The email broke the news as gracefully as possible, considering the circumstances. Five Star is ending their mystery line.
The good news is that two novels in my Rock Shop Mystery series found a home with the publisher: Stone Cold Dead (2013) and Stone Cold Case (2015). Both will be available indefinitely as e-books on Amazon, and for now may still be purchased in hardcover.
The bad news is that the third, Stone Cold Blooded, is stuck in limbo. I missed being in the last batch of mysteries published by Five Star. This is disappointing because I had planned to conclude the series with this novel.
Working with Five Star editors Alice Duncan, Deni Dietz, and Tiffany Schofield was terrific for a first time author. Like your first real job in the working world, it should be an exciting learning experience. It was. Now I can take those lessons to my next job.
Big Changes require a new game plan. Here are the lessons I will apply to my next move.
#1) Always have a backup plan.
Smart people do not settle comfortably into their careers. They keep their resumes updated and maintain business contacts that could land them their next job. For authors, these are your peers in professional writing groups, and the editors and agents you meet at workshops and conferences.
Even people who are happy with their current position are constantly scouting for the next opportunity.
#2) Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
Gone are the days of going into your first job and remaining there until retirement. It happens, no doubt, but the current job market encourages mobility. If you want to move up, move on.
This applies to the publishing world, too. Sure, there are those rare exceptions who make a career on one novel. Most of us have multiple stories to tell, and ambitions that go beyond book one.
I would be devastated if the Rock Shop Mystery series was my only fictional egg. After completing Stone Cold Blooded, I began rewriting a novel that has been sitting on a shelf for several years. Now that I have two published novels under my belt, I have the confidence that I can turn this new story into something exciting, and find it a publishing home.
I also write short fiction. My second Charles Harrison story, "The Chemistry of Heroes," is scheduled for the May 2016 issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, which goes on sale 3/29/16. I plan to devote more time to writing short stories this year.
3#) Keep Calm and Carry On.
Five Star authors have commiserated in person, on blogs, and in online writing loops. Trying situations cause different reactions. Most have responded with the attitude that they are writers first and foremost. The desire to create new stories will find a new outlet.
Many of us were caught in the middle of a series. Other publishers may be reluctant to pick up a series in progress. There are small presses that might like to take a chance on a continuing storyline. Another possibility for Stone Cold Blooded is self publication. People want to know what happens next. I intend to get the third and final book out there for my readers.
Final Thoughts: Frequently, what at first seems like a setback turns into a step up. For former Five Star mystery authors, the key is to make that next career move with deliberation. Create your new game plan, and carry on.
If you've been wondering about the origin of Keep Calm and Carry On, here is an article on its history:
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