by Julie, celebrating Valentine’s Day in Somerville
I am delighted to welcome friend of the Wickeds Michele Dorsey back to the blog today. I love this post by Michele, and the journey she took with her book, Oh Danny Girl.
NEVERTHELESS, SHE PERSISTED
“Nevertheless, she persisted.” A frequent quote from a male senate leader about a female senator who refused to be silenced. It was meant as a disparagement. It became a banner, one that I internalized as a writer.
Oh Danny Girl was the third full length mystery I had written and the first I considered worthy of publication. I had poured my heart, soul, and brain into the creation of a story about a young female lawyer, whose widowed mother decides to go to law school and then join her practice. Danny’s luck worsens when her hot shot criminal lawyer husband is found naked and shot to death next a woman in a Boston hotel on the eve of a huge cop killer trial. When the gun that killed them is found in Danny’s briefcase, she knows she is in big trouble.
I loved writing every word of this book, even when an agent insisted I rewrite it from the first point of view to the third. I loved the characters, I adored the setting, the relationship between the mother and daughter, and writing about how nothing is ever as perfect as it seems. Beta readers were super enthusiastic.
I felt on fire as a writer and was thrilled when a mega agent asked for a full manuscript after a conference. Three weeks later, her assistant scratched a standard rejection. “Not for me.” When a different agent signed me, she got responses that varied between, “Loved the characters, but not wild about the story,” to “Great story, not so much the characters.” She gracefully bowed out.
By then, I was deflated and had lost my confidence. I paid for a manuscript review by a curmudgeonly and brutally honest agent, who told me my agent had made a huge mistake mismarketing the book as a cozy rather than a legal thriller.
I got another agent, this time competent and not shy about being honest. While she loved Oh Danny Girl, it had been shopped everywhere and told me to move on. I had been working on other books and soon she sold two of them.
But I could never quit on Oh Danny Girl.
The book and its characters flickered in my memory as I wrote other books. I began talking to another writer about self-publishing books as I was about to revive a series I had started which had been traditionally published. I confessed that I was still mourning Oh Danny Girl and wished I had been able to share it with readers. My friend challenged me when she asked why I didn’t just publish the book myself. We began a series of conversations about who gets to decide what books should be available to readers and concluded that the reader, not the industry should decide.
I was liberated, unchained from the constraints I believed prohibited me from sharing a book I desperately wanted to bring into the world. Last March, Oh Danny Girl hit the shelves much to my delight. It had taken almost twenty years. I may be as stubborn as I am persistent.
I have been gratified by the reception by readers of Oh Danny Girl. One wrote, “I started reading Oh Danny Girl late at night and didn’t put it down until 6am when I needed to sleep. I picked it up again as soon as I could and read it to the end.” Mark Baker’s review in Carstairs Considers underscored the reason I wanted Oh Danny Girl to find its way to readers. “This is one of those books you can’t wait to finish to find out what happens but at the same time don’t want to end because you are enjoying it so much.”
When has persistence paid off for you, dear readers? I will send one commenter a copy of Oh Danny Girl.
About the book:
Attorney Danny O’Brien thought her biggest problem was that her middle-aged widowed mother went to law school and insisted on joining Danny’s law practice.
Until Danny heads to court for an uncontested divorce trial and a gun is found in her briefcase.
Until the gun is linked to a murder trial in which her hotshot criminal lawyer husband represents an alleged cop killer.
Until her husband is found dead, naked with a woman in a hotel room in Boston.
Life can only get better.
Until Danny unearths her husband’s clever secret life and starts to question whether he is alive and stalking her.
About C. Michele Dorsey:
C. Michele Dorsey is the author of Oh Danny Girl and the Sabrina Salter series, including No Virgin Island, Permanent Sunset, Tropical Depression, and Salt Water Wounds. Her latest novel, Gone But Not Forgotten will be published by Severn House in July 2023. Michele is a lawyer, mediator, former adjunct law professor and nurse, who didn’t know she could be a writer when she grew up. Now that she does, Michele writes constantly, whether on St John, outer Cape Cod, or anywhere within a mile of the ocean.