Wednesday is guest day on Judy’s Stew, and I’m delight to start the new year off by welcoming Terrie Moran. Take it away, Terrie, and share your good news with us.
Hi Judy. Thank you for inviting me to spend New Year’s Day 2014 with you and your friends.
And how did this miracle come about?
Easy peasey. I got a brilliant idea that I knew would make a fabulous, highly saleable book, and I sat at my computer day and night for three weeks until, voila! I had a perfect manuscript—no revision necessary. Then I sent the best query letter ever written to the head of Berkley Prime Crime who replied within forty-eight hours and said although they normally don’t accept un-agented manuscripts, they would certainly make an exception for me. They immediately sent a lackey to my house to pick up a copy of the golden manuscript. A Berkley honcho called me a few hours later and offered a paltry six figures for the book. I scoffed; they raised the offer to a comfortable mid seven figure range and the deal was sealed.
So now sunset finds me sipping Mojitos as I lounge on the sand in front of a silk-sheeted cabana on my private Caribbean island. Mornings I swim with the dolphins. In the afternoon I dictate my next New York Times Best Seller to my amanuensis, Greg the Gorgeous. If my brain gets knotted, we stop working and he massages my feet and then...
Oh wait, I think I’m jumbling my fantasies.
The truth is Well Read, Than Dead and the two subsequent books in the series are being published because I trudged along a very traditional route to publication. For more than thirty years I promised myself that when I retired I would join a gym and write a cozy mystery. The problem was, would I ever retire? Two weeks after the horror of 9/11, a close friend died. Both events reminded me that life isn’t finite. The following year my first two grandchildren were born, twelve days and 1300 miles apart. Within weeks I retired. Two days later I joined a gym. And in 2003 I began writing a cozy novel. I wrote. I revised. I struggled. Finally, in early 2006 I completed the first draft. And instead of dancing gleefully around the house, I looked at my computer screen and said, “Now what?”
Zig led to zag and I found a mystery writers’ conference called Sleuthfest scheduled two weeks in the future. That first conference was my introduction to Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and many wonderful friends in the mystery community, readers and writers both.
When I joined my local chapter of SinC, they were in the midst of a call for submissions for a short story anthology. I decided to try and found that I loved writing short stories. So, while editing my novel, I wrote and submitted shorts. By late 2007, I thought the novel was ready for prime time. But wait! I needed a synopsis, and a buffo query letter to send to agents. More drudgery. Eventually I began the arduous query process and was astonished to get form rejections within two or three days. I’d polish up the query and send it out again.
In the meantime, I wrote short stories. I attended conferences. I made more friends.
Time marched on. The query process evolved from snail mail to email. I managed to have one or two of my short stories published each year. And the years flew by.
In 2012 Sleuthfest rolled around again. I met with Kim Lionetti of Bookends Literary Agency. She listened to my pitch but was not encouraging. My characters were too old for the storyline. Still she offered to read a few chapters. Weeks later she let me know that her initial assessment was correct but asked if I would write something else. And so I did. I wrote Well Read, Then Dead.
And the rest, as they say, is history. Still I wouldn’t trade how my career actually progressed for all the Mojitos and cabanas in the world.
Short-listed twice for The Best American Mystery Stories, Terrie Farley Moran gathered some of her previously published short stories, added in a couple of new stories and put together an e-collection, The Awareness and other deadly tales, which you can find on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. The only thing Terrie enjoys more than wrangling mystery plots into submission is hanging out with any or all of her seven grandchildren. You can find her blogging at www.womenof mystery.net and she is on Facebook as Terrie Moran.