Whenever I pick up a book, I always think of it as the work of the author. I don’t stop to think of all the people whose eyes saw that manuscript, whose minds taught the concepts, and whose words encouraged that writer. So this seems like a good day to mention those patient souls who have held me up as I continue to write my Endurance Mysteries. The first book in the series about the tiny town of Endurance is now out in e-book and soon in hardcover, and it is called Three May Keep a Secret. If you thought I was the only one responsible for this book, think again.
To begin with the personal…
I was one of the truly fortunate souls who grew up in a two-parent family with two brothers and more love than one person should expect in a lifetime. My parents were readers who encouraged us to read every day of our lives. I think they may have eventually regretted it because I always had my nose in a book from the first day I realized what those letters on the page meant. Their encouragement and support was everything.
I cherish my own three children and their influence on my writing. I’m sure they never imagined I’d become a writer during my senior citizen years, and perhaps they are worried that they might find themselves in one of my books. Thinking back on their teenage years, I believe it’s their turn to worry. They’ve each given me a word to use in my mysteries, trying to stump the old lady with tough words that couldn’t possibly fit. So far I’m on top of it. Look for “helicopter” in the first mystery. That’s Steve’s word.
And then the less personal…
I was very fortunate to grow up in a time when, despite the Baby Boomer expansion which I and my classmates led, the schools educated me well and instilled in me the joy of reading. I had many, many teachers who were encouraging and who fostered a love of words and books in my developing brain. I still remember our first grade teacher, Miss Jaski, who hugged each of us before we left for the day. Those were the Dick and Jane years. Mr. Rowen Aldrich, my junior high history teacher and later student teaching mentor, gave me a love of history, which has a role in each of my novels.
When I became a teacher in the small town of Monmouth, Illinois, I didn’t realize I’d spend the rest of my life in a profession that I loved or a town that would so influence me. The community has encouraged me, first with my teaching memoir, and now with my first mystery. My former students have helped me market my novel by taking bookmarks for my mystery all over the country. It seems to be working; the book is selling faster than the publisher imagined. I guess I failed to mention to them that I have 4,000 former students out there. Thank you, my Bookmark Brigade, and also my former students who have bought my mystery and will undoubtedly smile at the descriptions of their town…
…or maybe shake their heads and laugh, especially as they read the description about driving around the Public Square.
Thank you to Lori Seals, photographer extraordinary, who took my author photo and pictures for my website. She also has given me great marketing advice. And thank you to Kellogg’s Printing, a solid home town company that has printed my business cards and my amazing bookmarks.
It was a fortuitous [another of my children’s words] day when my freelance editor, Lourdes Venard, came into my life. She was the person who said, “I know you will get this book published. I’ve read lots of manuscripts. It’s good.” I owe her so much for fostering my faith in a lonesome job where a person always doubts that her words are any good or that they will even find an audience. Lourdes has edited my first two novels and she is amazing. She sees the forest where I only see the trees. Having said that, I have elicited her promise that she will never become too busy to keep me on as a client.
Back in 1998, Greg Tubach, acquisitions editor for Cliffs Notes, hired me to do my first writing job and that was the start of this book writing business. I didn’t know anything about editing online and editorial criticism. He was awfully patient—and I know I tried his patience often—and I owe him big time. He has been a terrific friend throughout this process, and his encouragement and advice have helped these past sixteen years.
Several experts have guided me concerning police procedure, computer programs, cold cases, weapons, crime scenes, dead bodies, and fires. They are listed in the acknowledgements in my book, and I could not have been as believable without their help. [Sorry, double negative.]
Lisa Bennett, Susan Holm, and Hallie Lemon were my “first readers,” and they did quite a job of keeping me focused. I owe them a huge debt of thanks for their opinions and their knowledge of mysteries and writing. Hallie Lemon came back for more and proofread the galleys along with Jan DeYoung. We all hate typos, but they somehow slip through occasionally. Any errors you may find are definitely mine. Thank you to all of these friends who have worked on my manuscript.
Five Star Publishing agreed to publish my book and Deni Dietz, their senior editor, is obviously a very wise woman since she saw the merit of my novel immediately. Tiffany Schofield, who is the troubleshooter at the other end of my computer messages, has been a solid help with all kinds of answers. I cannot imagine how she does it, especially with whiny, confused, first-time authors. My editors at Five Star, Tracey Matthews and Alice Duncan, have had the thankless job of checking every comma and dangling modifier. The gorgeous jacket was designed by Deirdre Wait, and I could not have asked for a more striking cover. Thank you to everyone at Five Star who had some part in producing this book.
I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone, past or present, that had some hand in this first novel. It is a long and patient process to produce a manuscript and then a book. But holding the first one in my hand, as I did yesterday, makes it all worthwhile.