Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thanks

On Friday evening, five years after my novel Out of Bounds was published, I got an email offering a contract for my manuscript This One Day.

I never anticipated waiting five years between series. For a guy who likes to work and tries to write everyday, five years is a long time to spend wondering if your first five books were a fluke.

The timeline goes like this: I completed Out of Bounds, my final Jack Austin novel, in December of 2006 and began working on a novel featuring a single mother and U.S. Border Patrol agent. That book was titled Valley of the Shadow. I liked that book—still do—and an agent took it on. My Jack Austin books had been published with a university press, so I knew commercial houses would be underwhelmed by my sales record, and I suggested we submit under a pseudonym. The agent insisted we use my name. The results were predictable. As he shopped Valley, I wrote the sequel, Blight. Four years into the submission process, the agent told me we should have used a pseudonym. As one would imagine, I'm representing myself for the time being.

I wrote This One Day in 2010 while waiting word on the border patrol books. This was my pitch paragraph: In This One Day, former police officer Max Tyger—now a Connecticut-based PI who makes ends meet by teaching criminal justice at a community college at night—has recently been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, a rare form. Max has lost forty pounds and, due to his own failings, the love of his life, all within the past six months. On top of his physical and personal trials, he continues to be haunted by the suicide of a former student. This is when police officer Helen Baxter enters his office and offers a case she won’t touch: Tommy Lewis, a junior at the prestigious Blaise School, is said to be missing by his art teacher. However, the teen’s parents and school officials deny the claim. Max is initially skeptical, but he has failed one teenage boy already. Years earlier, when Hutch Hillsdale ran away, Max let him go. Now nothing will bring him back. Redemption can come in many forms. And Max, who is facing his own mortality, sees a chance at it in the search for Tommy Lewis.

My wife has a way of putting things into perspective. For the past five years, she has shrugged and said, "You chose a field that's so subjective." She's right, of course. But fellow writers know what the current publishing climate is like, and my colleagues at Type M for Murder and beyond have been there to offer advice and encouragement.

So as I start to negotiate the sale of This One Day to Five Star/Gale, I want to say thanks to Rick, Hannah, and the rest of the team at Type M and to Tess Gerritsen, S.J. Rozan, Brendan DuBois, and Reed Farrell Coleman. It is often said that the mystery community is a tight-knit group.

I can vouch for that.

3 comments:

Tressa Armstead said...

That's great news! Congratulations. Mystery writers certainly seem to be the most supportive genre, in my experience.

This One Day sounds excellent, and I'm sure you're so very proud. Way to go!

Charlotte Hinger said...

John, I'm so happy for you. Persistence is everything in this business.

dveeeeeee said...

My wife http://www.safeeveisk.com/ has a way of putting things into perspective. For the past five years, she has shrugged and said, "You chose a field that's so subjective." She's right, of course. But safeeveisk fellow writers know what the current publishing climate is like, and my colleagues at Type M for Murder and beyond have been there to offer advice and encouragement.