Five Wicked Years Later

By Sherry — feeling happy in Northern Virginia

The winner of this giveaway is Lori Smanski! Look for an email from me! Monday, December 2nd was the fifth anniversary of the release of my first book Tagged for Death. It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been five years and that my eighth book, Sell Low, Sweet Harriet will be out on December 31. Look for a giveaway at the end of the post.

It truly seems like only yesterday (it was actually December 2012) when I found an email in my inbox from Barbara Ross on a Monday morning saying “my agent is looking for someone to write a garage sale themed cozy series for Kensington.” Barb went on to say something like “if you don’t know anything about garage sales watch a couple of those shows on HGTV.”

Garage sales? I LOVE garage sales. My house is full of things from garage sales, flea markets, and antique stores. But write a book about them? I’d been working on a series set in Seattle. My protagonist was a gemologist. I’d actually pitched the idea to Barb’s agent three weeks before at Crime Bake, but he wasn’t interested. I wrote Barb back saying I’d have to think about it.

I woke up the next morning and thought I have to try. I found the email I wrote Barb that morning:

I’m terrified but yes let’s proceed. I don’t want to let you down or John. I’ve been racked with doubts about my writing abilities. But I’ve also been thinking about characters and settings and complications all morning. How in the winter she can hit thrift shops and church sales and indoor flea markets. I’d already made her 38. I have an opening line. And yes I think she will turn it into a career. Thank you so much for even thinking of me. Your terrified friend! Sherry

By that afternoon I was in touch with John Talbot. He said that he needed a proposal fast. I had no idea what “fast” meant in the publishing world. But by Friday afternoon I sent in a 36 page proposal that included the first three chapters of Tagged for Death. The story and characters poured out of me like they’d been waiting in the wings for me to notice them. If only all writing was like that. John asked me to make a couple of changes but by early the next week the proposal was in the hands of Gary Goldstein, the editor at Kensington who wanted the series.

My mom the day my book came out!

Pins and needles for the next six weeks. I didn’t know that the publishing industry more or less shut down over the holidays. By early February I had a three book deal with Kensington. I’d like to say and the rest is history, but it’s been full of fits and bumps and starts. Ups and downs. Highs and lows. But what a wonderful ride it’s been. Thanks to all of you – especially the Wickeds – for being there with me.

I’m giving away a copy of one of my paperback books or the first six ebooks to celebrate. Leave a comment for a chance to win.

89 Thoughts

  1. I would like to have read about your gemologist, such a unique protagonist. But, you ended up writing a great ongoing series. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.
    browninggloria(at)hotmail(dot) com

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  2. I’m so glad you decided to write that first book. I always look forward to the next book — The Garage Sale series is one of my favorites!

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  3. Such a great series. We can all relate to garage sales, can’t we? (And I love those covers!) Congratulations on your anniversary. Can’t even begin to imagine how hard it must be to take that leap with writing. Thanks for the great giveaway and happy holidays.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your story. It sounds like fate! I have to say, I’m partial to Seattle settings, so I hope your first series ends up published someday too.

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  5. Not in contest but I am so happy you decided to give it a try. I love the books and I am such a lousy garage seller that I enjoy the vicarious experience of Sarah’s successes. May your success continue for as long as you still love her. I think gemology would be fascinating career for a mystery.

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  6. Wow! Thanks for sharing your story – it sounds like it was fate! And congratulations on your upcoming release! Can’t wait to read more of this series!

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  7. Sherry, congratulations on your fifth anniversary of the Garage Sale Mysteries! I loved reading the recap of your journey’s beginning!

    Should I be selected as the lucky winner, I’d prefer the physical copy you offered.

    Here’s to five more (and beyond) years with Sarah Winston!

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  8. I have read all of your books so I don’t need to win a contest, but congratulations on 5 years! Sarah’s story has been so interesting and I know that it will continue to be so in your capable hands! I look forward to each book.

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  9. Happy book anniversary! I think I can speak for all of us when I say THANK YOU for accepting that challenge and starting our fabulous journey with the A Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery series.

    Love your books and the covers! Hoping for many more adventures in the wonderful world of garage sales with Sarah. Greatly appreciate the opportunity to win on of your books.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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  10. Hearty congratulations on your anniversary! what a great story of how the garage sale mysteries happened.

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  11. High five, Sherry! Congrats on reaching such a wonderful milestone and best wishes for many more 5-year writing anniversaries to you!

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  12. Your mom is so cute in that picture! Congrats on a great five years of publication! May there be many more. #TeamSeth!

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  13. What a wonderful ride we’ve BOTH been on for these five years. Meeting you over our shared Best First Agatha nominations is still one of the high points of my career. Love you lots, my friend. And congratulations on #8!

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  14. Five years? Wow, does the time fly. I’m glad you took that leap since this is one of my favorite series. Congrats! (And, obviously, I don’t need any of the books.)

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  15. Sherry, what a great story! Thanks so much for sharing it. And congratulations!!! It’s a WONDERFUL series. May you someday write a post titled “Ten Years Later.” xoxo

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  16. Hearty congratulations! I have loved this series from the very beginning and I own every book. For me, one of the biggest joys in reading “cozies” is the growth of the characters, their friendships and relationships. Thanks and can’t wait until December 31 for the new book! Wheeeee!

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  17. Sending you big congratulations and thanks for creating such a wonderfully real main character in Sarah. I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for the gemologist series. So happy for you!

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  18. Why did you wait so long to start writing??? You obviously have all these little characters buried inside of you just waiting to crawl out and breathe life into them!!! Think how many may have grown old and shriveled up after all these years of no writing lol!

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  19. Congratulations. This is a wonderful idea for a cozy mystery. A garage sale series. I would love to check these books out. Happy Holidays. quilting lady 2 at comcast dot net

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  20. Wow! I can’t believe it has already been 5 years since I picked up your first book! I remember adding it to my TBB list when I read about the premise, and yes, I have a paper “publication date list” that goes with me everywhere so I don’t forget to buy something when it comes out. I love yard sales, flea markets, resale shops… whatever name others know them by, so I knew I would love reading this series when I read about it. I love that you have a picture of your mom with your first book when it came out. I’m sure she was very proud for you and of you. Thanks for keeping us entertained! Renee

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  21. I love the stories, despite my lack of experience in garage saling (is that a word?). What hooked me immediately was the military connection. My daughter is a Navy veteran and all the details about life on and off base, including the amazing support systems (that I know she experienced), really make the stories special for me.

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  22. Congratulations on five years! And what a fun series–I think half of my house is furnished from estate sales. Always such wonderful finds–especially since the towns surrounding mine have residents much wealthier than I am. My favorite time for an estate sale is always around noon on the last day. The organizers are close to worn out and wanting their lunch. Deals abound. Sometimes, it’s hard to get away without taking the last thing the organizers want to push on you. So much for that small wing chair, half price if you also take the second one, the foot rest, and this shockingly ugly throw pillow!
    -Melanie

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  23. I love gems and shopping at garage sales/thrift stores so would love either of your book ideas, definitely want to start this series!

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  24. I’d love to own one of your books. I get them at the library. They buy books when requested. It’s so much fun reading yours. It’s interesting reading about sales in your books. Thank you for the chance

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  25. I’m a a garage / yard sale junkie too. Grew up having to get up early on the week-ends to read the ads & map for my mom. Got me hooked. I’ve always considered it treasure hunting & it hurts to pass by a sale or a sign without stopping. Would love to read these books.
    Thanks for the chance to win &
    Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to all the Wickeds.
    cameronbarbara@ymail.com

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  26. Wow, how awesome for you, seems like it was just the right time for you and a story of something you loved doing, going to garage sales! You sure can get some really good buy and some really good treasures at garage sales. Congratulations to you and I’m so very happy that you changed you mind and gave it a try! Your books sound like very good reads. Have a Great weekend. God Bless you.

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  27. They are all fantastic. We have loved vintage stuff since 1975. I loved the Hallmark Garage sale mysteries that I assume were patterned after your mysteries. Anyway, we use to do antiques shows and sell things and I have learned so much about the wonderful things that were created in America. It is sad the kids today don’t like old neat stuff. I learn a lot more from you when I read your books. I love it…

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  28. I love garage sales – my best friend and I used to go every weekend – we don’t live near each other any more – I miss her and our fun adventures – your books sound fantastic, thanks for the chance to own one.

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  29. Congrats on the five! The gemologist series sounds super. My sisters and I love going to garage sales! I’d love to win one of your garage sales books!!! nani_geplcs(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  30. This is a wonderful series. I have read them all and enjoyed them so much. Please do not enter me in your contest, as I have read your books and would want this to go to someone new to your books.

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