The Book of My Heart
The morning I woke up to this lovely post in Publisher’s Marketplace’s New Deals~
Beth Yarnall’s HAIRSPRAYED HARD AND PUT AWAY FOREVER (retitled DYED AND GONE), in which a hair stylist at a convention in Vegas stumbles upon a murder and with the help of her ex, a sexy cop, must find the real killer after her friend is arrested, to Stacy Cantor Abrams at Entangled Select, for publication in Winter 2014 (World).
That one glorious sentence says nothing and yet everything about the journey this book and I took to publication. You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘book of your heart’. But what does it mean? It could describe the book you felt you were born to write. Or it could be the book you were driven to write. Or as it was for me, the book that began my writing career. Except it’s not the first book I wrote. It’s not even the second book I wrote… It’s the third.
Let me back up and explain.
A time not so long ago, I read Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. And I had one of those EUREKA! moments. I thought ‘I could write a book like this.’ I had no idea books with romance and mystery could be light hearted and funny. It was Janet’s voice that struck me the most. Her books are plain, easy to read, fast, and most of all fun. I wanted to write books like that. I wasn’t looking to change the world or be on Oprah. I just wanted to write funny stories.
And so I sat down one day and began to write my first book. I didn’t know very much about the rules of writing and so without meaning to, I trampled over a bunch of them in my excitement. When I finished that book I submitted it to editors and agents. I got several requests to read the full manuscript, but nothing came of it. The story was a mess. But I didn’t care. I was hooked.
So I started writing my second novel. That book made the rounds to editors and agents and finaled in a contest. I loved the characters I’d created (they were the same in both books). But it still wasn’t right. I was close, but not close enough.
I thought long and hard about what I was going to do before I sat down to begin my third book. I knew I had to make some changes. I got rid of a love interest. I changed the name of my protagonist. I narrowed the scope of the book to fit the cozy mystery genre. And then I sat down to write Dyed and Gone.
I was very happy with Dyed and Gone. I was confident it would sell. Only it didn’t.
Then one day I received a revise and resubmit letter from an editor. She loved my voice, loved my characters, but felt the plot needed work. I agreed with everything she said and was very excited about the possibility of working with her. She got me. She got my voice. But then what did I do? I sat on the letter and wrote another book.
A few months later I got the opportunity to meet the editor who wrote the revise and resubmit letter. She was wonderful and she remembered my book! I made a promise to myself to take another look at Dyed and Gone. More time passed and then I saw a call for submissions from Entangled Publishing for an adult mystery with an amateur sleuth.
I had one of those!
I pulled Dyed and Gone and the revise and resubmit letter out of mothballs. I worked hard on that manuscript and then I submitted it to that other editor and to Entangled. I held my breath. I prayed. I may have even made promises I had no intention of fulfilling. I crossed my fingers. And then I got a very nice email from that lovely editor who’d given me my first revise and resubmit letter.
I was crushed. Truly. But like the find a way, make a way gal I am I began to make plans. I looked into self-publishing and I’d made up my mind that was the way I was going to go. And then I got another email. This one was from Stacy Cantor Abrams at Entangled. Their beta readers loved Dyed and Gone and she was going to read it that weekend.
The book I thought was dead, the book I wrote three times finally got its miracle. Entangled offered for it. I accepted. And now the book of my heart is in the hands of readers. The characters I loved through three incarnations finally have a life. And I am more thrilled than I have words to express.