Crossing the finish line
But the friggin thing is gone, off to New York on a FedEx wing and a prayer. And I haven't been this relieved since my divorce became final. (First husband. Second one took.)
This book was a bitch. The WORST. You'd think about seven books, it would get easier, but we all know it never does. We are launching a new series, with a new lead character and are trying to impress a new editor and publisher. My sister Kelly says I was a raving lunatic with this one, like howling at the moon hard-to-live-with. My husband? Don't ask. The man deserves a medal.
How neurotic am I? I ended up in the hospital with chest pains. But my ticker is fine, my doc put me on Xanax for a week and I went back to yoga. I mean, get over yourself, right?
Do you guys get this bent? And I have another question for you. I am asking this to find out that I am not crazy, not the only one who does this sort of thing.
What do you do RIGHT AFTER you finish your book? What do you do to pat yourself on the back? A massage? A new pair of Choo shoes? A good night's sleep? Sex with the perfect stranger? Do you have a celebratory ritual?
My sister and I have a ritual, which grew organically over seven books, much as our collaboration did. See, she always comes down to my place in Florida in March, the month that has coincided with the final push of the first draft. She stays a month and we grind it out in 10-hour, seven-day-weekly writing marathons with two computers, like Ferrante and Teicher. Or maybe those guys in Deliverance.
We get to the last page of the last chapter. And we do the same thing every year.
I type: THE
She types: END
We have a big hug. Then we get drunk.
This year, we missed our deadline because the book was going badly. She had to leave before we finished. So the ritual was disrupted. She was in Memphis, I in Fort Lauderdale. We were tempting the fates.
But when I sent her the final chapter over AOL, she emailed back and said she liked it. So I emailed it back with THE at the end. She emailed it back adding END.
Then I went down to Publix and bought a really expensive bottle of Pinot Noir and toasted to the rituals of sisterhood and authorhood.
My little secret: I love rituals. My dirty little secret: I love writing but I REALLY love having written.
Save the Indy 500
Every week, I will be spotlighting an independent bookstore. Today, I'd like you to meet Augie Aleksy, the owner of Centuries & Sleuths in Forest Park, Illinois. It's one of my fave places to visit because Augie makes every author feel like royalty and his customers are the best. Take it Augie...
Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore
7419 W. Madison Street
Forest Park, IL
Opened November 1990, moved to present location 2000
How'd you get in the business?
An opportunity came along to open the bookstore of my choice, doing what everybody says they "want to do someday." I also had the support of my wife. But first, I developed a business plan and conducted surveys of my chosen store specialties: history, mystery and biography. I wanted to find out what types of books people had purchased in the last quarter of 1989. The survey results justified my choices.
Favorite thing about being a bookseller?
Meeting interesting people, both customers and authors. Also, my son who was only 6 when we opened, had the change to meet with authors like Steve Allen, Peter Ustinov and Sara Paretsky. My former jobs in the financial industry never gave me or my family such a benefit.
What's unique about Centuries & Sleuths?
It's the only store specializing in mystery, history and biography, and the variety and longevity of our discussion groups. Plus we've put on some unique special events: a mock Trial of Richard III with real lawyers arguing before a federal court judge; a mock impeachment hearing of FDR for his prior knowledge of Pearl Harbor. We've also done Beans 'n' the Pot, a presentation of food from history and mysteries and a dozen Meeting of the Minds events similar to the Steve Allen PBS program of the 1970s.
What's your best advice to writers?
Write good books and be considerate of booksellers and customers.
What's your advice for the publishing industry?
Reduce the minimums to get better than a 40% discount.
Continue good return policies
Consider the small independent bookstore when you tour big authors.
Keep up the good sales staff who sincerely try to help the little guy/girl make their store a success.
Three books in your store you wish more folks knew about?
Books by P.J. Parrish (honest, we didn't tell him to say this)
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (demonstrates link between history and mystery)
The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain. (his personal favorite)
The Speckled Monster: A Historical Tale of Battling Smallpox by Jennifer Lee Carrell
What's on your night stand right now?
Will Thomas's third Cyrus Barker mystery The Limehouse Text
Stephen Kinzer's Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq
If you were an adult film star, what would your name be?