Friday, August 10, 2007

Chop Count

My newest Darcy Cavanaugh mystery,

MAI TAI to MURDER, was released yesterday. Take a peek at the great cover by Kun Sung Chung. And the very cool back cover blurb by talented Midnight Ink copyediting diva, Michelle Krueger:

"Knives, poison, strangulation…ER nurse Darcy Cavanaugh is about to show-and-tell all kinds of deathly dos and don’ts for a mystery writers’ workshop at sea. Teaching the Nurse’s Guide to Murder seminar was a small price to pay for a Caribbean cruise in paradise. If only she didn’t have to share deck space with her boyfriend’s uptight mother! Aspiring novelist and wife to a powerful Virginia judge, Mrs. Skyler wishes her son had better breeding prospects than a redheaded Yankee from California. To make matters worse, the Skyler matriarch wants to submit her novel to a merciless agent whose biting criticism is matched only by her squawking, sailor-tongued parrot.

In a crazy twist, a real murder takes place and the judge’s wife becomes the main suspect. To protect her boyfriend’s mother, Darcy scrambles to peg the real killer from a tangled and nutty cast of desperate writers, overzealous fans, and distracting male cover models with killer abs."

It was a hoot to write this madcap parody of the publishing industry because--face it--this crazy business is fertile ground for clashes of ego, paroxysms of angst, hyper drive ambitions, and deep pits of desperation. (Who, us?)

And I loved creating the nasty, ruthless character of Theodora Kenyon, the cleaver-swinging literary agent who hosts the shipboard “CHOP or SHOP” manuscript critique session. Because we’ve all been there, right? Sending our stuff out to agents and editors, knowing that we could easily be “chopped” by rejection?

In fact, rejection is so universal to aspiring authors, that the LULU Publishing Company will (for the hefty price of 90 dollars) print your rejection letters on TOILET PAPER. Swear. They claim it will let you “put them behind you." Not that easy for the killer in MAI TAI to MURDER.

So--question of the day: How many “Chops” have you endured so far in your publishing journey? Any favorites? Any worthy of framing on your office walls?

(Gad, this sounds like that scene in “Jaws” where everyone shows their scars. Beer, anyone?)
Seriously, let's brag about our tenacity in the face of staggering odds. I’ll start:
49 rejections until I matched the right manuscript with the right agent. Can anyone beat that?


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

BIG CONGRATS, Candy, on the new release!!!

I never had a problem landing the 2 agents I've had, but the first came on board before I turned to mystery and was just writing general fiction. When I wrote Too Big To Miss she called it "crap" and said she would be embarrassed to represent it. And she's the one who encouraged me to start writing mysteries. (BTW, This whole story has been memorialized in the upcoming book "How I Got Published" by Ray White and Duane Lindsay.)

Everytime I get a royalty check, great review, or a letter from a reader, I smile and mentally tell my old agent to "sit and spin," complete with hand gestures. That might not be a very ladylike thing to do, or very mature, but it brings me great satisfaction.

Candy Calvert said...

Being ladylike and mature is highly over-rated.

Wait til she sees the film/TV version of your book. In fact, send her a ticket. ;-)

Mark Terry said...

3 agents.

13 (I think) unpublished novels.

2--count them, 2!--publishers that went out of business before publication.

Bill Cameron said...

Many congrats!

Candy Calvert said...

Mark--2 publishers went out of business? Jeez.
The worst thing I had, was when I got a (sort of) rejection note from an agency, apologizing for the delay. But the agent had died.
Of course, then I worried that my submission was lethally bad.

Joe Moore said...

Here's wishing you the very best of luck with MAI TAI to MURDER. I hope you sell a boatload of books.

Felicia Donovan said...

Wishing you lots of success with the new one, Candy. Hope it's smooth sailing all the way.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

I had an agent stare me straight in the face and say, "Who cares about scrapbooking?" I responded, "One in every five homes in America has a scrapbooker in it." He still didn't get it. Can you imagine? Hello! Look at the numbers!

Nina Wright said...

My favorite Chop Legend concerns Tony Hillerman, whose agent reacted to his first Navajo mystery manuscript as follows: "Lose the Indians."

Wisely, Hillerman lost the agent.

All best to you, Candy, on another sure winner at sea!


Candy Calvert said...

Thanks, everyone, for your congrats--and for sharing your "war" stories. This is, indeed, a wacky business.

One of the funnier things about writing MTTM and it's "gentle mockery" (per PW) of writers/the publishing industry, is that my agent has been wondering if I modeled the maniacal "chop or shop" agent after her.

So here's the official word: It's not you!! Pinky swear. :-)

Nor is Ellen the Editor really Barbara M.

However, I'm not going to reveal which of you InkSpot guys was the true inspiration for the sexy Highlander cover model. . .

Deb Baker said...

Congrats, Candy. awesome cover.

Rick Bylina said...

Chops? 422 as of Saturday in three years for my 3 novels. So what's a guy to on the next one.

The next one is great. It really is. I swear it is.


The Imaginary Blog said...

Rejections? Hisssss...

I just found this blog from Jess Lourey's site, and I love it! I'll be a regular from now on!


Candy Calvert said...

Rick and Janet--welcome aboard!
So glad you stopped by, and that you concur with the group sentiment regarding rejections.

Rick: you totally win the "Jaws" scar marathon. 422? You take the prize for tenacity, and I have no doubt with that warrior attitude you WILL make it.

Contact me via my website and I'll send you a copy of MTTM--I'm guessing you will SO be able to relate to my killer's revenge.
And that you can really use a laugh right now. ;-)