I am trying to use the little grey cells today, but I think I left them somewhere in Vegas. And by the way, those ads lie - what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas. At least not when you can post on FB so easily.
Tomorrow I fly to Washington DC to attend Malice Domestic. Am I excited? You better believe it!! I love mystery conventions and writers conferences. I call it being with "my people". Yes, I am an editor now, but first and foremost, I am a fan. I love books, the industry and readers/writers. There is such a positive vibe going on.
But what is really driving my excitement is that I am going to meet a bunch of Inkers for the first time! I feel so fortunate that I have a vocation where I am able to form wonderful and warm relationships with all sorts of people (not necessarily just my authors.) But I think there is something special about an editor/author relationship. Not only do I have a chance to read a manuscript long before anyone else, but I have a chance to form and guide a book/series. I can go through a series of rewrites before that book is shown to anyone else here. That alone is incredible. I also am the voice for the author internally. It's my job to represent the authors ideas and wishes when it comes to covers and titles when we have those meetings. I get to make dreams come true. Man, that is powerful and scary. But it is exciting! I am taking a chance on an author and he or she is taking a chance on me. It's amazing. I have found wonderful friendships with my authors. They constantly cheer up my days and give me support when needed. And hopefully I am able to give that back to them when they need it. That is why I love my job and why I am looking forward to actually meeting all the wonderful authors that make up the Midnight Ink family.
So, if you are attending Malice, keep an eye out for us. I think we might just be a rowdy group waiting to stir up some trouble! And please stop me and say hello. I should be easy to spot - just look for the chickie with a huge grin and a gleam in her eye!
And if you are not attending Malice, why not?! Make sure to try to get to one convention this year, whether it be Malice Domestic, Bouchercon or a smaller regional one. The authors will surely appreciate it and I promise it will be great fun.
For those who are not familiar with Midnight Ink, MI is an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide (http://www.llewellyn.com/). Llewellyn has a rich and long history (110 years!) of publishing titles that fall under metaphysical or body, mind, spirit categories - pagan, wiccan, yoga, chakras, ghost stories, astrology, tarot, magick... you get the idea. Well, quite a few of us here read our tarot cards and horoscopes regularly. There's a group of us that draws a tarot card for the day - today my card was the Chariot. How appropriate!
From the Shadowscapes deck
published by Llewellyn
When the Chariot appears upright in your tarot spread, it indicates that you have all the tools necessary to triumph over any obstacles that stand in your way. The successes you achieve are based on your ability to harness your instinctive drives. The more effort you put out, the more successful you will become. Self-discipline is necessary. This is a time to remain focused and stay devoted to managing your conflicting thoughts and feelings. You may be feeling frustrated at the speed of events you’re focusing on. Patience is required. Know that if you wait, things will materialize in your favor. If you lack clarity, progress may be slowed. It is best to concentrate on what you want. Your intentions will set things in motion. In a tarot reading, the chariot also represents travel of some kind.
For me, it's the last line... travel of some kind. I will spend the next three weeks out of the office save for a couple days. First I have a vacation, then Malice Domestic, then a writer's conference in Houston. I think I will just have enough time between trips to do laundry and repack!
But you know what else is cool about tarot? You can use tarot to develop your characters. Seriously. Llewellyn has published a great book called Tarot for Writers. The author, Corrine Kenner, is a certified tarot master. The book provides 500 writing prompts and idea stimulating exercises that call upon archetypal imagary and symbolism in tarot. It also uses classic tarot layouts and spreads to structure your story. How awesome is that? You don't have to use/know tarot to use this book. You can check it more at http://tarotforwriters.com/ or at http://www.llewellyn.com/product.php?ean=9780738714578.
So everyone - happy writing!! And happy travels for those also going to Malice Domestic! I will be blogging off and on, hopefully uploading pics from Malice. I am looking forward to hanging with a whole bunch of Inkers!
So... lately I've been a bit overwhelmed by my job. That is normal mode for me. I could really use another me to give everything I do the amount of attention it should really get. But I did something a little bit crazy. Somehow I scheduled myself to be travelling for almost three weeks straight. I have a day or two at work in between three long weekend events. So now I am trying to cram everything for the upcoming three weeks into this week. UGH! And of course when I turned my attention to writing my blog post for today, I surfed the internet for an hour trying to come up with some ideas. I bet that sounds familiar to a few of you out there!!
But what I find to be the most difficult and painful part of my day to day work is when I get an email from a writer or an agent who submitted a manuscript months ago and they are wondering about the status. Those emails make me feel horrible. Because in that pile of submissions, might be the best submission I've gotten all year... but I haven't read it yet. And I definitely won't in the next month. Maybe not even in the next three months. And that poor writer is hanging out there feeling low because they haven't heard a thing. I got at least two of those emails today.
Sadly, as bad as I feel, I can't do much about it. There is simply not enough time in the day. So for the writers out there who haven't yet been published, my best advice is to hang in there. But maybe this is where some other writers can give advice... what do you do while waiting? Did you all have that dream of a quick read and offer, or did you suffer through the waiting game?
So I was asked to come to Llewellyn Worldwide today for a meet 'n greet. That was cool. I figured I could talk to some folks and schmooze with other authors... then when I walked in the door, I found out I was the only author who would be here to meet the greeters by way of a sign welcoming me. Whoa! It was awesome! Betty took a picture of me with the sign as I was trying to restrain myself from doing a happy dance and dying of embarrassment.
Terri showed me and Betty, my partner, all around. Tan-colored cubes snake up one side of the building and down the other, and the cubes are divided out by the production section, the artwork section, acquisions, marketing, publicity and more. It's a totally cool place. I figured the building would be filled with color for some reason, but it was all pretty... tan. When we sat down to do the official meet 'n greet, I found out where the true color in the place really is. It's within every person who works here. I was a little intimidated to talk to the twenty or so folks who showed up, but in minutes I was telling stories based on the great questions they asked. We laughed for almost half an hour, and I really could feel that the staff in every area cared about what they were doing. It was heartwarming to be with folks who really love what they do. Then I signed books (don't use a ball point or Terri will kill you) for everyone and got to learn a little more about each of them. It was great.
Afterwards, I swung into the restroom and nearly dropped dead in shock...right between the men's and women's was a poster. Of ME--advertising the meet 'n greet! So I used the facilities and came back out and, like the geek I am, took a picture of the poster. Terri rolled her eyes and said she'd see if she could score me one. Snerk!
All in all, this has been a fantastic experience... one I would love to repeat. And maybe I can when book two comes out. Long live Midnight Ink!!!!!
Every now and then I will dedicate a blog to someone in the crime fiction industry that deserves some recognition. Today I am proud to give a shout out to Once Upon a Crime owners Pat and Gary. I first met them when I owned Booked for Murder. We only ever talked via email, but I could tell they were incredibly kind and dedicated book people.
When I moved up here to the Twin Cities, I made sure to make a trip to OUAC as soon as I could. They have such a fantastic store. And finally meeting Pat and Gary in person was lovely. Pat acts like my mom, chiding me to eat more or to take better care of myself, but that is Pat and I wouldn't want her any other way. She genuinely cares for her customers - it feels like a big family.
This year, Pat and Gary are being honored at the Edgar Awards. They are receiving the Raven Award, which is for outstanding achievement beyond the realm of creative writing. They will receive the award on April 28th.
Inker Jessie Chandler and her book at Once Upon a Crime's Write of Spring 2011
Outstanding achievement? You better believe it. Pat and Gary go out of their way to support authors in any way that they can. Each year they host a Write of Spring event where 40 Minnesota authors are showcased. They host 6-10 author events a month. They read voraciously and handsell like the mad. And they are succeeding in a time when the book world is a little shaky. How do they do it? Love of the store, for their local authors and community and for the larger crime fiction community.
If you are ever in the Twin Cities, make sure you stop in and see for yourself. I would bet you'll walk out with a armful of books and a huge smile on your face. I always do!
Free books?! Are those the two best words in the English language? Ok, don't answer that. Really.
Maybe not the best words, but still pretty awesome, right?
Here is the deal. I want more followers. It's an ego thing and I can freely admit it. And, as you may have noticed in my earlier post, I like bribes. I have three boys which explains a lot. Bribes and I, we are tight. ;)
I am giving you, dear readers, the chance to win free books, just by signing up to follow my blog. On Tuesday, May 3rd, a random follower will be chosen to receive a selection of Midnight Ink books. The winner can choose any five books we've published in 2011. If my number of followers is over... 50... I will choose two winners. 75 followers... three winners. You get the idea, right? So, invite your friends, share this on facebook, help me build my ego. :)
Today is one of those days in an acquistions editor's life. A complicated, frustrating, emotionally draining, tough kind of day. And it isn't even noon yet. It's the sort of day that makes me want to go out and do something impulsive. Like get a new tattoo.
Anyway, here is an lolcat to make you smile -
Tomorrow I promise an insighful and moving post. And perhaps a photo of my new tat if I happen to get one today. :)
Today, I am chatting with Inker Jess Lourey. Jess is the first Midnight Ink author I met so it's deserving she is the first I subject to random questions! :) Her Murder by Month series starts with May Day, October Fest is now available and November Hunt is scheduled for March 2012. In my opinion, Jess keeps getting better with each book. I love that about her series. And I love Mira James. She is my kind of heroine!
1.) How did the idea of the Murder by Month series come to you? In 2002, I was living in Battle Lake, a Minnesota town with a population of around 800 people. I was a single mother of a newborn and a three-year-old, working full time, feeling both smothered and comforted by the small town rhythm, and so lonely that I had developed a crush on a 23-foot fiberglass statue. I tried self-soothing by reading Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton, and Tony Hillerman and drinking lots of wine after the kids were asleep. Eventually, the authors I was reading weren't writing fast enough, and I needed a solid mix of humor and justice to get me through the day. I decided to try writing it myself. Out of this grew the Murder-by-Month mysteries.
2.) What is your proudest publishing/writing moment?
My proudest publishing moment is when I signed the contract for my first book--May Day--with Midnight Ink. There's something about realizing for the first time that your story is going to be a physical book that people can hold. It's indescribable, and a memory I'll always treasure. Incidentally, I was so green when I signed that first contract that I had an actual person fill out the witness signature rather than forging it myself, like I do now.
3.) What is your worst publishing/writing moment?
I haven't had any terrible writing or publishing moments. It still stings when I get a bad review, but mostly, I'm just glad to be published, especially in today's climate.
4.) What is your favorite movie, book or artist? My favorite book is often the last one I read, but if I had to choose three of my all-times, I'd select Gone with the Wind, The Handmaid's Tale, and Main Street. Weird, I know. I don't have any favorite films, but I am a huge fan of b-movie creature features and am working on what I hope will be a SyFy channel original titled Hog! The exclamation point is part of the title and not part of my sentence. Hog!
5.) If you needed to bribe your editor, what would you get/make her? If I needed to bribe my editor, I'd give her the December manuscript early, dark chocolate, a bottle of wine, and a whole day off. Odd...those are the same things I use to bribe myself. Is this why we get along so well, Terri?
The day off would be fantastic. An early manuscript - fantastic! But chocolate and wine... I'll be in touch!!
So let's just bite the bullet and talk about submissions. As an acquiring editor, I know that is often the first thing people want to ask me about. Am I taking submissions? Can anyone submit? What am I am I looking for? Simple questions, right?
Not really. As of March first, I partially closed submissions. Currently I am only taking submissions from agents and authors I have met at conventions. Why would I do such a crazy thing?! The answer is complicated. I am the only one who reads submissions here and I have too many to handle. If I were an author, I would not want to wait a year to hear from an editor, but that is where I am right now. Roughly nine months behind. If and when I get caught up, I will re-open. You'll just have to watch the submissions guideline page on the Midnight Ink website. http://www.midnightinkbooks.com/ I am attending several conventions this year and will figure out a way to list them here on the blog.
Do you need an agent? No. Does it help? Yes. Not only does having an agent get me to look at a submission sooner, but a good agent has already worked the author on the manuscript. That is one more level of development and editing. Beware of bad agents who just slap their name on it and send it out. They are out there and they aren't doing you a service.
What am I looking for? Such a dangerous question! If I say I want a police procedural, I will be flooded with them! Instead, I want a story with a captivating voice. I want to start reading a manuscript and get lost in the story. I want to know the characters, love them and be afraid for them. I need a plot that is somewhat realistic. If you write humor, make me laugh. If you write suspense, I better be biting my fingernails by the end. (how else do you measure a page-turner?!) I want to finish a manuscript and be in agony that there isn't a follow up to read immediately. I want it all. Is that too much to ask for?
I tend to get passionate about books. I LOVE storytellers, those who can weave plot lines through a book or through several books. That is what I want to acquire and by doing so, together we'll continue to build Midnight Ink into a powerful and vibrant crime fiction publisher.
And in the meantime, don't let you lolcat ruin the ending!
Dame Agatha Christie. The mother of traditional mysteries. Just her name brings so many things to mind.
Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookstore in Ann Arbor, MI. http://www.auntagathas.com/ I've never actually been to Aunt Agatha's, but I've met and talked to owner Robin Agnew several times at conventions or thru the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. I'm sure store is as wonderful as she is.
Then there is Malice Domestic http://www.malicedomestic.org/aboutmalice.html, a fan convention honoring the traditional mystery. The attendees of Malice vote on and present the Agatha Awards. I'll be there this year, along with a bunch of other Inkers. We'll be cheering for all the finalists, but in particular, we'll be hoping our own Alan Orloff walks away with Agatha for Best First Novel. Our past finalists for best first include Lisa Bork, G.M Malliet (winner), Joanna Campbell Slan and Karen MacInerney.
Of course, there are the characters Agatha Christie created. My favorite is Poirot, particularly David Suchet playing that role. One of my favorite customers at Booked for Murder had named her cats Tommy and Tuppence.
So what about you? What do you think of when you think of Dame Agatha? I bet it's not an lolcat!
PS - I will address the evolution of traditional/cozy mysteries in another post.
It's day two and I don't know what to say today! *PANIC*
Ok, well, not full-fledged panic, but still, I had a lot of ideas, where did they all go? I'll tell you, right out of my swiss cheese brain. Lately I have been having a hard time keeping track of time in general, but also where I am in process with any given book. In the past I could easily forget what I did the weekend before or what day it was, but I would remember the order of a ton of mystery series, the major plotlines of most books, etc. I had a great booksellers brain. But in the publishing world, we skip around in time contstantly. Today I have a vision meeting for two Spring/Summer 2012 books. At the same time, back cover copy is routing for Spring/Summer 2011 books.
I am also organizationally-challenged. Here is my desk:
And I cleaned it off a bit yesterday!
If I were a writer, I would be one who wrote by the seat of my pants. No outline. Writing, then going back and changing something in the first chapter, writing more, changing more... The editor who sits across from me, her desk is clean and perfect. She cleans out her email inbox and organizes all of her files accordingly. UGH. I don't understand those people! How do they do it?
Recently I created a rather large spreadsheet that contained all the important dates for each book in the Spring/Summer 2012 catalog. If it helps me organize and keep me on track, I will continue to do it. I also color coded my meetings in my Outlook calendar to help my eye catch when I have specific meetings. I hate when they sneak up on me. And finally, tomorrow I will create a blog calendar, so I don't stare at the blank post page! I think all this organizing might give me hives. Good thing the weekend is coming!
What are Inky things you ask? Primarily any information that has to do with Midnight Ink, our authors, our books, new signings, awards and nominations, conventions, sales and promotions, the publishing process, interesting crime fiction tidbits, LOL cats, baseball commentary - you know, the good things in life!
This will be brought to you by me, Terri. I am the acquiring editor at Midnight Ink. I love crime fiction. Before landing here at Midnight Ink, I owned and operated Booked for Murder in Madison, WI. My two favorite parts of the job were 1) talking to customers about crime fiction books and 2) looking through the catalogs to see what books would be coming out in the upcoming months. In many ways, that is my life here. I get to talk about mysteries all the time. And while I don't have "customers" to talk to, I have a stable of incredible authors to work with. As for looking through the catalogs... I now have pride and fondness for every title listed in our catalogs. Of course there is a lot more that goes into my job and I will talk about that along the way, but those are two great perks! In many ways, I feel like I have the best job on the planet.
So I hope you'll come back and visit. I don't know yet what I will talk about tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy a cute LOL cat!