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I'm writing a story that's ripping my guts out. It's the hardest thing I've tried to write in years, so at least I'm challenging myself. It could fall apart, but even if it does, it'll be a learning experience. I can practically feel the plates of my skull creaking as my brain tries to accommodate what I'm trying to do. (I'm sure it won't look that dramatic on the page, which might be a good thing. Ideally, it will look effortless on the page, actually.)

I'm reading a couple of books: The Big Con and How to Cheat at Everything. All I know about con artists I learned from The Sting, David Mamet movies (House of Games mostly), episodes of Hustle, and various other movies and TV shows. I still have a tendency to romanticize the confidence man as a devil-may-care rogue, which is a weakness of mine. The fourth Marla Mason novel -- if I get to write it -- concerns Marla's brother, a grifter working a long con. Marla and her brother have a very complicated relationship, and I look forward to exploring it. That also means that reading about con artists and con games counts as research, and that's why my job is great. And if my career tanks and I can't sell Marla #4, at least I'll learn how to win beer money off drunks in bars.

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