1. Empty Spaces. 1992. First, very autobiographical novel about a woman who works at a hospital. One agent called talked to me about it for an hour, but thought it should be completely changed.
2. Family Values. 1994. Four first-person voices about a woman coming to terms with her family and her past. Got me my agent and a lot of nice rejection letters.
3. Keeping Track. 1995? About the Orphan Trains. Not even nice rejection letters.
4. Circles of Confusion. 1997 (sold)/1999 published. Sold in three days as a mystery (which wasn't how I had been thinking of it). A woman inherits a painting that may be a long-lost Vermeer.
5. Square in the Face. 1997/2000. Sold as part of a package deal with above. Same woman tries to find a child’s adopted sibling for a bone-marrow match.
6. Heart-Shaped Box. 1999/2001. Third book in series, set at a high school reunion where the first person who dies is the former head cheerleader. While I was on tour for this book, I learned the publisher was dropping the series because the second book had not sold twice as many hardcover copies as the first (an expectation I was unaware of, which was probably just as well)
7. Learning to Fly. 2002/2003. Written on spec, a thriller about a woman who survives a multiple car crash and ends up with a bag of money. This book did very well – esp. in France. If it sold proportionately in America what it did in France, I would be a rich woman.
8. Buried Diamonds. 2003?/2004. Fourth in the series. Miraculously, my agent was able to shift the series over to another house. Woman finds a long-lost diamond ring and learns her elderly neighbors have many secrets.
9. Satellite. 2003? What happens when a man who thinks he’s dying finds out he isn’t. What my agent termed a “tweener,” meaning it didn’t fit into any category. Editors liked it for the most part, but ended up passing after saying they didn’t know how to market it.
10. Shock Point. 2004/2006. YA thriller about overseas teen boot camps.
11. Some Assembly Required. 2004. Chick lit in a very cold market. Didn’t sell.
12. Torched. 2006/2009. YA thriller about teen who goes undercover with a group like ELF.
13. Face of Betrayal. 2008/2009. First in a 4-book series (with Lis Wiehl) about three friends who solve crimes.
So 13 books, including four that haven’t seen the light of day. Plus three still to be written. I’m just glad the number that has been published is more than the number that hasn’t.
What can you learn from this?
- Keep writing. While writing Family Values, I took a class and joined a critique group. Several people who were better writers than I was gave up after a couple of rejections from agents. I persevered and got published. Tenacity is just as important as talent.
- Even after you’re published, there are no guarantees. Either way. Your career can always rebound, a book can always tank. The secret is to keep trying. And enjoy what you’re doing.