G.P. Gottlieb is the author of the Whipped and Sipped series of cozy mysteries. You can find out more about her on her website, or by clicking here, and find her books here. This is her first post for the Blackbirds.
I loved playing piano as a kid, but when I got to the music school at Indiana University, it seemed like everyone else was a better musician. I still liked playing, but I started getting nauseated whenever I had to perform. Still, after I completed a degree in piano and psychology, I stopped playing. I did my graduate degree in voice, worked in various musical and non-musical positions, and during my child-rearing years, only occasionally sat down to play. It was frustrating because I’d lost the dexterity that I’d taken for granted. Thirty years later, I came back to it and started playing a little. I’d warm up my fingers and read through one Chopin prelude, one Bach fugue. It made me happy, playing piano again.
The children grew up, and just when the last one went off to college, I was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. During my recovery, I realized that I’d better start doing all those things I’d always dreamt of doing, while I could. Like writing a book. I always wrote, also a little every day – a poem, a song, a 500-page manuscript that meandered in all directions. It made me happy, writing.
I found an editor who helped me polish the pages of a mystery and guided me through the publishing process. After my first book was published, I joined Sisters in Crime Chicagoland. Soon after, I volunteered to do communications for the board, which was fun because I liked meeting other writers, tending the SinCC website, and writing engaging posts to encourage people to attend our events. This year we decided to write welcoming letters to all our members. It makes me happy, reaching out to potential friends.
That’s how I met Tracey S. Phillips, who did her undergrad degree at Berklee College of Music (down the road from where I did my masters at New England Conservatory). She teaches piano, and her debut novel, Best Kept Secrets, was published in 2019, the same year as Battered, my debut novel. We started chatting via email, and she let me read a draft of the follow-up book to her debut, which is now on my TBR list). She’s got writing chops, and as soon as it’s ready, I plan to recommend her follow-up novel to my publisher, DX Varos Publishing – I’ve already sent two authors to him. It makes me happy, connecting people.
Turns out that Tracey founded the Blackbird Writers, a group of crime and mystery authors who band together to support each other’s book marketing efforts. Tracey couldn’t have known that it was my dream to be in a supportive group of crime writers who review each other’s books, share each other’s good news, and jointly host a blog (among other things). When she invited me, I nearly wept with joy and immediately started downloading and reading my fellow Blackbird writers’ books. I think Tracey invited me because of our shared love for piano. She even suggested I plunge back into Debussy and Brahms. All of it makes me happy – playing piano, writing books, and being a Blackbird Writer.