Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Steering the Course
By Roberta Isleib and Lucy Burdette
Our trusted blog leader suggested that one of the themes this session might be a chronicle of last year's highs and lows. For some reason, that brings nautical analogies to mind--maybe because my new character lives on a houseboat?
I once imagined that the life of a published writer might feel like sailing on the forward deck of an ocean liner--sun shining, glassy seas, a tropical drink beside my lounge chair to toast the newest book. But it didn't take long to learn that a sail on the publishing ocean is anything but calm. One minute my vessel is perched high on the peak of the wave, the next moment she falls with a dizzying drop deep into a trough. This past year was no exception! I'll show you...
TROUGH: After two years of diligent writing, agent suggests the book I finished last year may best be suited for a drawer at the bottom of my desk. Okay, maybe she didn't say it exactly like
this, but I swear the words "reputation" "mine" and "yours" were all used in the same paragraph.
PEAK: Same agent pitched my proposal for the Key West Food Critic mystery series to an editor at NAL. The series is accepted and A TASTE FOR MURDER, written by me as Lucy Burdette, will be published in January 2012.
TROUGH: Trusted writing friend says about my short story drafted for a Mystery
Writers of America competition: "I have to be honest, I don't love it."
PEAK: Same trusted friend offers excellent suggestions for revision. After
rewriting, this same short story "The Itinerary" is chosen for inclusion in THE RICH AND THE DEAD, an anthology edited by Nelson Demille to be published by Grand Central in April.
TROUGH: Editor suggests the name I was born with and have clung to through two marriages must be peeled away.
PEAK: I will be reincarnated as my wonderful, artistic grandmother who died too young: Lucy Burdette.
TROUGH: Every other day it seems we get more bad news about publishing--Borders is in bankruptcy, Barnes and Noble has fired all its buyers, writers are getting new contracts that don't specify there will ever be a "physical book."
PEAK: Writers are writing and readers seem to be reading more, rather than less, whether it's on e-readers or whether it's paper copies.
Personally, I think we're in for some big swells in this business for a while. I keep reminding myself that the only thing I can control is my writing. My plan for 2011? Trim my sails, find true north, hang on to that wheel and let Lucy go.
Roberta Isleib is the author of eight mysteries. Her books and stories have been nominated for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. Lucy Burdette's first mystery will be published in 2012.