Friday, May 22, 2009

Come Fly With Me!

Working Stiffs welcomes the wonderful Kelli Stanley as our guest today!

by Kelli Stanley

In the inimitable words of Frank Sinatra, I’m calling on all working stiffs to “come fly with me” and celebrate!What, you may rightly ask, has triggered this exuberance? Am I enjoying an early cocktail? Had one too many pieces of dark chocolate? Crazy?

No on the first two, and I’m not significantly more insane than I used to be. I’m celebrating a number of things with today’s post, and specifically a common, computerized, ugly little thing called a … barcode. (No, I don’t mean the kind that says you always tip the mixologist.)

Today I received the ISBN number for my next book, CITY OF DRAGONS. And this, my friends, is a small symbol of a dream come true. Here—I’ll start at the beginning.

Way back when (it seems a lot longer than two and a half years ago)—January 17, 2007, to be exact—I opened my email and found that NOX DORMIENDA was accepted for publication. I’ve loved every minute of the journey with Five Star, the small publisher that took a big risk on an odd historical noir with a Latin title.

Since publication in July of last year, NOX had the amazing honor of winning the Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award this March and is currently nominated for a Macavity (Sue Feder Memorial Historical Mystery). I never thought this would happen or could happen. I am blessed beyond my ability to describe it.

And … here’s the “come fly with me” part … the Italian rights have been sold. My “Roman noir”, set in first-century Roman Britain, will actually be available for sale (as a mass-market paperback) in Rome!

So what does this have to do with a barcode? Well, here’s the dream come true part: I sold a two-book series to Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s back in January. Y’ see, my life goal—my driving desire, my obsession, if you will—is to be able to write full-time. Not live luxuriously, of course—but to survive with a modest income from writing fiction. I’ve got a lot of books inside of me—contemporary stand-alones, series, thrillers—waiting to come out.

I work pretty much around the clock, hoping to attain this someday. And because I didn’t want to get typed as a solely “Roman” writer—and because I knew I had little chance of getting NOX and its sequels picked up by a major publisher—I pursued another love of my writing life and created CITY OF DRAGONS … a dark novel of 1940 San Francisco.

The protagonist is Miranda Corbie—a femme fatale in the hero’s role. She’s a PI. A former Spanish Civil War nurse. And an ex-escort.

The novel opens in Chinatown, with a murder no one wants solved. A Japanese-American teenager is shot to death during a festival for Chinese war relief. The Sino-Japanese War is still raging, three years after the Rape of Nanking. So chalk up the murder to racial hatred, the cops say. Let it ride.

Miranda doesn’t. And that’s CITY OF DRAGONS. It’s coming out next February, hopefully in time for Chinese New Year and the 80th Anniversary of the publication of The Maltese Falcon.

Because I’ve been lucky enough to sell CITY OF DRAGONS and its sequel to a major publisher, I now have an actual shot at—eventually—attaining my end game goal: to write full-time.I’ve got a long way to go, of course … but in between all the late nights and missed phone calls and skipped TV shows—the thrown-together meals and the computer eye strain that is all part of being a working writer and a working stiff—I celebrate. And today, I’m celebrating my barcode, because that makes it all the more real … and all the more possible.

So … couple of questions for you, and I hope you’ll help me throw an online party, right here and now! One, if you could sell foreign rights anywhere in the world (and with all money being equal)—what language would you want your book in and why?

And two—what “little” things represent big things in your experience? ISBNs?


Annette said...

Congratulations, Kelli! That is a wonderful accomplishment.

My biggest small achievement so far was the phone call from my agent asking to represent me. But that's been three years ago and I'm VERY ready for the next step. Any. Time. Now.

As for which foreign language? I'm going to say Spanish, only because I could read a little of it and know that it was really my words.

Joyce Tremel said...

Like Annette, my biggest small achievement was getting my first agent a couple of years ago. Even though it didn't work out, it was still a thrill. Next to that was being asked to guest blog on The Graveyard Shift and The Lipstick Chronicles. That was very cool.

I dream big: I want to be published in ALL languages! :-)

Jenna said...

Hi, Kel, darling! Thanks for coming back! And I'm still psyched about CITY OF DRAGONS!

I'd be happy to sell in most languages, although - rather obviously - I'd take Norwegian, since I have family members who can't read my books right now. The younger generations can, but not the older. That was before English became a mandatory second language in school. So mine's really the first generation with any sort of fluency in English. French might be fun, because of the Marie Antoinette connection in the first book, and - for those of you who have read it (since I don't want to give anything away) - Philippe!

Helen said...

Congratulations, Kelli. That is so fabulous. I couldn't stop smiling while reading your post.

I would want Spanish and French. Primarily because I took Spanish in high school and French in college. I would re-read the book in those languages and see if I could re-learn something more than Si and Oui.

Straight From Hel

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hey Kelli!

Congratulations...and City of Dragons sounds wonderful. Can't wait.

And you're so right. One of the wonderful things about this book world is enjoying all the steps along the way.

When you type "The End." (I burst into tears.)

When the first box of books arrives on your doorstep. (Although with PRIME TIME, the disturbutor sent me a box of someone else's book, which was briefly hilarious/annoying, but soon was untangled.

And Air Time getting a blurb from Sue Grafton. (Although, okay, that's not little. But I'm so thrilled.)

And you know what else is wonderful--but not little? I keep thinking that just a few years ago, I didn't know any of you guys.
And now...amazing.


Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks, Annette!! :) I would never call getting an agent a small achievement ... that's a HUGE accomplishment!!

And those next steps are coming soon, I know!! :)

I'm happy about the Italian edition for those reasons, too ... I can read it without too much trouble (I lived there for a bit). Now, if only I can actually get over there to promote the book ... ! ;)

Kelli Stanley said...

Joyce, you, like Annette, have had a ton of big accomplishments ... not just getting an agent (which cannot be overestimated in importance) ... but founding Working Stiffs, which is such a wonderful contribution to the community!! :)

As for it not working out with the first agent, the same thing happened to me--luckily! My current (once and future and forever) agent was my second. Sometimes magic strikes the second time around! ;)



Kelli Stanley said...

Jennie, Babe, it's always wonderful to see your smiling face!! :) Thank you!! :)

I'm particularly happy about City of Dragons getting published, because "your" character--the one I borrowed your real name for--will live! Yeah!!! :)

And I really hope we get to see a Norwegian edition of your wonderful DIY mysteries!! And as for French ... the language of Romance ... mais oui! ;)



Kelli Stanley said...

Thank you so much, Helen!! :)

I was really, really scared when we sent City of Dragons out in early January ... not a propitious time for making the move to a big press!

But I hope the fact that it sold (something which I still pinch myself over!) will encourage everybody to keep plugging--whatever the economy does. :) It's all a leap of faith, so close your eyes and jump! ;)



Kelli Stanley said...

Hank, my dear--you always get right to the heart of things. :)

The single most wonderful thing about being a writer is being part of a community of fabulous, phenomenal, supportive, generous, fascinating, kind and fantastic people ... like you. :) Like everyone on Working Stiffs. :)

That is a truly a blessing beyond measure!! :)

Thank you, sweetie!! :)


Mari Sloan said...

I want my book in SOUTHERN! What! It's already in Southern. Damn!

Okay, what other group of people could understand the lunacy of small town Alabama? Who else has the subtle sense of humor to appreciate an opportunistic cross dresser like Charlie/Charlene? Had/has an antiqitated mental health sructure, religious fanatics, ghosts and a wild sense of humor with hit men dumber than a box of rocks?

Maybe Ireland, although that wouldn't require translation. Parts of rural England. Anywhere people don't take themselves "All that seriously and a bag of chips," as my hubby would say.

Kelli, your book is universal. I expect the next ones to be, also. You NEED to be writing full-time, for all of us. (With or without the bag of chips.)

Kelli Stanley said...

LOL ... Mari, you are a wonder--and a wonderful writer!! :) Thank you!!

Your BEAUFORT FALLS is a book for everyone who enjoys a good mystery, a good chuckle, and some larger-than-life but oh, so true Southern-style characters ... and that means it's a book for everyone! :)

Thanks for the comment, sweetie, and take care!! :)



Patg said...

Well, English to start. You know: The British Isles, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan (oh yes, they are required to study English) and then Japanese and German. The last two because the Japanese and Germans have such an interest in Oregon and traveling.

queenofmean said...

You're all way ahead of me. I'm still working on my first novel. I love reading about your successes. I don't really know any of you, but it gets me excited to see so many of you doing so well. I guess maybe it gives me hope that someday (someday!), I will be able to enjoy some of it, too.
Kelli, congrats. City of Dragons sounds great. I can't wait to read it.