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!