Day 40, In Which I Discover I Have One More Day

Well, actually I figured that out a few days ago.  I'm not as bad at math as some writers are, but obviously it's never been my strong suit.  But that's okay -- I have enough treats to eke out.

For today we have another short story, this one called WEDDING BELL BLUES.  I wrote it for an online magazine and the details are lost in the mists of memory, though it couldn't have been much more than a decade ago.  It's sweet and fun and quirky.  Just click on the name to download, or look under Special Treats on the masthead (I'm actually learning to use this software).

And we need some winners.  Overdue, as always, and I'm behind sending things out, but since tomorrow is the big finale I'd better get cracking.

First, the winners of all 4 Wicked House of Rohan books.  Send me your snail mail address and they'll be off in the mail.   Peggy Larkin, Kendra, Rosemary, Terri C., and Julie M.

And yesterday's winners for the ebook of BARRETT'S HILL - Katie.Rehead, Sangeeta Joshi, Kanch, Angel Parker, and Camilla Von Hollen Swope (my favorite name for a winner).  For these I simply need emails and I'll pass them on to my publisher.  Previous winners of the House of Russell series (the three sisters) will receive their books in late August.

Okay, business taken care of.  We had a question, class?  Oh, yes, how long did it take for BARRETT'S HILL to get through its various permutations?  I started it in November, 1971 when I first moved to Vermont.  Finished it in May (or maybe I was simply typing the final copy -- I remember there were fresh lilies of the valley in the window, making everything smell wonderful.

My agent took me on in early winter of 72, and it took 9 months to sell it.  Then another 9 months till publication (I had revisions in between - my first editor, Sharon Jarvis, eventually became an agent).  I had finished the second (unpublished) gothic when BARRETT'S HILL came out, it got rejected but by the time it was rejected I was already well into my third, which was a big improvement (Library Journal said it was "satisfyingly larded" with romance and suspense and I always wanted a t-shirt that said "satisfyingly larded."  That was CAMERON'S LANDING, and it came out in spring of 1977, and by then I was working for the State Library in Vermont and writing during my lunch hour.  The book I wrote then was DEMONWOOD, and after I quit I wrote THE DEMON COUNT and his daughter and have supported myself with my writing ever since (with brief forays into dishwashing, church secretary, caterer, treasurer, school cook, house cleaner (ha!) and anything else that could help).  Richie, on the other hand, was school bus-driver, piano factory supervisor, carpenter and grave-digger among other colorful jobs.  There's a saying up here: "Moonlight in Vermont ... or starve."

Not that I ever expected to make money writing.  My dream was to make 10k a year, 15k if I wanted to travel.  When I started out I wrote for the love of writing, just as I had from 5th grade on.  There were some fairly driven years in between, but I'm still madly in love with my stories.  Always will be, I expect.

I have a new book to start, so I'm just as glad this is drawing to a close, but I'll be back once a week because God knows there are so many things I never talked about, like soundtracks and conferences and my God, I never talked about how the industry has changed.  Well, a short recap of the last 40 years in romance novels seems called for, so that's my task for tomorrow, along with the final big blowout of goodies.

Yes, it was "Tea and Sympathy" (the quote from yesterday).

I'll take questions from the peanut gallery (is that a line from Howdy Doody?  What was the peanut gallery?)  and respond to them in the future.  Lowest advance, $2,000 (the one that matched Stephen King).  Highest advance.  $120,000 (that was when I learned money wasn't everything).  Best editor?  Probably Leslie Wainger or Audrey LaFehr, though Adam ....? (Swiss cheese brain -- he's a Simon and Schuster now) and I worked really well together.

Worst editor?  I'm not that stupid.  Best Book:  NIGHTFALL.  Or BLACK ICE.  Or LADY FORTUNE.  Or ICE STORM.  Or ... well, you get the picture.

Worst book: it's a tie between PARTNERS IN CRIME and LAZARUS RISING and that simply had to do with the circumstances around the writing, not the actual books themselves.

So one final blow-out, and then back to a saner schedule.  I'm about ready to lose myself in a new book.