When you’re a writer you get used to rejection.  (Well, you’d better, anyway!)

After years of submitting manuscripts, I’ve developed a nice thick skin and can read those words, “Dear Author,” without even cringing.  I make it a point to always have a back-up market in mind—the next place I’m going to send a story—so I can get the piece back in the game really quickly.

Still, there was one market I longed to crack.  One magazine I set my sights on as a Goal.  If only I could publish in Woman’s World magazine, I’d think every time I read a mini-mystery or a short romance.  The mysteries are always clever and real brain teasers, the romances tender explorations of the human heart.

Determined, I talked to my critique partner, Sharon, and resolved to write one romance a month aimed at that market.  We’d read and discuss it at our monthly meetings.  I’d give the story appropriate polishing and tweaking and then send it off.

That was in 1994.

For year after year, I’d write, meet, tweak, repeat, all without success.  Along the way, while Sharon wrote and sold seven children’s books, I wrote and sold four novels.

But still, Woman’s World eluded me.

Once in a while, my rejection would have a note written on the bottom.  A good rejection!  But, a rejection, nonetheless.

Sharon moved away and we began critiquing by email.  Somewhere along the line, my once-a-month story attempts dwindled to every couple of months, then every now and then.  Yet, whenever I read the magazine, I’d be filled with renewed conviction.  I could do it!  I would do it!

And then, in 2011, I finally did.

Nearly twenty years of effort, dozens of stories, a fortune in postage stamps, all came to fruition in one slim envelope containing a contract and a letter.

“Congratulations on selling your first story to Woman’s World,” it read and I gave a cry of triumph and delight.

My mini-mystery, “A Poisonous Plan” appeared a few weeks later and, as I marched proudly through the grocery store, my arms laden with copies for friends, I noticed shoppers looking my way and smiling broadly.  A moment later I realized it was because I was smiling broadly—and practically skipping down the aisle!

I had occasion to skip again when my first romance filled the page at Woman’s World in 2012.

So, I had reached my goal, a major accomplishment. But it just made me set another goal.

To do it again.

And so, I’ve been trying, aiming for a story a month, crossing my fingers as I drop it into the mailbox, hoping it won’t be another fifteen or twenty years before I hit the mark again.

Discipline, persistence and determination are as important as talent—maybe more so.

At least that’s how it is in this woman’s world.

I’m so excited to be included in the anthology “Mystery Times 2015″ from Buddhapuss Ink. http://t.co/kOhYLfw1Uf.  My “Stranger at the Door” will be one of ten stories in this annual publication.  It’s my first time in the anthology, but hopefully not my last.

The Guppies Chapter of Sisters in Crime will publish its third anthology, “Fish or Cut Bait”, in spring.  My “Bargaining Chip” will appear there.  It’s my second appearance in a Guppies anthology.  You can bet I’ll write my best stories so I can make the cut again next time!

I love to write short stories and am usually working on one or have recently finished writing one.

Sometimes, at the end of a long day, I don’t have the energy to crawl into a novel, but I can always read a short story before I get too sleepy.  I hope you’ll read a few short stories this year, too–the ones I mentioned above, of course!

(Published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel December 24, 2014)

When I was a girl and already had a well-developed sweet tooth, Christmas brought an extra treat — chocolate candy from the Quality Candy store at Packard Plaza in Cudahy.

We always had tiny Santas, wrapped in colorful foil, and little round ornaments in equally dazzling wrappers. It was a challenge to unwrap the Santa without tearing the foil. Then, if you were a reader like me, you could spread the foil out flat and use it as a bookmark in one of the new books under the tree.

To this day, I use Grandma’s poinsettia candy dish to hold my Quality Candy Christmas chocolate. Of course, the company is called Buddy Squirrel now, and the Santas and ornaments have morphed into toy soldiers and gift boxes.

No matter. When I (carefully) unwrap them, the familiar and wonderful scent of that chocolate fills the air around me — and Christmas is here once more.

Kate Fellowes

Since I work in a library, and I’m a writer, I read a lot.  Thanks to Goodreads I can keep track of what I’ve read each year, which is fun.

Now, at the close of 2014, I wanted to share my two favorite books of the year.  Drum roll, please….

That Summer, by Lauren Willig


Tailing a tabby, by Laurie Cass

Both of these stand out for me because of the amazing characters, who were likeable and genuine.  They were also light-hearted, a quality I appreciate at all times.  The men in the books were charming and sweet, just the kind of guys for a HEA, either now or eventually!  (That Summer is a stand-alone, Tailing a Tabby is from a series, so it’ll be a while before that relationship is settled.)

I’ve been reading Lauren Willig’s “Pink Carnation” series for ages now and eagerly anticipate  new entries in the series.  I’m happy to say Laurie Cass launched her series with this title, so we can hope for new titles there, as well.

Look them up at the bookstore and let me know if you enjoy them as much as I did.  I’m sure you will!

As for my own writing, I had a flurry of good news a few weeks ago, learning that a romantic short story, a mystery short story and a personal essay would all be appearing–in three different publications–before the end of January!  Seems it always works like that–batches of acceptances.  (Of course, rejections come the same way, but let’s not think about that right now!)

I’m giving books as Christmas gifts this year and hope you’ll find some under your tree, too.

Seasons Reading!

One of my favorite reader and/or writer conferences is moving from Muskego to Milwaukee this year.  This is very welcome news, as it had been rumored in the spring that the MMM conference would be no more.  For nearly ten years, MMM has given me the opportunity to spend the day with some of the biggest names in mystery fiction, with keynote speakers including Laura Lippmann, Tess Gerritsen and Gregg Hurwitz, to name but a few.  Authors were available throughout the day to chat with, sign books, share the lunch table.  This year, the conference moves to Potawatomi Bingo Casino and I’m sure it will be every bit as memorable.  Mark your calendar for Saturday, November 1st.


Mary Schmich, the Chicago Tribune columnist, wrote once about keeping track of the summer, as it goes rocketing past. Do one summery thing every day, she suggested. Like eating lunch outside, or walking by the lake, or flying a kite. I love that idea–a way to pay attention to each day–and have revised it just a bit so it includes not only doing summery things, but also just noticing the distinctly summery world. So, I’ll note in my diary each day of June, July and August simple stuff like seeing a hummingbird,smelling fading lilacs, hearing kids splashing around in their backyard pools, or celebrating my first taste of watermelon this year. It’s all those little, sensual details that make up a world. My world, my summer, 2014.

It’s springtime and you know what that means! Not just switching the closet from turtlenecks to sleeveless and from boots to sandals. It means there’s a lot of new reading on the horizon. So many of my favorite authors come out with summer books in the next month or two and I find myself dog-earring page after page in the publisher’s catalogs, my yellow highlighter run dry!

Reading books by authors I admire is one of the best ways to get inspired where my own writing is concerned. When I see them find success with amazing characters and plotlines–or with tender-hearted characters and HEA’s guaranteed–I close each book with a happy sigh and think, “Me, too!” Then, I turn to my own notebook and my own characters with eager enthusiasm. My WIP is two-thirds done, now, and it’s exciting to see the threads of the story start intertwining. In the “muddling middle” of a novel, it can seem as if those threads are too far apart to ever reach–and yet, page by page, word by word, they turn toward each other and now, here I am, at the top of the rollercoaster, ready to tip over into the final part of the story, where more ups and downs and thrills await, before The End!


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