Story-Hearers, or Leslie Coins a New Phrase

I’m giving away a signed copy of Death al Dente — a Barnes & Noble mystery bestseller! Leave a comment and your email address to be entered in the drawing; winner to be chosen Aug 22.*

Years ago, at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, I met a writer named Dianne Day, author of the Fremont Jones mysteries featuring a young woman who runs a type-writing service in early 20th century San Francisco. We had a lovely conversation, and after that, ran into each other occasionally in online mystery discussion groups, and conversed a bit by email.  Fremont Jones

Around that time, a young secretary in my law firm was about fourteen months pregnant and not sleeping very well. For some reason, I gave her one of the Fremont Jones books. She brought it back the next morning and asked if there were any more. I lent her the series and she read every night until the baby came. Dianne was delighted to have given comfort—and distraction—when it was needed.

Death al DenteI’m remembering that story because Dianne died recently, after a lengthy illness, and because my own first mystery, Death al Dente, has just been published. (Every writer knows that “first” means first published, not the first written. We’ll talk about that long winding road another time!) It’s doing very well, and for that, I thank you, readers. It finished its first week out at #11 on the Barnes & Noble Bestsellers List for Mystery, in mass market paperback (the small format). It’s being spotted regularly in bookstores around the country—if you see it, send me a picture and I’ll post it on Facebook. And it received a marvelous review in Fresh Fiction, a review site and community for readers of mystery, romance, and women’s fiction.

But best of all are the notes from readers. Only a few so far—how brave, how bold, how kind to take the time to write a woman you don’t know and talk about a book. Oh my gosh, they touch me. To know that a reader spends her time—six hours or so, for most of us to read a typical length mystery—in the world you created and is glad she did. Likes the people she met there. Wants to know what happens next. Stayed up too late reading. Went to the grocery store for garbanzo beans and bell peppers and triggered a mini run on prosciutto so she could make the recipes in the back of the book.

Storytellers need story-listeners. Story-hearers. Story-receivers. Those aren’t words in our language, but they ought to be. In my household, we say “that may not be in the dictionary, but I said it and you knew what I meant, so it’s a word.”

It’s a word. Thank you.


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