Guest Joyce Woollcott’s Journey to Publication #giveaway

Edith/Maddie writing from north of Boston with another stellar guest for your reading pleasure.

Joyce Woollcott and I are both members of the Sisters in Crime Guppies chapter, and we met in person at a gathering at Malice Domestic. I loved talking with her. When I learned her debut novel would be out this summer, of course I invited her over to meet all our readers! But first, let’s check out A Nice Place to Die, which will release soon (the date has been sliding a bit, but it WILL be out soon). Make sure to leave a comment to enter the giveaway!

The body of a young woman is found by a river outside Belfast, and Detective Sergeant Ryan McBride makes a heart-wrenching discovery at the scene, a discovery he chooses to hide even though it could cost him the investigation – and his career. The victim was a loner but well-liked. Why would someone want to harm her? And is her murder connected to a rapist who’s stalking the local pubs? As Ryan untangles a web of deception and lies, his suspects die one by one, leading him to a dangerous family secret and a murderer who will stop at nothing to keep it.

And still he harbors his secret …

Take it away, Joyce!

I’ve always been a reader, always. Even as a child when I look back, I remember particularly enjoying adventure and mystery. I grew up just outside Belfast and in those days, I couldn’t lose myself in social media so I lost myself in books. The Famous Five, The Secret Seven – I think you can see the beginning of a trend. I read the classics too of course, for school and pleasure, but I always enjoyed a good murder, just like my mum.

After graduating I came to Canada, got a job, married, raised a daughter and read. Michael Connelly, Lou Berney, Denise Mina, Ann Cleeves, P.D. James, and the like. I wrote while I still worked, as I suppose a lot of aspiring writers do, but only in a half-hearted way, feeling out of depth. When I took early retirement and could finally take the time, I enrolled in some night classes and learned how to format, what typeface and size to use. It was from those classes that I started to read my favourite books again and actually learn from them.

I started to paint too, somehow the idea of just writing seemed so foreign to me. Could a person write? I used to paint when I was younger and I thought I could fill my days doing both, and if the writing didn’t work out, well I could always fill my days painting …

Mist on the River
Yellow Daisies
Loch Erne

I signed on for a summer workshop at The Humber School for Writers in Toronto and the next year was accepted into a year-long, on-line, post-grad class there with Canadian novelist Robert Rotenburg. This was the beginning of a journey to complete my first ever manuscript. Abducted.

I passed the year with a Letter of Distinction. Encouraged, I entered Abducted in the Arthur Ellis Awards Unpublished contest. I was long-listed in December 2018.

Spurred on by this, in February 2019 I entered the Daphne du Maurier Awards with my second novel, A Nice Place to Die. In May, 2019 I got a call from New York, telling me I was a finalist. On 24th July I watched the Awards via video link. I won the Daphne! This is for their largest group, Unpublished Mainstream Mystery/Suspense.

January 2020, I received notice that A Nice Place to Die made the long-list of the Arthur Ellis Awards, Unpublished, and finally in 2021, I made the short-list as a finalist in the Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence.

As you can tell from this, my road to publication has been long. I was full of doubt and sought a backup plan, but in the end, writing took over and I was offered and signed off on a two-book contract in 2021. That contract is for A Nice Place to Die and the second book in the series Blood Relations. It’s been a lot of work but it’s been worth it and I do believe this is a process most writers have to go through. Yes of course there are debut novelists who hit the ground running, straight out of school or university or college, but I think this is the exception, not the rule. We need to read, we need to write and we need to learn. This takes time and determination. Take courses, ask for help, seek out critique partners and readers. And listen to the criticism, because it will come. And when all that is done, submit your work. And good luck!

Readers: I read mysteries and adventure when I was young, The Famous Five and The Secret Seven. What kind of books did you enjoy as a young child and have your tastes changed much? Did you only read science fiction as a kid and now you enjoy cosy mysteries? Did you love westerns as a child and now you love romances? I’ll send one commenter a copy of the new book after it comes out (date of which still hasn’t been nailed down, alas).

Maternity & newborn photography in Toronto – Photography by Dawn

J. Woollcott is a Canadian writer born in Northern Ireland. She is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers and BCAD, University of Ulster. Her first mystery, Abducted, was long-listed in the Canadian Arthur Ellis Awards in 2019. Her second book, A Nice Place to Die, won the RWA Unpublished Mystery/Suspense Daphne du Maurier Award in 2019 in New York. A Nice Place to Die was also long-listed in the Arthur Ellis Awards for 2020 and short-listed in the Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence in 2021. She is working on part two of the Ryan McBride Belfast Murder Series, Blood Relations, due out in August 2023.

She is a member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers,  and the Suncoast Writers Guild.

Twitter @JoyceWoollcott

62 Thoughts

  1. Your book sounds very intriguing. I started reading mysteries when I was 9 after our 4th grade teacher would read to us The Happy Hollisters a chapter or 2 a day. When I was a teen I was into gothics. I didn’t discover cozy mysteries until working for the Housing Authority and I was checking out the rec room and I saw a book that the cover caught my eye. It was a culinary cozy and have been reading them since with suspense novels every now and then. Thank you for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

    1. Well, I’ve never read The Happy Hollisters, but sounds like a fun read. Maybe similar to the books I enjoyed. I never got into Gothic but I did like horror a little bit––for a short time. I still enjoy Stephen King though. Thanks for posting!

  2. I always read as a child, just about anything! Mysteries, science fiction, horror (I was a Dark Shadows fan in grade school, so lots of vampire stories). I never really got into historical novels or romance, though. I love your paintings!

    1. Thank you for liking the paintings, I really should do a bit more, it’s relaxing––and sometimes you need to diversify!
      FYI., Just got my launch date, August 30th!

  3. Nancy Drew! Yes, please. “Little Women” (the unabridged edition) changed my life and made me want to write some day. I read everything: mysteries, histories, biographies, etc. I have always lived by the Cicero quote: “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

    1. You are so right! We need a home full of books. I didn’t read Nancy at home as a child, not as popular in the UK., but that’s who our daughter grew up first listening to, and then reading herself.

  4. Well, Joyce, look at you! And you were so nervous. Ach! go with it girl!

    1. DonnaRae, thanks. Looks like I have a release date so I’m excited and thrilled. Very soon, August 30th., Yay!

  5. My reading has stayed the same. I was never interested in the kids books and read adult books as long as I can remember. I read a variety, mystery, true crime, horror, history, science, biography and still do today, though mysteries and true crime are still my favorites. I never did get into romance.

    1. I’m a bit like that, I don’t think I got heavily into romance, or science and biography, enough of that at school! I did read widely but loved those mysteries!

  6. I always read fantasy book when I was a kid. Now I read fiction, romance, some nonfiction and cozy mysteries.

    1. Christine, that’s a lovely combination of genres. My book’s a procedural but I don’t write a lot of graphic violence etc, and I add humour when I can. I didn’t read fantasy as a child because I don’t think the library carried much!

  7. My reading has stayed the same. I was never interested in the kids books and read adult books as long as I can remember. I read a variety, mystery, true crime, horror, history, science, biography and still do today, though mysteries and true crime are still my favorites. I never did get into romance.

    1. Yes! Mysteries and true crime, so fascinating how we enjoy the unraveling of plot. I do, and sometimes isn’t real life stranger than fiction.

  8. I’m very much looking forward to your release, Joyce! And having seen some of your artistry up close, I’m confident you would have succeeded no matter the path you chose.

  9. Think my reading has pretty much stayed the same although broader now. I have always loved reading the classics as a way to explore the past. I’ve never liked sci-fi or fantasy type books. It wasn’t until adulthood that I knew some of what I was reading were cozies. Regardless of what they are called, they still remain on of my favorites to read.

    “A Nice Place to Die” sounds like an amazing book and one I’m looking forward to reading. You teased me and now I must know what his secret is. Thank you for the chance to win a copy!

    1. Good luck Kay. And yes that’s true about a way into history through fiction. Often much more fun than the non-fiction history books we read in school.

  10. Always lovely to see a fellow Canadian on the Wickeds, and especially a SinC and CWC mate! Congrats on all your accomplishments, Joyce. And working with Bobby Rotenberg must have been a highlight, he’s incredible. Best of luck with the book and your journey.

    1. Thanks Judy! Yes that was an experience, spending a year, one-to-one (on line) with such a terrific writer as a mentor.

  11. My mother loved Perry Mason books and belonged to the Detective Book Club, so I grew up enamored of puzzles with clues, red herrings and a smashing finish. Suspense is good, but I never developed a taste for the thriller — what’s the point of knowing who the bad guy is! Unless you’re Columbo, but that’s a different thing entirely. “Nice Place to Die” sounds delicious!

    1. Oh yes, my mum too! She loved true crime though, all those true detective stories, bit much for me as I snuck a peek occasionally! Although in the end I suppose a wee bit rubbed off! Thanks for the comment!

  12. I read a lot of fantasy as a kid. Now, of course, crime. Crime crime crime. Will your books be coming out in audio, Joyce? The cover of A Nice Place to Die is great, and I love your mist painting. You’re quite talented.

    1. Oh hi Barb, Thanks for the like of my mist painting. It’s one of my favourites too. I don’t have much time to paint at the moment as you can imagine, but I’ll get back to it soon, and yes don’t you love the cover? 🙂

  13. Congratulations, Joyce! Your paintings are lovely. I started reading mystery, I still read mystery, and now I write it. Although I do read other things, too.

    1. Thank you! Sounds like you’re on the same path as me. I do read other books too, when friends recommend them of course!

  14. Congratulations on your book! Your paintings are beautiful. You should have a show of your artwork! As a child, I read and owned the Nancy Drew series. I absolutely loved them. As an adult, I like StarWars books, cozy mysteries, thriller/suspense and true crime the best with an occasional biography thrown in there. Being disabled I can’t go places and do things like I used to but I can go anywhere and do anything with books. I wish you much success in both writing and painting.

  15. Thank you Laurie for the comments on my book and my paintings. My daughter loved Nancy Drew, we read those books to her every night, now she’s a writer too, not of mysteries though. 🙂

  16. Thank you for sharing your beautiful paintings. What a talented lady you are! This book sounds so interesting and I can’t wait to read it.

    1. Thank you Carol, yes it’s pretty exciting, can’t wait for it to be out in the world! And glad you like the paintings, I really should get back to that!

  17. I read widely as a child – fairy & folk tales, classic children’s books (Wind in the Willows was a favorite), mysteries and science fiction. Trixie Belden mysteries were the first books I bought for myself and cozy mystery series are still a big part of my life, although I do read a wide range of books.

    1. Yes, I love Wind in the Willows and Winnie The Pooh. There’s a fabulous movie out – an animated Winnie, It’s wonderful with songs and everything!

  18. I read more widely as a kid than I do now, with some straight novels (like Beverly Cleary) and science fiction. But I read plenty of mysteries – Encyclopedia Brown, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Trixie Belden.

  19. I read everything I could get my hands on! All the Nancy Drew and just about everything else I could find. I started liking books in first grade and would read anything I could. I do probably read mostly mysteries now, but I read many things. Congratulations and I look forward to your book. Your paintings particularly interest me. You are very talented. Your exploration of your talents is a great achievement, and you should be very proud.

  20. I always read as a child because my Mom read a lot and she took us to the library at least once a week. As a kid I was a fan of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, now days I read mostly mysteries but read whatever sounds interesting at the time.

    1. Yes, Dianne, the library! I had one in town, a travelling one, and one in school, spoiled for choice. Fantastic.

  21. It looks like my original comment was lost.

    Congrats on the book, Joyce! Your pictures are lovely.

    I started reading mystery, I read it now, and I write it, too. Although I do occasionally read other things.

  22. I grew up on the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton, the Hardy Boys to name a few. All mysteries. But I did read a lot of other genres as I was a voracious reader–202 books in first grade and they weren’t baby books. My father took me weekly to the Public Library. That is where my love for books was developed. In my teens, I read horror and science fiction/fantasy/romance/historical. Then I read all kinds of genres like biographies/autobiographies, nonfiction, thrillers, westerns, and mysteries. Now, nearing my later years–my seventies–I am all in to reading cozy mysteries for the most part. I love them. They keep me trying to figure out who did it and are entertaining. No hardcore murder, blood, etc. By the by, your artwork is quite good, and I have a BFA in Art Fine Arts and Art History and taught art for years along with English–38 1/2 years to be exact. You are quite talented.

  23. First of all, thanks for your comments on my paintings, praise indeed! And gosh you did a lot of reading. I agree, I don’t like hardcore murder and too much blood, just a hint is enough I think!

  24. I enjoyed mysteries as a child. I read all the Hardy Boy books that were out at that time. Okay, maybe my I was a bit over the moon with Shawn Cassidy and Parker Stevenson who played the boys on television. I also read Sidney Sheldon’s mysteries. I still enjoy reading mysteries and cozies. I read just about anything except fantasy and sci-fy. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

    1. Debra thank you. I’m not a big sci-fy or fantasy fan either, yet my husband loves sci-fy. I enjoy UK-based mysteries, nice and brooding! And rainy!

  25. I actually didn’t like to read when I was younger. Now I love to read especially cozy mysteries.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Linda, this isn’t a cozy but I don’t much care for graphic violence etc either so I hope it appeals to a wide range of readers!

  26. I can’t remember ever not reading – and I read everything I could get my hands on. At 14, I almost got thrown out of the gallery of the US House of Representatives because I was reading the brochure they handed me about how Congress works. Apparently, it’s considered impolite not to give the proceedings one’s full attention.

    As an adult, with a rather emotionally intense profession, I found mysteries to be the most relaxing, but still read other things, including nonfiction.

    1. Lois, I agree, I had a very stressful job and it was always a pleasure to read before I went to bed, especially complicated mysteries, I could forget work and think about something else entirely!

    2. That’s funny! I once got thrown out of the Library of Congress because I went wandering back in the stacks to look at the books. Hey, it’s a library, right? Apparently I was supposed to request a book, and they’d bring it out to the reading room. Where, I assume, I would sign for it in blood.

  27. Joyce I can’t wait to read your book! I have always loved to read – all kinds of books. The majority of what I read now are mysteries however.
    I also LOVE your paintings!

    1. A double thank you! I hope you enjoy the book ––it has lots of twists and turns. Thanks for commenting too.

  28. Looking forward to reading this. I love police procedurals and love any mystery set in Ireland. Those set in the North are even harder to find!

    1. Hey Kathy,
      Yes, not so many set in N. Ireland. I hope you enjoy it – the ebook is out now on Amazon, and the book coming soon, Thanks for the comment,

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