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FRESH DIRT: January- April, 2002
Scott Nicholson's Journal

April 26, 2002:
The Red Church book tour now has ten stops, and I'll probably be setting up one or two signings in the Chicago area during the Fourth of July weekend. The past week has been a time of prepping my media lists for the obligatory blitz. With luck, I'll land a couple of television and radio interviews. Since the angle of my campaign is the novel's connection to to a "real" haunted church. You can see me at the church in my O-fficial color author photo for the book tour. Thanks to Marie Freeman for the photograph, she's a co-worker and is a perennial winner of awards from the North Carolina Press Association. My other media material can be accessed from my press room.

What I'm reading: Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin; Summer of Night by Dan Simmons (found it again after I'd read half of it); some art books on Rene Magritte; The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale.

April 17, 2002:
I'm a current interview guest at Fiction Factor, so be sure to give it a read as I wax philosophic. I've been busy finishing up my bookstore mailings and have started penciling in my book tour for The Red Church. I expect to push it hard through July to coincide with its appearance on the mass market racks. It's a bit sad that the most visible portion of the book's shelf life will be of such ephemeral duration, but that's part of the mass market game: here today, gone tomorrow, but at least during the "here" phase, your name is in Wal-Mart.

Not much news on other fronts, since I don't like to talk about projects until they are done deals. I have submitted work to two of the larger screenplay competitions and am underway on my latest novel, which is shaping up to be very dark.

April 8, 2002:
My contract with Fictionwise has now come back, so look for my story collection "Thank You For The Flowers" to be released in various e-book formats. The deal is for the next five years, a long time for the life of a book in the technological age. I hope it reaches a new audience, as the print sales have slowed to a trickle. I hope the release of The Red Church will give Flowers some legs.

My story "Homecoming" will be reprinted in an anthology to benefit the Rhine Research Center in Durham NC. The center conducts ESP experiments, paranormal research, and other metaphysical endeavors.

April 1, 2002:
I'm surrendering to the gravity of mass appeal by watching the Harry Potter movie tonight. I resisted the books, though I read a few chapters of one. The book was endearing but I figured they'd be around forever so I can pick them up anytime.

Easter is a great time to think of rebirth, no matter your religious or spiritual beliefs. Some believe we are constantly evolving, shedding our skins, radiating the detritus and slough of our souls. Some believe we are walking to a brighter light, or floating toward a higher plane. Some believe we break down into dust as our highest pinnacle in the life cycle. Matter cannot be created or destroyed; it only changes form. So if you're planning to "transition" into a different world, you might as well aim for a better one each time through.

March 22, 2002:
My story "The Weight Of Silence" has been accepted by
Twilight Showcase for an August appearance. It's a dark sort of psychological thriller, a little depressing with a downbeat ending. Now I need a happy tale.

The new novel is underway, and I'll also be doing another round of revisions to an earlier novel in order to make it more intense. It will be a fun challenge to find places to slip in a few more scares and thrills. I think giving one character a more prominent role should do the trick. We'll see how that works out.

March 17, 2002:
The proofs for The Red Church are now back with Kensington, so all I have left to do is wait. That's not technically true, since I have to promote my little buns off between now and the book's June release. Still, the writing of it is done, and I'll be describing the copy edit process in the next Virgin in the Church column.

If all goes as plannned, I will receive my free author's copies sometime in mid-May, then the books will hit the stores by June 8th. I'll be setting up a cluster of signings for the summer. Hopefully by then I'll have another book under contract and start the whole crazy process all over again.

Got to see some good friends at StellarCon in Greensboro NC this weekend. I try to go to two or three conventions every year to combine business with pleasure. Next will be DragonCon in Atlanta at the end of August.

March 10, 2002:
The latest novel rewrite is hitting the mail tomorrow, and I'm in the middle of proofing The Red Church. It's a tedious task but a final chance to catch mistakes. So far it's averaging about one little error every 15 pages or so. At this point, I can no longer understand the story and wonder if it's even written in English.

March 3, 2002:
The free e-book "New Voices From Kensington" is now available. The book is a collaboration between authors Brandon Massey, Jon Merz, and myself. It contains a short story, article, and novel excerpt from each, with an introduction by Douglas Clegg. For those who don't want to download an Adobe PDF file, I'll be posting the material onnline as a minni-website soon.

Additionally, I have signed a deal to publish my collection "Thank You For The Flowers" as an e-book through Fictionwise. This should lower the cost and open up a new audience. I'll also have two previously published stories available there as cheap downnloads as well. I'm curious to see how the e-book sales compare to the print sales.

I've undertaken a large bookstore mailing campaign for "The Red Church." I already have one store ready for my massive Church tour this summer. Now that I'm employed again, I should have some money to do a little tax-deductible traveling. The preorder contest has picked up a little momentum, so perhaps the publisher will get behind the book a little.

February 25, 2002:
The Red Church has crept up to #1.4 million at Amazon and dropped to 254,000th at Barnes & Noble. What that means, I do not know. At any rate, I've started my promotional mailings to bookstores.

I'm currently working on the rewrite of Metabolism, the main character has gained more importance, the antagonist has taken on more trappings, and it's the trashiest thriller I've ever written. I have no idea what its future holds, but it's most a delaying tactic so I don't have to start my new novel, which promises to be the most intense and draining thing I've ever done.

My story "Doomsday Diary" has been accepted for the Vivisections anthology, due out from Catalyst Books in October 2002.

February 17, 2002:
The Red Church is now available for preorder at most places. If you're thinking of buying the book, please consider preordering for several reasons: 1) it creates the impression that the book is much-anticipated, 2) the publisher may increase the print run if it looks like it will do better than expected, and 3) I'm holding a contest and giving away up to nine free books. Visit the contest page for details. You can even preorder and cancel later!

I may have some stories published in e-book form through one of the biggest online distributors. We are negotiating whether to release my entire collection Thank You For The Flowers as a single e-book or release select stories from it individually instead. The site is FictionWise, and is growing by leaps and bounds.

In rewriting my second novel, I've found many flaws which hopefully indicate how far I've come in the last few years. Metabolism was written in 1997-1998 under the title of "Forever Never Ends," which was the name of a song I wrote in the late 1980's. Its biggest flaw is that a lot of the action is told through flashback, a technique that takes away a lot of the necessary tension. Happily, the grammatical mistakes are few, so maybe even back then I had a solid grounding in the basics. Another area to be firmed up is making the plot evolve logically and keeping all the characters connected. It's told in shifting third-person through about eight or ten characters. I think it will make a decent trashy thriller, nothing blockbuster, but nothing to be ashamed of, either.

What I'm Reading: James Lee Burke, Heaven's Prisoners (1988), my first Burke, and I'm muchly impressed; James Ellroy, Killer On The Road, (1985); Fatal Fascination, a nonfic about police procedure from the 1980's; and some cheesy mythology and witchcraft books to get some ideas for more trashy thrillers.

February 12, 2002:
The current project is a rewrite of my second novel attempt, which has the working title of Metabolism. The astute observer may note that I published a story with the same name, but there is no relation between the two. I just happen to like it. And it had two previous names before. Maybe I should get over this renaming kick I've been on, but in most cases, I've been satisfied with the results.

Had a talk with my agent today, we discussed strategy for the immediate future, and life could get interesting. At any rate, since I'm between jobs, I've been pretending to be a fulltime fiction writer. My goal is to have all my material in submitting shape before I enter the salt mines again. Might not work out that way, but it feels like a forward step. Mostly the rewrites have been an excuse to keep from tackling the next novel, which will be very complex and tough to pull off the way I've envisioned it.

Stay tuned for details of a big giveaway contest when Amazon begins taking pre-orders for The Red Church. The breadth of the giveaway will be dependent on how high the preorder levels rise, which in turn might nudge up the book's print run. Basically, the more pre-orders, the more stuff I will give away. Pre-orders should be available in a few weeks.

February 5, 2002:
I'm currently revising the "Creep" screenplay, and will probably incorporate some of those ideas into a revision of the novel version. I talked with my agent about the book yesterday, and we may do a blitz with it about the time "The Red Church" is released. He just had his first infant (well, his wife did), so he hasn't gotten to"Frost and Fire" yet. And the newest novel will be hard on the heels of that one, so the stack of backlogged manuscripts could be life-threatening.

I finished the copy-edit of "The Red Church" and got it off to the publisher, beating the deadline by two days. My goal is to never miss a deadline in my life. I went three years as a reporter with a perfect record. Really, those deadlines I impose on myself are much more strenuous than those of the outside world.

I may be headed to New York for the Stoker Award ceremony In June, which would coincide with the release of "The Red Church." I already have the promise of a free meal from my agent, so if I can line up a big book signing, it might be worth overcoming my fear of flying. More later.

January 30, 2002:
The novel "Frost and Fire" hit the mail today, bound for my agent. It's one of the few times I've felt pretty satisfied with a project. Since this is a revision of an old novel, I knew the story and characters well, and all I had to do was rewrite the slow and boring parts. In other words, I threw out about 200 pages (this time around). So the novel that hopefully will be published will actually be shorter than all the rest of the story that got thrown away in the numerous drafts over the years. I'll keep news posted here if anything happens, of course.

The copy-edited manuscript of "The Red Church" will arrive by Fed Ex any minute now. My editor said he requested a "light edit" since the manuscript was in such solid shape already. Meaning those endless hours fine-tuning the novel weren't wasted, and now all I have to do is to avoid the temptation of making sweeping changes to the story.

I'm starting to get a few rejections back from movie producers. It's an exciting new frontier, and makes me fondly recall my initial attempts at mailing off novels to uncaring publishers and agents. So the next project will be a revision of the CREEP screenplay, with a couple of nasty little subplots worked in to make it more visual and active instead of psychologically gripping.

Frightful Fiction, the fiction wing of Fangoria Online, has accepted my story "The Endless Bivouac" for publication probably within the next year. This is a parallel version of the Civil War-era story "The Three-Dollar Corpse," the same events as perceived by a different character.

January 23, 2002:
Ever wonder how to sneak in the back door of Hollywood? So have I. Thus I've sent out some queries to production companies, asking if they'd like to see my script. What I've heard from both insiders and outsiders is that there's no one right way to sell a screenplay, or even to have one read. For every sale that fits the agent-hype-to-producer cliché, there's a half-dozen other weird stories, such as a secretary picking up a letter that missed the trash can, some producer meeting an old high school chum-turned-writer at a reunion, somebody buys a script that has made the rounds for years because somebody else just bought a similar concept. Lady Luck probably smiles more kindly on those who make a little luck for themselves.

I'm busy compiling my bookstore and reviewer list in preparation for "The Red Church" media blitz. I expect a lot of action beginning next month, which means I want to have a couple of other projects out of the way before then. Finally got the advance check, a mere seven months after the initial offer. Don't quit your day job.

January 15, 2002:
The Grinch had a wonderfully awful idea: Why not rewrite his third novel and send it in so the newest novel can mellow with age, sort of like a fine wine, or rather, the literary equivalent of Boone's Farm Kountry Kwencher?

So after a blaze of energy that is fueled by equal parts panic and enthusiasm, the book formerly know as "The Colony," then "Calling In The Fire," upon which the screenplay "Appalachian Haunting" is based, and may go out under the title "Go Out Frost, Come In Fire," will soon hit the New York mail.

I'm in a rewrite sort of mood, with a couple of stories also needing some attention, as well as the "Creep" screenplay. If I buy into the idea that I'm a better writer now than I was yesterday, perhaps the work will be worth it. And since my day job has quit me, I spend a lot of time in my pajamas at the keyboard anyway. Isn't this the life I've always wanted? Isn't it?

January 7, 2002:
The latest novel is complete, now I need to fix all those nagging loose ends and ship it off to New York. In many ways, it's been my most complex and frustrating project, taking more than a year. It's the strangest and boldest thing I've written, at least in long form. Maybe it's not the thing I should have done at this stage of my career, but I didn't have a lot of say in the matter. I'm just glad I stuck it out to the end.

Currently I'm polishing the screenplay "Appalachian Haunting" and sending queries to studios. When I get the story set, then I'm going to rewrite the novel on which it is based. I'm also going to try something different for my next novel-- what most people call "planning ahead"! O dreaded Plot, thy name is Work.

The anthology "Whispers and Shadows" has been released, containing my story "Beggar's Velvet."

January 1, 2002:
Ah, a time for commitment and resolve and-- oh, heck, it's just another day in the middle of a bunch of them. Life is short and every moment is precious. Life is luck.

The current novel is nearly complete in first draft and also in rewrite at the same time. I fluctuate between loving it and thinking that it's an unprintable mess. I suppose I'll let the powers that be make those decisions. Lots of exciting projects on tap for this year: a rewrite of an older novel, a new psychological thriller, and a rewrite of two screenplays.

I also have some great giveaways coming up soon through my newsletter. It's free and you can get it by clicking here.

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