockville Centre, Garden City or Bellerose in your book?

I bet you won’t get many of these questions on your blog tour. : )


Audra Harders said...

Marilyn, your enthusiasm is contagious. No wonder you had speakers and writers approach you when you considered organizing your Sisters In Crime chapter.

I'd have volunteered too...and I can't write mystery to save my life, LOL!

Great job promoting A Murderer Among Us. And congratulations on holding the #1 spot at Fictionwise.com!!

Donna Coe-Velleman said...

Hooray for our fellow writers whose wisdom and help are priceless!

Great post Marilyn.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Thanks for all your wonderful comments. Sorry to chime in so late, but I've had a "author's emergency."
Vince, I wrote the book before all those bodies were found. Unfortunately, there are always murders on Long Island.
I'm glad so many of you have found wonderful friendships among your fellow writers. We need to be there for one another -- when we get rejections and when we sell a book.

Ann Yost said...

Such a good post -- I feel that sense of isolation all the time - it is hard to find other writers who live nearby and/or have the time to spend with one another. As a writer you feel as if you have to spend ALL your free time actually writing or doing research on a novel. Sisters in Crime sounds fantastic.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Ann, You must join Sisters in Crime. And join the Guppies-- the friendliest writing group around. Yesterday I was emailing writing friends most of the day. I must admit I'm not currently writing a novel, so I had the time. But still--my writing buddies are only a touch of "send" away.