Tag Archives: Patricia Skalka

Somebody Else’s Turn – Patricia Skalka

Death Stalks Door County

Patricia Skalka’s very first novel is coming out in 2 weeks.

I’m planning to attend her reading/signing event on May 16th at Centuries and Sleuths in Forest Park. Carpool, anyone?

Patricia has another Chicago-area event on May 22nd at Women and Children First in Chicago. For a more complete list of her upcoming appearances, check out her events page.

I met Patricia at the Chicago Writers Conference last fall. She qualifies as one of their success stories. It was exciting to meet her and talk about what she went through to get her book published. I haven’t seen her in a few months, but she was still kind enough to write this guest post, called “A Box of Books”.


A box of books

My box of books arrived last week. Ten copies of Death Stalks Door County, a book that represented so much. Hundreds of hours of work; one draft after another, written, revised, discarded. Sometimes forgotten. More than once shoved aside and dismissed. And then finally resurrected and reread. I was about to chuck the whole project when I realized that I really liked the story and the characters and that I was the only one who could tell the tale because I was the only one who knew it. And it was this sense of obligation to both the story and the characters that prompted me to persist.

Fast forward almost another two full years and I have a box of books – my book — and the sweet joy of knowing the hard work was all worth it.

Death Stalks Door County is a literary mystery; there are deaths, of course, but equally important to the discovery of the killer’s identity and motive is the protagonist’s journey of self discovery and self redemption. Dave Cubiak is a tortured soul; he comes to Door County to escape a past drenched in grief and guilt and finds himself haunted by both.

Publishers Weekly calls the book a “tight, lyrical first novel” and Kirkus Reviews says it’s an “atmospheric debut with enough twists to tempt puzzle aficionados.”

I’m delighted by the response thus far and hope others get as much satisfaction from reading the book as I got from writing it. Death Stalks Door County introduces The Dave Cubiak Door County Mysteries.

Waiting for the box with copies of the first book, I wrote the draft of the second. And there’ll be more, as Dave Cubiak continues his journey.

Chicago Writers Conference

CWC 2013 Venue

Last September, I went to the Chicago Writers Conference (CWC) at the Chicago Public Library – Harold Washington Center.

A few things lit a fire under me last year. The first was Whitey, because that’s how he rolls. But CWC was definitely on the list. Recently Ines Bellina (CWC’s Social Media and Programming Assistant) contacted last year’s attendees asking what we were up to, so I obliged her. You her post about what we’ve all been up to here.

So, what was CWC like? After the Saturday morning and afternoon sessions at CWC 2013, I was on the phone with BK. He asked me what I thought so far, and I said it was okay, but I wasn’t sure it was worth the money. 2.2 days at CWC cost a few bucks more than my 4+ days at WorldCon in 2012, and there was a lot less programming at CWC.

“So,” he asked, “you don’t think you’d do it again?”

“Probably not,” I said.

“When are you coming home?” he asked.

“I ought to go to this session tonight. Some of the writers from the conference are reading at Brando’s Speakeasy. And Whitey says I need to network more.”

“You don’t sound that happy about it.”

“You know. Me in a roomful of people I’ve never met? At least there will be drinks and people reading, so I can look attentive, have a drink, maybe duck out if I feel too weird.”

“Okay, try to have a good time. See you later.”

Everything changed at Brando’s Speakeasy. To start with, I wandered in, probably looking as lost as I felt. There was a table full of people right by the door, and they waved me over. “You here for the readings?”

I allowed as how I was.

“Well, sit with us.”

I did. They were great people. The cast at the table changed, but all were friendly, interesting and interested. I met Mare Swallow, the conference’s founder and executive director, and worked up the nerve to introduce myself to author William Shunn. I almost felt as if I knew him from Tuesday Funk, which I attend intermittently. He was gracious and almost behaved as if he already knew me. I met several other lovely people, including Patricia Skalka, who has a mystery novel, Death Stalks Door County, coming out this May.

After finding the Chicago writing community so welcoming, I’ve gotten more serious about writing short fiction and better at reaching out to other writers. I’ve started this blog. Meeting other people who are moving forward with their writing can really motivate a person. So, yes, the conference was worth it for me. The next one is October 24-26, 2014. Maybe I’ll see you there!