No wonder Thanksgiving is a prelude to long winter nights. A holiday focusing on blessings gives us the opportunity to slow down, reflect, and be thankful for what we’ve received. We hope that our gratitude and happier memories can get us through the cold nights when the January wind whistles around the corners of the house. Believe me, we hear that high-pitched wind in the chilly Midwest.
Once the pandemic hit last winter, I wasn’t so sure I’d have a lot to be thankful for, other than the fact that I might still be breathing. Many of my writer friends have been furiously tearing up the computer keys, writing 60,000, 70,000 words, the world situation urging them to act over what they can control. Not me. My brain shut down with the cancellation of the Left Coast Crime conference in early March, and I struggled with shorter pieces of writing like blog posts when I found myself stumbling on novels. Human contact is important to imagination, and the lack of it affected my writing in ways that caught me by surprise.
During those ten months, several positive, life-changing events happened, some planned, some not. I’m thankful for the Guppy writing community, the online chapter of Sisters in Crime. Becoming their president gave me a chance to concentrate on helping others who were struggling for various reasons and took me out of my own problems. Then, an agent said “Yes,” and now Dawn Dowdle of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency represents me, and she has done remarkable work in a few short months. My editor of eight years, Lourdes Venard, who has always lived a continent or an ocean away, moved closer to me, and now she is only an hour away. A mere car ride. Nothing. I consider her my amazing editor and such a friend.
Determined to change my writing block, I took a class on plot structure from another author, Kris Neri, via the Guppy Group. That decision pushed me to come out of my malaise and get a book going. In fact, as the creative juices began to flow again, I realized how much I loved writing, a blessing in disguise.
Between fortuitous events and hard work, I finally have some exciting news. My Sweet Iron mystery, A Death at Tippitt Pond, is going to be an audiobook in the next year, thanks to the work of my publisher, Eddie Vincent, of Encircle Publications, who partnered with Findaway Voices. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when my first box of books with my name on the spines landed on my doorstep ten years ago. Imagine how amazing it will feel to hear someone reading my words. I’ll probably hug the UPS delivery person.
Harlequin Worldwide Mystery will re-publish Marry in Haste, the second of my Endurance mysteries in May 2021, and it will beincluded in books sent to their book club members. The new cover for this mystery will show up in January. Can’t wait. I just signed a contract with them for my third and final book in that series, Death Takes No Bribes, date to be announced. They have been very encouraging about the entire series, telling me their reviewer loved it.
Finally, and most miraculously, I wrote a novel prior to the pandemic called Death in a Pale Hue. It begins a new mystery series about an art center in the small town of Apple Grove. It’s a cozy mystery that gives new meaning to “don’t go down to the basement.” I also wrote a description of the second and third book in the series. I’m happy to say my agent just sold my series to Level Best Books in a three-book contract, and each one will be coming out in summer 2022, 2023, 2024.
That’s one…two…three books. Could I even have imagined?
So now I’m already writing another book. I have three towns and sets of characters from which to choose: Endurance, Sweet Iron, or Apple Grove. Grace Kimball, Beth Russell, or Jill Madison? I must admit, I’m drawn back to Grace Kimball and Jeff Maitlin, who decided to marry at the end of Death Takes No Bribes. I was sure their story ended there. But now I’m not so sure. I think we’re going back to Endurance, and I can already hear Lettie Kimball-Novak say something utterly outrageous that she read in her horoscope while Grace—and now Jeff—shake their heads. So I think it’s a return to Endurance where it all began. Stay tuned.