Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shell Games release date!

December 1, 2011
Hi, all! I haven't written in a while because I've been finishing the last steps in the process of getting a manuscript ready for publication. At some point, I'll prepare a post about all the different stages in the process -- because many have asked me about this subject in the past. For now, however, I'll skip to the end and say this: My next book will be released March 15, 2012!!! I just finished sending to the publisher the "corrected proofs" of the manuscript, which is typically the last time an author sees the full manuscript before it is published. In plain-English, this means I'm finished with my work on the manuscript, and I have to admit this is the time of greatest joy and fun for me. It's finished! Done! Ready to go! Aaaahhhh -- it feels so good to have everything finally fall into place.
The title of the book is as follows: Shell Games: The Life and Times of Pearl McGill, Industrial Spy and Labor Activist. This is another piece of "literary nonfiction," which means all major events of the story are true - -and are told through the voices of the characters involved. As such, it will read like a novel -- only the story is true to the events described inside the covers. Here is the publisher's promotional blurb about the book:
"Set against a backdrop of murder, intrigue, and industrial labor conflict in the early twentieth century pearl button industry, Shell Games graphically portrays one of the most important battles in the fight for safe and humane working conditions. Filtered through the thoughts and emotions of Pearl McGill, a woman who stood heroically against the injustices destroying the lives of so many around her in the shops and factories, this conflict vividly comes to life and underscores many of the concerns contemporary workers still encounter."

I had a great time doing the research for this book. When I first found out about this remarkable woman, I discovered the story also had tie-ins with the Titanic, Helen Keller, labor fights, and some pretty brutal murders. In short, my attention was immediately grabbed. Then, the more I dug into the history behind the story, the more I saw this was a slice of American history never told before -- and one that *should* be told, especially given the fact that so much of what is taking place today in our world can be traced to what Pearl McGill and her circle of friends and co-workers accomplished. I chose to write this story as a work of literary nonfiction because I wanted everyone to see and understand "why" the characters did what they did. I wanted everyone to see the humanity behind the historic events. I wanted everyone to "feel" their thoughts and dreams and emotions that led to such amazing accomplishments, accomplishments that helped make our world so wonderful today for so many.

I'll attach to this note what the front of the cover will look like. I'll try to post later the back cover as well.

Stay tuned for more updates!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Manuscript completed!

July 28, 2011
I really do need to apologize to all for not writing in a while, but most of the time I was at the computer putting the finishing touches on the manuscript. I'm happy -- and relieved -- to report that it is now finished and at the publisher! My deadline for having the manuscript ready was August 1, so I made it under the wire. Whew! I have *never* missed a deadline in all my years of working with publishers, and I'm very proud of that. Publishers absolutely HATE it when authors don't make the established deadlines. Why? Well, not only is it rude and unprofessional, but a late manuscript can totally and completely mess up production schedule for getting the book ready for release. The easiest way to explain it is this: Think of a publisher as an automobile assembly line, with every person along that line having a specific responsibility. In the case of publishing, one person is responsible for reviewing the manuscript for typos and general errors. Another person checks the historical facts, especially in literary nonfiction, which is the type of writing I favor. Still another works on layout and design -- and so on and so on down the line. These wonderful people are "assigned" to book projects on a schedule, so if an author does not meet the deadline, it really, really messes up the schedule for those who were to work on the project. In some cases, a wrecked schedule can mean a drastic change in the publishing plans, which is a very bad thing for both writer and publisher. I also know of a few cases where missing the publisher's deadline resulted in manuscripts never being published! Therefore, it is absolutely and vitally important to meet all agreed upon deadlines.
The manuscript: I like this story, and how it is put together, better than anything I've written previously. It is a great story -- murder, mystery, mayhem (and a touch of a love story as well) at every turn. I have made a recommendation about the title, but it is up to the publisher to make the final decision on that (they look at key words to use, marketability, etc. when choosing a title). I'm not sure which direction they will go with the title, but I can say this: The story will shock many people because of the way it presents an important period in our nation's history. I'm not at liberty to say too much at this time, but I can say the story is about the early life of one of America's first industrial spies -- a person who dug up secrets about industry in order to help protect the rights of workers everywhere. There is also a "cold case" murder that is described in the Epilogue, and readers can examine the clues from the story and the added material in the Epilogue and come up with their own theories about "who killed whom." I think this will be fun and exciting for those who read the story. The tentative publication schedule is for the book to be released this coming March. I can't wait!
I haven't been doing much of late other than getting the final pieces of the manuscript together. In a few weeks when I come up for air again, I'll jot a few words about the "pieces" of a literary nonfiction manuscript. It is quite a puzzle, literally and figuratively at times! The only other writer I was able to visit with during this last stretch was a pretty fine writer -- former United States Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser (I'll attach a picture of the two of us together). The visit came at a good time because he talks about the importance of accuracy and simplicity in description and narration, and his words were a real shot in the arm to me after a couple of months of studying technical information for a couple of the final chapters of the book. My advice: Visit with other writers as often as you can. It is good for your writing -- but it is also very, very good for the soul!
I'm also getting ready to begin my next book. One thing is very true about writing: Writers can not live on their laurels. Once a book project is done, it is done -- and it is time to move on to the next project. It's a fast-paced occupation, but most of us wouldn't have it any other way.
I hope all of you are well -- and that your writings are coming along as you wish. More soon!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Real World of Writing

Hi, all!
Sorry it has been so long since I've posted, but I've been busy researching and writing my new story and haven't been able to come up for air. Sorry about that..... but I've been on a roll. When I make posts, like most writers, I tend to show the *glamorous* side of the writing world -- visiting amazing places to do research, having a great time at book events and while on book tours, and even showing what I do on my "free" time while on the road. It is true those are perks of the profession that help make life so darn beautiful for a writer, and we all like to share those sorts of details. However, I thought for this entry I'd share a little bit about what goes on about 90% of the time, at least in my case. I'm going to attach a picture to this post that shows where I spend most of my writing time. This is a picture of my dining room table -- and it is a real mess! I do have pretty great study where I "could" write, but for some reason I favor the dining room table. It may be because of the natural light in the room or the fact that it seems more "open" than my study. Whatever the reason, I spend hours at a time at my Macintosh laptop computer shown in the photo. I don't like the smaller keyboards on the laptops, so I've attached a regular-sized, remote keyboard, which works just fine. This means I also have to use a remote mouse and mouse pad. Currently, I'm using a Zorro mouse pad. You won't have to look very long at the picture to see what appears to be terrible clutter all over the table. Actually, this isn't as bad as it looks. virtually all of those papers contain information I am using to write the story. I'm notorious for a really bad habit: I write while I'm driving if something pops into my head. Therefore, I keep several pads of paper in my van, and when the muse strikes, I start writing. I've been known to write on the top of pizza boxes on the way home from picking up a pizza, on various types of writing tablets, on napkins, and even on scraps of paper I find close at hand. Again, if you look closely at the photo, you'll see different types of paper with scribbles on them. I keep them on the table until I use the information. After using them, I move them to a large folder in my study and keep them there in case I need to look back at them at a later time. If you look on the chair on the left, you'll see what appears to be an advertisement for a telephone upgrade; on that piece of paper, I wrote notes about a character I'm developing in the story (I found the advertisement in Wal-Mart and wrote the information on it while driving back to my house). You'll also notice several flash/jump drives mixed in with the notes. I'm religious about backing up everything I write on a computer just in case the computer crashes or, heaven forbid, the power goes out and wipes out a file -- which has happened more than a few times.
So, mixed in with the book tours and research, this is the "real" world of writing, at least for me. I've spent so much time in that chair that I feel like it is part of my anatomy..... Still, the most important thing of all is attaining a "comfort zone" while writing, and this is where I find that. This photo is my writing world, and right now I wouldn't change it for anything.
The writing of the new book is going very well. I just completed what I knew would be the hardest chapter of all to write. This chapter has a great deal of technical information about an industry that is part of the story. The research to get this information took several months. Now that the chapter is finished, I feel both a sense of relief and a little sadness at the same time because I really enjoyed the research period -- and especially the wonderful people I met while at archives, record centers, and museums. I'm now at the point in the story when the narrative really takes off, and I'm itchin' to get back to the computer!
I hope all is well with all of you -- and that your own writing is coming along as you wish. More soon!