Friday, February 25, 2011

Letting Go

It's funny, but when I started dreaming up the first book in what would become the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, the title came first; Hoosier Dead Guy? I thought it was mildly funny, and it made me smile. That was a year-and-a-half ago. I've turned the first book in (November 30th, 2010) and am about halfway through writing the first draft of the second book, but the process of titling and cover illustration for Book 1 of the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series is about to begin.

My lovely editor warned me that they might want to brainstorm a new title, and it was pointed out to me by my fabulous agent (Hi, Jessica!) that when most folks hear the word 'Hoosier', they think of the college basketball team. (I don't; when I hear 'Hoosier' I think of kitchen cabinets) Or they remember the Gene Hackman movie about the college basketball team.

Basketball? Yikes. The last thing I want is for folks to buy my book thinking they are getting a basketball mystery, though I think one would do very well. But that reader, expecting a sporty mystery with a feisty Indiana basketball team, might not want to end up with a vintage kitchenware collecting, tea drinking, girly girl heroine in a mystery centered around a Hoosier kitchen cabinet.

So, what I'm working up to is this bit of publishing world truth; most writers know that the title of their work is always subject to change. It's difficult sometimes, because if they're like me, they get wedded to their title, and find it hard to break free. But this time I surrendered with grace. I'm proud of myself! I have learned this time around that one must let go and trust the process. Think of your title from all angles, listen to input, take advice. And it truly is best to be a part of the process so you'll end up with something that you like.

After some consideration, and some tweaking of the plot, we brainstormed and found a new working title: A Deadly Grind. I won't tell you yet why that is the perfect title--and no, it's not gross--but it is just right. I can't wait to see my cover, which I still hope will have some rendering of a Hoosier-type kitchen cabinet, much like the one pictured above.

This lovely photo is used with the permission of John Lucas:

Visit his wonderful and entertaining page today, if you, like me, are interested in the vintage kitchen!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Good news all around!

I have some great news to share.

First and foremost, I suppose, is that I do have a publication date for the first book of the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series. But it seems so far away!!! May 2012. Sigh.

But the second piece of news will help me while away the time. I am excited to announce that I have been invited to join the group over at Killer Characters, a great blog with posts from all the characters out of cozy mysteries!! Jaymie Leighton, the star of the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries has already had an entry; I guested at Killer Characters. But now I've been invited as a member, and the first post, from Jaymie's older sister, Becca, is on Monday! I'll post the link when it is up.

I'll be back...

Update: Ooooops!!! My face is red... actually, a shade of cerise. I mispoke on the date for my first blog entry as a 'Killer Characters' member. Becca's post will be up on MARCH 21st, not today!

Back to waiting... and writing! No holiday for cozy writers, you know.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lady in Waiting

Every business has its share of 'hurry up and wait' times, when you have rushed to complete a project by deadline, only to wait in agony while the project is approved or reviewed. Time, compressed until hours feel like seconds in the first instance while frantically working, now elongates until days feel like years as the 'wait' is on.

Such is life as a novelist. While we can (and do, if we're smart) move on to work on other projects, there is still that nagging sense of looming agony or ecstasy. Will the editor like the book? Will they need massive changes, or none at all, or most likely, some changes, which they'll need by - of course - a tight deadline.

I've been in the game long enough to know how it works. But still... I'm so anxious to know if Book One of the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, 'Hoosier Dead Guy?' is to the editor's taste, if she thinks I'm on track. I've gone on to Book Two, 'Bowled Over', but I'd feel a whole lot better if I knew Book One was how the editor envisioned it.


And then I/we could get on to the fun stuff, like cover design and... sheesh... a publication date.

So, to distract myself from the agony of the wait, here is a list of random musings:
  • Why do we always capitalize 'I', but not 'we' in writing; aren't 'we' more important than 'I'?
  • Why does my desk always end up in the same disgraceful state no matter what resolutions I make to the contrary?
  • How can someone as reasonably intelligent as I am (or pretend to be) love reality TV so much?
  • If winter comes, can spring be far behind?

And so I wait... my publication date is the proverbial watched pot that never boils. When I fuggedaboutit and just write on, that's the moment I'll find out my fate/publication date.

Until then, picture me counting paperclips and wondering why I have so many when I use, maybe, five a year. At this point, I have enough paperclips to last me until 2075.

The photos for this entry are used courtesy of Photo 8, a site that offers marvelous photos free!

Monday, February 14, 2011

To my Vintage Valentine...

Who knew there was such a place as the Vintage Valentine Museum? Well, there is, at least on the 'net.

Happy Valentine's day, everyone!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

And so it begins... Part 3

And so it begins... Part 3  - The road to mystery publication, which started so slow and winding, takes a steep new path, and I'm just along for the ride... wheee!

When an agent is working with you on a project, they will sometimes suggest changes, ask you to polish the proposal more, etc., but I had worked for four months, and my proposal was like glass, it was so polished! Jessica suggested the change from 'Vintage Collectibles Mystery Series' to 'Vintage Kitchen Mysteries' and I accepted immediately. In fact, I felt kinda stupid for not thinking about it myself. It was clearly a much better description of the series!

She then put together a list of possible editors at different houses to send it to. I was so excited! The list was impressive, all the best houses. Almost immediately (within days) we got one very interesting rejection from a very good house. The editor said the work was 'too good for a mass market paperback release', but a little too slight for a hardback. I was overwhelmed. That is an extreme compliment, for someone with modest expectations. Too good for paperback?

Writing Tip: In publishing, whether you are approaching
editors or agents, shoot for the very best, first. If you get
rejected there, then go down a notch to smaller
agencies/houses. Give yourself a chance to excel!

I just hoped not everyone felt that way! LOL.

And then... and then... before the other publishers even had a chance to come in with an offer, we heard from Berkley Prime Crime, the creme de la creme, the tiptop, the pinnacle of my ambition. Prime Crime, the home of Kate Collins, Monica Ferris (love her stitching mysteries), Joanna Carl, and Cleo Coyle! Susan Wittig Albert! Laura Childs! I could go on and on. And on.

I won't.

They thought I was the Goldilocks of cozy mystery authors, in other words, Hoosier Dead Guy? was 'just right'! (that wretched Goldilocks metaphor didn't really work, no matter how I wrote it, but oh well!) We accepted the offer (after some negotiation) and so Vintage Kitchen Mysteries was born. Book One-I sure hope they stay with my title, Hoosier Dead Guy?, but there's no guarantee that they will-will come out... well, I don't have a pub date yet, but you'll be the first to know when I do.

And that, my darlings, is the road to publication of Vintage Kitchen Mysteries and 'Hoosier Dead Guy?'.

Have I said the series name and book title enough times to have it ingrained in you, like part of your DNA?? I sure hope so! I'll have more to say about the road to cozy mystery publishing as I go further in the process, of course. Right now, I am done the first book, it is with the editor, and I am about a third of the way into Book 2 - Bowled Over.

So... now for a pop quiz... oh, don't groan! You in the back, put your desk lid down and listen up. No gum! Turn off your cell phone!

I want to know...
  • How many of you who read Cozy Mysteries also (secretly, or not) plan/wish/hope to write them, too?
  • Is there anything I can tell you about my road that I haven't already? (Can't imagine that, but you never do know.)
  • Do you want to know any more about the publishing industry?
  • Do any of you read cozy mysteries for the information you get out of them, too? No, I don't mean how to kill people (at least, I hope not) I mean, all the how-tos, sprinkled like confetti through cozy mysteries; do you relish learning how to make glass, crochet a sweater, do crewel work, bake a cupcake, darn a sock, cook fettucine, wax a surfboard?
Drop me a line anytime!