What We Wished We Knew Then
|This is Jess|
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Do you know Jess Lourey and Shannon Baker? If I had a million hours, I could not begin to list the superlatives that they deserve. Hilarious, first, and talented. And loving, and thoughtful, and spiritual, and authentic and genuine.
I was trying to think of a funny thing to say about them, some anecdote or experience to explain how fabulous they are, but it’s—well, Jess and I have criss-crossed the country together as part of MWA University (Hallie, too), have eaten ridiculous food and (sometimes) great wine, have taught and listened and commiserated and laughed and planned and plotted and shared the terribles and the fabulousness. Fabulousnesses.
And then along comes Shannon, who shares an editor with me—as well as an outlook and a joy and an enthusiasm to see what’s coming next.
|This is Shannon|
Their books are terrific.
And today, hurray, here they are on Jungle Red. And they are so fabulous, they wrote their own intro. At least—they thought they did.
THE INTRO THEY WROTE:
Today's guest post features thriller writers Jess Lourey (Salem's Cipher) and Shannon Baker (Stripped Bare), both of whose latest books hit shelves on September 6, 2016. They are embarking on their whirlwind, 30-day Lourey/Baker Double-booked Blog Tour in celebration of their dual release date. Today, they’re joining Jungle Red Writers to share what they wished they knew way back when, in the land and time before they’d written and published 19 books between them.
Jess here. I wish I had known at age 18 that youth is its own beauty, and that 125 pounds is not fat no matter what the magazines tell you. I wish I had known in my 20s how great dating would become in my 40s (all the guys have jobs and vasectomies; I am now happily married, but the point remains). Even more important than those two tips, I wish I knew three very specific things about writing way back in 2003 when I was hand-mailing query letters (featuring licked stamps! remember when?) out into the world.
1. Writing novels is a marathon, not a sprint. May Day, my first book, hit shelves in 2006 to some good reviews (notwithstanding Kirkus, who I swear keeps ellipses in business). Twelve novels later, ten of those traditionally published, and I’m still working my day job. I don’t think the awareness that building a writing career takes time would have changed anything for me because like most writers, I write for the love of the story, not the money. Still, I maybe wouldn’t have gotten so down on myself if I hadn’t expected I’d have made it big by at least my tenth book.
2. I wish I had known I would make lifelong friends by joining the crime fiction community. I might have jumped in this pond sooner if someone had told me how cool all the fish are. I have all sorts of theories about why mystery writers are the best human beings you’ll ever meet, but bottom line, writing novels has brought amazing people into my life who I’m lucky enough to call friends, including Shannon, Hank, and Hallie.
3. Everyone thinks their book is crap at various times when writing it. (If this isn’t true, don’t tell me.) Write through that stage. It is the equivalent of me at age 12 (through 19), when I thought claw bangs, frosted lipstick, and pinned jeans were the way to go. Keep moving forward, in writing and in life. Things always get better.
Shannon, you’re working on your second series, which is earning rave reviews, and you’ve been in this business as long as I have, right? What pearls of wisdom do you have to share?
Shannon: First of all, what are pinned jeans? And secondly and more importantly, huge congratulations on your recent marriage. One thing I know now that I didn’t back then is that you can find the love of your life in your middling years and it’s even better than in your twenties.
HANK: Yay Yay Yay!
Shannon: Damnit, Jess. You went first and got all the good ones. But here’s my first turd of wisdom:
1. Know when to quit. That’s right. I have this little disaster I call Ashes of the Red Heifer. I started writing that sucker in 1997. It’s a great premise. The TV series, Dig, is based on the same ideas. But I didn’t have the craft to carry it off. I kept working on it, though. Every time I’d learn something new, I’d rewrite the doomed thing. It went through so many critique groups it became completely homogenized. At one point, a New York agent picked it up. But 9/11 hit and no one would touch it. I hate to admit I rewrote that for over 10 years and finally sold it to a nanopress. It is out of print and shouldn’t have ever been in print. To use a Biblical reference, you can’t put new wine into an old wine skin. Let it go and start something new.
2. Your journey is your own. If I could internalize this point, I’d be happier and wiser than I am now. Other writers are better, luckier, smarter, more successful, prettier, thinner, have more friends…. Do what you can, be who you are, and don’t worry about someone else’s path. The Desiderata says it best. (You remember all the hippies loved that in the 70’s, right? In my new series, Kate’s mother lives by it.)
“If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” Namaste.
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” Namaste.
. 3. I'll try to stay away from quoting ancients on this one. Again, this is a do as I say, not as I do kind of thing. Try to maintain a sane perspective on this writing gig. So much of the business is out of our control. One of my friends decided in the fourth grade that she wanted to be a novelist. She is in her 50’s and hasn’t published a novel, yet. She battles depression, literally, over this. She can’t make the markets yearn for her work or force a publisher to take her on. No one knows what makes one book a runaway bestseller and a better book languish. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you don’t hit that goal you’ve set for yourself? The sun will come up, your children will still be brats, sex will still feel great, and you keep writing books. It’s writing, people, not life.
Haha! Jess here. That's me and Shannon for you, a mixed bag of wisdom, turds and sex.
What we wished we knew then ...
HANK: Wait, wait, I hear you wrapping up. But yeah, what are pinned jeans.
JESS: Anyone out there know?
Thank you for joining us today! I am giving away a Salem’s Cipher and Shannon is giving away a Stripped Bare. Tell us what you wished you knew when, writing-related or otherwise, or leave a comment for a chance to win.
And because we love you best of all, we’ve got more:
If you order Salem's Cipher before September 6, 2016, you are invited to forward your receipt to to receive a Salem short story and to be automatically entered in a drawing to win a 50-book gift basket mailed to the winner's home.
If you order Stripped Bare before September 6, 2016, you are invited to forward your receipt to email@example.com to receive a Kate Fox short story and be entered for a book gift basket mailed to your home.
You’re welcome to enter both contests.
HANK: Love to you both, too. Reds--instead of trying to match their advice--lets talk about pinned jeans. What they heck are they? Did you wear them? What's the clothing choice you most regret? Shoulder pads don't count.
Mine: The lavender linen hot pants suit (very conservative) I wore to a wedding in 1972. WHAT was I thinking?
Or okay…their advice is so great. DO you have any?
A copy of my new DRIVE TIME to once lucky commenter.
Jessica (Jess) Lourey is best known for her critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries, which have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist, the latter calling her writing "a splendid mix of humor and suspense." She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, a recipient of The Loft's 2014 Excellence in Teaching fellowship, and leads interactive all over the world. , the first in her thrilling Witch Hunt Series, hits stores September 2016. You can find out more at , or find Jess on Facebook or Twitter
Shannon Baker writes the Kate Fox mystery series. Stripped Bare, the first in the series, features a sheriff in rural Nebraska and has been called Longmire meets The Good Wife. Baker also writes the Nora Abbott Mystery Series, a fast-paced mix of murder, environmental issues and Hopi Indians published by Midnight Ink. Baker was voted Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2104 Writer of the Year. She writes from the Colorado Rockies to the Nebraska Sandhills, the peaks of Flagstaff and the deserts of Tucson. Visit Shannon at www.Shannon-Baker.com
Pop on over to the Midnight Ink blog Monday as we continue the Lourey/Baker Double Booked Tour.