Friday, January 27, 2012

Never Trust Bad Beginnings

Treat for you today, fellow Stiffs and readers: we have the fabulous Linda Rodriguez here to entertain us! If you don't know Linda, you should definitely follow her on Twitter - @Rodriquez_Linda and buy her book. It won the Malice Domestic contest, which is quite an accomplishment. And can I just say how much I love the cover?

Without further ado, here's Linda:

I have a good friend, a gifted writer, whose year has started off terribly. Her foster father died unexpectedly. Her father-in-law died unexpectedly. One of her best friends ended up in ICU with an aneurysm. Now, her four-year-old has developed pneumonia. We’re checking for any cackling, old-country types who’ve put an evil spell on her! But seriously, it’s made for a grim beginning to her new year—and made her worry what the rest of the year will bring.

I consoled her by telling her how my 2011 began. I was already down because an editor who’d had my novel for a long time rejected it, at the same time suggesting I send it to a national contest. I had pneumonia—which is quite serious for me since lupus has left me with very damaged lungs. Once I got better, just as January ended and I was about to fly to Washington, D.C. for the AWP national conference, we had a blizzard, and I fell on icy steps, breaking my cheekbone and knee and spraining my shoulder and right thumb.

 No D.C. No conference where I meet dear friends who live half a country away. I could hardly feed myself. (You have no idea how necessary your thumb is until you lose its use for a while). It looked to me as if 2011 was going to be a hellish year, just as 2012 is looking that way right now to my friend.

This is what happened in 2011 for me.

1.       I received a substantial research grant from an arts organization that had never before given to a writer.

2.       I spent a wonderful week researching a book with all expenses, including travel, paid.

3.       I learned I was a finalist in that national novel contest that editor had urged me to enter, and I learned that even a finalist would probably get an agent and maybe a publisher.

4.       I learned that I was the winner of the Malice Domestic First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition. A $10,000 advance and a publishing contract with St. Martin’s Press. Woo hoo! My year was made right there.

5.       I learned that St. Martin’s Press was going to pay my way to the Malice Domestic Conference in Bethesda where I would receive the award.

6.       I went to Malice Domestic and had a blast. I met wonderful mystery writers who were so kind to me. My editor, my publisher, and all the St. Martin’s/Minotaur Books staff who were there turned out to be wonderful.

7.       I came home with some directives from the St. Martin’s publicity folks. Get on Twitter was one of them. With trepidation, I did—and now have almost 2,000 followers and many fantastic new friends.

8.       I came home and found myself in demand for paid readings throughout the Midwest (from the poetry book I’d published in 2009).

9.       I started writing the second book in my mystery series.

10.   I was asked to contribute a short story to Kansas City Noir, an anthology in the famed Noir series from Akashic Books.

11.   With a recommendation from my editor, I secured an incredible agent.

12.   I received a beautiful book cover for Every Last Secret from St. Martin’s.

13.   I was keynote speaker at the national conference of an important national arts organization.

14.   My book launch and other events to publicize Every Last Secret when it comes out began to be finalized.

It took most of 2011 for my broken knee to heal, and I will have to have major surgery on it later, but I hardly noticed as all these exciting things continued to happen throughout the year. That year that had such a sour beginning turned into one of the best years of my life.

So I tell my friend to pay no attention to the bad beginning of her 2012. I know she’s got the potential of having a year like the one I just had, and I think she will. My husband and I spent New Year’s Day marveling at the difference between this New Year’s and 2011’s. I think the same thing will happen for my friend next year.

One thing I’ve learned is never trust bad beginnings. A bad beginning doesn’t mean that the year or the book can’t turn out magnificently well.

Thank you all for having me as a guest on Working Stiffs. I hope you’ll all visit me at and check out Every Last Secret at your local bookstore or Barnes & Noble or at


Linda Rodriguez’s novel, Every Last Secret (Minotaur Books), winner  of the Malice Domestic First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, will be published on 4/24/12. She has also published two books of poetry, Heart’s Migration (Tia Chucha Press) winner of the Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence and finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award, and Skin Hunger (Scapegoat Press) and a cookbook, The “I Don’t Know How To Cook” Book: Mexican (Adams Media). Rodriguez received the Midwest Voices and Visions Award, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, KC ArtsFund Inspiration Award, and Ragdale and Macondo fellowships, among others. She is a member of Latino Writers Collective, Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers, Kansas City Cherokee Community, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime.


Joyce Tremel said...

Welcome, Linda! I'm so glad your year ended much better than it began. I can't wait to read your book!

Ramona said...

Wow, Linda, what a year is right! But it's obvious that all the goods things that happened to you in 2011 did so because you made them happen. You put yourself and your work out there, and you were intrepid about applying and trying. Fabulous payoff for you!

I hope your friend's year turns around for her.

Karen in Ohio said...

Perfect, Linda! What a great example of "if at first you don't succeed, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and reboot". Or something like that.

Much success to you, and the same to your friend.

Really looking forward to your new book.

C.L. Phillips said...


Can't wait to read your book. May 2012 be filled with more fun and fewer bumps and bruises.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Joyce, thanks so much for having me here!

Ramona, thanks for stopping by. You're right about the trying part. I think too often when bad things happen we get so depressed we stop trying. I know my friend won't, so I know her year will turn out grand.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Karen, great to see you here! We usually meet on Jungle Reds, I think. I'm an expert at picking myself up and dusting myself off because I've fallen so much. :-)

C. L., thanks so much for your good wishes. I can use them. We all can. Here's to a great year for all of us!

Liz Milliron said...

Timely post. Due to health issues, 2012 has gotten off to a bumpy start for me. I too hope I can turn it around.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Oh, Mary, I know how that goes with health issues. I hope yours turn around quickly.

When I went down with lupus & fibromyalgia, I lost my job as a university administrator, and things looked real bleak. But it freed up the time for me to write as I always wanted, and I've come to see it as a blessing, really. (Of course it's not when I'm in flare with its pain, but we've finally got that pretty much under control.)

Karen in Ohio said...

Linda, we are also Facebook friends. My last name is Maslowski.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Of course, Karen! Well, on the internet, we all sue these aliases that give us separate lives. There's a book in that, I think! xoxo

Joelle Charbonneau said...

Hi Linda! You deserve all the success that has come your way and is still to come. And I admit I'm hoping you are right about your friend having a better rest of 2012. :)

Linda Rodriguez said...

Joelle, my friend is beautiful, hardworking, determined, and truly gifted, as well as being a sweet person, so I know her 2012 is going to end up being a grand year!

Thanks for stopping by.

Sally Berneathy said...

You finally got all that bad stuff out of the way, and the good is going to just keep coming your way!

Only a couple more months until your book debuts!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Sally, thanks for stopping by! Yes, I can hardly believe it, but EVERY LAST SECRET will launch April 24. So everyone, make a note on your calendar to rush out and buy it on that very day. Please! ;-)