Before I sold my first novel, I dreamed of the day I would receive “The Call.” Authors spoke reverently of answering their telephones, and learning they had acquired an agent or sold a manuscript. The reactions ranged from disbelief to spontaneous dancing. One author reported that she was so elated, she accidentally hung up on her agent.
Times have changed. The majority of queries, manuscripts, rejections, and even contracts are delivered electronically. I sold my novel Stone Cold Dead to Five Star Publishing without benefit of direct human contact. For an introvert like me, that wasn’t a negative.
However, when I saw my editor Deni Dietz listed among the attendees at Left Coast Crime 2013, I knew I had to step out of my shell and meet the woman who gave my story a chance.
She participated in the panel Ask the Editors, with Midnight Ink editor Terri Bischoff and professional editors Diane O’Connell and Jodie Renner. I sat in the audience with my new friend and fellow Five Star newbie Liesa Malik.
Deni opened the panel discussion by telling us, “If you drop a dream, it breaks.” I may have gasped, I was so taken by her powerful words. As Liesa said, “What an honor to know this editor had read and worked on my novel.”
Later, when asked what she is looking for in an author, Deni said, “A good voice, because I can edit a book, but I cannot edit a voice.”
When the panel concluded, Liesa and I rushed forward to introduce ourselves. Deni remembered our books, which was a thrill for a new author. We did not have the opportunity to have a conversation, with so many others jumping in for a quick word or two, so this first meeting was a bit anticlimactic.
Friday evening, a group of Five Star authors met in the hotel bar. We chatted with Mike Befeler, author of the Paul Jacobson Geezer Lit series, while waiting for Deni to arrive. Mike is President of the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and generously shares his time and expertise with new authors.
I was grateful I knew a few people at the gathering. I have to confess that schmoozing with a roomful of strangers makes me feel as comfortable as a coyote with a muzzle full of porcupine quills. I was relieved when Deni walked into the bar, because it meant I could meet her and go, as swiftly as politely possible. That didn’t happen.
Deni made an entrance, her red hair tossed by the wind that would soon bring a snowstorm, a huge bag hanging from her shoulder. As she settled into a comfy chair, I was captivated by her stories, and delighted to hear about her first novel sale. Deni never gave up on her own dreams, despite fierce odds. She told about seeing her first novel on a shelf in the library, then running around to gather library patrons to see her book and share her joy.
Now she is in the position to help others achieve their dreams. Later during the conference, Liesa and I ran into Deni in a hallway. We exchanged pleasantries, and then Deni introduced us to another person as her “shining stars.” We glowed with the compliment. After all the long distance negotiating and editing, I was relieved to have a human face to put on my Five Star experience, and pleased to learn that the door to my publishing journey had been opened by a woman who understood the struggle and honored the dream.
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