Well, Rocco, I’m married and have three grown daughters. We’ve got a great golden tabby named Edgar. I grew up in New Jersey, worked in New York City, and moved to Cleveland many years ago for graduate school. And stayed. I’m a lifelong writer minus the first five years of my life before I could hold a pencil, so for me, writing was one of my earliest imperatives. It’s been the defining passion of my life.
Hard to say, but there are plenty I admire. Here are a few:
The series began with YOU CANNOLI DIE ONCE, and BASIL INSTINCT is the upcoming release – Book #2. The series began (truly!) as a cozy set in a tap dance academy in Greenwich Village and morphed – in discussions with my agent -- into an Italian restaurant outside Philly.
Sure, Rocco. After twenty years of contacting over 120 literary agents on behalf of my two female PI novels – without success – I switched to writing two chapters of a traditional mystery (the tap dance academy) I pitched to the man who became my agent. He was the first agent I contacted after I switched subgenres – I guess I was finally where I needed to be. From there, everything happened quickly.
I was writing at my local Starbucks. When my agent called with the news, I stood up, recognized it for the life moment it was, and started to cry. The writer friend sitting behind me kept whispering, “Keep it together! Keep it together!”
A good cup of French roast coffee in a mug. The occasional biscotti. A clean, clear table is better than a desk. Light. Warmth.
In college I took time off and went to acting school in New York.
Several wilderness canoe trips. Crazy for me because I have no outdoor skills to speak of. . .and a healthy helping of fear. Fortunately, my family is competent.
That I can tell a story about murder that features a rich setting, characters worth getting to know, and a whole lot of humor.
Be disciplined. Find writing connections, such as writer’s groups, book groups, classes and workshops. Read a lot, and read diversely. Try for a meaningful day job. Something that comes at writing, reading, literature from a different angle. For instance, I teach creative writing to college students. Showing them how to write good stories is like a refresher course for myself. It keeps me keen and connected. Finally, stay open to new paths: it wasn’t until I switched from private eye to amateur sleuth that I got my first book contract.
I’m actually almost caught up! Right now I’m reading the wonderful Jasper Fforde’s THE LAST DRAGONSLAYER, and the sequel, SONG OF THE QUARKBEAST, is on my nightstand. They’re smart, wildly original, playful YA fantasy/suspense tales. Jasper Fforde is one of my very favorites.
And now....Giveaway time!
When it’s available, Shelly will send a signed copy of my new book, BASIL INSTINCT, to the first three readers who email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with CONTEST in the subject line. Be sure to include your mailing address.