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Fresh Dirt Archives: July-September 2000

September 27th, 2000:
The Flowers tour is getting a little momentum. The first signing is this weekend at Little Professor Book Center in Charlotte. Hard to tell how this little book is going to play in Peoria. But with 16 signings already on the calendar through December 2nd, I guess I'm going to find out the hard way. I don't think it's selling well yet, but I hope the tidal wave of publicity kits and hype will sell enough books to pay for my gas. My collection is the 228,000th best selling title at Barnes & Noble.Com. Look out, Stephen King.

Sold a story yesterday to GothicNet, a revolutionary webzine that is one of the better-paying places on the Internet. Look for "Must See To Appreciate" in the November issue. A few rejections lately, all my projects are seeping along, but some new ideas are forming, like maybe for another suspense novel after I finish this current ghost-psychological novel. I'm really enjoying the screenplay I'm working on. It's really fun to build the characters mostly using dialogue. Might not make any sense to anyone else, but it gets me through the day.

September 9th:
Flowers is absorbing quite a lot of my energy this week. No real news on any of my other work, no word from publisher nor agent on my novels. I was just thinking today that I've been writing steadily for four years. If I liken that time to getting a college education, then I'm ready to start the "graduate school" phase of my writing career. Sometimes I feel like I should be further along, but then I think of the many great writers who spent a decade learning the ropes, and remember how far I really have to go.

I took my baby for a walk this evening, and the September air reminded me of how much fun I had writing my first (and most terrible) novel. Lately, I feel that everything I write has to meet some standard in the wider world, that it has to be worthy of a top market. That's kind of silly. Sometimes I have to be reminded that the story is everything, and that contracts and sales figures and New York reviews are all slaves to story. And so should the writer be slave to the story. Okay, keyboard, chain me, whip me.

August 30th:
The shipment of copies of Thank You For The Flowers arrived at the publisher's office today. Any feelings of ecstasy were tempered by looking at the pallet piled high with cases and wondering, "How in the heck are we going to sell all these books?" The local library bought a warm copy and I sent off one to my first mail-order customer. Only 1,998 copies to go.

I've been lost to the world in the midst of researching bookstores and reviewers, sending out postcards, and all the other scut work of promotion. I actually enjoy that part of it very much, and some small fruits have been born. The Flowers book tour calendar is filling up fast.

August 28th:
A friend of mine visited recently, a former bandmate in the Friars. His spiritual search has led him on various transcontinental journeys, as he visited with natural plant-based religions in Brazil and Gabon. He also tends peyote gardens at a church in Arizona. His arrival was a good opportunity for me to examine my own spiritual path. I don't know, I'm a megalomaniac jerk, a self-centered buffoon, an insecure paranoid, a chronic underachiever, but I kind of like my path. (Of course, that's exactly the kind of thing a self-centered buffoon would say, isn't it?)

My friend Tim Pratt sold a story to GothicNet. I can't even draw their attention enough for them to reject me, so good job for Tim. He's one of those hard-working young up-and-comers that us geezery types will soon be beating back with our bloodied canes.

The official book release party for Thank You For The Flowers is Oct. 5th, 7 PM, at the Book Warehouse in Boone, NC. Listen to my schpiel, ingest snacks donated by an area eatery, enter a contest to be a character in a Scottstory. I know everyone will fly their Lear jets in for the occasion.

August 17th:
I've just learned that I received an Honorable Mention in Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, though I don't know for which story. I will also be an occasional guest columnist for Twilight Showcase. I'm beginning the process of scheduling signings at regional bookstores. I hope to stay busy during these shivery months to come.

What I'm reading: RUNE, a 1990 horror novel by Christopher Fowler; ROUGH DRAFT by crime-thriller writer James W. Hall; the psychological manuals CASES IN PSYCHOTHERAPY and DSM-III R CASEBOOK; Dan Simmons' late-1980's horror novel SUMMER OF NIGHT; Jay McInerney's BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY; Edgar Lee Masters' SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY; and nibbling on the anthologies DARK FORCES, NORTHERN HORROR, and BE AFRAID! I'm also intermittently reading Stewart O'Nan's screenplay POE, which is posted on his website at

It looks like I'll have three songs on the Extremes II CD. Some people at work heard the digital files and liked them. Most of that material had an audience of one person. It's a strange feeling to shake the dust off that old work and realize that the stuff might have an emotional effect on people. I'll probably submit a couple to when the CD comes out.

August 9th:
I've been going through some of my old four-track recordings from ten years ago, searching for a suitable song for the Extremes II CD-Rom. Most of the stuff is a mess, some of the tape has lost its magnetic information, one is broken in half. I have about three or four decent candidates to contribute. Mostly my recording career was a process of making musical mudpies. Sometimes I wish I had spent all that energy on writing, but at other times I believe that my musical dalliance was a necessary evil, that it prepared me for my real life's work. Which is...

August 3rd:
My screenplay CALLING IN THE FIRE is loping along. I'm switching back and forth between that and my new novel Troubled. Writing a screenplay is a lot of fun but a different set of challenges. The most important factor is that a screenplay isn't meant to be literature, and, in fact, many studio execs never read them. I've heard that the very first test is the "flip test," where some administrative assistant literally flips through the pages in fast motion to see if it looks like a screenplay. Yeah, that's show biz.

My story "The Meek" has been accepted for the CD-ROM anthology Extremes II. One of my original songs will also be on the CD, which is a multi-media event. Now I just have to figure out how to translate it into a digital format, since my rocknroll career was largely in the analog era.

The same week I received my copy of Northern Horror, two more anthologies showed up with my stories: Baseball Fantastic, with a reprint of "The Vampire Shortstop", and Be Afraid!, a young adult anthology with the first appearance of "In The Heart Of November." Both stories are in ...Flowers.

-- copyright 2000 by Scott Nicholson


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