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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sisters . . . in Crime by Lesa Holstine

Lesa Holstine has been blogging and reviewing books at Lesa's Book Critiques for over six years.  Born in Ohio, she was a library manager there, in Florida for eighteen years, and in Glendale, AZ for almost seven. Lesa reviews women’s fiction for Library Journal and mysteries for Mystery Lovers’ Journal.  Lesa's Book Critiques is syndicated through Blogburst, and reviews have been picked up by Reuters, USA Today and other news distributors. She was the winner of the 2009 Spinetingler Award for Best Reviewer. She considers two of her greatest accomplishments the chairing of the Authors’ Committee for the Lee County Reading Festival for six  years, and the Authors @ The Teague program.

 
Sisters . . .   in Crime
by Lesa Holstine

Over in the sidebar of Kaye’s blog, she has this sentence - “Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee or a cuppa tea, have a piece of pie and always feel free to speak your mind, and your heart, here at Meanderings and Muses.” So, today is my chance to speak my heart about sisters, “Sisters…in Crime.”

My husband, Jim, died in February 2010, and so many of those sisters I met in the crime fiction community reached out to me. You, along with my family and my co-workers, are the reason that 2010 and 2011 actually turned into very good years for me, and I wanted to say thank you.

I met Judy Starbuck at Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale about a year before Jim died. Judy read my blog, Lesa’s Book Critiques, and recognized me. She tells me now that she spends time with me through my blog with her first cup of coffee every morning. Judy is a member of the local chapter of Sisters in Crime here in Arizona, Desert Sleuths. She introduced me to fellow members of that group, who have become friends, Roni Olson, Chantelle Aimee Osman, Deb Ledford, Kris Neri. Desert Sleuths came as a group to the Velma Teague Library to celebrate the release of two of their books. And, last summer, they made me their first fan guest of honor at their WriteNow! Conference. That’s quite an honor. But, even more important, they truly made me feel like a sister. They’ve included me in lunches, dinners after programs at the Poisoned Pen. We all met up in Santa Fe at Left Coast Crime, supported friends who were nominated for awards, went to dinner, just shared time, hugs, and laughter. I don’t get to see them as often as I would like, but they’re always in my heart.

Left to right - Rebecca Cantrell, Lesa Holstine, Chantelle Osman, Kris Neri and Roni Olson

Then, there are three other crime writers who I’m lucky to call friends, Zoe Sharp, Sophie Littlefield and Juliet Blackwell. I first met all three of these women when they appeared at Velma Teague. Zoe was the very first author I ever hosted for Authors @ The Teague. She’s been there three times, and I love to host her. But, I’ve also had dinners and breakfasts with her and her wonderful husband, Andy. They took me out for my first sushi meal, and poor Andy even had to show me how to use chopsticks. And, I thank them for all of the time we’ve had together in the last year. 


Left to right, back row - Zoe Sharp, Jeanne Matthews, Sophie Littlefield, Juliet Blackwell. In front - Lesa Holstine

I really don’t think of Sophie Littlefield and Juliet Blackwell separately. They’ve appeared at the library together. I met up with them at a Poisoned Pen conference together, and at the Tucson Festival of Books. I follow them on Twitter, and get notes from them saying “We were just talking about you.” Seeing Sophie and Juliet, or hearing from them makes me feel as if I received a group hug.

Louise Penny isn’t just the bestselling author of the Three Pines mysteries featuring Armand Gamache. Louise is a dear friend. I meet up with her for dinner every time she comes to the Poisoned Pen. We’ve shared stories, hugs, and I have a standing invitation to stay in her guest house, one that she offered as soon as she heard of Jim’s death.

Louise Penny and Lesa Holstine at Poisoned Pen Bookstore, Scottsdale, AZ

And, I can’t talk about “Sisters…in Crime” without mentioning four special people in the blogging community, Jen Forbus, Janet Rudolph, Maddee James and Kaye Barley. I got to meet Jen in Ohio last summer, and she’s just as enthusiastic as you’d expect if you read her blog. I finally  met Janet and Maddee at Left Coast Crime in Santa Fe. Janet inspires me daily with all of her contributions to the mystery field. She hosts authors in her home, edits Mystery Readers’ Journal, and tweets about the crime fiction genre. Maddee is Xuni of xuni.com,  Maddee has been there from the beginning of my blog, assisting me with it. She even offered me use of her house when Jim died.  And, Kaye. Every time I receive a note from her that says “Sweetie,” I feel hugged.

There’s a whole group of wonderful “Sisters” out there, Vicki Delany, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Clea Simon, Libby Hellmann, Cara Black, Deb Baker. The list could go on and on. Thanks to all my sisters for their support this year.

With your support and friendship, the last year and a half has been good to me in the crime fiction world. I’ve written the chapter on mysteries for the forthcoming edition of Genreflecting. I was honored to be the first Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths. Thank you. I’ve reviewed mysteries for my blog and journals. I attended Left Coast Crime, and was honored to meet so many other “Sisters.” I can’t thank all of authors enough who take time to appear at the Velma Teague Library for Authors @ The Teague. And, now I’m even going to Book Expo America (BEA) in New York City to be on a panel. Does it surprise you to know that I’m talking about mysteries?

Jen Forbus recently did a guest blog here in which she talked about finding a home in the crime fiction community. She’s right. But, it may only be when you have a crisis in your life that you realize how many “Sisters” you truly have in the mystery world. Thank you to all of you.

I love you.  Lesa

--
Lesa Holstine
lesa.holstine@gmail.com

http://www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com

32 comments:

Kay said...

What a beautiful piece, Lesa! I've only gotten to know you via DL, your blog & fb, but am so glad we have gotten acquainted! I look for your blog, your posts & your tweets. I always feel like I'm hearing from an old & dear friend whenever I read any or all of the above. Hugs!

Kaye, I just *love* your blog too!

Patty said...

Beautiful post. I'm sorry about your husband but so glad you have so many friends to support you.

The mystery world is amazing, and the Internet has made it possible for so many people to connect. I've never met any of the people you mentioned but feel like I know most of them, especially Kaye. Keep on sharing Sisters.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Kay. It doesn't matter. I feel close to many of the people I've met online, and they seem just like friends when I finally do get to meet them. We already know so much about each other. And, I'll take every hug you send, Kay!

Thank you, Patty. The mystery world truly is amazing in its support. I hear that all the time from authors, and I've seen it so often. Men or women, it truly is a supportive "Family."w

Libby Fischer said...

Well, you sure know how to make someone's day, Lesa. Thank you for the mention in your post. But it goes both ways -- you have been such a supporter of us authors that it's easy to return the love. Thanks for everything you do.

Deborah J said...

It is such an honor to be mentioned in your article, Lesa. My heart skips whenever I see your bright smile. It’s been a blast having you join the Sisters and you’ve made the past two years so much more fun.

You have always been so supportive and generous to writers with your most excellent Lesa’s Book Critiques and provide an instrumental service to readers looking for worthy reads.

No words can sufficiently express how much you mean to us.

Clea Simon said...

Dear Lesa ... What a beautiful post. I can only add that the support is mutual. Big hugs. clea

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

I think I'm hitting the right keys..can't be sure because the screen is a little blurry from the tears filling my eyes.


Lesa, you darling. Do you realize how much you mean to me? And all of us? And how much difference you make in our lives?

Your footprints in the sand are deep and lasting. Lesa, I can't wait to come visit. You are one of a kind.

Kaye..look what you've done! What a community you've created. Remember when you weren't sure it would take?

Love to all..

Vicki Delany said...

sniff sniff. When I decided to write a book the very last reason was because I wanted to make a whole lot of new friends. And that turned out to be the very best part of it. Many thanks, Lesa.

Anonymous said...

Oh Lesa, you are the wonderful one. We love you, simple as that. Your librarians love you too, they told me they were keeping you busy after Jim passed, encouraging you to go to the Tucson Festival of Books and Left Coast. See you at BEA! xo Cara

Lesa said...

See, that's what I mean. What a beautiful community - notes from Libby, Deb, Clea, Hank, Vicki, Cara. It's a different kind of friendship than you think of, but I admire all of you, appreciate your notes, your books, your "hugs." I love what you said, Vicki, that you didn't mean to make friends when you wrote a book. And, Cara? Thank you for the note about my staff. I love them. They're just great. And, you're right. They've been there for me from the beginning.

It was so nice of Kaye to let me do a guest blog so I could say thank you to all of you.

Brenda B. said...

Such a beautiful post from such a lovely and welcome voice in the mystery reading/writing community. Thank you, Lesa.

I follow you on Twitter and read your blog on a regular basis. You are so consistently thoughtful and supportive of others, it is no wonder your Sisters have been so supportive of you.

Thank you for all that you do,

Brenda Buchanan

Lesa said...

Thank you, Brenda! Well, I totally agree with Jen Forbus. I've found a home here in the mystery community, and I love reading, meeting, and spending time with mystery authors and other readers.

Ah, one of my two obsessions - Twitter. I spend way too much time there, but it's where I actually find out most of the breaking news. Thanks for following me on Twitter, Brenda. And, thank you for reading my blog. That's not my other obsession, but I love to share books and authors on my blog.

Sophie Littlefield said...

Lesa! You are such a dear...as you know you were one of the very first people to show kindness to this newbie and i will never, ever, ever forget it. That first trip to Glendale is etched in my memory forever. And as for hugs, you're a champ at 'em...

Zoë Sharp said...

Lesa, you know we both love you to bits.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Such a great tribute to the mystery writing community! It's such a wonderful group of women, and you're right--whenever I meet someone in person, I feel like I already know them. :)

Lesa said...

As I said, Sophie and Zoe, thank you. I appreciate the gifts of your friendship. Ah, Elizabeth. I've never had the chance to meet you, but you're there almost every day, the first one to comment on my blog. And, I didn't mention Mystery Lovers Kitchen, but you make authors and readers alike feel at home in that kitchen. Thank you.

Janet Rudolph said...

Oh my goodness, Lesa, what a lovely post. You forgot to mention, though, how much you enrich all of our lives. You are such a special member of 'sisters'... It's my honor and privilege to know you.

Lesa said...

Thanks, Janet. I'm afraid that's because I'm only looking at it from my viewpoint. And, I admire all of you, and enjoy spending time with you, whether it's in reality or virtually. I value that time and my "sisters."

Maddee said...

Oh Lesa, ya sweet thing! You are so dear to all our hearts. I can't tell you what a huge pleasure it was to see you in person for the first time at LCC in Santa Fe after communicating these many many years online. I actually remember the day I helped you put your photo in the sidebar of your blog way back when -- little did I know that your blog would be so life-changing for you -- and bring such joy to the rest of us. Much love! maddee

Kaye Barley said...

Lesa - look at all these sisters of yours who love you right back!

dang.

Everytime I read your sweet piece, I cry. Thank you, my friend for being my friend.

love you, sweetie!

jenny milchman said...

It's so wonderful when the internet world becomes the real world, and then goes back again. I have made friends remotely--Kaye and you being two of them!--who I am just waiting to give a real live hug to one day. Your love of books I'm sure makes these authors as grateful to have you in their lives, Lesa, as you are for them. Wonderful tribute.

Juliet Blackwell said...

Wow, Lesa, what a beautiful post! It's no surprise that you're surrounded by loving "sisters" -- you open up those arms in a big bear hug, and who could resist? Seriously, you draw us to you with your openness, your smarts, and your huge smile. Thanks so much for your unstinting support, professionally AND personally! We (Sophie and I) Love YOU!!!!

Libby Fischer said...

Hold on. I forgot something. The chocolates. Best road trip picker-upper. Ever. Keep 'em coming, Lesa.

Lesa said...

You're right, Maddee. I can't believe how much the blog has changed my life. It was so good to finally meet you at LCC. And, now Jen's working with you. Small world, isn't it?

Kaye, isn't it wonderful? I can feel all those hugs right now! Thanks again!

Lesa said...

Someday, Jenny! You're right. The internet, in some ways, has made friendships possible. That's the joy of it. I'm sure we'll meet someday.

Lesa said...

Whether it's a good review or just an OK, one, Juliet, you know how much I support the authors. I'm so in awe of what you do, first with the creation and writing, then with all the promotion. And, you and Sophie always manage to appear joyful, no matter how you might be feeling. Hugs to both of you.

Lesa said...

Chocolates! Of course, Libby! What would an Authors @ The Teague program be without chocolates for the authors? I have two Authors @ The Teague mugs sitting on my table right now, ready to give them to Earlene Fowler and Carolyn Hart in an hour.

Louise Penny Author said...

hi lesa - what a very beautiful post. So moving and so true. What would we do without our Sisters? How I value you, my friend.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Louise. I hope you know how much I treasure your friendship. But, for you, it's not chocolate, is it? Gummie bears all the way!

Coco Ihle said...

I'm a little behind on my blog reading, but I just had to say, after reading your post, "Hurrah for SinC!" You are so right about how we truly are SISTERS! Thank you so much for sharing your touching story.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Coco. Isn't it wonderful to have such supportive "sisters?" It's made a world of difference to me.