Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Waiting and Waiting and besides It’s My Birthday

I am waiting for the printer to return my calls and emails; you would think they don’t want my business. The company merged earlier in the year, let go a great rep (mine), and now don’t respond. My guess is the execs are wondering why there’s a drop in business. Me, it may be my impatience at the moment to move the work to print (the novel Elk River – see last week’s blog) and they will respond soon, but I’m still waiting. I also have a very nice agent/rep working with me to find a printer who can handle paperbacks and hardcovers; I’m still waiting for her. Waiting, waiting, waiting.

We all go through professional and personal changes; it goes along with the getting older thing. No option. One day follows the next and then bam, you’re another year older and another year wiser (you hope). And yes I am now a writer - there’s no form to fill out, no blessing, no ointment on the forehead, you just look at the stack of four books, your books, and admit to yourself, I did those; but most writers are self-anointed anyway. There are the constant distractions of the day after day things that steal your time away from the story diagrams, the pencils and paper, and keyboard. They want to kidnap you from the story and the world you have created. In fact some nights you even dream about it, scary huh!

Another year, two more books (one Sharon O’Mara, Containers 4 Death, one finished novel, and 75% done on the next O’Mara chronicle), not bad. By the end of the year Toulouse 4 Death will be finished. We all set benchmarks for our lives, or at least should; it’s easier and more enjoyable to mark the passage time with accomplishments than failures. We reflect during our birthday week what we have done, did we earn another year? We have pensive musings about the future; what will one year from now be like?

I believe the next year will bring substantial rewards from the hard work of writing (not money that’s for sure, I think there are only five fiction writers living off their work) such as travel, acknowledgments, signings, and who knows what else. I believe that one year from now I will have at least half of another O’Mara story done. I believe that I will be into the research of my next major book (possibly non-fiction). I believe that I will spend a good amount of time in Michigan and the Mid-west. I believe I will also be a year older, wiser, twenty pounds lighter, and certainly more handsome. As Natalie Woods character says at the end of Miracle on 34th Street, “I believe, I believe, I believe . . . ”

More later . . . .

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pushing Hard to Get It Done

We all set schedules and goals, if we didn’t we would all sit around and watch endless reruns of NCIS. My goal, as I mentioned a few weeks ago is to get Elk River to the printer by the end of the month or no later than August 12, it looks like I’m going to make it. The editing is done. Great job Dennis DeRose! My review is done, the final is now in InDesign (great program, a little touchy to learn but very powerful), and I’ve just pulled a full size paper copy to review. I am very excited.

While the above header says that this blog is about the Sharon O’Mara Chronicles and development of the next book in her series, my ADD forces me to carry at least three projects at any one time (as well as run a professional land planning office), so that’s why this Elk River update.

I have reworked the cover a number of times, I have posted the latest version below, I’m about 90% certain this will be the final. The book also contains ten illustrations that help to show what was in my head as I developed the story. I chose a strong black and white style, almost woodcut, so that when the book is issued as an ebook the graphics will be strong enough to command attention. It is a shame that the current ebook technology drops the font style of the paper book (this may change in the future – I resist going the pdf route, for now), but the paper versions will use Constantia - 11pt and Bonnie for headers and chapter headings. It looks great.

The Cover for Elk River
What is exciting for me (but not for every writer), is the complete control over the final product; not just the story but the look, the format and the composition of the book itself. And this also includes the ebook version. I like to look at various type faces and how they read on the page, why the headers do what they do, and how the cover can draw you in to the story and even tease you. How many book covers fail in this regard?

The book is 113,000 words and includes 10 illustrations. It is my intention to release a number of copies (trade paperback) for reviews and competitions, the final ebooks, hardcovers (limited editions), final trade paper, and even an audiobook during the next six months. So there will be a soft release and a hard release. I realize that this may not be the industry standard, but please tell me, now that Barnes & Noble is quickly changing its whole business plan, what is standard? As said in an article in today’s Wall Street Journal:

As reading moves ever faster from hardcovers and paperbacks to electronic gadgets, the retailer(Barnes & Noble) is attempting to reinvent itself as a seller of book downloads, reading devices and apps.
The shift was never clearer than last January, when a small group of experienced book buyers at the company was called in and dismissed. Barnes & Noble's buyers were once book-selling royalty, minititans whose taste played a pivotal role in deciding which books danced up the charts.
For the bookseller there was little choice. It needed to invest in the future.

The reading world is changing, like it or not.

On the 4 Death front, Toulouse 4 Death is moving ahead, I am still aiming for my final draft completion by mid-September.

More later . . . .

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fact Finding

I am on a fact finding trip to north Florida and the regions around Jacksonville, I will return next week with updates and new information. Have a great week.

More later . . .

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Pressure Mounts

In early May I sent the final manuscript of Elk River to my editor Dennis De Rose (see left column), he and I worked on Containers 4 Death and I am very happy with his approach and thoroughness.

Dennis said, “Real busy with a magnum opus for a guy. Tough work, 700 pages, need to finish, can you wait?”
            “No problem, can I get it by July 1?”
            “No problem.”

It arrived on July 1 as promised (kudu’s to Dennis), but now here’s my problem. I am back into Toulouse 4 Death, the story is working well, I’m happy, but I want to get Elk River done; I need to move it off my desk. So, I’m doing a split shift (really a three-way with the ol’ day job) to get through Dennis’s Track Changes and to keep the Sharon O’Mara story fresh. Actually kind of fun, in a weird sort of way. One day I’m in 1956, the next in Paris, the next reviewing migrant workers, the next in 1945, and then back to Malbec wines from Argentina (where the nasties live).

Going through the edited manuscript is interesting, if you can detach yourself from the work and make the effort to look at the language, punctuation, and loose ends of the story. How did she leave the room? You never had her enter, fix it. I thought her eyes were blue, now they’re brown, fix it. And so on and so on, till it’s right.

Dennis is great, he picks up the bits and pieces, asks the questions, then I fix ‘em. What’s special is that after the corrections are made, Dennis gives it another read. A once over to pick up the missed bits; as he says it’s not over till your satisfied.

Toulouse 4 Death is getting serious. A new thread (actually an expansion of the original) is pushing the story and the characters into a new direction. Is that a red herring I smell, or a clue dropped? Can Sharon tease out the nasties with a planted story in the LA Times; will they bite?

It’s a story of grandfathers and grandchildren, war and peace 65 years apart. The sins of the grandfather are passed on, but then so are the blessings and successes. Sharon O’Mara is fighting both the passage of time and one group’s evil hope for the future. It will be done by October 15, 2011.

BLATANT PLUG: The Sharon O’Mara Chronicles are getting great reviews, I just need to get some traction, so faithful reader, buy a copy. Send me an email and it will be out the door for you paper lovers. For the ebookers go to Kindle and pick up both Land Swap 4 Death and Containers 4 Death – total $4.99, for two great stories of the toughest redhead in the detective business.

Also in last week’s Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2011 edition was article about fake handbags. Containers 4 Death beat the story and scooped the WSJ by four months; readers of the book know all about the world of fake and counterfeit bags as well as the rest of their evil underworld.

Remember: Guns and handbags, all the things you need to start a war!