Some writers spend years trying to get an agent to consider reading their work. Some writers have a pile of rejection letters higher than Niagara Falls—and may feel as if their writing life is flowing away as fast as that roaring water.
I went the agent route ten years ago, amassed a pile of rejection letters, but refused to give up writing. I did, however, throw my arms (and the latest rejection letter) up in the air one day and yelled, “If an agent wants me, he’s going to have to find me himself!”
I kept writing my Biscuit McKee mysteries, and they were published through a small independent press. The important point was that I kept writing, confident that my stories had value, even if I couldn’t write a good enough query letter to interest an agent.
Then, a little more than two years ago, there came a miracle—an answer to this writer’s dream. I opened my inbox one morning to find an email from a New York agent. The subject line: Agent seeks writer.
After I spun around my office for a good three minutes, I looked up said agent online to see if he could possibly be real. He was. He’d found me through the website for the Atlanta Chapter of Sisters in Crime.
The gist of his first email to me was that he had an idea for a new cozy mystery series with a Scottish flavor and thought I’d be the perfect person to write it. He wondered if I might be interested.
A few more turns around the office. I replied that I was.
Could we talk? Jump, scream, wave my arms in the air. Answer in a dignified manner: Yes, we could.
We set a time for a phone conversation. When we finally spoke, he told me that he and his wife had been in Scotland a few years before and he’d gotten to wondering what would happen if somebody went to Scotland, bought something there—like a kilt—and found out it had a ghost attached to it. “Can you take that germ of an idea,” he asked me, “and craft a three-book series around it?”
Duh??? Can a bagpiper make a lot of noise? “Yes, I told him. “I can.”
Then I almost backed out when he said I’d have to put together a book proposal. “I don’t know how to do that,” I admitted. Not to worry. He’d walk me through the process.
A book proposal is simply an outline of what a writer plans to write, what other books (or mystery series) are similar, and how my book series will be different. I had to include three proposed titles. He didn’t like the first ideas I came up with. Plaid Piper of Hamelin was one of the rejects. Why am I not surprised?
“Make them catchy,” he said. “Give us a title that tells people 1) it’s a cozy mystery and 2) it has something to do with Scotland.”
That’s how “A Wee Murder in My Shop” came about. I have 25 more titles stockpiled, in case you’re wondering how long Peggy and Dirk can keep going.
Then I had to write the first three hundred words before he could sell the idea to a publisher.
Now I’m part of the Berkley Press Prime Crime family, and delighted—absolutely ecstatic—jump and holler and run around the room—that my writer’s dream came true.
So, my questions for you are: do you have a writing dream? What are you doing to see it to fruition?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Fran Stewart is the author of the Biscuit McKee Mysteries – GRAY AS ASHES is the seventh book in that series – as well as a standalone mystery – A SLAYING SONG TONIGHT. Her new ScotShop Mystery Series from Berkley Press begins with A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP.
Fran lives quietly with various rescued cats beside a creek on the other side of Hog Mountain, Georgia, northeast of Atlanta.
She sings alto with a community chorus and volunteers at her grandchildren’s school library. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
While on a transatlantic hunt for some authentic wares to sell at her shop, Peggy is looking to forget her troubles by digging through the hidden treasures of the Scottish Highlands. With so many enchanting items on sale, Peggy can’t resist buying a beautiful old tartan shawl. But once she wraps it around her shoulders, she discovers that her purchase comes with a hidden fee: the specter of a fourteenth-century Scotsman.
Unsure if her Highland fling was real or a product of an overactive imagination, Peggy returns home to Vermont—only to find the dead body of her ex-boyfriend on the floor of her shop. When the police chief arrests Peggy’s cousin based on some incriminating evidence, Peggy decides to ask her haunting Scottish companion to help figure out who really committed the crime—before anyone else gets kilt…