Saturday, December 8, 2012

Who Knew A Bunch of Killers Could Be So Wonderful? by Jenny Milchman


Jenny Milchman is a suspense writer from New Jersey. Her debut novel, COVER OF SNOW, is forthcoming from Ballantine in January 2013 and is available for pre-order now. Her short story The Closet will be published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in November 2012. Another short story, The Very Old Man, has been an Amazon bestseller, and the short work Black Sun on Tupper Lake will appear in the anthology ADIRONDACK MYSTERIES II.

Jenny is the Chair of the International Thriller Writers Debut Authors Program, and the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, which was celebrated in all 50 states and four foreign countries in 2011.

Jenny hosts the Made It Moments forum on her blog, which has featured more than 200 international bestsellers, Edgar winners, and independent authors, co-hosts the literary series Writing Matters, which attracts guests coast-to-coast and has received national media attention, and teaches writing and publishing for New York Writers Workshop and Arts By The People.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Who Knew a Bunch of Killers Could Be So Wonderful?
by Jenny Milchman

 

The mystery world is a warm and welcoming one, as any frequent, or even not-so-frequent, visitor to this very blog knows. Kaye is the warmest and most welcoming mistress of mystery herself, and when she decided to venture forth in a whole new way, I think she also found the welcome I’m about to describe.

 

My introduction to the mystery world began when I attended a local MWA meeting at a downstairs bar and restaurant in New Jersey. I remember that Mary Jane Clark was a featured speaker. I hung around the periphery of where she was talking in a state of awe. After the dinner, the host asked for any news from attendees. I had mentioned to someone at my table that I’d recently signed with an agent, and when the call for news was made, my tablemate all but shoved my hand into the air.

 

“I have a literary agent,” I murmured into the crowd, and the whole room burst into applause. Even Mary Jane Clark was clapping.

 

What nobody in that room could’ve known was that I didn’t find this bit of news very applause-worthy. In fact, the agent I’d signed with was my third, and I knew all too well by then that agent doesn’t necessarily = book deal. I was writing my seventh unpublished suspense novel at the time to prove this corollary.

 

But when the writers and mystery lovers in that dim, wine-wet bar began clapping, something happened. I felt a sense of camaraderie that propelled me through my current novel, and even onto the eighth, which turned out to be the one that sold.

 

Yes, that third agent, about whom all the MWA members were happy, did indeed sell a novel of mine.

 

But she couldn’t have done it without another warm welcome from the mystery community.

 

What happened after that dinner? Well, I kept writing, and my agent started submitting. And as had occurred with my other novels and other agents, we got close. But the interested editors were always turned down by their editorial boards. No offer was made.

 

And then the mystery world began extending itself. Louise Penny, Timothy Hallinan, and Stefanie Pintoff all agreed to look at unpublished manuscripts of mine. If that didn’t exactly make NY publishing all of a sudden open its arms, for sure it enabled new submissions to be made.

 

And then one day another author agreed to read my manuscript. Nancy Pickard’s book, The Scent of Rain & Lightning, was being talked about everywhere that year. And Nancy had an editor she felt was uniquely suited to my work.

 

Nancy turned out to be right. And that’s how my debut novel finally came to sell.

 

Because of a warm welcome extended by the mystery community.

 

After my book sold, writers I’d admired for years, even decades, were there to say hello. Linwood Barclay, Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Julia Spencer-Fleming, William Kent Krueger, Laura Lippman, Hank Phillipi Ryan…the list of favorite writers who, when I reached out to them, reached back goes on and on.

 

The world of mystery and thriller authors is the warmest I’ve ever found.

 

Not bad for a bunch of people who kill folks for a living, huh?

 

Jenny Milchman’s debut novel, Cover of Snow, will be published by Ballantine on January 15th.

 

 

 

 

 

13 comments:

Kaye Barley said...

Welcome, Jenny!!!! I am proud as punch to have you here and I am tickled to death to be able to say I have read an ARC of your COVER OF SNOW - which blew me away. I knew, because I've read some of your writing, that I would like this book. I was not, however, prepared for just how powerful it is. Honey, you rock!!!!! (and Jenny - YOU little scamp. Thank you for including me in the acknowledgements. You know exactly how much that means to me).

Julia Buckley said...

Congratulations, not just on your publication, but on your persistence. It is that, in addition to talent, that sells books (at least I hope so, because I'm still persisting). :)

lil Gluckstern said...

I'm so happy for you. Your generosity and kindness were returned in full. My kindle can't wait!

Liz Main said...

Jenny, you astound me with the variety of your experiences in the long, long road to COVER OF SNOW's publication. You truly deserve every bit of your success. I can hardly wait to read the book.

jennymilchman said...

Thank you, Kaye, as ever for the marvelous M&M. It has cheered and inspired me on many a day.

Julia, do keep persisting, and if you ever want to trade a story or two, I am here.

Lil, your support and warm voice has kept me going more than once along the way. I will never forget your response on Tim Hallinan's blog after he was kind enough to read some of (unpublished) work.

Liz, it's wonderful to see my west coast writing kindred spirit. Thank you for your support and caring.

cathy said...

Really enjoyed reading this, Jenny. And congrats to you on your successful publication! I'm with you on the warm and welcoming mystery/thriller writing community... folks are just so great. Willing to help out and all. Thanks for the article.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Jenny, you are fabulous, and COVER OF SNOW is fabulous.

You have the dearest most generous and loving heart..and that comes through every moment.

Judy Hogan said...

Jenny and Kate, what a delightful blog. I learned a lot about Jenny that I didn't know. Amazing journey, amazing camraderie. I know that Jenny also gives back! And Kaye is such a great supporter. Judy Hogan

Pamela DuMond, D.C. said...

Congrats Jenny. Success well deserved!

Deb Romano said...

This is the sort of heartwarming and true life story I love to read. Congratulations, Jenny! I will look for your book.

jenny milchman said...

Cathy, I'm glad you've experienced the same...Love to read your story someday :)

Oooh, got a tingle seeing Hank Phillippi Ryan's name on this blog! Hank is one of those writers who set me agog...and then one day, she was agreeing to read my book.

And Judy Hogan is another mystery writer, whose KILLER FROST had to be one of the most unusual mysteries I read this year. Thank you, Judy, for reading yet *more* details :)

Pam, it's great to see you here. I am just going to go on and give a shout out for the CUPCAKES series by Pam DuMond because if anyone loves mysteries with a touch of snark, they are likely to be right here.

Deb, it is terrific to meet you through Kaye's blog. Thank you for being glad :)

Anonymous said...

Many thanks to Kaye for being such a lovely supporter of Jenny and to Jenny who proves that ploughing through and keeping on keeping on really DO work!!!! And that the mystery community truly is a wonderful big family! Thelma Straw in Manhattan