Thanks for inviting me back under my new name, Pat!
During one of my earlier visits to this blog, I mentioned my first, rather awful attempt at writing a mystery. It was a book with a slight — very slight — resemblance to Shotgun Moon. I called it A Minor Obsession. I called it Dead Reckoning. In the process of writing it — and during the eighteen rewrites — I called it a lot of things, some of which aren’t suitable for all audiences. It was my learning how-to-write-a-novel novel. In the end it snagged the attention of an agent, for which I’m very grateful, but I’m also grateful that it never saw the light of publishing.
So I tossed it out (okay, I recycled the paper and deleted the electronic files) and started entirely over with new characters and a new murder — pretty much new everything. I did, however, keep the fictional town of Hazel, Montana, located south of Missoula somewhere in the general area of Stevensville.
A long time ago I fell in love with the Bitterroot Valley in western Montana. I planned for a long time to move there, to launch my writing career there, and to live out my final days there.
I planned this in my very early twenties, mind you.
No one will be surprised to learn that some things didn’t work out as I expected. Curiously enough, though, some did — like actually having a writing career. Lord knows my cocky self thirty years ago could never have predicted the sea changes in the industry and the different kind of work being a writer is than it was then. Collapsed schedules, self-promotion, the Internet, ebooks: If I’d known what I was getting into, I wonder if I would have steered toward this path so fervently.
Back then I imagined being a full-time writer with two light mystery series and grittier standalones in between. I figured I could manage this by age fifty. No problem, right?
Yet here I am, author of the Home Crafting Mysteries as Cricket McRae and the Magical Bakery Mysteries as Bailey Cates, and now my first standalone has been published. I will be fifty next May.
It’s nothing like I imagined, and I’m not cocky about it at all anymore. I am consciously thankful on a daily basis, well aware of how lucky I am not only to be able to write and be read, but to live where I do and to have so many amazing people in my life.
Granted, I thought I’d be making more money. I didn’t have any idea how downright hard writing can be, how much I’d have to learn, or how fulfilling writing even a single sentence can be when it’s right. I never thought about how it would feel to get a bad review or even a good one. I knew I’d have to work hard to convince a publisher to put any of my work out there, but I didn’t know anything about agents, query letters (and the hefty pile of rejections they generate in return), marketing plans or how much time and effort I’d have to put into being my own secretary, editor, publicist and systems administrator. Mostly I was nervous about the prospect of public speaking.
Turned out that speaking is one of my favorite side effects of writing. Who knew?
Now that fifty is breathing down my neck, I’m trying to expand my goals. Change them. Tweak them. Be ready for the next thing, whatever that is. I have plenty of ideas, but for now I’m going to focus on being happy and grateful as I get the word out about Shotgun Moon — and write the next Magical Bakery Mystery.
Thanks again, Pat!
And thanks to you for paying a return visit with your new standalone novel, Shotgun Moon.
Born in Wyoming, K.C. McRae lives in northern Colorado with her guy and two ornery cats. She also writes as Cricket McRae and Bailey Cates. For more information about K.C. and her books, please visit her website. You can also follow her on Twitter: @cricketmcrae or find her on Facebook.