I'm laughing at myself tonight. All my writing life, I've wanted to write mysteries. But for many years, I thought someone else wrote those--they were over there on another shelf. I wrote about the American West, primarily the experiences of women in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I was a western author and have received some nice recognition for my work in that field. But, always, on the side, I was reading mysteries--mostly cozies, mostly contemporary. I'm not as schooled in the Agatha Christie canon or other of the British greats as I should be and sometimes I feel like an interloper. I also don't follow a lot of the advice given in various blogs and online classes and the like. I mostly just bumble my way through, writing as it comes to me. The one piece of advice I always keep in mind came from Elmer Kelton, the late great Texas novelist, who always advised authors to "listen to your characters--they'll tell you where your story is going." I'll never reach Elmer's status, but that's advice I try to follow.
When I first joined Sisters in Crime, and the sub-group Guppies (Going to be Published), I was amazed at the new and knowledgeable world I had fallen into. Although my apprenticeship was shorter than some, I still regret the wasted time--querying about 20 agents to no avail, leaving the manuscript with one publisher for a year while they kept saying they were close to a decision (a big no-no I've since learned--give them a deadline), signing a year's contract with an agent who went from enthusiastic to indifferent (another no-no--don't tie your work up). By good fortune I hooked up with Turquoise Morning Press and publisher Kim Jacobs who has been very good to me. I'm sorry that this is our last book together, because she is taking the press in another direction and will no longer be publishing mysteries. But she will always have my gratitude. I'm not sure what's coming next but I did self-publish a stand-alone, The Perfect Coed, and I have a sequel about half-finished; I've finished a draft of the third in my Blue Plate Café Mysteries, and I just sent a Chicago historical to an editor. So yes, there will be more Judy Alter books.
Why am I laughing? Because six years ago I told myself if I could just get one mystery in print, I'd be happy. I now have six in the Kelly O'Connell series, two in the Blue Plate Café series, the one stand-alone. I've done all right in six years, and I plan to keep on doing it. Changes in the publishing world, as well as retirement, have made all this possible, but that's another story.
Thanks to all of you who have supported my books and, I hope, enjoyed them.