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G.P. Gottlieb on Playing the Piano and Writing

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.

G.P. Gottlieb at recital

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.

G.P. Gottlieb with David Gottlieb

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.

GP Gottlieb

G.P. Gottlieb is the author of the Whipped and Sipped mystery series, as well as an interviewer on the New Books in Literature channel of the New Books Network podcasts. You can find out more about her on her website,, or follow her on Twitter, and Facebook.

This Post Has 29 Comments

  1. Tracey Phillips
    Tracey Phillips

    Galit, thanks for this lovely post! You’re right about music and piano connecting us. Playing classical music feeds my soul. To meet someone who followed virtually the same path as I makes us sisters at heart. I’m so glad you’re here!

  2. Christine DeSmet
    Christine DeSmet

    What a great post concerning how it’s never too late to do anything. You just do it, right? Though it also takes time and COURAGE to dive back into something like your music or writing or anything after a long time. We’re often faced with “Why bother?” or “It’s too late” or “Nobody cares.” Good for you! Let yourself spread those wings and fly! Welcome to Blackbird Writers!

    1. gpgottlieb

      Thank you, Christine, I’m delighted to be here!

  3. Avatar
    Laurie's Story

    You sound like such a lovely person! It’s a pleasure to share the Blackbirds group with you. I like that your to-do list features helping others. That is an admirable goal and one that can be fully accomplished.

    1. gpgottlieb

      You also sound like a lovely person, Laurie, but I didn’t sleep for a week after reading the first chapter of your first Gabriel McCray suspense novel!

  4. Laurie Buchanan
    Laurie Buchanan

    Galit — I’m so glad you’re a Blackbird Writer! I’m reading “Battered: A Whipped and Sipped Mystery” right now. You’ve got some serious writing chops!

    1. gpgottlieb

      Thanks, Laurie – I just downloaded your first book – Indelible….can’t wait!

  5. Avatar
    Jacqueline Vick

    You’re right about tackling life instead of waiting for the “right time.” It never comes. Your books look like fun! I have my copy Battered waiting to go.

    1. gpgottlieb

      And I already snarfed up the Harlow Brothers mysteries – totally delightful fun!

  6. Avatar

    Welcome to the ‘Birds, GP. I love this insight about your journey to writing.

    1. gpgottlieb

      Thanks – and now that I’m a Blackbird, I’ll have to read another of your books – I downloaded A Murder of Principal and look forward to reading it!

  7. Avatar
    Avanti Centrae

    I’m glad you’re following your writing dreams and doing things that make you happy. We could all learn from that!

    1. gpgottlieb

      Right?! Life is too short and too hard to waste –

  8. Sherrill Joseph
    Sherrill Joseph

    Galit, welcome to the flock! What an inspirational post. I will be reaching out to you soon to schedule a month to feature your book in my newsletter, then read and review it. I look forward to getting to know you and your writing better. So happy you’re a Blackbird Writer!

    1. gpgottlieb

      Thanks, Sherrill – I will be grateful to have my books featured – #3 is coming out later this year so it’d be fine to wait for that!

  9. Anne Louise Bannon
    Anne Louise Bannon

    It’s so interesting all the different ways that we can find connection. What a lovely post.

    1. gpgottlieb

      Thanks, Anne, with thanks to you for knowing about the Blackbird Writers!

  10. Margaret Mizushima
    Margaret Mizushima

    I enjoyed this post so much, Galit! I went to college on a piano scholarship at University of Northern Colorado, minoring in music with a Speech Pathology major. I broke my right arm severely in a horseback fall in 1987 and my right hand was paralyzed for about a year. I used the piano to slowly pick back up my individual finger movements and even though I don’t have the dexterity I used to have, I’ve rehabilitated my hand enough that its function is near normal. Very thankful for that. I have my mother’s piano which was built in 1929. She received it new when she was six years old. I love it though I rarely play anymore. Anyway…thanks so much for telling your wonderful story. I look forward to flying with you!

    1. gpgottlieb

      What a story! I’m trying to read at least one book of every Blackbird – which one of yours should I start with? (I don’t enjoy scary thrillers or gratuitous violence).

    2. Tracey Phillips
      Tracey Phillips

      What a great story, Margaret! I had no idea you majored in music! I majored in music production and engineering. For several years, we had a recording studio in our basement. Back them, we used one-inch reels! Now everything is digital!! Piano therapy is amazing for dexterity!

  11. Avatar
    Donna Rewolinski

    Great post. It shows us that in life we need to make time to do the things we love because if we wait until “I have more time” life can change suddenly and it can slip away.

  12. GP Gottlieb
    GP Gottlieb

    Yes, and also that it’s worth pursuinghappiness.

  13. Sheila Lowe
    Sheila Lowe

    As we are in another group together, I already know what a nice person you are. Welcome to the Blackbirds–a terrific bunch of writers.

  14. joyribar

    We’re so happy to add another grateful flyer to our Blackbird flock. Thank you for joining us and sharing your story! I’ll be looking up your books now.

  15. Valerie Biel
    Valerie Biel

    Thanks, Galit, for your lovely post. It’s a good reminder that we need to embrace (and do) the things we love that bring us happiness every day (which is hard to do in this busy world.) Thank you!

  16. gpgottlieb

    Now let’s see if I can keep it up – So happy to be in the flock!

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