A few months ago, I placed The Rhyme’s Library in the kindle select program. That means that every so often, I get free promotional days. September 3rd through the 7th are some of those days.
When I began The Rhyme's Library, this was the house in my head. It's the old Ellis house on Becky Avenue, just down the street from my dad's house. Lindie and Suzie Ellis, twins, were often my babysitters. I find it a little coincidental that Lindie died of an aggressive form of Alzheimer at age 57 and my character Charlotte also suffered from a mental illness. Although I didn’t know about Lindie’s illness until after the book was published.
I also like this house on Macloud Street. I like the weird shadow in the window. It was one of the many photos I considered for THE RHYME'S LIBRARY. Here are the others.
These are from the New York City Library, which is nothing like The Rhyme's Library in my head. I took these pictures while visiting. My girls had AP assignments to turn in, and so while they worked on the computers, I took picture. (The hand is photoshopped in.) Eventually, I came up with this idea.
I love it, because it’s exactly how I sometimes feel.
It took me three years to write this book. I started it when all six of my children lived at home. I had six children in 5 schools. I had more carpools than any sane person should. I was also president of a women’s charitable organization…because I wasn’t busy enough. Nathan played the tuba, Bethany was a swim team captain, Adam ran track, Jared played football, Natalie played the trumpet, Miranda played the flute and everyone played the piano. And when Jared played the violin the dog would howl. Our house was noisy and chaotic and somehow I wrote this book…about craziness and murder.
Coincidence? Probably not.
On my birthday, a friend told me about a writers’ conference she went to, and, feeling somewhat envious, I went home and googled writers’ conferences. I picked one where you had to be accepted. You had to have a completed manuscript. It was in New York, and it was expensive. Thinking that I would never be accepted, I applied.
A few weeks later, I got a call. “We’re very excited about A Library in Harmony,” the voice said. (That was the original title of my book.) No one had ever said that to me before. When I told my husband about it, he said, "Go get 'em, tiger." And so I went to the conference.
I had an amazing time and met all sorts of nice people. I was in the mystery group with about 15 others. There were a handful of doctors, an attorney from Harvard, a professor from Vanderbilt—I was totally intimidated. When the first editor came and the director asked who wanted to go first, I raised my hand dead last. This actually was an amazing blessing, because when the next editor came, the director reversed the order, meaning that I went first, and he never changed it back. I went first for every editorial appointment after that. And because I would show up early, and the editor would be on time, we would then have to wait for the running late director. I always had ample time to chat with the editor.
The morning I met with the editor from Penguin, Tom Clancy’s editor, I wore a brand new sweater and wool pants. The sweater shed. Pink sweater fluff covered my wool pants.
One guy in the group rolled his eyes at my panic and said, “He’s not going to turn down your book because of your sweater.” But sympathetic female writers understood my pain and helped me try and de-fuzz my pants with strips of scotch tape.
When I left, my dream editor, Tom Clancy’s editor, had a copy of my book. He actually looked me in the eye, and said, "I can see us working together." He had my book for ten months.
And now, the whole world can have my book for free.
This, of course, is not how I thought things would go when I left New York. I really thought Penguin would buy my book. I don’t remember being sad when I got the very nice rejection letter. I think I was too busy with my real life to spend a lot of time grieving. That weekend in New York City was like an excerpt from someone else’s life—someone without children and dogs and carpools and science projects.
I really don’t regret a moment of my crazy life. I adore my children, and the home my husband and I created for our family. I’m glad I never had to try and balance anyone else’s calendar, or fit my family’s schedule around literary deadlines.
And I’m really very happy to give copies of the Rhyme’s Library away. Please share it with everyone you know!