Thursday, December 14, 2017

An Almost Rose Carroll Story

Edith here, feeling just a little stressed about the holidays and various authorly tasks also on my to-do list. So I thought I would de-stress by asking you to celebrate with me. 'Cause who doesn't love a party?

My newest story, "An Ominous Silence," came out last month in Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories 2017 from Level Best Books! Cue the cries of "Bravo!" and pop the champagne. It is my sixteenth published story (see the whole list here on my beautifully rehabbed new web site), and I have one more  story accepted for publication next spring.

So I thought I'd tell you the origin story behind the, well, story. Get comfy, kids, and put up your feet.

Five of my short crime stories feature Quaker midwife Rose Carroll from my Quaker Midwife Mysteries. One was even nominated for an Agatha Award last year. I had written a sixth for this year's Bouchercon anthology, the theme of which was travel, since the big mystery conference was held in Toronto, Canada. In the new story, Rose and her apprentice are on a train to Montreal in a snowy New England 1890s winter when the train is snowed in on a desolate stretch of tracks. A man is murdered, and his wife goes into labor. Rose comes to the rescue on both counts.

I was about to click Send when I checked the guidelines one more time. Ack! Because the committee wanted truly anonymous judging, authors couldn't use characters from any published book or series. That pretty much trashed Rose Carroll as the protagonist. I was cutting the deadline close, but I still had a few days left before they closed submissions.

So what does the creative mind do? Change the names to protect the innocent, of course. Or the series protag, as the case may be. Rose Carroll became midwife Catherine Colby--not a Quaker--and her apprentice Annie morphed into Genevieve Rousseau. I changed the date to a few years after the published Quaker Midwife mysteries take place and fixed the midwife's speech so she doesn't talk like a Quaker. I printed out the story, checked it one more time, and hit Submit.

Did they accept it? Alas, no. I'm a pretty seasoned author by now, however, and the word "No" no
longer devastates. We find a new venue and try again. Lucky for me, I heard about the rejection before the deadline for this year's Level Best anthology. I hit Submit again. And this time got a hit.

I hope you'll check out the anthology, which is full of dozens of amazing authors and delightful stories. And don't forget, Turning the Tide, Quaker Midwife Mystery #3, will be out April 8 and is available for preorder wherever books are sold!

Readers: What kinds of rejection have you bounced back from, and how? Which sow's ear have you  found a silver lining in, or which storm cloud have you turned into silk (to mix a couple of clich├ęd metaphors just for the heck of it)?


Laurie I said...

I love your tenacity!! It’s very inspiring.

I’m trying to think of a rejection I’ve bounced back from. I’m pretty determined myself once I set my mind to something. My trouble is sticking with what I’ve chosen all the way to completion, which is worse. For instance, I started writing a book months ago and decided I would not have the time to invest to finish it, but I can’t stop thinking about getting back to it. ) :

Edith Maxwell said...

Laurie, that is a sign that you must finish that book! I love it when that happens. Is it fiction or non-fiction?

Lida Sideris said...

I love happy endings, Edith. Hooray for you! And 16 short stories? SO impressive! I was fortunate enough to have my first short also published in SNOWBOUND. So exciting!

As for rebounds - A NY agent was told me the only thing he liked about my novel manuscript was the title. After which I swore-off writing...for two weeks. That rejection made me revise with a vengeance. And helped me, I think, eventually find a publisher.

Edith Maxwell said...

Way to persist, Lisa! We simply cannot let rejections get us down.