Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cozy Contract!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Most of you know I have been going through this PROCESS, and PROCESSES take TIME... But yesterday afternoon I got the call! I can actually talk about this now, can't I? It's so strange, the story has been a half share teasing thing I've done with all of you because I didn't want to jinx it... but here we have it...



Voice Identification

Here we go on record as the freaky exception to the rule... I am apparently one of the exceptions to the rule that 'most people get in through the agent/query' path, and am joining the 1% (I made that number up) who are spotted by their BLOG... But I was SPOTTED by a fellow author, who said, “You have a perfect voice for cozy mystery.” So ELIZABETH, THANK YOU for suggesting I give it a shot! (and letting me read YOUR audition that got you YOUR gig with Penguin, so I had some clue of pace and such)

The audition opportunity came up in February... I have been working through Ellen Pepus of Signature Literary Agency, who agreed to work with me and facilitate the audition...

I wrote my 50 pages (okay, it was 54) and then sent it out to a few of my fellow Burrowers for feedback [huge THANK YOU, Leanne, Chary, Natasha, Tara and Jen! Plus Stefanie--another friend]... polished... asked Elizabeth for a peek as she WRITES the stuff [THANK YOU!]... got HER feedback... then sent to Ellen... got HER feedback... (making revisions at each step).

Somewhere in there I quizzed the people I could find who lived in Virginia (Marie, Dave, Tracy--THANK YOU!)

 Then Ellen sent it on to the editor at Berkeley Prime Crime, whose assessment (after about 4 weeks) was that she liked my voice, but could I make changes along the line of X, Y and Z? (boiled down to slowing introduction of characters and spreading out the necessary back story so it flowed more naturally—or so I took it)

So then we went through the process AGAIN... and sent it back to her... four weeks ago Tuesday... This Monday I emailed Ellen to see if she knew when we might hear (because I was being clever and figuring if she HAD HEARD she would have emailed... *cough*). So yesterday at work, I got the call... “This is Ellen, how are you?” “Good.” “I think you're about to be better.” “SQUEEEEEEEEE!” Actually I think I managed to hold off the LITERAL SQUEEEEEEEEE until I hung up, but I DID make very excited noises and words, and I'm sure I sounded very smart... Right.

It is a THREE BOOK CONTRACT (all around the same characters and this gardening theme—first one due December 31). We talked about deadlines, how the contract worked, how the payments worked (erm... I'm not getting rich, but I HAVE MY FREAKING FOOT IN THE DOOR!) I figure the 'published' credentials are worth an awful lot, as is having a relationship with a real live agent—proving I'm a responsive professional, easy to work with (Oh, I hear you all, rolling your eyes... I know I am DRAWN like a diva, but I swear I can do this piece—I have practice from my day job). It seems to me SOME of the other stuff I write fits among her clients and goals pretty well, and other stuff less so, but I should at LEAST be able to get honest feedback and a recommendation if something ISN'T something she wants to handle.

All in all, I am just so excited I can hardly stand it!



VOTING HERE!  NAME A TART!!!!!

And so... I need a pen name... and my FIRST choice was to use my kid's names.... Nat Samms was the original suggestion I had, but Joris assures me it is unattractive to LOOK at, no matter the font, never mind it is adapted from what I named my children... now I am leaning toward my grandmothers... (I had the best grandmothers anybody ever had)

So the names I have to work with are:

Alyse Olsen (pronounced Alice)
Sylvia Carlson (WENT BY Syd—so renditions on Sydney are also allowed)

I am LEANING toward Alyse Carlson—to include both grandmas (Alyse was the one I was closest too, and I like the idea of GOING BY Ally)

But I am happy to take suggestions/opinions on various names including these four, OR variations of Natalie and Samuel (Talia Samuels is pretty good, though decidedly dressed)

I don't need the one you LIKE best, I need what you think FITS Cozy mystery that is sassy and tartish...



An Obstacle

This does mean I need to figure out the BuNoWriMo thing... I'm SURE I can still win, but do I want to do my 50K FIRST then switch projects? Do one by computer and the other by hand (leaning toward this)? Reconfigure my daily goals so I can do... say the WriMo on weekdays and the cozy on weekends? Become a REBEL and meet the 50K but on two separate works? (while this sounds really appealing, I am thinking I want to be more careful with the cozy—have a cleaner first draft, than to write WriMo pace).

I worked out a Cozy timeline—with my fellow Burrowers helping me, I REALLY hope to have my first draft done mid-August, as a few of my (read: all but one) promised readers have school-related commitments... if I could do 3 chapters a week (which I think I can) that means 6 weeks tops to finish it... at THAT rate, I could start July 1... BUT, I'd like to also have a week to clean up the obvious typos before I send it... so maybe I try to do ONE chapter a week in June, then I only need 5 weeks, then I have a week to polish!

Okay, so I am giving away that I am a harem scarem planner and make things up as I go along... still, it could work, right? I think that is the plan I will go with... One chapter a week means TWO NIGHTS of my bathtub time are COZY... the rest, I can work on the other... we'll see how that goes... whether I can really switch works so easily, but I used to do it all the time, back in my fan fiction lifetime.



Other Weirdness

In my REAL LIFE, it seems like there is a lot of turbulence... people going through crummy crap... I hate my friends to go through crummy crap... and it is HARD to have something GOOD HAPPEN and feel sort of guilty about it. The people I've told have been GREAT, but... you know what I mean, yeah? It's like survivor's guilt or something... I've got big freaking fabulous news but I don't want to seem like an unsympathetic schmo...

Mostly though, I am a giddy fool... I am good at compartmentalizing, and can be honestly sad for someone else in dire straights, then switch gears. Oh, I know... sounds like split personality, but I WAS born on the cusp of Gemini...

Speaking of which... 13 days until my BIRTHDAY and 2 days until the Tartiversary! Y'all should probably just get naked now...

39 comments:

Ted Cross said...

I have to admit I have no idea what a 'cozy' mystery is, but congratulations anyhow! It must be an amazing feeling. Funny, I was going to suggest Alyse Carlson but then you mentioned it, too.

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

AWesome news!!!!!!!!!! So exciting! I can't believe it! Your skin must be ingling like crazy with excitement! Whoo-hoo! I don't know what a cozy mystery is either, but that's great!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Hart, I am just totally delighted over this!

There are definitely a couple of different ways you could approach BuNoWriMo and your deadline. You've already got 50+ pages for the cozy, so 220 or so to go? A chapter a week would be a pretty easy goal to hit.

I think Alyse Carlson is a great name...and I think the shelf placement would be good, too.

Isaac Becker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Isaac Becker said...

That is so cool! Good work! And don't worry, squee is probably the smartest thing anyone could have been expected to say with news like this.

As for the pen name, mine is E. A. Chapar, taking the initials of a poet I like and flipping them, and then honoring the chaparral plant community in southern California... so, yep, I think Alyse Carlson is just fine, considering how personal it is. However, if you want to sound like a Russian spy, Natalya might do the trick. I suggest sticking with your heart though.

Good luck!

Creepy Query Girl said...

Holy Crap! That's AWESOME!! COngrats!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

I feel like yelling just like him.
Three times I have tried to post- three times I have not been able to :-(

Would Natalia Samovich work? I like it because I love all things Soviet.

Mason Canyon said...

Congratulations on the book series. Wonderful news. The pen name Alyse Carlson sounds great and very cozy. Best of luck.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Mohamed Mughal said...

Congrats!!! :)

Will Burke said...

That's Awsome! You must be just beside yourself! I kinda want to pronounce Alyce "Ah-Lees." How 'bout Sydney Caral (as in CARlcon ALyce)?

Jon said...

Wow! That is awsome. I love reading your writting, so it's not nice to see you get some credit. How about Alyse Sydney Carlson. Kinda long but I think 3 names adds a little mystery to a person.

Watery Tart said...

Thank you so much everyone! Both for the congrats and the name feedback!

Ted, Cozies have an amateur sleuth and are low on gore and forensics… they are a light read, other than the whole dead body thing… funny, quirky…

Elizabeth-that helps to think in pages… I was thinking chapters, but that seems more manageable…

Isaac—A SPY! Why didn’t I think of that? I’ve always wanted to be a spy! (though it doesn’t fit cozies as well… maybe for my other stuff!) (Natasha, I like the Russian stuff too)

Will, a lot of people who SEE the name pronounce it wrong… I’m not sure I have problems with that though… I’d probably ask people to CALL me Ally if they weren’t calling me Hart, anyway…

Jon… 3 names… hmmm… now that has some potential… I wanted to name a child Syndey Alyse at one point but my husband was having none of it…

KarenG said...

Hart, a million congrats to you and I hope you make a million $$ too! Why do cozy mystery authors need pen names? Just wondering. And I do love a good cozy mystery! This is awesome news and I am sending you lots of !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jan Morrison said...

wow wow wow!! I'm so freaking pleased for you! You did it! WOW - do you know that wow upside down is MOM - sorry, little digression...
I like the name Ally Samuals. Or Sydney Samms. Not crazy about Alyse only because it looks a tad elderly for your spunkiness. Why do you need a pen name. I kind of like your real name. Tartlett. That's it isn't it!
As to the BuNonannnynoh thing - man oh man - the pt. of these things is to GET you writing. You are writing - write the cozy. Put it all in there and call yourself a rebel. which by the way you are. OK, I'm going to go back to revising so when I'm grownup I can be like you.

Megan Bostic said...

I'm so happy for you!! Exciting news.

Watery Tart said...

Thanks so much, ladies!

As to why on the pen name... Berkeley Prime Crime DOES take books and series' by authors with their own names if the author ends up going through the regular routes of submitting and getting accepted, but they ALSO have these series that have more handprints of the editors on them (like you KNOW I was given parameters--Roanoke, gardening, a couple characters to include)--THOSE they own... had I not gotten this, I couldn't have taken the book... written it anyway and submitted elsewhere... so it is considered more of a collaboration and they like to keep some control on it--meaning WITH this name, i can only write FOR THEM. (though I can publicize the two names together)

Smackenicious said...

go Alyse Carlson
And as I said before, this is just amazing, and you deserved it Tami!!!!!!!

Lola Sharp said...

WOOHOOO!!! *stripping off shirt*

I KNEW you'd get it, girl.

Ally Carlson (Alyse will get pronounced Elise-ish and get misspelled when googled etc)) is perfect for a cozy writer, easy to spell and remember.

CONGRATS!!! *throws confetti*

Love,
Lola

Amy said...

Congrats, Tami! You definitely deserve this, and I can't wait to buy your book! :D

Talia Samuels is so mysterious and exotic, to me, at least. I like that, or something like Sydney Olsen.

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

I KNEW it by your post title and I rushed over to read and did a happy dance (well it was more like and awkward squirm in my chair, and my dog gave me a wierd look) when I read you got the cozy. You are perfect for the quirky erm..cozies! Yay, congrats I am so excited for you, the news made my day :D *blows party horn* When can I have one? I like Ally, Alyse like Lola said will get wierd pronuciation cause I thought it was Elise until I read Ally. Ai me.
Congrats again!

Marissa said...

I love Alyse--though when I see it I do want to pronounce it improperly.

I think Natalia is nice as well, though Tansie is ridiculously Tarty, no? LOL Maybe too much so, you aren't writing romance.

I like Alyse Carlson--sound nice :)

I am so over the moon for you,Hart! I also totally can relate to the "happy for me/sad for you" issue. It's hard when your friends are going through a rough patch.

When I am in a bad spot though, good news for anyone I care about makes me feel a a little bit better-hopeful for my good things in the future. Maybe your good news could spark soomething for them. *sighs* I am an incureable optimist. So there's that, and any true friend could be nothing but ecstatically happy and proud of you for your news. I say dance naked, which I am sure you were doing anyway, and shout from the rooftops. :)

Watery Tart said...

*hugs blog friends*

Wahoo! Lola can follow orders! Or were the rest of y'all already naked?

And I'm LOVING the feedback! Need to run Ally by Joris... he can be really bossy about these things (all that aesthetics stuff) Thanks so much everyone!

TreeX said...

Ally? As in Alley Cat?

TreeX said...

Or Ally as in Allied Assault?

Sugar said...

oh my tartyness! I am so happy for you, it is bubbling over!!!

I think I like Ally Carlson. Kinda rolls off the tongue :)

*already naked*

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Fantastic news, Hart!!!
And I like Ally Carlson, too.

Watery Tart said...

Joris--pronounced like Alley cat, yes... or you know... Kate and Ally. It's not super common, but it's not a particularly UNCOMMON shortening (usually for Allison)

Thanks, Sugar and Alex!

Talli Roland said...

Whoop whoop whoop! I read it on FB and did a little happy dance for you earlier! That's awesome!

I like Alsye, by the way.

But how can you even focus?! Celebrate!

Deb and Barbara said...

Tart -- it is a happy day!!! Congrats! It's so amazing when all that waiting finally pays off doesn't it?

I know that consensus is Alyse Carlson, but I just want to say: ALYSE OLSEN!! As soon as I read it, I thought, now that's a name of a crime writing STAR.

My 2-cents. Good luck!! Barbara

Watery Tart said...

Thank you both!

Barbara--Alyse Olsen was my grandma's actual maiden name, so it would feel a little funny using the whole thing of it... though she was definitely spunky enough to write mysteries! (or star in them)

Ezmirelda said...

Congratulations! That's fabulous news. I think Alyse S. Carlson would be great!

Cruella Collett said...

Yayyayayyayayayay for you, Allie! (don't mind me, I'm just testing...) You know, Ally, this is really spectacular. In fact, I think no one deserves this more than you, Alyse. Natalya, you had it coming! But seriously, Sydney - it made my day when you told me this. Not that I didn't know you'd get it, Talia. So, Ally T. Carlson, are you getting used to the idea of being a published author yet?

Hard to tell. I think the ones that to me speaks "you" mostly are Allie/Ally (don't know why I like "Allie" so much. Perhaps because Ally makes me think of Ally MacBeal?) or Talia.
I definitely prefer Carlson to Olson (it's a Norwegian usage thing - "Olsen" is terribly common).
If I am thinking about how it'd look, then, I'm gonna say that Ally/Allie + initial (S/T) + Carlson is what appeals mostly to me.
And I agree with Elizabeth on the placement. A C last name would put you right on the top. Most US bookshops don't have ridiculously tall shelves either, so the books on the top shelf can actually be accessed easily...

Did I mention that I was happy for you? ;)

Helena Soister said...

OMG a THREE-friggin' book contract? That is FANTASTIC! Congratulations. Have you come back down to earth yet?
You really do deserve your great success, Hart.

Caledonia Lass said...

Woooooooooohoooooooooooooo! And I think to stick with your Tartness: Ally Carlson.

That is so awesome! I'm hopping up and down with joy for you. :D Great job!

Watery Tart said...

*hugs blog friends again* You guys (who are mostly female) are FANTASTIC--still not quite down, but determined to meet my WriMo word coun tonight plus organize a little for the Cozy.

*snorts*
*suffers multiple personality disorder*

Ally DOES seem to fit the Tart/Cozy thing best, eh? But the Olson/Carlson thing: oh never mind... it's long... in tomorrow's blog!

Thank you so much everyone; earth still seems many miles away...

Katy said...

I like Ally. I think either put a middle initial (I am fonder of T.) or use a full middle name.

Congratulations again!

Jan O'Hara (aka hope101) said...

Congratulations, Hart!!! This is fantastic news. You've worked very hard for this and deserve it, and I'm not at all surprised you'd do it the 1% way. ;)

As for names, I personally think both Alyse and Sylvia have an old-fashioned vibe. If you're wanting something hip and youngish, you're wise to consider something different.

In your considerations, factor in searchability. Little details like Olson versus Olsen can be confusing, unless they are so distinctive the reader will remember you.

Is there some reason not to use Hart? It's distinctive in an of itself.

Watery Tart said...

Yeah... I am liking Ally after all this... It has a sense of 'playful' that fits cozies...

Jan-Unfortunately I can't use Hart--they will maintain the rights for the name and I can't use it for any NON-Berkeley projects...

that is helpful to think of the search thing... Carlson only has the one spelling, but the Olsen has MANY (my own family has both Olesons and Olsens.--possibly rebellion for being told what do do *cough*)

Karen Kostlivy said...

Hart, Congrats! I just started following you. That is so awesome...Enjoy the ride!