I loved living in the lowcountry. It spoke to me. And I probably ate my weight in lowcountry boil, a regional dish of shrimp, sausage, corn, potatoes, and whatever else the cook wants to boil in beer and spices. Moving back to Greenville when Sugar's contract was up was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Sidebar: Greenville is awesome in her own right, but this isn't Greenville's story.
One day I was listening to that old Eagles song, "Last Resort," on the radio. The ending of the song is, "They call it paradise. I don't know why. You call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye." (Don Henley) Anyway, the word "paradise" sent me back to the lowcountry, and a story started percolating in the back corner of my brain.
Several drafts, a few conferences, a critique group, several rounds of "revise and resubmit" with agents that didn't work out, and another pass of edits later, I started querying agents in earnest. After forty-nine queries, and maybe fifteen requests for the full manuscript, I signed with an agent.
But, just as she started submitting, she fell ill and went on medical leave. Thankfully, I had signed with a well-known, reputable agency. They re-assigned me to another agent, and I am convinced that he did his best to sell my manuscript to several New York editors. Most of the rejections I was getting sounded like great reviews until you got to that last sentence that said something like, "Unfortunately I'm just not passionate enough about it to make it a must-have for our list."
And then, someone I knew from a writers' group decided to start her own small press. For many, this would be a risky venture, but I knew things about this lady that maybe everyone didn't--like she was a successful entrepreneur in another business, and had been a freelance editor and cover designer for years.
I called my agent and said, "I really, really want to do this." He offered me the sweetest deal ever--he'd look over the contract just to make sure I was protected, then release this one book from our agreement so I could have my cake and eat it, too.
And I did. LOWCOUNTRY BOIL will be released September 18 from Henery Press. This was the right path for me. Ultimately, I decided to part ways with my agent. Not because he wasn't great, but because we both knew that what I write is not his cup of tea. He had inherited me, and done his best by me. But he was not passionate about my work and that was not his fault. This is a subjective business.
I'm absolutely thrilled to be with Henery Press. It's small enough to be nimble. I signed my contract in late March, and my first book will be released in September. We hope to have the second book in the series out in spring. I have forward momentum, which was necessary for my continued grip on sanity.
Thanks again for the warm welcome to Get Lost in a Story! Please come visit me on the web anytime--I'd love to hear from you!
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