In January 2011, I had a new book to submit to agents, and I contacted my friend Vannetta Chapman and told her I was ready for that referral. This was almost two years after her original offer. She told me it was no problem and that Mary Sue Seymour had just added a new agent, Nicole Resciniti, to the agency. Vannetta thought Nicole might be a better fit for what I wrote. I researched what Nicole wanted and found she sold to inspirational and mainstream houses. I cannot tell you what a rare combination that is. Trust me, I have looked. My big dream was to be a crossover writer. Most agents I spoke to said I had to pick one or the other. They insisted I couldn’t do both.
Even knowing Nicole was the perfect fit, I sent queries to a small number of other agents too just to be safe. Nicole’s response time was laser fast, and she requested a partial of my manuscript right away. Not quite as fast, another agent requested a partial too.
That February, I received my second literary miracle. My debut mystery novel, Maid of Murder, was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. The Agathas are awards given at the Malice Domestic Convention in Washington DC every year for the best novels in traditional mysteries.
Then in March, I was supposed to go on a cruise somewhere in the Caribbean, but my mom had fallen seriously ill. I decided I needed to stay in the country. I changed my plans just a few days before flying out. The boat was scheduled to leave from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and I wasn’t able to refund my plane tickets—note to self, buy travel insurance—so I decided to go to Florida for the week. It would be easy to return home if need be. The night before I left two things happened. The first was I got a rejection from that other agent, and it was a doozy. The agent told me that there was no way I would be crossover writer, Christian mysteries would never sell, and I might want to rethink my career path. Now, I will say this person said this nicely. It wasn’t mean or malicious; it was a simple statement of what this person believed. But I knew the agent was wrong, and for the first time during my entire journey, I was mad, not just mad, furious. The second thing that happened that night was I realized Nicole was in Florida at the same time I would be there. Now, I had a dilemma. Should I email her and ask her if she’d meet me while I was in Florida?
I did email Nicole, and she emailed me back within the hour saying that she would be happy to meet up with me while I visited the Sunshine State. I am not a spur of the moment person, and I would never have sent that email if I hadn’t gotten that rejection first. I owe that other agent a big thank you.
Nicole and I met for lunch at California Pizza Kitchen at a mall in Boca Raton, and I have no idea what I ordered because I was way too nervous to eat. I told her I wanted to write mysteries for both inspirational and mainstream publishers. She was unfazed by this and didn’t seem to think it was a bad idea like so many others had. We chatted for a bit more, and she said, “You know I’m going to sign you.”
I believe my heart actually stopped when she said that. I think I lost my hearing too because sounds echoed for the next hour or so. After I more or less regained my composure, we discussed series ideas, and I mentioned that I used to live in Ohio’s Amish Country. That got her attention, and she told me I needed to write a mystery about that. She could sell that. I said I would try.
It was my third literary miracle.
Read the First Installment HERE. Read the Final Installment Friday, January 11th! Each day has a new book to win!
Leave a comment on today’s post to enter a drawing to win a signed copy of Murder in a Basket, Amanda’s second novel. The winner will be randomly selected from those who entered. Contest ends Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 at 5pm (EST). Winners will be announced here on my blog on Wednesday, January 16th, 2013.
Amanda’s Newest Book: A Plain Scandal, forthcoming Feb. 2013–Now Available for preorder