Friday, April 6, 2012

E-ppreciation (Elizabeth, Ellen and Emily)

So I finished my first book in October 2008. It was almost a three year effort—finally mastering that demon of 'how do you finish one of these bloody things?' (for me, the trick is knowing the ending from the beginning—if I have a destination, it is much easier to keep going—no pants for me).

I started editing, but really approached it much more like proofreading—I had no clue. The following spring/summer I started blogging and met some AMAZING people and found some wonderful resources. One of the earliest of these new friends (one FULL of resources) was Elizabeth Spann Craig.


Elizabeth

Most of you know her. I was a bit of a crazed fangirl in those early days. It seemed she was doing everything right, so I followed her around and tried to emulate what she did. (I still recommend this as a strategy to master the blogosphere—find someone like this, who is SUBLIME in how they do it, and to the degree you can, do what they do). Now I'm not as organized as Elizabeth, but because one of her strongest features is how GRACIOUS she is, we became friends.

And more than once I heard from her: 'you know, your voice would really be perfect for Cozy Mysteries'. (I'd never HEARD of cozy mysteries--I was writing suspense).  My interpretation of this, since that time, is I am usually funny, but still manage to hold a logical train of thought—to make my point.

But mysteries scared the heck out of me. They were so... TOGETHER! All the stuff had to come in the right order. All the clues had to be there. They had to be paced right. But the seed was planted.

And then the opportunity arose...

I almost clutched, but Elizabeth sent me a ton of links and a few samples of cozies and encouraged me like crazy.

You see...


Ellen Pepus, at Signature Literary Agency...

Had an opportunity for an audition for a cozy mystery series... (two, actually—she let me read both—I bypassed books and chocolate, if you can believe that, but the details of the other one spoke to me more.) Specifically, they wanted a series where the sleuth did public relations for a garden society, and was dating a reporter.

You see... my first degree was journalism. I KNEW these people from the moment I read their (very brief) set of details. I knew the differences in personalities... the drive of each—one for spin, the other for truth... And from the very beginning, the relationship between my sleuth and her BFF was crystal clear. Yin and yang. Calculated versus impulsive, but desperately needing each other to pull toward the middle. Serious versus funny. Rule follower versus rebel. But they FIT. This pairing really drove that first book.

And because you might be lost... These audition gigs come about this way:

Emily Rapoport, a FABULOUS editor at Penguin

had done her research on the market and discovered a THEME, and LOCATION likely to sell, and had suggested some characters—the MC, the sidekick (by name and occupation--baker--only), in this case, the boyfriend, a few members of the Roanoke Garden Society, and a few family members. And she asked for the first three chapters (or 50 pages)


The BIG deal here is that Ellen and Emily were both so WONDERFUL as to look at my novice audition. Emily liked what I'd done, requested a few changes, and THAT is how I got my cozy mystery contract.

And they have ALL THREE been wonderful since—Elizabeth has answered hundreds of questions, pointed me at still more resources, read drafts... and Ellen and Emily have been patient and kind, even when I REALLY goof (which I have—that is probably a good theme for G)

And that is why, in the book coming out in June, the three Es are the primary people I thank. (though I DO try to thank several more) But without these specific three, this dream would not have come true...

The Azalea Assault... coming in June...

Anyone else have a team who got you somewhere important?

15 comments:

Libby said...

This is the first time I've heard of cozy mysteries. Glad to hear you had so much encouragement!

Fellow A-Zer:
http://libbyheily.blogspot.com/

Old Kitty said...

Awww such wonderful amazing women!! Big NAKED hugs to Elizabeth, Emily and Ellen!! Yay for being there for gorgeous Tart!! Take care
x

Dawn Ius said...

This. Is. Awesome. (And how lucky for you they all fit into the "e" theme.) You're awesome, Hart.

Charmaine Clancy said...

Excellent examples of entertaining experts.
Wagging Tales

Journaling Woman said...

I must admit Elizabeth was my first writer/blog fan crush. I'm still crushin'. She's still as real today. Awesome writer and woman.

I love you too Hart. And I'm signed up for the hop.

Teresa

jaybird said...

Honestly, I've never met an Emily I didn't like. My sister was named Emily, and all three of my kids have besties named Emily. I think it's awesome you have all three of these great "E" named women in your life, to help support you and give you the encouragement you need!

Sarah Allen said...

Beautiful, lovely ladies :) And inspiring. Thank you!

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

You are so well connected. I have so few actual connections that I certainly couldn't come up with three for a letter in the alphabet. I could maybe come up with one in 26, but they still wouldn't be as famous as the ones you pick out.

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

wow! those ladies seem super awesome!
what a different way to write!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

None of mine are E's, but I could name a few others. Wait! Edi at Edi's Book Lighthouse led me to the organizer of a big Con festival that asked me to be one of the authors. (Had to turn it down.)
And Elizabeth rocks!!

mmshaunakelley said...

Some great shout outs here, and great ladies. Thanks for sharing!

mooderino said...

All those E names is kind of spooky. Like it was fated to be...

mood

Sylvia Colette Branch said...

you know what? you are amazing. that is all. congrats on ...well everything - your life in general. :)
~crazed fangirl

Heather Spiva said...

That is so RAD! Everything about the post. Thanks for sharing. Maybe someday I'll get a contract for cozy writing. I Have one written, just need to do a lot of editing and revision. Great to "meet" you-- fellow A to Z blogger.

Pk Hrezo said...

WHat an awesome E team! And 3 years, wow! I'm beginning to understand it takes years to perfect a ms.