Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Got It!

As I said in my last post I'm halfway through the writing of this novel.  And today I figured out who, why and where.  I've had my eye on this suspect for awhile, but now I'm sure.  At this point I'm glad to know.  I often know earlier than this, maybe at around a hundred pages.  But knowing halfway through is very respectable.

Someone said he thought I didn't know who did what until the very end and then just picked the most likely killer.  Or tossed a coin, drew straws, picked a name out of a hat.  No.  That's not the case at all.  It's important that the killer turns himself into me by now because it will help me shape the rest of the book.

That doesn't mean it's clear sailing from here on in.  There'll be other problems to work out.  I don't know what they'll be right now...I just know that they'll happen.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Publishing Racket

Despite the enforced one day off, I was not subjected to reading Patterson. I wrote each of the other four days and I think I'm about halfway through. Of course that leaves me with the feeling: how am I going to fill the other half?

I didn't have any surprise characters appearing from under a bed, but I was surprised by how some of my characters behaved. They never tell me ahead of time and that could drive a writer crazy or it could be exhilarating. This brings me back to the topic of outlining or not.

If I did outline I'd know how to fill the other half today. I'd also lose all interest. Now I'm eager to see what happens Monday.

So about the publishing game. Last week I learned from good authority that things are about to change. This probably won't be big news to anyone, but some of it was to me.

No more mass paperbacks. The companies are slowly phasing them out. Barnes & Noble won't order any new ones. If you go to their website I think you'll see that the paperbacks they're selling are not current. When the ones they have are sold or returned to publishers, that will be the end of them for B&N.

Trade paperbacks are going to take their place for now. And eventually there'll be no more hardcovers. This might not apply to libraries. Although I've noticed in the libraries around here there are more and more trade paperbacks on the shelves.

So is this a good or bad thing? I think it's fine. How many people want to pay seven or eight dollars for a mass market paperback? Trade paperbacks are anywhere from ten to fourteen dollars. And they look nice and last longer.

Writers have always had a snob thing about being published in paper instead of hardcover. Many of them think they're not a real writer if they're not published in hardcover. I think that idea is nonsense not to mention very old.

The best example I can give is Jason Starr. He's published in trade paperback and if that weren't true I doubt I would've bought him in hardcover. That would've been my loss. I think he's one of the best writers around and there's no need for him to publish in hardcover. He may feel differently about it, but I hope he doesn't.

Don't we want to get the most people we can to read our books? I think trade paperback will fulfill that wish. If you've ever been to France or England you know that's how most books are published there. I guess they have mass paperbacks but I don't recall them. I certainly didn't buy any to have sent home.

So is it a good thing to drop mass paperbacks and go to trade? And how important to your sales is it to be published in hardcover? Or is the importance to your ego?

Saturday, March 19, 2005


"I think a little menace is fine to have in a story.  For one thing, it's good for the circulation."

Raymond Carver

A Five Day Week! And Another First

Yes.  I did it.  I wrote five days of this past week.  Even though I was interrupted by my computer man, I was able to go back to work.

I'm moving along now.  I keep telling myself to just get it down. I'm not going to worry at this stage whether it hangs together, makes complete sense, or even if it's good.  Well, I'm not quite that laid back.  By the end of next week I should reach the halfway point.

As I mentioned before, I do have to go to NYC on Wednesday to see a friend's play, which is performed at lunch time.  So next week is a legitimate four day week and I won't have to read James Patterson unless I lose another day by slacking off.

My other first is that This Dame for Hire was taken by the Mystery Guild as a July Alternate.  I've never had a sale to this book club.  This isn't about money (very small advance) it's about exposure.  I'm very happy about this deal.



Saturday, March 12, 2005

Not My Fault

So it wasn't a five day week.  Again.  It was four.  But only because I woke up on Thursday to no heat.  It was very, very cold in here.  My fingers couldn't type.  It's the truth!  Didn't get heat back until around noon.  And I couldn't start writing then because I just can't do it at that hour on the first draft.

I reached the end of my rewriting on Monday.  It's been all new from there.  I'm not exactly zipping along, but it's better than where I was when I stopped to start over.

I've decided that from now on, every hour I miss on my writing schedule, I 'll have to read that many hours of something by James Patterson.  This is the aversion technique.  Anybody have any ideas which one to start with?  Just the thought of it makes me feel that I'll have a five day week coming up.

The following week I have to go into NYC on that Wednesday.  This is a must.  So I'll lose that day.  And I don't think it counts re the reading of Patterson.  I'm not going to torture myself if my lost time is something I can't help. 

I've set myself up for the next chapter so I feel relatively calm about sitting down here on Monday morning.  I wish I felt a sense of excitement about it.  That happens from time to time, from book to book.  But it hasn't happened during the writing of this novel.  Well, I still have two thirds to write so there's a chance I'll get that wonderful jolt. 


Thursday, March 10, 2005


Don't you hate it when someone wants to tell you their dream?  Unless the teller says "I dreamt about you last night" you have no real interest.

The author of a novel is never going to have a dream about you.  So why must so many of them tell us dreams?  I've just finished two books loaded with dreams.  One of them I recommended below, but only because the rest of the book is so good.  Still, I wish he hadn't done it.

I hate dreams in novels.  Why should I have to interpret a dream?  I want the author to interpret it in the sense that she/he uses another device to give me the same information.

A line or two of a dream is acceptable if it's meaningful and easy to understand.  But pages of dream recall?  Never.  I think writing long dreams in a novel is the lazy way out.  Oh, I can hear you now saying, but complicated dreams on the page take a great deal of skill.  Skill for what purpose?  Perhaps to show off?  I wish I could put a ban on dreams longer than two sentences. 

Just tell me the story.

Monday, March 07, 2005


 "A writer's brain is like a magician's hat. If you're going to get anything out of it, you have to put something in it first."

Louis L'Amour

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Where Am I Now?

Intoxicated with the RD sale, I realize I haven't updated my progress with the novel I'm writing.  Once again, it's the second in the series and Ballantine will be publishing it in July 2006.  This will be coordinated with the paperback release of the first in the series.  That's the way publishers set a schedule if you're writing a series.

It was a four day week but I was very disciplined.  I thought I'd be through with the rewriting by now but I'm not.  The reason is because I had a lot more changes to make in the chapters I had already written than I thought I had.

This week there are only one and a half chapters to rewrite.  By midweek I should be going into completely new territory.  Actually what I'm writing now is new territory, because the person who is being interviewed was the one who was dead in the first version.  So I have a new voice to write.

Except for who did it, I couldn't tell you now, if you asked, exactly where this novel is going.  But I feel comfortable with that.  I believe I'll be able to move along without anymore headaches than I would have naturally. I tell myself the worst is over.

There is no reason this can't be a five day week. 

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Clearing Up A Misunderstanding

Anonymous asked me this:

Does this mean it will only be published in the Readers Digest format or can you publish with another publisher?
Was this your only option for the new novel?

The sale to Reader's Digest is a bonus.  Ballantine is publishing the book in early July.  And this is not the book I'm working on now.

This sale is known as part of subsidiary rights.  I'll share the money with Ballantine.  As far as I know RD doesn't publish anything for condensed books that hasn't come out earlier in a regular edition.

So don't worry Anonymous, this is good. My sale to Ballantine happened in early 2004.  And now I'm working on, and complaining about, the second book in the series.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Another First

My novel THIS DAME FOR HIRE, the first of the series, just sold to Reader's Digest.  It will be in one of those volumes of condensed books; the kind you don't even look at at yard sales.

But I'm not complaining.  This is not only an unexpected check, it's very good publicity I'm told.  I've never sold to them before.  I guess they weren't interested in lesbians or a serial killer who was knocking off nuns.

I'm not completely sure I know what it says about the novel.  I guess it doesn't offend anyone.  This is also a first for me.