The May Queen Murders

THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS took over 18 months to write the ¬†books, much of the time lapses caused by bouts of severe vertigo where looking at the computer screen and typing made me physically ill (now under control) and having two of my three children fighting serious but different illnesses (better now), leaving me overstressed, fearful, and trying to grab a few coherent words in hospital rooms or when my brain didn’t make the world tilt. It was the book with a story I HAD to tell, a book of my heart so to speak. That first major falling out with your closest female friend and how can you cope. First love. First revelations about yourself and all that you thought you knew. And murder, horror, and old Ozarks folklore. It’s Southern/Midwestern Gothic and creepy and all the things I love.

Ivy is half-Mexican like many of my cousins, her father having gone to Mexico and come back with his wife like my uncle did 50+ years ago. She is a shy thing compared to her cousin, Heather, who seems to draw all the attention. But they are best friends. I think every teenager, especially girls, can relate to having that one friend they love to pieces and envy. It was also inspired, in part, by the murder of a friend who was the cousin of my best friend growing up. It was incredibly hard to not be able to say goodbye. And of course, there are woods with scary things, first love, first deep grief.

October 28, 2014, was special. This was the day Miriam told me an editor loved THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS and was taking it to her editorial director.

Things began to happen. Quickly.

November 10. My niece’s birthday. My daughter had a dentist appointment, and afterward, we were going into Target. While walking through the parking lot on a blustery afternoon with my daughter and Little B in tow, my phone rings and my cartoon picture of Miriam popped up. Oh, my God. I answered and told Miriam I was walking into the store and could barely hear here because of wind. Little B and I sat in the food court while my daughter announced quite loudly, “I gotta pee!” Off to the restroom, she goes. I’m watching the door and shaking. B is getting squirrely. Miriam says, “We have an offer.” Happy panic ensues. A woman asks if I’m okay because I’m beet-red. I call my husband and my sister. My phone battery dies. At home, I start calling my close group of writer friends and my mother-in-law.

I don’t remember much of the next few days until we accepted Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s offer to publish THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS. The phenomenal Julie Tibbott will be my editor. Look for it in spring 2016.

From Publisher's Marketplace

From Publisher’s Marketplace

 

Yeah, I can’t read that squinty, little writing either so:

January 21, 2015
Children’s:
Young Adult
Sarah Jude’s THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS, when a sixteen-year-old’s cousin is murdered by a legendary madman in the woods, she uncovers truths she never suspected about her cousin, the Ozarks commune where she lives, and herself all while trying not to become the next victim, to Julie Tibbott at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s, by Miriam Kriss at the Irene Goodman Agency (World English).

I feel really damn lucky.

Getting into the swing of 2015

Let’s just say the last month of 2014 was hell.

There were some very good things about 2014, but it was a particularly brutal year to endure. 2004 was like that. I suppose I should start dreading 2024.

2015 brings with it hope. That things will indeed improve. I became ill at the end of 2014 and was told by my doctor to expect a full year to recovery back to manageable baseline. I am taking each day in stride, making time for my family, my writing, and myself. My friends are pretty awesome, too.

I have been working toward an inner calm and trying to find peace that has eluded me for an entire year. Probably longer, if I’m honest with myself. I even got the word CALM tattooed on my wrist.

What I found in stepping back and making time is that I’ve become more productive. In less than a week, I’ve written 10,000 words in FATHOM. This is huge. I don’t write fast. My writing tends to be grabbed in that pre-dawn time before the littles come down to wreak havoc on the day or in the time when the littlest is away at preschool. I’m protective of my writing time. I need to be. But these past few days have been a flurry of words and story.

It’s been what I needed.

Stay tuned. On Monday, I have news.