Thursday, October 20, 2022

Hectic schedules and tiny egos

It’s been a hectic fall with lots going on, so I’ve backed off on my Type M commitment, dropping down to one post per month for the time being.

I have a new day job. I’m leading the upper school at Detroit Country Day School now, having left boarding school for civilian life. Michigan, I’m learning, is a great place to live (and write). And aside from a fondness of bourbon, I now have one other thing in common with Ernest Hemingway: Michigan has given us both the freedom to write. While Hemingway went to Paris and wrote about Michigan; I moved to Michigan and am writing about boarding school life.

In late August, I finished a draft of what I’m hoping will be a new series featuring a husband and wife team at a New England boarding school, and I did something I haven’t done before: I brought in a hired gun to read it and offer a critique, hiring a longtime editor Marcia Markland (St. Martin’s and Avalon) to read the manuscript and offer her thoughts. Those thoughts were instrumental in me developing the draft.

I’ve long used a “home team” of readers –– close friends who are book lovers and who know me and the boarding school environment well. They offer excellent insights. But Marcia, who acquired and published crime and genre fiction, read the work as an acquisitions editor does. Her feedback allowed me to trust my instincts and have made the book much better.

It’s a question of ego, I think. I have published nine novels. Why pay for a reader? someone asked. My answer is simple: When trying to launch a new series, the goal is to go to houses with the best possible product, and I write only from 4 to 6 a.m. The rest of my day is spent with my head in another world, so I’m willing to pay Marcia for her time, excellent insights, and her ability to examine my book for plot unity.

I’m hoping to have the updated manuscript on my agent’s desk by Thanksgiving.


In an unexpected plot twist in the story of my writing life, an agent at CAA reached out to my agent, Julia Lord, last summer with unexpected news: two screenwriters wanted to option my Peyton Cote US Border Patrol agent/single mother series and pitch it as a TV series. In late September, we sold the option, and I’m thrilled that Bruce Norris and Caroline Wood will try to develop it with me as “consulting producer.” Caroline, who will take the lead, gets my vision for the series, which is set in the unique and isolated region of Maine known as Aroostook County.

1 comment:

Donis Casey said...

What fantastic news about the option! May the sale come to pass.