Many moons ago, author/blogger/editor/pundit/ magician/ninja/hand model/headmaster/chef/ detective/cowboy/cosmonaut/ocelot Dean Wesley Smith said he didn't consider someone a professional writer until he or she had published 10 books. (Whoa. I got a little carried away with Dean's C.V. there for some reason. Don't believe anything after "cosmonaut.") That was way back before the e-book/self-publishing revolution, so maybe Dean would raise the bar a bit today. Maybe you'd have to publish 100 books, or sell 1,000, or earn $10,000, or appear on The $100,000 Pyramid.
Or maybe he never said the thing about publishing-10-books-to-be-a-professional in the first place. My memory's pretty rotten. (I'm the guy who thought for a second Dean might be an ocelot, remember?)
Whatever. Somebody said it, and last month I did it. And just to show you how we pros roll, I'll be celebrating the release of my 11th book next month! It's called The White Magic Five & Dime, I wrote it with my pal Lisa Falco, and here's how the publisher describes it:
Much to Alanis McLachlan's surprise, her con-woman mother, Barbra, has left her an inheritance -- the White Magic Five & Dime, a New Age shop in tiny Berdache, Arizona. Reluctantly traveling to Berdache to claim her new property, Alanis decides to stay and pick up her estranged mother's tarot reading business in an attempt to find out who killed her. With help from a hunky cop and her mother's live-in teenage apprentice, Alanis begins faking her way through bogus tarot readings in order to win the confidence of her mother's clients. But much to her surprise, the more she uses the tarot deck, the more Alanis begins to find real meaning in the cards...and the secrets behind her mother's demise.
Nice description, eh? I especially like it because I didn't write it.
Have I ever mentioned how much I hate writing synopses? No? Oh. Well, I hate writing synopses.
The White Magic Five & Dime, on the other hand, was a joy to write. And it would seem to be a joy to read -- at least as far as Publishers Weekly is concerned. PW recently gave the book a much-coveted starred review, you see. It's like when your first-grade teacher put a gold star on your "essay" about Puff the Magic Dragon. ("I like Puff the majic dragon. He is fun and green. The end.") Only instead of your mom sticking it on the refrigerator, you get to put it on your website along with a quote from the review. Like so:
"Cozy readers with a taste for humor will welcome this hilarious series debut!!!" --Publishers Weekly
PW didn't actually use three exclamation marks, but they obviously implied them. You know. Starred review.
Booklist and Foreword Reviews have weighed in on The White Magic FIve & Dime, as well, and though there were no stars (or exclamation marks), there were good vibes aplenty. To wit:
"Alanis is both cynically funny and emotionally deep, giving this entertaining mystery a protagonist to root for...Hockensmith and Falco craft a clever and compelling tale filled with colorful and engaging characters." --Foreword Reviews
"Filled with humor, this engaging mystery turns many staples of the amateur-sleuth story on their heads, with each chapter bringing new quirks and surprises... Hockensmith, author of the award-winning Big Red/Old Red series, and coauthor Falco deliver a charming comic mystery." --Booklist
I could go on and on about The White Magic Five & Dime, quoting more from the reviews and trotting out an excerpt and discussing the book's long and winding road to the bookstores. But I feel like now's a good place to stop, and I trust my judgment.
After all, I'm a professional.