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December 22, 2001:
As the year winds down, we'll be force-fed lots of "year in review" material focusing on the September 11th attack. I personally don't think this will be the most lasting tragedy the U.S. will ever suffer. We're just one nut away from a nuclear disaster, and it's a question of "when," not "if." I'm not playing the cynic, either. I am actually optimistic that the world is becoming more communicative and that through information and expanded media, we will all come to a better understanding of one another. How's that for a message of hope in the holiday season?

I'm working on a joint promotional project with a few other writers. I don't want to say much until we hammer out all the details, but the operative word is "free."

Today I packaged up some short stories to send off. I'm becoming a little slacker about keeping things in the mail these days. It just seems inefficient to spend five or six hours researching markets, printing out, packaging, and then slapping on the postage when the markets are so competitive and small. Time probably better spent working on a novel. Well, if one or two find a home, I'll be glad I took the trouble.

December 14, 2001:
The working title of "Deadscape" has now changed for the third time. I'm keeping the new title under my belt until it gets finished and sent around by my agent. While "Deadscape" has a certain appeal to me, and, just as importantly, has never been used before (at least it doesn't pop up on an Amazon search), I have two compelling reasons to change it: Brian Lumley has just released a novel called "Deadspeak," and "Deadscape" suggests that my book is a straight horror novel, which is misleading. I hope to wrap up the novel before year's end.

My story "The Vampire Shortstop" will be reprinted (for the fourth time!) in MOTA 2002: TRUTH. MOTA bills itself as "an annual anthology of fine fiction, devoted to the challenging issues of our times as played out in fictional scenarios." A perfect fit for my story, and I'm especially pleased that the collection appears to cover a wide range of genres.

A footnote: whenever you get a second chance, you need to grab hold of it and hang on with all your heart. Life is far too short for regrets.

December 8, 2001:
I've been getting some interesting feedback on my "Virgin In The Church" columns, and I think the column has generated interest in my novel. Interestingly enough, it's also helped nudge up sales of my story collection Thank You For The Flowers. It's been slowly edging up in Amazon.Com's sales ranking and may break the one-millionth barrier soon.

Sure, having the millionth-selling book in America doesn't sound so hot, but when you remember that Amazon probably has two to three million titles in stock by now, that puts me near the middle of the pack, which is not bad for a small press collection by an unknown author. If you're feeling loopy, buy a copy there and let's watch the ranking climb again next month!

Also, that old publishing bugaboo is back: Barley Books has folded, along with its plans to publish my novella "Transparent Lovers" as a stand-alone book. The news is not overly surprising, as I'd had no response from them for several months. At least we hadn't signed a contract yet, so the story is now free and clear to go elsewhere. Dark Fantasy: Best of 2002 has also collapsed, killing a reprint of one of my stories that had previously appeared in an Australian magazine. Electric Wine, one of my favorite online homes for reprints (they published three of mine) has folded as well. Merry Christmas!

What I'm reading: The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart (audiobook) by Lawrence Block; Kahawa by Donald E. Westlake; The Lottery, a story collection by Shirley Jackson; and When The Wind Blows by James Patterson.

December 1, 2001:
I've apparently become Secretary of the Southeastern chapter of the Mystery Writers of America. That's what happens when you don't pay attention to what you're doing! The regional chapter covers seven states, and many of the officers are based in North Carolina this time around. Now I just have to figure out what I'm supposed to do and then get around to doing it.

I'm making a few changes to my next novel project, including a change in working title. I have a few options for the direction the story will take, but at this point I'm fairly certain it will have no supernatural elements and will be more of a straight-up psychological thriller.

November 25, 2001:
The cover for "The Red Church" arrived in the mail a couple of days ago. It's a throwback to those '80's horror paperback designs. I love the art, though the jacket copy on the back is a bit overly dramatic. There are also a couple of factual errors in the copy, things that are different from the occurrences in the book. I've e-mailed my editor with suggestions for changes. I don't know if it's too late or not.

The covers are distributed by Kensington's sales force, and the inside flap contains pricing information, author's residence, and the proposed marketing plan, which is "Internet marketing on kensingtonbooks.com." No massive print campaign or national signing tour! Also, the book will be 304 pages, though I'm not sure how many will be text. Page sizes are usually calculated to the nearest multiple of 16, since that creates better paper cut efficiency and lower costs.

November 13, 2001:
Got back from the orthodontist's today, after my dentist advised me I'd best have some work done or I'd have a hard time chowing down in my old age. Well, if I'd known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself. Starving in the future is almost preferable to shelling out the $5K for braces. It didn't help that the orthodontist kept bragging about the million-dollar house he was selling, a house built on the caries and crooks of several thousand mouths.

The contract for "The Red Church" is all squared away, my agent assures me that the book's rights are taken care of for the long run. Well, the agency's been doing this for over a hundred years, so I assume they know what they're doing. Now my advance can go straight to the orthodontist, a painful case of me putting my money where my mouth is.

November 8, 2001:
I'm reading a great writing manual, "Telling Lies For Fun And Profit" by Lawrence Block. He makes a career, and the entire process, seem practical and easy. Do a little each day. Keep at it. Do the best you can. Mail the work out. Lead an interesting life. Taking all those pieces of advice, how could one go wrong?

I have an idea simmering for a future novel, I don't know if it will be my next or not. I've been intending to work on an original screenplay, but since the novel "Deadscape" has taken so long, I think I'm ready to grab one of my backburner ideas and sprint through a psychological thriller. Whatever I do, I'm promising myself I'll make it fun.

November 3, 2001:
I've signed and returned my contract for "The Red Church," but have sent along two suggested revisions. I don't know if the revisions will be accepted. I don't really have much bargaining position at this point, short of pulling the book. We have a good out-of-print clause, meaning the publisher will have to make an effort to keep the book in stock if it wishes to retain its rights. But that all-important reversion clause isn't in there, the line that says "one day the author and publisher will have to renegotiate, because now the book belongs to the author again."

I recently received a cover blurb from Signet author Bentley Little, who gave me the thumbs-up because we both have beards, among other things. Bentley says:

"Scott Nicholson is a terrific writer. Like Stephen King, he has an eye and ear for the rhythms of rural America, and like King he knows how to summon serious scares. My advice? Buy everything he writes. This guy's the real deal."

November 1, 2001:
Halloween night featured a blue moon, the second full moon in a month. I guess something spiritually significant should have happened. Maybe it did. Maybe the goddess of chocolate blessed us double.

I received my book contract for "The Red Church" yesterday and read through it three times. Most of it is straightforward, though I do have a concern over the lack of a reversion clause. The contract has already gone back and forth from my agency and publisher for five months, so everybody is tired of it, I'm sure. The irony is that the attorney costs probably far outweigh what I will make on the advance. Ah, New York.

October 26, 2001:
My story "Homecoming," currently posted in Electric Wine's final issue, has been chosen as a Paula's Pick for this week. Paula runs a great market list and also scopes out a lot of Internet fiction.

If you are following the Jonathan Franzen flap (the guy who turned down a chance to be an Oprah Book Club guy), it's hard to figure out if the guy is a literary poseur or just an idiot. He says lots of things, like the book is selling okay without it (800,000 copies in print), he thinks the Oprah logo will mess up his cover art, and that he's above commercialism. Maybe it's because he's up for one of the big "serious" fiction awards, the National Book Award or whatever tripe the establishment is dangling. My advice, Mr. Franzen: move out of New York, try working for a meal or two, and then see how fast you take Oprah up on her million-dollar offer.

October 19, 2001:
The anthology Best of Dark Fantasy: Volume I will soon be released from
Cosmos Books, which I believe will be my first appearance in hardcover. The book contains my story "The Way of All Flesh," which originally appeared in the now-defunct Australian magazine Altair. Let's see, by my count, I have been in the last issue of at least three different magazines, not to mention those several I have killed before my story even appeared. In fact, I got a notice from bankruptcy court concerning one of those magazines, essentially assuring me that I would never be paid, as if I hadn't figured that out for myself.

I've been solicited to contribute an essay for a charity anthology dealing with America, supporting our recovery efforts and war against terrorism, while not being political. Hmmm. I guess I can lip-synch "America the Beautiful."

October 10, 2001:
Received a blurb back from literary writer and reviewer Stewart O'Nan today for "The Red Church": "In the Carolina mountain town of Whispering Pines there are locals, there are flatlanders, and then there's something else altogether. As the blood runs and the bodies pile up, readers will sense echoes of Stephen King's classic Castle Rock tales in The Red Church, but there's a tasty strain of Lovecraft here, too. Scott Nicholson knows the territory. Follow him at your own risk."

I greatly admire O'Nan's 1999 novel A Prayer For The Dying and he is a respected blurber, unlike certain authors who are such blurb factories that their words of praise are practically meaningless.

October 4, 2001:
The first of a flurry of story appearances have started, with "Murdermouth" in the anthology The Book of All Flesh and a reprint of "Homecoming" in Electric Wine. "Tellers" is online at Speculon. Putting the finishing touches on the writing workshop "What Happens Next?", coming soon to a college or library near you. Also I'm off to TrinocCon in Durham NC for the weekend.

Three poems will be appearing in the local community college's literary magazine. I don't remember their names but they were probably all written in the mid-1990's. My script "An Appalachian Haunting" got a "pass" from Scriptshark, though the industry reader make some good suggestions for a rewrite. Kind of disappointing to be graded merely "fair" all the way across the board, but I've always figured overnight success wasn't in the cards for me.

What I'm reading: "The Busy Body" by Donald Westlake and "Skating on the Edge" by D.G. K. Goldberg.


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HomeScott's Where, When, WhyJournalLinks to Scott's available storiesFor Writers And Other Losers/Author InterviewsWho Scott thinks he isLinks to writers and e-zinesPress KitE-mail Scott
Scott Nicholson copyright 2001ŠAll rights reserved


Scott Nicholson copyright 2001ŠAll rights reserved