Saturday, May 4, 2013

Never Say Never

A long long time ago I had an idea for a book about a single mom of two boys who happened to stumble upon a series of crimes in her neighborhood. She was an ex-cop, a new divorcee, and a pro at car pool. The book was called Big Girls Don't Cry and it was the first in a planned series of books named after Oldies songs. (Going to the Chapel would be the second...)

I tried and tried to get a publisher interested in that series but although they liked my "voice" (my style of writing), and my humor, they didn't quite like anything else. Ha! One thing I kept hearing over and over again was that the book needed a stronger "hook." Mine, as a single mom-based series, wasn't strong enough.

A normal person might have moved on, but most writers are far normal. We're a tenacious, stubborn lot. I put the book aside while I let the critiques I received simmer. Which advice to take? Which to ignore?

So one day while I was watching HGTV's Surprise Gardener, it hit me that this show could be my hook--gardening/landscaping. Instead of my main character being an ex-cop, I could turn my single mom into a landscape designer who does backyard makeovers in one day. She could dig up all kinds of trouble--and bodies. While rewriting, I also decided she had one son too many (harsh, I know), and that her ex should be the cop in the story.

Nina Quinn was born. And with the new rebirth, a new set of titles. The first one: A Hoe Lot of Trouble.

Within a few months of finishing the revised manuscript, I found an agent, and within three weeks of that, she had secured a three-book deal for me. I was over the moon.

That three-book deal turned into five books, and then word came from the publishing house that their entire cozy mystery line was being cut. A lucky few authors were able to move their series to other houses, but dozens of authors lost their jobs.

Including me.

There wasn't much I could do to keep Nina going. Heartbroken, I had to move on, to another series, to another publisher (Lucy Valentine was born). I truly believed I'd never write another Nina mystery.

Ha! I should have known better. Never say never, right?

Because years and years later, ebooks and self-publishing started transforming the book world. And with that came the opportunity to bring Nina out of retirement. I started with Trouble Under the Tree in 2011, picking up her series where it left off in 2008. And I just released the seventh book in the series, The Root of all Trouble, a couple of weeks ago (currently available as an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords, coming soon in trade paperback).

It's been amazing to me to receive letters from readers telling me how much they've missed Nina. Me, too. And I'm so glad she's back. This time, for good.

Happy reading!