So You Want to Be a Writer (Updated to include my answers)

I spoke this afternoon (Saturday October 12) at the Monroe Twp. Library (Monroe Twp. NJ).  The title of the panel presentation is So You Want to be a Writer.  Here are few questions, I was asked to think about and a bit of my answers.

1.  Give us a brief description of how your first book or story came to be published.

In 2005, I was getting more serious about writing mysteries.  I was considering whether or not to fly to Chicago for a writers’ conference.  A friend told me, If you want to be a real writer, you have to start going to the places that real writers go.  So I flew to Chicago and while I was at the conference, I met the Acquisitions Editor for Five Star.  When I got home I wrote the only really good query letter I’ve ever written.  Fiver Star purchased the hardcover rights to my amateur sleuth mystery, A Minor Case of Murder.

2.  How long did it take you to get published?

The first time I contacted an agent, editor or publisher, it was 1988.  At that time, I was looking for a publisher for a modern Buddhist parable about the nature of enlightenment.  After A Minor Case of Murder was published, I went back to that earlier manuscript, deleted approximately 60,000 words and was left with a very nice short story, The Sound Bite, which was published in 2006 in Woman’s Corner Magazine.

3.  Did you ever feel like quitting (and if so, what kept you going)?

Between 1988 and 2002, I quit repeatedly.  So the better question for me is not what kept me going, but rather what kept me coming back.  The simplest answer is I love writing.

4.  How many conferences/workshops/writing group meetings would you say you attended before you got published?

In 2004, I joined the Mystery Writers of America and began going to conferences and workshops about both the craft and the business of writing.

5.  When you finally got published, what shocked/surprised you the most?

On the one hand I was surprised by the number of people who played a part in bringing my book to market and yet, notwithstanding all those people, I was surprised by the amount of work I had to do, beyond writing the book and finding the publisher.

My thanks to my friends and fellow authors Jon Gibbs, Anthony Giordano, Rachelle Burk and Sharon Trembley and to the Monroe Twp. Library for hosting our discussion of opportunities and pitfalls on the path to publication.  And a special thank you to the gentleman who came out to the event this afternoon, the gentleman that I have not seen in more than 40 years.

It was a good day.

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