Welcome, Rosie Genova!
Tell us a little about yourself.
Well, you can take the girl out of Jersey. . .except I never left. I was born here, schooled here (Go RU!) wed here, and work here. And my books are set here.
I grew up in a tiny, working class town that had a cool old library, and I spent hours there. Becoming an English teacher seemed like a natural progression from being a bookworm, and I’ve been in the classroom 23 years. When I was home raising my sons, I wrote for a regional family publication, which provided me my first byline and a valuable way for me to hone my craft. In 2006, I wrote the draft of my first novel, and have been working steadily as a writer ever since.
You're represented by Kim Lionetti of BookEnds. Any highlights you'd like to share from your querying process?
I had a number of times I came close with well-known agents who represented women’s fiction, and I learned from each of those rejections. I was lucky enough to go to Kim with an endorsement from an editor at Berkley with whom she’d once worked; she liked my query and requested a partial. I still remember the Sunday afternoon I opened my email to find a message from her that read: “Loving this so far. Please send the rest.”
What do you like best about partnering with a literary agent?
She knows the business in ways that I never could, and has access to people I could only dream about contacting. My focus was always traditional publishing, so an agent/author model works best for me—I know it’s not a model everyone embraces, or even needs. But her guidance and advice has been invaluable, and she tells me the truth, even when it’s not what I want to hear. She also laughs at my jokes, which helps a lot.
I remember when you shared pages with me from your "Shakespeare by the Shore" manuscripts. Loved those stories--and deeply distressed that it's not certain when I'll get to read those books. Tell us what happened to those stories--and, subsequently, your publishing focus.
Those stories are still living and breathing. I open them up and still derive pleasure from reading them. I believe in them, and believe they have an audience, but the time isn’t right. I’m considering self-publication, but that’s probably a couple of years away. It’s also possible that if the mysteries do well, I’d have a platform to try to get them published the traditional route. And thanks for the kind words!
How did you react to Kim's suggestion to switch genres?
My romantic comedies circulated among editors for three years. We had several “rejections with regret” but they were perceived by editors as chick lit, end of story. (They are, in fact, “chick lit-erate,” and that’s how I’ll eventually position them.) When Kim called to suggest I try a cozy, I balked at first. Plotting does not come easily to me, as I’m generally a pantser when I work.
Mysteries call for tight, logical plots with no holes, so I was intimidated. But Kim reminded me that she could sell a cozy based on three chapters and a synopsis, so it wouldn’t require the time investment of my women’s fiction.
When I talked it over with my family, my son Adam said he’s always thought I should do a mystery,
and my beloved husband offered me these words of wisdom: “Listen to your agent. She’s sold a lot of books. You haven’t sold any.”
So I worked on the proposal, and had Kim and a couple of trusted readers look over the pages. After another round of edits, Kim submitted to three houses. Within six weeks, all three had offers on the table. I ended up signing with Penguin’s NAL division for three books. Let’s just say I have since taken my hubby’s words to heart.
Tell us about your new writing persona: Rosie Genova. What can we expect from Rosie?
Well, while Rosemary is off spinning romantic tales based on Shakespeare, Rosie is dreaming up ways to knock people off. She’s also coming up with recipes for fabulous Italian food—never let it be said that her victims don’t get a savory last meal. Rosie is the author of the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, a new series of cozies set at the Jersey shore. The first of which is Murder and Marinara, which releases October 1.
From the back jacket:
Hit whodunit writer Victoria Rienzi is getting back to her roots by working at her family’s Italian restaurant. But now in between plating pasta and pouring vino, she’ll have to find the secret ingredient in a murder....
Where can we find you on the web?
You can find me at www.rosiegenova.com, on Facebook, on Goodreads, and occasionally at www.rosemarydibattista.com.
Can we have a sneak peak at a future project?
Absolutely. Book 2 in the Italian Kitchen Mysteries is tentatively titled The Wedding Soup Murder. Victoria’s grandmother puts her in charge of catering a large wedding reception with a menu featuring the Casa Lido’s famous Italian Wedding Soup. At the reception, Vic tangles with a couple of egocentric chefs, a spoiled bridezilla, and the snooty club president. But by the time the wedding dust settles, one of them is dead, and Victoria once again finds herself on the case.
If you could go back five years and change something, what would it be and why?
You mean besides getting that bad haircut or eating all those cannolis? Assuming you mean in my writing career, not very much. Five years ago I signed with Kim, and that was one of the smartest professional moves I’ve made. I did try my hand at a more serious novel that I have since trunked. If I had to do it over, I would spend those couple of months coming up with better jokes instead.
Do you have a favorite writers’ resource, such as a book, a website, a course, or an association?
I know I’m biased, but I love the Query Tracker community. There are few writers’ forums with the level of support and lack of snobbery found here. Personally, I have found two critique partners here who’ve been invaluable to me.
I also think that it’s important to become part of a writers’ community within your genre through email loops, but I’d suggest lurking for a good long while before posting. It’s important to separate those who provide genuine support from those who are just there to hawk their wares. And if the tone of the group is whiny or complaining, that’s probably not the place for a fledging writer to try her wings.
What's your message to the writers who haven't "made it" yet?
I think there are many definitions of “made it.” It could be the moment you print out that first manuscript. Or the first time an agent asks for a partial. Maybe a dozen people comment on your blog post, and only one of them is your mom! I think the secret is savoring all the small triumphs along the way, and constantly honing your craft.
As a writer, I embrace some words of Hemingway: “It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when the luck comes you are ready.”
If I had to come up with some essential message, it would be pretty simple. Work hard. Be exact in your writing. And be ready for the luck when it comes.
I couldn't agree more. Buona fortuna, Rosie, and welcome to the Query Tracker Blog! We are lucky to have you here.
Be sure to watch for Rosie's book and join us in welcoming her to the QTB!
About Rosie Genova...
A Jersey girl born and bred, Rosie Genova left her heart at the shore, which serves as the setting for much of her work. Her new series, the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, is informed by her deep appreciation for good food, her pride in her heritage, and her love of classic mysteries, from Nancy Drew to Miss Marple. Her debut novel, Murder and Marinara, will be released October 1. An English teacher by day and novelist by night, Rosie also writes women’s fiction as Rosemary DiBattista. She lives fifty miles from the nearest ocean in central New Jersey, with her husband, two of her three sons, and an ill-behaved fox terrier.
Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction writer who, despite having a Time Turner under her couch and three different sonic screwdrivers in her purse, still encounters difficulty with time management. Visit Ash's blog at www.ash-krafton.blogspot.com for news on her urban fantasy series The Books of the Demimonde (Pink Narcissus Press). Book Two "Blood Rush" was released May 2013. Currently, her urban fantasy novella "Stranger at the Hell Gate" (The Wild Rose Press) is available on Amazon's KDP Select.