Tag Archives: Desert Sleuths

Sisters in Crime, Indeed

Thought I’d take the opportunity to inform all of you about a project other than my Deputy Steven Hawk/Inola Walela thriller novel series for Second Wind Publishing.

Last year, the Desert Sleuths (Arizona) Chapter of Sisters in Crime published the mystery anthology How NOT to Survive the Holidays. My short story “A Christmas Tail” appears there—my only slightly humorous story written to date. HNTSAH has received a great reception, quite a few glowing reviews and will soon go to its fourth print run.

Many of you know how prestigious Sisters in Crime is, yet for those who don’t, SinC is an International writers organization and the Desert Sleuths (DS) is one of 48 chapters. Nearly every acclaimed female, and quite a few male, mystery authors are members. Much like a sisterhood, the Desert Sleuths have been extremely supportive and provided me with opportunities to present STACCATO in ways I could only have crossed my fingers and hoped for.

Although confident I’d be able to come up with an acceptable story for their upcoming anthology, I didn’t know at the time the Desert Sleuths had another mission in mind for me to undertake. When talented writer and lead editor, Chantelle Osman, asked me to be one of the co-editors of How NOT to Survive a Vacation, I immediately said “NO!” . . . on the inside. Don’t get me wrong, I was honored to have been considered, let alone asked to help select and work personally with the writers. Yet I was apprehensive that this task would mean a lot of effort and that I would need to not only curtail my professional editing assignments, but also put my writing projects aside.

The yearning to be involved with what I knew would surely be clever stories, written by gifted members of the Arizona Chapter, overtook my fear of failure and in January I found myself at the first meeting with the other three editors, ready and willing to do everything I possibly could to help make the anthology truly shine.

Desert Sleuths released How NOT to Survive a Vacation at their annual conference last month. This anthology features exceptional authors. I’m thrilled that my story “Loose End” can be found there as well. And due to the caliber of writing and our confidence in the collection, novelists on the cusp of rocketing to fame: Sophie Littlefield, Rebecca Cantrell, Kelli Stanley, Juliet Blackwell and Simon Wood, provided spectacular back cover blurbs.

Chantelle and I proved to be an excellent team and now I actually miss the seemingly endless hours, weeks, months we spent accomplishing everything we possibly could to make the writers, Sisters in Crime National, and especially the members of Desert Sleuths proud.

It’s too early to gauge yet, however with Ms. Osman’s clever, eye-catching cover design, the 18 fabulous stories featured inside, and the enthusiasm of each and every Desert Sleuths member, How NOT to Survive a Vacation is certain to receive a warm reception by reviewers and readers alike.

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel STACCATO, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon and Kindle. If you’re in the Arizona area, STACCATO can be found at Borders Scottsdale Waterfront, The Well Red Coyote and Changing Hands Bookstore .

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Authors You Admire

There are only five authors I follow without question: Pat Conroy, Michael Cunningham, John Irving, Kate Atkinson and Lisa Gardner. Unfortunately the wait was 14 years between Conroy’s Beach Music and South of Broad. Four years between Irving books. Cunningham’s By Nightfall: A Novel comes out next month after a 3 year absence of his words.

Thankfully Gardner and Atkinson come out with a book per year. Count on crime writers and their avid fans who demand a religious release date. Gardner is the first woman to receive the Best Novel award from the International Thriller Writers Association for The Neighbor. Her latest, Live to Tell, is one of her best. The second chapter will absolutely blow you away. 

Atkinson is a British author, but don’t let that turn you off.  Her tight literary prose are handled masterfully and always feature quirky and vulnerable yet strong characters are ones readers empathize with. Started Early, Took My Dog will be released in March.

I can now add two new authors to my must read list. Rebecca Cantrell’s historical mystery A Trace of Smoke continues to be one of my favorite books of the year. I’ve been reading the second book of her Hannah Vogel series, A Night of Long Knives, and this one is every bit as good as her debut.

The other author I highly recommend is Sophie Littlefield. A Bad Day for Sorry is fresh, full of memorable characters and a theme that screams to be on the big screen. Her second, A Bad Day for Pretty, is a fun, fast-paced read as well.

I have had the honor of getting to know these two talents recently and both have provided blurbs to the upcoming Sisters in Crime Chapter Desert Sleuths anthology, How NOT to Survive a Vacation, I had the pleasure of co-editing.

So which authors to you follow? Which do you recommend and are there any you’ve lost faith in?

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel STACCATO, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, Kindle, and independent bookstores.

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The End Is Near – by Deborah J Ledford

So we’re coming up on the end of 2009 and I’ve been going down the list of everything to be grateful for.

First and foremost, professionally, is that my debut suspense thriller Staccato was picked up and published by Second Wind Publishing. This has been a decade-old dream and I am so proud of the finished product.

Three short stories were acquired for publication as well. The literary short “Sighted Brother” now appears in the Gulf Coast Writers Association anthology “Sweet Tea and Afternoon Tales,” my one and only humorous story “A Christmas Tail” was published by the Sisters in Crime chapter Desert Sleuths for their anthology “How NOT to Survive the Holidays,” and “The Spot” will soon be featured in the Second Wind Publishing anthology “Mystery on the Wind.”

Most of all, I am grateful for all the readers who have found my work, the reviewers who have showered Staccato with praise, and the other authors I have met during my seemingly endless online promotions.

A BIG thanks to Pat Bertram for her tireless and awe-inspiring efforts in promoting all the Second Wind authors. And, of course, to Mike Simpson for making my wish to become a published novelist come true.

What were your accomplishments this year? Let us know what you have to be grateful for.

Wishing you all a fabulous 2010! Hang on, it’s going to be a wild, exciting ride for all of us.

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel Staccato, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, Kindle, and independent book stores.

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Killed Passages – by Deborah J Ledford

I thought I would veer away from my Staccato series of articles to discuss my efforts in publishing and the editing machines I have encountered.

Although I am fortunate to now have nine fiction short stories acquired by print publications, this journey has often been painful. By that I mean the edits I have been forced to agree to in order for the work to appear in print.

 My first encounter with the “editor killing machine” occurred for one of my first short stories. The editor insisted I kill the very first line of the story. Now, to me this first line was crucial—the passage set up the entire story, but the editor felt the line opened too many doors to unanswered questions. Long story short…I did delete the first line.

Another disappointment came when a particularly close to my heart story looked to be perfect for an anthology. I knew the piece would be ideal for their collection, but the maximum word count was 1500 words less than my finished story. Did I find a way to kill off 1500 words?  Yes: reluctantly and with a heavy heart.

Latest in my tale of woes came from my latest acquired story. The publisher is the Arizona branch of Sisters in Crime so I knew the publishing credit would be awesome. I wrote an original story for their newly released holiday mystery anthology “How Not to Survive the Holidays” and soon received their approval, however I would need to change the name of one character. If you’re anything like me, I research names exhaustively to fit the name with the psychology of each and every character. In this case, we’re talking about a cat—a particularly ornery one at that. I named the feline Fungo. The piece is about two Italian restaurateur brothers who stumble upon a cat that reminds them of their long-dead Uncle Giuseppe, therefore I thought the reference to mushrooms would lend itself to the texture and tone of this amusing story.

So, you’ve probably figured out by now that “Fungo” is a take on the Italian curse—which plays in perfectly with the cat’s character. Nevertheless, the editors felt this would be offensive to readers and they highly suggested (okay, gently demanded) that I change the name. I sighed and searched for a different humorous moniker. Nothing fit as well as Fungo, but I decided on “Scampi” instead.

The good news is that when the time comes to publish my short story collection, each and every one will be the version I always intended for readers to enjoy.

As for contentious fingers in my novel writing, my former agent had me completely change a lead character’s profession in one of my novels. Now I’m thinking of changing him back to my original concept. This agent also insisted I delete one pivotal character entirely—which I refused to do.  From that point on, I feel the agent did not represent the project to the best of her abilities.

Fortunately, Mike Simpson at Second Wind Publishing has allowed me to keep the original vision of Staccato from page one to The End. Every character, location, sub-plot you will read is what I intended and for that I am very grateful.

I think everyone would like to know: How far would you go to see your words in print?

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel Staccato, scheduled for release by Second Wind Publishing, September 15, 2009.

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