Author Ellery Adams Stays Busy Plotting the Next Kill

Ellery Adams, who also writes as J.B. Stanley and Lucy Arlington, told a group of mystery writers and readers, that having worked at a bookstore, she was convinced she could write a mystery better than most that were on the shelves. “I was feeling very snobby about it.”

She also was a school teacher for eight years so “you can see why I wanted to kill people,” she said with a friendly laugh.

She chose the name Ellery Adams because she loved the works of Ellery Queen and because she wanted to be in the front of the bookshelves.  The name Lucy Arlington originated when she was in Arlington, Va.

The different nom de plumes are helpful, Ellery says. “You can completely fail and come back as a different author. You start with a clean slate.”

She does, however, get confused when she attends writer conferences. “I’m never sure who I am.”

Ellery follows a strict schedule, writing 1,000 words a day. Then she revises those words. She aims for 4,000-4,500 words each week and edits on the weekend. She writes blog posts while she watches TV.

She blogs, even though it takes away from time on her books, because “people getting to know me sells books.” Editors also are requiring authors to blog and post to Facebook and Twitter.

Because she has three separate series, Ellery works in chunks and marks her calendar with the topics of her series: Pies, Agency, Beach.

“I’ve got so many people to kill,” she said, before dashing off to another appointment and then home to write.

Advice to Get Your Book Published

If you think writing your book, is the hard, part, think again.

Ellery Adams, Meredith Cole and Mary Burton offer advice on how to get your book published. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

That’s the advice of a trio of mystery authors who spoke to the Central District Sisters in Crime group earlier this year.

Mary Burton, who has written eleven historical romances for Harlequin Historicals and four short romantic suspenses for Silhouette Romantic Suspense, says writing is a business.

Meredith Cole, who lives and writes in Charlottesville, Va., advises, “Be an editor and agent’s dream.”

Her mystery series with St. Martin’s Minotaur is set in the art community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and was nominated for an Agatha Award. “You want to produce a very well written book in a genre they can sell,” she says.

A key step to getting published is securing an agent. The way to do that is through a query letter, which are not easy to write. “It’s easier to write the book,” Mary says.

Their advice:

  1. Be as brief as possible
  2. Be as relevant as possible
  3. Write it professionally
  4. Reference relevant details

For example, Mary says, if you attend a writer’s conference and met the agent – even briefly – you should note the meeting in the letter. Or if you know the agent succeeded in publishing a book, note that. “It shows you’ve done your research,” Mary says.

They also suggest making an extensive list of agents within the appropriate genre. One site to help with that is agentquery.com, says Ellery Adams, who has written several mystery series. Another useful site, she says, is BookEnds Literacy Agency, which includes helpful posts about word count and sample queries.

When querying an agent, they recommend emailing 20 and then waiting about six weeks for the responses. “If you get 20 rejections, the query is probably poor,” Mary says. They suggest using the rejections to rewrite and try again.

When you do get to meet with an agent, they recommend having three good questions to ask and also having a paragraph about your book ready to share.

When it comes to getting published, Mary says, “Persistence is just as important as talent.”