Just When You Think It’s Not Going to Happen — Guest Shawn Wilson

Sherry here and I can’t tell you how excited I am to introduce you to Shawn! We met about sixteen years ago at the bar at Malice. Publishing a book was a dream for both of us and it didn’t happen overnight for either of us. As the years passed we traded manuscripts, did accountability reports, and saw each other at conferences. I was so thrilled when Shawn got her contract for Relentless.  Here’s Shawn:

Just when you think it’s not going to happen . . .

My long-time goal was to get traditionally published. Eventually, I came to the conclusion it wasn’t going to happen. I was okay with that. . . well, sort of. I had other creative outlets such as knitting and quilting. And better to hang a quilt on the wall than a rejection letter. Published or not, attending conferences and being around writers was still fun, and I intended to keep doing that.

I come from a small family. One sister. Growing up, we both wished for an older brother but that was impossible. I was fortunate, however, that my cousin Bill turned out to be a good surrogate. He was a year older than me, and when I went to college, I was so excited to brag about my cousin who was a cadet at West Point. Throughout his long military career, we managed to stay close even though we were living in different states or on different continents. Then he was assigned to the Pentagon which made it easy to spend time with him and his family, since I was living in Arlington, Virginia. Lots of good memories from those days and then I moved to Chicago. In April 2017, Bill and his wife visited. While he explored the city, Nancy, a quilter extraordinaire, and I attended the quilt show in suburban Rosemont.

We had a great weekend and never suspected that a few months later, Bill would be diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer.  The prognosis was grim. In October, I cancelled my plans to attend Bouchercon in Toronto and went back to Virginia instead.

A new year arrived and over the next several months, family and friends from all over the country visited Bill. We thought of it as a Farewell Tour in which the celebrity stayed home and the fans traveled. I spent a week with them in June, 2018, and when I left was guardedly optimistic that I would see him again. That changed a few weeks later when Nancy called to let me know his condition was deteriorating. There were two funerals – one in Virginia and the other at West Point.

A month later, Bouchercon 2018 was in St. Petersburg, Florida and I welcomed the opportunity to get away. Ordinarily, attending a conference meant networking and hoping to find an agent or publisher interested in my manuscript. No, not this time – I just wanted to explore a place where I’d never been, visit with friends, and most of all, relax. Little did I know that a conversation over a cup of tea in the hospitality suite would change my life.

It was easy to start talking. Helaine Mario’s name tag indicated she’s from Arlington. As we chatted, she told me about her publisher, Oceanview Publishing, and suggested I attend their presentation. I did, and as the saying goes, the rest is history.

That November, I met Nancy at the huge international quilt show in Houston, Texas. Thinking about hibernating during the approaching Chicago winter, I figured I needed to add to my fabric stash. With a much heavier suitcase, I headed to the airport for the flight home. While waiting to board, I checked my email and based on my initial submission, Oceanview was requesting the full manuscript. A few weeks later, Pat and Bob Gussin called to discuss what would become RELENTLESS. On December 21, 2018, I signed a contract.

It was an extremely cold winter in Chicago, and I spent a lot of time inside in front of the computer, not the sewing machine. But recently I’ve put some of that fabric I mentioned to good use – a baby quilt for my Pilates trainer. She’s thrilled to be pregnant for the first time and she’s 44 years old.

Just when you think it’s not going to happen . . .

QUESTION: Have you had a “just when you think it’s not going to happen” experience?

Here’s a bit about Relentless: Perfect for fans of police procedurals in the style of Harry Bosch

Cherry blossom season is Washington, D.C.’s most beautiful time of the year. But as tourists flock to the city, this year’s festivities are marred by the discovery of the naked body of a young woman floating in the Tidal Basin. Veteran homicide detective Brian (Brick) Kavanagh is assigned to the case. He’s shocked when he learns the victim is connected to another homicide which makes the investigation very personal for him. Brick’s efforts to solve the case are thwarted by departmental politics and a rush to judgment. Convinced that justice has not been served and the wrong person is in jail, Kavanagh risks all to relentlessly pursue the truth. Overlooked evidence ultimately leads to a devastating conclusion in a heartbreaking case.

Bio: Shawn Wilson is a produced playwright and the debut author of Relentless, a crime novel introducing Homicide Detective Brian “Brick” Kavanagh.  Shawn lived in the Washington, D.C. area for many years but now calls Chicago home. Even though she lives near Wrigley Field, she was very happy to see the Washington Nationals win the World Series.


25 Thoughts

  1. Congratulations on your debut. Sounds like a wonderful book. I’m looking forward to reading it.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I can’t help but feel that Bill had a hand in the serendipity.

  2. Congratulations, Shawn! What a great story of your path to publication. And the new book sounds great!

  3. I can’t say that I have had one of those similar moments that you enjoyed Shawn. Normally, it goes the opposite way for me. I think something is going to happen and it doesn’t.

    Congratulations on the publication of your first novel. I’m off to check out getting myself a copy.

  4. Congratulations, Shawn! The book sounds great.

    My journey was similar. I queried the first in my Laurel Highlands series for two years. Just as I thought the series would go into a drawer and I’d move on to something else, Level Best gave me a three-book contract. Proving that you just never know!

  5. Congratulations on not giving up, Shawn! An agent once told me that it’s a long road to getting published. She didn’t said that you have to actually build the road, travel it, and fill in the potholes along the way. RELENTLESS sounds great and I’m looking forward to reading it.

  6. Congrats!

    I’m now working for a company I’ve applied to I don’t know how many times I’m the past. It finally worked for them to hire me.

  7. Congratulations! I recognize this story. It took me twenty-five years to find an agent, and almost another year before the first three books of the Musical Murders series were picked up by Camel Press. During that time I was improving, tweaking, learning, lengthening, and the books were just generally getting better.

    Hope to meet you in person some day.

  8. Welcome, Shawn! It’s so great to see you here. Your path to publication sounds a lot like mine with my first book, The Death of an Ambitious Woman. The email of acceptance came at a most unexpected time and I really needed it.

    1. Thanks! I really appreciate this opportunity to share my journey and hope it will inspire others to continue pursuing whatever it is they hope to achieve.

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