Thursday, April 25, 2019

Do You Have Your Ducks in A Row?

Congratulations DianeR, last week’s winner of Leslie Karst’s MURDER FROM SCRATCH. Diane, send your mailing address to Leslie at lesliekarstauthor “at” gmail dot com.
 And the winnners of Jeff Siger's Murder in Mykonos are  (US only please,...let me know if that's not you) Jana Leah B. and Robin!  Email me at Hryan at whdh dot com 
Hurray!  

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Talk about the universe aligning. Yesterday morning, I looked out the backyard window and saw--SEVEN ducks. In a row. On the edge of our pool. A seven duck day--remarkable!

 And so when I read the amazing Cindy Callaghan's post for today I though--ducks in a row! And the karma is good all around.

Cindy is a treasure, and we go way back, and she has such a wonderful and inspirational and educational story--I've just gotta let you read it. 

 In writing and in Life:  
            Make Your Own Luck
     by Cindy Callaghan

As a writer and reader, I spend a lot of time in my head.  I imagine, daydream, and as Pooh says, “think, think, think.”  Perhaps you share a fondness for deep thinking?



I get excited for long car rides to plan plots, characters, or scene sequences.  (And to sing very, very loudly to the radio.  I’m a chart-topper in the car.)  At those times when I’m in my head, I manipulate the destiny of my story in any way I want.  In this respect, fiction writing is a great career for a control freak like me.  However, the business of fiction writing can be challenging for those of us who like every duck in a neat row. 


My book Lost in Ireland was originally launched under the title Lucky Me.  When I’d sign that book, I’d add a message to my ‘tween reader:  Make your own luck.  I believe that in writing and in life we make our own luck, but the business end of writing holds variables that, despite our best-laid plans, are out of our control.  I’m referring to things such as:
·      Will critiquers be honest about what’s working and what’s not? 
·      Will the cover be appealing to my target market? 
·      Will I submit the same time someone else is submitting a similar premise?
·      Will a huge competitor launch a similar book at the same time as mine? 
·      Will a bookstore stock its shelves? 
·      Will it snow on the day of my big launch event?

For Type A personalities, these uncertainties can be maddening.  For sanity’s sake, I’ve practiced being laid back, which for me truly takes effort.  But, it was at one of these trying moments when something magical happened.   

Circa 2003 my daughter, about nine at the time, and her friends were baking in my kitchen - flour everywhere, icing in hair and on counter tops - you get the idea.  I was twitching, but trying to be chill.  I exhaled and let them go.  In that moment I saw how much they loved it.  

Think, think, think. 

I began to imagine a cooking club for tweens.  That’d be fun, right?  In fact, that’d be a cool idea for a book. 

Think, think, think.

What if it was a secret cooking club?  And at that moment the idea for Kelly Quinn’s Secret Cooking Club was born…you may know it as Just Add Magic.  (Original 2010 cover and revamped 2016 cover)


         

In Just Add Magic Kelly Quinn and her besties stumble on an old recipe book in Kelly’s creepy attic.  When they make the recipes strange things happen around town. Thus begins the girls’ quest to understand the rules of the magical potions and the book’s history…a history that involves Kelly more than she ever imagined.  

I would go on secure literary representation who would sell this book to Simon & Schuster, and in 2010 Just Add Magic hit the shelves.  But that book was only the first half of Kelly Quinn’s story; there’s untold backstory and loose ends that aren’t tied up in book one.  I not only wanted to tell readers the rest of the story, but I also wanted them to see Just Add Magic.  But uncontrollable factors played out.  

In 2011, my agent and I separated, putting my aspirations for both a sequel and screen adaptation out of reach - my ducks had fallen out of row.


But my story continued:  About this time I connected with a college friend.  We lunched, and she suggested I send the book to a friend of hers for film/tv tips.  Making a long story short, that friend turned out to be a film agent who repped the book and sold it to then new-on-the-block Amazon Studios.  Starting in 2016 and each year thereafter a new season of Just Add Magic has dropped.  What a thrill! 


In light of the show’s success, I hoped the book sequel, which had been pitched many times over the years, would happen.  After several years of “no,” my magical agent sold Potion Problems (2018).  Even more recently the book was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best in Children’s/MG/YA Mystery.  It makes me giddy that readers can now know what only I’ve known - the previously untold backstory and ending, which holds many surprises.  After years of waiting, the ducklings are aligned.


The point I want to make in this piece, my friends, is this: 

In writing and in life make your own luck.  That is, do the worktake control of your ducks, your career, and your future.

BUT, when despite your efforts, you find yourself in a floury mess or otherwise detoured from Plan A, just maybe, something magical can stir.

So, tell me, are you a planner and how to you manage when things derail?

HankI had a little discussion with myself yesterday about that very thing--I realized: If I stoped spending time worrying about how my plans might not work, I'd have more time to think about the other possibilities. So I try not to think about fail as much, and instead think: plot twist! 
How about you, Reds and readers?


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About Cindy Callaghan: Cindy Callaghan is the award-winning author of two ‘tween series: The mega-popular Just Add Magic and Just Add Magic 2: Potion Problems, the five Lost in books: London, Ireland, Paris, Rome, and Hollywood, and two stand-alones: the award-winning Sydney MacKenzie Knocks ‘Em Dead and Saltwater Secrets (2020).
Cindy’s first book, the much-loved Just Add Magic, is now a breakout Amazon Original live-action series in its third season.  And the upcoming Saltwater Secrets is set up at a major studio.
Cindy holds an MA and MBA and has over twenty years of business experience. The Delawarian (by way of Los Angeles (USC)) is a Jersey girl at heart. She lives in Wilmington and escapes to her PA mountain retreat whenever time will allow.
www.cindycallaghan.com

59 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Cindy . . . I’m glad you had the chance to write that book . . . and it must be so exciting to see your story turned into a series.

    I am far better at last-minute improvising than I am at being a planner, so I often find myself in awe of folks who make lists and excel at all that advance planning . . . .

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    1. Thanks, Joan! I LOVE lists. I'm addicted to them. lol. Have a great day!

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    2. Yes, absolutely! I have lists of lists! xx

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  2. I do not have ducks. I do not have rows. I have squirrels. And they're at a rave.

    (Stolen from the internet.)

    Seriously, I start planning what I am going to do several days from now today. Then, as the date gets closer, things change. And change again. And I replot and replan. And eventually something happens that might or might not bare any resemblance to what I thought would happen. Sometimes, I roll with it. Other times, I stress. I need to learn to be more flexible. Can you give me a week's advance notice on that flexibility?

    Congrats on the nomination!

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    1. Thanks, Mark. Advance notice on EVERYTHING is always appreciated. I admire people who can be spontaneous, it's just not me. Have a great day!

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    2. You ARE flexible! ANd yes, that week's notice would be nice.. I'm not big on surprises/.:-)

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  3. Waving hi to Cindy! I am definitely a plan-aheader, but I've been know to change my plans at the last minute, too. ;^) I didn't know about your Amazon TV deal - that's so cool. See you next week!

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  4. What a terrific story! I have to say it’s very hard to stop worrying though😸

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  5. I've always thought that I am a thinker and a planner. But maybe I am really nothing more than a worrier! So I am beginning to understand that time spent worrying is truly a waste of life. Now I plan and allow for contingencies but try not to worry about all of the "what ifs" which I can't do anything about anyway.
    Cindy, your books sound great and I hope to read them soon!

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    1. Hi Judi, I sometimes think that if I worry about something enough, I can make it not happen... like it's some kind of magical power. Thanks for your interest! Cindy

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    2. Yes yes yes--if the worry helped, that would be one thing. And it does, as long as it's planning. But just worrying..never actually matters.

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  6. I know the question we should ask! In real life, are you a plotter or a pantser?

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  7. I'm so plotty, Hank. So, so plotty.. outlines, timelines and first lines of every chapter, last lines of those same chapters...my notebooks get very full. xoxo, Cindy

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    1. You're so plotty! That's interesting. I think you are a great role model. I'm pantsery--in a very organized kind of way.

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  8. Congratulations on your nomination! With three screaming kids and a rogue standard poodle who could climb fences, I rocketed from one crisis to the next. As an empty nester, I'm elated when everything goes as planned, and when it doesn't (the basement floods), I work until the job is done.

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  9. I love this story, Cindy - esp the happy ending! I'm definitely a Type-A, a worrier... It's only a bad thing if it paralyzes you, and most of the time it doesn't.

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  10. I agree. I have a friend who is so type A, that she can never get the editor off her shoulder enough to produce.. Luckily, I don't have that problem. I'm a Type-O Queen. For some reason, I'm okay with that. xoxo, Cindy

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  11. Ducks are notorious row resisters. If they happen to line up, I count it as a minor miracle.

    Congratulations, Cindy!

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  12. oh my friends -- (Congratulations Cindy on the Nomination) I am a planner, a list maker, I rehearse future conversations with people I might meet -- ("Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, please come in...")then one day when the hurricane was coming I read "What ever happens, let it happen". But I have to worry! No; what ever happens let it happen. I continue to make lists. I mutter whatever..etc. My ducks, who also make lists, are now learning from the cats. The cat's list is short. Make the human do it for me.
    Congratulations again on your success.

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  13. It's so funny this is the topic today - I think ducks are falling into rows all over the place! I was just speaking with a friend who tried and tried for YEARS to move to Maine. It finally happened - he got a job offer in Portland, bought a cool house, dove into making friends and being part of the community...

    ...and the job turned out to be AWFUL. Toxic management, coworkers running for the exits, impossible expectations, the whole works. He finally quit, trusting something would happen - and just found out he's been offered his dream job in a beautiful part of the country near where his family lives. Obviously, he did his art, sending out resumes and networking, but... ducks in a row! It happens!

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  14. My ducks are always kind of lost, or maybe drunk, but they're fun ducks, I'll give them that, and eventually they get the job done. But I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, Cindy.

    Congrats on the Agatha nomination! I hope it's two for two.

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    1. Thanks. Looking forward to hanging out!

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    2. Fun ducks! That is such a great way to look at it..

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  15. First, Cindy, I'm so excited to know about your books and your Amazon Prime series! And congrats on your Edgar nomination! I've had two television options on my Kincaid/James series not work out, to your story really inspired me. Maybe the perfect thing is out there and just hasn't happened yet!

    I am an organizer, a list maker, and a plotter--which means that I feel perpetually behind. There must be a happy medium somewhere...

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    1. There should surely be a balance.

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    2. "Maybe the perfect thing is out there and just hasn't happened yet!" SO TRUE!
      And that perpetually behind feeling is s interesting--but it's better than being frantic.

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  16. I only have time for a quick comment, but I had to tell you, Cindy, how thrilled I am to find your Just Add Magic books for my granddaughter. I'll tell her mom, my daughter, about the Amazon series, too.

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  17. Congratulations, Cindy, on getting those ducks to fall in line! How thrilling to see your book as a series and then to be able to double back and write more! Yay! I'm not much of a control freak in any area of my life. I've discovered if I focus on the work, the universe takes care of the rest.

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    1. I so agree about that. In fact, I have it on my bulletin board. Sometimes, though, it feels like the universe needs a little nudge.

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  18. Congratulations to the winners of all the books!

    Congratulations, Cindy! Are your Magie books Young Adult novels?

    Diana

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    1. They are for tweens or middle grade, so 8-13, depending on the reader.

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    2. They are on my "Want to Read" list over at goodreads. Thank you.

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  19. Congratulations, Cindy!

    Like Mark, I don't have ducks I have squirrels at a rave. I wish I that when I made plans everything would...follow them. Unfortunately, I learned a long time ago that life doesn't work that way.

    Man plans, God laughs.

    I wish I could say I'm better at rolling with the punches as a result. Well...I'm trying?

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    1. Trying is good... but we're not all meant to be the same! xoxo, Cindy

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    2. Agree--trying is good. Laughing is good, also.... And remember, we never really know if the plans are actually good..

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  20. Congrats Cindy! I think your books would be fun to read with my niece.

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  21. Hi Cindy! When it comes to writing I'm a pantster, with notes! Kind of like real life. I make lists, add and subtract when necessary. Even in real life, I "think" I make plans, but always try to have a back-up, or Plan B or C, even for things like cooking dinner.
    Congrats!

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    1. Can you come over? My dinner plans are almost at D...:-) And isn't it fun to cross stuff off the list?

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    2. Pulled pork BBQ sandwiches with homemade potato salad tonight, Hank! First I had to made homemade chicken broth, and use the Instant Pot to cook the pork after cutting into cubes, while cooking taters, etc. Did you read my recent post on Edith Maxwell's FB? It's been a looonnnng day for me, needless to say. I do love my lists, like you, lol! Come on over, dinner's almost ready!

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    3. Oh, I will go look right now! That dinner sounds SO yummy...but WAY to complicated..xoxoo

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