The time has come for me to say an official HOW-dee you all of you! First of all, let me beat a dead donkey (yet again) and tell you how honored I am to be rubbing virtual elbows with the fabulous chicks who make up Women and Words! And then there’s the huge, amazing following this blog has. Them there’s some mighty high expectations from the peanut—er—fan gallery. Seriously, I am absolutely stoked to be asked to participate here at WaW.
Get on to the nitty gritty of this missive, you say? All righty then. I’ve been writing for maybe a decade, and I pen the Shay O’Hanlon Caper series. I started writing because I was furious that a series I loved ended (Literary characters who become a reader’s new best friends may be cause for a head examination, and thank you Jean Redmann for resurrecting Micky!) so I figured if I wrote my own series the characters could carry on forever—to infinity and beyond…and all that. Or until I couldn’t stand them any longer. Whichever. Thus, Shay and her cohorts were born.
My path to publication has been a little different. I’d taken a few classes from Ellen Hart here in Minneapolis at the Loft, and let me tell you. What a thrill to meet one of my heroes. I was enamored, and she actually thought my writing had potential. Yeah, I admit, that was heady as hell. She told me she would sure like to see another lesbian main character in the US mainstream press. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, mainstream publishers (namely the New York Big Six, now the Big Five) embraced lesbian protagonists, especially in the mystery genre: Ellen, J.M. Redmann, Katherine Forrest, Sandra Scoppotone, Elizabeth Sims, Nicola Griffith, Abigail Padgett to name a few. By the time the 2000s hit, the mainstream had purged the majority of our fictional sisters. Currently, Jane Lawless was, to our knowledge, the only one left standing.
So the question remained. Did I want to dive into these now-questionable and seemingly treacherous waters and help spread the word that we, as lesbians (fictional AND flesh-and-blood) are just people too, and we are here to stay? That we can have a kick ass protagonist who just happens to be a dyke? Hell, yeah! Why not. I certainly was not willing to write myself out of my books. If a side benefit came in the form of changing someones opinion of gays or lesbians—hopefully for the better—I was in.
Long story short, I actually managed snagged a three book deal with a medium-sized, mainstream press, and I was not asked to change my main character’s sexuality. Score! It’s been quite a trip…from debut author who had no idea what she was doing to seasoned author who still has no idea what she’s doing.
However, as we all know, all good things must…yeah. Last winter I got some great news: my first book had sold through its print run! Yahoo! Isn’t that what a publisher wants? To sell though the books they’ve printed? Absolutely. Break out the bubbly!
Not so fast.
My publisher then notified me they’d made the decision NOT to do a second printing. WHAT?! This was especially devastating in that I had a fourth book in the series coming out less than four months from that point. If you’re a series reader, you know what that means. Can we say Death Spiral? However, with the help of some invaluable friends (thank you Lori L. Lake, Pat Cronin, Ann McMann, Carol Poynor and so many others) I showed my publisher a thing or two. I started my own press, Train Wreck XPress, which you can check out HERE, and issued a second edition of Bingo Barge Murder—both in print and as an ebook. After some monumental effort by all involved, I hit the PUBLISH button on the very day my newest book, Chip Off the Ice Block Murder was released, this past May 8th.
Now I’m on an entirely new trajectory, and frankly, I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next. Women and Words, and all of you, are part of this great adventure, and I’m really happy to be here.
For a little more about me and my books, check out my website HERE!