I’m delighted to introduce my friend Leslie Budewitz, whose novel, Crime Rib, has just been released. It’s the second in her mystery series set in an almost-familiar small town on an almost-familiar lake near Kalispell, Montana, where I lived for a few years. First in the series is the award-winning Death al Dente. Here’s Leslie to tell you more about “Ink and Magic.”
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by Leslie Budewitz
Once upon a time, in the magical land of Nod…
Oh, wait. Wrong story.
Once upon a time, six women gathered in the small conference room of a law office in Kalispell, Montana. They brought pages of novels in progress. They brought pencils and red pens, coffee and cookies. They brought decades of experience as readers and writers, and their understanding of setting, plot, imagery, dialogue, and characterization.
They brought their trials and tribulations, compassion, and enthusiasm.
In short, they brought their lives.
I can no longer tell you how long Janet Fisher, Debbie Burke, Deborah Epperson, Shirley Rorvik, Rena Desmond, and I met weekly to share our stories. Two years, a little more? I can tell you it was magical, an experience each of us holds dear in our writing lives. We began our critique group with some of us good friends, others new acquaintances, but all connected through the Authors of the Flathead, a multi-genre writing group that has nurtured hundreds of writers since its founding more than twenty-five years ago. We came from very different backgrounds and regions, with very different personal and professional lives. All but one of us had completed a novel, but although we’d published short stories and magazine and newspaper articles—Janet had even worked as a journalist—none of us had published a full-length book, fiction or nonfiction.
A synergy arises when compatible people gather for a shared purpose, as we did. The very best critique groups have it—usually from the start, although it may take some time and effort to develop workable ground rules that serve members’ goals and fit their personalities. Each member wants to learn and be inspired, to improve her own work, but also to prompt and support the others. To share honestly, to dig deeply into problem passages and identify what’s working and what isn’t. To brainstorm plot directions and character backgrounds. To help each other see a path through the word weeds, to cultivate a regular writing schedule and a rising word count.
In truth, I learned as much from delving into the others’ work—carefully, because an artist’s belief in her self and her work can be fragile—as from their review of mine. We all seemed to recognize that. Misunderstandings were rare, and worked out in the group. We left each meeting energized and more determined.
That’s what happens in the midst of what another friend, not a writer but a committed, passionate creator, calls “intentional creativity.”
That’s another term for magic.
My second novel—my third book—is just out this week. Janet’s new book fills a gap in western history. Deborah and Shirley have each published a novel, and Debbie and Rena continue to write extensively for regional magazines. We meet occasionally to catch up—without Janet, who returned to Oregon a few years ago.
But the magic lives on, on the page, and in the glow of friendship forged in ink.
About Crime Rib:
“Gourmet food market owner Erin Murphy is determined to get Jewel Bay, Montana’s scrumptious local fare some national attention. But her scheme for culinary celebrity goes up in flames when the town’s big break is interrupted by murder…
Food Preneurs, one of the hottest cooking shows on TV, has decided to feature Jewel Bay in an upcoming episode, and everyone in town is preparing for their close-ups, including the crew at the Glacier Mercantile, aka the Merc. Not only is Erin busy remodeling her courtyard into a relaxing dining area, she’s organizing a steak-cooking competition between three of Jewel Bay’s hottest chefs to be featured on the program.
But Erin’s plans get scorched when one of the contending cooks is found dead. With all the drama going on behind the scenes, it’s hard to figure out who didn’t have a motive to off the saucy contestant. Now, to keep the town’s rep from crashing and burning on national television, Erin will have to grill some suspects to smoke out the killer…”
Leslie Budewitz is the national best-selling author of Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries set in northwest Montana, and winner of the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Crime Rib, the second in the series, will be published by Berkley Prime Crime on July 1, 2014. Her Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries will debut in March 2015.
Also a lawyer, Leslie won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction for Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books), making her the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction.
For more tales of life in the wilds of northwest Montana, and bonus recipes, visit her website and subscribe to her newsletter. Website: www.LeslieBudewitz.com Find her on Facebook: LeslieBudewitzAuthor