Welcome Terrie Farley Moran!

By Sherry

crhteeWe are so please to have Terrie Farley Moran with us today. I got to know Terrie last spring when we were both nominated for an Agatha Award in the best first novel category. Congratulations, again to Terrie for her win with Well Read Then Dead! Terrie is giving away a cute Caught Read-Handed (isn’t that a great title) T-shirt to a commenter today. So leave a comment and an email address!

CaughtReadHanded_newcomp.inddHi All. Caught Read-Handed, the second book in the Read ’Em and Eat cozy mystery series was released a few weeks ago and I am having a fine time wandering around the blogosphere visiting friends both old and new. I’m so excited that the Wickeds invited me back to visit them and all their terrific readers. (Thanks Sherry.)

Happy as I am that book two is out in the world, I’m struggling along writing book three of the series. I’d love to say “writing cozy mysteries is great fun” but that would be less than truthful. Writing anything is work. Hard work.

But you take research—that’s where the fun is! I am so pleased that my daughter recommended the gorgeous and tranquil (excluding the occasional cozy murder) Fort Myers Beach as the home of the Read ’Em and Eat Café and Bookstore. As part of my research naturally I read all the books that the café’s book club members read, and it would be silly not to dabble in the book-related food the café serves. (Think Old Man and the Sea Chowder, Green Eggs and Ham or Harper Lee Hush Puppies.) I freely admit there are few things I enjoy more than books and food but I am happily surprised at how much I’ve come to love the study of the flora and fauna of southwest Florida.

FTMyrsBchshellsFor one thing I had no idea the extensive variety of sea shells that can be found in the Gulf of Mexico, although I did know that all sea shells start out as the home of mollusks. Did you know that clams, mussels, oysters and scallops live in bivalve shells? That’s what you’d recognize as two sided hinged shells. How about those elegant tulip shells? Did you know they are called gastropods? Say what? Gastropods—it seems that gastropods are univalves and have snails inside with a large foot-like stomach that pushes through a hole in the shell wall to propel the gastropod around.

I still have a lot to learn about shells but one thing I can tell you for sure is that in Fort Myers Beach it is against the law to collect an occupied sea shell. If the mollusk is at home, you must leave the shell alone.

mcgregor_blvd_sb_app_victoria_aveAnd what about those splendid palm trees decorating beaches, streets, parks and lawns—every surface imaginable? I am astounded by the sheer variety of palms, ranging from Dwarf Palms that max out at ten feet high to the more usual palm trees that reach twenty to thirty feet at maturity. For absolute grandeur there is the Florida Royal Palm which reaches a height of one hundred thirty feet and seems to live forever. In fact when Thomas Edison wintered in Fort Myers a hundred years or so ago, he bought and planted a couple of hundred Royal Palms along the roadway now known as MacGregor Boulevard, which led to Fort Myers earning its nickname “City of Palms”.

And of course there are alligators, red-shouldered hawks and large orange sulphur butterflies, not to mention the Florida panther, which lends its name to the state’s ice hockey team. I spent far too much time studying them all. And don’t get me started on the massive assortment of fish. Oh, and flowers, dazzling flowers. Some varieties bloom nearly all year. If you want to know about snakes, you’ll just have to read Caught Read-Handed.
Okay, okay, you’re right. I am having way too much fun, but hey, when was the last time you canoed through the mangrove trees on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River and called it “research”?
A writer’s life is always interesting.

Bio

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Agatha Award winner Terrie Farley Moran is the author of Read ‘Em and Eat cozy mystery series including Well Read, Then Dead and Caught Read-Handed. Her short mystery fiction has been published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and numerous anthologies. Her stories have been short-listed twice for Best American Mysteries. Terrie’s web address is http://www.terriefarleymoran.com She blogs at http://www.womenofmystery.net and can be found on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/terriefarleymoran

Best First Agatha Nominees on Writing

I’m humbled and thrilled to be one of the nominees for an Agatha Award for Best First novel this year. I asked my fellow nominees Annette Dashofy, Terrie Farley Moran, Susan O’Brien, and Tracy Weber to join me to talk about getting published. Is the book you are nominated for the first book you wrote? And from the time you decided to write a novel how long did it take you to get published?

Tagged for Death mech.inddSherry: My journey was a long one. I joke that I started writing on stone tablets with a chisel. In some ways I’ve always written stories whether they were for my high school yearbook, my job in marketing for a financial planning company or writing humorous Christmas letters. What pushed me to write a novel was a short story contest advertised in the newspaper when we lived in Dayton, Ohio. I quickly realized the story was too big and ended up writing two and half books that still sit in the proverbial drawer.

I learned a lot by writing those books, taking classes, attending conferences, reading books about writing, and editing books for other authors. So when the opportunity to write a series with a garage sale theme came to me via a New York City editor, agent, and finally through friend Barbara Ross, I was in the words of Barbara, “ready”. From writing the proposal for the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series to contract was a month and a half. From contract to the publication of Tagged for Death was a year and ten months.

Circle of Influence Cover FrontAnnette Dashofy: My first writing implement was a crayon, so that should give you an idea of how long I’ve been doing this. In high school I wrote “novels” longhand in spiral-bound notebooks. Now it would be called fan fiction. Back then I simply created a character that was me and stuck her into my favorite TV shows. My “fans” read my stories in study hall. They’d pass them around and eventually the notebook came back to me with orders to keep writing.

I didn’t get serious about publishing my fiction until decades later when the bug bit me in 2004. I wrote one novel that no one will ever see again. Trust me. It was bad. A second novel snagged me two agents, but no publisher. I kept writing. Circle of Influence (Zoe Chambers Mysteries) was the fourth manuscript I wrote, but the first to be published—finally—in 2014.

WellRead_2Terrie Farley Moran: I have always known that I would be a mystery writer someday. Lo and behold “someday” finally showed up in early 2003 when I started writing Driven to Death. It took me a few trial-and-error years to finish the first draft. In 2006 at the exact moment I started the second draft, my Sisters in Crime chapter put out a call for submissions for short stories for a chapter anthology. I wrote a story called “Strike Zone” and two things happened. First, I discovered that I absolutely loved writing short mystery fiction and second, my story was accepted and the anthology Murder New York Style was released in 2007.

I continued writing short stories and was lucky enough to have them published in various venues including Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and an MWA anthology. All the while I edited and polished Driven to Death. Finally, in February 2012 I met a fabulous literary agent, Kim Lionetti of Bookends LLC. When she turned down Driven to Death, Kim said she liked my voice and style and asked if I would write something else, which led to Well Read, Then Dead the first in the Read Em and Eat Mystery series and a 3 book contract with Berkley Prime Crime. Typical writer’s path. Up, down and all around.

FINDING_SKY_front_under_2mb-2Susan O’Brien: In the middle of writing Finding Sky, the first in the Nicki Valentine mystery series, I was hired to write Child Abduction and Kidnapping, an educational book for young adults. The pay was relatively low (with no royalties), but I’m passionate about children’s safety, so it just felt meant to be. Part of my earnings from Finding Sky are donated to missing children’s organizations. Also, I got quite sick while writing Finding Sky and wrote a spiritual/medical memoir, which I can’t wait to edit when I “have time” someday!

It’s funny to think about the time from deciding to write a novel to pursuing publication. I’ve wanted to be an author since childhood, so in a way, it took decades! Finding Sky was written over many years while I was busy raising children and freelance writing. Once I started querying, it took a little more than a year to have a signed contract. I chronicled the experience on Twitter in hopes of connecting with other writers. My first tweet was about sending my first query letter! I’m thrilled and grateful to be on this journey with each of you and the entire, incredible writing community!

Murder Strikes Pose full sizeTracy Weber: I am so incredibly lucky.  Yes, Murder Strikes a Pose is my first novel and the first of the Downward Dog mystery series.  In fact, it’s my first attempt at writing fiction except for a short story I wrote in college at age 20 and a three-page very bad flash fiction piece I wrote a few years ago.

I thought about writing Murder Strikes a Pose for almost two years before I actually sat down and put fingers to keyboard.  Once I started, the words poured out of me and I wrote the first draft in three weeks!  (Subsequent drafts took significantly longer.)  😉  I refined the work for about a year with the help friends and a wonderful freelance editor named Marta Tanrikulu.  When I started submitting, things went quickly.  I signed with my agent, Margaret Bail, within a few weeks and she sold the first three books in the series a few weeks after that.  Murder Strikes a Pose was on bookshelves nine months later.

So, from typing “Chapter 1” to publication was about two and a half years.  Only one year of that was actually writing.  😉

Sherry: Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedules to share a bit about your writing journey! I really enjoyed each of your stories.