The Writer’s Journey is a Bumpy Ride

Kate Flora, here, on a frigid New England day with temperatures hovering around zero anGood Man with a Dog Cover-2 a wind chill factor predicted to be around minus thirty. Not a good day to be outside tramping around in the snow, but as writers know, bad weather is just another reason to be at our desks. Right now, I’m sitting at mine, doing a form of mental triage as I sort out the months ahead.

Perhaps you’re wondering about that bumpy ride I mentioned? Well, there’s the long story, involving ten years in the unpublished writer’s corner and the ups and downs ever since. And the short one. I’ll tell the short one. When I looked ahead at 2016 from the middle of 2015, I was looking at a very rosy year, a year that was going to carry me from fourteen published books to seventeen. The arrival of each new book is a special moment, and 2016 promised to be full of excitement and the challenge of a whole lot of book promotion for very different books.

What was on the horizon? A book due out in April, A Good Man with a Dog, a retired Maine game warden’s memoir of twenty-five years in the Maine woods that I co-wrote. http://amzn.to/1mz0End A fascinating project. A 2 ½ year process. And finally, a story that surprised both me and co-author Roger Guay. That book, thankfully, is still on track.

And that would have been enough. Except that there was supposed to be another book in May (that is, finally appearing in May after two previous delays). I was looking forward to that book because it was the long-delayed eighth book in my Thea Kozak series, Death Warmed Over. Writing a series with a returning set of characters over many years is like occasional get-togethers with good old friends. When I decided to revisit Thea, after a few years between books, her voice just jumped off the page, she came alive, and it was like getting a chance to catch up with someone I really liked spending time with. Her ironic sense of humor, her world view, and her deep compassion for the little people make her an excellent companion.

2013 Best Crime Writer in Maine
In Maine, you win a literary award and you get a blue balloon!

The book went to my editor a couple years ago and then sat, in limbo, for nine months of silence. Finally, there was a request for revisions, and it went back to the editor’s desk with a plan, first to publish last year, then to publish it this May. It has languished again in limbo ever since and another silence has fallen.

This is not news. Nor a tragedy. In the writing business, we go through this a lot. Books and authors get orphaned. It’s embarrassing to have told readers the book was finally coming, but writers rarely die of embarrassment. It does mean that now I have to find the book a new home or decide to publish it myself.

Which would have been enough. Two books in a year are plenty. Except for the fate of the third book. That one was supposed to publish in November, right on time for our regional mystery conference, The New England Crime Bake. Only, after waiting nine months for a contract, what I got was an e-mail saying the publisher was discontinuing their mystery line. Now my fifth Joe Burgess, And Led Them Thus Astray, is also an orphan.

So here I sit with two books that suddenly have no publishers–and a lot to ponder on. At times like this, after thirty years on this bumpy road, giving up can seem tempting.

I remind myself: In 2014, I had two books published. The non-fiction book, Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a Killer to Justice, was an Agatha and Anthony nominee and won the Public Safety Writers Association award for nonfiction. My fourth Joe Burgess won the 2015 Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. It was a great year. And now this. If there’s a message from the universe, it is clearly along the lines of “sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down and you have to keep on writing.”

I’m going to listen to that message from the universe. The last time I had a series get

IMG_1973
Accept rejection or be open to what comes next?

dropped, after I got over the initial despair and floundering, I was led into some fascinating adventures. Starting a police procedural series. Saying “yes” to the invitation to help form Level Best Book, a venture into publishing crime story collections that put over a hundred authors in print and led to a project that continues today, though I have long since retired. Deciding to take chances and say “yes” instead of wallowing led me to writing nonfiction, which has been an incredible journey.

Where the bumpy ride will take me next, I don’t know. What I do know is that when I shove self-pity aside and open myself to adventure, it becomes a fascinating journey. I don’t know what lies ahead, but I can’t wait to see what is around the next corner.

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Get Your Jingle On

Happy holidays from the gang here at Thalia Press Authors Co-op!

 

We’ve had a busy year in writing, publishing, and just trying to keep our heads on our shoulders. We hope you’ve met your writing goals, assuming you have some, or have read some great novels this year. We’d love to hear what you’re reading.

And now to some announcements of new and upcoming publications.

BSL AUDIO CoverThe pen name of the author of Beat Slay Love, our collaborative novel, is Thalia Filbert. Thalia (Gary, Kate, Taffy, Katy, and Lise collectively) is excited to announce that the audiobook version of the culinary thriller is now available. It’s free if you’re just joining Audible! Our narrator, Robin Rowan, has a blast with our wily characters, from naughty Hannah to nerdy Jason. Listen to a sample HERE

 • Available at Amazon  Audible and iTunes •

We are giving away a copy to a commenter below, so tell us about your year, your favorite book, or your holiday party.

To keep up with Thalia news please join us HERE


Sarah Shaber has a new book out, Louise’s Chance, in her World War II mystery series. Government girl Louise Pearlie has a new job inside the OSS – the Office of Strategic Services: recruiting German prisoners-of-war for a secret mission inside Nazi Germany. It’s a big chance for her, and Louise hopes she can finally escape her filing and typing duties.

“To a librarian, a well-researched book is a true joy, and Shaber’s Louise Pearlie series is a gem. This newest entry in the series provides a deeper and richer portrait of Louise, as her life progresses through wartime Washington.” –B Brechner, Librarian

New trade paperbacks of older Louise books are now available as well.


 

Be on the lookout for J.D. Rhoades’ new thriller, Ice Chestcoming in February. Dusty read us a bit of this new one at Bouchercon, and we laughed our asses off.

The publisher says: A smart, sexy and hilarious heist novel about a crew of thieves who attempt to steal the world’s most valuable jewels from the world’s most valuable body.

A motley crew of bumbling crooks is scheming to make off with the biggest heist of their careers: five and a half million dollars in precious stones, used to create the world’s most expensive piece of lingerie. But mix the glitz and glamour of the highest of high fashion with a team of crooks that would have trouble stealing a sandwich from a deli, and all bets are off.

“Delivers nonstop entertainment” — Booklist. Available for pre-order now.


 

3 THW-2

Gary Phillips also has a February release. His collection of three novellas, 3 the Hard Way, drops from Down & Out Books. These pulpy, action-heavy, hardcore novellas compiled for the first time in one book.

In The Extractors, one percenter thief McBleak puts it all on the line to take down a greedy man’s gain; extreme athlete Noc Brenner must use all his skills in The Anti-Gravity Steal to prevent the use of a machine capable of wholesale destruction; and in 10 Seconds to Death, Luke Warfield, the Essex Man, part Shaft and part Batman sans the cowl, hunts down the man who killed his foster father and must stop a deadly plan of mass slaughter in his own backyard.  Plus a bonus Essex Man short story.

Check out his Amazon Author page to keep up with this prolific writer.


Lise McClendon has been busy in 2015 getting audiobooks narrated for several of her novels. PLAN X came out earlier in the year and this summer and fall saw the release of The Girl in the Empty Dress and Jump Cut. Working with narrators is a time-consuming but fun experience, getting the names right and hearing the voices of all the characters come to life.

She thanks her generous narrators who worked hard to make these audiobooks happen: Tassoula Kokkoris (Plan X), Denice Stradling (who narrated both Blackbird Fly and The Girl in the Empty Dress), and Kristy Burns (Jump Cut.)

Lise has a few complimentary codes left for all three of these books. Drop her a line at lise at lisemcclendon.com for details.


Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 9.32.22 AMDog lovers, heads up!

Coming in April is Kate Flora’s new one, a collaboration with a Maine game warden.

A Good Man with a Dog is the story of a warden Roger Guay’s twenty-five years in the Maine woods, much of it with canine companions. Woof!

Rides the Black-and-white Horse

Some years back at a mystery convention in Boulder, Colorado, I performed this tone poem with John Harvey on tambourine, Bill Moody on drums, and a variety of semi-volunteers snapping their fingers to the beat. I wrote this as an homage to the mystery novel. Recently someone quoted snippets of it on twitter with illustrations, and I liked it so much I’ve added a few of my own.

I’m always amused at reactions of people who don’t read mysteries and thrillers, who don’t know the excitement of entering a frightening world of evil or an everyday town where strangers wait their turn to make mayhem. Got the shivers yet?

Here’s how the book sees you the reader.

 

I am a book.

Sheaves pressed from the pulp of oaks and pines
a natural sawdust made dingy from purses, dusty
from shelves.
Steamy and anxious, abused and misused,
kissed and cried over,
smeared, yellowed, and torn,
loved, hated, scorned.

I am a book.

I am a book that remembers,
days when I stood proud in good company
When the children came, I leapt into their arms,
when the women came, they cradled me against their soft breasts,
when the men came, they held me like a lover,
and I smelled the sweet smell of cigars and brandy as we sat together in leather chairs,
next to pool tables, on porch swings, in rocking chairs,
my words hanging in the air like bright gems, dangling,
then forgotten, I crumbled,
dust to dust.

 

I am a tale of woe and secrets,
a book brand-new, sprung from the loins of ancient fathers clothed in tweed,
born of mothers in lands of heather and coal soot.
A family too close to see the blood on its hands,
too dear to suffering, to poison, to cold steel and revenge,
deaf to the screams of mortal wounding,
amused at decay and torment,
a family bred in the dankest swamp of human desires.

I am a tale of woe and secrets,
I am a mystery.

I am intrigue, anxiety, fear,
I tangle in the night with madmen, spend my days cloaked in black,
hiding from myself, from dark angels,
from the evil that lurks within
and the evil we cannot lurk without.

 

I am words of adventure,
of faraway places where no one knows my tongue,
of curious cultures in small, back alleys, mean streets,
the crumbling house in each of us.

I am primordial fear, the great unknown,
I am life everlasting.
I touch you and you shiver, I blow in your ear and you follow me,
down foggy lanes, into places you’ve never seen,
to see things no one should see,
to be someone you could only hope to be.

 

 

I ride the winds of imagination on a black-and-white horse,
to find the truth inside of me,
to cure the ills inside of you,
to take one passenger at a time over that tall mountain,
across that lonely plain to a place you’ve never been
where the world stops for just one minute
and everything is right.

I am a mystery.

-Rides a Black and White Horse”
Lise McClendon

News Flash from the Muse

 Behold the Thalians!

Summer releases, and fall releases to look forward to, from the Thalia Authors! Happy summer to all, and exciting reading, whatever your inclinations.


In Astonishing Heroes: Shades of Justice from small press iPulp Fiction, Gary Phillps has collected his prose off kilter superheroish stores.  In its pages you’ll find the likes of the Reclaimer, an anonymous city bureaucrat who knows what evil lurks via psychic emanations from tenement walls; Onyx Adams, an Afro wearing, kung fu kicking swinging ’70s female PI, and American Black, an agent provocateur created by shadowy right-wing forces who reveals his own agenda.  In tradepaper and ebook

 

Gary Phillips
Gary Phillips

Shades of early Dos Passos and Jack London, beginning in September, Gary will be writing a weekly serial about the working class members of the Dixon family; handyman Uncle Hank, his niece, Afghanistan war vet Jess, and his nephew, the peripatetic Little Joe.  The Dixon Family Chronicles will combine issues such as efforts to income inequality, gentrification and temp work while their lives unfold.  For the Capital & Main site.


Kate Flora
Kate Flora
GirlsNightOut-2-2
Kate Flora has a new novella out now, from SheBooks! Check out Girls Night Out.
When the man who date-raped their friend is found not guilty, a woman’s book group decides to take their own revenge, with surprising results.
Kate’s new books are coming up this fall. Look for them at booksellers everywhere
Spin.Doctor.indd Death Dealer is the true story of a police investigation in Miramichi, New Brunswick, into a resident’s mysterious disappearance. It pulls readers directly into a tense and complex, real-life search as cops and, ultimately, game wardens from the neighboring state of Maine with cadaver dogs, painstakingly make their way through scarce evidence, frightened witnesses, and forbidding terrain to uncover the victim’s body and bring a killer to justice. ISBN: 978-0-88282-476-5 AndGrantYouPeace-final-4  
This 4th book in the Joe Burgess mystery series, And Grant You Peace, finds Burgess pulled inadvertently into a case rife with religious tensions after finding a young mother and a baby locked in a closet inside a burning mosque. His search for answers leads him to an outlaw motorcycle gang, a fishing boat captain who may be supplementing his income with illegal activities, and an immigrant community suspicious of the police. The professional becomes the personal when his family is threatened and he faces the prospect that the “normal” life he’s begun to establish may be coming to an explosive end. ISBN: 978-1-4328-2939-1


AlixThorssen-Box-Set Lise McClendon has released her first mystery series in a box set. The Alix Thorssen mysteries set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, feature art dealer Alix in a variety of western and arty dilemmas. They include four complete novels and two bonus short stories in one package. Exclusively on Amazon, and free with Prime or Kindle Unlimited.   crimspreegif

Lise McClendon
Lise McClendon
Lise’s new suspense release, The Girl in the Empty Dress, is garnering good reviews. This sequel to her bestselling women’s novel, Blackbird Fly, features Merle Bennett and her sisters on a walking tour in France. When the annoying “sixth wheel” obsesses about an injured dog they find along a roadside the sisters’ idyllic summer tour turns dark. Find out if Merle settles for her New York boyfriend or takes a chance on Pascal, last summer’s fling, as The Girl in the Empty Dress tests the familial bonds in new and dangerous ways.

What’s in the hopper? Another Next Big Thing.

My work-in-progress, of course! My Next Big Thing is a mystery, a police procedural, a thriller, a crime novel. Call it what you will. Plan X, as in X marks the spot? Maybe… read on.

1. What is the title of your work-in-progress?

Plan X. The title came directly from the writing. For once I’ve never been tempted to change it, although if you give me some feedback that it stinks, I’m listening! The term features in the story  on a challenge coin, the kind of memento given to military to commemorate a unit or mission. The meaning of it is a mystery in itself, one the main character has to decipher.

2. Where did the idea come from for the WIP?

If I knew where my ideas came from I’d be a lot better off! However… this book begins with a large explosion in Bozeman, Montana. Just before I moved there, a gas explosion rocked downtown Bozeman, wiping out almost an entire block and killing one person. My explosion is more nefarious, of course, a bomb set by a bad actor. Two professors at Montana State are killed while engaged in some intimate activity late at night in a science lab. The real explosion set my imagination going. What better way to start off a story than with a big ol’ bang?

3. What genre does your book come under? 

Plan X is a mystery. It’s a police procedural. The main character is a young female police officer in Bozeman. She is tasked with finding the identity and next-of-kin for one of the victims of the bombing, a professor of Shakespeare in the English Department.What should be a simple task turns into something else completely, and yes, there’s the rub.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmmm. Good question. I could see somebody like Jennifer Lawrence or Jessica Chastain, tough, independent, serious, playing Cody Byrne. Cody is just back from a reserve tour in Iraq as a bomb scene investigator and is struggling with emotional issues. She has panic attacks and, embarrassingly, faints dead away sometimes. She has a fierce sense of duty. So the actress needs to be strong with a vulnerable side. Cody is a complex character, an independent woman who doesn’t want to be quite so alone in the world.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

Plan X is about a young cop whose sanity is shaken by her Iraq tour and her brother’s death as she searches for the identity of a murdered Shakespeare professor, and the father she never knew.

(You can’t believe how long it took me to write that!)

6. Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

At this point the book is still on my computer. But it will be represented by my agent and/or published by Thalia Press.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Oh, ages. I can’t really remember when I started the first draft. I spend a lot of time filling a notebook full of ideas, scraps of research, working on characters especially. I remember Meredith Blevins helping me by telling me to interview my character. That was a great idea! During the formative weeks (months…) I also do a computer diary every morning, working on ideas, getting the juices flowing. Sue Grafton gave me that tip!

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I was inspired, in a way, by Michael Gruber’s Book of Air and Shadows, a literary thriller about a lost Shakespeare play. In the end I found Air and Shadows unappealing, but the concept remained intriguing. What would happen if a new Shakespeare play was found? Would anyone believe it? Who would find it, and how? It is, of course, a lot more complicated than that in my story. The Shakespeare professor is… [cue scary music] not who he seems.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

See #8. I also wanted to write a book set in Montana again, about a hometown girl who becomes a police officer. And still make that rather small stage engaging for readers, and expand the character’s reach around the world. (She goes to the UK on the search for the prof’s family.)

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There is a royal connection which leads to MI-5 and the British Library and Windsor Castle. As well as the search for the professor’s identity, Cody’s search for connection with her family drives the story. Her mother is a feminist who wrote a book about the Vagina Dentata myth. (Look it up!) Her real father is a mystery to her. It turns out he has some big secrets of his own. Her brother was in the Army and killed in Afghanistan. He has a past as well. A big part of the story is her journey to find out who her father is, how to honor her brother’s memory, how to stand up to her rather scary mother. And to figure out her ‘Man Problem.’ Yes, there’s some romance for our girl!
And that’s my Next Big Thing!

Happy new electronic year!

Got a new Nook or Kindle? Lots of folks are jumping on the e-book bandwagon and as authors we are all thrilled to get more folks reading fiction, whether ours or somebody else’s. Several of us here at Thalia Press Authors Co-op have free or specially priced e-books right now. Go forth and load up those e-readers!

Gary Phillips is offering up up a free holiday story for everyone — The Kwanzaa Initiative at FourStory.

Sparkle Hayter has the first book in her very funny Robin Hudson series,  available in many formats for free at Smashwords.com

Katy Munger is offering many of her mysteries for free for Amazon Prime members. Her Casey Jones mysteries are a kick-ass ride. Check them out!

Rory Tate (that’s Lise McClendon) is also offering up her new thriller Jump Cut for free to Amazon Prime members who can borrow books for Kindle.

And don’t forget DEAD OF WINTER, the short story anthology for your Kindle and Nook. Chilling stories from bestselling mystery writers for only $4.99.

Subscribe to the blog to find out about future promotions and free e-books.