September 2006


We’re kicking off in an official capacity by being adopted by the International Thriller Writers organization (ITW) — and wow, there’s so much good news about that… go see MJ’s post on our newly redesigned Killer Year blog to see what all that means.

And while you’re at it, check out our brand spanking new Killer Year site — especially the individual author’s pages. The guys working on the design did an amazing job and put in a tremendous number of hours gathering up all of the info, designing, etc., and my hat is off to them.  I love the expansion features that are designed in, too:  we’ll have a calendar so everyone’s events can go up in one place for all Killer Year visitors to see at a glance (everyone’s tours or signings or events of any stripe) and we’ll also have the ability to expand our author’s page to include press-worthy news (like reviews, etc.) and excerpts (woo!).  So come on, pull the curtain back and see what’s new over there!

…around here, where we start talking about things we’d like to do to the house, because the house? she needs work.  The roof has got to be replaced and I still haven’t gotten to finishing painting the trim in the hall or our bedroom, and when we start talking, because we’re in construction, we end up with some pretty neat plans.  Only, zero time to do them. Just a big fat zero. And there’s no way either of us will hire someone else to do them because we know we can for less than half the price someone else would charge and we’re not big on throwing money away, so we shelve the ideas for that magical one day when we’re going to have more time.  I’m sure we’ll be in walkers by then and will need to rethink most of the design elements. (Or we’ll be too senile to care.)

But the one thing I miss is painting; I used to oil paint — did so for many years, and it’s an amazingly relaxing thing for me to do.  I don’t feel like painting is “the” thing I do — I’ll never be great at it, I’ll never have that unique vision that makes me a wonderful artist, and that’s not only okay, it’s a very good thing, because I don’t feel this urge to compete. (With writing, I am always trying to improve over the last thing I wrote. It’s a necessary sickness.)  With painting, I don’t really care if it ever hangs anywhere or if anyone thinks anything is any good; it’s just the process of transferring something to an image that makes me just zone out and come back refreshed.  So every time we have these conversations about the house and what we’d like to do to it, Carl always mentally includes a spot for me to have a corner in which to paint; an easel and everything ready for whenever I want to sit down and have at it.

And then… we realize that we’re the ones who’d have to build all of this stuff and we don’t even know when we’d do that, and then, seriously, when on earth would I have the time to paint?  I have this dream that one day soon, it will just magically happen.  (I want to be in one of those makeover shows where someone just comes in and does it all and then they go away and I can have everything I wanted for a little public humiliation on TV.  I could live with that.)

Maybe one day.

If you haven’t read this beautiful letter to indie booksellers, really, you should. Swiped from the always wonderful Melissa.

On a side note, I have to take a new photo.  Both my agent and my editor wanted me to have one where I’m smiling, because I look like I’m about to kick someone’s ass in that one (according to my husband).  Since Bobbie Faye is a comic / crime/caper, I can’t argue with the idea that maybe I should look like I have a sense of humor.  So, we’re going to try for another one this Saturday.  I promised Molly I wouldn’t bitch about it. As much.

You know, I was in shock when they bought the book, and it didn’t really feel real.  The check sort of made it feel like an actual even had happened, but there wasn’t a book to hold in my hands yet, since it sold prior to being written in full, and I deposit checks for our business, so it wasn’t a vastly different, life-altering experience.  Then there finally was a manuscript, and then edits, and it started feeling real, but kinda not. Like I’m playing house or something, because I’ve had other stacks of pages go out to other people and come back with notes, and even though getting the notes from my editor with the company logo on it made it different and better… and slightly more real… it just didn’t feel… tangible, yet.  But these last few weeks, a couple of things have happened: I received a bound copy of the manuscript, which sort of looks like a trade-paperback book in that it’s about that size with a very plain cover on it. A cover which has my title and my name. So wow, starting to feel real.  But somehow, this weekend, looking at the actual copy edits, seeing the typesetters marks, knowing this is the last real chance I’ll have to make changes before it becomes a permanent… book… wow.  That, finally, is starting to feel real.

I cannot imagine how much of an out-of-body experience it’s going to be to hold the actual book in my hands. I suspect I will spontaneously combust.

Random stuff…

Still here. Got swamped this week with a lot of miscellaneous stuff we’re doing for the Killer Year group. I have to tell you, the four founders of our group (JT, Sandra, Brett and Jason) have not only worked their buns off creating something pretty damned amazing, but they’ve had — and are in the process of executing — some pretty brilliant ideas. I can’t wait ’til you all can see the new site.

I had not meant to leave my photo up as the top post, as if phishing for compliments, but thank you — you guys rock. I cannot stress enough how much I have hated my own photos and how camera shy (camera horrified?) I normally am, so this was as much about trying to get over that fear as anything else. Damn, but y’all were nice to me.

My copy edits came today! And I am really impressed with this copy editor. (I have to see if I can post his name here — forgot to ask.) He left my voice alone and very smartly caught some little things that I hadn’t caught. And he had such a wonderful note at the end about how much he’d enjoyed the book! That honestly made my whole month, because I know this guy is a pro, I know he reads tons of books from all genres, and I really appreciated his comment and his attention to detail.

Internally at St. Martins, things are rocking along really well with the book. I am in awe of how lucky I am to be working with this group of people. (This isn’t sucking up because they don’t have time to read my blog!) I think we’ll have galleys after Thanksgiving. Wow.

It’s going to be a crazy busy week this next week. I have copy edits to do. Book 2 to continue. A friend’s script to finish reading and critiquing (it’s really good). Another friend’s book to re-read (not sure if this will happen this week or next). A hallway to finish painting (I primed the trim, never got back to it). I’d love to paint my bedroom as well (got the new trim up a while back – never primed, never painted and it’s really bothering me), but that’s not likely to happen unless I clone myself. And we’re not even going to talk about the disaster that is the guest bathroom, which has the ugliest peach wallpaper to exist on the planet. (I swear, I think the previous owners, when picking out fixtures or wallpaper or colors, went to the Ugly Book and picked out the Very Worst Thing in each category.)

So, really busy, tremendously excited about Killer Year, over-the-moon with the first book, exhausted, writing, and attempting to sleep (which hasn’t been working out real well)…

OH, and I realized I had left off several blogs that I visit regularly via RSS or my own bookmarks (like m.g. tarquini, Elizabeth Krecker, and several others I realized I’m missing on my links column). I am going to try to get that updated soon because if you’re not reading these people, you’re really missing out on some great writing.

(I’m slapping this up now… will come back and do the links later!)

I have so rarely taken a photo I have actually liked, that I view a camera with great dread. The image in my head is younger and skinnier and somehow, when I see candids, they don’t match that (um, ever), and it’s a bummer knowing the realitiy. I like pretend a whole lot, hence the whole fiction-writing thing, I suppose. Unfortunately, in the publishing world, they kinda want to have a photo. For Killer Year (I’m not linking here yet — the new snazzy website will be up soon), we had to have photos, which meant forcing myself to have one made.

Well, my friend’s daughter Molly Furrate, (who is 17), is a freaking genius with the camera. She had volunteered to shoot stills on the sets of the book video we shot and when I saw her photos, I thought she did a terrific job. I figured if anyone could do as well as she did with difficult (hot, sweaty) surroundings, maybe I wouldn’t look like a total frog. (A frog with three chins, which is how I usually look.) I dreaded the shoot (and griped all the way to the locations), and she still managed to get a shot I actually like. The world will probably end soon. You have been warned. But here’s the shot:

my photo

photo credit: Molly Furrate

And it’s freaking me out a bit.  But in a good way.

I am currently writing Bobbie Faye #2, and for a while, the going was slow. Then I started a stand alone thriller (very dark, psychological) and about as opposite in tone from Bobbie Faye as one could get. You’d think this would cause me some grief, switching back and forth, but instead, something has just opened up. I have become a writing maniac.

Maybe part of this new energy level is that there is zero pressure on the stand alone (after all, no one except my agent knows what it is about, and she loved the concept, so it has her encouragement behind it, but no pressure, no deadline). Whenever I’m in the mood for something darker and sinister, I work on the thriller.  It’s funny, but as I work on one of the books, my subconscious mind seems to be off working on the other one; kinda like the grass is greener or something, but whatever it is, so far, it’s working out okay. Now, this is rough draft stuff, but the pages are pouring out on both books.

Part of it is that I was forced to change something in the Bobbie Faye book because I read on another (very famous) author’s blog about her book, and she gave enough detail that showed me we had a similar element.  Now, technically, even though i sold mine over a year ago (based on a synopsis for book 2), her book will come out before mine will, and I didn’t want to look like I copied. This had me concerned enough to talk to my agent about it, and as a result, I decided to change that element. I brainstormed (and talked to writing friends, who were a tremendous help), and suddenly, I had a much better idea, more organic to my own story / location / Bobbie Faye’s world, which turned out to be funnier (as icing on the cake), and now the story just works better. If I hadn’t been forced off that other path, I wouldn’t have found this better one. Everything happens for a reason, and as worried as I was at first, I’m so glad I listened to my gut which said not to try to hang onto something just because I had worked out the details.

Since I had never switched back and forth between works before, especially since I had never even contemplated switching between tone (dark and serious vs. chaotic and funny), i didn’t think I could do it and keep writing. I thought I’d get stuck in one tone and would inadvertently carry it over to the other book.  Now, I’m not saying that won’t happen a little, and i’ll have to clean up these rough drafts later, but right now, I am beyond thrilled that they’re rocking the way they are.

One curious side issue of writing vastly different books, tone-wise, is discussing with my husband the fact that the serious book may have to go out under a pen name.  Maybe not, and that’s a long long way away before it would even go out (very likely, sometime next summer), but I’ve heard or read occasional anecdotal stories about how some authors publish under a pen name if the work is going to be different in tone from the one they’ve become “known” for.  Since Bobbie Faye will come out first and is clearly comedic / caper and will have my name on it, I kinda assume the dark psychological thriller would end up having a pen name. My husband thinks I should insist on keeping my real name on both.  I know if I’m picking up an author, I kinda assume that this book is in the same tone as the last one.  Since I like all sorts of things, though, i wouldn’t care if it turned out to be different, as long as it was well-written. But I understand some people feel like they would prefer to identify that name with a style — a type of branding, if you will.

What do you think as a reader? Does it matter to you if an author’s name is used for books with wildly different tones, or would you prefer to have one name per tone so that you can make a quick judgment in the bookstore and feel confident you knew what you were getting?  I’m really very curious what you all think.