Thursday, November 10, 2011

Guest Blogger Betty Hechtman on The Secrets to Writing Success

Betty's book You'd Better Knot Die was this month's selection in Ellery's Cozy Mystery Contest. Congrats to Anna Derlaga for winning a $20 ecard! And now, here's Betty!

I saw the actual copy of my sixth crochet mystery, Behind the Seams, for the first time when I went to the first Barnes & Noble yesterday, to sign stock. I had seen the physical book of the fifth in the series, You Better Knot Die, when it came out in hardcover last November, but it was the first time I was seeing the paperback edition.

Two books coming out at one time! Sometimes I feel like looking behind me to see who this all really is happening to. It couldn’t be me.

This is all a dream come true. Just a few years ago, I was ready to pass on the book I’d bought that gave hints about promoting your first novel. I was ready to admit that maybe the fat lady had sung and the book thing just wasn’t going to happen for me.

In college, I wrote a weekly column in the student newspaper. Later I saw my pieces in newspapers and magazines. I had mini mysteries and short romances published in Woman’s World. I wrote several scripts. One was a winner in the Writers’ Digest contest and one I actually got paid for.

But the real achievement is having a book with your name on it, preferably in bookstores everywhere.

I wrote my first story when I was about eleven. It involved, Lily and Violet, two fairies who lived in a loaf-shaped rural mailbox and used walnut shells to haul water. My father was a writer and after reading my story, encouraged me and offered a lot of tips. He worked on magazines, did editing, wrote seven non fiction books and paid the bills by teaching high school English. Several of his books were on Chicago artists and used copies are still available on the Internet. It is kind of cool that even though he died years and years before the Internet started, he is still part of it.

The first tip my father gave me was that there would be a lot of rejection involved, but not to take it to heart. He taught me how to submit to magazines. In those days, you sent a self addressed stamped envelope along with your submission. If it was a rejection, it came back in your envelope. If it was an acceptance, it came back in one of theirs. Not that I saw any of those for a long time. Then my father told me the real secret to writing success. Don’t give up.

So, even though I thought the Fat Lady might have done her number, I still kept sending my manuscript out. Each time I mailed it, as I dropped it into the mailbox, I thought maybe this time it wouldn’t come back in my envelope. And then it happened. I got a call instead of my envelope and Blue Schwartz and Nefertiti’s Necklace (a ten and above mystery) became a book. A few months later I decided to mix mystery with crochet and two publishers wanted a series.

Some advice never gets old and is always true. Just don’t give up.