Sunday, September 06, 2009

Blogs and block parties

Thanks to Krista Davis (The Diva Runs Out of Thyme, The Diva Takes the Cake) I was invited to be guest blogger at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen today to answer some questions about my cookbook ( Most of the questions were food-related, but one stumped me and still has me puzzling this morning. Why, with my success and awards as a western writer, did I decide to switch to mysteries? The first part is sort of easy--the market for the fiction I was writing disappeared, the editors with whom I had good relationships moved on, and my agent died--I have never found an agent since and got tired of hearing "You write so well, I wish I could sell it." But why mysteries? Because I love to read them and have read some that I thought I could better. But that's a shallow reason for jumping into a large pond. LIke the world of western writing, authors in the mystery field (Sisters in Crime, Guppies) are incredibly supportive of newbies. But the mystery pond (to stick with my metaphor) is deep and cold--I bet it's no exaggeration to say at least a thousand writers, never published, are trying to get an agent at any given time. Think of all those agents fending off submissions--since I do acquisitions for TCU, I know exactly how they feel. It takes me back emotionally to the days in the late '70s when I never had a book published. Many of my fellow Guppies (Going to be Published) make a science out of querying--sending out fifty queries, keeping careful charts of queries, rejects, requests for partials or, blessed moment, a full manuscript. Even then, contract offers are the exception and a cause for great rejoicing among all. Attending cons (conventions) and the like is a good way to meet agents, but it may result in merely a polite request, not one that the agent takes seriously. I've about decided cold querying agents who know nothing about you is an exercise in futility--maybe I lack the persistence that I hear so much about. I had hoped my credentials as a western novelist would transfer but they seem to carry no weight in the mystery world.

Will I give up, with one mystery completed and in the hands of of a small publisher for eight months now and the sequel ready for revision? No, I won't give up, but I don't have the fire in my belly that I did when I started this, and I welcome other projects that take me away, like the cookbook. I did query the publisher in late June and was asked for more time. I would query again but a couple of weeks ago my horoscope said to be patient and not ask a question I might not like the answer too! Wonder how long horoscope advice holds true?

Jacob continued in his exuberantly cheerful and energetic mode this morning, and every time he said "I want" and I got up to get what he wanted--more milk, another waffle, to peepee--my feet ached like anything. He was so cheerful and happy I couldn't complain, and he's far too young to say, "So go get it yourself." So I hobbled on sore feet. At one point he told me he loved Wywy, and I said, "You're so noisy you scare Wywy." He said with a sad look on his face, "I'm not noisy. I'm a good boy." I assured him he was, but his happy noises scared her.

Tonight I truly didn't want to walk two blocks, over rough sidewalk, to the block party--Jay said it was only four houses away, but that's not true. Anyway, he gallantly offered to drive, so off we went and had a great time. It was fun to meet neighbors I never knew, though one knew Jordan and another knew I was at TCU, so as always there are not six degrees of separation in Fort Worth. Everyone brought appetizers, and I ate sparingly, thinking they would not do my diet any good. We sat and visited, though I was fidget-y and ready to go home--it was 10:30 before I got home. I'm not used to staying out that late!

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