Tuesday, July 31, 2007


"The novel remains for me one of the few forms where we can record man's complexity and the strength and decency of his longings."

John Cheever

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Vin Packer

Remember the non-fiction piece I was writing and whining about in May? It’s out now in Crimespree Magazine. The piece is about Vin Packer (Marijane Meaker).

She loved it.  The article was a surprise to her because I hadn’t let her know I was writing it.  I’m so glad she was pleased.

Marijane said I should write more non-fiction. I said, no.  She said, it was so much fun doing the research.  I said, I liked to make up stories.

I wish I did like writing non-fiction but it doesn’t speak to me.  You have to stick to facts and you know where you’re going and none of the people can be invented.  That is, if you’re doing it honestly.

No, it’s fiction or nothing for me.  And speaking of that, I had about two minutes yesterday of being bored by NOT writing.  Only a few minutes.  Still….

Saturday, July 21, 2007

No Thoughts

A writer friend of mine emailed me yesterday wondering why I wasn’t posting my thoughts here.  My first reaction was, how nice that she cares, and my second was, what thoughts?

I’ve been reading a lot and I have thoughts about the books I read, but this blog was meant to be about writing thoughts, as it says above.  The problem is I have no writing thoughts.

About once or twice a week I get an email from a fan who is waiting for the next book in the Faye Quick series.  That makes me think about writing for as long as it takes me to answer the writer and tell him/her that there won’t be anymore Faye novels because my contract wasn’t picked up.  And then I don’t think about writing after that.

Actually, I just realized that I’m lying.  Occasionally I think of what I might write if I start writing.  These are fleeting thoughts and certainly not worth posting.

I have thoughts about politics (who doesn’t?) but that’s not what this blog is about.  I also think abouth movies I’ve seen.  Not about that either.

But thoughts about me writing?  Nope. We’re halfway through the summer and I guess I had a secret thought that I might start a new book after Labor Day.  And I might.

Here’s the thing: I don’t miss writing at all.  I have no idea how long that will last.  Maybe forever.  Maybe until Labor Day.

Sometimes I think about other writers.  I read about their deals and hope that huge sums of money won’t ruin their careers.  Or I notice that a very good writer has disappeared from the scene.  In fact I could probably do a whole post about Whatever happened to…?

Still, that’s not about my writing thoughts.  Maybe I should branch out and write about some of the things I mentioned above.  But a lot of people write about those things and better than I would.

I know I’ve posted about publishing before.  So what more is there to say?  We all know it’s only going to get worse.

This doesn’t mean I won’t post again until I know what I’m going to write.  Something will rile me up or spin me around and I’ll put my two cents in.

So, stay tuned.

Friday, July 06, 2007

No Place At The Table

A friend of mine, who has published at least 10 novels in the crime genre, has written a new one.

She was unable to get an agent, (some didn’t even bother to call her back or return her email) despite having been published, so she decided to send it to editors herself.  Not cold.  Editors she’d met at various conventions, etc.

Here, from an editor at a major house, is the last paragraph of a rejection letter that praised her novel.

“This is a fine piece of work, as you no doubt are painfully aware, but I’m not sure that we could convince the big stores to buy thousands and thousands of copies.  And that is my mandate these days.”

It just makes me feel all warm and cozy.  And it definitely makes me want to sit down in front of my computer and hit those keys.  Not that I intend to write a book that will make those big fat stores buy thousands and thousands of copies.  And that’s just the point.

Who is going to publish the books I write…the books that you write?  I know the mid-list category for fiction is nonexistent but I didn’t think it was happening in the crime genre.

The editor’s mandate.  Discouraging and depressing.  I’ve never sold thousands and thousands of copies to the chains.  Most of us don’t.  We all know who does.  Ten, twenty at most.  And they’re the people who get major reviews and big time ads.  Over and over again.

I know there are quite a few independent publishers and I certainly wouldn’t mind being published by one of them.  I’d like it.  Still, the idea that unless you can be sure you’ve written a BIG book that will have the BIG stores buying thousands and thousands of copies is, in a word, disgusting.

The stores run publishing now.  Not news, I know.  And the sales people at the publishing houses help decide who will be published. 

Where does a new writer go?  How does he/she get an agent?  Agents also think about those thousands and thousands of copies. And on and on.

I’ve always believed that a good book would eventually be published.  I’ve changed my mind.  That won’t happen unless you fulfill an editor’s mandate.  And trust me, this isn’t an isolated approach to publishing.

So, what to do? I think there are three choices.  Write what you want, anyway, get a job if you don’t have one or retire from the whole thing.

It’s up to you.