Saturday, January 22, 2011

It's Never Easy

Last Wednesday I (Donis) was privileged to be asked to speak to our local chapter of Sisters in Crime on “The One Thing I Wish I Had Known Before I Became a Writer.” I talked about lots of things I wish I had known, but the biggest thing no one tells you is how brave you have to be - how brave to write the book of your heart even when you know it’s not the type of thing that publishers seem to be looking for, how brave to let others read it and criticize it, to persevere in the face of rejection after rejection until you find the editor or publishing house that loves it. How brave you have to be to do whatever you can to raise awareness of your labor of love, including talking to groups even though your knees are knocking together or sitting at a signing table trying to catch the attention of all the passers-by who are trying not to make eye contact.. How brave to read the reviews and not take to heart that one iffy review out of fifty sterling ones.

I thought of that talk when I was reading both John Corrigan’s Thursday post on what it all really means and Peter May’s post yesterday on a writer’s nerves.

John said he had heard of an author whose agent listed twenty topics editors at large houses were looking for and to “choose one”, because the major houses are seeking “something that can generate 20,000 hardcover sales.” It’s good to see what sort of things are being published right now, and what different houses are taking. But if you want to write your personal best book, I think it’s infinitely more important that you love what you’re writing than it is for you to write something just because you think it has a better chance of getting published. You won’t write your best work if you try to write what’s hot just because it’s hot. I read an interview with Carolyn Hart a while ago in which she said “Care passionately about what you write. If you care, readers (and somewhere an editor) will care. “

As as for Peter’s nerves...

My fifth novel, Crying Blood, has just come out. It is hardly on the level of Peter’s The Blockhouse,. No multiple international releases for me. I’m just pleased that it’s coming out in hardback and paperback, audio book and electronic book all at the same time. But even a writer on my little old mid-list level can perfectly empathize with Peter’s case of the heebie-jeebies.

The past couple of years have been challenging for me, and I don’t mind telling you that there were moments when I wondered if this book would ever see the light of day. But I persevered, and in spite of all the fits and stops and starts, here we are. So I’m not getting any major press or prestigious awards, but just like Peter’s book, this is a book of my heart, about my home and my people, and I want it to be as well-received as possible.

I’m getting a book launch, too, exactly one week from today. It won’t be a media event, but it’s a party and it’ll be fun, I hope, and I hope you’ll come if you’re in the area. Here’s your invitation:

Please join me for the launch of my fifth Alafiair Tucker Mystery
Crying Blood
January 29, 2011, at 5:00 in the evening
at Poisoned Pen Bookstore,
1404 N. Goldwater Blvd, Suite 101, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

I’ll be joined by authors Jeffery Siger, Tina Whittle, and Dana Stabenow for a Poisoned Pen Press Party with cake and champagne! Please come.

Crying Blood is the 5th installment in my Alafair Tucker series, a bit different from the earlier novels in that each of the first four stories are built around Alafair and a different one of her children, but this one concerns her husband, Shaw. This is what it’s about:

It’s the fall of 1915, and Alafair’s husband Shaw, his brother James, and their sons are on their annual quail-hunting trip. This year they’re camping on a piece of abandoned land their stepfather owns in Southeastern Oklahoma. Shaw is feeling a little melancholy. The men’s yearly outing always reminds him of the wonderful hunting trips Shaw and his brothers took with their own late father, who died when Shaw was eight. Shaw’s a bit sad this year, too, because his own children are beginning to grow up and leave home, and he’s starting to feel the passage of time and perhaps dealing with some of the ghosts on his past. But when his dog turns up a shallow grave and evidence of a long ago dastardly deed, Shaw finds himself faced with what seems to be the very real ghost of a murdered Indian who is looking for justice, or as the Muscogee Creeks say, he’s crying blood.


hannah Dennison said...

Donis - you put into words everything I wish I'd known too! I'd like to add that I had no idea that promotion and publicity would fall so heavily on an author's shoulders (unless you can afford a publicist etc. or the publishing house do everything for you!)
I do wish I could be at your book launch party next weekend - I shall be with you in spirit!

Vicki Delany said...

Have fun at your party. I'll see you in March!

Donis Casey said...

March, Vicki, and Hannah - tomorrow!

Janice said...

How right you are about having to be "brave"!
Have a great launch party - we'll drink a toast to you from here in France and wish you every success with the book!