March 2, 2012

Made It Moment: Anita Page

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 12:55 pm

Damned if You Don't

If you’re a writer, I dare you to read Anita Page’s Moment and not want to do the exact thing she describes in her last line. Oh, Anita, you said it better than I have–I’m hoping for that very thing as I near the climax of my latest novel. And if you’re a reader, I dare you not to be intrigued by Anita’s description of murder in the mountains. This debut just landed on my Wish List. Read on to see what happens when The email finally arrives!

Anita Page

I’m always inspired by other writers’ made it moments. Thank you, Jenny, for the chance to tell my story.

First, the moment. In October 2010, I was visiting family in Southern California before heading to San Francisco for Bouchercon. One morning I stopped at the motel business center to check e-mail. I was on one computer, my husband on the other.  I’d submitted my novel, Damned If You Don’t, to Lisa Smith at L&L Dreamspell a couple of months earlier. When I saw Lisa’s name in the inbox, I told myself it was going to be another rejection—magical thinking that’s supposed to ward off disappointment, but never does. I read Lisa’s email twice, just to make sure I’d gotten it right. Henry James said the most beautiful words in the English language are “summer afternoon.” I propose this instead: “We would like to offer you a contract.” Cool woman that I am, I casually said to my husband, “Why don’t you take a look at this?”

Some background: I began writing short stories in college, and over the years had a few published. They were what you’d call literary, but only if your standards were fairly low. I worked at journalism for a while, my first stint for a small monthly paper in New York. After we moved to the Catskills, I did freelance feature writing for a regional newspaper—tremendous fun, but not much money. I began teaching, which I loved, and stopped writing except very occasionally.

In 2005, I retired with no intention of writing again. I began anyway thanks to the encouragement of a wonderful writers’ group. This time around I concentrated on crime fiction, and had some short stories published in ezines and anthologies. I also began work on a full- length mystery set in the Catskills, where many of my stories take place. We’d moved from the area some years before, but the mountains called to me when it came to writing about murder. I started Damned If You Don’t while trying unsuccessfully to find an agent for the earlier manuscript. It was the kind of first attempt in which the characters spend pages searching for the plot, and I eventually gave it a decent burial.

I took DIYD through six or seven rewrites over a two-year period, and then began pitching and submitting to agents. None of them felt passionate enough, as the saying goes, to offer representation. I then sent the manuscript to L&L Dreamspell. They’d published Murder New York Style, an anthology that included one of my stories, and I hoped that connection would get the manuscript read. And that takes us to the motel business center and Lisa Smith’s lovely letter.

That was most definitely a made it moment, but in an odd way I felt it really belonged to my characters. Hannah Fox, Jack Grundy, the intrepid Women of Action—people who’d been living in my head for years—would move out into the world. That realization was the great thrill of the morning for me. The work, after all, goes on—a pleasure, and also a struggle. I’m sure this will always be true, though I admit to a fantasy that someday I’ll sit down and write the seventh draft first.

Anita Page’s short stories have appeared in journals, ezines, and anthologies, including Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices and the MWA anthology, The Prosecution Rests. She received a Derringer Award from the Short Mystery Fiction Society in 2010 for “‘Twas the Night,” which appeared in The Gift of Murder.

Damned If You Don’t, her first novel, is set in the Catskill Mountains. It features Hannah Fox, a community activist raised in the sixties on picket lines and peace marches, who can’t turn her back when a friend’s land is threatened by an eminent domain scam that ends in murder.

Anita and her husband live in a bucolic corner of New York’s mid-Hudson Valley, where she writes, thinks about writing, and reads other people’s writing. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Damned If You Don’t is available in paperback and as an e-Book from Amazon. The paperback is available at Barnes and Noble.

Read more at and


  1. Hi, Anita,

    I too wrote short stories that have been published in L&L Dreamspell anthologies, six so far to be exact. They publish wonderful anthologies and I was pleased to have my work included in them. I’ve also had novels published by L&L and think they do a great job. Excellent editing!

    Wishing you every success!

    Comment by Jacqueline Seewald — March 2, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

  2. Great post. Seventh draft first, eh?! I only wish.

    Comment by Lois Karlin — March 2, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

  3. Jacqueline, so nice to see you here! And Lois, don’t worry–I was going to say, 7?!?! Try 22… :)

    Comment by jenny — March 2, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

  4. What a nice “made it” moment. Mine was when a long-distant friend whom I didn’t even know had read my book — and therefore didn’t “have to” write to tell me how much she loved it — did just that. I actually printed out the email and keep it not too far from my desk. And, by the way, I loved your book (and I don’t feel like I have to say that.)

    Comment by Carole Howard — March 2, 2012 @ 2:10 pm

  5. Love this one!

    Comment by Judy — March 2, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

  6. Welcome to the Dream Team, Anita. I’ve been so happy with LLD, I’ve given them rights to my backlist. Lisa and Linda always seem to be one step ahead of most publishers re; this rapidly changing industry.

    Comment by Christy Tillery French — March 2, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

  7. If only I could do that – write the 7th draft first. I sure could save a lot of time and get lots more books written!

    I know exactly what you mean about getting that acceptance letter and not being sure you’re seeing right. It’s hard to believe after you’ve been waiting so long.

    Morgan Mandel

    Comment by Morgan Mandel — March 2, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

  8. Hi, Anita … I’m another Dreamspeller and know EXACTLY what you mean about what it was like to see Lisa’s message in the inbox–trying to prepare yourself for another rejection, then being amazed when it was an acceptance. Thanks for helping me re-live that moment.

    Wishing you many sales of DIYD and much success!

    Comment by T.W. Fendley — March 2, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

  9. Anita, that’s a really creative cover. Sounds like you had writing in you for a long time! All the best in your future endeavors.

    Comment by "Doctor Barbara" - Barbara Ebel — March 2, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

  10. Anita, I enjoyed your ‘made it’ moment and until you’ve experienced it, the wonder of it is difficult to explain, isn’t it?

    Welcome, too, to L&L. Lisa and Linda are publishers extraordinaire.

    I look forward to reading your work.

    Comment by Betty Gordon — March 2, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

  11. Hi Anita, thanks for a wonderful description of the joy of “the moment.” As a short story writer and poet I’ve had my share of acceptances, but there’s always that crackle of anticipation before opening the next email from a publisher. (I always try to handicap it too, e.g. if there’s an attachment could that mean it’s a contract?).

    I second “Doc Barb” above, that’s a neat cover too!

    Comment by James S. Dorr — March 2, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

  12. Wonderful story! Thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Roxanne Smolen — March 2, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

  13. The very best of luck with your novel, Anita! You are among good company here.

    Comment by Joe Prentis — March 2, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

  14. Thanks all for your responses, and my apologies for not being around for a bit.I was getting my hair cut and signing the THREE copies of DIYD that my lovely hairdresser bought–one of the joys of living in a small town.

    Jacqueline, I agree with you completely about L&L. Thank you for your good

    Lois, it’s a nice fantasy though, isn’t it?

    Jenny, you can teach us all a lesson in persistence. I’m so looking forward to the publication of your book.

    Carole and Judy, thank you so much for the kind words.

    I agree, Christy. Linda and Lisa have been wonderful to work with.

    Morgan, it really is hard to believe, and then absolutely wonderful when you realize it’s true. I also think that having waited for that moment, we appreciate it all the more.

    T.W., thank you so much for your good wishes.

    Barbara, I’m so glad you like the cover. I’m very happy with it. Linda Houle, one of the L’s in L&L, gets the credit for that.

    Betty, thank you for stopping by. I’m very grateful to be part of the very supportive group of writers on the L&L team.

    Comment by Anita Page — March 2, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

  15. Very interesting made it moment, Anita. If your novel is as well-written it should be a treat to read. Since it is set in the Catskills I assume every murder is punctuated by a rim shot.

    Comment by Bill Marantz — March 2, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

  16. Very kind words, Bill. Thank you. As for the rim shots, sadly the Borscht Belt days are long gone.

    Comment by Anita Page — March 2, 2012 @ 5:44 pm

  17. LOL! I love that wishful thinking, Anita. What a skill that would be to own. Your book sounds great (LOVE the title), and I wish you much success. Sounds like you’re well on your way!

    Thank you Jenny for bringing us another great Moment.

    Comment by mountainmama — March 2, 2012 @ 7:34 pm

  18. Thank you, mountain mama, for your good wishes. I’m thinking we should get cards made up: WASDF–Writers Advocating for the Seventh Draft First. What do you think?

    Comment by Anita Page — March 2, 2012 @ 7:52 pm

  19. Anita, I know what you mean about the Catskills. I grew up there, left at 18 for college, and now live in Vancouver, Washington. Those mountains haunt me. They have secrets. And my roots are still here.

    Comment by Carolyn J. Rose — March 2, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

  20. Carolyn, I just downloaded An Uncertain Refuge. Can’t wait to read it. I think we have a lot in common–one of my hobbies, too, is not cooking.

    Comment by Anita Page — March 2, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

  21. Anita, we’ve been rubbing short mystery shoulders for several years now and I’m a big fan of yours. I look forward to reading your book as soon as I finish the 97th draft of the one I’m working on.

    Comment by Earl Staggs — March 2, 2012 @ 8:47 pm

  22. 97th,huh! I bet it only feels that way. I’m a fan of your stories, too, Earl. Thanks so much for stopping by.

    Comment by Anita Page — March 2, 2012 @ 9:23 pm

  23. Great moment! Thanks for sharing it! Your book sounds good.

    Comment by Kellie — March 2, 2012 @ 10:47 pm

  24. I appreciate your kind words, Kellie. Thank you.

    Comment by Anita Page — March 2, 2012 @ 11:35 pm

  25. Roxanne, and Joe, thank you so much for stopping by. James, I’m glad you like the cover. “Crackle of anticipation” says it very well.

    Comment by Anita Page — March 3, 2012 @ 9:47 am

  26. I’ve shared your joy in the past, Anita, and relive it here in your charming post–thank you. And thanks to Jenny as well, whose website is one more “made it” moment for all of us struggling authors. Nancy

    Comment by Nancy Means Wright — March 3, 2012 @ 10:36 am

  27. Anita–Hope you continue to have many more made-it moments. I agree with you that certain locations insist upon being settings for novels. It’s been decades (no need to say how many) since I lived in Iowa, but that’s where I set the second book in my Marley Clark mystery series.

    Comment by Linda Lovely — March 3, 2012 @ 10:37 am

  28. Nancy, I agree. Jenny’s website is indeed a made it moment. I’m grateful to be here.

    Linda, thanks for the good wishes. Yes, writing is a way for us to go home again, and once we get there to see it with new eyes.

    Comment by Anita Page — March 3, 2012 @ 11:33 am

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