"The Door to Love, a romance set in Door County, Wisconsin, which came out in late July. It’s hard to explain how I felt when I saw those boxes of books dropped off at my front door, but I’m sure many of you have had the same experience. Though I’ve published children’s picture books and an easy-reader before, having this really-for-adults book is giving me a whole different experience.
I actually didn’t aim specifically for the Champagne line, which calls for ‘sensual, fully depicted .’ That’s just where Wild Rose put my book when they read the manuscript that I pitched to their editor at a romance conference (I had fun with the love scenes, and even more fun with my friends’ reactions to them!).
It’s been interesting placing my book into the stores up in Door County. For those of you not familiar with that area, it’s ‘a little bit of New England set in the Midwest,’ a well-known, romantic getaway that attracts people from all over the country. Very ‘touristy.’ Each small village has its own ambience, and I particularly fell in love with Sister Bay, where my story is set. This book has been a long time coming – I actually began it nearly 25 years ago on vacation when I saw an old abandoned building on the that I thought would be a perfect place for a sporting good shop. But I kept pushing the idea aside until last year when it kept calling me back until I had to finish it.
I’m not a salesperson, and I dreaded walking into stores and asking them to stock my book. But the managers were great! It seems that tourists are always looking for a book that takes place where they’re visiting, and the stores were open to taking 10 or 15 copies (some on consignment and some bought outright). My first foray into selling was shortly after the book came out in late July, and the stores are now asking for more copies! Whoo-hoo! I wish I had a sequel in the works! (Got to think about that.)
My writing career has been a long one – I got my first rejection at 13 (a very nice personal note from Woman’s Day magazine - I think they sensed I was just a kid. That wouldn’t happen today but it’s a nice memory!) . I’ve been writing ever since and garnered lots more rejections...but that’s the business. I’ve published 7 picture books (2 still in print) and one easy-reader chapter book, (you can find them if you me) but this novel is my first adult book, and my first romance. I’ve sold more than 350 short stories, articles, poems and essays for both adults and children. Now I’m concentrating on a mystery novel set in upper Wisconsin (those woods – and the people in them – can be creepy!).
I teach for the Institute of Children’s (have about 90 + correspondence students right now), and that has been a growing experience for me - I’m sure I’ve learned as much from the students as I’ve passed on to them. As you know, it’s much easier to spot what needs fixing in someone else’s work than to pinpoint it in your own.
Any tips I might pass to new writers would probably be what they’ve already heard or read. Sit down and just do it! BIC (butt in chair) makes the difference. If you have talent, great–you’ll produce great writing. But if you have the perseverance and the chutzpah to send it out into the marketplace, even better, because that’s what produces published writing. And that’s what we all want, isn’t it? The best tip I ever got was from a many-times-published elderly poet who said, "Write it, and keep it in the mail. An editor can’t buy what she can’t see."
Something to think about when you have your book in hand: I contacted an upscale restaurant here and we developed a "Girls’ Night Out" - I was there with my books, a jewelry-maker had her wares and a couple of skin product people (Lancome and Claris) were there with their pitches. The restaurant charged $10 for a glass of wine and nice appetizers, and the event ran from 5:30-8:30. I sold over 40 books with only word-of-mouth advertising. So...signings don’t always have to be in bookstores!
I’m working on a website and have now have started a blog and hope my weekly posts will be interesting to other writers. I plan to concentrate on what’s happening in my writing world from imagining to selling at any given time. There won’t be much about my family (there’s too many of them–12 kids, spouses, grandchildren, dogs, cats and turtles) unless it touches on writing. But you’ll be able to commiserate with me when the writing goes bad and celebrate with me when it’s good - come and visit. I look forward to hearing from you