Sunday, March 27, 2022

Next Time You See Me

"Next time you see me
things won't be the same" – Earl Forest/William G. Harvey

This song typically runs through my head when I'm leaving to go get my hair cut, meaning I haven't had it running through my head since about 2016. Yes, it's time I updated my photo. It's appropriate thought here, as next time I post, things won't be the same.

I started this blog in May of 2011 mainly because that was what you did in 2011 if you were a writer—you blogged. As I recall the main idea behind it was to connect with the readers who would eventually buy your books, as they would want to know what was on your mind, peek behind the curtain, get to know you as a person. Blogging was the way to do that, though I suppose it was already in its death spiral when I started doing it. I am cursed to be forever and always be behind the trends, though I suppose if I stick with it long enough, it will become popular again.

The problem, of course, is that unpublished writers have no readers. Instead of connecting with readers we end up connecting with other writers who are all in the same boat, and we end up swapping war stories from the query trenches, hopes and dreams, and gripes about all the flaming hoops we have to jump through to get there. Not only did I learn wasn't alone, I was also able to adjust my expectations, gain some perspective, and gain beta readers, critics, commiserators (I think I just made up a new word) and cheerleaders.

One of the people I met in the early days of the blog is Lisa Regan. I don't remember who found whom, but we became frequent commenters on each other's blogs and then beta readers for each other, even though we really don't write in the same genre at all. Lisa has read every one of my manuscripts and given excellent feedback on them, and I've read several of hers and tried to do the same. Lisa has offered encouragement at every step of the way, and though we've never met in person, we've become friends. Many years ago, Lisa left the treadmill of agents and queries and submissions and struck out on her own. She is now a best-selling author with--good gosh, is it 20???--books to her name. Boy, howdy, that decision worked out!

About a year and a half ago, Lisa reached out to tell me she had formed Breaking Night Press, a small publishing house dedicated to #ownvoices and niche genres and that she wanted to publish me—was I interested? The short answer is I said yes, and that means that in August of this year I will have my debut novel published by Breaking Night Press! Am I excited? Yes. Am I petrified? Oh, you betcha. I have five months to wait for final copies and reviews and blurbs, five months to worry myself into knots. But before that, I have a cover and a description and I hope that you will join me at my new website, There isn't much visible yet but a big ticker clock counting down the hours to the cover reveal, which will be on March 31. will be the new base of operations for me. The blog will not be going away, all the posts have been archived and will be viewable over there (and, presumably, here), but new posts will be happening over there. So yes, next time you see me, things WON'T be the same.

I feel like I should say a lot more about all of this right now, but as always, this post is way too long, so I'll stop it there. However, as I prepare for this next phase of the journey and the move to new digs, I need to say "Thank you" to each and every one of you who has come here to spend some time and share some thoughts. Despite the long droughts and disappearances it has been fun, and I hope you will meet me next week at the new place. 

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Where Have I Been?

 It's been quite some time since I've posted anything of substance. When I stepped away in April of 2019 I honestly believed that my hiatus would be pretty much like others I'd taken previously, that I'd be back in a month or so. Instead, it spun on and on and on, so where have I been?

 To be truthful, I've been right here all along, doing the same things you have been doing. The question isn't so much where I have been, but why: why did I disappear? By way of explanation, let me tell you a story. That's what we do, right?

 When my father died (13 years ago, holy crap) it kicked off about a five month period where I was seemingly in constant contact with people. My brother, sister, and I (and my ex-brother-in-law, have to give him credit) spent long periods of time at the house. There was funeral week, of course, and then lots of time sorting through 40+ years of life in that house. There were repairs and renovation and meetings with lawyers and realtors. We also saw a lot of neighborhood folks, friends, and aunts, uncles and cousins. I was very grateful to spend so much time with all of them, it not only eased the work, it eased the heartache, but when the house was sold and everything was settled I was like a deep sea diver coming to the surface: I needed to decompress. After all that time around so many people I pulled back, withdrew from just about everyone except my wife and my kids. I needed that time to process things and come to grips with new reality. It was an important time for me, and we'll just ignore that it stretched on far too long for now.

 That need for time away, for decompression is very much what hit me three years ago. If you recall, 2018 started with me losing my agent of four years, which was rough. At the time, however, I was immersed in what I really, really thought would be The One, the manuscript that would be a book, and never mind that I've thought that about every project since PARALLEL LIVES all those years ago. I was able to kind of put my head down and keep working and revising and blogging. When the calendar turned to 2019 I was just about ready to start querying, and that's what I did.

 And nothing happened.

 Now let's be clear, I did not query properly. I did do the research: I dutifully searched far and wide to see who was new, who had left the business, who might accept what I was peddling. But I did not send out hundreds of queries to hundreds of agents. I did not finely tune my query letter or adjust my opening pages with each set of rejections and that is because I pretty much heard NOTHING. No requests for pages, no personalized rejections, not even form rejections. It weighed on me, dragged me down, and it did not help at all that I had no new project to work on, that nothing had kicked open the door to the Back Room shouting, "HERE I AM!" After writing constantly for almost ten years and blogging pretty consistently for about eight I had nothing to write, nothing to say. I think, just as I needed to get away from it all after the frenetic period after my father's death, I just needed to decompress. So out I went. And the longer I was away, the easier it became to stay away.

 Am I back? Time will tell. I'm sorry to say that I still don't have a new project, though I have tried resurrecting something that just never took off but seemed timely at the beginning of Obama's second term and seems even more so in a post-January 6 world. Time is circular, after all. But I do have some news and as this post is already too long, I'll just leave that for next time.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

I'm Still Here, Are You?

Well, folks, has it really been 2-1/2 years since my last post? Looks like...yes. Wow. 

It was never my intention to be gone so long. I think when I checked out on April 1, 2019--a whole pandemic ago!--I figured I would take a month, recharge my batteries a little, and get right back to it. Didn't quite work out that way, did it? Instead, this blog was like the relatives you lose touch with. Maybe you poke each other on social media once in a while but you don't call. "I'll do it next week," you tell yourself, but you don't. And then when you realize months have gone by it becomes easier not to call, because then you have to deal with the guilt about why you haven't called, and on and on it goes (Yes, the blog is not the only thing I have neglected in my life, hah ha).

The good thing is I am well. My family is well. We have thus far survived what is two years of COVID without getting COVID (as far as any of us know, anyway), a pretty good trick considering the Catbird spent the first year-and-a-half of the pandemic working in a nursing home. I've been officially working from home since March 12, 2020 and I will continue working from home for the foreseeable future because, a) my boss is a decent human being; b) we have proven as an organization that we are collectively capable of working remotely; and c) as much as we want to believe otherwise, we're still in a pandemic, people are still getting spectacularly sick, and people are still dying in large numbers. I am thankful that I have a job that allows me to work remotely AND that I've also been able to continue the outdoor portions of my job with minor alterations all along, despite never falling into the category of "essential worker." Many others were not so fortunate. 

This is about all I've got for now. I have to say, that wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, the guilt. There will be more coming from me, I promise I won't let it be so long next time, really! In the meantime, I hope all of you are doing well. Let me know if you're still around (and getting notifications about this blog, hah ha) by leaving a comment below. Until next time, be safe, be smart, be well. Cheers.