Omnimystery News is pleased to welcome Yvonne Eve Walus, whose most recent mystery featuring amateur sleuth Christine Chamberlain is [email protected] (Echelon Press, March 2010 Kindle Edition).
Today Yvonne writes about how the "Murder@..." series came about.
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I started on poems, short stories and articles. They were just the training tools. Deep inside, I’d always known I wanted to be a Real Writer. (Real Writer, definition: one who writes bestselling novels.)
Photo provided courtesy of Yvonne Eve Walus
Because I’m a fan of Agatha Christie and logical puzzles, I chose the cozy mystery genre. The book took a few years to complete. “I have a day job” was my standard excuse, but to be blatantly honest, it was hard work to write 65,000 words all on the same topic ... and it showed!
Nevertheless, it was my book, my very first book, and I was eager to share it with the world.
The world didn’t want it.
“Add more detail,” suggested one of the more helpful agents. I added more detail: descriptions of rooms, the weather, that sort of thing. You know, I simply had no clue!
After two years of approaching every publisher who existed in 1996, I re-read the manuscript. I blushed. I blushed some more. Then I set about correcting the writing style:
• I got rid of all the eyes that were “flying across the room”.
• I did a global search on “ly” and deleted every single adverb.
• I replaced fancy style with simple writing.
By the time I reached the last page, I knew. The book was a dud. Although it read a lot better after the changes, it still lacked sparkle.
I waited a few months and went over the manuscript again. I added some tension, removed the room descriptions, polished the writing style ... And guess what?
It still didn’t work.
So what’s a writer to do? I told myself that at least it had been a learning process, and that fortunately I’m wise enough to know when to quit ... not quit the writing game altogether, just give up on an unusable piece of writing.
(Or so I thought.)
I gritted my teeth and wrote a new book. No, hang on, that sounds a lot easier than it was in reality. Allow me to bullet-point the process:
• I decided that the reason my first manuscript didn’t work, was because I wrote it without an outline, or even the vaguest idea where I was headed. I simply typed “Chapter 1” and waited for inspiration to strike. Of course, this resulted in a lot of going back and forth, changing the twists and merging secondary characters. So for my second book, I decided to write a detailed synopsis before typing “Chapter 1”.
• The detailed synopsis completed, I realised - with horror - that I had no interest in writing the actual book, now that I knew all the high points of the plot and I had solved the who-dun-it part.
• I put the synopsis aside, wrote many more short stories, poems and articles, had a baby, continued to juggle my day job and my family commitments. My life was full to the point of overflowing, yet I was not content. Deep inside, I wanted to be a novelist.
• In the middle of one restless night, with the baby waking up every fifteen minutes, I got up and dusted off the detailed synopsis. Breastfeeding hormones must indeed affect a woman’s brain, for I had absolutely no memory of the book’s plot. Hurray!
• So I wrote the book, in the brief moments free of nappy changes and mashing pumpkin ...
... and this one did get published (“[email protected]”, Echelon Press).
(I confess, when I got the acceptance letter, I immediately Googled the publisher, convinced it had to be a front for a vanity press. It wasn’t. It was simply a start-up looking for new authors, and I happened to be at the right place at the right time. I couldn’t believe my luck!)
The publication date clashed with the birth of my second child, so I couldn’t make it to the book launch. Nevertheless, the sales were all right, and the publisher asked the all-important question: “Do you have anything else for us?”
Did I? Um, that would be a resounding “no”. Between promoting “[email protected]”, taking online writing courses and writing short stories, I had yet again forgotten that I was trying to be a novelist, not a short-fictionist. And then there was the day job, of course, and did I mention the baby and the toddler and a needy husband? Darnn!
But wait! There was that old manuscript languishing in the metaphoric drawer. It was my only hope, so I set to work on it once again, employing all the skills I’d learnt over the years. I added emotion, developed the characters into multi-dimensional beings and ensured every page contained tension and at least one power word.
The editor loved it. It didn’t prevent her from going through the contracted manuscript six times ... SIX!!!! ... in the space of three months, ironing out all the gremlins, but she loved reading it every one of those six times, and that must surely say something.
The resulting [email protected] was published by Echelon Press in August 2009.
The sales were good, but the sad truth about the publishing world today is that you have to generate a buzz about your book until you reach critical mass of sales. After that, it goes viral and everybody rushes to the shop to find out what the hype is all about.
So if you like murder mysteries, please check out mine, and if you enjoy them, tell the world about it! (If you don’t enjoy them, tell the world about it anyway - there is no such thing as bad publicity.) Every reviewer of [email protected] on Amazon, will get a free copy of [email protected].
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About [email protected]: In the new free South Africa of 1994, men are still boss, women carry handguns for self-protection, and some mistakes can change your life forever.
When a body is found during their weekend away with friends, Christine Chamberlain must use her brilliant mathematical mind to prove her husband's innocence ...
... whether he's innocent or not.
When it comes to your loved ones, is it possible to know too much?
[email protected] is available in Kindle Edition at Amazon.com.
Yvonne Eve Walus is a novelist, a mother, a wife, an educator and a project manager. For more information about the author, visit her website or her blog.