By Guest Blogger Avery Aames
I began my writing career as a television writer, and I was lucky enough to sell an idea that was turned into a TV series, but that opportunity did not open other doors for me. [Long story.] Although I was eager to become a staff writer on a TV show--I was more than willing to write someone else’s idea--that didn’t happen either. So I focused on screenplays. I wrote a number of them. I won awards. But I did not get a screenplay produced. A couple of years later, when my husband’s career was on the rise, I moved out of California. Needless to say, it was hard to get meetings in Hollywood, so I gave up my dream of writing screenplays and/or TV series, and I turned to writing novels.
For my first novel, I chose to write a thriller because that was what I loved to read. I took classes, joined writers groups, and learned my craft. When I had written and tweaked my full-length novel, I searched for an agent. All agents passed. I rewrote the novel, developed a tough skin, and bearing the tide of rejection well, I submitted it again. Still no go. I set that book aside, and inspired with another idea, wrote a second novel. I submitted that book to agents and was turned down again; however, based on what they’d read, a few agents asked me to submit my next book. I did. Again and again. After receiving rejections for all of my novels--more than five, less than ten--I had to wonder, was I any good or was I kidding myself? No matter how much passion I possessed for a subject, I wasn’t sure I had the oomph to write one more book.
A critique partner suggested I write to the market. What did she mean? Cozies were in, she told me. And she knew that some publishers hired writers to write what the publisher believed was a timely theme. I wasn’t sure I could switch genres, but I reminded myself that, in the past, I was more than willing to adapt. I wrote TV comedies as well as TV dramas, and romantic comedies as well as action adventure screenplays. Heck, I was willing to write someone else’s idea.
So I set to work and wrote a number of three chapter cozies, with outlines, and full bibles [the storyline and direction for the series]. I targeted one specific agent who I’d met at a conference and submitted my ideas, only to be turned down…again! Except this time, she was very encouraging. I told her that I’d heard about work-for-hire projects. I asked if one ever came her way, would she consider putting my name in front of the editor. She agreed. While I was writing my “last” thriller--truly, if that book didn’t go, I was going to quit and find something else to be passionate about--I got “the call.” The agent had a work-for-hire project about a cheese shop. “Can you write about cheese?” the agent asked.
Could I? I’d write FOR cheese!
A year later, on the eve of my first book being published, people still ask me, “Was giving up on your own story worth it?” Yes, for now. I’m so excited about cheese. I’m passionate about it. I research it. I test out recipes. Granted, I had done intense research for my own novels, and I was passionate about it as well, but let’s face it, I couldn’t land on the topic that an agent, let alone a publisher, wanted. Berkley had the hook, and I had the passion. It was a perfect storm.
For aspiring authors reading this blog, you, too, can be passionate…about anything…if you set your mind to it. No matter what, don’t give up. Write what you feel you must, but be willing to write for…YOU FILL IN THE BLANK.
Avery Aames, author of A Cheese Shop Mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime, likes to read, cook, garden, and do amateur photography. You may visit Avery at http://www.averyaames.com. She also blogs at Mystery Lovers Kitchen, a blog for foodies who love mysteries, as well as at Killer Characters, a blog overtaken by cozy authors’ characters.
The first Cheese Shop Mystery, The Long Quiche Goodbye will be available on Tuesday, July 6th. You can purchase the book at Avery’s bookseller page, as well as most chain and independent bookstores.