Tuesday, December 28, 2004


"Novels aren't just pleasure, I think they are an education of feeling."

Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag

She died today at the age of 71. I couldn't read her, and though I didn't know her well, I didn't especially like her. But I do have a funny story about her...and me.

When we were in our middle twenties we met at a party. I had just published a small book called SUZUKI BEANE, illustrated by Louise Fitzhugh. It was the first thing I'd ever published and even though it was a novelty type book (sort of like ELOISE) I was pretty full of myself. Susan and I chatted and I asked her what she did. She answered "I'm a writer." And I thought, "Oh, sure, everybody's a writer."

Boy was I surprised a few years later.

I want to add that I respect what she did with her life as a writer and an activist.

Monday, December 27, 2004


Murderers will try to recall the sequence of events, they will remember exactly what they did just before and just after. But they can never remember the actual moment of killing. This is why they will always leave a clue.
Peter Ackroyd

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Nurse Ratched Rides Again

Two days before Christmas.  I would have been writing.  At least this morning I would have been writing.  And all this past week.

I want to be reminded when I start complaining about writing how much better it is than having to do everything for a person who has broken her leg.  Writing is a piece of cake compared.

But the thing is, when I start writing again we will only be in the first part of week 3.  So I'll be writing AND doing everything.


Sunday, December 19, 2004

Plan Nothing

I don't have my 100 pages before Christmas and I won't.  My partner fell off a table and broke her leg.  This means I have to do everything.  Especially in these first two weeks.

I want to start on the novel again the first weekday of 2005.  I can't imagine that things won't be better by then...but as I said...don't plan.

I never intended to write between Christmas and the New Year anyway.  I always take that week.  I use it to recharge, read and go to movies.  I don't know how much time I'll have to do any of those things.

I still haven't seen the revised cover art and my editor goes away on the 21st until after the New Year.  Unless I get something tomorrow I won't know until 2005.  It would be nice to see it but I'll live.  They've posted the jacket on their website and I'm hoping that's for a reason I don't understand and not because that's the jacket they intend to use.  Because if it is I intend to call my agent and let her cause a fuss.  She's very good at that.  The best.

I have to go now and see what's in the fridge so I can make dinner.  And then do the dishes.

This sucks.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Jacket Photo

I've had nothing but trouble with my jacket photo.  It's the one on this page.  I know you can't tell because it's so small but it's good and I like it.  It was taken with a digital camera.

All day yesterday was spent back and forth to my editor and his assistant about this damn picture.  It was the best one out of 53 and they wanted me to have another taken because the resolution had to be at least 300dpi.  I was told the art department couldn't do anything with it.  Yes, that art department.

They wanted it to be large and the resolution wouldn't allow that. I told them if it couldn't be fixed then I didn't need a picture on my jacket.

I couldn't believe they weren't capable of fixing it in Photoshop or some other program.  Then I remembered my cousin Andy.  He's a wiz at this stuff.  So I sent him the picture, told him the problem and he fixed it.

I sent it to my editor and his assistant this morning.  My editot said he would send it on to the art department.  I await the verdict.

Raymond Chandler said:  "Writers should never be seen."

Sunday, December 12, 2004


A bad book is as much a labor to write as a good one; it comes as sincerely from the author's soul.

Aldous Huxley

Irritating Things

My editor didn't seem to understand 2 out of 3 complaints I had about the cover art.  This surprised me. The hemline is being changed but I have a feeling that the body distortion will still be there.  As for the shoulder bag, my editor said he thought it was a  holster.  No one would wear a holster over their coat.  A shoulder holster is worn underneath a jacket or coat.  And my protagonist wouldn't wear one ever.  I'm not looking forward to this discussion this week.  There seems to be a rush on this but it's not my fault that the art department couldn't look in a book or on the Internet to find out what people were wearing in the 40's.  I hope I don't have to drag my agent into this.

I've almost completed the page proofs.  They would've been done by now but I've been working on a new website with an artist long distance.

Anyway, I hate the book again.  And it really makes me not want to write the next in the series.  Maybe I'll be dead by the time they want a third.  Very cranky here.


Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Page Proofs

They came yesterday. This is the last chance I get to make changes in my book, This Dame For Hire.  They are exactly the way the pages will look in the bound galley and the hardcover book.

I spent most of the day working on them.  That means that I've been reading the book again and looking for typos or mistakes.  I found very few and I'm halfway through.

Having to read it again is hideous.  I don't feel like reading it.  It's interrupted my writing schedule.  In fact, it feels like torture having to read it.  But this will be the last time.  Once a book is published I never read it again.

If I have to make a personal appearance and do a reading that's the only time I give the book a tumble.  I don't know whether that will happen with his novel or not. 

I got very good at doing that with my Lauren Laurano series.  And this book has an angle to it that will make it fairly easy to read aloud.  We'll see.

I have to continue reading the damn thing tomorrow.  I hope I finish it then.  I'm not a fast reader at all. 

So it looks like my writing week is over because we'll be running away from the cleaners again on Friday.  Going to the movies.  This was always going to be a four day writing week, but it turned out to be a two day week.

I want to have at least 100 pages finished before Christmas.  I'll take the week between Christmas and New Years.  The whole publishing industry does so why shouldn't I?  That's one of the perks I have being a novelist who supports herself strictly through writing.  I'm so lucky. 

Then why am I complaining? 


Thursday, December 02, 2004


Read, read, read. Read everything - trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out the window.
William Faulkner

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Cover Art 2

The second rendition of the cover art for book one came to me through email.

It's still wrong. The colors are fine. The background is fine. But the woman's outfit is still wrong. She remains in silhouette but now she's facing us. The hat is perfect. But they have her wearing a shoulder bag (there weren't any in 1943) and they have once again given her a long skirt. Women didn't wear long skirts in 1943.

I've sent them pictures of women's fashions I found on the Internet and written "note the hemlines" but obviously it did no good.

There's another problem and that is the woman's body is distorted or something. The bottom half of her is going one way while the top is going another.

It's very upsetting. I hate to be a complainer but this can't stand. I put in a call to my editor and am now waiting for him to return it. He must like the art work because he sent it to me and he knew exactly what I wanted the last time we talked.

I don't know what this means.


I just learned that my editor won't be back until next week and that his assistant was the one who sent me the art work. I'm Relieved that my editor hadn't seen it and sent it on. Now I wait for him to come back. I'm sure he'll see the folly of this cover.

The Comfort Level

I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what it was.  I wasn't comfortable writing this novel.  I never had that exact feeling before.  Why should I feel uncomfortable or comfortable writing a book?

I had a talk with someone about this.  I didn't tell the plot (don't you hate it when he/she tells you the plot of their book?) of my novel because I never do that. 

BTW, it's a mistake to tell the plot before you start writing, or while you're writing, because it's simple to talk it away.  Once you tell all, it's easy not to write all.

So, as I was talking about this feeling of being uncomfortable it became clear to me that it was with the new characters I'd introduced this week. These two people were new but they were the parents of Faye's client.  So their status had been set-up in chapter one.  This was what was wrong.  The people were in the wrong class.  Don't forget this is 1943.

Once I realized this I was able to sit down today and make those changes.  I put them in a different part of town, a different type of home and gave the father a different job.  Now they were right.  They were who they should be.

More surprises came out of the conversation they were all having.  But it made perfect sense.

I look forward to tomorrow's work day because now I feel comfortable.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Hitting The Keys Again

So my mini vacation is over like everyone else's.  Tomorrow I have to go back to writing my novel.

I discovered what Johnny said to Faye and it moves the relationship forward.

Now I'm about to introduce two new characters.  The parents of the surprise character, the murder victim.  Faye is waiting for them in their living room.  They and Faye's client know that daughter and sister has been murdered, but they don't know another piece of information that will surprise them all.

And although I know what this info is, I don't know what it means yet.  I guess more will be revealed.

The new cover art should arrive this week.  I'm crossing my fingers.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Carpe Diem

Larry Brown died yesterday.  He was 53.  He wasn't a well-known, writer, but he was a damn good one.  He wrote 5 novels, 2 short story collections, and 2 books of essays.  He won The Southern Book Award twice. His books were mostly about the seamy side of southern life, which is probably why he wasn't a popular read. 

53 years old.  Much too young.  He had lots of books left in him, I'm sure. It makes me sad to think nothing more will be coming from him.

"She came down out of the hills that were growing black with night, and in the dusty road her feet found small broken stones that made her wince. Alone for the first time in the world and full dark coming quickly. House lights winked through the trees as she walked and swung her purse from her hand. She could hear cars passing down the asphalt but she was still a long way from that."

From Fay: A novel.

Monday, November 22, 2004

A Declaration?

Today I stopped writing when the love interest, Johnny, says, "Faye, there's something I want to say."

This after they've had a long kiss in the vestibule of her apartment.

I wonder what he wants.

Because it's 1943 I will never have to write a sex scene. This makes me so happy I could click my heels.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Two Things

I wrote to my editor about my jacket and the cover art I objected to. I included pictures of what women were wearing in 1943. On Monday, when he got the email, he called me and said he would pass it on to the art director and what I said made perfect sense to him.

I told him I didn't like the colors too much. He said he did. He thought it made the book stand out. I mulled this over and showed the jacket to several people. They liked it. The thinking was with these colors the book wouldn't be confused with chick lit. Mine are yellow to orange in the title letters and teal for the frame which houses the silhouette of the woman and a backdrop of a city. I decided to keep the colors.

The Surprise Character

I know who she is now. She was identified by the detective's client. This happened yesterday. I was shocked to learn who she was. I ended chapter 5 with this revelation.

This morning I woke early and before I went back to sleep I kept writing opening lines of chapter 6 in my head. But I didn't use any of them when I went to work this morning.

Since chapter 5 ended with a name I had to open chapter 6 with more information about who this victim was. In learning this I've set myself a lot of new problems. I still don't know why she was found where she was or why she was murdered. Needless to say, I don't know who killed her.

Next week will be short. Three days. It would be nice if I could answer some of these questions before Thanksgiving. If I don't it will be nagging at me. So what? That's part of writing a novel. Any novel. Not only a mystery. I think all good novels are mysteries to the author until they're completed. Then people read all sorts of things into what's on the page and this becomes more of a mystery to the author.

Friday, November 19, 2004


Outside of a dog, man's best friend is a book.  Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

Groucho Marx

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Cover Art

The cover art for my book, THIS DAME FOR HIRE, arrived on Friday. My editor loved it and hoped I would, too.

I don't. It's all wrong. I'm not being a neurotic writer who would think nothing is right. I've loved all the jackets on my books except one before this.

The reason it's wrong is because the book takes place in the 1940's during the 2nd WW and the silhoutte of a woman (my protagonist) is dressed as though she is living during the first WW. I know that the artists seldom read the book, but surely he/she knew when it took place. What would be so hard about finding out what women wore then? I did. There are lots of examples on the Internet if you don't want to look in a book.

I also don't like the main colors. My name is in white which is fine. But the title and border are not pleasing to my eye. I'll give on that if I have to. It's the woman in the silhoutte that is most important. It sends the wrong message.

I've sent an email to my editor (which he'll get Monday) gently telling him how I feel. My agent said not to worry they'll fix it. I'm not worried. But I am disappointed.

Problems like this are another reason you need an agent. This publishing experience was going so beautifully until now. Still, I'm confident it'll be remedied.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


Even now, my ideal for writing fiction is to put Dostoevsky and Chandler together in one book. That's my goal.

Haruki Murakami

A Little Discouraged

My writing hasn't been going well this week. I'm on Chapter 4, page 4. I've been there for 2 days.

I have no ooomph. And I've been playing around on the Internet. No, not looking at email. Trying the new Mozilla browser, for instance, and going from site to site. Please. Now I see I mustn't launch a browser before I start writing. Come on. I knew that. I simply don't want to write.

I know you can't wait until you feel like it. You have to do it everyday, anyway.

I've had people ask me if I wait for inspiration. My answer is that if I waited for that I'd write one page a year. Maybe.

I don't want to write today and I'm not going to. And I won't tomorrow either because it's one of those movie days I've described earlier.

So, I'll try again on Monday. I'll more than try. I'll sit here as I've said one should, no matter what. I won't get involved on the Internet. No launching of anything except my Word program and Gurunet. That's a great program for looking up things you need while writing. Dictionay, Thesaurus, search engines to find out things like: how much a subway ride was in 1943. But it can be distracting, too. Still, I need this program. I'll have to use self-control. I can do that.

I hate when a week like this happens because I don't feel I deserve a weekend of doing whatever I want. I like to write my 5 days and then reward myself. It's not going to happen. Oh, I'll do the same things I would if I'd written all week. But I'll do it with a smidgen of guilt. Never any point in feeling too guilty, is there?

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


The words! I collected them in all shapes and sizes and hung them like bangles in my mind.
Hortense Calisher

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Advance The Story

I finished chapter 3 today and I still don't know who the dead woman is.

But I'm not nervous yet.  Usually a character's identity is revealed to me eventually.  It will have to be within the next few chapters so I can advance the story,

I used to keep a sign on my bulletin board that said:


It's not a bad thing to do.  The sign, that is.  It doesn't matter what kind of novel you're writing you need to always advance the story.  I'm not talking about cliffhangers here.  Just keep the story moving along.  No flights of fancy, please.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

The Surprise Character

I forgot to mention that last Monday I had my protagonist searching a hotel room for clues to the missing man. She opened a wardrobe and the body of a naked woman fell out.

I didn't plan this at all.  It happened.  I have no idea who she is or what she has to do with the missing man case.  The woman falling out of the wardrobe was the way I ended chapter two.

I'm 4 pages into chapter 4 and I still don't know anything about her.  The police have arrived now.  Don't have any idea where this is going to go.

Yes, it's a bit scary not to know, but it's also what makes writing without an outline fun.  Maybe tomorrow I'll find out who she is.

Saturday, November 06, 2004


A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.
William Strunk, Jr.

Never Give Up

Yesterday I was in my local library when a man came in and said "What happened to all the Barara Pym novels? I've been reading her and now they all seem to be missing."

The librarian looked her up on the computer. She was there. But when the librarian and the man went into the stacks Pym was, indeed, missing.

After a search Pym was discovered in the discard pile that was going to the Book Cottage. The BC is behind the library and is open from April through November Wednesdays and Saturdays. For a quarter or two dollars you can pick up some great stuff. Most of it is junk, but you never know. Now some lucky person will discover Barbara Pym.

Who was she?

Her first novel, Some Tame Gazelle, was published in 1950, followed by five more books. In 1963 the new chief editor of her publisher rejected An Unsuitable Attachment, because, as he wrote, "in present conditions we could not sell a sufficient number of copies to cover costs". In 1969 she sent The Sweet Dove Died, written in 1968, to many publishers, with no success. Discouraged, she stopped writing.

But in 1977 she got her revenge. The Times Literary Supplement asked some eminent literates to list the "most underrated novelist of the century". Barbara Pym is the only one who was mentioned twice, by poet Philip Larkin and by Lord David Cecil.

Pym was established as a major novelist. Her next novel, Quartet in Autumn, was readily accepted and she was able to publish two more books before her death in 1980.

The above bio is in thanks to Claudia Di Giorgio

But all those wonderful novels are going to the Book Cottage because in our library (and I suspect in most small libraries) if a book hasn't been taken out in two years more than once it's chucked out.

So if you're rejected, don't give up, and if you get accepted don't take yourself too seriously. You might wind up in the Book Cottage yourself someday. Still, in between you'll give some readers pleasure.

Read Pym.

Friday, November 05, 2004

A Three Day Week

I skipped writing on Wednesday because I stayed up very late watching election returns. Also woke up early.  Now I'm skipping today, Friday.


Why? I'm not sure. My partner is away. I got up a little late and had to take care of all the morning chores that we usually divide.  Big deal, right. But before I knew it it was almost 10 and I told myself to take the day. I'm playing hooky have stuff to do...write in this blog, shop for food, answer email, pay bills, take back videos and...


Nothing else.


Face it. I'm playing hooky and that's all there is to it. I have today and the weekend to catch up on reading and other enjoyable things.


Monday I'll start writing again. It's not so awful...I have two chapters and 4 pages of chapter 3.  So I don't have to push myself to write, right?


I feel happy!

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are".
---- Somerset Maugham

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Four Day Week

That's what it turned out to be.  My partner is allergic to dust and when the cleaners come, every other Friday, we often go to the movies and that's what we did.

Nevertheless, I got Chaper One written and four pages of Chap. Two.  I've introduced the person who hires the PI and established who is missing.  My protagonist will now be tracing and interviewing people that were mentioned in Chap. One.  But as the novel progresses it'll get harder and harder. 

Still, I'm pleased with my start and thrilled that it's the weekend.

Monday, October 25, 2004

I Did It!

That's right.  I started my novel this morning.  I wrote two and a half pages.  That's not as much as I usually do, but I'm not completely in the writing rhythm yet.  It was a good feeling to be back with my characters.  This is the second in a series so I felt comfortable.  In a series you have to get in a lot of exposition without repeating yourself exactly as in book one.  So that can be tricky.  And that's part of what I was writing today. I stopped at the place where I'm introducing a new character.

I often use this little trick.  I try not to end a workday at a finished spot.  I like to end in the middle of a scene so that when I come back the next day it isn't hard to pick up.  I write cliffhangers at the end of chapters for readers and cliffhangers in the middle of paragraphs for me.

I feel very pleased that I've begun.


Saturday, October 23, 2004

Slouching Toward Writing

We all know the Yankees didn't win so now I have no excuse.

Monday, Oct. 25th, is the start day.  Why do I have this cough?  My chest hurts when I take a deep breath.  Not going over, huh?

Starting for me means that on Sunday night I have to be in bed by 10 and asleep no later than 11.  I have to get up by 7. Breakfast.  Make the bed. Wash and dress. Give pills to the cat.  Empty the litter box. Go into my office.  Turn on the computer.  Do NOT get email. Power up Word.  Set the spacing, etc.  Go down the page to 4.5.  Center.  Type ONE.  Hit enter.  Hit the left hand square. Hit enter, hit tab.

And no matter what happens I  have to stay there until 12 at the earliest.  I've never stared at a blank page for 3 hours in my life.  Will this be the first time?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Copyedited Manuscript of This Dame For Hire

So it wasn't bad at all. I was pleasantly surprised. Only a lot of added commas and suggested changes that were mostly typos on my part. No dumb questions. That is almost unheard of.

The next part of the process will be the page proofs. I guess I get them in about two or three months.

But here's the thing. I'd given myself a writing start date of October 18th for the new book. It didn't happen because I had to deal with the copyedited manuscript of THIS DAME FOR HIRE. And tomorrow is Thursday. Who ever started a new book on a Thursday? I never have and I'm not going to begin now. What would be the point? I'd write for two days and then the weekend would be here and I never write on weekends except when I'm rewriting. Therefore, any rhythm I'd developed would be lost.

So the new start date is October 25th. I should have the whole five days clear. I'll start at 9 or 9:30 that morning and go to 12 or 1:00.

Of course, if the Yankees go to the World Series and play only night games, what the hell will I do? I may have to start writing at a later time. 10:00? I'll let you know.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Copyedited Manuscript

It's arrived.  This is always an annoying part of the process.  Much worse than dealing with your editor because your editor is usually a reasonable adult.

Copy editors are usually about 12 years old and very anal retentive.  I don't believe they ever laugh or smile.  They are endlessly questioning you about everything.  Those little yellow post-its hang off the side of many pages.

What is a rep tie? one once asked me.  What is an out building?  I could go on and on.

I've now opened the package and glanced.

I feel sick.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


"Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don't see any."

Orson Scott Card

Monday, October 11, 2004

Editors and Egomanical Writers

I'm sure everyone has read a book that she/he thought needed an editor. And every book does need an editor. Unfortunately, editors edit less than ever before. I have never had a bad editor and don't have one now, I'm happy to say.

Today in The New York Times there is an article about Anne Rice. I quote her:

"People who find fault and problems with my books tend to say, 'She needs an editor.' When a person goes over and over a manuscript and wants every word to be perfect, it's very frustrating."

Ms. Rice also took umbrage with readers who reviewed her last book on the Amazon site. She was so incensed that she posted a 1200 word diatribe.

She told The Times: "I have no intention of allowing any editor ever to distort, cut or otherwise mutilate sentences that I have edited and re-edited, and organized myself. I fought a great battle to achieve a status where I did not have to put up with editors making demands on me."

Having someone edit your work is very important. The writer has a stale perspective by the time the novel is finished. This is why I have a first reader before the book ever goes to my agent. After my agent it goes to my editor. My own rule is that if three people say that something isn't working I must pay attention.

The strange thing about Ms. Rice's remarks is that I've never known an editor to cut, distort or mutilate a sentence of mine. Editors suggest. In the end it's your book and you have the last word. Even I do. And I'm not a blockbuster writer.

I don't always take the suggestions but often I find them helpful and see that they make the sentence or paragraph better. A suggestion, for example, might be to shift the beginning of a chapter to the end.

I admit that at first I kick and scream. No one likes to be told that what they've written isn't wonderful. But, eventually, if the suggestion is good, I take it.

Ms. Rice talks about making every word perfect. I don't see how that's possible. No writer can make every word perfect. You do the best you can. And then an editor tries to help and often succeeds in making it damn near perfect.

Also in the article Ms. Rice says: "When you take home a CD of Pavarotti or Marilyn Horne, you don't want to hear another voice blended in."

Aside from this being an absurd analogy, Ms. Rice has put herself in very lofty company.

But I'd better be careful because she writes to Amazon reviewers: "Your stupid, arrogant assuptions about me and what I am doing are slander. You have used the site as if it were a public urinal to publish falsehood and lies."

I certainly don't want to be accused of slander. I am, after all, merely a novelist who needs and desires an editor.

Saturday, October 09, 2004


"The cat sat on the mat is not a story. The cat sat on the other cat's mat is a story."

John LeCarre

Thursday, October 07, 2004


One of the things that makes the Spark book so good is that the writing is economical.  For one thing she doesn't use adverbs when writing who is speaking.  This is something that took me about seventeen books to learn.  I finally did it in my book that will be published in June/July by Ballantine.  There is no reason to write anything more than: he said, she said or other variations on this. No adverbs are needed.  Ever.

For instance, to write, "I want you to get out," John said angrily. is pointless because you're reading that John is angry after the piece of dialogue.  If set up correctly you'll know how John is saying this as you read it.

Many writers use adverbs and too many adjectives because they don't trust their work to be strong enough.  And also to bulk up their book.

"Don't use adverbs after your dialogue," I said.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

What a Phony

Me, that is. Haven't read a word of research material. I do have a little bit of an excuse. My partner is in the hospital and I'm here having to do everything by myself. Hate it. Grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, feeding cats, cleaning litter, etc. It all takes up so much time.

Still, I have managed to read one novel and am now reading THE FINISHING SCHOOL by Muriel Spark. A wonderful little novel about writing, envy, jealousy and other things. Spark is 86 and keeps on writing. You might know her best for THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE. But don't neglect MEMENTO MORI or THE BALLAD OF PECKHAM RYE which are early works and some of her best. And don't miss this gem of a book.

Ah, come on. At least I'm reading.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Day Before The Supposed Start

Not starting.  I will start reading the research material with an eye to starting next Monday.  Wait. That's a holiday weekend. I never start writing on a holiday Monday. Then Wednesday is my anniversary with my partner.  So am I going to start writing on Tuesday? For one day? No. That week is disrupted by too many things. But I can continue to read.

Sooo, I guess I won't actually start writing until the 18th.  That seems like a good day to start. I'll plan for that.

What a relief.



Friday, October 01, 2004


"After all, one knows one's weak points so well, that it's rather bewildering to have the critics overlook them and invent others."

Edith Wharton

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Bookstore Non-Event

Because a tree had fallen across my long driveway I couldn't get out yesterday.  And the town couldn't come until today to clear the huge tree.  So that meant that I couldn't appear at DEAD END BOOKS to speak about BEAUTIFUL RAGE.

I felt terrible about this because the bookstore had promoted my appearance but there was nothing to be done.  The owner was very kind and understanding.  He wanted to reschedule but for personal reasons I can't.

Also because I'll be starting the new book. When I'm writing I find it almost impossible to do other things. I don't do much socially and never do anything connected with book promotion.  It's very important for me to lead a circumscribed life.  I write in the morning and spend afternoons doing chores and reading.  Evenings I watch a video or read.  The more I describe this, the more it sounds like I lead a boring life.  But it isn't boring to me. This is the way I need to live to write a book. 

Monday, September 27, 2004

More Stalling

Going out with my closest friend for lunch.  This means I won't even start reading the things I should be reading.  And tonight I'll be watching the newly released DVD of the orignial British PENNIES FROM HEAVEN with Bob Hoskins. It was written by Dennis Potter who wrote THE SINGING DETECTIVE, perhaps one of the best commentaries on what it's like to be a writer.  Don't let that put you off if you haven't seen it because it's very entertaining and one of the most brilliant pieces you'll ever see.  Don't confuse this with the movie with Robert Downey Jr. 


Sunday, September 26, 2004

Getting Ready

As my self-imposed deadline approaches I realize there are certain things I must read.  The new book will take place in the summer of 1943 in NYC.  I've already done a lot of research for that year but I need to do more. This week I should read OUR MOTHERS' WAR American women at home and at the front during world war 11 by Emily Yellin. I'm sure it'll be interesting but I've always resisted reading things I HAVE to read.  Besides, there are other books I want to read that have nothing to do with my research.

I also have to think of a good opening line.  And a title. I don't have to have a title but I like having one.

And if anyone cares or reads this I'm appearing at DEAD END BOOKS in Hicksville, New York on the evening of the 29th to read from BEAUTIFUL RAGE and do a Q&A plus sign books if anyone should buy one.  I hate doing things like this.

I had to tour a great deal during the years I wrote a series ...'91 to '98.  I eventually came to enjoy reading from those books because they were funny and I liked the laughs.  I also became good at it.  And I got over my fear of flying because on one tour I had to take a plane every day for 10 days.

I wouldn't want to do any of that again.  It's really not fun. You don't get to see anything except the airport, your hotel room and the bookstore you're doing that night or afternoon.

The reason I'm not looking forward to Weds. night is because what I'll be reading isn't funny.  And I can't believe anyone will come.  Still, this only requires a drive of about an hour and a half each way and then it will be over.

I have to resign myself to the fact that I'm doing it.  Bah, humbug.


Sunday, September 19, 2004


This past year I wrote the first book of a new series.  THIS DAME FOR HIRE will be published in hardcover next June or July by Ballantine.  This was a two book deal with the second book due by July 1st, 2005. 

Have I started it yet?  Guess.  I know who the victim will be and that's all.  I have most of the characters because this is a series.  That's both good and bad.  Good for the obvious reason and bad because I don't get to create that many new people. 

The  thing is I'm tired. I don't feel like writing yet.  I turned in the first one mid-July. 

So, I'm stalling. Since it takes place in New York 1943 I tell myself I have to read this, I  have to read that.  But I did a lot of research to write the first one.  Nevertheless....

I've given myself a start time.  October 4th.  That's a Monday.

I don't have to know much more than who the victim is. I never know who did it until way into the book.  So when October 4th comes around I won't have any excuses even if I don't know any more than I do now.

I hope my editor never reads this.



Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Don't Write What You Can't Read

How many times have I heard someone say, "I could write that...romance, mystery, fantasy novel, they're easy?" Guess what? They're not easy. The person who writes in that genre does it because he/she likes that genre.

And don't think you can write a bestseller because you think the one you just read isn't any good. The writer who wrote that book did the best she/he can. And believed in it every moment.

The most important thing is to never try to write in a genre or style of book you can't read. If you don't read horror novels, don't try to write one. You'll be doing it for the wrong reasons...to be rich and/or famous. And it won't work. If you're writing a book for those reasons it will show. It'll be lousy. And it'll never get published.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

New Book (2)

Well, they've finally released it. Amazon says it's out and that only 4 copies are left in stock. They probably started with 5! If anybody wishes to buy it it's called BEAUTIFUL RAGE. Here's a review from Harriet Klausner:

Beautiful Rage

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Number of Reviews: 1 Average Rating: *****
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Great stortelling
In Snowden County, Virginia, forty-three year old Sheriff Lucia Dove works a missing teen case. Apparently, good girl Julie Boyer came home from school and vanished not long afterward. The only clues are her Internet romance with Floridian Lyle Taylor. Lucia works closely on the investigation with Lieutenant Jack Fincham assisting her. The two cops have the hots for one another, but hide it as he is unhappily married to an alcoholic in denial and has a child. Lucia had a child out of wedlock, but she died in an accident. Jack’s wife apparently commits suicide, but FBI Agent Mike McQuigg, Lucia’s nasty ex-husband, thinks murder occurred. He legally searches Jack’s home only to find a razor with DNA evidence linked to two other female teen homicides in the area. Lucia believes that Jack is being set up and wonders why Mike got involved in the case starting with the missing Julie. She begins her own inquiries not sure where it will take her, but when she gets there she is in for quite a shocker. This solid police procedural contains an interesting lead protagonist who struggles with any wrong doing to children because of her daughter’s death even if she agreed with the official ruling of accident. The story line is fast-paced and the simmering desire between Jack and Lucia is hotter than the Arizona desert in summer. Though the identity of the serial killer will stun the audience who may think that it seems too way out, fans will appreciate this tense thriller.
Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 06, 2004

How to Get a Book Deal

I've had a question about this and it's one I get all the time.  Here's my advice: Get a copy of Literary Marketplace (usually in the library) and look up agents. Pick the one who appeals to you and send that agent a query letter with a paragraph about your book.  Give your name, address and phone number.  And include a SASE.  You really need to have an agent to get your manuscript read at a publishing house.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Publication Day

For those of you who look forward to a publication day, and dream of excitement, parties, presents and champagne...unless your partner or a friend does this for you, publication day is basically a non-event.

I have had flowers sent to me by an editor...once...and I did have one party thrown by my agent, but other than that, the day has gone by without a ripple.

The way I mark the day is to go to a movie. 

New Book

My latest book is BEAUTIFUL RAGE and was supposedly published on September 2nd. I say supposedly because no one can find it. Oh, yes, it's on Amazon and other sites but it continues to say that it's not published yet even though it says it will be published on September 2nd. It's baffling. It's been reviewed by Harriet Klausner on many sites but not on Amazon. Another bafflement. This book is published by Five Star Mysteries. I've never published with them before so I had no idea what to expect. I think the jacket is terrific. But what good is a picture of the jacket when you can't buy the book? I'll continue to hope the book appears somewhere. This is Labor Day weekend so maybe when it's over?

I have a website and this is the address: