I turned on my Kindle today to find Laura Oles’ Daughters of Bad Men, had appeared in its library, overnight, as if by magic. That’s a perk of pre-ordering. Laura is one of my critique partners in Austin Mystery Writers, and Daughters of Bad Men is her first novel.
I’ve been in AMW for six or seven years–can’t remember exactly–but membership is one of the best things that’s happened since I began writing for publication. Examining others’ work and hearing their comments on mine has made me a better writer. Members have become my friends. Together we’ve enjoyed workshops and lunches and weekend retreats.
And I’ve acquired a new virtue: I’m genuinely happy when other members get their work published.
My skin turns Shrek green, but I’m happy.
Twelve years after Karen MacInerney founded the critique group, AMW published its first anthology, Murder on Wheels. The idea, like the anthology, grew out of collaboration. Kaye George, facilitator of the group after Karen left, describes it in the Introduction:
The genesis was a ride my husband and I took a couple of years ago on the Megabus (a double-decker bus that makes express runs between major cities with very limited stops). I started thinking that the bus would make a good setting for a murder: isolated setting, finite number of suspects, possible amateur sleuth. There was one problem–where to hide the body. So I asked the group, Austin Mystery Writers, for suggestions…. Once we got started, the Austin Mystery Writers came up with murder scenarios on vehicles, then expended that to included all sorts of wheels…
So, after inviting two accomplished writers, Reavis Wortham and Earl Staggs, to contribute, we wrote, critiqued, revised, re-critiqued, submitted to an independent editor, queried, and signed with Wildside, and Murder on Wheels: 11 Tales of Crime on the Move came out in 2015.
Kaye was an established writer with several novels and a zillion short stories to her credit, but the rest of us–Gale Albright, V. P. Chandler, Laura Oles, Scott Montgomery, and I–had never published any fiction. We were officially Pleased With Ourselves. When Wheels received the Silver Falchion Award at the 2016 Killer Nashville International Writers Conference, we tried to remain humble but couldn’t.
One anthology led to another. This time, AMW are joined by eight friends–Alexandra Burt, Mark Pryor, Larry Sweazey, Janice Hamrick, Terry Shames, George Wier, and Manning Wolfe–for Lone Star Lawless: 14 Texas Tales of Crime.
I would like to say, in a tone dripping with sophistication, “Been there, done that.” But I can’t. As with Wheels, I want to put Lawless in a baby carriage and, in a flagrant fling of Blatant Self Promotion, roll it up and down Congress Avenue and so everyone can see my magnificent creation.
Wouldn’t be prudent, though.
But if Laura wants to borrow my baby carriage to roll Daughters of Bad Men up and down Congress Avenue, I’ll be more than happy to chaperone.
Answer: Imogene Duckworthy, amateur P.I. and main character of Kaye George’s new mystery, CHOKE.
Here’s the entire review. Everything I say in it is the truth.
M. K. Waller, aka Kathy,
has published stories
in Austin Mystery Writers’
crime fiction anthologies
MURDER ON WHEELS
& LONE STAR LAWLESS,
in DAY OF THE DARK: STORIES OF ECLIPSE,
and in Mysterical-E.