Monday, February 18, 2019

I HEART The Stiletto Gang!

by Paula Gail Benson

In this lovely month, I have to admit, I adore my Stiletto Gang blogging partners.

What a truly delightful group with which to be affiliated!

My opportunity to join this blogging band came from two outstanding writers: Linda Rodriguez, acclaimed mystery author, poet, and writing teacher, and Debra Goldstein, former judge, award nominated short story writer, and author of several mystery series, including the new Sarah Blair One Taste Too Many. Not only do I respect these wonderful women, but I feel incredibly lucky to count them among my friends. So many times they have come through with a word of encouragement to me when it was so needed. And, I love reading their work!

I was fortunate enough to room with Debra and Kay Kendall at Killer Nashville the year Kay’s novel Rainy Day Women (how could you not love a book with that title?) received two Silver Falchion awards: (1) best mystery/crime novel (presented by Anne Perry), and (2) best book by an attending author (presented by conference founder Clay Stafford). On the night of the banquet, I had called it an early evening, but understand when they came in from celebrating that I raised an arm in salute before returning to sleep. We continued partying after we all woke the next day.

Debra introduced me to T.K. Thorne’s beautiful writing by sending me a copy of T.K.’s Noah’s Wife. T.K. tells history in an involving manner and her descriptions bring you right to the heart of the story.

Shari Randall and I got to know each other by blogging with Writers Who Kill. We met in person at Malice Domestic. This year, I am so proud to be celebrating her Agatha nomination for best first novel, Curses, Boiled Again!, an Allie Larkin/Lobster Shack mystery. I’m also glad that we share past careers as librarians!

Bethany Maines continues to amaze me with her boundless enthusiasm and the scope of her work. As Publishers’ Weekly put it: “Maines deftly combines humor with action.” You go girl, and keep going!

I had the privilege of moderating a Malice Domestic panel with the Sparkle Abbey team of Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter. What a Dynamic Duo! I loved hearing about their writing process and they are so much fun.

Bless her, Dru Ann Love, brings joy to so many people just by signing into Facebook early each morning with a hello and happy message. Her blog has spotlighted so may fine authors and been nominated for numerous awards. She is the proud recipient of the 2017 MWA Raven. But, I’ll never forget, when she made a trip to Charleston, S.C., she asked me to join her with Dorothy McFalls for a day of fabulous exploration and food. Thank you, Dru!

USA Today bestselling author Julie Mulhern writes the Country Club Murders and has just begun a new Poppy Fields Adventures series. A.B. Plum has an impressive list of psychological thrillers. J.M. Phillippe made my holiday season with her paranormal holiday novella, The Christmas Spirit, about Charlene Dickenson, who must navigate her way through an unexpected spirit life. It’s a terrific read.

Cathy Perkins and I share a background of being raised in South Carolina. Cathy now lives in Washington and writes financially-based mysteries. Her work has won several awards, including the distinguished Claymore at Killer Nashville.

Judy Penz Sheluk and Lynn McPherson are our Canadian contingent. Judy and I have been fellow Guppies (members of the online Sisters in Crime group that originated to celebrate the “great unpublished”). I’m so impressed that in addition to her own writing, she also runs Superior Shores Press, her own imprint. Lynn McPherson writes the light-hearted Izzy Walsh mystery series that takes place in the 1950s on the New England coast. Her second novel, The Girls Whispered Murder, came out in September.

Colorado poet extraordinaire Juliana Aragon Fatula has just joined us. I love what Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street, says about Juliana’s work: “[she]writes histories so terrifying they feel as if they were written with a knife. . . . Her fearlessness is inspirational.” Wow. I can’t wait to read Red Canyon Falling on Churches.

So here is my Valentine’s message to my terrific blogging partners:

Red heels in the morning
Means a day of nonconforming.

Red heels at night
Means a dancing invite.

With stilettos of red
No one can be blue
I’ll follow the thread
Of your writing bold and true
And, don’t let me finish without saying, I heart each of YOU!