Wednesday, November 21, 2007

All Good Things...

They say all good things must come to an end and so it is with mixed feelings that I have to announce the publication of the fourth and final entry in the Molly Forrester series, KILLER RIFF, by Sheryl J. Anderson.

Constantly reviewing well, this series has delighted fans through three prior entries, KILLER HEELS, KILLER COCKTAIL, and KILLER DEAL. Over and over, the books were compared to SEX AND THE CITY, as our intrepid protagonist chatted with her girlfriends over whom the murderer might be. And that’s a real credit to the writers, Sheryl Anderson and her husband, Mark Parrott. Yes, that’s right, the book was written by a husband-and-wife team. But given the audience, the publisher felt that it would best be published under a woman’s name. As their agent, I certainly agreed. It's a simple marketing decision.

But back to the credit. When this series was conceived, I was at the Journey Writers’ Conference in Arizona. While there, an editor asked me if I had any writers who could write a mystery series that was like SEX AND THE CITY, but with a dead body. I immediately thought of my client, Lisa Seidman, an accomplished TV writer who also had a mystery I was shopping. Lisa, in turn, mentioned the idea to Sheryl, another accomplished TV writer, who produced a three-page synopsis that was so dead-on perfect that I wish I could get such material from all of my clients. The original editor, unfortunately, would not buy on a proposal; she wanted a full manuscript. Not very reasonable, I said, as I told her I would be shopping this elsewhere if she didn’t want to offer. She said she understood and off I went with three chapters and a synopsis to every mystery editor I knew.

Two publishers offered quickly. One, interestingly enough, was a sister company to the one where the editor would not buy on a proposal! The other was the well-regarded Minotaur imprint at St. Martin’s Press. That one offer was paperback and the other hardcover made the decision easy for my clients. And I think it’s been a good run. Four hardcovers is an impressive accomplishment for a pair who had never written a book before pitching three chapters and a synopsis.

Why did they succeed? Well, for starters, they always approached this as pros. In their presentation, their communication with me and their editor, their attention to detail, and their commitment to hitting their deadlines, they always came through as professional and competent. Their manuscripts were astoundingly clean, well-formatted, and in need of very little editing. And since their reviews were—nearly without exception—positive, clearly their editor, Kelley Ragland, made the right call in going easy with the notes and the pencil.

I’m sure Sheryl’s work as a TV writer had a lot to do with this. She has an ear for dialogue that I’m sure has been fine-tuned by writing for TV, which I find interesting, since I’ve read other books by TV writers and always find them a bit TOO dialogue-driven and not that descriptive. But you never see that complaint in any reviews of Sheryl’s works, so it looks like she didn’t fall into that TV-writer-turned-author trap. And she and Mark have great people skills and know how to take notes from others without becoming defensive (a HUGE problem for most authors).

But you be the judge. There are four books out there now and you can buy them all or just one and see what you think. One thing is sure, though, just because this series is coming to an end, you’ll certainly be seeing more from this terrific writing pair.


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