Monday, July 13, 2015

Monday Mystery Guest Judy Alter

You can climb any mountain….
Unlike Julie Andrews, I know I can’t climb mountains. If I put my mind to it, there’s probably a whole list of things I can’t do—like sky-diving, parasailing, triathlons, things like that. But it’s okay because I never wanted to do them. On the other hand, ten years ago my list included something I desperately wanted to do—write mysteries. I’m a lifelong fan of reading mysteries, and sometimes as I read I wished I could write like that. Other times, I thought, “I can write better than that!”
About 2002 my twenty-some year writing career appeared to have cratered. I’d been writing fiction and nonfiction about women of the American West, including longer fictional biographies of such women as Libbie Custer, Jessie Benton Frémont, cowgirl Lucille Mulhall, and outlaw Etta Place. But my agent died, and I had no success placing proposals or getting a new agent. I found myself writing educational books for the middle-school library audience. Interesting, paid a little money, and made me feel I was writing. But I wanted to write fiction.
I told myself if I could just see one mystery in print, I’d be content. I combined a story I’d heard about doctor’s wives (I used to be one), a college campus (I worked on a private university campus for nearly 30 years), and of course the requisite murder and romantic interest. It all came together pretty well, and I began the fruitless hunt for an agent. I didn’t let myself in for the 200 rejections some have but got about 20 rejections before I submitted to a fairly well-known mystery house as an exclusive—they kept the manuscript a year before rejecting. Lesson learned about exclusives. Then I found an agent—who also kept it for a useless year. Lesson learned about agents who start out wildly enthusiastic and end up indifferent. I gave up, wrote a second novel that was accepted almost immediately by a new small publisher. Skeleton in a Dead Space (2011) was the first of my Kelly O’Connell Mysteries, and last year I self-published that original academic novel, The Perfect Coed.
Now, just four years later, I have nine mysteries in print and four projects at various stages on my desk; two of them are mysteries. Retirement has helped me revitalize my writing career, but so has the confidence that I can do it. Who wants to climb Mt. Everest anyway?

Meet Judy Alter
 
Award-winning novelist Judy Alter is the author of six books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series: Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, Trouble in a Big Box, Danger Comes Home, Deception in Strange Places, and Desperate for Death. She also writes the Blue Plate Café Mysteries—Murder at the Blue Plate Café and Murder at the Tremont House and The Oak Grove Mysteries which debuted in 2014 with The Perfect Coed.
Her work has been recognized with awards from the Western Writers of America, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the National Cowboy Museum. She has been honored with the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement by WWA and inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame and the Western Writers of America Hall of Fame.
Judy is retired as director of TCU Press and the mother of four grown children and the grandmother of seven. She and her dog, Sophie, live in Fort Worth, Texas.
Desperate for Death (May 2015) is her latest release. Watch for a new book in the fall.


Desperate for Death
Just when Kelly's life has calmed, she faces yet another puzzle. Except the pieces in this one don't fit. First the apartment behind her house is torched, then a string of bizzare "accidents" occur to set her off-balance. Who is stalking her? Where does the disappearance of a young girl and her disreputable boyfriend fit in? And why are two men using the same name? Is the surprise inheritance another part of the puzzle? At a time when she is most vulnerable, Kelly can't make the pieces fit. Before Kelly can get the whole picture, she helps the family of a hostage, rescues a kidnap victim and attends a wild and wonderful wedding.

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Twitter: @judyalter









5 comments:

Judy Alter said...

Hi, Paty. Thanks for having me as your guest this morning.

Kaye George said...

Yours is a wonderful story of perseverance! Learning what works for you is such an important lesson. Great post!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Writing mysteries is definitely addicting, Judy. I'm glad you're sticking with it.

Carmen Peone said...

I think the lesson here is perseverance. Good for you, Judy. Many great reads are overlooked by agents and editors alike. Your post is inspiring.

Judy Alter said...

Thanks, all. Perseverance is a key word for Guppies--and I've been fortunate to have wonderful examples to follow. Yep, now that I that one mystery published (and a few more), I'm sticking with it.
Watch for Murder at the Peacock Mansion this fall.