It's our pleasure to welcome mystery novelist Peg Cochran who also writes as Meg London.We had one request to Peg when we invited her to our blog and it was to discuss her journey to publication. If you find her post helpful or if you have questions kindly leave it when you finish the post. So here's Peg!
Berkley Prime Crime just released my debut book ALLERGIC TO DEATH, and on September 4 (the first book in my second series, MURDER UNMENTIONABLE), under my pen name of Meg London, will hit the shelves.
Ha! I have wanted to be a published writer since I picked up my first Nancy Drew at the age of seven. At the end of September, I’ll turn 60. I’ll let you do the math. If that was overnight, then it was a very loooooong night!
I started out writing plays which I forced my cousins to perform at Christmas dinner (they’re all in their forties or fifties now and are starting to talk to me again). During high school I began a romance which was much like my knitting—full of holes and with no end in sight. In my twenties, I tried romance again and actually sent off a (typed!) manuscript to Harlequin. It came back about four months later with a note, that no matter how politely written, still meant “no.”
I had some modest success writing non-fiction for magazines and web sites, but the fiction bug was still buried underneath my skin. I spent my three hour daily train commute working on my first mystery (having succumbed to the notion that I ought to write what I read.) I wrote in spiral bound notebooks by hand and entered everything in the second-hand computer I’d managed to purchase, at night.
I got my first agent with that first book after about a year of sending out queries, partials and full manuscripts. This was before everyone had email so agents actually called me to request partials or fulls although the rejections invariably came in the form of a letter. Then one day an agent said “yes.” I was convinced that I was on my way to fame and fortune! A publishing contract was no doubt just around the corner. My celebration was slightly premature—she was unable to sell that book or the two subsequent manuscripts (also written on the train) that I submitted.
We parted company, and I lost hope for a bit, but I couldn’t not write. I began another mystery (CONFESSION IS MURDER—now available for Amazon Kindle and doing quite well.) After that I tried my hand at a young adult. And I managed to get another agent. Alas, she was unable to sell the book, and she disappeared along with the last rejection letter.I wrote yet another young adult and a cozy mystery and between the two of them, in a two year period, I racked up 400 rejections! I was runner-up in my on-line writers group’s contest for the Queen of Rejection (or Princess of Persistence as it has been renamed.) But one of my writing buddies said “don’t quit five minutes before a miracle,” so I kept going. Through an on-line acquaintance (network, network, network!) I got wind of the chance to “audition” for a work-for-hire. Meaning an editor at Berkley has an idea for a cozy mystery, and they go in search of a writer to write it. And for once “no” had turned to “yes!” and I was chosen to write the Sweet Nothings Lingerie Series, and I signed with the BookEnds Agency.
Meanwhile I had my own finished cozy mystery still on my computer. I noticed that my editor at Berkley tweeted a lot about food. I tweeted that I’d made an excellent fish dish. She tweeted back asking for the recipe. I emailed it to her along with a throw-away line at the bottom. Something like “oh, by the way, I have a foodie cozy if you’re interested in taking a look.” She was interested and all of a sudden my agent was calling to tell me I had a contract, and I was going to be “multi-published.”
And just like that I became an overnight success!
After her husband died, Peg remarried and her new husband took a job in Grand Rapids, Michigan where they now live (on exile from NJ as she likes to joke).
She has two cozy mystery series debuting from Berkley Prime Crime— the Sweet Nothings Vintage Lingerie series, written as Meg London, set in Paris, Tennessee and the Gourmet De-Lite series, under her own name, set in Connecticut. She also has two ebooks on Amazon, a mystery, Confession Is Murder and a young adult book Oh, Brother! Visit her at www.pegcochran.com and www.meglondon.com.