Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving and gratitude

I'd love to thank each and every person who has written me about enjoying the Tal Jefferson mysteries. You'll never know how much it means to a writer to hear she's entertained someone who picked up her book and couldn't put it down.

The Golden Oars mystery is moving along, despite the holiday and beautiful weather just begging for me to work in the yard. A pivotal scene worked its way onto the hard drive just today, and I'm tickled pink with it. Of course, I'm just trying to keep up with Kat Jorgensen's output. She's one chapter ahead of me, I think, so I'd better keep myself in gear and the engine running.

Have a happy and thankful Thanksgiving, and know that I, like most writers, appreciate each and every reader. What a great bunch of folks, to put it mildly.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Eighty-nine days and counting

Until Daytona. No, not the Cup race. I hate the COT, now the full-time, boring ride that makes the Cup chase an IROC race. At least IROC pitted champions from all kinds of racing against each other, which made for some excitement. Me, I'll be going truck racin'. Yep, the series where the Old Dogs like Skinner, Sprague, and Hornaday drive like demons, and the youngsters like Chad McCumbee try to figure it all out. NASCAR Cup has become the vanilla pudding of racing for me. I'll keep my season tickets for a while longer, but only because it's fun to meet the fans in the parking lot where we all tailgate and chat, swapping hamburgers and favorite race stories. I have a feeling the COT edict is driving out the nuts-and-bolts men like Robert Yates and Ray Evernham. Creativity isn't allowed, and technical edges are squelched by NASCAR faster than you can say "suspension." It's sad. Money men will run the teams and bring in drivers based on demographics and marketing (can we all say Jacques Villeneuve and Patrick Carpentier, oh, and Juan Montoya...), not guts and sheer talent. Where's Danny O'Quinn, Busch series Rookie of the Year in 2006? Todd Kleuver, former protege of Mark Martin? Only Joey Lagano is getting a free pass, and that's because he's so talented, the Powers that Be can't ignore the kid. Plus, he already has a lucrative marketing deal in place.

Sounds a little like the publishing business, doesn't it? Marketing can make or break an author so fast it isn't funny. Thousands of books pour into the box stores, and how many get that fancy, eye-catching set-up as you walk in the front door? Sure, I know publishers pay for that square footage, but who gets to be the chosen one? No matter how great your book, if you don't have marketing behind you, bonne chance. It's the same in racing - your sponsor's money puts you in the best equipment, if you have a good one like Budweiser writing the checks. The #4 car has State Water Heaters on its hood. I can only imagine the disparity in dollars. It's the same with a book that hits the market. Remember that the next time you pick up the first book that catches your eyes as you enter the bookstore. Marketing money paid to put it there. Take time to head for the back racks where everything is spine-out, and check out a few of them. I think you'll be surprised at how wonderful those non-supported books are.

The munchkins are home for the holiday, buried in homework and theses, which keep them glued to their laptops writing. Wish I could say the same. I need to finish The Golden Oars with my buddy, Kat Jorgensen, before the end of the year, our self-imposed deadline.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Boring, boring, boring - Phoenix wasn't a bad race, but the coverage was. ESPN shows only the 48 and 24 cars, and let me tell you, there was a whole heck of a lot more going on deeper in the field than they covered. Want to know why ratings are down for the Chase? It's the coverage, the boring, blah announcers, and no new stories. There's one in Joe Nemechek's contract to driver for the team that dumped Kenny Wallace - there's another one in David Ragan's car control when he almost spun out - and a good one in Aric Amirola's jump into the 01 car. Do we hear them? Naw, we get more gushing about how Knaus has figured out the right setups for the COT. I doubt I'll even tune in to see Homestead. This is just sad.

Spent Saturday at a Michael Hauge workshop in Maryland. I love to hear how other people analyze stories and how to make them better, and Hauge delivered. When I finally got how he was using his buzz words, things clicked. My new hero had been bothering me because I knew he was missing a crucial element, I just didn't know what. After Saturday, I know. He's now a complete person in my head, just in the nick of time. If Hauge comes anywhere near you, and you want to look at your work from a different angle, GO hear him talk! Many thanks to the WRW chapter that put on the program and ran it beautifully. More thanks to my travel buddies and partners in crime, Kat Jorgensen, Carolyn Greene, and Day LeClaire. We're a wicked team, LOL.