Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Overcoming My Fears...Maybe? by Paula Matter


LUCY BURDETTE: Someone asked me recently whether we consider other writers to be competition. I answered, no! Why? Because readers don't read one book, they read lots of them. And besides that, friends in the mystery world are irreplaceable and precious to all of us. We love it so much when our friends write books and get published. And that brings me to Paula Matter, who is visiting today to tell us about her new book. Welcome Paula! And hurray!

PAULA MATTER: Can I just say how absolutely thrilled I am to be writing a post for Jungle Red? Me. Yeah. Thank you, Lucy, for inviting me. Thank you also, along with Hallie and Hank, for always being there with me on this crazy journey.

By the time you’re reading this, I may have survived my first panel and the New Authors Breakfast at Bouchercon. My first Bouchercon as a published author. I say “may have” because really, who knows at this point? I’m writing this in mid-August so I can get it to Lucy before I leave for Florida. I have to leave my house. My desk where I can sit in ratty clothes and be barefoot. Yikes! I have to buy a bra. And shoes.

My first Bouchercon was in 1998 in Philadelphia. Twenty. years. ago. Whoa. I had just signed with my first agent and my hopes were high. That book never sold and I’m friends with my former agent. I stuffed the manuscript in a drawer and decided to dabble in short stories, so truthfully, my first panel as a published writer was at the 2000 Denver conference. One of my short stories was in a Sisters in Crime anthology and the editors were coming all the way from Germany to be there. I figured the least I could do was overcome my fear of flying, get on a plane and go. I survived. And my panel? Yep, I survived that as well.

Fast forward to 2008. I pulled my manuscript out of the drawer and headed to Connecticut. Awesome authors Roberta Isleib (aka Lucy), Hallie Ephron, and S.W. Hubbard had organized Seascape, a writers retreat. What an opportunity! Not only did I get individual guidance from these ladies, I met some great people who I’m still friends with to this day. I snatched a photo from Lucy’s site and am including it here. I’m proud to have been a part of the very first Seascape. And I survived it.

Jump ahead to 2016. With a flash of bravery, I sent my manuscript to Midnight Ink. I’d met Acquisitions Editor Terri Bischoff a year earlier at a Crime Bake conference. (Fabulous conference by the way. I absolutely love those people.) Terri agreed to look at it and a year later I signed a three-book contract with them.

Now here we are in 2018. Quick twenty years wasn’t it? If you’ve stuck with me this far, thanks. My debut novel, Last Call, came out in July. I’m leaving my safe, comfortable space and going to Bouchercon. I’m going to be on a panel. And the New Authors Breakfast. I’m sure it’ll be fine. I get to see people I usually only see once a year, or only on Facebook. I know for a fact they’ll be rooting for me. At the very least, they’ll probably all be wearing new shoes.


What fears have you conquered? How did you do it? Do you have one that still needs conquering? What’s your comfort zone like?

Paula Matter is the author of the Maggie Lewis mysteries which take place in a small town in North Florida. Paula’s short crime fiction stories have been published in USA and German anthologies. After losing her job as a catering server, Paula decided instead of getting yet another job as a waitress/bartender/activities director/etc., she’d tackle her mystery novel again. Last Call is her debut.

Originally from Miami, FL, Paula kept moving north until she settled in north central Pennsylvania. A proud mom of one son, she lives with her husband The Saint, and worthy-not-spoiled rescue dog in a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains.

50 comments:

  1. Paula, I am impressed with your persevered, and gratified to know you have been successful. Congratulations on your debut novel. Could you tell us a bit about your book?

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    1. Hi Joan, thanks for the congrats and for asking about the book! Here's the back cover copy: On a bad day at work, bartender Maggie Lewis would love to kill a customer or two. On a very bad day, she's accused of doing just that.

      Suspended from her job at a Florida VFW after being set up for the murder of Korean war veteran Jack Hoffman, Maggie has no intention of letting herself be framed. And since the police have yet to arrest anybody for the last major crime in town―the murder of Maggie's husband―she's sure they won't try too hard this time, either. So Maggie must produce enough evidence to clear her name, get her job back, and find the killer before she ends up behind the wrong kind of bars. All in a day's work for a bartender who can't hold her beer, her tongue, or her temper.

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  2. Paul! I did not realize you were also a Seascape graduate! It was a wonderful experience, wasn't it? LAST CALL has been a long time in coming, maybe, but now this new chapter has opened for you, and I am happy to see it, my friend.

    Fears? I have a lot of irrational ones--mostly about bears, snakes, and sharks--but not too many in my daily life. I think my biggest fear is that I will be forgotten, hence why I write stories and don't use a pseudonym!

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    1. Ramon! Which year did you attend? It was a fabulous experience!

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  3. congratulations on your debut novel! We've had so much rain the garter snakes are seeking higher ground in my backyard. I know, "just" garter snakes, but I only venture out with a hockey stick in hand.

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    1. Thanks, Margaret! I know what you mean...for me it's "just" frogs.

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  4. Congrats on the new book, and thank you for sharing your publishing story, Paula. So many "new" authors have actually been writing for years or decades before anyone ever hears about their efforts. Hopefully this is just the start of a long writing career for you!

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  5. I don't know about fears overcome or needing to be overcome. I don't suppose I'm that much of a deep thinker on that front. Is it a fear if you don't particularly feel a need to do something? I mean, I don't want to go swimming with sharks, but is that a fear of getting eaten or simply good darn sense?

    My comfort zone is pretty much withdrawing from the world and just avoiding people at all costs, doing the things I like to do without having to deal with the idea of dealing with others.

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    1. Hi Jay, I totally get what you mean about doing things without having to deal with others.

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  6. Dear Paula! So happy to see your NAME on the book cover! You did what you needed to do, kept at it, making it better and better, and seizing opportunities. You made me recall my first Bouchercon. SOOOO big. I know NOT A SOUL. People were kind but I was terrified. (You came through Seascape with a truly remarkable group of women, so many of whom have gone on to be well published.)

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    1. And hopefully we'll see more from that class! My first Bouchercon was absolutely terrifying. I had no book, knew no one, and had to force myself to introduce myself to a few people. I suppose it builds character lOL

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    2. Hi Hallie, my mentor who never gave up on me! I hear your voice when I'm writing the second book... "You already said that." "Can you think of a better way to describe this?" Thanks for being such an amazing teacher!

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    3. Hi Lucy, my other awesome mentor, thanks for inviting me! A dream come true to be here today! I must have built A LOT of character in that case. :)

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  7. Let's hear it for sticking with your dream, honing your craft, and making it! So many congratulations, Paula (I was Seascape class of 2009, so I know what you're talking about). Can't wait to dive into the new book.

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    1. Hey Edith, thanks and yes to sticking with it! So important.

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  8. Congratulations on the book! LAST CALL looks great -- can't wait to read it and get acquainted with Maggie Lewis!

    Congratulations also for your perseverance. I am so impressed by stories like this. You are an inspiration.

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    1. Oh, Susan, thanks so much! Fingers crossed that you'll read the book and like it!

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  9. This is SO GREAT! Love hearing this story. Every person hoping to be an author will be inspired by this, right? What a gift. So now--tell us about the book!

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    1. Hi Hank, thanks! I can only hope someone will be inspired and not give up! It only takes one yes and sometimes years to get it.

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  10. Congratulations on the book, Paula. Not only did you survive that Bouchercon, you thrived!

    My fear? Letting people read what I wrote. For years I didn't want to share because I figured they'd hate it and I didn't want to hear it. All that lost time when I could have been getting valuable feedback and improving. Oh well.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. Hi Mary, thanks! I'm glad you overcame that fear!

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  11. I have it on good authority - since I was running the thing - that you did a stellar job on the New Author Breakfast.

    And now you have posted on Jungle Reds! Loved the book and looking forward to watching your next 20-year journey.

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    1. Oh, Kristopher, you're the best for saying that and for being so supportive!
      20 years?! Gulp.

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  12. You rocked your panel AND the New Author Breakfast, my friend. And I'm overjoyed to have spent part of this journey with you!!! Hugs!

    As for fears, there's always the terror of releasing a new book and hoping my readers like it. I don't know if that one ever completely goes away.

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    1. Oh, my dear friend Annette, thank you!

      I am positive you'll never have to fear your readers not loving your books!

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  13. Paula, congratulations on hanging in there--you have to believe in yourself before anyone else will--and so smart to take those uncomfortable leaps and find the help and encouragement to keep you working at your writing. The door has opened and you walked through it! I'll be looking out for Last Call (and can I say I really like the cover--even without the backstory, I'd be picking it up at the bookstore to take a gander at the contents.

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    1. Hi Flora, thanks and you're absolutely right! Oh, thank you for saying you like the cover enough to look inside. I hope you do read and like it!

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  14. Hello Paula! I have Last Call on the kindle and I can't wait to dive in. Thank you for sharing the timeline of your journey. I'm inspired! I attended my first writer's conference feeling as though I would be "found out" at any minute. It was the CCWC in 2017 and Hallie was the guest speaker. Hallie, I was completely tongue tied when we met so there's no adorable meet-cute-moment that would set me apart from any of the rest of the attendees.

    Anyway, all that to say... that conference gave me permission to call myself a writer, not a published writer yet, however your post gives me hope! Thank you for buying a bra and showing up.

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    1. Oh Lyda, I'm so happy I've given you hope! Never give up. I'm thrilled you have the book on Kindle and I hope you like it!

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  15. Congratulations, Paula! Good for you, to keep chasing that dream. I'll take you as an inspiration, as I've been chasing it (with big detours) for a long time, too.

    These past 15 years or so seem to have been an exercise in pushing my comfort zone. Turns out that, once you push past the edge, it's not exactly un-comfortable on the other side. It's just different. The most recent big one I had to get over, and get over in an instant, came when a young friend asked me to speak to her group about my career in the arts. I do this fairly often, to mostly uncritical high school kids, but on this day I was talking to a college crowd, and then my friend decided we needed to live-stream it on Facebook. I'm a little camera shy, and she hadn't warned me but . . . okay. I got through it, and they won an award for it, so I guess I didn't suck. Onward!

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    1. Thanks, Gigi, and truly never give up!

      Wow! I would not have survived live-streaming on Facebook, especially to have not known ahead of time. Yikes. Major kudos to you!

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    2. Gigi, I'm sure you were fabulous!

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    3. I've actually watched it (at home, alone, so nobody could hear me if I screamed). It wasn't bad. I wasn't bad. What a relief!

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  16. Welcome and congratulations, Paula.

    I can't even imagine how any of you can put yourselves out there for critique. It has to be terrifying. I don't even read many reviews because I hate to see the crap ones, particularly for authors that I know.

    As for the competition question, I wondered ab out that, too. This forum has shown me how much all of you mean to each other, how much support you give and receive, and how valuable having a close group of peers must be.

    Thank you for writing books for me xox

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    1. Thanks, Ann! It can be terrifying and reading reviews has been great fun for me. Only one 1-star so far. :)

      You're right about support and the closeness. It's amazing!

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  17. Congratulations, Paula. I will look for Last Call and for you, at the next B'con! Good for you for pushing yourself forward despite your fears - heroes do that, you know.

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    1. Thanks, Brenda! I'll look forward to meeting you! Do you go to Malice?

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  18. Paula, thanks for sharing your publication story with us. I've found that most writers take a circuitous route to finally seeing their name on the cover of a book! I'd love to hear more about the book itself, and I wonder, are there new fears you're having to conquer now that you've shown the old ones who's boss?!

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    1. Hi Ingrid, thanks for having me here! I'm not positive I'm the boss, so there's a good chance the fear of speaking before a crowd will always be there. I added the back cover copy to another reply--not sure if I should do that again here. Thanks for asking!

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  19. Oh gosh yes, I remember my first conference as a published author. Left Coast Crime. I knew one person there, April Henry, who now writes YA fiction. She had blurbed my debut novel, and had promised to be my Virgil.

    Which she was, taking me to a cool party with all these AUTHORS I had heard of! (The con was in the other Portland, April's home town.)

    Unfortunately, due to a combination of overindulgence and jet lag, I missed my 8 a.m. "Meet the Author" panel. I figured it would be okay, since my book had barely been out a week.

    Unfortunately for me, there had been people waiting to meet me, and one of them was the late, much lamented Doris Ann Norris. Doris Ann tracked me down and gave it to me with both barrels. (She was a librarian of the old school. Pity the fool who dared return a book late to her desk.)

    So what am I afraid of? Doris Ann Norris. Now she's looking down from the great Eternal Library, I guess I'd better keep my nose clean.

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    1. Julia, Doris Ann was wonderful, wasn't she? And formidable! I'll bet you never missed an author's panel again!

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    2. Julia, someone asked me this year if I'd ever met Doris. We were sitting outside and the person told me "This is where Doris would be if she were still with us." She sounds like a wonderful person and I'm sorry I never got to meet her. Love your story about your first conference!

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  20. Congratulations on your debut novel, Paula, and congratulations on your perseverance. I remember how terrified I was at my first Bouchercon. Many of the scary AUTHORS I met there and at my first Malice Domestic are still friends more than twenty-five years later. Mystery writers are a remarkably friendly and supportive group.

    As for fears, I may have tackled the conference and the public speaking bugs (mostly) but I'm still terrified every time I publish another book. What if everyone hates it???? I suspect that one will never go away.

    But please do tell us more about your book!

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    1. Thanks, Deborah! You are right about mystery writers and I've learned reviewers are also awesome! I've really lucked out.

      Maybe it's okay to put the back cover copy here again?

      On a bad day at work, bartender Maggie Lewis would love to kill a customer or two. On a very bad day, she's accused of doing just that.

      Suspended from her job at a Florida VFW after being set up for the murder of Korean war veteran Jack Hoffman, Maggie has no intention of letting herself be framed. And since the police have yet to arrest anybody for the last major crime in town―the murder of Maggie's husband―she's sure they won't try too hard this time, either. So Maggie must produce enough evidence to clear her name, get her job back, and find the killer before she ends up behind the wrong kind of bars. All in a day's work for a bartender who can't hold her beer, her tongue, or her temper.

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  21. Look at you go, Paula! I have a friend, Kevin Hearne, who describes his career as "an overnight success twenty years in the making". LOL. I think that's how it goes for most authors. Perseverance does seem to be the key. Bravo! I can't wait to pick up your book! Congratulations!!!

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    1. Thanks, Jenn! Shortly after True Blood became a hit TV show, I congratulated Charlaine Harris on her overnight success after twenty years of writing books!I hope you do read and like my book. Fingers crossed!

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  22. Paula, congratulations on the publication of Last Call. I received an ARC from Midnight Ink, and I loved it. Terri Bischoff has an amazing eye for talent, and she has struck gold again with you. I so regret that I didn't get a chance to talk to you at Bouchercon. Next time, I will make sure we get together. I survived my first panel at Bouchercon this year, too, so congrats to us both on that.

    I'm looking forward to the next Maggie book, as she quickly became a favorite character for me. I don't often do this, but I'm going to include a link to my review of Last Call on my blog. You were so lovely to comment on it, Paula. I just want others who haven't yet read it to know how a reader responded to it.
    http://www.readingroom-readmore.com/2018/07/last-call-by-paula-matter-reading-room.html

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    1. Hi Kathy, thanks! You're one of the awesome reviewers I just mentioned above to Deborah. I missed not meeting you at Bouchercon. Will you be at Malice?

      You're so sweet to put up the link. I absolutely loved how you got Maggie! I'm thrilled you want to read more of Maggie!

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    2. I'm thinking about Malice, Paula.

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