from manuscript to bookstore -- the publishing process

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Steven asks whether ABSENT FRIENDS will be ready for Bouchercon. For those of you who who don't know what that is, Bouchercon is the World Mystery Convention, held every fall in a different city in the US (usually), Canada or the UK. This year it's in Toronto. About 2,000 people attend: authors, fans, agents, editors. There are panels, awards, interviews, etc. It's a great place for crime writers and readers to meet each other. I love it because I get to hang out with other writers I don't get to see all that often, and to meet booksellers and readers. And yes, ABSENT FRIENDS will be there.

Naomi asks: "Are you working on the next book as all of this excitement befalls you? How are you at juggling your marketing and writing duties?"

Yes, I am working on a new one. My default work schedule since I started part time at the day job has been all morning, six days a week (Thursdays one of my projects had a site meeting); now that I've left that job entirely (just this June) it's seven days. The good news is, I'm used to juggling, since that wasn't just a job-job but a fairly high-level one within the firm, with its own crises, late nights, and deadlines. So I'm trying to keep the morning work schedule up, but two things happen.

One, marketing does get in the way. Not nearly the way it does for bigger writers, and I'm NOT complaining. When someone wants an interview or to do a photo to run with an article (both things happening this week) I try to schedule them in the afternoon, but if that's impossible I accommodate their schedule. I broke my neck (and practically my heart) writing this book, and Bantam's been breaking their backs to promote it. How nuts would it be to begrudge any time spent doing things that will help it get into readers' hands?

The other thing that happens that I try much harder to control is, it's distracting. This is a difficult period for a writer, when your book's in the hands of people who will be issuing pronouncements on its, and your, worth on this earth (well, that's what it FEELS like) but you don't know who they are, what they're going to say or when they're going to say it. I seem to have made a jump into a bigger game with this book; that's very exciting, but unnerving. And the ultimate judges, the readers, are yet to get their hands on it.

So the only thing to do is, try to really focus on the new one when its files are open in front of me. A sentence is still a sentence, a character is still a character. I developed new tools in writing ABSENT FRIENDS that I can apply now, if I focus, and it's kind of thrilling to try them out. The book is going more slowly than others, even more slowly than AF did once I got rolling. More slowly meaning, fewer words/day. I'm not kicking myself over that: the situation I'm in with AF is one I've never been in before, and this is how it goes. Okay. But what I keep coming back to in my head is this: I'm a writer. I started doing this because it was the most satisfying thing I'd ever found to do. That other people are now making a fuss over the product of doing it is very, very gratifying. But it's the doing, not the product, that I got into the game for.

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