Today I was making hubby some lunch (he had a doctor’s appointment and was stopping by home to eat before going in to work) when the phone rang. I had my hands full, so I let the machine pick up. Honestly, most of our calls are Wrong Number (our number is close to the Texas A&M extension campus main number on Renner) or places we’ve donated to (charities) who are in need again. I didn’t check the caller ID until after he’d left for work a little while later.
I recognized the name. It was the name of the judge to whom I sent my Malice Domestic contest entry this past year.
February is awfully early to be finishing up, but hey–I figured maybe she was calling to tell me that she’d passed my entry along as her choice (each judge chooses an entry, and those become the finalists.). I noticed that I’d missed her call on my cell phone, as well.
Mama wanted me to call her right back. But that wouldn’t be right when she didn’t leave messages. I came here to check my e-mail.
Sure enough, there was a message. **BUT** what it says is:
I am a judge for the Malice Domestic Contest you recently entered.
Although your manuscript did not “best” fit the criteria for contest–I chose another entry.
However, I enjoyed your story and chose to send your manuscript on to Toni Plummer. [Assistant editor at St. Martin’s Press]
Even though you have not won the Malice Domestic Contest, your manuscript will be in the “hands” of Toni and I can assure you she will give it her full attention.
You can check out a recent publication, “Body in the Record Room” by Joe Barone, an author who was not the contest winner but did get published last year.
OK . . . am I happy or sad? Well, at first I was sorry that I didn’t make the cut. On the other hand, the editor who makes the final choice in both the St. Martin’s contests is (as far as I know) Ruth Cavin, and she hasn’t liked any of the three manuscripts of mine that have finaled in the past. It could be that it’s just as well I didn’t go forward in the contest.
I did a Web search on Toni Plummer and discovered she’s looking for mysteries of all stripes, and is especially interested in books with Latino characters or themes. Well . . . the Marfa Lights novel has an authentic Native American who’s a helper, and a wicked female character with a Hispanic name. So that may be good or bad. You can’t tell.
But anyhow, I appreciated the judge’s passing my book along. I can only hope that it goes on top of the pile rather than getting stuck under a huge stack of slush, because that could take forever to get a read and to hear back. At least with the contest there’s a deadline (April first) so that you don’t just hang there, twisting slowly, slowly in the wind.
And I have to light a stack of prayer candles to the effect that this editor likes woo-woo stuff and Southwestern settings and my voice/style and the relationship between Ari and her sister Zoe . . . or something about the book.
But maybe this is a good outcome. I don’t know. My blood sugar must be dropping, because I am completely unable to figure this one out.
Got rejections from all but two of the agents I had contacted, including the one who wanted the bio. Two of them are still out there thinking, I suppose.
Mama’s right. She keeps asking me why I want to set myself up for disappointment over and over, and asking me why I want to spend my entire life depressed. Well . . . I’m not going to tell her that Jay Lake and the rest of ’em say you have to have a psychotic persistence, because that would just give her another keyword to scorn. You DO have to wonder why people DO this to themselves. There must be a particularly American muse at work.
Later on, I’ll go look around to see if I can find a copy of Mr. Barone’s book. Hey, I don’t care if I win a contest or not, as long as I get a contract. They don’t seem to publicize the contest winners in any special way, anyhow; I have to search all over even to find out who won the contests every year. All that matters is that the book has a chance.
I won’t jinx it by typing “This could be it” or anything like that. . . .