Now It Can Be Told, Part Deux, (Redux) by Barbara Ross

Clammed Up coverHi. Barb here.

Kate has kindly invited us to take an extra long Labor Day by rerunning a favorite post. How appropriate that I, on the eve of the publication of Clammed Up, the first book in my Maine Clambake series, should get to run this one, first published on February 20, 2012. Yes, eighteen months ago. Roughly the gestational period of a giraffe. Remind me to always think kindly of giraffes.

It is kind of fun to look back on the untried writer I was then, especially since I just handed in Boiled Over, the second manuscript in the series, yesterday.

In any event, Clammed Up is on sale tomorrow at a bookstore near you.

Now It Can Be Told was the title of Sarah Graves‘ post on this blog last fall when she shared the very good news about her new series as well as the sale of the sixteenth book in her Home Repair is Homicide series.

I have to admit that since that time, I’ve fantasized about being able to make an exciting announcement of my own. And now I can. My agent John Talbot has accepted an offer from Kensington for a three book series.

It’s very exciting for me. It’s the first time I’ve had multiple books contracted. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve ever written a book that anyone, other than me, was actually waiting for.

Best of all, the series is set in Maine. It’s about a young venture capitalist who returns from New York City to coastal Maine run her family’s failing clambake business.

The way the series came about is interesting and perhaps instructive in the changing roles of, just about everybody, in the publishing business. Last fall, John Talbot reached out to Sheila Connolly, who was then President of Sisters in Crime New England, with a proposition. He had some ideas for mystery series. The ideas were not pre-sold, just directions he thought might interest publishers. The author would own the work in the end, neither he nor the publishers were looking for work-for-hire. Did she know some authors who would be willing to put some time into a spec proposal?

Did she know some authors? In the end, not feeling it was her prerogative to pick and choose, Sheila informed the entire membership.

I was very comfortable with what John proposed. My sister-in-law was an agent for years representing a stable of artists to housewares companies, another industry that had thinned out its middle ranks considerably. She and one of her artists would come up with the idea for a product line—dinnerware, linens, stationery, etc, and she would do all the market research to present with the pitch. In essence, she functioned as an outsourced product marketing manager. So this idea of agents and writers working together made perfect sense to me.

I sent my bona fides to John. He called and we kicked around some of his ideas. I rejected the first one because I thought the research would be too expensive calorically, and the second, which featured an exotic location, because I thought it would be too expensive financially. Those ideas didn’t speak to me. His third idea was one word, “clambake.”

I’ve been dying to use Maine as a location and I remembered something fellow Maine Crime Writer Lea Wait had told me about a member of her family having a clambake on a private island for her wedding reception. The penny dropped and we were off! I wrote the proposal, and then three chapters and then three more chapters and the rest, as they say, is history.

Like Sarah, I’ll confess I’m scared. (But in a good way.) And I don’t have her fifteen books under my belt. I’ve never written a book on a deadline before. Will I be able to do it? (Of course I will.) I tend to write pretty lean, so will I make the word count? (Of course I will.) And with the vagaries of publishing today, I know not to count on anything until I’m holding the books in my hand.

I’m also aware it’s a real risk letting the cat out of the bag so early. Like those people who tell you they’re expecting when they’ve been pregnant about a minute and a half. By the seventh month, you’re saying, “Haven’t you had that baby yet?” And traditionally published babies take twice as long to bake.

So thank you Maine Crime Writers. Thank you Sisters in Crime New England. And thank you John Talbot. Now, I promise to shut up about it for a while. But I couldn’t help but share my exciting Maine book news!

About Barbara Ross

Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Portland, Maine. Readers can visit her website at
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29 Responses to Now It Can Be Told, Part Deux, (Redux) by Barbara Ross

  1. How exciting! I love having deadlines and contracts keeping me focused on what needs to get done. I’m sure it will be the same for you. Love the premise — congratulations!

  2. Sarah Graves says:


  3. Barb Ross says:

    Thanks, all! So excited to be working on a Maine series. And yes, Vicki–I’m happy about the deadlines, too!

  4. SUCH super news! I love the analogy with a too-early pregnancy announcement. I can’t wait to read the Clambake series.

    As some of you know, I also recently landed a (my first) three-book contract with Kensington agented by John Talbot, the Local Foods Mysteries, about a software engineer turned organic farmer, the Locavore Club, and more. It’s terribly exciting, and I have all the same fears as Barb (being currently stuck in the dreaded middle of Book One). John’s reaching out to Sheila was a wonderful stroke of luck, and the fact that Kensington is really, really interested in publishing cozies right now is, too.

  5. Congratulations on the three-book contract, Barb! What a wonderful challenge to have!

    Also, I need to tell you that your Feb. 7 post, “A Murderous Rage,” was and is hilarious! It deserves broader circulation. Maybe as the last-page article in Smithsonian? Every time I need to lighten up in one of my financial writing assignments, I reread it and laugh out loud.

    With great appreciation to you and your fellow Maine Crime Writers for making this daily blog so enjoyable — Sherry in Jonesport

  6. Lea Wait says:

    Thrilled for you, Barb! (And you, too, Edith!) Wow! Let’s hope contracts are in the air! And, Barb — if you need any more help researching … just let me know! It’s also wonderful news for the mystery community that Kensington is so optimistic about the future of cozy mysteries, and that your agent was so spot-on about what subjects might sell. He’s definitely a keeper. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I can almost smell that wonderful blend of seaweed and clams and lobsters and corn and potatoes and, of course, that magic egg …. just waiting for you to drop a body nearby!

  7. Carla Emmons says:

    Hurray! I’m so excited for you! Congratulations!!!

    I will now prepare myself to wait very patiently until I can read the first in the series. 😉

  8. Anne Mosey says:

    I have been waiting for your next book since I read your first book and you do have other fans out there, at least in Wells. I’m looking forward to reading this one. Congratulations!

  9. Congratulations, Barb! I hope you can maintain that nice balance between the revealing-personal/emotional and clean suspense which you managed so well in DEATH OF AN AMBITIOUS WOMAN.

    Looking forward,

  10. Pingback: February President’s Letter by Barbara Ross « Notes of Note

  11. Oh, Barbara, how wonderful!! I’m so excited and glad for you that you got this Moment! I know what you mean about someone besides yourself waiting for a book. Props to you and John and Kensington and of course your lucky readers!!

  12. I am so thrilled to have been part of this process with John Talbot. This is the perfect example of why Sisters in Crime worsk–we had the talent, and we could reach people and connect them with Talbot. The result has been a very successful collaboration.

    And I can’t wait to read Barb’s first book in this series–if it’s anything like her last one, it’ll be a winner.

  13. lil Gluckstern says:

    Congratulations! I’m looking forward to a good meal 😉

  14. Wow! Congratulations!!

    Can’t wait to read them.

  15. Barb, can’t tell you how thrilled I am about this news! You’re such a fabulous writer and I know the series will be a big success. Kudos to John Talbot for seeing the potential. (Though, hmmm, I believe he did turn me down as a client back in the dark ages…)

  16. Barb that is wonderful news. I’m looking forward to having your series show up on my monthly list of new titles from Kensington so I can grab a copy to read and enjoy.

  17. That’s wonderful news! Congratulations Barb. I love the idea of a clambake mystery.

  18. Barb Ross says:

    Thanks, Ang! Hope to see you soon. Reading Lucy’s Key West book now to psych myself up for it (not that I need it).

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  20. Carol-Lynn Rössel says:


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