It’s my pleasure to participate in Mystery Thriller Week by sharing a post about myself, my books, and my feelings about writing and publishing.
As a librarian, reader, and author, books and the written word have been very important in my life. I can’t imagine a world without them. Writing transports people to places they’ve never visited within as well as outside of themselves. It entertains, teaches, amuses, and sometimes saddens. The saying “The pen is mightier than the sword” is true. Even before paper was invented or languages defined, storytellers played an important role in communities. They still do despite the fact there are so many forms of communication today. A good story has value whether it is read off a screen, through the pages of an “old-fashioned” book, or listened to on audio CD’s or digital files.
Books have healing properties. It’s been proven that reading has many emotional benefits, and what benefits your mind also positively affects your body. Have you ever found yourself so immersed in a book that you felt like you were one of the characters? Have you traveled in time with a historical novel? Been frightened by a horror story? Fallen in love with a romance? Surprised by the twist in a mystery? Excited by a scene in a thriller? Books can stir your emotions and stimulate your mind.
I remember when I first started reading in second grade. It was more fun to me than any of the games I played. I felt like I’d discovered a wonderful secret or found a magic spell. As I grew older, my love of books increased. I admired the authors who were able to make me visualize the worlds they created. Then I began writing my own stories to entertain myself. But I also had a dream that one day, like my favorite authors, I would be able to reach people around the world and give them the gift of my words.
The first step toward achieving that dream was to become published. For years, I’d written story and novel-length material in notebooks without submitting them anywhere. I still have those unedited manuscripts that I’d squirreled away in my attic when I married and moved to my new home. What prompted me to finally start sending my writing to publishers was my desire to join a group called the Cat Writer’s Association (http://catwriters.com/) of which I am still a member. When I learned that such a group existed, I thought it would be the perfect place for me because I loved cats and writing. The only thing I worried about was meeting the membership requirement of two published, cat-related pieces. I fell back on my college newspaper journalism experience and wrote two articles that I submitted to cat magazines. They were published, and I became a professional member of the CWA. That spurred me to continue writing cat and pet articles for several years. During this time, I also completed a time-travel novel featuring cats that was my first manuscript saved on computer. However, after receiving just one rejection from the first publisher I queried, I put my writing on the back burner. I was working full-time at my library and my husband and I were planning a family. We struggled for some time before I became pregnant and had my daughter who is now twelve years old.
When my beloved 15-year old cat, Floppy, passed away, I began to write again to ease my grief. I added him as a character to a paranormal romance that had a theme of reincarnation combined with technology. The book also featured some fictionalized events from my college years. My husband, knowing how much the story meant to me, convinced me to self-publish Cloudy Rainbow (November 2008) through Booklocker.com. (http://booklocker.com/) Although it did not sell well, I was glad to have written a book in memory of my cat.
After my self-publishing experience, I had difficulty returning to writing. I started another novel, but I gave up before it was completed. I began to think I wasn’t cut out to be an author. I put aside my dream that I then considered had only been a fantasy.
I would’ve believed that negative illusion forever if certain events didn’t occur two years ago. First, a patron at my library who’d read Cloudy Rainbow and enjoyed it, kept asking me if I was writing anything new. I realized that she wasn’t pestering but encouraging me. Then our library purchased Gale Courses, (http://solutions.cengage.com/GaleCourses/) a database that featured free online classes in a variety of subjects including writing and publishing. My fellow librarians and I were encouraged to try the product before we introduced it to the community. We were asked to select a class that interested us, and I chose a publishing course. I ended up taking several more classes and began writing stories and articles again. I still didn’t have the courage to send them out, but I eventually submitted a few to my local paper and to the online site catster.com, (http://www.catster.com/). I was pleasantly surprised when my submissions were accepted for publication and was thrilled and somewhat shocked when my article on grooming cats won a special award from Hartz Corporation last year in the CWA annual contest.( http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/brush-your-cat-for-bonding-beauty-and-better-health)
As I began to have more confidence and a renewed interest in writing, I started a mystery novel that included a romance. The main character was a widowed librarian whose husband died mysteriously in a hit and run car accident. While the plot was created from my imagination, some of the characters were based on composites of people I knew or had known in earlier years.
The last in the series of events which resulted in my mystery A Stone’s Throw, being published by a small publisher, was my participation in an online Twitter event called #Pit2Pub in the summer of 2015. After submitting a tweet about my manuscript that was “liked” by a few publishers, I ended up signing a contract with Limitless Publishing. (https://www.limitlesspublishing.net/) When the book was published, I was honored by the positive reviews by readers and the support of fellow authors who I met through Facebook groups. I had not planned to write a series, but I started a second book because I had ideas for developing the characters in a new story.
I published my second Cobble Cove mystery, Between a Rock and a Hard Place (October 2016), with Solstice Publishing (http://solsticepublishing.com/). Solstice will also be reprinting my first mystery, A Stone’s Throw, with a new chapter and cover and my third mystery, Written in Stone, within the next few months. I also have several short stories in anthologies of various genres and my romantic comedy novella, When Jack Trumps Ace, will be published this February. My future plans are to continue the Cobble Cove mysteries and complete some standalone mysteries. I have also written a psychological thriller that I’m currently querying with agents.
Publishing my books feels magical and not a little unreal. Seeing my books listed online or occupying a spot on my library or bookstore’s shelf seems incredible. When people review my books or personally give me feedback, knowing that my words are being read through their eyes is nothing short of miraculous. Even more unbelievable is having my mystery, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, voted 2nd place in the P& E Reader’s poll for Best Mystery of 2016 and my short story, The Path to Rainbow Bridge, come in 4th place for the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Story of 2016. Still, I know that there are millions of books out there and more being published every minute. How can I hope to compete? How can I make my dream come true and reach all the people who would enjoy my stories? That’s the lament of new authors as well as old. I don’t have the answers except what I’ve learned through my experience. The best advice I can give myself as well as other writers who want to stand out from the crowd is to write what comes from your heart and believe in yourself and your dream. Most important of all, never give up.
For more information about me and my books and stories including my Cobble Cove mystery series, connect with me through the following links:
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2bIHdaQ
Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up: Ruff Drafts
Cobble Cove Character Chat (Facebook page where you can interact with the characters from my mysteries): https://www.facebook.com/groups/748912598599469/
I will be hosting an author hour on Monday, February 20 from 3-4 pm during Mystery Thriller week (https://mysterythrillerweek.com/). Some of the characters from my mysteries will be helping me post information about their books and offer some giveaways. For more information, visit the event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1244007262287370/