By Shelia S. Hudson
I am pleased to be a guest on Southern Writers Magazine. This week marks a plateau for me as I publish my 14th mystery. Winged Publications has graciously been my publisher for all of these with Cynthia Hickey at the helm.
I began this writing adventure years ago with nonfiction publications. When I entered a contest for fiction, I asked Cynthia’s advice. Instead of advice she offered a publishing contract. As a minister’s wife, I wrote devotionals, how to articles, and inspirational pieces never dreaming I could write fiction. However, the fiction I read was always mysteries especially cozy mysteries where the blood, gore, and sex were left to the imagination. My first series – The Thursday Club – is a mixture of the Golden Girls meets Murder, She Wrote. The five women characters are all reminiscent of my closest friends. It was a fun romp and I managed seven books in the series.
At the suggestion of my editor, Amy Munnell, I did a second series for a younger audience. The Silent Partner collection features twin sisters who solve crimes in a unique way.
My current project, Ministry Can Be Murder, taps into my years as a ministry wife, campus ministry, and mission experience. The first book, Murder in the Lord’s House, was published in the Fall 2018. The Case of the Lethal Liturgy was published in April 2019. To all the writers just beginning their career, I offer the following suggestions.
First, get a writing buddy. Amy has been mine for more years than we like to admit. She has given me firm criticism and guidance. Amy won’t allow me to submit anything less than excellent.
Second, join a writer’s organization. Whether they meet once a week or once a month, support from a fellow writer is valuable. Don’t rely on family. Either they say everything is wonderful or they don’t read it at all.
Third, keep reading and improving your prose. No matter what you write, there’s always room for improvement. Read the professionals. As for me, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, and Louise Penny top the list. Reading in your genre is good; variety is even better.
Fourth, go to writing conferences. Learn all you can about formatting, punctuation, research, and marketing. Network with other writers. The Internet makes this a wonderful age for writers. Take advantage of it.
Fall in love with the craft. Some days writing will be uphill. Other days your muse will take you on a wild ride. Don’t give up. It took hundreds of rejections before I published that first piece, but oh it was worth it!
Sheila S. Hudson is the author of the Thursday Club series: Murder at Golden Palms, Murder at Sea, Murder at the Mandelay, Murder at the Monastery, Murder on the Marquee, and Murder under the Christmas Tree. Sheila has authored Silent Partner series: Kiss and Make Up, Dead Ringer, and Double Jeopardy. She writes a biblical series, Ministry Can Be Murder; Murder in the Lord’s House and The Case of the Lethal Liturgy. Her Silent Partner Series is available on www.audible.com Her Classic City Murders: Volumes I and II She has two nonfiction books: 13 Decisions That Will Change Your Life and 13 Decisions That Will Transform Your Marriage. Sheila has contributed to Not Your Mother’s Book (2), Chocolate for Women (8), Chicken Soup, Patchwork Path (2), Love Stories (2) plus numerous periodicals. All are available at www.amazon.com or on her website www.sheilahudson.website Her byline also appears in Purple Pros and Costumer Magazine. Bright Ideas, the parent company, was established to bring hope and inspiration through the written/spoken word. Since 1983, Sheila has been affiliated with Southeastern Writers Association including two terms as president. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org for information on speaking engagements and forthcoming books. Sheila and her husband, Timothy L. Hudson, have worked in campus ministry for over 30 years -- 5 years with Christian Student Fellowship at Northern Kentucky University and 28 years at Christian Campus Ministry at the University of Georgia. They have been married for 50 years and have two daughters, a son, and seven grandsons.