Greetings, Friends, Readers, Writers...
2016 was a tough year for me. Not, luckily, in terms of the fundamentals—family, health, friends like you. And I'm not talking about politics, so let's put aside that conversation, for now at least.
What happened for me in 2016 was that my long held dream of being an author began to crumble. My editor had been let go, and I no longer had a publisher.
I know most newsletters don't begin on a bummer, but if you're getting this, it’s because:
- You've contacted me to ask what’s really going on
- We fell out of touch, but I’d love to connect again
- You know my children and/or I know yours and what better bond than that?
- You have an interest in the industry and/or journeys of self-discovery
So, what journey have I been on?
After a thirteen-year slog to get published, and only three years of being a Real Live Author, I had no way to get my next book to readers. There were some wonderful and wondrous things about my first publisher, but also aspects I knew needed to be different. My agent began to shop my new book, Wicked River, and we both had high hopes. Except guess what happened? We met with the same no's I'd experienced before I ever had a first book out, let alone three award-winning ones. Far from winding up with "different," I feared I was done.
Publishing is a weird industry, though. All of a sudden, several houses showed interest at once, and we wound up with a small but oh-so-exciting auction. I got to choose a publisher that really does do things differently, and seems like the best fit I could've hoped for. I hope.
I will tell you about it very soon. But first...
Working with the Masters
Wicked River went on submission boosted by blurbs from the following staggering pool of talent: Steve Berry, Carla Buckley, Lee Child, Andrew Gross, William Kent Krueger, John Lescroart, Gayle Lynds, David Morrell, MJ Rose, and Chevy Stevens. In future newsletters, you'll be hearing more about these authors, but for now please consider them a suggested reading list! If you haven't yet discovered their work or read their latest, you'll be glad you did.
Steve Berry—author of the best-selling Cotton Malone series—inspired me to think closely about voice, and how it differs from writer to writer. The turning point came when David Morrell—author of hits spanning five decades, from First Blood (Rambo) to the current Thomas DeQuincey series—took the time for an intensive, targeted two hour conversation about the book. He had many nice things to say, but he also told me that my ending had, um, issues.
I'll talk about David's analysis in another newsletter. For now let me just share that his insight wound up comprising a mini master class in fiction and so affected my thinking about the novel that my agent pulled back on submitting until I had revised the final quarter of the book in my brother's basement in Portland, Oregon for three intense, cave-like weeks.
The kicker? When our first offer came in, the editor specifically noted "the excitement of that ending."
You've probably noticed a few shout-outs in this newsletter already—as with the Made It Moments on my blog, I am always drawn to shining a light on other writers. Starting in March, each installment of this newsletter is going to feature an author who might be a new discovery for you, his or her latest book, and some behind-the-scenes peeks at his or her publishing journey. Want to appear in this column? Just email me. The first spots are already taken—but this is something I hope to do over and over again. There will be room!
So Long, Farewell—but only for now
Next week, I'll be sending a second installment of this letter. That's because this whole thing is new to me, and I had a lot to catch you up on, but a very wise author and pet whisperer and newsletter goddess told me, "Don't make it too long!" Seems all our attention spans have been Twitter-fied.
And I really want to share a few more things. Like, so, who is my new publisher, and if you already know that, how did I choose them?
To inspire you to keep reading, next week's letter will come with a never-before-seen giveaway. (It gives me shivers to think of it). After that, newsletters will arrive less frequently, maybe every month or so.
It's been a crazy road so far, literally (84,000 miles on the world's longest book tours) and figuratively, and all of you have made it worthwhile. Thank you for being along for the ride!