The Bubble has Burst and I Don't Care

My agent recently sent me a questionnaire about my writing goals.  I got back to her quickly with a list of my short-term (this year) goals and goals for the future.  Short-term goals are easy: finish the manuscript and get it into your publisher on time!  Do the same with the two books coming up.

As I look into the future my goals are still pretty realistic.  I want to write a third book in each of two other series, then work on what I call my “noir cozy”, a mystery with a macabre sense of humor.  I also have another more traditional mystery I’ve begun.  My issue now and for the next few years is time, but if you had asked me about my writing goals when I was working on my first manuscript, you would have gotten a different answer, one reflecting how little I under stood about the writing and publishing business. When I look back on those days, I have to laugh… or I’d cry from embarrassment.

I assumed that my creation of a funny gal amateur sleuth in the manner of Janet Evanovich’s protagonist would immediately win me an agent, followed shortly by a publishing contract with one of the big ones (there were more big publishers to choose from then and I was certain there would be a bidding war for my work).  Rich in only several months, I would purchase a house in the Florida Keys and buy my husband that sailboat he’s always wanted.  We would travel and share book tours around the world because he’s also a writer.  We would appear as keynote speakers at writing conferences.  Other writers would seek us out.

Sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it?  Of course, but here’s one good thing about this overblown ego trip of mine.  Because the balloon was so big, it took a lot of pin pricks to deflate it, so I kept on keeping on.  I did get a contract and later got an agent.  I do have a number of books out there, and I appear on panels at writers’ conferences.  I have a lot of writer friends and most of them struggle like I do.  We’re more like a family than a professional organization.  I have not earned enough money from my work to rent a place in the Florida Keys for even a week.  Hubby and I did have a boat, a cabin cruiser, many years old, but we had fun on her.  We now live in an area of Florida where I’m glad we don’t have a boat because I’m not keen on sharing the waters with all the gators on the lakes and streams.  It seems to me they own the waterways in rural Florida, so I don’t compete with them.

My bubble of unfounded expectations has not entirely burst because I love what I’m writing, and I have fun doing it.  That’s a whole other kind of rich, I’d say.  So far the rewards keep coming in.  And the money?  I rarely think about it because I’m so busy doing my thing—thinking of ways to kill people, then creating a sassy protagonist to track down the murderer.

Book summary:
It's smooth sailing for Eve Appel and her friend Madeleine, owners of Second to None Consignment Shop in rural Florida's Sabal Bay, land of swamps, cowboys, and lots and lots of 'gators. Eve and her detective boyfriend Alex have joined Madeleine and her new beau David Wilson for a pleasure cruise on his boat. But cloudy, dangerous waters lie ahead. A near fatal encounter with Blake Reed, David's supremely nasty neighbor, is soon followed by a shooting death on the dividing line between David and Blake's land. Both men run sport-hunting reserves, but Blake imports "exotics" from Africa and promotes gator killing, while David stays within the law, pointing clients toward the abundant quail and turkey as well as the wild pigs that ravage the landscape. Nevertheless, when a mutual client is killed, it is David who is arrested and charged with murder.
Blake's nastiness is only exceeded by that of his wife, Elvira, who forces Eve and Madeleine out of their shop, intending to replace it with a consignment shop of her own. It seems that bad luck looms over them all, even Eve's brawny and hard-to-resist Miccosukee Indian friend Sammy, whose nephew has disappeared. As the case against David grows stronger and his friends' misfortunes multiply, Eve and her strange and diverse group of friends, including her ex, a mobster, her grandma, and Sammy's extended family, band together to take on the bad guys. But the waters are getting muddier and more troubled, and Eve and Madeleine may end up inundated in every sense of the word.

 Buy links:

Author links: 
Twitter: @lesleydiehl

Author bio:
Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York.  In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport.  Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse.  When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

She is the author of a number of mystery series and mysteries as well as short stories.  A Sporting Murder follows the first two books in the Eve Appel mystery series, A Secondhand Murder and Dead in the Water      

Visit her on her website:


Lesley Diehl said…
Hey, Marilyn. Thanks for having me on your blog so I could share my unfounded expectations when I began writing. Reality has now set in, but I'm happy doing what I'm doing.
Nancy LiPetri said…
Fun post! As fiction writers, we don't ever have to be too connected to reality, do we? :)
Kaye George said…
You know, my dream was always just to get a novel published. But then, when that was done, things changed. I needed to put out a series. Then I had an idea for another series, and another. I think that maybe NYTimes would be a good goal at this point, but, in reality, I'm very happy about what's happened so far. I just want to write more books and short stories. If they sell a lot that would be great. But just having publishers who are willing to put my stuff out is beyond my wildest dream. I've also acquired 7 grandchildren, when I thought I would never have any--heck, I wasn't going to have any children, in the first place. They are all our prides and joys. With that and my books, if I'm hit by a bus tomorrow, you'll know I died happy.
Lesley Diehl said…
If I'm hit by a bus tomorrow, my publisher will be furious because I haven't turned in my new manuscript yet. It's due Aug 1, so of course it will be turned in Aug 1 and not a moment before.
Maris said…
As long as you enjoy the writing,the dreams will continue. Wishing you continued success.
Great post! Let's keep on dreaming. After all, our dreams can't get far without us!
Marja said…
Ah, Lesley, reality has set in. I can relate. However, remember that we don't know what's just around the corner. Keep your enthusiasm and keep on writing.
Marja McGraw
Lesley Diehl said…
My tax accountant today mentioned how little money I was making from my books. "Yup, I know. But I'm having fun." As long as that continues, I'll keep at it.
Loved this post, Lesley. The writing life sure isn't what we imagined it to be. But it's fun. Hard work and full of surprises.
Grace Topping said…
I guess I probably shouldn't count on becoming rich and famous! Of course, after reading some of the news coverage the rich and famous receive, perhaps I'm blessed to be just an average Joe-ann. However, someday I would like to have a copy of a book I wrote in my hand, see it on the shelf, donate a few copies to my old school, and enjoy the ride. I think that is a modest and realistic goal.
Lida Sideris said…
This is a wonderful post, Lesley. It sounds like you are having a grand time! And that's really why we write, isn't it?
Jacqueline Vick said…
You are right. Sometimes the oblivion helps push us along until we reach reality! Good luck!
I am delighted so many of you responded to Lesley's post. Certainly the truth we all have to face at some point--at least most of us.

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