When Peg Herring is asked what kind of books she likes to read, she answers, “Good ones.” That is what she aims for when writing, as well: good mysteries with interesting characters and well-constructed plots. Her latest novel, SHAKESPEARE’S BLOOD, is a mystery/suspense novel that concerns a chase across Britain to find buried treasure and the truth about—well, Shakespeare’s blood. When not reading or writing, Peg directs several choirs, travels both in and outside the U.S., and gardens, mostly for the benefit of local deer, rabbits, and elk. *** SYNOPSIS Vacationing in Britain, Mercedes Maxwell discovers a corpse in an old castle. When her traveling companion is murdered soon afterward, Mercedes is shocked but also distressed, since the police seem to suspect her. The discovery of an old book connects the two crimes, and Mercedes soon spins into a world of terror. A killer chases her across the countryside, leaving corpses posed as Shakespearean characters in his wake. Unsure who can be trusted, Mercedes' only option is following the old book’s clues. What emerges from them is a thrilling story of ancient spies, the location of a huge cache of Spanish gold, and, most amazing of all, secrets of England's greatest playwright: the truth of SHAKESPEARE'S BLOOD. ***
"Being Wrong Is Your Right"I sat nervously across from an editor at a conference a few years back as she blasted me for just about everything I’d ever done. I had ruined my career, she said, by signing with a small press. She could/would have done much more for me. I was also wrong to have chosen to write about the Tudors. “They’ve been done,” she said brusquely. She went on to give her view of where publishing was going: writers needed to find a brand and stick to it. E-publishing was a flash in the pan. Traditional publishing was the only place to be safe and financially successful. I left feeling deflated and wrong, wrong, wrong. I loved my Tudor mystery. Even so, I could not see myself “branding” solely with historicals. And I had a feeling that e-publishing was going to be big.Well. I don’t know if that editor still has a job, but even she would have to admit that she was wrong (I doubt she would, judging from that awful ten minutes I spent with her). My Tudor novel, HER HIGHNESS’ FIRST MURDER, did very well, thank you, and the second in the series, POISON, YOUR GRACE, will be available in November (Five Star).By fortuitous chance, I came to a point where I thought consciously about what I want from my writing. I strongly believe that a writer should not just throw her work “out there”. I want proper editing and the knowledge that someone other than my sister likes my work. I want a “real” publisher. But agents and big publishing houses seem to want more of what sold last year, and I don’t fit their mold. I like to think it’s because I write mysteries that are a little bit intelligent, where the protagonists have concerns other than whether their shoes match their outfits.Whatever the reason, I went the “wrong” route. I signed with several small houses instead of one big one, which gives me choices about what I write. In the last year, I published a stand-alone (GO HOME AND DIE) with one house and began a paranormal series (THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY) with another. I also released a mystery/suspense e-book called SHAKESPEARE’S BLOOD in June. That’s a lot of balls to keep in the air, but it’s never boring, and I love the variety.I write because I love to write, and I can’t imagine myself chained to one series, one character, even one sub-genre, by a publisher who wants to manage my career to pieces. I think a writer can decide to be wrong according to publishing “wisdom” if she asks herself what she wants from writing. If it’s to make lots of money, then maybe a publisher’s pigeonholes are the way to go. But let’s be honest: most of us will never get rich. If you want to follow your heart and writes the stories you’re passionate about, I say “Go for it!” Find a publisher who likes what you write. You might be wrong, but look at the editor who gave me all that bad advice. Publishers can be wrong, too.