After The Contract — Guest Shari Randall

The winner of Wednesday’s giveaway is Shirley! Please contact Sherry at

I met Shari through the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Shari is one of those people who you feel immediately comfortable with. Maybe it’s because she’s a former children’s librarian. She is the first of three guests who will be talking about their experiences since they’ve sign a book deal but whose books aren’t out yet. Shari’s first book is set to come out in March of 2018.

Many thanks to Sherry and the Wickeds for the invitation to chat about What Happens After the Contract.

When I signed my contract with St. Martin’s Press for the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack Mystery series my first thought was – all that paper! While I was wading through it I gave thanks for the many friends who helped make that moment possible.

After the contract…and the champagne….and chocolates…and celebration…and congratulations… It sank in. I faced that empty page. Now I have to get to work.

So I did two things. Then I realized something and did one more.

One, I kept writing.

lobsterbuoysandmeTwo, I did a Lobster Shack Tour. My Number One Fan and I hit the road, researching (okay, eating) at lobster shacks from Noank to Woods Hole and beyond. Except for Maine. I’m conceding Maine to my esteemed fellow lobster lady, Barb Ross, and her Maine Clambake mysteries.

For many years I’ve seen so many author friends juggle writing their books with all the other things that are expected of a modern author: blog tours, giveaways, publicity, appearances, marketing. I realized now that all that was my job, too. I saw the difference, to me, between being a writer and being an author. Let me explain.

Writing is the nuts and bolts, the craft, getting words on paper. That’s what the writer does.

Being an author. Ah, that’s different.

Before I signed my contract, my mental image of “author” was a fantasy formed by episodes of Dynasty and Murder She Wrote. Instead of the reality of hours of butt-in-chair in book jail, my Fantasy Author Self was at signings, dressed in flowing scarves and jangling bangle bracelets. My sparkling laugh – very Mary Higgins Clark or maybe Joan Collins – floating over hundreds of fans sipping champagne, where every detail of the event has been arranged by my fawning publicist, a George Clooney lookalike named Charlton. My fantasy agent says things like “After the twenty-state tour, you’re going to Canyon Ranch for a vacation, I insist” and “Lucas wants the film rights! Streep wants to play Aunt Gully!”

But then I wake up.  Arranging booking signings will be my job. Writing blogs will be my job. Marketing will be my job.

This realization brought me to the third thing I did. I learned as much as I could about what is expected of an author, by asking questions, doing research, and taking classes. One of the best classes was Simon Wood’s 21st Century Author, which I took online through the SINC Guppies. Simon explained the many requirements of the 21st century author – creating a persona, using social media, publicity, marketing. Exhausting, but necessary.

Where is Charlton when I need him?

There is no Charlton.

So as I go back into book jail to work on Book Two, I still give thanks for that contract. But now I know that writing the book is just the beginning.

Readers: What experiences have you had that were different than you thought they’d be?


45 Thoughts

  1. This is SUCH a great post. Yes, in my dreams I am dancing with Ellen Degeneres before I sit down to talk to her, and of course everyone in the audience gets a copy of my latest novel. Reality: I’m blogging, writing every day (even Sundays and holidays), and posting on Facebook and Twitter. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world! Thanks, too, for making the train ride home from Malice a fun experience! Hope to see you at Malice again this year.

    1. Hi Judy, that was a fun train ride! Meeting other authors sharing this crazy experience is one of the best parts of writing. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you and Ellen!

    1. Thank you for the invitation! Maybe we can do a Go Fund Me for a Charlton? I’ll share him.

  2. Can’t wait for your book, Shari! Did you check out NH lobstahs, too? Count me in for the train ride to Malice with you and Judy!

    1. New Hampshire is on my list! Can you recommend some good spots, Lisa? You are definitely counted in. Can’t wait for Malice!

  3. Thank you for this post–it certainly seems as if the positions of writer and author hold their own challenges! Were you able to research your first lobster shack book as well? That in itself sounds like something I want to read. I remember watching Jessica Fletcher with my family when I was a kid because-despite all the deaths-it was considered to be safe viewings for young viewers. Charlton would have probably been the victim, or the wrongly accused.

    1. Sarah, I love your spin on Charlton! I’ve spent a lot of time researching/visiting/eating at lobster shacks. One of my nephews worked as a lobsterman, so that helps tremendously.
      How I loved Murder She Wrote! The whole idea behind my series is to channel Jessica Fletcher as much as possible, but with a main character who can do her own stunts. I hope the series will be one you’ll enjoy.

  4. I think we need to set up an employment agencies to provide Charltons to writers!

    Like you, I had fantasies about bookstore and library signings crammed with adoring fans begging to buy a signed copy or three of my book. It has happened (a couple of times, maybe, and usually the people were there for the more famous author sitting next to me). But there have been signings where exactly one person showed up. Or the ones where the only person asking questions wanted to know how to find an agent. You learn to just roll with it–and you give your best whether there’s one or fifty people listening.

    1. CharltonsRUs!
      You’ve brought up such a good point, Sheila. Writers must be introverts and extroverts – able to write alone for long periods of time but then switch gears and do those unpredictable signings and author talks. It’s a challenge for sure.

  5. Shari, I’m so happy to learn of your book contract. That’s great news. You will be a wonderful Charlton.

  6. Hi, Shari! What a fun post. I am SO happy that you’re an author. And that you’re already working on book two! You make great points. As thrilled and thankful as I am to be an author, I realize more than ever how special the “old days” were too — when writing involved less pressure and fewer peripheral responsibilities. There is so much to appreciate at all stages of this career. Congratulations!!!

    1. Hi Susan! You are so right. I’m so glad to have writer friends who understand the journey. I hope you’ll be at Malice?

  7. Thank you for the terrific and informative post. We all hear that we need to do more as an author and it’s helpful to know how much more. Congrats on your contract! I’m sharing this post.

  8. I, too, have had my fantasies of sitting across from Ellen, Judy. While I’m sure that’s still a possibility, however remote, I mostly fantasize about sitting down with my coffee the moment the family is out the door and banging out thousands of words a day, finishing exhausted but satisfied.
    Sadly, my day usually consists of crawling inside the dog’s kennel to clear out the three mechanical pencils she’s stolen and chewed into lethal shards, then having to let her and her brother out, trudging back upstairs to get in exactly 23 words before she wants back in, trudging halfway up the stairs before remembering I need to kick off the dishwasher since I forgot the last three days and we’re now eating off paper towels, back up the stairs for another 47 and a half words before other dog starts furiously barking at leaves and acorns, back down the stairs to stand at the slider yelling at him to come inside then having to wrestle with him to wipe the mud off his paws because he’s been playing in the storm drain easement.

    And then the bus from the high school is arriving …. It’s a very glamorous life as Shari has mentioned. 😀

    1. That’s why we do it, right – the glamour! 😉
      Let’s get Charlton to work on getting us all on Ellen.

  9. “I am my own Charlton.” Great words for the modern author. I look forward to being with you (and Maya Corrigan) on many crustacean-related book panels in the future.

    1. I’m looking forward to seeing you and Maya but panels….maybe I’ll send Charlton in my stead.

  10. There were books and authors on Dynasty? Can’t wait to see your books in stores, in my hands, and on my bookshelf! So happy for you, Shari.

    1. Now that you mention it, I don’t remember seeing any bookshelves on Dynasty! But for glamour, you can’t beat Joan Collins. I can’t wait, either, Barb! Can’t imagine any part of this journey without you.

  11. March of 2018? But I’ve been waiting for this book since Malice last year! 🙂

    Seriously, congrats again on the contract and I’m looking forward to seeing you again at Malice.

    1. It’s a LOOONG road! Thank you for your kind words, Mark, and for introducing me to Trixie Belden. There’s a lot of her in my main character. See you at Malice!

  12. Congrats, on the book deal, Shari — can’t wait to read it! I look forward to meeting you at Malice! Please wear a *flowing scarf and jangling bracelet* so I can find you 🙂 And Barb, please set up a crustacean panel — I’ll bring the drawn buttah!

    1. Alas, I’m not doing Malice programming anymore. I needed to concentrate on my editing business so I stepped down from the board. But yes, it’s an excellent idea.

    1. Thank you, Julie. I know you’re right – it’s already February for heaven’s sake!

    1. Hi Liz, thank you so much for having me on the blog. Always fun to hang out with the Wickeds 🙂

    1. Hi, Deb. I know you’ve got a book coming, too. Best wishes with your book – keep me posted – we Guppies have to stick together!

  13. Hi, Shari, I’m so thrilled about your big news and can’t wait to read your series! And I LOVE the name Lazy Mermaid. Looking forward to seeing you at Malice!

  14. Shari: Big congratulations! Love this post, love your news, and can’t wait to read your book. That’s one of the coolest series names ever.

    1. Hi Cynthia, thank you so much! As you know, it’s a bewildering but exciting time😀

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