agents

A Flash Fiction Contest for THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE!


Folks, I’ve made it. I have arrived.  🙂

Well, that’s more or less what one of my writer friends (Micki, I’m looking at you) tweeted out; “You know you’ve made it when offers a contest in your honor!”

And yes, indeed Ms. Janet, NYC literary agent extraordinaire and Director of Literary Services at New Leaf Literary and Media, Inc., is doing just that.  There is a Flash Fiction contest this weekend in honor of THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE’s Next Indie Pick selection and the fact that the book is soon to be released!  (only a month away!)

For about five years, I’ve participated in these contests.  I’ve won some, had numerous finalist mentions, long list mentions, and several special recognition mentions.  The competition is fierce because the writers who hang out there are some of the best I know.  They have 100 words  (the word limit for these FF contests) to spin a story that incorporates a beginning, middle and end.  Some of the entries from past contests have taken my breath away, made me laugh, or made me sit in awe, while wondering how did they do that?

The prize?  Well, a copy of THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE – of course!

Good luck, y’all!  I can’t wait to read your entries!

the education of dixie dupree

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First Interview From The Daily Record


I’m providing my first newspaper interview since many of you who follow the blog aren’t connected with me on Facebook, or on Twitter where it was shared.  I thought you’d like to read it.

Enjoy!

clip-Daily Record-FeatureAug2016-DIXIE DUPREE

INKED! Update


UPDATE:  Building on this original post, I’ve just completed an interview with BookHive’s Queen Bee, Jennifer Bowen.  The interview sheds a little bit of light on how the book deal came about, which some of you expressed an interest in.

INTERVIEW is HERE

***************************************************************

I’m so very happy to finally share that I have a book deal for my novel THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE with Kensington Publishing Corp.

In early April I received an email from my agent.  The subject line was pertaining to another novel of mine, so I didn’t open it right away.  I was expecting bad news.  When I finally did, this was the opening sentence:

“We have an offer on Dixie Dupree.”

I’d been going along for some time under a ceiling of doubt I couldn’t seem to shake.  Well.  The sentence blew that up.  And gave it a good shaking too, as if to say, “See, you didn’t think you could, and look.  You did.”

If you write, you understand this in only the way a writer would.

At any rate, already, so much has happened since that email.  I signed the contract in late May, and soon after…I received a stack of VERY REAL, RED PENCILED PAGES FROM MY EDITOR.   (I’m still screaming about all this in my head – here as well, it would seem)

Shit! Look!

Look! Look!

And then, a few weeks later, the fully executed contract came from my agent, which truly made it “official.”

DSCF1281

Since those first, very surreal and giddy days of happiness, I’ve submitted my first round of edits/revisions to John Scognamiglio, the inimitable editor I am so lucky to work with, and he has accepted the changes.

After that happened, the Publisher’s Marketplace announcement came out yesterday:

Debut
Donna Everhart’s THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, focusing on the shared secrets existing between an eleven-year-old and her mother, and who when confronted by cruelty from those closest to her, exhibits a prevailing spirit and resilience beyond her years, to John Scognamiglio at Kensington, by John Talbot at Talbot Fortune Agency (World).

Since April, I’ve been doing plenty of this:

Happy Dance

Happy, happy, happy dance!

A lot of this.

Wine

Drink, toast, drink some more.

THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE will come out as a trade paperback original, and the release date is NOVEMBER 2016. 

INKED! Update


UPDATE:  Building on this original post, I’ve just completed an interview with BookHive’s Queen Bee, Jennifer Bowen.  The interview sheds a little bit of light on how the book deal came about, which some of you expressed an interest in.

https://www.bookhivecorp.com/index.php/blog/entry/bookhive-author-donna-everhart-to-be-published-by

***************************************************************

I’m so very happy to finally share that I have a book deal for my novel THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE with Kensington Publishing Corp.

In early April I received an email from my agent.  The subject line was pertaining to another novel of mine, so I didn’t open it right away.  I was expecting bad news.  When I finally did, this was the opening sentence:

“We have an offer on Dixie Dupree.”

I’d been going along for some time under a ceiling of doubt I couldn’t seem to shake.  Well.  The sentence blew that up.  And gave it a good shaking too, as if to say, “See, you didn’t think you could, and look.  You did.”

If you write, you understand this in only the way a writer would.

At any rate, already, so much has happened since that email.  I signed the contract in late May, and soon after…I received a stack of VERY REAL, RED PENCILED PAGES FROM MY EDITOR.   (I’m still screaming about all this in my head – here as well, it would seem)

Shit! Look!

Look! Look!

And then, a few weeks later, the fully executed contract came from my agent, which truly made it “official.”

DSCF1281

Since those first, very surreal and giddy days of happiness, I’ve submitted my first round of edits/revisions to John Scognamiglio, the inimitable editor I am so lucky to work with, and he has accepted the changes.

After that happened, the Publisher’s Marketplace announcement came out yesterday:

Debut
Donna Everhart’s THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, focusing on the shared secrets existing between an eleven-year-old and her mother, and who when confronted by cruelty from those closest to her, exhibits a prevailing spirit and resilience beyond her years, to John Scognamiglio at Kensington, by John Talbot at Talbot Fortune Agency (World).

Since April, I’ve been doing plenty of this:

Happy Dance

Happy, happy, happy dance!

A lot of this.

Wine

Drink, toast, drink some more.

THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE will come out as a trade paperback original, and the release date is NOVEMBER 2016. 

 

SEEN AT BOUCHERCON! PART III


In this final post, following my little monkey’s theme of “Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil,”  (hey it was a Murder Convention…get it???)  I’ll share some of the pictures I took for the “SEEN AT BOUCHERCON.”  I didn’t take a ton because I already felt a bit gauche, and “touristy” what with the photo snapping I was doing to begin with.  Doing that is not conducive for trying to blend in.  Matter of fact, I’m thinking it looked SO uncool because I wasn’t doing all those quick, snappy selfies with cell phone – remember, I remain for the most part, technology “untethered.”

I think that might have to change in the near future.

Anywho, here we go!

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They called these little red bags…”Hook Up.” When I checked in at registration, the lady said, “Hang on dear, let me give you your hook up.” Well. All righty then.

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Sign up and choose a name, or have your own used in an author’s next work! (no, I didn’t sign up, boooo, party pooper!)

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Henery Press display for Hank Phillippi Ryan books

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Where “THEY” will be to sign books!

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Margaret Maron (Bouchercon’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, 2015)

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Margaret Maron, moderator (not pictured) Panel New Faces Best New Novel Nominees: L to R, Lori Rader Day, M.P. Cooley, Kristi Belcamino, and Allen Eskens. (not pictured, Julia Dahl)

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Long shot, Julia Dahl on end

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Les Edgerton and Trey Barker from the Rough Tough Tales for Tough Readers panel.

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Rough Tough Tales for Tough Readers Panel, moderator Eric Beetner (far left), Tom Young, Chris Pavone, Les Edgerton, Trey R. Barker

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Political Espionage Thrillers: Pre- and Post Edward Snowden, L to R, Susan Elia MacNeal, Terry Shames, and Mark Greaney, moderator. Not pictured Gayle Lynds, and Marc Cameron.

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The Political Espionage Thrillers Panel – long shot with Gayle Lynds and Marc Cameron, Funny, where’s Colin and Loretta Sue? Hmmmm.

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Barbara Poelle and Patrick Lee!!! (nuff said)

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Just what it says…

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Books galore!

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Browsers in the book room…

Who else was “SEEN” by me, but not pictured?  Janet Reid, Loretta Ross (DEATH OF THE RED HEADED WOMAN), Colin Smith (a regular REIDER), an editor from GRAND CENTRAL (whoop!  I just wish I could remember her name) who sat with THE Barbara Poelle at our table in the bar, and talked “business.”  Also seen Donna Andrews, Wendy Corsi Straub, Susan Spann, and someone with a hat and sunglasses on coming through the lobby, who looked so “in,” I just figured he had to be a BIG deal.  Except I have no idea who he was, but he had “the look.”

As well, and no offense intended, I saw a LOT of folks who looked on in their years.  I think I understand why the publishing industry gets SO excited about young authors.  You know, that Five Under Thirty Five.  I don’t know.  Maybe writing suspense, thriller, crime makes you grow old fast.

WHAT WAS SAID AT BOUCHERCON – PART II


As I mentioned in the last post, I’m writing about Bouchercon 2015 in three seperate posts.  These comments come mostly from authors or agents.

WHAT WAS SAID:

  • Question from audience:  “In your opinion, what’s the biggest mistake beginning writers make?”  “Too many doorknobs turning, too much looking in the mirror, too much sitting and thinking.” ~Gayle Linds
  • “I know I won’t ever be a bestselling author because what I write is pretty rough and you know what, I don’t give a shit.”  ~Les Edgerton
  • “I’m thinking maybe I’ve done too many searches about anthrax.   And that my phone is being tracked.”  ~Susan Ella MacNeal
  • Me, “So and so author is looking for you.”  Secret Agent, “Yeah, that’s why I’m hiding.”
  • “Is this thing on?  Hello?”  (moves head.  moves body.  moves mic.  Assumes awkward, stiff, uncomfortable position, stares at audience)  “Okay.  I’m not moving.  I’ll just stay exactly like this through the end of the panel.”  ~Lori Rader Day
  •  “There are about 200M readers in the U.S.  As an author, with the best case scenario you might get 1% of them reading your books.  That’s 2M people.  And that’s the best case.  Don’t worry about trying to please everyone because you can’t do it.”  ~Chris Pavone, on email criticisms from readers.
  • “My best selling books were cookbooks, and then I decided I wanted to be a thriller novelist.”  ~Chris Pavone
  • On POV and writers using their own beliefs or way of thinking about hot topics in their story, “Writers will sometimes use their writing as a platform,” and “As long as you can write a compelling story without being preachy, I see no reason not to do this.”  (collective response from several authors)
  • “And I read it wondering, does this suck?”  ~Julia Dahl

This is just a snippet of what was said.  I would have had to have a tape recorder, or known shorthand to capture it all.  All the panels were well moderated, fast paced, and those of us sitting in the audience weren’t disappointed.  I’d read some of the information on what to do, not do.  I made sure to sit towards the back in case I wanted to leave because a panel wasn’t all that good.  I didn’t leave.  I stayed and listened and learned.

And swooned.  Just a little.  Okay.  A LOT.

OVERHEARD AT BOUCHERCON! Part I


I’m so proud of my hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina for hosting Bouchercon 2015.  I love our beautiful little city which has become an eclectic and lively center for night life, arts, foodie type restaurants, all with a bright array of craft beers, for which NC is becoming quite well known.

See that little red brick building tucked in the middle?  That is the Sheraton, one of the hotels hosting Bouchercon.

See that little red brick building tucked in the middle? That is the Sheraton, one of the hotels hosting Bouchercon.

Like those little monkeys of “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil,” fame, I’m going to share the experience of Bouchercon in a similar manner.  Part I is going to be what I “(over)heard,” Part II, what was said, and Part III, what was seen.

This was my very first writing event.  I honestly don’t think I could have picked a better inaugural one to attend.  Maybe I should be ashamed to admit I’ve never been to a workshop, conference, or book signing/reading.  This seems very strange now, in hindsight, considering all the years I’ve spent writing.

What is Bouchercon? I’ll just link to it here so you can read for yourself.  The funny thing about this is, I signed up for this convention over a year ago because at the time I was writing a hard crime novel.  I thought, wow, how fortunate this well known event is coming HERE, only 45 minutes from my doorstep.  A lot can change in a year.  I almost didn’t get to go.  I’m SO GLAD it all worked out so I could!  It was a once in a lifetime chance to meet some great people face to face that I’ve come to know online, as well as actually seeing some well known authors (and agents!) up close.

I’m still swooning.  Anyway, on to what I OVERHEARD:

  • Fellow writer, Colin Smith said, something like 1,400 people flew in.  (That doesn’t cover folks like him/me, who live close enough to drive to it.  Which I did both Thursday and Friday.)
  • A writer engaged another writer, So, what’s your book about…?  Response, Uh…uh…uh…
  • My feet are killing me.  Should I add that as a plot line in my next book?
  • OMG, I think I just saw Hank Phillippi Ryan!
  • “Can you please talk about writing instead of Edward Snowden?”  (This said at a panel which was actually focused on writing Political Espionage Thrillers; Pre/post Edward Snowden.  In my opinion, this writer earns the “author asshat” award.  Credit for phrase goes to Janet Reid)
  • Who’s that?  Who’s that?  Is that?  (this voice was so animated I had to turn and look – I think it was a Tom Franklin sighting, but it was SO crowded, I’m not sure because I never saw him)
  • God, I need a drink.  But then, I’d want to write.  Do you drink and write?  (I almost interjected myself into this conversation with a resounding YES.)
  • Aren’t there more bathrooms than this?
  • Will you sign my book?  I love your work, I love…
  • I can’t carry all this.  This thing must weigh fifty lbs.  (book bag)
  • Squeals of joy
  • Lots of laughter
  • A persistent hum of ***voices, all talking about books, writing, authors, agents, publishers, booksellers.

***I’m highlighting this last one because if writers are supposed to be a reclusive bunch who find it hard to engage in conversation, and being in public, I certainly “heard” no evidence of this – AT ALL.  It got pretty loud – especially once we moved to the bar.

The convention is still going on today and tomorrow, but I won’t be able to finish it out, and that makes me sad.  Despite that, I’m grateful for the time I did get to spend there, and for the generosity of others who shared that time with me.  I came away with good vibes, a collective overall warm fuzzy feeling I think my writing soul needed, like filling up the gas tank, knowing I can now add more mileage to the journey this has become.

The Rejectionists


I really envy some writers.  Not for their talent with words.  Not for their knack at coming up with great, fresh ideas for a story.  Not for their ability to make me laugh, cry or think about something in a way I’ve never done before.  For all those things, whether published or not, it’s not about that, that I view them the way I do.

I envy their rejections.  I look at them like seasoned subject matter experts on dealing with big letdowns.  Time and time again.  The ones who know how hard it is to wait.  But, wait they do.  The ones whose hopes fly as high as if their fiftieth, or one hundredth query was their very first.  The ones who realize the odds and keep going.  The one’s who’ve been at it for years, whose feelings are sheathed with a bit of cynicism, but not so much as to make them act like jackasses.  They continue to live on hope, just like a brand new writer.

They cloak any insecurities with a new layer of creativity.  A fresh coat of paint can change the look of a room, over and over, can’t it?  Sure, they are still the same writer, only they’ve adapted.  They’ve learned that maybe that hot pink room would be more suited to a subtle shade of blue.  Or green.  Their experience has taught them how to perhaps even stick to their choice, except maybe they add an accent wall of a paler color.  Their buckets of paint seem bottomless.

Why would I envy this when it sounds like no matter what paint color one chooses, it’s always out of style?  When it would appear there is a secret pallet of colors only some get to see? Who wants to go through that?  Many of us it seems, but for those who’ve been at it for a while, they’ve somehow learned to try and keep finding the right blend, even if they’ve been told they’re color blind.

I call them The Rejectionists, although the actual definition in the Oxford dictionary doesn’t suit what I mean – not one iota.  It says, in part, “a person who rejects a proposed policy…,” but goes on to a further political view, which I will leave off here.  I think it’s clear what I mean by some of what I’ve said above.  A Rejectionist, to me, is someone who refuses to give up just because they’ve received polite refusals, with maybe a line of two of encouragement, or all those “no thanks, not for me,” or silence, time and time again.

I envy this because they’ve already been where I’ve yet to go.  Coped with it.  Dealt with it.  Built up stamina, honed a rock hard ability to stomach it.  It’s not to say I can’t do the same.  I know I’m stubborn (marathon training isn’t for the weak)  It’s more about that experience I think.  The mindset, and wherewithal to know it can get even rougher than where I’ve already been. Not counting the years of off and on writing, I’ve been working towards actual publication for about three years now.

Maybe that, in of itself, makes me one.  I don’t know.  I don’t think I’ve felt the burn of it long enough.  Not like others.  Not the ones I’m thinking of, have come to know, or the ones I’ve only read about.  They are the true examples of what it means to work for art, or as it goes in this writing world, “art harder.”  That they do.

Would you call yourself a Rejectionist?

Scary Stuff


Last year on Halloween, I received the second round of feedback from the editor on my current project, A BLACK WATER SEASON.  She’d read the first 100 pages back in the spring, and, in a nutshell, hated them.  So, I had to start the story over and when I did, I changed it by telling it from a different POV, as well as shifting to a dual narrative. I sent her the brand new sample pages and waited.  They came back about ten days later – with a thumbs up – and I recall telling her I was glad I’d received a treat – not a trick.  It was Halloween, after all.

Of course, all of you know by now, the project is finished.  You know that it received wonderful praise from a focus group of test readers out of Book-Hive.  I received Author Of The Month as it was their highest ranked manuscript in August.

What you don’t know is the editor did not like certain things about the story, and did not like it enough to have me send it straight away to my agent.  She said the characters were “miserable.”  She felt I had too much internal monologue going on with my protagonist and antagonist.  She felt there should be more shared with regards to the sheriff, Wade Malone.  And last, and worst of all, she said the story was too slow.

A lot of her feedback conflicted directly with the group of Test Readers.

When Jennifer Bowen of Book-Hive asked what the editor thought and I shared her feedback, she said, “Hmmm, well, maybe this wasn’t the story for this particular editor.”

I loved that.  Still, I was faced with this new dilemma.  With such differing opinions, what should I do with the story?

This was certainly a bit of a conundrum and the decision as to what changes I needed to make had me stalled for a while.  Eventually, I cut some, (not all) of the internal monologue.  Enough to satisfy my guilt over not taking everything the editor said to task.  I then added in a couple of new scenes between Ruby/Haskell and Wade/Ruby based on the Book-Hive feedback.  I tweaked the ending which was all of my own doing.

What has continued to pester me though is that one big thing the editor suggested I do – and didn’t.  And that was to add that new POV narrative with the sheriff.  This would have been a major re-write.  It would have destroyed the structure of the story where, for the majority of the book, each chapter picks up where the other leaves off between my good guy (girl) and bad guy. Think maybe “duel” instead of “dual” narrative.

The other thing too, was, I hadn’t set out to write a crime novel.  The story wasn’t about the investigation.  It wasn’t as if I ignored the investigative tasks altogether.  I actually had a Raleigh City police K9 detective who answered some of my questions about what a law enforcement person could or couldn’t do.  I wrote about the sheriff’s initial interview with my protagonist.  I detailed his interactions with my antagonist, and mostly, I showed his “work” on the “case,” with his interrogations via dialogue – twice with the antagonist and twice with the protagonist.

Still, if you’re like me, you begin to question every choice made about revisions once it’s out of your hands.  Did I do the right thing?  Should I have worked on it more, maybe written in that extra POV, if for not for any other reason than just to see if his voice would come through?

It’s scary stuff.  Scary because it seems as if we’re always second guessing ourselves, asking the what if’s and what about’s once we let it go.  It’s scary because we follow some advice while ignoring the rest, all the while not knowing if what we’ve ignored was spot on.

S.C.A.R.Y.

What do you do when you’ve had such diverse opinions?

Bad Moon Rising

One Hundred Words


I’ve talked about this before.  Those addicting flash fiction contests run by Janet Reid, literary agent extraordinaire.  How hard is it to tell a story in one hundred words?  Doggone hard.  The last one, a couple weekends ago, was in honor of one of her clients, Jeff Somers, for the publication of his latest book, WE ARE NOT GOOD PEOPLE.

The rules are simple.  She will provide five prompt words, usually something to do with the reason for having the contest.  When using those five words, we can have a bit of leeway.  As long as the word is part of a larger word and appears “in whole” that’s okay.  The word “like” is okay as “likeness,” or likeability, but not lickety-split.  See?  And we, (we being the collective group who follow her blog religiously) are to write a story using those five prompt words, in one hundred words, or less.

When I wrote about this the last time, I think I mentioned what good practice these flash contests are at learning how to make your writing more crisp.  To learn how to eliminate useless words – or maybe words that aren’t necessary to the meaning of the story.   The overall process isn’t that far from how I write in general (Pantster that I am).  That’s sort of scary when I think about it.  Anyway, what I mean is, I begin to write – something – with no idea where it’s going. Eventually, an idea sticks. Sometimes, I end up with more than one version, and then I have to choose which one I like better.

That’s what happened in this last one.

Here are the five prompt words we had to use:

  1. spirits
  2. blood
  3. magic
  4. pants
  5. cat

Here is Version One:

Preacher Dan lifted the bottle of tonic and proclaimed its potency.

“Drink it!” he caterwauled, “your spirits will be lifted, what ails you will be gone!”

The crowd eyed the concoction doubtfully.

“It’s black magic!” some yelled, “prove it!” yelled others.

He hitched up his pants before reaching down to lift a venomous snake, antagonizing the serpent by waving a hand at its face.

It struck!

Preacher Dan showed them his hand, “Not a drop of blood!” and coins fell like rain into the little collection basket.

Hours later he counted the money one handed, his prosthesis resting beside him.

And, Version Two:

Sunday, under a big tent, Preacher Dan was busy cleansing spirits, urging followers to drink the blood of Christ. His gospel invoked speaking in tongues, a yielding of souls, complete and utter faith.

Doubters whispered, “Its black magic!”

He adjusted his ill-fitting pants, lifted a venomous snake in one hand while waving the other in its face.  

It struck!

He stood firm, unwavering, and caterwauled, “A miracle! A message from God himself! “

Believers now, the crowd surged forward, coins raining into his little collection basket.

Only when he headed to the next town, would he remove the prosthetic hand.

I had to choose one for the contest, and honestly, it was kind of tough, because I liked both equally.  However…, the version I chose was a semi-finalist out of ninety entries, and that was Version Two.

If I’d chosen Version One, what could have happened?  Same placement?  Or not?  This is why writers are torn over their words, why we shuffle them around ad nauseum, telling a similar story, yet different  This is why when we say, “it’s done,” we know it’s never really done, is it? 

 

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