A Debut Author You May Have Heard From Before: Guest Shawn Reilly Simmons

MURDER SILVER PLATTER coverWelcome, Shawn Reilly Simmons! Thanks for taking time to stop by during your busy debut week! Shawn is giving away an ebook of both books to one commenter!

Here’s a bit about Murder On A Silver Platter: Penelope Sutherland and her Red Carpet Catering company just got their big break as the on-set caterer for an upcoming blockbuster. But when she discovers a dead body outside her house, Penelope finds herself in hot water. Things start to boil over when serious accidents threaten the lives of the cast and crew. And when the film’s star, who happens to be Penelope’s best friend, is poisoned, the entire production is nearly shut down. Threats and accusations send Penelope out of the frying pan and into the fire as she struggles to keep her company afloat. Before Penelope can dish up dessert, she must find the killer or she’ll be the one served up on a silver platter.

Shawn: It finally happened. Last Tuesday, I became a traditionally published author, twice over, when my first two Red Carpet Catering mysteries were released by Henery Press. It’s been a whirlwind of activity: good wishes, blog posts, Facebook likes, friend requests, checking sales ranks and reading reviews (I know you’re not supposed to but I can’t help myself). It’s been so hectic that I’ve had a hard time remembering the other things, like buying groceries and paying bills, you know…regular life stuff. (What day is it again?) Release Day was also my final rewrite deadline on the third book in my series, Murder on a Designer Diet, which will be published in June. I made my deadline, and somehow managed to maintain my sanity. At least that’s the story I’m sticking with.

When momentous things like this happen in my life, I tend to reflect on how I got to that particular point. For publication day, it was a series of firsts: the first time I sat down to write the initial draft of Murder On A Silver Platter; the first time someone I respected encouraged me to pursue my dream of being a writer; the first phone call from Henery Press saying how much they loved my books. Those are all excellent memories.
One of the most important firsts was attending Malice Domestic in 2003.

Malice Teapot - - JpegI didn’t know anyone there, but I was excited at the prospect of making new friends who liked mysteries as much as me, and I was thrilled to listen to people like Edward Marston and Tony Hillerman talk about their writing careers. I attended the Malice Board Meeting panel that year and sat behind Anne Murphy, the Volunteer Chair. She noticed that my last name at the time was Reilly, which happens to be her maiden name, and we started chatting. We realized quickly we weren’t related, at least in the immediate sense, but shortly afterwards I was invited onto the Malice Board to fill the vacant PR Chair position.

MURDER Half Shell CoverI went from sending out a few press releases about the Agathas in those early years to taking over the registration duties and communications in addition to PR. We’ve evolved from the snail mail era to today, where I get to interact regularly with a huge community of mystery writers and fans, a vast number of whom I consider close friends. Malice is my favorite part of every spring, my mystery family reunion. Much of the confidence I needed when writing my books is a direct result of the love and nurturing I’ve received from that sweetly malicious family.

I’ll always be grateful for that first conversation with Anne, which led to so many other firsts. I’m anxious to see what else it has in store for me.
Readers: What is your best “first step” memory? What got you started on a path that you always wanted to take? Or alternately, what steps are you contemplating taking going forward?

shawnShawn Reilly Simmons is the author of the Red Carpet Catering mysteries published by Henery Press. The first two books in the series, Murder on a Silver Platter and Murder on the Half Shell,  were released on February 23rd. The third, Murder on a Designer Diet will be published in June. Besides being a Board Member of Malice Domestic, Shawn is co-editor/owner of Level Best Books, which publishes the annual Best New England Crime Stories Anthology each fall, debuting at Crimebake. Her short story “A Gathering of Great Detectives” will appear in the upcoming Malice Domestic anthology: Murder Most Conventional. When she isn’t writing, Shawn is usually running, reading, cooking, watching movies or drinking wine. She lives in Maryland with her husband, son and English Bulldog.

37 Thoughts

  1. Welcome, Shawn! I’m so delighted for your double debut. One of my “first steps” was getting laid off my job of fourteen years in the fall of 2008. After I got my resume together and wrote a short story of murderous revenge after layoff , I said to myself, “You have all this time. Might as well get back to that book.” I’d started writing a mystery fifteen years earlier but never finished it. What a fabulous silver lining losing that job was!

    1. I lost a job of ten years in 2008. I didn’t think so at the time, but it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I wouldn’t have written the book that landed me an agent if I hadn’t lost that job.

      1. Joyce, Another great example! We wouldn’t have left these jobs, sometimes, even though they may have been holding us back from our dreams. It’s so great when the universe steps in and forces you to make new choices. And you end up with a dream career!

    2. Ditto, kind of. I moved to Massachusetts to take what should have been the perfect job–and got fired six months later (I swear the president of the place was on medication). I was house-sitting, so away from home. So after I finished licking my wounds, I took a look around me and said, I’ve got a quiet place to work and no distractions–what am I waiting for? I wrote a LOT, and definitely it was a jump start. (And yes, Edith, I took out my anger on that jerk boss: I made him into a really nasty character, then shot him and burned his house down around him.)

      Shawn, it sounds like you jumped in with both feet and never looked back. Congrats on your releases!

      1. Sheila,
        Thank you! Yes, after I had Russell 5.5 years ago, I just decided I didn’t want to miss all of it by working in a soul sucking office, making money that I just handed over to a sitter. I was an older mom, 39, and guessed correctly that he might be my one and only. We had so much fun when he was little going to the park and the library every week, exploring and having adventures together. And I also got lots of time to think about my stories, and time to write when he napped. I am so glad I decided to take the leap–I’ve never regretted a second. Thanks so much for all of your guys support, too. The mystery community couldn’t be more supportive and nurturing.l

    3. Edith–that’s a great story! Sometimes it takes an incident like yours to push you through to where you really should be. I have always believed that–and it’s worked out to be so true for so many!

  2. Congratulations, Shawn! One of my first steps was learning about Sisters in Crime. I would not be a published author without my “Sisters” and “Misters.” And I went to my first Malice last year and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t go sooner!

    1. Joyce–we’re so lucky that mystery writers are the most awesome and supportive group of people, aren’t we? I’m looking forward to seeing you again at Malice very soon!

  3. Congrats, Shawn. You already know I’m a fan and looking forward to the third in the series. Anne Murphy was a big part of my first Malice, too, only it was way back at Malice Three. She saved me from starvation on that Sunday morning when the food court that used to be next to the hotel was closed and I was wandering around the lobby like a lost puppy trying to think where I could find something to eat. Looking forward to seeing both of you and so many more good friends at this year’s Malice.

  4. I’ve met a lot of people who helped me on my writing journey but meeting Julie Hennrikus at Malice in 2005 turned out to be a life changing event. Julie is the one who told me to join the New England Chapter of Sister in Crime when I moved to Massachusetts and to go to Crime Bake. It eventually led to meeting all of the women who are now the Wickeds. A momentous moment!

  5. Welcome, Shawn. What a year you are having! But as you point out, it’s not one day on the calendar but a long walk with plenty of stops along the way, including meeting up with a bunch of strangers who became friends. Best of luck with your series.

    1. Barb, I know! I’ve been thinking about it–all the pre-work that goes in and then it’s like all the dreams are coming true at once. I’ll have five books out this year with my name on them…now that is craziness! Thank you so much for all you’ve done for me, all the help and advice you’ve given. I can’t wait to see you at Malice!

  6. Awesome post! One best early moves I made was riding along with a published author to the Maine Romance Writers Retreat. I got great information and advice riding up and back. At the retreat, I made my first pitch, learned about “character driven fiction”, had a fascinating introduction to the cleverness that comes from brainstorming with authors, and enjoyed many conversations that made me feel “part of.” Shawn, your series sounds like fun! 🙂

    1. Thank you! And your story is perfect–it’s the best thing to surround yourself with people who inspire and encourage you to be the best you can be. I’m so glad you had that experience! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Huge congrats on your double debut, Shawn! And for meeting your deadline for the third book, too. The series sounds like a lot of fun.

  8. What a fantastic journey you’ve had and to have two books out at the same time with a third one meeting deadline must be quite a wonderful feeling. Congratulations!

  9. Congratulations on your books! They sound really good. I now have two more books to read!! I appreciate when authors offer ebooks as giveaways for people who have difficulty holding books. I’m hoping I win one!! Thanks for the chance!!

  10. Congratulations, Shawn! What an encouraging post! One of my firsts was attending the New England Crime Bake. There have been many firsts since then but that one really stands out for me.

    1. Jessie,
      That’s a great first–it’s so cool when you find a huge tribe of like-minded folks, isn’t it? I draw such inspiration and joy from all of my mystery friends. Malice really is so special to me–and by extension all of you and the other gatherings I’ve been invited to.
      See you soon!

  11. Great interview with Shawn Reilley Simmons! Congrats on the 2 releases from Henry Press. Thank you for the giveaway opportunity.📖📚

  12. I was lucky enough to read both books for review. I absolutely loved them! I can’t wait to read the third one. This is a fun series. Congratulations😊

  13. Hi, Shawn! Congrats on your big release week! I hope everyone checks out your awesome series! I just had to share one of my good memories, because it’s of you! We didn’t know each other, and you called me about my first Malice registration. I had just signed with Henery Press, and I shared my news with you. You congratulated me so nicely that it made an immediate impression. I was new to Malice/being an author and nervous about SO much. So cool that we’re Hen House sisters now!

    1. Susan, Oh wow! I do remember that day-and I’m as happy for you now as I was then! And then I got to be your moderator, along with Annette, and I was thinking to myself hmm…these ladies are really cool and these books are great. Maybe that’s a good place for me and Penelope too! See, it all comes back to Malice LOL. Thank you so much for being such an early supporter of mine-you’re such a dear friend and I’m lucky to be pub-siblings with you! <3

  14. Thanks again to the Wicked Cozies for inviting me to their wonderful blog! Kathy Meik has been chosen through the randomizer to receive the copies of both ebooks! I so appreciate all of your kind words and the warm welcome. I look forward to seeing many of you at Malice, where I will indeed be celebrating…many things! <3 Shawn

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