Sunday, October 30, 2011


We've had lovely warm October days.  These cosmos came from the meadow behind my garden.


 Thursday morning I received an email from Judith Ivie of Mainly Murder Press, offering me a contract for Killer Frost, the mystery which won a finalist place in the St. Martin’s Malice Domestic First Best Traditional Mystery Contest last March. Perfect. I did try agents on the first and third mysteries I’ve written, and on this one, too, but I returned to the small press world as the most comfortable for me, and this does feel so comfortable.

I’m surprised and stunned. This news sends me in a whole new direction. I’m the same, and my plans and my books are the same. Now I have other people out there answering. People will be reading these mysteries I’ve labored to write. They’re only part of my work, but I’ve put myself fully into them. It may be nine months before Killer Frost is out–late August, or later. Besides a trade paperback, my book will be on Nook and Kindle. I’ll get royalties, for which I’ll have to work. But I’ve promised to work on selling it, and I will.

I turn seventy-five in May of the year my first mystery is published. I feel ecstatic, beside myself [ek+stasis = standing outside]. I think I’d rather get a book published than get married again.

My book will soon go out into the world, "launched in a place of sufficient depth." Old Proust shapes me still. Why is it so very important to me now to have this book published? Identity is knowing who you are and being comfortable with that person. But it is also being recognized by others as who you believe you are.

This acceptance, and Mainly Murder’s enthusiasm for the book, means to me that I am recognized as the writer I believe I am. I have had people like my poetry and my PMZ Poor Woman’s Cookbook. But I haven’t published a novel before, and it is a way to reach a wider audience. So now, if I work at it to get attention to this book, I think that wider audience will respond. I hope to stir up word of mouth, which is the best possible marketing tool, if you can once get it going. I want this book to be a best seller for Mainly Murder. I’ll do my part.

It feels like verification that I haven’t been putting myself on, that I’m a good writer, one that people will want to read. It balances me and my whole life. I can lean more on my writing economically. What I want to be for a reader looks like it will come true. It isn’t only my imagination. I have the power to reach people, stir their feedings, and maybe even influence their behavior, with my words, which are as true and from my heart as I can make them.

So much rejection, but finally my words are slipping through the hedge. I’ve always thought of publishing as finding the hole in the hedge and slipping through. I’ve been through the hedge a little bit before with my poetry, my cookbook, my articles in our community newspaper, Chatham County Line, but now I’ve found a bigger and more promising hole and slipped through that.

What will I find on the other side? Mostly likely, not riches. If I can earn a little to supplement my social security and farm income, that is all I ask. I’ll find happy readers. I can already tell. My mechanic wants to buy a book. My friend Gene wants two copies. Terry, to whom I was once married, wants to read it on his kindle. Lucy wants to buy it and says, if I’ll have a big party, she’ll bring a cake. Yes, definitely, Lucy, here at my farm.

I hope there will be library reviews and sales. Suzanne, my reader, is excited. She told me it was the most political novel I’d written yet, and that’s saying some. It will stir things up. I think I can cope.

I’ve had a lot of identities: mother, wife, editor/publisher of a small press and a poetry journal, organizer in literature, environmental activism, and local politics. I’ve been a teacher of school children, out of school adults, and college students. I’ve been, and am, a small farmer. I’ve been a secretary, delivered newspapers, worked as Postmaster Relief in a village post office, worked in customer service, babysat, cleaned people's houses. I’m a grandmother and a great grandmother, a friendly neighbor. I’ve been a writer since age seven but an especially prolific one since age fourteen, and I’m a published poet, but I haven’t before leaned on my identity as an author, and I will now be a published novelist.

As well as readers on the other side of the hedge, there will be the other authors, and some of them will like my writing and give me a boost in this new world of being a published novelist. I’ll have a new kind of camaraderie. That has already begun. Other Mainly Murder authors are welcoming me to their ranks. I think some of the mystery authors I especially love will write blurbs for me. I’m going to ask my favorites. See what happens.

There will be critics, too. Some will be dismissive and cutting, but I think some will like what I write. I might even be praised. I’m pretty tough now. Let them cut. I’ll keep writing books. I’m going to enjoy this. You know what? I’m not even scared. As Winnie the Pooh once said, "It’s different when the hum inside you is outside and has other people looking at it." I’m not afraid of that. Also, for some reason, I’m feeling very generous and gracious toward everyone.

You begin one way, in one form, and you change. You end up in a different place. It’s still you, but it’s a more unified, purpose-driven, complete you. It’s the you that was potential made actual.


  1. Congratulations - first for getting the contract, and second for not giving up the quest. Please let all of us on Dorothy L know when the book is about to emerge.

  2. Thank you, Carolyn Rose, for your interest in Killer Frost. I will definitely keep the DorothyL listserve informed when the book is due out. Judy Hogan