And now, Part 2 of Carolyn Rose’s Moment, which is as suspenseful as the novel itself! Anyone who has ever queried an agent will relate to some of these insider details below, and feel a shudder of pain along with Carolyn. Will there be a happy, or at least satisfying, ending? Read on…
That rejection due to death was the final punch to my pummeled self-esteem. Reeling, I stowed away the manuscript for Hemlock Lake and, lest I developed delusions of adequacy, filed all those rejections with it. Eventually, I moved on to other projects—first avoidance projects like gardening and then writing a few cozies on my own, co-authoring two mysteries and a fantasy with my husband.
But I am, as my father used to say, “as determined as a terrier at a rat hole.” So, after a few years when the numbness passed, I took another look at Hemlock Lake and found that I still believed in it, still wanted to see it in print. Without an agent, there was no way most major publishing houses would consider it, so I made a list of smaller presses and, after several weeks of procrastination, began querying.
Rejections still arrived, but they came more slowly than they had from agents. Six months might pass and I might allow myself the tiniest spark of hope before I’d get word that a publisher:
· already had sufficient titles in the pipeline
· was overloaded with current projects
· felt it wasn’t right at this time
· felt it wasn’t compatible with current editorial needs
· had recently changed its policy regarding manuscript submissions
· couldn’t connect with the story, setting, or character
· had discontinued the imprint I’d queried
· was feeling economic constraints
· wanted a large sum of money to “go into partnership” with me
Three years into this process, the pain of rejection turned to grim amusement. As I filed each letter, I joked that this process was as torturous as trying to get a date during my teen years. I measured my stack of rejections against the square footage of the office wall I planned to paper with them and noted that I still needed another four square feet. I told myself that I wouldn’t quit, not as long as I could lick an envelope or tap out an e-mail message and hit the “send” button.
Four times editors wrote to say they liked Hemlock Lake and were moving it on to the next level for further consideration. Twice it was put on extended hold because of economic considerations and once it went into terminal limbo when the person considering it left the publishing house. Once it got glowing reviews from two rounds of readers before it hit a wall with the final editor.
I considered the validity of every comment I received about plot and characters, revised, and queried on, quoting Galaxy Quest, “never give up, never surrender.”
And then, in December of 2008, I got a different type of reply from Rosalind Greenberg at Five Star.
So hardened had I become to rejection that I was immune to accepting acceptance. This must be a joke, I thought. One of my soon-to-be-former friends is messing with me and has created a fictional publishing house.
Then I did a search and found that Five Star really existed. I called my long-suffering husband in to read the message. He assured me that it really contained the words, “I liked your novel so much . . .” and, “I would like to request approval to acquire your manuscript . . .”
In July of 2010, Five Star releases Hemlock Lake.
I feel like I’ve piloted a ship across a vast ocean, through a hundred squalls and storms, past a dozen reefs, around a whirlpool, and through a rocky channel. I’m grateful that I made it and proud that I kept faith with my characters and myself.
Will readers like Hemlock Lake? I don’t know. I hope so. When I’m not at work on the sequel, I have my fingers crossed.
Carolyn J. Rose grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She has published a number of mysteries and lives in Vancouver, Washington, with her husband, radio air personality Mike Phillips, and a motley collection of pets. Her hobbies are reading, gardening, and not cooking. Surf to www.deadlyduomysteries.com for more information. And watch the book trailer for HEMLOCK LAKE at http://www.trailerspy.com/trailer/10179/Hemlock-Lake