This is the featured pie in DELECTABLE, book #1 of the Big Sky Pie romance series!! It’s a Bing Cherry Pie. Bing cherries are much sweeter than traditional pie cherries. They’re easy to identify by their rich burgundy color and larger size. They were a favorite of my mother-in-law, who baked them for her three sons and husband, and the only cherry pie that I really love.
So, how did I come to be writing a series about a pie shop set in a Montana town? Certainly not the usual way.
As an aside, you should know that I think of Montana as a state I would love to live in. We vacationed there for many, many years and if you haven’t been, put it on your bucket list. It shouldn’t be missed.
The journey to selling again, started with my having no luck finding a home for my romantic/suspense cowboy trilogy– also set in Montana in the same area as Molly McCoy’s Big Sky Pie shop. After many rejections, my agent and I discussed which direction I should go moving forward. She said that romantic/suspense had pretty much flat-lined, (according to editors, not readers) but that cozy mysteries were the new R/S.
I love mysteries. I read mysteries. I started out writing mysteries. So, this was not such bad news, except that I had never tried writing a cozy, and I feared my harder edged voice and approach to mysteries might be off-putting to some editors. Still I had to try.
Since so many cozies are set in small town shops, or revolve around hobbies, I had to find a subject I knew something about that would have universal appeal, that wasn’t already being used, and that would lend itself to as many whodunits as might be needed if the series became popular. (What I came up with is the second series that Grand Central Publishing bought–The Port Wedlock series. More on this in the next post.)
Once I had written the proposal and synopses for books 1 thru 3 of this cozy mystery series, my agent began submitting. For about nine months we submitted, waited, garnered excitement, and were then rejected. Several editors were very excited about this cozy series, some even loved, loved, loved it and sent it on to their “committees” who have the final say. And that was as far as we got. ”Committees” kept passing on the series for the one element it has that sets it apart from other cozies and makes it so much fun.
Meanwhile, during this process, one editor said she liked my writing and would love to see a romance set in a pie shop that she might also buy along with The Port Wedlock cozies. Her committee was still looking at the series at that point. I immediately plotted a pie shop romance, and my agent submitted the 5 page synopsis. The story was pretty lightweight, more of a category romance than a complex mainstream story, but it had potential.
More than anyone knew at the time.
As this editor was looking at and considering the PW cozy series, my agent was speaking to an editor at Grand Central Publishing, a part of Hachette Book Group, about one of her other clients. Somehow, perhaps from her frustration at not finding a home for a series that editors loved so much, she mentioned the PW series. This editor works for the FOREVER and FOREVER YOURS line at Grand Central. She does not buy cozy mystery series, but she wanted to see the proposal package. Apparently, she does like mysteries, though, as much as I do.
She loved the Port Wedlock series and her boss loved the series, as well, but they wanted me to turn it into a romance series and lose the mystery element. This suggestion didn’t excite me, since that is not the way I see these books.
Then guess what? The editor who wanted me to write her a synopsis about a love story set in a pie shop, passed on my cozy mystery series. Yep, the committee struck again. She would, however, give me a contract for the pie shop book, but only for their e-book line which offers no advance.
I don’t know about other writers, but in this economy, I needed an advance. I had tried the self-pub route earlier in the year with two of my backlist books and one brand new book, YOU DON’T KNOW JACK and all three books were, and are still, selling poorly. So, why would I give a publisher a share of the pittance the pie shop book might make given they were offering me so little up front, when I could make that little on my own?
Then, my agent, bless her heart, spoke to the editor at Grand Central about my pie shop book. The editor wanted to see it. She and her boss loved the idea of BIG SKY PIE. But the story needed a lot more depth before they could offer to buy it. If I wanted to revise and resubmit it, then they might like to do a romance series set in my Montana pie shop.
We were about to leave for ten days to a hot rod show in Pleasanton, CA. How was I going to do this?
continued in Part 2. . . soon
DELECTABLE Book #1 of BIG SKY PIE romances releases electronically Sept 2013