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