Friday, August 6, 2010

Penny Pinchers column inspires a mystery novel

My Penny Pinchers column seem to be a success; at least my editor thought so. And judging from the amount of mail I was receiving every week, the readers did, too. I was now being asked to speak to groups all up and down the San Francisco Peninsula, describing how to clip newspaper coupons, the best way to choose fresh vegetables and fruit at the supermarket, how to cook wholesome yet low cost meals, and how to pack nutritious, yet hopefully fun, lunches for the kids. I was happy to share what I had learned, but it was beginning to take up an inordinate amount of time. Don't forget I had seven children at home, was teaching four guitar classes a week at the local night school, as well as volunteering at school. And I'd turned my kitchen into a food discovery zone, trying out new recipes nearly every day of the week. It didn't require a rocket scientist to figure out why my husband began to complain that I was turning into the invisible woman!

When my editor approached me with the idea of syndicating my column, I was forced to think long and hard about what I wanted to do with my professional life. To be honest, after three years I was getting tired of writing the weekly column. While it was true that I loved writing, I increasingly longed to write something different. Dare I say it? Maybe even a novel? This was even scarier than when I'd first thought of writing my newspaper column. I finally decided that before I burned any bridges, I'd try to see if I could even come up with a book idea.

Since mysteries had always been my favorite genre, I figured that would be a good place to start. What if my story featured a heroine who had seven children, taught guitar, was chief cook and bottle washer, drove her kids all over town, and wrote a weekly newspaper column? Now there was an original idea! (Oh, well, they did say to write about what you know, right?) Fired with inspiration, I once again pulled out my mother's old upright typewriter and set to work. I still remember the intense satisfaction I felt as page after page of text collected in a neat, ever growing pile beside my ancient machine. This was it. I'd found my life's calling. Look out world, here I come!

On Sunday: Nobody ever told me how hard it was to sell a book.


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