February 1, 2012

Made It Moment: Ali Brandon

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 10:15 pm

Double Booked For Death

There are some Moments for which I can’t write an intro worthy of being put first, and this is one. You have to read through the first paragraphs to get to the punch at the end that may bring tears to your eyes. It did mine. Ali Brandon knows what making it really means. Thanks, Ali.

Ali Brandon

Made it?

Still in the process of making it seems a more accurate description of my writing career…this after almost 20 years and 9 published books (with 2 more currently under contract) since my first manuscript sold. Part of the problem is that I’ve gone through a few phases as an author. I started out writing historical romance, then went on hiatus for awhile, then wrote short fiction, then did the hiatus thing again, and now am writing mysteries. It’s kind of hard to “make it” when your career has progressed in fits and starts. All the same, I’ve had several of what I consider to be mini-moments which were pretty satisfying.

A few are obvious. There was that whole first sale thing (woohoo!), followed by the first time I saw my book on a store shelf (double woohoo!). After awhile, it was being asked to speak at events for bucks (or, at least, for expenses and a free lunch). At the same time came the starred reviews from PW and Library Journal, as well as the obligatory smackdown from Kirkus. (An editor once reassured me that you’re nobody as a writer until Kirkus has given you a scathing review. So consider me somebody.)

Oh, and I can’t forget the contest win, complete with a really cool medal that hangs from a honking big ribbon around my neck. Even nicer was finally making enough sales in the course of a week to hit a national list. According to my editor, this means they can officially slap the phrase “national best-selling author” on my next book cover. Triple woohoo!

These were some very nice moments, indeed. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t compare myself to other writers who, to my mind, actually have made it. They are the ones who’ve made scads more money, hung out on the New York Times list for weeks on end, had their books turned into movies. Deep in my little writer’s heart, I want to be them. I want to be the novelist who steps onto a crowded airplane and sees that half the travelers are reading my latest release. I want to be guest of honor at a prestigious writers conference. And it still might happen one day.

But I’m also prepared for the fact that it might not. I’m good with that, however, and let me tell you why. You see, I’ve had the moments as a writer that really count…hearing from readers who truly enjoyed my work. Just a couple of quick lines in an email—I loved it, when’s the next one coming out?—are enough to put a smile on my face for a whole day. I’ve learned that, more than any bestseller list or movie deal, validation from my readers is all I really need as an author.

So, with apologies to Mary Tyler Moore, maybe I’ve made it, after all.

Ali Brandon a.k.a. Diane A.S. Stuckart is the national bestselling author of Double Booked for Death, the first in her Black Cat Bookshop mystery series from Berkley Prime. She’s also the author of the popular Leonardo da Vinci mysteries, which have received starred reviews from PW and Library Journal, along with the Florida Book Award Silver medal. A native Texan, Diane now lives in South Florida.


  1. You’ve definitely made it, Ali! Mary just got her SAG award last weekend. I think she’s actually a little behind you. ;)


    Comment by Pamela DuMond — February 1, 2012 @ 11:12 pm

  2. Those little moments make up a big made-it! Congrats and may you keep on Making It!

    Comment by mountainmama — February 2, 2012 @ 6:27 am

  3. Loved this piece, Ali, and I love your attitude. Kudos from readers – and other writers – are pure gold.

    Comment by Earl Staggs — February 2, 2012 @ 7:06 am

  4. What a talented & accomplished lady! Congrats.

    Thanks again Jenny.

    Comment by "Doctor Barbara" - Barbara Ebel — February 2, 2012 @ 8:34 am

  5. Ali, you give inspiration to all of us to keep trying even when living stops the writing cold. Thank you for a terrific post and for reminding us that readers reactions to our work are the most important factor in the writing process.
    Nash Black

    Comment by Nash Black — February 2, 2012 @ 9:21 am

  6. Great post– thanks for reminding us all what really matters!

    Comment by Neil Plakcy — February 2, 2012 @ 9:52 am

  7. Congrats on your success! Starred reviews are rare as rubies, and I’m certain yours are much deserved.

    Comment by Jacqueline Seewald — February 2, 2012 @ 10:03 am

  8. Congrats Ali on making it!! Thanks for sharing!! Your book sounds really good.

    Comment by Kellie — February 2, 2012 @ 10:34 am

  9. I recently got a letter from a World War II vet who read an article I wrote about my father and thanked me for writing it. A genuine “made it moment” that would never have happened if I had not been a writer.

    Comment by Warren — February 2, 2012 @ 11:09 am

  10. Jenny and everyone, thank you so much for your kind words. They bring tears to MY eyes! It’s a tough business out there, and we’re not all going to be bestsellers. We’re not all even going to sell our work. But if, as writers, we can forge a connection with even one reader, I think we’ve done something worthwhile with our talent. :)

    Comment by Ali Brandon/Diane A.S. Stuckart — February 2, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

  11. Ali, thank you for sharing all your Moments. And you truly have Made It! You are an inspiration.

    Comment by P.L. Blair — February 2, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

  12. I wanna be Ali Brandon when I grow up. :)

    Comment by Dawn Scovill — February 2, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

  13. Thanks, P.L., appreciate the kind words. Dawn, you are too funny, my friend. :P

    Comment by Ali Brandon/Diane A.S. Stuckart — February 3, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

  14. Diane(aka Ali),
    I feel honored to be in a writers’ critique group with you and the others. As a newbie your comments are invaluable to me. I totally understand what it means to work hard and other writers’ accomplishments aren’t necessarily the same successes we all will have, nor should they be. As Coco Chanel said. “One’s character is built on one’s failures, not on one’s successes.”
    I hope to say one day that, “I made it, too.”
    Many heartfelt thanks,
    John Klingel

    Comment by John Klingel — February 4, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

  15. Well done, Ali. I think your last lines show the real joy of writing: when a reader is taken by your words and says “I love it.” “My favorite scene was…”

    Comment by JLOakley — February 5, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

  16. Thanks, John. You are an assest to our group, and I look forward to seeing you officially in print one day soon. :) JL, thanks for your kind remarks. :)

    Comment by Ali Brandon/Diane A.S. Stuckart — February 6, 2012 @ 9:41 am

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