Friday, May 13, 2011

The Ghost Story That Wasn't Supposed to be a Ghost Story, Ghost Story

My Gram’s Cooking School Mystery Series was the result of a phone brainstorming session with my editor at Berkley Prime Crime, Michelle Vega. It was a great session. Understand, we’d never met in person and had mostly communicated through my agent. When she bought the farmers’ market series, I, of course, considered her amazing and wonderful and intelligent, but we really didn’t know each other all that well. I was excited about the brainstorming session, but I was also nervous about saying or doing something so stupid that Michelle would never buy anything I ever wrote again.

I didn’t need to worry. Michelle and I communicated smoothly and soon creative ideas were bouncing back and forth between us. She’s a natural - I’m grateful for this.

One of the ideas we came up with was Gram’s Country Cooking School. That was the one that sparked the most for me. I had visions of my own grandmother’s cooking and the stories I’d heard about my ancestors' recipes. It felt right, I guess. I wrote three chapters and a synopsis and sent the full proposal to my agent, who then sold it to Michelle. We got lucky and she bought the first three books! I was thrilled and I got back to work on the first one, IF FRIED CHICKEN COULD FLY.

But a big problem soon put a halt to my excitement. Shortly after the contracts were signed, I was working on the manuscript and I had a sense that someone was looking over my shoulder. The hair on the back of my neck literally stood on end. I turned, but no one was there. Once I shook off the wonky feeling, I turned back to the manuscript and started typing. Surprisingly, a ghost suddenly appeared - in the story, not in my office. I decided to go with it and figure out what character I could turn the ghost into. This series was sold without ghosts, without ANYTHING paranormal. Adding a ghost into something that was sold without one isn’t really the best of plans. But there was nothing I could do. The ghost wanted to stay, no matter how I tried to get rid of him.

I was distraught. I didn’t sleep for three nights as I mulled over what to do. Finally, I sent what I’d written to my agent with a cheery email that said something like - I can get rid of the ghost if we need to, but I thought you should take a look at what I’ve come up with.

Then I spent another sleepless night waiting to hear Jessica’s response. I’m not sure I can describe the relief I felt when she told me she liked it and I should send it to Michelle to see what she said. I did. And, not only did I feel relief when I heard good news back from Michelle, I felt pure glee. See, not only did the ghost not want to go, I didn’t want him to leave. I liked him, my other characters (well, the ones who can see him) liked him too. I got lucky again, and I’m having a great time with the books.

Additionally, I finally met Michelle in person at the Malice Convention. She is amazing, wonderful and intelligent, and kind of perfect.

Books -
Hate to jump the gun, but I’m in the middle of something that I’m really enjoying. I don’t think I’ll change my mind about it, so I thought I’d mention it: THE DISTANT HOURS by Kate Morton. The pace is a little different than what I usually read, but I’m not finding it at all tedious. It was recommended to my via last week’s post by JBull. Thanks! Good rec.

Happy Reading!


  1. Ooohhh I like ghosts. Especially stubborn ghosts.

  2. I love the title of the book. Looking forward to reading this.

  3. Thanks, Shel and Dru! It's been a real treat to write.

  4. Omgosh! I am so happy for you! I have such a talented sister in law!

  5. Can't wait to read the new book, sound's interesting espically with a ghost added to the mix. I'm glad you are enjoying the book. I've read all three of her books and have enjoyed all of them. Jill B (jbull)

  6. Thanks, Jill! Yes, I'm enjoying THE DISTANT HOURS a bunch. I bet I read her others.

  7. This new series sounds amazing, ghost and all! As you described the hair on your arms while writing, I felt the same thing while reading your blog post. Looking forward to reading this and I'm glad the ghost is staying =)