I Can’t Dance

Wednesday morning, and we have reached the halfway point of the work week; the weekend looms on the horizon, and I am trying to figure out how to maximize my time this coming weekend so I can still relax as well as get everything done that needs to get done–not always a possibility, often a challenge. But definitely worth trying, you know? I’ve been sleeping well and getting good sleep, and waking up relatively early every morning; around sevenish. The revision continues to flow nicely out of my keyboard, and I may even be able to finish this on time, by November 1, the way I’d hoped and planned.

Yesterday it was announced that Midnight Ink, a top small press for crime fiction with an impressive stable of authors and history of awards and quality novels, was shuttering after the summer of 2019. This was, of course, a huge surprise that sent shock waves throughout the crime fiction world. I’d always, personally, kind of hoped that someday something I wrote would find a home there; I liked, admired, and respected Terri Bischoff enormously as an editor and wanted to work with her. I hope some other imprint or publishing line recognizes Terri’s talents and acumen, snapping her right up so she can continue doing the great work she’s been doing.

I’ve had two publishers shut down out from under me in my career thus far, and both situations made me aware of how tenuous this business can be. Both were sudden, and only in the first case was there any announcement or notification; in the second case, they simply stopped paying me even though they continued selling my books for several years. In fact, they never paid me the final portion of the advance for Murder in the Garden District, although they certainly published it, sold subsidiary rights, and sold copies of it for years. I sent registered letters, tried to get the Author’s Guild involved, but they simply pretended I didn’t exist and continued making money from me for several years without paying me a cent that was owed to me. I repeatedly asked for my rights back–no response, because why be professional when you’re robbing someone?

But I bounced back from both disappointments, and while it’s always a gut punch, once you get past the shock and horror and oh my God what am I going to do my career is over nightmares, you just dust yourself off, and figure out what to do next. I’m fairly certain all the talent at Midnight Ink that just got cut loose will wind up somewhere; I only wish I had the money and time to start my own publishing company to pick up all this talent and keep their series going.

Interestingly enough, when Alyson stopped paying me and I was kind of at loose ends with the Chanse series, I considered writing a new series and pitching it to Midnight Ink all those years ago. I always kind of had a bit of regret that I never went ahead and did a pitch to them, and now I will have to scratch that off my publishing bucket list.

And now, back to the spice mines. I have some research reading to do for the WIP, as well as some planning to do, and of course, there’s the constant need to revise the Scotty.

Have a lovely day, everyone.

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Friends and Lovers

Well, I wrote practically nothing yesterday; maybe a couple of hundred words on “This Thing of Darkness.” I did reread Chapter 2 of the WIP, and realized it needs a complete overhauling, but that’s fine. There’s an endgame in sight, and now I kind of know how to get there, so I don’t mind the massive work that will be required to get me there. Huzzah! And I know that, when it is completed, I will be enormously happy with it.

It’s weird because this story; these characters, have been brewing inside my brain for a very long time; I’ve used this fictional town in Kansas for aborted novels and short stories before. I’ve always wanted to write about this town–I cannot deny that it is based on/inspired by Emporia, Kansas, the seat of the county where I spent five years of my life. When you said you were going to town you meant Emporia, even if you lived in a one of the small hamlets scattered throughout the county. My particular hamlet, Americus, was one of the larger ones; I believe with a population of approximately 932. I do know it was more than nine hundred and less than a thousand. I know that the main crossroads of the town had a flashing red light suspended on wires over it’s center, the town park was right on one corner and the bank was on another. I’ve gone back to the well with Kansas and that area several times in my writing career, but it never really ever seems to get anywhere. Sara was set in Kansas, in a county based on the real one,  in a high school based on the one I attended, but very loosely.

I’ve always wondered if it’s because I’ve not been back there since leaving in 1981 that the stories are so hard, so difficult, to write; the place so hard to envision. And then again, of course it’s ridiculous because any inconsistencies, or changes in my fictional town, might not matter simply because I am writing about a fictional place.

But this manuscript, which I’ve really been working on, in one shape or another, since about 1982 (!), is hard for me because I’ve been trying to write this book for over thirty years. The story and plot has changed dramatically over those years, the names of the characters have been changed, and I’ve blatantly stolen or adapted plots that were originally thought up for this book for others (Murder in the Garden District being one of them; the murder in the back was originally set in my fictional city in Kansas in its original version; for a Chanse novel I had to pare back the literal dozens of suspects and adapt it into New Orleans). For years in the aughts I called this “the Kansas book” as it went through different iterations and ideas and how the story worked; it was originally intended to be a two different time line novel, with a crime that was committed back in the 1970’s with the wrong person convicted and going to prison and dying there; a chance encounter between two people who knew each other back there and then in New York City–one now a successful realtor, the other a successful journalist–and a casual conversation in which the realtor reveals to the journalist that the wrong person was convicted and the murder was a lot more complicated than anyone knew, gets her to thinking. Then she finds out the realtor went back there and also turns up dead; this brings her back as well, as she investigates the current murder and the old one at the same time. I thought it was a very clever idea, but I could never get the story to work for me properly; and I still like the idea; I may write it someday. But I’ve taken the characters and the town from that idea and used it for this one. I also then tried another version, where it was the same town and the same characters and the same set up from the past, only with a dramatically different storyline for the present.

And now, I am using the town and the characters for something completely different.

As I have said numerous times, I am nothing if not stubborn, and apparently I am determined to someday publish a novel about this fucking town and these fucking characters.

“This Thing of Darkness”, the short story I am currently working on, while set in New Orleans, also harkens back to Kansas in some ways. I like this short story, I like the idea behind it, and now it’s really just a matter of seeing whether or not I can pull it off the way I want to. I’ve also realized that my own satisfaction with my short stories is the most important thing, not whether they get published by a magazine or not. I also need to expand my scope of where I submit short stories to; not everything works for the major crime magazines, and who knows? Maybe some of these stories are more  correct for other markets. I’d love to have something in some of the Southern magazines, for example.

Anyway. I am looking forward to this weekend, and hope you all have a lovely, pleasant one as well.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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