Saturday, May 27, 2006

Contact with Five Star Editor

I had a very nice phone conversation today with the editor at Five Star who is in charge of author relations. I had some specific questions about bookstore signing events I hope to set up, and I wanted to get a feel for when she needed things from me, schedule-wise. Two questions I had, one for the productions dept. and the other for the royalties dept., she asked me to email so she could pass them on for me. She was very helpful and friendly and told me that my package from Tekno Books was received by them on May 15, so I'm officially in the production system now at Five Star.

Also, I started writing my new mystery this week, after spending the last few months researching, plotting, and creating character profiles. Always have a story in the works!

First Half of May, 2006 News

May 16, 2006

Kathy Brandt, author of the underwater diving mystery series, just sent my first published author blurb, and it is SOOO cool! Many thanks to Kathy for making my day. Also, Andi Shechter, mystery fan, reviewer, and conference organizer extraordinaire, asked for a link to my author website, based on a couple of my recent Dorothy L postings. Thrilled to be asked, I said, it's coming, it's coming…

May 13, 2006

My husband is working on my website, and it's starting to take shape. He was slow getting started, but I think he's actually having some fun with it now. I can't wait until it's ready to go LIVE, and I can ask friends to try it out for me! I sent off a filled-in form for the Five Star Cover Art department to John Helfers yesterday, giving information to help them design a cover for A Real Basket Case. Also, from the fivestarpromo list, I've learned that cover art tends to become available about 5 months prior to publication and copy edits are done about 6 months prior to publication, so I'm looking forward to those milestones. I've also made some connections with other Five Star authors in Colorado/Texas with release dates close to mine. I'm doing some preliminary appearances planning and am trying not to go overboard with the travel.

May 9, 2006

Tonight, I spoke on a PPWC Success Stories Panel with fellow authors Karen Lin, Paula Reed, Angel Smits, and Bob Spiller. We had all placed in prior Paul Gillette Writing Contests, run in association with the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, and gone on to publication success. My critique buddy, Bob, with a YA mystery coming out in August from Medallion Press, had the room in stitches. The rest of us just tried to keep up. I brought 1/2 page handouts with short story market lists and sold one copy each of the two anthologies I brought: Dry Spell and Manhattan Mysteries. I call that a successful event!

April, 2006 News

April 28, 2006

On DorothyL yesterday, Lev Raphael said:

Actually, I can't get enough of author blogs. I want to know it all: early childhood fantasy friends, shoe size, addictions, gardening tips, alien abductions (real or hoped-for), secret network of wishes and fears, allergies, sleep preference (back? side?), opinions about flossing, favorite TV commercial, hiphop sex games. I'd rather read an author blog than read the books. Most authors blog better than they write.

I enjoyed posting the following response:

My addiction is chocolate--the darker the better, my childhood fantasy friend was a kind chocolate Easter bunny who let me nibble his ears, and my worst childhood fear was falling down Alice's rabbit hole and never having access to chocolate again. I'll never bungee-jump for the same reason. My secret wish is that I will inherit Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, which is my all-time favorite movie--the one with Gene Wilder, not Johnny Depp. More later, once my website is up and running.... ;)

April 24, 2006

Today is the day after the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, and I am exhausted but glowing. I volunteered to work at the Agent/Editor Appointments desk, so I spent the day checking in nervous writers, wishing them luck, celebrating with them when they got a submittal request, and trying to match turned-in appts with people on the waiting list or to facilitate appt. swaps. We were able to get all but two people on the waiting list in to see an agent or editor.

The highlight of the conference for me was sitting next to Diane Mott Davidson at lunch and picking her brain for promotion ideas for my book. She was a font of knowledge, overflowing with creative and helpful ideas and advice. I scribbled madly to keep up with her suggestions! I go to each conference with a goal, and this year's goal was to learn about promotion. Suzanne Strempek Shea's talk, Always Keep Five Copies in Your Trunk, was very useful, as was just brainstorming and networking with fellow authors.

April 19, 2006

Today I sent off spiral-bound copies of the manuscript I had made for four published mystery authors who live in Colorado and with whom I had developed relationships. I contacted them over the past week, begged them to read my manuscript and, if they liked it, to give me a blurb for my cover. Amazingly, all four agreed! I am truly grateful and awed by how helpful these and other published authors have been to me. This goes to show, start cultivating relationships with published authors in your genre BEFORE you sell your manuscript. That means buying some books! But reading examples of other work in your genre is always a good idea--and it's a business expense.

April 17, 2006

In my March 15 entry, I mentioned that I accepted a speaking engagement at a local high school for today, and friends had warned me that the school is a hotbed of trouble, one of the worst in town for gangs. The teacher from the school who made the arrangements said, "I love our student body and think they are all wonderful but I must warn you; we can have some hecklers. They are tough kids who will test what you are made of. Really obnoxious ones will be executed, I mean escorted out. However, it may take us a few minutes to target them, so be brave."

With all that buildup, I was expecting the worst, but the experience was wonderful. About 100-150 teens came to the presentation and were very polite. I even got some interaction from them--both in answering my questions and asking some of their own. And three teens stayed afterward to talk to me about their writing efforts. I'm so glad I didn't back out of this rewarding experience!

April 10, 2006

Big news today! Denise said she signed off on my manuscript, and it's on the way to Five Star Publications. Also, acquisition editor John Helfers emailed me that they were able to fulfill my request to move up my publication date from Summer, 2007 to March, 2007. Yippee! That means I'll have copies of books to sign for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference and Malice Domestic. Now I've got to get cracking on a list of additional reviewers (mostly for local newspapers) due Friday and asking my published author friends for blurbs. The blurbs are due by the end of June, but I leave on vacation mid-June, and I want to give the authors at least 6 weeks notice so they can fit reading the manuscript into their busy schedules. To work, to work!

April 7, 2006

Phew! I finished proofing the manuscript for A Real Basket Case and putting together an author requirements file (acknowledgments, blurb, teasers, cover art suggestions, etc) and emailed the whole package off to Denise Dietz. I made a few changes as a result of getting clarifications from retired police officers, Wally and Don, at the crimescenewriters yahoo group on a couple of police procedure questions, and I put back about 4 lines of dialogue that I considered to be important in a scene Denise cut by 1.5 pages (it needed cutting). Otherwise, I understood the reasons for her changes and went with them. Note to writers: if you can't give a damn good reason for NOT going with an editor's changes, accept them.

April 6, 2006

In critique group tonight, Bob and I did a happy dance together to celebrate that we're both on PPW's Success Stories panel, and he showed me the cover design for his YA mystery. It is SO cool. I hope mine will be as good. Another critique group member took first place in the Mystery/Suspense category of the local Paul Gillette writing conference, and a fourth announced the birth of a new grandchild. Good news all around!

April 3, 2006

I slogged through the first eight chapters of A Real Basket Case today, proofing my editor's edits. From Denise's comments about her corrections, I was expecting a lot of changes, but was pleasantly surprised with how few there were. Just goes to show how wishy-washy the definitions of "a lot" and "a few" are. I agree with 99% of what she's done, I'm working on answers to her questions, and I have made very few additional changes. I expect the work to get harder as I progress through the manuscript, though, because she warned me some larger issues cropped up in the last third of the book. I hope to get through 7-8 more chapters tomorrow, then I'll spend the rest of the week on the last third of the book. You know that old saying, BIC (Butt in Chair), meaning get to work on your writing? My butt hurts!

April 2, 2006

Yesterday, I accepted an invitation from Pikes Peak Writers to speak on a panel of "success stories" from previous year's conferences and contests for an open meeting of the organization. I won the Short Story category of the Paul Gillette contest one year and have taken third place in the Mystery/Suspense/Intrigue category two years. So, on May 9th, I'll be talking about my short story sales and sale of A Real Basket Case and will be signing copies of two of the anthologies my short stories appear in. Happily, one of my critique partners, Bob, will be on the panel, too, speaking about the YA mystery novel he sold to Medallion.

I also volunteered to moderate a session at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, in addition to my duties of manning the agent/editor appointment table. Performing these volunteer jobs in addition to judging short stories in this year's Paul Gillette contest should allow me to attend the conference for almost free. Next year, I hope to be a speaker!

April 1, 2006

It's April Fool's Day, but I have a real deadline now, no fooling. My editor emailed the edited copy of A Real Basket Case to me today and asked me to proof it by April 10th. I just got back home from a week of skiing over Spring Break with my family, so my creative batteries are recharged and I'm ready to go. But first I have to take my daughter to the airport for her return trip to college, do the laundry, grocery shop, and slog through the accumulated paper and electronic mail--all those post-vacation chores. It was fun seeing all the skiers dressed up in silly costumes on the slopes for April Fool's Day, though. Let's see, next year, which costume should I pull out of the Halloween box--the Barbarella-type space babe, the Statue of Liberty, or the giant carrot? Such choices!

March, 2006 News

March 16, 2006

I got an email from Joe Gouveia, a.k.a. "JoeGo", founder of the Biker Poets & Writers Association. He's putting together a biker anthology of poems, song lyrics, articles and short stories and wants to include my poem, Ride the Wind, about a motorcycle rider fantasizing he's flying alongside a hawk he spots. The poem took third place in the Mandy Poetry contest run by ezine Mindfire Renewed--even though I've never ridden a motorcycle! My work will be in the same book as the Holy Ranger, Rev. Martin Jack Rosenblum, official historian/poet laureate of Harley Davidson. This is just too cool!

March 15, 2006

Denise Dietz told me to expect to receive her edits the first week of April, so I'm busy clearing the decks for then, since she told me I'll have one week to proof them. Yikes! I finished up compiling my writing expenses and income for 2005 for taxes today. I also accepted a speaking engagement at a local high school for April 17th, and friends are now warning me that the school is a hotbed of trouble, one of the worst in town for gangs. Oh boy. What did I get myself into? At least, if I survive this talk, any other talk will seem like a cake walk in comparison!

March 9, 2006

I got an email from Denise Dietz today that she'll be my editor at Tekno Books. Yippee! I'm so glad I was assigned to her because we had a great conversation at Colorado Gold, and I feel we'll work well together. In the meantime, I've joined the Five Star author email loops and had some email exchanges with other Sisters in Crime members who have books coming out with Five Star.

March 7, 2006

Flowers were delivered today, and when I thanked my husband, he said they weren't from him. I read the note, and they were from my daughter, a freshman in college. Her thoughtful note brought tears to my eyes. Just so you don't think my husband didn't come through--he took me out for a lobster dinner with more champagne, and is my website designer. He's got a list of specifications from me that he'll start on soon. Right, honey?

March 4, 2006

On re-reading the contract cover letter, I saw the contract needed to have the final book title in it. I had some concerns about my title, since Carl Hiassen recently published a mystery titled Basket Case. I emailed my concerns to both John Helfers and Barret Neville with a list of suggested new titles. We all agreed on A REAL BASKET CASE. I amended and initialed the title change in the contract copies and mailed them off. In the meantime, I'm wallowing in the congratulations emails and generally enjoying the glow.

March 3, 2006

Four copies of the contract arrived in the mail for my signature today. Yippee!! My husband took a photo of me signing them (see it on my Photos page), with champagne bottle and glass at the ready. I called my mother, sister, and daughter and said, "It's signed. You can tell people now!" I started the emails to relatives, to friends, to all the email lists I subscribe to, to my book club, etc. etc. Then we cracked open the champagne--even my 15 year old son got a small glass! None for the dog, though. She just got a fresh rawhide chew.

February, 2006 News

February 26, 2006

Today was the monthly meeting of the Pikes Peak Romance Writers, a wonderfully supportive group who, along with my critique group, are the reason I haven't given up the pursuit to be published. At the "Nuggets and Noogies" portion of the meeting, where we list our accomplishments and rejections that month, I asked the President if I could go last. Then I announced my sale. The hugs, wows, congratulations and questions overwhelmed me. And I finally got my rose! (The group awards different types of artificial flowers for accomplishments--irises for contest wins, chrysanthemum for short fiction pubs, etc., with roses for books.)

February 24, 2006

Finally! A response to our proposed contract changes came to my agent a few days ago, and Barret emailed the new revised contract to me today. Our minor contract changes were accepted; a couple of others that were more substantial were rejected. I looked over the new version of the contract and emailed my response to Barret, mainly, "I'm ready to agree to this!"

February 21, 2006

I had to get a massage from the wife of one of my critique partners, an excellent Trager massage therapist, to work the tension out of my body. See, even good events in your life can be stressful!

February 16, 2006

I couldn't go through another meeting with my critique group without saying anything, so I spilled the beans tonight that I'd gotten an offer. Cheers all around. Again, I asked them to keep the news quiet, because I still felt there were lots of ways I could jinx this, and my active mind was keeping me up at night dreaming up dire scenarios.

February 14, 2006

Unable to stand the tension any longer, I emailed my agent, admitting I was getting antsy and asking if he'd heard anything. He emailed Helfers, who replied that a snowstorm had closed their offices, but that he'd get back to him soon. My fingernails are nubs now. Darn snow!

February 2, 2006

John Helfers answered the questions he could and said he could give me a contact at Five Star Publishing to answer the rest after contract signing. I'm getting anxious to hear what the response is to our suggested contract changes, and I'm starting to second-guess this whole thing now. What if he decides I'm too difficult to work with? What if he says forget the whole thing? I'm stressing too much, I know, but I can't help it.

January, 2006 News

January 24, 2006

My agent and I spoke by phone and divided up the work: I would email my remaining questions to John Helfers and discuss those directly with him, and my agent would email the suggested contract changes and handle that end.

January 20, 2006

I contacted a few published author friends, some of whom published with Five Star to get their take on the publisher, their reputation, and what it was like to work with the company. Again, I asked them to keep the news to themselves. I got lots of useful information, mostly positive, and decided to accept the deal. I purchased my website name. Also, my agent emailed answers to most of my questions to me today.

January 17, 2006

At 11 am yesterday I received an email from John Helfers saying Tekno Books would like to purchase my novel, Basket Case, for their Five Star Mystery line. I danced upstairs from my basement writing room and announced the news to my husband. After seven long years of pursuing a fiction-writing career, I'm finally going to be published in novel-length fiction! Then I called my mother, my sister and my daughter in college, who were all thrilled. I told them to keep quiet about it because I hadn't signed the contract yet. Today, I sent the contract attached to Helfers's email to my agent for review, along with a list of questions, and told John that I'd done so. Now I'm twiddling thumbs!

Note: I submitted Basket Case on November 30, shortly after signing with my agent, Barret Neville, and discussing the book with Tekno editor, Denise Dietz, both of whom I met at the Colorado Gold Conference in Denver, CO in September, 2006.