Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Race is On

Crying Blood, my fifth Alafair book, has been penciled in to Poisoned Pen Press’ publishing schedule for March 2011.  One year from this month.  The pressure is on.  “But what,” you say? “That’s a long time from now! You should have plenty of time.”

That’s not how the publishing business works, Dear Reader.  Unless your book is sure to be a best seller about a scandalous event, the publisher wants lots of time between the moment you hand over the manuscript until the day book hits the shelves. In order for Poisoned Pen Press to have my book ready to go to press in twelve months, I have to provide them with an acceptable manuscript by the end of this June, and that is not a long time from now.  Especially considering the fact that I expect I’ll need to produce around fifteen to twenty thousand mor

e words (50-60 pages) before I’m finished.  And not just any words.  They have to be fifteen to twenty thousand good words that all go together and make sense, and, we dearly hope, enthrall the reader. I hope I can do it.  In fact, I anticipate that I can do it without too much trouble, unless something awful happens between now and June. In my experience, that’s been known to happen, so I am not facing this deadline without anxiety.  But, like my friend Hannah Dennison said, nothing motivates a writer like abject terror.

I’ve noticed that there is an altered state of consciousness that comes upon you when you’re fully in writer mode,  You get into your ‘writer’s head’, and everything you see, or hear, or do, takes on a new meaning that relates in some way to the story you’re writing.  Everything becomes grist for your mill. Then, after the book is done and gone, your head returns to normal, and you go about your life.  It reminds me of a Zen saying (as I’m sure you’ve noticed, most things do) - “Before you begin to study Zen, a cup is just a cup and a dish is a dish.  While you’re studying Zen, a cup becomes more than a cup, a dish more than a dish.  After you achieve Zen, a cup is just a cup, and a dish is just a dish.”

I do want to mention that last weekend I attended the Tucson Festival of Books on the University of Arizona campus.  

This is an enormous annual event.  Over 350 authors participated, including some very big names.  Last year, somewhere around sixty thousand people attended, and I was told that attendance was even bigger this year. I was fortunate enough to be asked to do two events - a mystery-writing workshop on Saturday, and a historical mystery panel with Jennifer Lee Carrell (author of NYT best seller Interred With Their Bones) on Sunday.  The weather was fantastic, my events were a great success, and I spent some quality time with several of my favorite authors. More about that on my own website.  These pictures are of a tiny part of the central exhibit area on the Campus mall.   I’d like to say I’m the hottie in the dark brown blouse, but I think you know that I’m the ever so attractive woman in the beige wrap.  


Hannah Dennison said...

Congratulations Donis! I'm so excited for you - yes, you can do it by June. I remember complaining to the wonderful Carolyn Hart when I had 56 days to go (I now have 7) and she said '56? That's a lot. Really.' So I say to you what she always says to me "write fast!"
Great post on the TFOB -
Back to work for me ...

Donis Casey said...

I told Carolyn that she makes the rest of us look bad. Of course, she's got the mojo, and that's why she's Carolyn Hart. Let me know when you get yours in. You'll have to sleep for a week.