Friday, September 13, 2013

Of Party, First Draft, and Stress

I had hoped to have a brilliant post for you today. I hope that every other Friday when it's my turn. But I wanted to examine writing habits today. I had the seed of a good idea. Two things got between me and my brilliant post. First, I'm about 75 pages from the end of my first draft of the second book in my new series. I'm writing fast because the end is in sight, but I'm a little concerned because a lot of things are suddenly happening in the last 75 pages. That should be a good thing, but it's disconcerting because my police procedural is pulling me along as if it wants to morph into a police procedural/thriller. Isn't it more than enough that the book is set in 2020?

The other thing that got between me and my brilliant post is that I'm giving a party tomorrow, and other than ordering the cake and other desserts, I haven't done too much -- or, maybe I mean that although I really excited about this book launch party, I haven't gotten my head to the "relax and have fun" place yet. The Red Queen Dies was officially available on September 10. But, of course, the physical book has been printed since sometime in August. A bookseller at Killer Nashville was able to get pre-publication copies. And, for the past month, I've been on a virtual book tour that has been both wonderful and a little scary -- getting another review of your book every few days, doing a guest post or interview, or being featured on a host website is a wonderful way to get the word out there you have a new book. But there is no guarantee that a host who reviews your book will love it. I've been lucky in that I've gotten good reviews, and even the reviewers who had quibbles had thoughtful comments and ended on positive notes.

Then, of course, there have been the reviews from the traditional sources that determine whether your book will find its way into libraries and bookstores. Waiting for those was nerve-wracking -- would they review and if they did, what would they say -- got reviews from PW, Booklist, RT, Library Journal. Got one from Kirkus, too, that I'm still afraid to read.

But the reason I'm having such a hard time getting into the proper party mood for my launch party tomorrow afternoon -- at The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, an independent that often plays host to visiting mystery writers -- is that too much is happening at once. I have never had this experience of having a book come out with a large publisher. The books in my Lizzie Stuart series are published by a lovely small independent press that specializes in books with Southern themes/settings and that tried a mystery imprint, but gave it up. The last two books in the series have come out when I was done writing and they had a slot in their publishing schedule. And both I and they hoped that readers would notice the book had come out. I have readers who love the series and wait for new books. I've even gotten reviewed by the traditional sources with books 1, 2, and 4 (my big success). But this is a different experience -- especially  because I've written a book set in an alternate reality, near-future version of the city where I live (Albany, New York). I've even put the place where I work (UAlbany) in the book.

So you see before you, a writer who is both happy and stressed. And who, when it comes to giving a party, has a lot in common with Mary on the old Mary Tyler Moore Show (baby boomers will get that reference). Thank goodness the party isn't at my house. I've ordered the Alice in Wonderland themed cake -- scheduled for delivery at the bookstore. But I haven't done anything yet about fruit and cheese platters or beverages. I did remember to order the Alice-themed tea party plates and napkins. But I haven't made the cute little "Drink Me" labels to go on the wine bottles.

On the other hand, I won't have to read from the book. I have four wonderful volunteers from our local Sisters in Crime chapter who are going to read two scenes from the book from scripts. All I have to do is the set-up for each reading.

Now, if only people actually come and have fun. Now, if only I can get those last 75 pages of the new book done. Now, if only I'm recovered from the party and finishing the new book in time to enjoy Bouchercon next week.

And, please forgive me for appearing to complain about a stressful situation that many writers would love to have. But I was awaken this morning by my telephone ringing. Not cell phone, land line. It seems there's a problem with the line. The phone rings, goes dead, rings again. The problem is outside they tell me, and the tech will be here to fix it tomorrow. Meanwhile, they're re-directing my calls to another line. But today is Friday, the 13th. I'm sure glad my party is tomorrow. But this could mean that the supermarket will be out of fruit and cheese platters or that I've missed the 24 hour in advance deadline for ordering. . .

Will really try for a brilliant post next time.

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