Sunday, August 31, 2014

How to Write a Mystery Without Really Trying (Okay, That's a Lie ... But I Lie for a Living)

by Leann

I spent a good portion of my life hoping to find out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Oh, I was an RN, worked in various areas of nursing, but that was for security, so I could help provide for my family. What did I truly want to accomplish? What would I do with this time on earth?

My "first" (actually 3rd) job was raising puppies (#1 I was a wife and mother and #2 I was a nurse. I bred Shelties to be specific—many, many Shelties. Messy job
and not profitable, but oh so fun. Nurses and moms are used to poop and pee, after all. But all along I knew what I wanted. I was just too afraid to admit it to myself. Fear of failure is a powerful thing.

As my two kids grew older, I remember one day pointing my finger at them and saying, "Find a job you love, find your passion," and suddenly the unconscious became conscious. Was I leading by example? No, I wasn't. I believe it was the very next day I went out and bought my first copy of Writers Digest.

That was in 1989. My first book was released in 2004. No, you cannot write a book without trying, and trying ... and trying some more. You must face rejection and
heartbreak and confront your ego. You must understand there is no correct way to write a book, but there are hundreds of wrong ways. The learning curve is steep, the pain, the exhaustion, the self-doubt will shut you down if you allow it. I repeat. You cannot write a book without trying very, very hard to learn what a "voice" is, to trust yourself after you have cut yourself to pieces over and over.

So, being a mother was the key to everything. I looked into their pre-teen eyes to offer advice and found answers for myself lying there. The first mystery I wrote, Pick Your Poison, turned out to be the first book published in 2004. How many times did I rewrite it? I'd guess a hundred. I believed in that book even when I didn't believe in myself. Then came the cat series and I have now published eleven books in two series. I love my fictional cats and in the new release, I have created a fur friend I wish I could have sitting on my lap right now. I hope you enjoy Clyde from The Cat, The Vagabond and The Victim as much as I do!