Monday, August 20, 2018

A New Day, A New Genre, Writing Suspense with Sherri Shackelford

In May of 2017, I was waiting to get my nails done at a very noisy, very crowded salon. Like most of the other folks, I was scrolling through my phone to kill time when a subject line caught my eye.

The email announced that my publisher was closing several book lines. I was writing for Love Inspired Historical at the time. Harlequin was ending the Love Inspired Historical Line. Uh oh and stuff. 


I took my name off the waiting list and drove home. I was, after all, an unemployed author!

Adding to the confusion, my editor was out of town. It was another month before I learned what was going to happen. The historical book I was currently writing would release as scheduled. I had one more historical 'orphan' book on my contract that could be written - although the publisher wasn't certain as to the release details. 


While I was sad the historical line was closing, I immediately focused on a new challenge. I'm a professional writer--and professional writers write! I spoke with both my agent and my editor about how and where to pivot. I ate chocolate. I watched some Netflix. 



Then I whipped up a proposal and managed to change my 'orphan' book from a historical to suspense. I had fun writing.  I liked this new gig. A lot.

This business is all about 'hurry up and wait', and once I had written one suspense book, I had the bug. I was eager to write more. I rebranded. I updated my website. I changed my bio. Because writing in a new genre means starting over in a lot of ways. 


The truth is, stuff like this happens to authors all the time. Lines fold. Lines stop selling. When I started writing, I wanted to write Regency Romance. I loved the category Regency books with their sweet stories and witty dialogue. These days, they're hard to find. I have to raid the bargain bins at the used bookstore for my favorite old category Regencies. 


Learning to write suspense was a challenge. I had to change my pacing, my process, and my writing personality. I had to catch up with technology! No more horses and buggies. My characters had cell phones and running water. Shorter books meant dropping secondary storylines. Learning something new is never easy--especially when you're old and set in your ways.

I also had to consider that --for all intents and purposes--I was starting over. I don't know yet how many readers that enjoyed my historicals will make the jump to suspense. (A lot, I hope!) I'm treating this like a debut book. 

Even though my first suspense doesn't release until January, I'm happy to say that I've contracted more books, and I'm back at work. I hope to bring my readers along on this new adventure, and even attract some new readers.

*Tell me about a new beginning in your life for a chance to win an advanced review copy of my first suspense! 

*Books should arrive on or before October

Coming in January of 2019, (Available for Pre-Order!) No Safe Place

He lives by the law.

She’s running for her life.

After forensic accountant Beth Greenwood uncovers a money-laundering scheme tying her company to the organization that murdered her mentor, she knows she needs to go into hiding. With ruthless killers in pursuit, she’s forced to rely on homeland security agent Corbin Ross’s protection—even as his investigation suggests Beth is complicit in embezzlement. Can their uneasy alliance develop into something deeper—and keep them alive?

For now, I gotta go. I gotta go get my nails done...




A former naval reservist with a top-secret security clearance, Sherri Shackelford writes rapid-fire suspense featuring captivating characters and heart-pounding romance. She's authored more than a dozen novels, including both contemporary suspense and historical romance. Visit her at sherrishackelford.com or sherri@sherrishackelford.com.


15 comments:

  1. Sherri, your bio screams suspense author. Can't wait to read your first book. Congrats on the contracts and the change. It is so hard.

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    1. It's a whole new world! It's been fun to redirect the focus.

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  2. Congratulations on the successful switch. The book sounds great! Can’t wait to read it.

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  3. I love suspense! Historical too I'm with Virginia, congrats on the successful switch!

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    1. Thank you for all your help and advice. (And your honesty :)

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  4. Suspense is my favorite to read and write.

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  5. Thanks for sharing your path to suspense--it's so encouraging. The publishing industry constantly changes. This is a good reminder to adapt!

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    1. I'm amazed at how often stuff like this happens. You think you're going one direction...and then you're not!

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  6. Great that you were able to "save" your orphaned book and reimagine it as a suspense! Seems in this business we often have to rethink and adapt. It becomes necessary not only to survive but to thrive!

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    1. I know that not everyone was interested in switching genres - and that's okay too! But I enjoyed the change of pace!!

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  7. Sherri, I love that you consider yourself a professional writer. That is what commercial fiction is all about. At times, we have to reinvent ourselves to get the job done—a job that we love. So happy for you and so proud of you. Can’t wait to read your first suspense!

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    1. Ahh, thank you! You're my idol and stuff :) No one is more of a professional than Lenora!!!! Your work ethic is legendary.

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  8. Not sure you're still checking in, Sherri, but welcome to LIS. I've had SO many life changes going on that I never even got to check in on Monday. This week it's that both of my daughters are moving in the same week. How is a mother to divide time between them, help both, and still get her own work done?

    Sorry I missed your post on Monday. I'm with Lenora. Love the professional writer attitude!
    And I love the nails!

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