. . . too many <bleeping> years ago to count.
I was thinking—yes, I still manage to do that these days, but barely—that I’d post about the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series. You’ve heard/read enough about the five books, but not how it all got started—or the rollercoaster ride of publisher and agent queries, and [many] rewrites.
The Connecticut Corpse Caper was meant to be a standalone—inspired by those B&W mysteries and movies with haunted houses that I loved as a kid. Couldn’t get enough of them.
I figured out the basic plot (multiple murders with missing corpses), location and setting (antebellum mansion with lots of hidden corridors and rooms, of course) and that there had to be a resident ghost. The rest—décor, dialogue, events—fell into place.
Characters I also determine (flesh out) as I go along re descriptions, likes and dislikes, habits, and history, but I do have an idea what they are professionally and age-wise beforehand. Do I decide who the murderer is from the get-go? Not usually—not until pretty much the end.
The first “edition” done, I began sending it off. Got rejections from publishers and agents. No reason, just the usual not-accepting rhetoric (it would have been nice to receive a teeny-weeny bit of input).
Eventually, when I was about to give up, an agent signed me up. Within a month, she’d found an interested publisher. Woo-hoo! Well, when I found out who it was, I naturally went researching. Not a good one—bad rep. You couldn’t even access the site. I won’t go into the details, but I told the agent I’d heard unfavorable things about the publisher, which evidently put her in a bad mood. She told me no one else had liked my manuscript, that the dialogue sounded the same for everyone, etc. More researching. It seems said agent pretty much only used that one publisher. Not sure if she’s still doing that now. Don’t really care. Fortunately, she was professional enough to let me out of the contract, and for that I’m [still] grateful.
And her criticism was appreciated (even if not delivered in a particularly pleasant manner). I reread the manuscript with different eyes—and <bleep> if she wasn’t right. I’d made my characters all sound the same! Another rewrite . . . and another . . . and character manipulation. I refocused. Put on my editor’s cap (it had blown away during a heavy gust). Gave my characters distinctive ways of communicating: phrases, expressions, curse words, gestures.
Proofing and editing one’s work is vital, but getting input from other sources (preferably not friends and family members, who can be rather subjective) is so necessary to make a story happen—for it to come alive.
I so enjoyed revising and completing Caper—and JJ, Rey, and Linda loved playing amateur sleuths so much, they wanted to go professional—that it had to serve as a springboard for a series.
Something positive truly does always emerge from the negative. It may not seem readily evident at the time but, down that ever-winding road called Life, it [eventually] becomes apparent.
While I may more oft than not take advice/input with a grain of salt (writer’s ego and whatnot), I will also ultimately (a few days/weeks later) give that advice/input more serious reflection. I don’t like to give up, as I’m sure, you don’t either. Sometimes, however, we do need to give over . . . even if only a wee bit.