After 20-years in retail fashion, I left life in the corporate offices of a high status luxury retailer and moved to sunny California, armed, pretty much, with a desire to change my life and an idea for a fashion buyer-turned amateur sleuth. That was 2007. The truth was, I didn't know how well it was going to work out. The only thing I knew was I needed for everything to be completely different in order to shake myself out of the routine I'd settled in. I worked on that idea, joined Sisters in Crime, and started putting my work out there. Two years later, that manuscript, JUST KIDDING, won the RWA Get Your Stiletto in the Door contest. This later became DESIGNER DIRTY LAUNDRY, the first Samantha Kidd Mystery!
That was a sign, right? I left a career where I'd been a shoe buyer and I won a contest called "Get Your Stiletto in the Door." So I buckled down, continued looking for a agent, and submitted a short story to an anthology. It was accepted, and the collection was published in 2011. My first publication credit!
Writing that short story taught me that I could write more than one character. I kept writing about Samantha Kidd, but tried other genres: women's fiction, middle grade, and suspense. I also had an idea for an interior decorator with a not-small interest in Doris Day movies, which became the Madison Night Mysteries. She's completely opposite Samantha Kidd. Except, she's kinda not :-)
You know that feeling when you've proven something to yourself---and you completely believe in your vision---but the rest of the world hasn't gotten on board yet? That was me. So I started Polyester Press, my own publishing imprint, in 2011, with the intent to create a niche publisher focused on fashionable fiction. What I didn't know was that a pre-press copy of DESIGNER DIRTY LAUNDRY had been forwarded to a senior editor at Penguin Random House, who liked it enough to ask if I had other ideas. (Um, heck yeah I did!)
I'd learned a thing or two by this point, things about doors closing and windows opening, so I jumped at the invitation to submit one of my ideas. That idea became the Material Witness Mystery series, led me to signing with an agent, who picked up on my love of costumes and pitched the idea for the Costume Shop Mystery Series, making it a fourth series. From there, I wrote Sylvia Stryker, who solves cozy mysteries in outer space, and Mermaid Mysteries, about a trio of amateur sleuth mermaids.
My advice to you: don't be afraid to take the road less traveled or to make the decision that nobody else would make. None of us can predict the future and it's exciting to shake things up every now and then!
Here's the caveat: there are distractions, roadblocks, and challenges everywhere. The only thing we can control is what we do; it's up to us to shift, adapt, move forward, or stand still.
Here's to not standing still.
P.S. if after reading that you feel like we're kindred spirits, then sign up for my newsletter! Click the envelope. (you'll get a couple of awesome goodies if you do.) Go on, I'll wait.