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Happy Book Birthday — Susannah Hardy!

We are so happy to celebrate the release of Feta Attraction by debut author (and fellow New Englander) Susannah Hardy (aka Jane Haertel)!

When did you start writing?
Other than school assignments, my writing career began in high school, when I produced a comic strip based on a biology-loving superheroine who wore a plastic microscope cover on her head. I also produced a couple of dreadful short stories and some deliberately bad poetry (one line I recall is: A porkpie hat settles effortlessly to the ground). I am grateful that all of this drivel has been lost to time and to the cleaning efforts of one of my younger sisters who moved into my bedroom when I moved out. I started writing seriously, with the intent of completing a novel, about five years ago, after my son was old enough to not need me so much and preferred hanging out with his friends more than his parents.

Did you always want to write a novel?
Yes and no. Reading was always a huge part of my life, whether I was being read to by a favorite aunt or later when I learned to recognize words on a page. The dream of actually writing a novel of my own came later—because writing was something other people did. People with muses, and some innate desire and talent that mere mortals such as myself did not possess. But in my adult life, the deep-down want was always there. I just didn’t know how to make it happen. So I wrote in fits and starts (I have a virtual drawer full of the first chapters of manuscripts). Finally, I took stock of myself and realized that if I died without having written a complete novel, I would regret it. And so I joined a writing group at the local library, and found a friend who is still a bestie to this day, and we started the writing journey together. As much as writing is a solitary undertaking, I don’t know anyone who can do it alone. After I’d completed a manuscript, I joined a professional organization (RWA) that taught me the business side of writing and that made all the difference in helping me make the transition from writer to professional writer.

How did you find your agent?
I had been sitting on the manuscript that became FETA ATTRACTION for a while (like a couple of years!), continuing to trim unnecessary stuff and tweaking the beginning until it fit the cozy mystery genre. Finally, I realized I needed to let go of my perfectionism and push myself to try to sell it, so I gave myself a deadline—six months to find an agent or a digital-first publisher, or I would indie publish the novel. Either way, it was time to move on to something else. So I took a targeted approach. I went to the cozy mystery section in Barnes and Noble and looked at every book on the shelf, checking the acknowledgements to see if the author thanked her agent. This gave me a list of professionals I knew could sell my book, and I submitted to all of them, plus the major digital-first publishers. I got some rejections, and some requests for partials and fulls.

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