It’s Liz, so happy to have Korina Moss here with us today as a soon-to-be-published author! I met Korina a few years ago at an event I did with a couple of the Wickeds, and since we lived close by we kept in touch and she was kind enough to share her writing journey with me. I was so happy when she told me she’d found an agent, so I invited her here to share her story. Take it away, Korina!
Thank you, Liz, for having me on your blog. I’ve been a fan of the Wickeds for a long time.
One question readers might like to know is how an author gets her start. Well, look no further—Here I am, getting my start!
The idea for my cozy mystery developed years ago when my son was a toddler. I’d been trying my hand at writing young adult mysteries, but I came to realize that I wasn’t familiar enough with teenagers to write for them. YA books are not the Nancy Drew books of my day. But I liked the feeling of a nice hometown, some good friends, and a clever mystery. I’d started to read cozies and discovered I could write the kind of mystery I wanted with adult characters. So I developed an outline about a married mom of a toddler living in a small college town in Connecticut. I figured when my son started school, I’d finally have time to write it. Unfortunately, he had some challenges that were only illuminated by attending school, and everything else got put on hold for the next eight years. When I finally got back to my book, he was ten.
I decided to still write the book I’d envisioned, but I had to make some changes, mostly due to the burst of technology and social media. For example, I had to take smart phones into consideration, since they’re more pervasive now than when I first came up with the story. I also made the main character a mom blogger. Since her son is still four, I now have to dip into my memories of those pre-school years, but I also have lots of parents on Facebook and Twitter who help me keep up on all things toddler.
It took me two years to write the book and then two more in my quest for an agent. The process went like this: Send to agents, get rejected, revise the manuscript, repeat. It wasn’t until I met some generous cozy mystery authors – several were Wickeds, in fact—did I learn that being a writer doesn’t have to be a solitary endeavor. With their advice, I found an editor. With her suggestions, I turned it into a better book. With all of their encouragement, I gained a newfound confidence. This summer, I finally had three agents interested in representing me.
After all these years envisioning nabbing an agent, I confess, I didn’t think much beyond it. It’s like when you’re pregnant for nine months (or in my case, going through the adoption process for nine months)—you only think of when the baby will finally arrive. That’s it. Hurrah! I finally have what I wanted! But as all of us moms know, that’s not the end, it’s only the beginning. The same holds true for a book.
Once you have an agent – or a baby – you’ll work harder than you ever have in your life. And you’ll be more tired, but also more fulfilled. You do things you didn’t know you were capable of.
And just when you think you know what you’re doing, something new arises and you have to figure your way through it. Nerves and accomplishments go hand in hand. Raising a child and becoming a published author are both exciting journeys.
I spent the entire months of July and August revising my mom blogger mystery for my agent. When she finally said it was ready for her to submit to publishers, I knew that I would no longer be able to put my mark on it. It was like sending my son to his very first day of school—No more straightening his collar or wiping a smudge off his face. Just as I’d done with my son, I now had to let my book stand on its own.
My cozy mystery is now being considered by publishing houses, as my son begins his freshman year of high school. My hopes and fears for both my “babies” are the same: Will they connect with people? Will they flourish?
My fingers are crossed for both.
QUESTION: Readers, have you ever left a project for a long time and then returned to it? What changes did you have to make? What were your results?
Korina Moss is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Her first cozy mystery short story will be included in an Elm Books anthology titled Death by Cupcake due out in spring 2019. She lives in Connecticut with her teenage son and their cat, Carl.
You can connect via her blog www.korinastake.blogspot.com or twitter @KorinaLMoss
I quilt, but there is not enough room in my 14’x48′ trailer, so I quilt at the Sudlersville Senior Center once a week, except for two years ago when the sprinkler system froze, then thawed and flooded the center. That necessitated closing the center for (I think) two months, making it VERY difficult to remember what I was doing with my then current project!
Quilting is such a talent – I can only imagine how difficult it was to return to it after that long of a time. I’m glad it wasn’t ruined in the flood, though.
Congratulations, Korina, and welcome to the blog! What an encouraging story yours is – perseverance really does make all the difference. As for returning to a project, when I let a manuscript gel and and then give it a fresh look, it makes a huge difference and I do it regularly. Look forward to having you back on the blog when your debut novel is about to come out!
Thank you so much, Edith! You were one of the Wickeds who was so gracious to me early on. Yes, that’s a really good tip about leaving a manuscript to gel for a while – one of the few times leaving something for a while is a good thing. Thanks again for all your support!
Welcome to the friendly world of mystery writers! That was one of the happiest surprises for me when I started writing–finding a whole community of people who were happy to help you (as you’ve already discovered). Sounds like you’re doing all the right things. Fingers crossed for you!
Thank you so much, Sheila. I can’t say it enough how welcoming, supportive, and helpful the mystery writing community has been. I appreciate the fingers crossed — I’ve still got the final big hurdle to jump!
Congratulations, Korina! Yes, I understand about the journey. Sounds a lot like mine. Started writing in the late 90s, then…kids. I did finish that long-ago manuscript, but it wound up in a digital trunk, where it probably belongs. I took it out once, looked at all the issues, and put it back.
Good luck on the next step in the journey!
Aw, Liz – we can definitely relate! I hope that if you enjoy writing, you’ll take it back out and give it another go. Or maybe even start a new one. You’d be amazed at how much you learn just from the act of writing. Thanks so much for your well wishes!
Ha! Well, I see you put that one back in but picked up the pen (keyboard?) again! Now I’m going to read your book!
Welcome, Korina! You are in excellent hands with Jill Marsal. I sincerely hope we’ll be hearing soon that a sale has been made on what sounds like a great new series!
Thanks, Jane! All your help and encouragement along the way has meant so much to me. You were the one who made me realize I needed a theme to my cozy — that was a game changer. I hope to get good news and be able to continue writing this series. I love it.
I’m looking forward to reading your first novel. Will it be a series?
Thank you so much! Yes, it’s intended to be the “Mom Blogger” series. I’ve already got Books 2 and 3 outlined.
Congratulations, Korina! I hope one of the publishers picks up your book, and I love that you chose adoption.
Thank you, Marla! I appreciate your encouragement. I have my own blog and keep meaning to tell the whole story of the adoption, since it was an incredible process! I feel so lucky to have experienced it (and to have my sweet boy).
Let me know if and when you do get that blog post written. I would love to read your adoption story!
Thank you. This is my incentive to start it! I will let you know, Marla!
Great to see you here, Korina! My finger and toes are crossed for you.
Thank you, Sherry! The more fingers and toes crossed, the better!!
I have my fingers, toes, eyes, and legs crossed for you. Can’t wait to hear the news of the next hurdle being crossed too.
Ha!! Someone throw in some four leaf clovers, and I’ve got this thing!! Thank you so much for everything, Barb. I’m hopeful I’ll have good news to tell!
Hi Korina–I can definitely relate to your journey. I started writing a mystery when my youngest son was in kindergarten, I had never written any fiction, but I hoped that my idea would see me through. After countless false starts, abandonment, and a strange turn into what was supposed to be a YA fantasy series called ‘Troll Girl’ (it might be really ahead of its time) I’m finishing up the first mystery I ever started. And…my kindergartner is in 7th grade. Funny how that happens. I hope you find a publisher soon- I’d love to see all of your hard work on the page!
Thanks so much! You don’t realize how much time passes until your kids are suddenly teenagers. Congratulations on your short story! I know of several writers in that anthology – you are among an impressive list.
Other than having a baby 48 years ago, I haven’t had the same experiences you have had, but I wish you all the luck in the world, and thank you for sharing with us. I admire your pertinacity.
Thank you, Ginny. How nice to get such support.
Congratulations, Korina! Having your manuscript accepted by an agent is a big step forward in your journey. I still remember meeting you at that library event. Best of luck with the next steps. That’s what a writing career requires, hard work & luck.
Thank you, Barb! You were among the Wickeds I met who were so wonderful to me, answering my multitude of cozy writing questions and offering kind words of encouragement. I can manage the hard work — it’s the luck I’m hoping for now!
Best of luck to you in finding an agent. This book sounds great to me.
Make that publisher. It’s what I meant. Honest! I can read really. 🙂
LOL! I didn’t even notice – I read it as publisher, so your intentions must’ve been loud and clear!
Thank you, Mark! One of the milestones of this journey would be for you to review it! I hope I get there.
As someone who knows Korina (Yay, Christie Capers!) and has followed her writing over the years, I am thrilled that her hard work and creativity are finally poised to be shared with the world. I know that she will be a great success, and there is nothing better seeing someone as nice as Korina achieve her dreams! Congratulaions!
You’re the best, Eileen. One of the wonderful things about getting published would be to be able to share this with you and all the members of the Christie Capers.
This was a great post to read, really sweet and heartwarming. 🙂
I’m just getting ready to go back to work from maternity leave. I’ve had almost a year off so it feels like work is the thing that I have left behind. I struggle with being excited to talk to adults again and not wanting to miss anything with my son.
That’s very understandable – It’s a big shift. I hope the transition goes smoothly for you. Congratulations on your beautiful baby! And thank you for your kind words.
Congrats Korina! I’m glad you’ve kept at it & didn’t give up.
Thank you, Jana!
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