Making notes for my annual letter, I realized almost everything I did in 2013 involved my Show Me mystery series. The series—with four books in different stages—took over the year.
In January I submitted the third book, Show Me the Gold, to the publisher. A day or two later the content editor emailed her comments on the second book, Show Me the Deadly Deer. Only minor points, but they took time and care. In warm weather that manuscript came back to me two more times, for a check of the copyediting and for proofing before it went to the printer.
The first book, Show Me the Murder, came out in hardcover February 15. (The Kindle edition was released in August.) In early February came the year’s biggest thrill for me: reading the first review. It appeared in Kirkus Reviews. Just the fact that Kirkus bothered to review my book was positive, and so was the review. Then came good reviews in Library Journal and other publications. Happy times.
After struggling to find a publisher for years, I was relieved and gratified by the reviewers’ comments. I put snippets of those on the invitations to my book launch in March.
From then on I spent a lot of time promoting Show Me the Murder. One bonus for those efforts: I introduced The Feedsack Dress to new readers. While promoting challenged and rewarded me, the process bores anyone else. I’ll just say that I sent out review copies to Missouri publications (the publisher sends to national ones), gave talks at libraries and other places, served on panels at three mystery conferences, taught three writing workshops, and did signings with and without readings. I’m used to public speaking and always prepare well, so these events were no big deal.
Only one appearance worried me, a regional Young Authors’ Day in Warrensburg. The organizer sent me 10 second graders’ winning stories, essays, and poems to comment on both in writing and orally after each child read his or her piece before peers and parents. Plus I had to invent a writing exercise for them. I really dreaded opening the envelope containing their work and coming up with helpful, positive comments.
To my relief, they wrote much better than I expected. I was able to write genuine editorial comments. I consulted with friends who had taught elementary school. They warned me some kids would be afraid to read in front of strangers. No one suggested a great writing exercise. I really wanted to back out.
It went great, though one little girl faced me rather than the audience and read so softly that only I who could hear her. And none of the kids knew what I was talking about when I mentioned a teeter-totter in an analogy. Apparently it has been banned from playgrounds.
Through the winter and spring I stewed over the next book until a plot and theme held my interest. I made notes, did some research, named characters, and, in May, started to write Show Me the Ashes. I’m still writing.
In November, Kirkus gave Deadly Deer, its first review, a good one. I was happy but not overjoyed. Nothing equals that first time.