Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) by Annie Acorn
Those of you who follow this blog know that I don’t often discuss my writing directly. Frankly, I’m not sure why I haven’t. Perhaps, it’s because being a writer is as much a part of me as my hair color, and why would anyone be interested in that?
This past week, though, has been phenomenal, and I have been asked by several of this site’s members, my Facebook friends, and my Twitter followers to make note of the occasion with a few well-chosen words.
So, here goes…
Once upon a time, indeed back before time, there lived a little girl, who had brown hair and brown eyes. The young family of which she was a part lived in one half of a duplex in Columbus, Ohio, that was referred to as “The Double.” Her paternal grandmother and great-aunt lived in the other side of this quaint abode. Her maternal grandmother, who worked for a publisher, lived not so far away in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
The young girl lived happily among a plethora of adults, learning to write at her paternal grandmother’s desk – her short, stocky legs swinging beneath the dining room chair in which she often found herself sitting.
As the years progressed, boxes would appear as if from magic at the home’s heavy oak door, sent by the child’s maternal grandmother. Contained within were reams of multi-colored papers glued together and formed into books, their pages empty and waiting for her to fill.
Having just learned her letters, the girl wasn’t quite ready to tell her own story, and so, she spent hour upon hour copying words from her favorite storybooks onto the blank pages, dreaming of a time when she would be wise enough to write a story of her own.
Time passed. The girl went to school, grew into a reasonably good-looking woman, met a handsome prince, married, and had two strong, handsome sons.
One day, the woman realized that deep within her a story was beginning to form. The handsome prince bought her an IBM Wheelwriter III typewriter as a gift and encouraged her to let her manuscript unfold. Gradually, the words began to take form on paper, and the stack of pages beside her grew. And they grew… And they grew some more… At long last, a cozy mystery was born, and the woman named it, Chocolate Can Kill.
The prince, unfortunately, died young, but one of the handsome sons married the best daughter-in-law in the world. On balance the woman, as she now was, considered herself to be blessed.
Meanwhile, Chocolate as the book was nicknamed sat in a box. From time to time, the woman took it out and read through it, taking a few words out here and adding some more there. Finding herself now living alone, she joined several writers groups, surrounded herself with beta readers, and requested feedback. She read bookcases full of other writers’ work and studied their methods and their madness. She attended lectures and MWA Universities. She emailed and spent hours on the phone and in person discussing writing with friends.
Sometimes, the world seemed to turn on her. Once, at a writers’ group, another writer handed her Chapter 5 completely crossed out in red. Another writer literally tore the pages of her manuscript into shreds. Other stories came into her head, were written, sent out to publishers, and rejected.
Then an article was published. She was asked to edit a magazine. Businesses she owned required marketing materials, and consulting work appeared for her technical writing. Here and there, smaller and larger works were published as her writing generated a larger and larger part of her income.
But still, she added some words here and took out some more there as Chocolate, she knew, was not quite ready.
Years passed. The woman’s hair became slightly gray, but only at the temples, which she convinced herself was okay. She started a tri-state medical outsourcing business and flipped a five store retail chain. She was Director of a behavioral healthcare firm. She managed six cemeteries and funeral homes.
More of her works were offered in print, but Chocolate – her first and her favorite – had yet to find its way to the light, despite the fact that it had once been a Malice Domestic Contest finalist.
Then one day a knight in shining armor (http://www.newbreedmarketer.com/blog), who had worked with her on a project, suggested that she catch a ride on the epublishing wave. Day after day, he harassed her with first this idea and then that until finally the woman gave in and did what she had vowed she would never do again. Leaning on his technical knowledge and skills, she went a step further than he had suggested and started a publishing business.
Quickly, other people flocked to her with their words – fine words, strong words, successful words, and she published them. A cry went out into the country, as a graphic cover artist was needed, and an Angel (http://www.freewebs.com/angelnichols/resume.htm) answered the call.
It was then that the miracle happened. The woman took one last nip here and another tuck there before she set Chocolate Can Kill’s final manuscript down. The time was right. The work was at long last finished. Angel had even designed a fabulous cover!
The fish swam, the birds sang – all was right with the world! The woman’s fairy tale story had indeed come true.
On February 12, 2012, Chocolate Can Kill was launched as an ebook onto an unsuspecting and poorly prepared world, just in time for Valentine’s Day, and Chocolate Can Kill is now available in both print and epublished versions. A piece titled Roses and Chocolates was posted on annieacorn.com to mark the occasion. The woman’s Twitter followers and Facebook friends from all over the world read that post and encouraged her. They also (Bless them!) bought copies of her book.
Gradually, buzz was created.
Soon, Chocolate Can Kill was consistently showing in the top 5 in both of its primary Amazon categories and placing in the top 100 in a third, much larger, category. Sales on Barnes and Noble were also quite good and grew steadily.
Then, on Tuesday evening, April 17, 2012, the woman was sitting in a comfortable chair, quietly minding her own business, when she decided to check on her sales. Lo and behold, sales on Barnes and Noble, already reasonably good, had increased dramatically.
Suddenly, Chocolate’s overall sales ranking had leaped from 1900 to 363. The woman watched enthralled as sales just kept pouring in. Needing to share the excitement with someone, she reached for the phone, but then realized that her BFF was probably asleep. Handsome son #2 lived in Seattle, but he was tied up in a meeting and couldn’t answer. Finally, through the magic of cell phone technology, she connected with the best daughter-in-law in the world, who was still awake and in the midst of doing her shopping.
Having shared her momentous news, the woman crawled into bed – at this point definitely A Tired Older Woman. The next morning still more excitement greeted her, as during the night, Chocolate had continued to move onward and upward and was now sales ranked at # 171 on Barnes and Noble.
Grabbing a pitcher of espresso and a pain au chocolat for much needed caffeine, calories, and cholesterol, the woman glued herself to her laptop screen as watching Chocolate’s sales ranking rise was even more fun than tracking election night presidential returns. Now fortified by some much needed chocolate, the woman watched as the number kept dropping – first to #157, then to # 66, then to # 33.
You guessed it – that woman was me! As I write this, Chocolate Can Kill is sales ranked # 18 on Barnes and Noble, and sales have picked up dramatically on Amazon as well.
I have enjoyed most of the journey – the red “Xs” and the torn up manuscript, not so much. Writing, although work, energizes me. It is my passion – my reason for being. It is me! My hope is that those who read Chocolate Can Kill will enjoy it, relax while they read it, and think kindly of me.
I have three other novels written and in the editing stage. I would like for them to receive such a welcome as well, so I promise I won’t release them before they are truly ready.
One of my friends gave me a bear hug today. “You’re an overnight wonder!” she exclaimed.
No, that I am not, but – and this is the point I want to make through this post to all of you writers out there, who are still dreaming – all of my efforts were NOT in vain!
I worked hard on Chocolate for many years, waiting for the moment when it was well and truly ready to be tested. Other works came easier and made it into the light sooner. Other kinds of writing took precedence. I spent years studying my craft, and then, having paid my dues, I applied what I had learned. I was both disciplined and determined. I would do it all over again.
I am writing this now not to brag, but to encourage all of those hopeful writers out there who will read this. Yes, there are dues to pay. Yes, writing is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Yes, there are plenty of people who will tell you, “No!” or “This is horrible.” Still, you can do it, and when you have had even a day like the one I’ve just been lucky enough to have, you, too, will say to yourself, “It was worth it!”
A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! by Annie Acorn
When to Remain Silent (Annie Acorn’s Kindle Short Mysteries) by Annie Acorn
Also available for NOOK!