My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog thinks I am.
RECAP of last week’s blog:
While waiting tables at Eastside Mario’s in Colorado Springs, I met two well-behaved Canine Companions ladies and dogs. The ladies said there were too many "cat mysteries" and not enough "dog mysteries," and I promised to write a dog mystery. And donate a portion of my profits to Canine Companions, an organization that trains dogs to help the handicapped. My lovable Great Dane-Irish Setter-Lab mix, Cherokee, volunteered to be the model for "Hitchcock the Dog." I decided to expand one of my short stories, Spilt Milk, and make the killer obvious…
Except, I then added a twist at the end 🙂
Here’s a brief description of Hitchcock the Dog: In his own mind, Hitchcock, is the quintessential well-trained pooch, even though he only knows eight commands and responds best to gooddog, baddog, and getdownoffthecouchyousonofabitch!
I began writing FOOTPRINTS IN THE BUTTER – an Ingrid Beaumont Mystery co-starring Hitchcock the Dog – a week after meeting the Canine Companion ladies. I wrote a Prologue: At a high school reunion dance, Ingrid’s childhood chum, Wylie Jamestone, pisses everybody off, then gives Ingrid a riddle: "How do you make a statue of an elephant?" Ingrid doesn’t know the answer, but before Wylie can tell her, he leaves the dance. End of Prologue.
Chapter One finds Ingrid at a Broncos vs. Cowboys football game. Approx 70 miles away, Wylie Jamestone [who for some reason looks exactly like my ex-husband, James Wiley] is fatally clunked over the head with a small but heavy reproduction of The Thinker.
In Chapter Two, Ingrid meets her friend [and Canine Companions volunteer] Cee-Cee for breakfast. The two women talk about the reunion dance, the murder, various suspects and…
Something didn’t "feel right."
So I emailed the prologue and first two chapters to my agent, who had only one question: "Does Cee-Cee know these people?"
"She does if she read my prologue," I replied.
I killed the Prologue and made it Chapter Two. I rewrote the "breakfast dialogue" and finished writing the rest of the book and, to make a long story short, pun intended, no one wanted FOOTPRINTS IN THE BUTTER. My rejections ranged from "My list of amateur detectives is full" to [and I swear I’m not making this up] "The heroine is engaging, the mystery works well, and I love the dog, but I didn’t find anything special about the book." For the record, I’ve hated the word "engaging" ever since. Then I received the following: "Thank you for submitting ‘Footprints in the Butter.’ I like Dietz’s writing, but it’s not doggy enough."
In the back of my mind, I heard my promise to the Canine Companions ladies. I simply HAD to get this book published. I sent it to Hard Shell Word Factory. The publisher liked it. A lot. It was published as an e-book and I put an excerpt on my website. Which was seen by a print publisher (Delphi), who published the book in hardcover. A rave Library Journal review contributed to
phenomenal library sales. The novel hit a few bestseller lists and was reprinted by Harlequin/Worldwide in mass market paperback.
This year it came out in large-print — in both the US (Thorndike) and the UK (BBC Library).
Not bad for a book that wasn’t "doggy enough," and I’ve been able to send several generous checks to Canine Companions.
"You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, ‘My God, you’re right! I never would’ve thought of that!’" ~ Dave Barry
Many people have asked me if I’m writing a "Hitchcock the Dog" sequel. The answer is yes. It’s working title is "The Lollipop Guild." And…
BETTE MIDLER, if you’re reading my blog, I wrote "Footprints" with you in mind. You could even sing at the reunion dance. Which reminds me. I’ve been meaning to get in touch with Barry Manilow, ask him to write me a couple of songs that make the whole world sing [for "Lollipop Guild"].
Quote of the week: Since it’s apropos, I’m quoting a rejection letter. The following was sent to one of the world’s top-ranked medical thriller authors: "Peter has a strong commercial voice and a plot that grips the reader from the very first chapter. Unfortunately, it will not fit in with our line of books."
[Makes "not doggy enough" sound a tad less insane, eh?]
This week’s "household hint" comes from Eye of Newt‘s Aunt Lillian:
Cure for headaches: Cut a lime in half and rub it on your forehead. The
throbbing will go away.
Over and Out,
PS- Anybody else have a weird rejection letter to share?