A Messy Writing Career

 I'm usually pretty neat. I like my house in order. I keep a regular schedule. I pick up items dropped on the floor at Kohl's and rehang them so they won't get stepped on.

Neat is good.

But if you look at my writing career, you might think, "This woman has no sense of order at all!"

I started writing historical novels, using my own name.(I used Peg instead of Peggy because there's another author with that name.)

I got an agent, she found a publisher, and I was on my way...sort of. I had an idea for a paranormal mystery, and I met a publisher at a conference who liked it, so suddenly Peg Herring writes about Elizabeth I but ALSO about a detective who solves crimes from the afterlife.

In the meantime, I wrote a mystery about a homeless woman. My second publishers loved that one,

so now I had THREE series going. I also wrote a stand-alone mystery that I called "vintage," meaning it took place in the past but not that far back (the Vietnam era, which is considered historical now, but it wasn't then😕). Found a third publisher for that one.

Around that time, I started going to a lot of mystery cons, where I met authors who wrote cozy mysteries. They were having fun and getting recognition as well. I thought I'd like to try a cozy, but I was afraid my publishers wouldn't like me branching off into yet another sub-genre. I decided to try it on my own, though back then the idea of self-publishing made many in the writing community turn up their noses. I invented Maggie Pill, hired an editor and a cover artist, and released a cozy. I found I liked many things about publishing independently, which was good, because one of my publishers went bankrupt while the other two struggled to get recognition (and $$) for their authors.

I hadn't intended to continue my work as Maggie until her book was suddenly in demand. I wrote a second Sleuth Sisters mystery and then another and another. It became clear that Maggie wasn't going anywhere. Someone asked when it would be out in print. Then someone else asked about audio. Suddenly I was learning all sorts of things about publishing (and it never stops!)

Eventually my Peg Herring books joined Maggie Pill's in the independent publishing world, but Peg has an odd conglomeration of mystery sub-genres. The books are sometimes funny,

sometimes serious. 

Lately, they've crossed genres into suspense and "women's fiction," stories about women and their struggles, written mostly for women. Though the WF genre ranges from comedy to drama, Peg's WF books land on the serious end: friendships in the midst of crisis.

Sisters with gravely different views on life.

These days, I've sorted out my two writing personalities and reached a neater division. Readers of Maggie Pill's books know they'll get books that are funny and light, though I strongly believe that even a cozy mystery has to make sense and engage the reader in the puzzle. Peg's books have a wider range, so readers need to read the blurbs to see if the theme appeals to them.

See? I'm getting my writing life in order. I just hope I'm not hit with an idea for a horror romance!


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