A new phenomenon has permeated my household. I’ve uttered
words that have rarely, if ever, crossed my lips.
I Can’t Do That.
I’ve always been blessed (cursed?) with the inability to say
no to whatever request comes my way. Be it a friend who needs a ride, a fellow
writer who needs input, Hubby needing an errand run, whatever – I always find a
way to accommodate. And 99% of the time, I’m more than happy to do so. Yes,
there have been times that I’ve bitched and moaned about having to do something
for someone else; I’m not a saint. But in general, if you need something done,
I’m your woman.
Until now. Suddenly, I seem to need a hell of a lot of time
for me, and not so much time for other people.
I say suddenly. Three years of hard work, writing,
networking, getting an Internet presence, getting my name out there – and I’m
still constantly surprised when everything falls into place.
I spoke with my editor this week, who I must say, “Gets” me.
I have a slightly offbeat sense of humor (Noooo, you say) and while I have a
good idea of where my books are going, I don’t always articulate that as well
as I could. She “gets” me. I don’t have to do the copious and detailed
explanations of my plot that I inflict on strangers and friends. It boils down
to this. SEX. BLOOD. ROCK & ROLL.
Meaning I need to focus on character relationships,
mutilations, mayhem and murder, and a Nashville centric series that really lets
my adopted hometown shine. I can do that.
My agent “Gets” me too, which is a blessing. I’m not so
scared of him anymore. He used a bad word the other day and became a man, not
just this mythical creature called “My Agent” who lives in a far off land,
weaving magical deals from his tower. As I was giggling (Dear God, no – giggling
to my agent) I realized that this is all very real. These people in New York
are just like you and me – they have lives, family, hobbies. They care what kind
of weather you’re having, warn you of possible pitfalls in the coming days,
laugh with you (at you) when you say something funny. After so many years,
demystifying the personnel is heartening.
Sorry, off on a tangent. Hey, it’s Friday.
So, my point is…
I had to say no the other day, and it broke my heart to do
so. A good friend asked me to look over a submission from a neophyte writer
(not a newbie, mind you, someone who’d never written anything before). Whoever
you are, if you ever read this. I’m sorry. I just couldn’t add one more thing
to my workload at that moment.
And I realized that this is going to happen more than I’d
like it to.
It’s something that I never expected, and it’s
still a little mind-boggling. By getting a book deal, I’ve suddenly moved to
the other side of the fence. The WANTED side of the fence. A side of the fence
that I’d never anticipated. People have actually contacted me and asked ME to
do things, like interviews, and Writing Seminars, and blogs, and short stories
for inclusion in multiple author works. It’s mind-boggling. Frightening as
hell. And a big wake up call.
The other side of the fence means I need to go to
conferences and sit on panels. I have to promote myself and my work in a
pleasant manner, (ie: JT, don’t throw up on the guests). Oh, and there’s that little niggling thing, back of my mind….
yeah, I almost forgot. I have to write two new books. Now.
Do you think John Sandford
ever had this discussion with himself? Did you guys? Am I the only one?
A massive housecleaning is in order. A shift in priorities.
A new way of thinking. I’m a writer now, and it’s a career, a business. If you
don’t want that, you might as well hang it up now. I’m learning that being a
successful writer is a lot more than writing good books.
My new mantra will be – Just Say No.
It started with scaling back my obligations to Reviewing the
Evidence. Sharon Wheeler and Barbara Franchi are two of the greatest women in
mystery, and they kindly opened their doors to me. I loved reviewing. But when
I realized that I hadn’t read a book in over 2 weeks because I hadn’t had time,
I knew I needed to step away. So thanks, Barbara and Shaz! You guys have been
I usually open my email in the mornings and have daily
digests from over 14 yahoo groups. No more. I left several, went no mail on
others. The people who supported me on my quest for publication understand.
They know that my time is no longer my own.
I’ve winnowed myself down to four major areas.
- Writing, of course.
- Murderati, of course. I love you guys much too much to ever
- Marketing and Promotion
- Short Stories
I feel lighter, easier, like life isn’t going to be so hard.
As far as Marketing and Promotion goes, I have wonderful
news. I’ve banded together with three other amazing writers, and we’ve started
KillerYear – The Class of 2007. You may have seen a brief comment on it last
week. The founding brothers and sisters – Jason Pinter, Brett Battles, Sandra
Ruttan and myself – will launch a comprehensive blog on Monday, June 19th. We
have about 15 of the best and brightest novelist debuting in 2007. We’ll
introduce you to the Class, talk about our dreams and desires, tour schedules,
promotions, etc. This will be your one stop shop for all things mystery and
thriller in 2007. As Pinter so succinctly pointed out – Be Afraid. Be Very
Internet networking is a beautiful thing. The discussion
comes up on list serves all the time – How can you truly market yourself on the
Internet? I’ll tell you. I met Brett Battles here at Murderati. He very kindly
made a great comment on my first post. I sent him an email to thank him, and a
friendship grew out of that. My spectacular editor at MIRA Books, Linda McFall,
also edits Jason Pinter. We touched base when I got the deal and have been
talking ever since. Sandra Ruttan attracted me to her blog months ago with her
irreverent take on the world, and I never looked back. The Class of 2007
concept was Jason’s brainchild, and a very logical progression for a group of
young writers who found loads in common. Through the Internet. So tune in,
watch us grow, and hopefully, we’ll teach ourselves the way.
Whine of the Week – My time is no longer my own
Wine of the Week – I’m in the mood to hit the Ellison Wine
Cellar, where we keep the good stuff. How about a Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello
de Montalcino? That’ll get your
tastebuds rocking. It tastes like liquid gold. Decant and let it breathe for at
least 2 hours before drinking. And some little known trivia – Nardi is my
family name. (Rock on, Anacarsi ) So we’re related, somehow, to the owners of this amazing vineyard.