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An Author, An Agent and an Editor…

It was no joke at the time!

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As I begin the runup to the release of Worry Beads: The Big Uneasy 4, I have some fun blog posts lined up about New Orleans, Lousiana and other things Big Easy, but first, I thought it might be of interest to take a look back to where this series began. 

Believe it or not, the genesis of this series goes all the way back to…I think 2000 to maybe 2002? Somewhere in there. 

 It’s hard to imagine now, but digital books were so new that most readers didn’t even want to talk digital books. 

I had published several books with a digital-only publisher and managed to interest an agent on the strength of a couple of awards I’d received for those books and an editor who was interested in my work. For me, it looked like I was on the fast track to a publishing deal with a major publisher.

Even then publishers wanted connected series. I’d written my Lonesome Lawmen, but there were only the three brothers. When I ran out of family, I ran out of books. Lol

So, I thought, why not create a BIG family. I went for it and submitted a proposal to both agent and editor…and…it was…you guessed it, what is now my Big Uneasy series. There were a retired cop dad and enough siblings —13! — to keep me going for quite a while. The kids were grown up and in various law enforcement or public services careers, which should help me with plotting…I hoped. 

First feedback from the editor was pretty hilarious. 

  • I love, love, love everything about it, but
  • …change, change, change everything about it. 
  • Too many kids…
  •  Oh, and you have to add sex scenes. 

That last was when it all came to a screeching halt. It was kind of ironic because I’d heard editors and agents state over and over again at various conferences that authors should write in their comfort zone. Apparently, that is only true if the comfort zone includes sex scenes. Lol

So all of us parted ways. At the time, I might have been a bit bummed, but it turned out to be a huge blessing to me because I hold the rights to all the books I’ve written and I’m not limited by what an editor wants me to do. If the series had sold then (without sex scenes), they’d control it, and it would have been a very different series.

  • Because there would have been a smaller family. 
  • And I would have had to change everything about it. Lol 

In the end, I set the whole to one side. Even though I loved the characters I had created, it was…shadowed by what had happened. 

After some years had passed, a good friend found my first couple of chapters on her computer and asked if I was ever going to do anything with it. 

I’d mostly forgotten about it, but I pulled it up and started reading and went, hmmm, I still like these people and it would be fun to write about New Orleans, where we lived for eighteen years. I was not thrilled with the plot I had submitted to agent and editor, though, probably because I am a seat-of-the-pants writer. If I plot, then the story feels stale and finished to me. Plus, it was super complicated and made my head hurt to read it. Lol

I removed the Bakers and the two main characters from the old plot, set them in front of me and began to ponder what their actual story was. Out of that pondering came Relatively Risky. I followed that up with a short story called “Family Treed,” and then wrote Dead Spaces and Louisiana Lagniappe. And on December 1 of this year, Worry Beads, the fourth story will release. (You can preorder it now if you’re afraid you’ll forget!)

While it is probably obvious, every time I go back and revisit the Bakers I remember why I keep writing on this series and I remember what I loved about living in New Orleans. 

So, as we head into November, I’m so grateful to both that agent and that editor for turning me down. I don’t know where the series would have gone with them (well, I kind of do), but I love where its gone with me in charge. lol

If you haven’t tried the series, I don’t think you need to start at the beginning, but I personally think it is more fun. I have made it super easy if you do like starting with the first book in a series. You can get Relatively Risky for free by signing up for my newsletter. (I sent it out about once a month.) If you look at the top of this blog post, you’ll see a banner asking if you love to read mysteries. Click on that and follow the directions to get your free book!

Worry Beads cover artAnd if you had read the others, I hope you liked them enough to check out Worry Beads: The Big Uneasy 4!

 

I’d love to hear what you are thankful for as November closes in! 

Perilously yours,

Pauline

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