An Editor’s Job with Valjean Cameron by Shelly Costa

Practical Sins For Cold Climates. . .excerpt from The Ultimate Writer’s Primer: Your Guide to Finally Getting Published (Sisyphus Books, 2016)

Valjean Cameron, Senior Editor, Schlesinger Publishing, Flatiron Building, 175 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

Q: What are you looking for

VC: Send me a great piece of fiction. I don’t even mind some pretensions, so go ahead and flex your MFA in Creative Writing muscles all over me. I love quirky characters and a distinctive voice. The smaller and more obscure the story – especially if it’s an urban setting! – the better. I am interested in stories that are so stylistically dense they are nearly impenetrable. If you are a writer who makes me want to look around my office for a machete, then we can talk. And if you can raise The New Minimalism to soaring heights – say, where nothing happens for two hundred pages and then a fly is swatted – if you can lay bare metaphors like that, I want your book. Make me feel those fly-swatters’ angst.

Please do not send me space junk thrillers (e.g., The Nebula Covenant by Charles Cable), which I scorn and deride, mainly because my boss loves them, and whatever you do, do not send me your mem-WAHRS. There is no excuse for memoirs (unless, of course, you suffer from narcissistic personality disorder; in that case, please send them to Peter Hathaway, my colleague, well, my boss, well, my fantasy man; he might actually like them).

Do not send me anything having to do with “outfitting” lovers of wilderness adventures; unless the outfit includes Prada heels, I am not interested. Along these lines, I am not presently looking for how-to guides on canoe tripping, motor boating, or for that matter, vessels of any sort (unless they contain a nice cabernet sauvignon); nor do I want to see how-to guides on getting along with free-range bears, icing a knockout punch, absolutely anything at all to do with tents, or figuring out a reasonably attractive float plane pilot whose wife’s murder is still unsolved.

Here at Fir Na Tine, an imprint of Schlesinger Publishing, we publish serious literary fiction, with occasional lapses. If you believe you are a good fit for us, send me two sample chapters and a cover letter that stops short of describing how much your mother loves the book. I love sushi, my Aunt Greta who raised me, my friend Adrian Bale who takes it from there, good strong coffee, my high-ceilinged apartment on E. 51st Street, a mystery to solve, and – if I can find him – a guy who’s got heart. Make me add your book to the list!

Ed. Note: Since we went to press, Valjean Cameron, Senior Editor at Schlesinger Publishing, has been sent by Peter Hathaway to the Canadian Northwoods to sign that bestselling author of space junk thrillers, Charles Cable, to a book contract for his long-awaited new thriller, The Asteroid Mandate. A well-known recluse, Cable is rumored to live alone deep in the wilderness, accessible only by float plane or canoe, where we can only hope he hasn’t committed any crimes and is crafting a wonderful book about his life, with quirky characters and a distinctive voice. The answers lie in Practical Sins for Cold Climates (Henery Press, January 2016), by Shelley Costa.


Practical Sins For Cold Climates is the first book in the NEW Val Cameron mystery series, published by Henery Press, January 2016. The second book, A Killer’s Guide to Good Work will be released in September 2016.

When Val Cameron, a Senior Editor with a New York publishing company, is sent to the Canadian Northwoods to sign a reclusive bestselling author or risk losing her job, she is definitely out of her element. Val is certain she can convince Charles Cable, but first she has to find him.

Aided by a float plane pilot whose wife was killed two years ago in a case gone cold, Val’s hunt for the recluse becomes even more muddled. When all signs point to Cable as the killer, she must work to clear his name before the scandal sinks her career.

Trapped in a wilderness lake community where livelihoods collide and a killer lurks, the prospect of running into a bear could be the least of Val’s problems.

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All comments are welcomed.

About the author
A 2004 Edgar nominee for Best Short Story, Shelley Costa is the author of You Cannoli Die Once Shelley Costa(Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel) and Basil Instinct. Practical Sins For Cold Climates is the first book in her exciting new mystery series. Shelley’s mystery stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Blood on Their Hands,The World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories, and Crimewave (UK). She teaches fiction writing at the Cleveland Institute of Art. www.shelleycosta.com.

Giveaway: Leave comment below for your chance to win either a print (US entries only, please) or a digital version (open to everyone) of Practical Sins For Cold Climates. The giveaway will end February 4 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

36 responses to “An Editor’s Job with Valjean Cameron by Shelly Costa

  1. I like the whole concept of this book.

    • Glad to hear it, Pamela! I found it a rich premise to write. Stranger in a strange land, fish out of water. Those stories lend themselves to all sorts of misadventures!

  2. I really like the presentation, I would love to read this book

  3. Having worked in publishing myself, I know I’d appreciate the environment surrounding this mystery, a genre I love. Thanks for the opportunity to enter this contest.

    • You and me both, Jill. My first job post-college was in NYC book publishing. Val’s life in publishing also figures in Book Two, A KILLER’S GUIDE TO GOOD WORKS, due out late September.

  4. Doward Wilson

    Sounds like a fascinating read. Thank you for the chance to win.

    • Glad to hear you say that, Doward! Some of Val’s adventures reflect my own “friendly wilderness” forays, where I never quite trust the “friendly” part!

  5. It gets really cold here in MN so this sounds right up my alley! Thanks!

  6. Interesting setting.

  7. What a great premise. I really like a good mystery.

  8. Sounds like a great read Aunt Shelley! I would love to win a copy!
    Julia Bakken:)

  9. Looks like a great read! Can’t wait to win a copy!

  10. Great interview. It really fits her character. When I finish this, I’m going back to PRACTICAL SINS…. I’m beginning chapter 15.

  11. Loved reading this!! Made me chuckle! Would love to win a copy of Practical Sins for Cold Climates. Thanks for the chance. (Just want to add that I loved You Cannoli Die Once & Basil Instinct–truly sad there are no more coming! I definitely enjoy your writing style.)

  12. Thanks, Linda. Maybe Eve and the gang are just on hiatus, you never know. I’d be open to continuing the series with a different publisher.

  13. elainehroberson

    Another new-to-me author to try. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

  14. Wonderful post. The novel sounds captivating and intriguing. Thanks for this lovely feature and giveaway.

  15. Sounds perfect for me.

    • Can’t argue with perfect! I know: some books are like that, so beautifully attuned with our own hearts and perceptions. I love it when I find books like that.

  16. Della Williamson

    Most interested in how Val sorts out what is going on with Cable. How she adapts to the wilderness.

  17. Vicki Highley

    What a great start to a new series.

  18. The title alone, has me curious- I would buy it based on that alone!!!

  19. The title alone has me curious enough to read it!

  20. Where can we read Charles Cable’s book? 🙂
    This series sounds like fun. Thanks for the chance at a book.

  21. Can’t wait to read about practical sins–that’s an interesting concept.