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!

 

22 comments:

Gram said...

I am a retired RN and came to that late in life. That was my passion. My kids are split - two have and two have not found theirs.

Leann Sweeney said...

I did a lot of different jobs as an RN and gained so much insight into myself and to human nature. It's the path I was supposed to follow, as is writing. So glad you found you passion!

mary kennedy said...

What a fantastic blog--very interesting career choices but I'm so glad you decided to become a mystery novelist (and so are all your fans!)

Diane LaBrie Leverson said...

You have had very interesting professions but I'm glad you became the great author that you are now.

Anonymous said...

Great article...glad you found your passion!

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Mary! I almost became a psychologist but decided I made more money as a nurse after doing it for so long. I was almost done with my masters in psychology and said, nope. Not the right path. But it's great we all have choices!

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks so much Diane!!

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Patricia. It was a long time coming, but I did!

Historical Reminiscing with Marilyn said...

I loved this Article since I am working on getting published. Such very good advice..thank you...

Leann Sweeney said...

It's all about persistence! (And when preparation meets opportunity!)

Robyn K said...

Thank you for sharing! You are a fantastic author and an inspiration. :)

Colleen Blackmore said...

Thanks for your inspiring words!! I dream of writing a mystery but I hesitate due to the reasons you mention above. I have to get it through my head that a first draft is just that, a first draft. I have to believe in it with everything I've got and just go with it! Thank you again!

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks so much, Robyn!

Leann Sweeney said...

If it's meant to be, nothing will stop you! Go for it, Colleen! :-)

Annette said...

I still miss Abby and Kate.
It is so important to find your passion and love what you do.
I worked as a school librarian for 16 years and loved it. I will always be a librarian at heart.
After a few years off to have a child, I rejoined the workforce as a SpEd teacher for 10 years. I loved working with SpEd kids. I consider myself very lucky to have worked at two professions that I enjoyed so much. Hating your job must be an awful feeling. Yes, we are so lucky to have found our passion.

Leann Sweeney said...

Indeed we are! (And I miss Abby and Kate, too!)

Maggie Sefton said...

Great post, Leann. Your journey mirrors mine. i started a little earlier. Late 1980s. But the first pubbed book in 2005 was a historical romance, ABILENE GAMBLE, which is now out in Ebooks. I wrote historicals for over a decade before those mystery characters walked onstage.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Maggie. It does take being too stubborn to take no for an answer!

Robyn Rose said...

I miss Abby and Kate too! Please write another Yellow Rose, I am dying to know what becomes of everyone.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks! Me, too, Robyn. The series was never cancelled, it had to do with my health issues and being unable to write two series. I sure hope my health improves enough that it can happen!

Nerissa said...

Livin' without passion isn't really livin', at all. purrs

Leann Sweeney said...

Very true Nerissa!