Thursday, March 17, 2022


Pandemic writing

I (Donis) can relate to Barbara's feeling of discombobulation at not having a deadline to face down. Since The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, my first mystery, was published in 2005, I've faithfully produced about one book a year, all of which were accepted and published – until my publisher changed at the almost same time the dreaded pandemic hit in 2020. AND I had just launched a new series set in Hollywood during the silent movie era of the 1920s.

The first Hollywood book, The Wrong Girl,  came out only weeks before the shutdown. The publication date for the second, Valentino Will Die, was pushed back six months as the pandemic ground on. I turned in the third, The Beasts of Hollywood, almost a year ago.

It has yet to be accepted. Or rejected. A few weeks ago, the acquisitions editor, whom I've known and admired for years, finally sent me a note asking forgiveness for being so slow and assuring me that though she hadn't read the MS yet, she'd get to it as soon as she could. Apparently the publishing industry is suffering its own bout of discombobulation.  

So here I am, in publishing limbo. 

I've done preliminary work on another Hollywood book, but I've gotten so many emails from readers who asked if I'd write another Alafair Tucker mystery (my original series) that I've spent most of the past contract-less year working on an eleventh Alafair.

It's hard. I'm using my work-in-progress to fictionalize a really problematic theme that has run through my life – racism. The new book is part of a long-running series set in Oklahoma, with established characters and situations. The series began in 1912 and moved forward year by year, and  I've now reached 1921, the year of the Tulsa Race Massacre. It's also the year that the KKK had a horrifying resurgence in Oklahoma. I can't pretend like nothing happened. When I write I always wonder if I can make the book as good as the one I have in my head, and this one is particularly scary. Can I do it justice?

I feel like if I can pull it off, the book could tell an important tale. But I'm doing this hard work basically on spec. When I finish it to my own satisfaction, I have no idea how I'll be able to get it published. After nearly twenty years, I feel like I'm back at square one.

I'm not complaining, really (Well, maybe a little) At least I have a publishing track record and I will get this story told one way or another.


Charlotte Hinger said...

Donis, I can certainly relate to the "in limbo" feeling. I like deadlines and goals. Our whole country is in such a strange position right now.

Arthur Kerns said...

Wow, I thought I was the only one having issues with getting my next manuscript published. My answer, keep writing, and I now have a backlog of three manuscripts in progress. Good article.

Donis Casey said...

Thanks, Charlotte and Art! And keep writing is all I know to do at this point.