March 24, 2015

Made It Moment: Jill Meniketti

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 8:08 am

Welcome To Groove House

I’m fascinated by the parallels between the music, film, and publishing worlds, but I don’t know that the Moments have ever gotten so close to that juxtaposition before this one by Jill Meniketti. Jill is a genuine manager of an arena-playing, world-touring rock band. But more than that, Jill is an author now, and her Moment shows, as all Moments do, that when it comes to being writers our similarities connect us beyond any differences.

Jill Meniketti

After being thrilled that Jenny had invited me to participate in her “Made It Moment” feature, I realized that I didn’t actually feel like I had made it, whatever “it” is. But as the manager of a popular rock band, I understand that there are many little “made it” milestones along the path in every artist’s life; so if I look at it that way, writing this feels perhaps a bit less pretentious.

For most of my life, I’ve written in a variety of capacities, but had not made significant progress in tackling a novel. I first became serious about writing a book in the late ’80s. Married to a rock star, I’d decided then to write a rock ’n’ roll novel. After much preparation, I had copious jottings and index cards, and I assuredly put pen to notebook. Then something devastating happened. Jackie Collins released a novel called Rock Star. I was crushed. I had released my idea into the ethers and she’d somehow nabbed it (completely subconsciously, mind you). I bought her book. It was shallow and trashy and nothing at all like what I’d been writing, but hers was also steeped in the rock music world and I was certain that I’d be labeled a copycat. So I tucked my tail and buried my unfinished manuscript in the depths of a desk drawer.

Back then I was young, and though mightily determined in other things, I’d naively let Jackie Collins (well, her novel) deter me. Flip the calendar to 2003. After a brief hiatus in the ’90s, the rock band that I now manage was on tour again, playing arenas throughout the UK before hitting the major rock festivals in Europe. I was so delighted to see them on the massive stages again, and when an idea struck me, I knew I had to follow it. Screw Jackie Collins, I thought; I’m going to write a rock ’n’ roll novel. I had my writing mojo back.

I credit that illuminating instant on the Monsters of Rock tour in England, looking up and seeing my guys on the big stage again, as the moment I made the decision to write my first novel—albeit, an entirely different story than the one I’d crafted in the ’80s. That was my first “Made It Moment” in my lengthy journey to becoming an author. Several drafts and many world tours later, I’m thrilled to have birthed my debut novel, Welcome to Groove House.

There have been many little “made it” moments en route to authordom, but the most gratifying has been hearing rave reviews from the fans—how much they loved the story, their favorite scenes, how they wanted to hate the protagonist but he’d won them over just as he’d charmed the characters in the story, and the requests for a sequel and a prequel.

In hindsight, the timing may not have been right for me back in the ’80s, but now I’m ready to rock. Thank you, Jackie Collins.

Jill Meniketti manages a popular rock band that tours the world annually. She takes pride in belonging to an elite set of women who double as band managers and rock star wives (Sharon Osbourne, Wendy Dio, Denise Martin, Susan Tate, April Malmsteen, to name a few). Jill lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her rock star husband.

Her debut novel, Welcome to Groove House, released in March 2015.

March 13, 2015

Made It Moment: Debbi Mack

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 9:14 am

Deep Six

I wonder how many of the writers here have struggled with what to do in the face of rejection? I can hear my tween answering me now. “Duh, Mom…all of us.” Debbi Mack has been through it all–nibbles from literary agents; should I keep knocking at the traditional route door? questions; only to decide to indie publish, then landing on the NYT bestseller list! Her journey is as inspiring as it is relatable. AND she has a new book about to come out in her bestselling Sam McRae series…one she never expected to publish at all.

Debbi Mack

Thanks, Jenny, for the opportunity to post on your blog!

My latest Sam McRae mystery has taken years to make its way into print. Ironically, this was the first novel I wrote with this protagonist. I got such encouraging feedback on it from a professional writer that I shopped it around to several agents. Despite the occasional nibble of interest, the book never found a home with any of the literary agents who considered it.

After striking out numerous times, I decided to write another Sam McRae novel. My intent had always been to create a series of Sam McRae mysteries. Thus, I wrote a second book, Identity Crisis. After trying to find an agent for this book, I ended up publishing it through a small press that folded nine months later.

Years went by after that book went out-of-print. During that time, I continued to write and seek a literary agent or a new publisher. In 2009, I decided it couldn’t hurt to self-publish Identity Crisis, just to have my book available for readers. It was at that time I learned about publishing ebooks. While I hadn’t intended to do so, it seemed logical to publish my book in as many formats as possible. Since publishing ebooks involved no strings and little additional cost, I found the decision to do so a no-brainer.

There have been a few “Made It Moments” since then, the most exciting probably being the day I found out that Identity Crisis made the New York Times ebook bestseller list. Writing and publishing the third book was also a “Made It Moment”, in that I’d finally realized my dream of having a mystery series published.

However, my latest novel has particular significance for me. The story explores Sam’s personal relationships and delves into the subject of land use, local politics, and corruption. It was greatly informed by my experiences as an attorney practicing land use and zoning law with a firm, as well as my stint with the Office of General Counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

I’d come to think of Deep Six as my “practice novel” – one that would likely never be published. While it’s had to go through many revisions over the years, I’m happy and proud that I could finally whip this book into shape and keep the Sam McRae mystery series going.

Deep Six will be published on Wednesday, March 18, 2015.

Debbi Mack is the New York Times ebook bestselling author of the Sam McRae mystery series. She’s also published Five Uneasy Pieces, a short story collection that includes her Derringer Award–nominated story “The Right to Remain Silent.” Her short stories have appeared in various other anthologies and publications. Her most recently published short story is “Jasmine”, appearing in Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays. Debbi is also a screenwriter and aspiring indie filmmaker. A former attorney, Debbi enjoys walking, cats, travel, movies, music, and espresso.

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