Monday, December 18, 2006

How Much Has Changed (& Spinetingler News)

When you’re living life one moment at a time, it can seem like not much happens. You don’t notice a few extra lines around the eyes that creep in over time, a few more grey hairs at the temples, a bit more bulk around the waist…

Until you don’t see someone for a while, and then are reunited. Last week, I felt like I came fact to face with myself for the first time in a while, only I’m not talking about physically.

Not only was I interviewed for the Oshkosh Northwestern recently, but I was also interviewed for the latest Spinetingler. And what struck me was how much had changed, particularly since I did the Spinetingler interview, because it was done in early October.

I have avoided everywhere talking about the future for Lara and Farraday (the protagonists for Suspicious Circumstances) because I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen. The truth…the truth I haven’t been telling people… is that there is a sequel written.

But I don’t know if it will ever be published.

This is what it all boils down to. My current publisher gets one more book. Because they had a different book first, before SC, that was the book I was to give them. It obviously isn’t Past Transgressions, the sequel I wrote to SC.

Not knowing if PT would get published, I took the baseline of the story and wrote a version without Lara and Farraday. Obviously, it’s a different book. It’s an example of how the same starting point for a story can produce two entirely different works.

But only one will see the light of day.

It might seem a weird thing to invest this energy in a manuscript, knowing that one of them will never become a book, but to me it’s a great learning exercise. So many people think their work is wasted if it won’t be published. I’ll admit to feeling discouraged at times (before I got the deal for SC), but it’s never a waste.

The way I see it, first you walk, then you run. It takes time to hone your craft. It takes discipline. Most people have a first manuscript languishing in a drawer somewhere that will never be published. I don’t. Suspicious Circumstances was the first manuscript I completed. The thought of having a version of Past Transgressions that won’t be published doesn’t bug me.

Although that said, having two versions in draft form, I’m not prepared to spend any more time on either until I know what’s going to happen. It was meant to be a continuation of Lara and Farraday’s story. If that doesn’t happen, it essentially becomes a book that could launch a new series. Isn’t that weird, to have two diverse possibilities sitting in front of you, not knowing which way things will go?

I guess the new answer when asked what’s next is I haven’t got a fucking clue. So, for those who wrote after reading SC and said it was killing them to know that book 2 wasn’t going to be Lara and Farraday, I hate to tell you this… but it might be. But if it isn’t, there will almost certainly never be another Lara and Farraday book published. At least, not in English.

How’s that for suspense?

Now, because of the way I usually work, I write out a manuscript, set it aside to mentally clear my head, then go back through it and that’s when another layer to the story emerges. Weirdly, last week that happened with one of the versions of PT – the Lara/Farraday version. I could completely see where I needed to change one thing, at the end of the third chapter, and how that was going to have the snowball effect throughout the rest of the work to make it that much better.

But I’m not touching it.

I’m one of those really fussy creatures. Once I start on something I like to bring it to completion. I’m obsessive. I’ll work seven days a week, dawn to the wee hours, when I’m on a project. I don’t like being part way through a revision and then putting it aside for any reason.

So, since I don’t know what’s going to happen at the moment, I have decided to let both lie and move on and write the next new book. In a weird way, it’s exciting to write something that isn’t contracted, that I have no obligations to offer to anyone. Right now it’s all blank pages and endless possibilities. Plus, I’ll be traveling in the new year, visiting friends. (Nope, no bookstore events.) So this is the perfect time to start something, bring it to first draft, then go away and come back fresh and do an edit on it. That’s my focus for 2007 – new work. I have two new manuscripts I plan to have written by June.

Of course, there could always be developments that shift the plan, but I’ve got a new philosophy. Plan for what you know, deal with the unexpected later.

There were other things that surprised me looking back. Was it really barely more than two months ago that I said I hardly knew Ken Bruen but adored him? Well, I still adore him, and all that much more for having just finished American Skin. I must thank Jon Jordan for giving me a copy of that book. I will be reviewing it for the next Spinetingler, but I think if I had to pin it down in a word I’d say genius. Absofuckinglutely mindblowing is more like it. I’m half way through Vixen now.
Spinetingler News
If you go to the site where you can get the free downloads, you’ll notice the new issue has an option to buy the paperback version. We’re going to aim to have the print version available when we go live next time, but it’s a lot of extra work. Not to mention that it’s amazing how many people still don’t read the f***ing submission guidelines, which causes formatting nightmares galore.

Although we liked the magazine style format we went with last issue, it was more economical to do the paperback version. We wanted to keep the cost as low as possible, and this will be the ballpark for all future issues. We’ll have to start capping space to fit a length – ugh.

From Uncle Charlie

Water – It has been scientifically proven that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli bacteria found in feces. In other words, we are consuming 2 lbs of poop each year.

However, we don’t run that risk when drinking wine, rum, whiskey, vodka, beer or other liquors because alcohol has to go through a distillation process of boiling, filtering and fermenting.



Free yourself of poop, drink booze! It’s better to drink booze and feel like shit than drink water and be full of shit. (Al, are you paying attention?)

There’s no need to thank me for relaying this valuable information.


Anonymous said...

Like I need an excuse to drink more beer.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Yeah, but you drink American beer. You know why American beer is like making love in a canoe? Because it's fucking close to the water.

You need real beer. Canadian beer.

Plus, now you have someone to blame.

Anonymous said...

I don't drink "American" beer. I drink good beer. Sometimes it's made in America, sometimes it's made in other places.

I definitely don't drink is any beer advertised on television. Including Molsen's, which is, you have to admit, only one step up from Coors or Badweiser.

Sandra Ruttan said...

It's the specialty stuff that's usually worth seeking out. I don't drink enough to know. I'm a classic Gemini drinker - never know what I'm having and seldom order the same drink twice.

Well, except G&T. Or a vodka tonic. Or a Bellini. Umm. Bellini

Anonymous said...

I don't even know what a Belini is!

anne frasier said...

the whole sequel thing has always been a pain in the ass for me. i've found publishers usually aren't interested in sequels unless the first book does really well. by then you've written a book or two in between, plus probably tied up loose ends in book 1. i really want to know if they want it when i'm writing number 1. plus i'm still invested in the story and characters at that point. i'm thinking if i ever do another sequel i need to present it to them as a package and they need to buy it as a sequel or series of books, which i'd hoped to do with pale immortal. i really shot myself in the foot with that one. i needed to be ahead of the game and i wasn't.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Bill, it's a yummy drink with (I think) peach schnapps and rum and some other stuff and you can drink it by the bucketloads and, well, never mind.

Anne, the other side to that coin is ready made audience with a series. It takes time to grow a series. Isn't it funny that stand-alones are usually a harder sell? thing with a series book is that people get addicted, can't wait for the next Rebus or whatever. But if the book isn't in a series there isn't always the same urgency. I haven't read the latest Val McDermid book yet. Her stand-alones are generally brilliant, but time being a factor and the fact that it isn't a series book have given me leeway. I'm far more anxious to read the series books when they come out.

As I will be when the sequel to Pale Immortal is out!

And as you know Anne, there are certain things that weren't completely resolved in SC. I'd like to tie them off and expand. Kevin thought Past Transgressions - the original version - was the best book I'd written. Oddly enough, it's the one nobody has seen. I usually refuse to talk about it, precisely because of this.

angie said...

Hopefully all this will get straightened out the way you'd like it. In the meantime, getting to work on a new novel sounds like the perfect solution!

Sandra Ruttan said...

Well Angie, whatever happens happens. Meanwhile I have other manuscripts I can market, new stuff I'm writing, and I'm not going to let it slow me down. I'm not going to wait around for the decision, I'll just keep moving on.

M. G. Tarquini said...

I know what an Italian means when she says Bellinis.

I have three complete manuscripts sitting in drawers. One, I think, will make a good comedy someday. It's filled with overwrought Italians in a vaguely medieval setting. Should work.

The others? *shrug*

I learned a lot writing them. I'd like to see one of them published someday, but it needs serious work. Sometimes I try to figure out if there's anyway to turn IT into a comedy.

Writers have dozens of stories to tell. The problem is deciding which one, not coming up with another one.

Sandra Ruttan said...

"The problem is deciding which one, not coming up with another one."

Amen to that Mindy. I have no shortage of ideas.

Trace said...

I think my first book was a lot of gobbledegook that I needed to get out of me. Thank God it'll never be pubbed.

Daniel Hatadi said...

Due to Xmas partying and babies being born, I've not been keeping up with the blogs. I'm playing catchup now, and I have to say that was a great interview. You come across as well as any two out of three writers with a beard.

Like all Canadian leprechauns, I'm sure you're shorter than me, Sandra, but I still look up to you. You've put in so much time and energy into your work and the promotions for it, and you still have time to go round all the blogs and give people gentle and optimistic pushes. Thank you for that.

Can't wait for your novel to come out.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Aw Daniel... Thank you. You're so sweet. I really just don't know how to appropriately respond to being on par with bearded authors.

I just don't know what the blog would be without people. To me, it's what keeps me going. I get to drop in and catch up with what's going on in everyone's life. It makes me feel like I have friends!

And I appreciate all the support I've received from everyone.


Daniel Hatadi said...

Sandra, about the 'bearded' comment, I don't really know what it means either, but it's definitely a compliment, and definitely not a suggestion to grow a beard. Just another one of my lines that works better in my head than out there in the real world.

Sandra Ruttan said...

That's a relief. I've never wanted to be anyone's beard either.

Daniel Hatadi said...