Monday, June 16, 2014

It's Not Just Kids Who Take a Village

A Small Sacrifice had sold 22 copies when I heard it was nominated for a Shamus. Maybe I should make a better effort.

This new cover can’t hurt. The original wasn’t just not indicative of the story; it may have been actively misleading.

I’ll post some samples, tell some stories about how it came to be written, try to put together a blog tour and set up some interviews;  the agent may have a few things up his sleeve. A promotion. Hell, maybe I’ll even spend some money, get the word out.

What I need to do first is to thank some people. It’s customary to do this after an award has been won; my ego is not that large. (Lest my inner Donald Trump try to wrest control from my better judgment, the Montgomery County (MD) library system informed me that Grind Joint did not “meet [their] needs” on the same day the Shamus nomination was announced) I’m thanking them now because I don’t want the opportunity to pass. Award losers thank people for—what? Helping to write a book that didn’t win?

So, in no particular order:

The Writers of Chantilly, who were subjected to the entire book, a chapter or two at a time, while it was still in the sausage-making phase.

John McNally and the writers of Jenny McKean Moore writers’ workshop, Spring Semester of 2002. My submitted writing samples were from early drafts of this book. (Yes, it’s that old.) They helped me to decide what was important enough to tell, and how best to tell it. I stumbled across John’s notes to me yesterday, including a handwritten comment that mentioned the ending may be anticlimactic, wasting a good setup scene. The ending now is nothing like what he was given.

Charlie Schlueter, my trumpet teacher at New England Conservatory. There’s a blog post half-written about how the things Charlie taught me about trumpet playing transferred into other aspects of life, notably writing. I’m get it out over the next few weeks.

Pam Strickler, my first agent. Pam took the time to teach me what I might work on most in my craft: how to find the places where five words can do the work of seven.

Barbara Braun, my second agent, who almost sold A Small Sacrifice several years ago. There’s a decided change in the current version from what she first saw, as she taught me how to look for god in the machine while it was still under construction.

My daughter Rachel, aka The Sole Heir™. There are few things that happen with Nick and his daughter she and I didn’t do first. And more entertainingly.

Charlie Stella, the Godfather of Mob Fiction, without whom Grind Joint would not have been published. Without that validation, I doubt I would have submitted A Small Sacrifice for consideration.

Declan Burke, who talked me out of quitting several years ago—when no books would have been published—and gave me a nudge to look into what other things might fall my way after Grind Joint was well received.

Last, but not least, The Beloved Spouse. She wasn’t around when A Small Sacrifice was written—well, she was alive, just not around me, and, since I’m a guy, that’s all that matters—because she does things every day I should thank her for and don’t always remember to, she does them so often and effortlessly.

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