May’s Writing Matters panel is on niche mysteries–so far we have crafts, pets, and recipe writers confirmed–and this is a slice of the genre I know very little about. So I was especially glad when Dorothy Bodin contacted me about writing a Moment. Below, she exposes what makes for success in a whole new area of publishing.
I suppose for many of us, the Made It Moment would be when we made our first sale. That was an exciting day for me, but the last few rejection letters I’d received gave me hope that, with luck, Darkness At Foxglove Corners, would find a publisher. So when I received an acceptance from Five Star with an advance, I was very excited. But two other moments stand out in my memory.
In the summer of 1976, the Bicentennial year, I was buying every Gothic novel I could find and watching television, something I almost never do today. My favorite program was a woman’s western, and when I sat down at my typewriter, I thought, Why not write a western Gothic? I’d never heard of mixed genre, but that was what I wanted to do, and that was the way The House At Trail’s End began.
I finished my book that summer and started sending it to publishers. Although I received a few encouraging comments in rejection letters, in the end I couldn’t find a market for it and eventually stored it on a closet shelf. Because I still had faith in my work, occasionally I’d reread it, make a few changes, and look for another publisher, with no luck. I learned that mixed genre is a hard sell. One publisher offered to consider it if I would add more romance than mystery, but I didn’t want to tamper with it.
Fast forward several years. Having made my first three sales, I returned to The House At Trail’s End. This time I had the manuscript professionally critiqued. To my amazement, the reader loved the story and suggested only one or two changes. That was my first Made It Moment. With a few minor revisions and another title, Treasure At Trail’s End sold to Wings e-Press and received wonderful reviews. It’s available at their site: http://www.wings-press.com and at Amazon.
My next Made It Moment came around the same time. About a year after Hilliard and Harris published The Cameo Clue, I received a royalty check. I expected the usual $17 or $20 and was shocked to find much, much more. Thinking the publisher had made a mistake, I called her. The mistake was she’d forgotten to inform me that Harlequin Worldwide Mystery Book Club had selected The Cameo Clue for their line-up!
I realized then that someone, besides my publishers and a few reviewers and fans, liked my writing. Since then, Harlequin gave me four more Made It Moments, the latest one being the selection of Love, Deadly Love (Hilliard and Harris) for their club this March.
I’m proud of all these Made It Moments and grateful to the people who made them possible. When my new Kindle arrived, the first book I ordered was Treasure At Trail’s End.
Dorothy Bodoin lives in Michigan, where she taught secondary English for several years, beginning my career in an old junior high school built on a hill. It served as a model for the fictitious Louisa M. Alcott Middle School in my novel, Love, Deadly Love.
Dorothy’s books are notable for their Michigan settings, Victorian houses, and collie characters inspired by her own dogs. Her latest book is Another Part Of The Forest, the eleventh in the Foxglove Corners mystery series, released on February 1, 2011, by Wings ePress.