OUR TITLES:

Mysteries

Under Contract book cover

Under Contract:
A Lauren Vellequette Mystery

Killed in Escrow book cover

Killed in Escrow:
A Lauren Vellequette Mystery

Maggie's Mechanics book cover

Maggie's Mechanics: Murder & Mayhem Mixed with Love

Killer Storm book cover

Killer Storm:
A Jo Spence Mystery

Big Noise book cover

Big Noise:
A Jo Spence Mystery

Dead Ahead book cover

Dead Ahead:
A Jo Spence Mystery

Silent Words book cover

Silent Words

Poetry

Bound Together book cover

Bound Together: Like the Grasses

Dark Honey book cover

The Dark Honey:
New & Used Poems

Under the Influence of Lilacs book cover

Under the Influence of Lilacs

Education

By Heart book cover

By Heart: A Mother's Story of Children and Learning at Home

Jules on School book cover

Jules on Schools:
Teaching, Learning, and Everything in Between

Sheila J. Connolly

Sheila J. Connolly

Author of

Maggie's Mechanics: Mystery & Mayhem Mixed with Love

The news about Sheila's passing is very sad. She treasured the connections she made through her writing with members of the lesbian literary community.

Thank you to those of you who read "Maggie's Mechanics" and responded to her novel. You made her dream come alive. The following is an excerpt from her obituary, published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on August 16, 2015.


Sheila J. Connolly passed away peacefully at the age of 66 in her Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, home on Wednesday, August 12, 2015, with her loving son Andrew at her side. Devoted mother of Andrew D. Connolly. Loving sister of Mary Connolly, Cynthia (Michael) Campbell, Dennis Connolly, and sister-in-law, Catherine, wife of her late brother, Michael. Sheila is further survived by other caring members of her family including nieces, Josie and Maureen Campbell and a nephew, Chris Campbell.

In addition, Sheila was dearly loved by good friends who also survive her. She was preceded in death by her partner, Karin Abbey, her parents, Emmett and Kathryn, and three siblings, John, Michael, and Maureen.

Sheila's clever wit, professional writings and her true joy for life will be deeply missed by her many friends and family, but the goodness she brought into this world will live on forever.

In loving memory of Sheila, please consider sending a memorial gift in her name to the Ali Forney Center, 224 West 35th St., New York, New York 10001.


Written by Sheila about the release of her novel:

How Long Does It Take to Write a Novel? About 30 Years

So I was getting my hair cut last week in anticipation of “a photo shoot” [sounds so LA, doesn’t it?] next week.

When I told my hairdresser it was because my book was being released in September, she shouted: “You wrote a book! That is so awesome!” Her comment attracted the attention of the other two women in the shop, and I was a little embarrassed, and a little elated, by her response. So we chatted a bit about it.

“Is it about testing? You make tests, right?”

“No, it’s a novel, set in the 1980s in California. Sort of a mystery and sort of a love story.… Yes, it’s fiction.”

Then she asked, “So how long does it take to write a whole book?”

“Thirty years,” I replied, and the burst of laughter from the other end of the shop told me that the other women had been following our conversation.

And that little exchange reminded me all over again of how important stories are to our lives. We hunger for them, learn from them, laugh about them, cry through them. And at some level, we measure ourselves by stories—we become the hero, or we recognize the pitfall even as we are dropping into the void of someone else’s mistake. All well-told stories are an invitation to enter another world, one we never even knew existed, but one that entrances us and challenges us and helps us grow.

The fact is, I spent a good deal of my adult life being puzzled by my own behavior—not understanding why I felt so driven to succeed (which only meant making a lot of money when I was younger), why I was so angry, why I couldn’t seem to enjoy anything for itself without a drink in my hand and several inside of me.… Yes, talk therapy helped, but that was a puzzle, too. “My family? Why do you want to know about my family? I haven’t lived with them since I was a kid. I want to know why I’m so miserable now!”

So writing a novel—externalizing some of my experiences and giving them to someone else to deal with—seemed like an idea worth pursuing. And I liked to write. Just ask my editor!

No, I didn’t actually write for 30 years. I wrote for a year, then like all the experts tell you: I set it aside and let it rest… for about 48 hours. Then I rewrote it. By the time I got to the end of the second version, I was beginning to see what the story was really about. Which meant, of course, that I had to write it again. By the third version, it had chapters, complete sentences, and a nearly coherent timeline.

Then life intervened, and it sat in a dust-collecting spot for a couple of decades before I reconnected with my friend Charlene Brown, who had started a publishing company and was looking for another author to add to her select group. I was really honored that she remembered my manuscript from so long ago, especially since she’d read one of the early versions!

I am still amazed at the response I get when people find out I’ve written a book. For one thing, I’ve discovered that there are a lot of wannabe writers out there. If there is anything I can do or say to encourage them to keep at it, or even to start their writing journey, then I want to do and say those things. We all need stories. We need your stories and my stories, because each of us needs to make sense of our life before it’s all over. - sjc