Don't forget to check out Jenny's Writer's Wish List Contest!
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I'm not sure Jenny Milchman needs much of an introduction. Her first suspense novel, COVER OF SNOW, won the Mary Higgins Clark award and, like her second book, RUIN FALLS, was an Indie Next pick. If you like your mysteries cold, moody and set in the Adirondacks (and really, who doesn't?) she's your go-to girl.
Yesterday, I talked about the prison break from NY's northernmost maximum security facility. I thought the escapees - still on the loose! - would make a great story. Well, look at the description of Jenny's upcoming thriller, AS NIGHT FALLS:
Sandy Tremont has always tried to give her family everything. But, as the sky darkens over the Adirondacks and a heavy snowfall looms, an escaped murderer with the power to take it all away draws close.Is getting out ahead of a national news story a "you made it" moment for writers? I would say so. Here's Jenny to tell us a few other items on her list of made-it moments.
In her isolated home in the shadowy woods, Sandy prepares dinner after a fight with her daughter, Ivy. Upstairs, the fifteen-year-old—smart, brave, and with every reason to be angry tonight—keeps her distance from her mother. Sandy’s husband, Ben, a wilderness guide, arrives late to find a home simmering with unease.
Nearby, two desperate men on the run make their way through the fading light, bloodstained and determined to leave no loose ends or witnesses. After almost twenty years as prison cellmates, they have become a deadly team: Harlan the muscle, Nick the mind and will. As they approach a secluded house and look through its windows to see a cozy domestic scene, Nick knows that here he will find what he’s looking for . . . before he disappears forever.
Opening the door to the Tremont home, Nick brings not only a legacy of terror but a secret that threatens to drag Sandy with him into the darkness.
On my blog—which isn’t the phenom Jungle Red is, of course, but home to a loyal group—I have a forum called the Made It Moments. About 300 authors have appeared, sharing the moment when they knew they’d made it. The entries vary wildly. (Come on over and read them! They’re a font of inspiration). But my point in sharing this today is that the message of the Moments is that we’d better pay attention to the small ones. The ones that could get missed. Because if we sit around waiting for John Steinbeck to walk up and say, “OK. You’re a real writer now…” Well, that may never happen. And not only because he’s deceased.
In that spirit, I thought I’d share 10 Moments I’m striving for that I hope are attainable. They’ll let me know I’m on my way…even if I never quite feel I’ve made it.
- A reader quotes one of my lines to me. You know the words we pour over, and lovingly caress? How great would it be to know that those words spoke back to someone? This is my Taylor Swift moment. Before she got famous, Taylor said how great it would be to hear fans singing her lyrics at a concert. Now, millions do.
- I see someone reading one of my books when I’m out and about. This happened to craft mystery writer, Lois Winston, on the subway, I believe. How cool! I think I’d walk up and hug that person. They’d think I was a nutcase and never read one of my books again.
- I see someone reading a review of one of my books when I’m out and about. This is close to the above. Except that in this case, I sidle over to the person, all clandestine-like, and intone solemnly, “You should really buy that book they’re reviewing.” Unless the review is a bad one. Then I would sidle over, all clandestine-like, and mutter, “Ignore it.”
- I go into a library and somebody is taking one of my books off the shelf. Another variation on the same theme, I suppose. Except that I remember being that kid in the library for whom each book was a precious jewel in a treasure chest. I couldn’t afford to buy books as a child, and libraries saved me in many ways (the least of them financial). To know that my work is now part of that chain would probably make me weepy.
- Somebody recognizes me. I waited so long to be published—it took thirteen years—that my brother finally gave up and decided to fill the role of #1 fan. Now when we are together, he’ll periodically break into this croggy, lifetime smoker voice and say, “Hey! Aren’t you Jenny Milchman?” I’d like for this to happen…and it wouldn’t be my brother.
- At a book event, they need to bring in extra chairs. Some Reds readers may know that I do a lot of book events. (Like, a real lot. Of the past 24 months, I spent 11 touring, and we’re about to head out again). So needless to say—but I’ll say it—I’ve entered my share of empty rooms. Comes with the territory, and a night spent talking to booksellers is always a night happily spent. Or rooms with 1, 2, or 10 attendees, and I like those, too. Truth to tell, I love ’em all, or else I probably couldn’t do so many. I’ve even had a smattering of events with triple digit attendees. I remember going to see Louise Penny at The Tattered Cover in Denver and it was SRO. Louise walked up to the podium and said something gracious and Louise-ish, like, “I want you to know that I don’t take a single one of you here for granted.” I never will either. I’ll even get you a chair.
- My books are in bookstore windows. OK, this has actually happened already. As I mentioned, I do a lot of events, and booksellers are smart about using their real estate. (Thank you, Malaprops, in Asheville, North Carolina! You rule!) But it’d be super cool if it happened so often that I didn’t run over to the window, press my face against the glass so I looked like a smushed fish, and jump and down, screaming, “That’s my book! That’s my book!”
- Two generations in a family read my work. Maybe I have to write a lot longer for this to happen. But Lois Duncan—who was celebrated as a Grand Master at this year’s Edgar ceremonies—was and is my favorite YA suspense novelist, and introducing my own daughter to her work was and is one of the great joys of my reading life. Oh, and once I even got to introduce my daughter to Lois in person! And that put things all kinds of over the top.
- Somebody sends me something. Not in a creepy way, like hand-delivered to my house. But you know, maybe in care of my publisher or agent? And not something creepy, like a finger. But it could be a cake. I like cake. Or a miniature, which I collect. Or a book they love. Or a picture of him or her reading my book. Which would bring this whole list full circle.
- But wait! There’s more. If you’re reading this post, I’d love to get to meet you along the road. Your road or mine. I’d love to hear where you’re at, with your writing or your reading, and I’d love to connect. I think that’s the real feeling behind every single item on this list. Connecting with readers and other writers. That’s why we’re all in this game.
Those are 10 items in my bucket. What are some of yours?
Special for Reds Readers! I’m announcing a giveaway for the first time ever on this blog. Anyone who pre-orders my forthcoming thriller, As Night Falls, is eligible to win a Writer’s Wish List, or give one away to an emerging writer in their life. Please see here for details: http://jennymilchman.com/as-night-falls/giveaway
Jenny is Vice President of Author Programming for International Thriller Writers, and the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, which is celebrated annually in all 50 states and 6 foreign countries.
You can find out more about her and her books at her website, friend her on Facebook and Goodreads, and follow her on Twitter as @JennyMilchman.