Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Quote

"There is only one way to defeat the enemy, and that is to write as well as one can. The best argument is an undeniably good book."

Saul Bellow

Monday, August 28, 2006

Reading

Whenever I try something new I first read things that are the same type.  I did that with Young Adults,  PI’s and Police Procedurals. This time I got a bunch of anthologies and am trying to read a few stories a day.  They’ve helped me already.  I think I’ll be able to do this. I’ll start writing next Tuesday instead of reading what I have of my novel.  That will come after I finish the story.  I have a germ of an idea. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Angst

The summer is almost over and I got through the few promotions I had to do after suffering both in life and here.

Instead of using these last two weeks before I hit the novel keys to enjoy myself I’ve done something to make my life a mess again.  After everything I said about short stories on August 18th I’ve agreed to do one for an anthology.

Why?  It’s true that the premise interested me.  But so what.  I’ve been asked to contribute a ss to many different anthologies that sounded promising and I’ve always managed to say no.  Managed?  I simply siad no for the reasons I’ve stated before.  I always wished that I could contribute, especially when asked by someone I liked and respected.  But I felt I wasn’t capable.

So why did I feel capable this time?  I have no idea, but now I don’t.  And that’s where the angst comes in.  Ever since I agreed to write a story I’ve been depressed, anxious, angry and miserable.  But I don’t want to write an email saying I’ve changed my mind.  I made a commitment and I always try to stick to them.

But what if I actually write one and it’s no good?

Isn’t it nice to have me back complaining about writing?  A new year (I always count September as the new year as if I were still in school) is about to start and before my complaints begin about writing the novel I’ll be here typing out what I’m going through over the writing of the ss.

I’m going to try to use this assignment (I know I gave it to myself) as a way to ease back into writing that peculiar novel I was working on before the summer.  Someone is waiting for the ss and that’s more than I can say about the novel.

I am, BTW, very flattered that I was asked.  The first thing I’m going to do is read some ss. If anyone has a suggestion of what crime story anthology I should read I would appreciate it.

No vampires, please.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Lists

It’s impossible to know how someone is going to read a post.  There are no nuances in either posts or emails so it’s all in how the reader takes what you’ve written.

Last night I stumbled on Working Title and found a post about what I’d written on Friday.

She’s very kind and says she likes my blog but hasn’t read any of my books.  That’s okay.  It’s the misunderstanding of what I wrote that bothered me.  Stacy Jacobs, the author of Working Title, thought I was saying my books were mediocre when I called myself a C-list author.

I meant where I stood in the scheme of published writers.  The A-list would be those writers who get on the Bestseller lists.  The B-list authors are those who don’t make it onto the Bestseller lists but are well-known anyway.  C-list authors, like me, publish consistantly and have their share of fans, but are never well-known and never make it onto any list.

A, B and C have nothing to do with whether the books are good or not.  Or whether the writing is excellent or the stories engaging.  For example, in my humble opinion some of the A-list authors can’t write a decent sentence and my mind boggles that some of the C-list authors keep getting published.

Do C-list authors ever become A-list authors?  I think so.  And ocassionally B-list authors claw their way up to A.  But it doesn’t happen too often.

Right now a particular B-list author is being pushed to become an A-list author.  I can’t imagine that writer jumping from B to A based on the new book.  On the other hand, as I said, quality has nothing to do with it, so the publisher might be absolutely right about that author.  I thought the book was awful, but then I don’t make or break an author.

Who does?  Nobody knows.  If the publishers knew we’d have exactly who they want on the A-list all the time.  Sometimes all the publicity and push in the world does nothing.  And sometimes there’s a strange phenomenen and a book gets to the top of the Bestseller list without any help from the publisher.  How does that happen?  Nobody knows.

So, in case anyone thought (like Stacy Jacobs) that I was saying that my books are mediocre, I wasn’t.  Some are better than others, but most of them are good.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Relieved But Sick

The venue was a small bookstore in Sag Harbor.  The kind of store that we used to have in every town. The place was packed.  That means four people.  Just kidding.  I didn’t count but every seat was taken and I think there were some standees.  Most were people I didn’t know.

After a very warm and informed introduction by one of the owners, I was on.  Yes, the dry mouth was there, but I think I read well.  I got some laughs and I only screwed up once.  After the reading came the Q&A.  Good questions.  And then it was over.  Since my trademark seems to be honesty I have to be honest about this.  I sold 3 books.  I felt awful for the owners but they assured me it was fine and they had no doubt they’d sell the books they had.

So what’s the point of these readings and signings?  Had I a Higgins in my name I would’ve sold tons of books.  But does it make sense for a writer on the C-list to do these things?  Especially when I go through such angst?  I don’t think so.  I never want to do it again.  It’s simply not worth it for me.  And if some editor reads this and won’t buy a book of mine because of it, I guess that’s the way it’ll have to be. 

On the other hand, should an editor say something like, we’ll give you x amount of dollors for this novel but you’ll have to do publicity or no deal, what do you think I’d do?  Right.

My fondest hope is that I’ll publish again but I won’t have to do publicity except print.

The reason I’m late on this post is because the day after the reading I got very sick.  And I haven’t had the energy to do this until today.  I’m beginning to feel human again.  So glad I didn’t get sick on Saturday because no one would’ve believed me.

The book has now been out for almost two months.  It’s been well-reviewed, but far less reviews than the first book.  I think it’s creeping up on over, if it’s not over already.  What I mean by that is the stores will make way for the fall books, the reviewers the same.  I’ve had my run.

Next June the paperback of Too Darn Hot will be published.  And other than that I have nothing coming out.

In two weeks I’ll go back to the novel I was working on before my vacation.  I don’t look forward to it…not the book itself but giving up this leisurely schedule.  I know I’ll get into the groove again.  It’ll take about a week.

Meanwhile, I’ve been asked to contribute a short story to an anthology that intrigues me.  See.  Never say never.  I’m not sure what I’ll do.  I have to feel healthier than this to make a decision. 

But you never know…you simply never know anything.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

It's Today

The final reading and Q&A of Too Darn Hot.  Six hours from now.  In seven hours the whole thing will be over.

I did a rehearsal about two hours ago and it was horrible.  I hadn’t looked at the piece since I did it at Borders.  The second time I read it aloud it was better.

I’m not as nervous as I was before the Borders reading.  But I’m nervous.  I know the dry mouth thing will happen and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

This time I have to take two ferries to get to where I have to go.  Sag Harbor.  For those of you who don’t know where that is it’s the South Fork on Long Island, New York. This is a resort town.  Crowded as hell.  But who will want to go to a reading on a Saturday at six o’clock?  Won’t people be having drinks at that hour?

Same old worry.  No one will come, but who cares because I’m terrified of reading to people anyway.  That’s not quite true.  Don’t feel terrified this time.  Still, I wish it was seven and I was going off to dinner with my friends.

Yes, I’m grateful and pleased that I was asked to read at Canios.  But I’ll be more pleased when I can look back on it.  Unless something awful happens.  Oh, no.  It won’t, will it?

I’m thinking of all the horrible things that could take place.  Use your imagination.  Awful, isn’t it?

Aren’t you glad this is the last one? 

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Last Appearance

Saturday night is the last time I’ll have to read from Too Darn Hot. The last time I’ll have to perform.  Yes, I know I’m lucky to have a venue, etc.  Still I don’t like to do these things as those of you who’ve kept up with this blog know.

I don’t want to spend this week wishing time away, but I find myself thinking things like by this time next Tuesday it’ll all be over. I promised not to go on about this until the day before and of, so I won’t.

The other thing I’ve been feeling is I like living the life of doing nothing.  There’s a big part of me that doesn’t want to go back to writing after Labor Day.  But writers don’t retire.  Sometimes they stop.  Or I think they’ve stopped because I don’t know that they can’t get published anymore.  Others stop because of writer’s block.  And, yes, there is such a thing.  But do writers stop because they don’t feel like writing?  Especially the ones who have no other job?  No other income?  And no interest or qualifications for another career?  I don’t know.

Stopping isn’t really an option for me.  And I’m sure I couldn’t do it anyway.  It’s my life.  I’ve never done anything else.  Don’t want to.  I’m a writer.  Yes, it’s my identity. Boring groups of people say you shouldn’t let your work define you.  Too bad.  I do and always have.  Therefore, if I stopped writing I’d have no identity.  Oh, I guess that’s why the boring groups say you shouldn’t let your work define you.  Still, it does.  Too late to change that now.  I could probably get away with a few years of not writing and still call myself a writer.  But I don’t have a whole lot of years left to play around with.

And then there’s that damn twentieth novel.  I have nineteen published novels and I promised myself I’d have at least twenty before I bit the dust.  So even though I don’t feel like it, and may not feel like it in September, I’ll most likely hit the keys once more.

Sigh.