Take a Chance

Taking chances is never easy and they don’t always pan out, but when they do amazing things can happen.  

Years ago—I think in 2003 or 2004—I was checking in at the Malice hotel. Something was screwed up with my reservation and the woman next to me was also having a problem. While the hotel staff was trying to sort things out we struck up a conversation. It turned out the woman was agent Meg Ruley. I told her about my book, Diamond Solitaire. She told me to send it to her. I walked on air the rest of the weekend. I sent off the manuscript when I got home. Since none of you have ever heard of Diamond Solitaire, you guessed correctly that I got a rejection letter. Deservedly so I must add, but I’m always happy I had that opportunity.

Tori Eldridge’s second book in her Lily Wong series, The Ninja’s Blade, just came out on Tuesday. I met Tori when she stopped me in the hall at Bouchercon in Dallas last year. It was the day I turned over the presidency of Sisters in Crime to Lori Rader-Day. Tori introduced herself, handed me her card, told me a quick bit about her first book, The Ninja’s Daughter, and thanked me for my work with Sisters in Crime.

When I returned home I stuck her card on my desk and glanced at it frequently. One day I decided it was time to buy the book and I loved it. It’s not a cozy, but if you don’t mind something a little darker, I highly recommend The Ninja’s Daughter. Something about that interaction—that Tori took the time to introduce herself—has always impressed me. And I have a wonderful new series to read.

I’ve walked into many meetings and conferences alone over the years and it is never easy. A scary moment for me was when I went to my first meeting of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime. We’d moved from Massachusetts back to Virginia. I loved belonging to the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime and I wasn’t quite sure the new chapter would measure up.

As I walked down the sidewalk I met a couple, Kathryn O’Sullivan and her husband Paul, who were also going to the meeting for the first time. Who knew that down the road Kathryn and I would be on panels and do book events together?! Once I was in the room where the meeting was held, I suddenly felt like I had twelve heads. Fortunately, the Chessie members came to my rescue. Barb Goffman, who is usually an introvert, introduced herself, as did others. What a great support system the Chessie members have become. I’ve meet so many wonderful authors and read so many great books because of attending that meeting.

Readers: Do you take chances? How have they turned out?

29 Thoughts

      1. If I were as smart as Tori I would have given you my business card! But I wasn’t thinking properly. It was my first Bouchercon, and I found it pretty overwhelming. Hopefully there will be a next time!

  1. I think we’re all taking a chance every time we send pages to our critique groups, manuscripts to agents, or release a new book. Heck, just putting words on a page each day feels daunting at times.

    And I agree with Marla. The mystery community is awesome!

  2. I’d never heard that story about Meg, Sherry! Hey, at least you had a completed manuscript to send her!

    I took a big chance by leaving my day job seven years ago to write fiction full time. I’m so glad I did.

  3. Definitely not one to take chances, it seems that when I became a senior my whole thought process changed. It use to be never and now it’s why not. Although it’s scary and I worry about the outcome, I’ve come to realize that one worry does nothing but give you ulcers and two you will always wonder what the outcome would have been if you don’t try.

    I’m scared of heights, but it was my idea to take a helicopter ride over Niagara Falls. Don’t remember it because I was so busy taking photos, but I did it. The biggest chance has to be selling out, downsizing and moving to our dream destination a little over three years ago. BEST decision ever! Not that all have turned out rosy or as expected, but from here on out, I will at least give it a shot.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  4. I think my biggest chance was walking into my first SinC meeting, manuscript clutched in my hand. But I agree with Annette – we take chances every time we put our words out there.

    And yes, the mystery community is the best. 🙂

  5. Absolutely agree with Liz and Annette. We take chances just putting words on paper and sending them off from our laptops.

    I have always been a risk-taker. My parents had the grey hair to prove it. Most have worked out – one way or the other – I’ve learned from them all. I have a magnet on my file cabinet with a Neale Donald Walsch quote – “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” It’s right next to Winston Churchill’s “Never, never, never give up.”

  6. I’m pretty risk averse, no doubt that’s why in my day job, I work in compliance. 😉
    Anyway, a big chance I took was when I was writing my first manuscript, back in 2011. When I started it, I had no preconceived notions about it, other than a young man meets a young woman while on a cross-country train trip. Well, about forty pages into the story (at that point, I didn’t know word count was more important than page count), I realized with a fair amount of shock that I was writing a romance! At that point, the only romance I’d ever read was THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE, which my wife had gotten from the library for me because of the sci-fi angle of the story. Once I took some time to think about it, I decided since the story was a romance, so be it. I wouldn’t worry about generalizations of romance being a genre for women only.
    That manuscript became FALLEN STAR, my first published novel. To this day, it’s my wife’s favorite of everything I’ve written. Since then I’ve had nine more novels and one short story published, along with a switch in genres from romance to mystery. Book eleven comes out in January. None of that would have happened if I hadn’t been willing to take that chance and roll with the idea that a guy could write romance.

      1. Thanks for asking, Sherry. Alas, it’s out of print right now. Due to low sales, I got the rights to it back a couple of years ago. I hope to indie publish it, and the other seven romance novels, in the near future. Hopefully sooner than later!

  7. I love taking chances – not the stupid dares that could end up in death, but the maybe it will and maybe it won’t work out things. The biggest chance I took was getting together with the man who is now my husband of 45 years. But in traveling I have done a lot of “give it a whirl” things that have mostly turned out fantastically. I’ve lived a very exciting, improbable life and I love it, even the things that didn’t work out.

  8. You’ve just inspired me to take some chances. Of course, I’m working from home today, so I don’t know what they might be, but I will be on the look out.

  9. I’ve never heard the Meg Ruley story! I’ve met Meg several times at the Maine Crime Wave and the New England Crime Bake and she is lovely. And of course a fabulous agent.

  10. I’m still coming to grips with Barb Goffman as an introvert. Who knew? I thought that was my role. 🙂
    I could not agree more about the SinC chapter. Welcoming and wonderful in every way.

  11. Yes I have taken chances and most of the time they turn out good. I first met my husband when he went and applied where i worked, actually I didn’t meet him then,I just saw him andI liked him. Next time I saw him it was about a week after , he got a job where I worked. Well, I started talking to him so we became friends and went out on some dates. Well, after a month of knowing each other we moved in together (now that was a Big Chance), and a year after we got married and I am happy to say that we have been married for 43 years and together for 44 yrs. Have a Great weekend and stay safe. God Bless you and your family. I enjoyed reading your post. Thank you.

  12. Taking chances to talk to people is usually a good result, even if it is just for thinking and exercising your manners!

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