I started writing when I was around seven years old and discovered Nancy Drew. Bingo, I knew immediately that I wanted to grow up and write mystery novels. I read a lot of romance during high school (those endless nights when I didn’t have a date), so my first book was a romance. It was an awful lot like my knitting—full of holes and with no end in sight! I managed to finish a manuscript back in the Draconian days of typewriters and carbon paper…enough said. I sent it off with high hopes to Harlequin from whence, after a period of many months, it came winging back with a polite form letter.
I wrote a few more romances, stopped writing for awhile and then, in 1996, got serious about my writing and began a mystery set in a NYC art gallery (is it any surprise that I was managing a NYC art gallery at the time?) I wrote while commuting back and forth to work (3 plus hours per day) on the bus. Longhand. In a notebook. In a word, it was grueling. But I finished it and acquired a second-hand computer so I could produce a manuscript. That made the rounds of agents (I can still remember the thud as it hit the floor in my foyer flying through the mail slot.) But lo and behold, I finally got a NY agent! I was convinced I was on my way to fame and fortune…not. That manuscript and two others made the rounds with no success although with enough kind words to keep me going.
I took a break from writing, but I couldn’t stay away. I produced a young adult manuscript, which got me another agent and another round of editorial rejections. Then I went back to my first love—mysteries. I wrote CONFESSION IS MURDER—a book written completely in the voice of my middle-aged NJ heroine complete with double negatives and lots of bad grammar. I knew I was taking a risk (secretly I felt a little like William Faulkner when it came to “voice”.) A wonderful NY agent agreed to take it on, but again, after lots of nice comments, it remained unsold.
At the time I was circulating that book, I was also hawking another young adult novel and a cozy mystery. In a two-year, period I racked up 400 rejections. Talk about perseverance!
Then the door opened. An online-writing buddy told me about a “work for hire” with Berkley Prime Crime—basically an editor had an idea for a series and they wanted a writer. I auditioned for the job and got it. The contract came along with the agent who had sent out the message looking for writers. MY agent now.
After working with the editor for awhile (she is a dream), I got up the nerve to send her the cozy that I’d written on my own. Barely a few weeks later, my agent was calling to tell me I had another contract and another series.
I never gave up belief in CONFESSION IS MURDER so I hired an artist to design a cover, spent many hours sweating over the formatting and got it up on Amazon. It has done quite well, and I’ve had wonderful comments from readers.
My original cozy, ALLERGIC TO DEATH, first in the Gourmet De-Lite series, debuts in August, and the “work for hire,” MURDER UNMENTIONABLE, first in the Sweet Nothings Vintage Lingerie series, debuts a month later in September.
So, in two words (if you count the contraction as one word)…DON’T QUIT!