May was spent on graduations. The Sole Heir graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland; Niece the Younger from Green Mountain High School in Colorado. Now it’s June. Coffee break’s over, back on my head.
I’ve taken summers off from writing the past couple of years. It’s a great way to recharge batteries by reading, watching baseball, and letting ideas ferment. The current project (working title: Resurrection Mall) is on hiatus, but I’ll keep my hand in on other projects.
Chicago PI Nick Forte plays a pivotal supporting role in Grind Joint, which comes out next spring from Stark House. Forte was not created for Grind Joint. I’ve written stories featuring him, off and on, for almost twenty years. He is my original character, originally conceived tongue-in-cheek, who gradually took on a life of his own. Four Nick Forte novels have moldered on my hard drive for several years, not counting a couple that qualify as the experimental attempts at novels most writers have and will never allow to see the light of day.
Since Forte makes an appearance in Grind Joint, I thought it would be nice to bring the character back in my next book. I tried after completing Grind Joint, but I’d been away from him too long, and the voice had left me. Still, I wanted something of him to be available when Grind Joint appears in 2014, so I’m spending the summer polishing some of his original stories for Kindle release. The first, A Small Sacrifice, will be out sometime this summer.
Sacrifice received several encouraging rejections when an agent circulated it about five years ago. It’s interesting to see how things have held up in my opinion, some far better than others. The biggest difference—aside from the first person narrator—is in how my current writing is much tighter, even though the books are longer. A Small Sacrifice is close to 76,000 words; I doubt the Kindle version will be 75,000. Things I now trust the reader to understand, minor redundancies, and things I can live without are being excised a word, sentence, or paragraph at a time. It’s a good writing exercise.
I hope to have all four existing Forte manuscripts available by the time I’m ready to start the novel that will follow Resurrection Mall. The current plan is for it to be a Forte story; we’ll see. The next couple of summers getting back into his head should tell me where I want to take the series, even if it’s into retirement. I may not have this summer as off as I usually do, but at least I’ll be efficient enough to kill two birds with one stone.