Thursday, October 26, 2006

Deadline -- YIKES!

from James

As if to remind me how quickly time flies, another deadline is upon me. November 1. Time to deliver the next manuscript “featuring Jack Swyteck and his colorful sidekick, Theo Knight.” I put that in quotes because it comes straight from my contract. Funny, I never got to draft language that goofy sounding when I practiced law.

This latest one will be published in January 2008, well after “When Darkness Falls” in January 2007 and about 6 months after “Lying with Strangers” in June 2007. I’d tell you the title, but I’m sure it will change. They always want to change my titles. I waste lots of time trying to come up with the perfect title, and then—bam—my agent or editor gives it the heave-ho. I might as well just call it “Gone with the Wind," turn it in, and be done with it.

The good news is that I’m actually going to meet this deadline. I think. But only if I’m quick about this post. So here’s the best I can do--some odds and ends from last week’s trip to the La Jolla Writer’s Conference and San Diego.

First, some really good news. If you saw last week's post, you read about the private school that told me that its students were “too privileged” to appreciate my book. I wanted to talk to the kids about my new Young Adult novel, Leapholes. They said thanks but no thanks, and referred me to a public school. Well, I took their advice. I went to Oliver Wendell Holmes Middle School in San Diego (Clairemont, actually, I think), and spoke to an auditorium of 5th and 6th graders. It was fantastic. What a great and (dare I say) APPRECIATIVE audience. And here’s the kicker. A fifth-grade girl named Sierra gave me a note, which I will cherish. She drew a flower on it, and the note read: “Your book is SOOOOOOO good. It is like eating a delicious piece of chocolate cake, or better!” You just don’t get those kind of hugs from grown ups. That alone was worth the trip.

I also did a morning show – FOX6 in San Diego. Went great. Here’s the really interesting part. We were in the green room. (I say "we": I was scheduled to go on right after a woman who had written a book with a great chick-lit title—Bicoastal Babe). While we’re sitting there, in walks a blonde who could have actually been the Bicoastal Babe. She has an entourage with her. About five guys, all with cameras, filming her every move. I’m trying to figure out who this is. They’re obviously doing a documentary of her book tour. I just can’t place her. Then an old guy walks in. I don’t recognize him either, but his voice is strangely familiar. He talks, jokes around, and the guys in the studio one by one are all coming up to him and telling him what an honor it is to meet him. So the entourage is obviously for him, not the Bicoastal Babe.

And then it hits me. That voice. It’s 8:15 a.m. and the guy sounds stoned.

It’s Tommy Chong. Yes, from Cheech and Chong. He just got out jail and wrote a book. It’s called “Tales from the Joint.” Another good title, I think.

I wonder if my editor would change that one.

La Jolla Writers Conference was absolutely terrific. Antoinette Kuritz runs a first-rate event, and I can't say enough positive things about it. Spent lots of time with Steve Berry (The Templar Legacy). Steve came to my first signing in Jacksonville in 1994 as a fan. His latest book debuted at #4 on the NY Times list, and he blurbed my last my book ("Got the Look"). How cool is that? Congrats to Steve, who got engaged while in book tour in Venice! He even bought the diamond there. Isn't that romantic? Also got to know Linda Lael Miller, who truly wishes she had been born Annie Oakley, and she has the boots and jacket with the fringe on it to prove it. You have no idea how cool she is.

But it's 12:28 a.m. and I have to go back and write an epilogue. Wish me luck. We'll chat more about La Jolla next week.


  1. What fun! Hope the person from the private school heard/saw your interview.
    I liken your books more toward the fine wine category.

    Patty's Groupie

  2. Deadline fever. I sympathize. So glad your school event was such a spectacular success. Can't wait to hear more about the writers' conference. Now...back to worrying about my deadline.

  3. Excellent post!

    So glad you spoke to the students. I also think it's great that an elementary school in Southern California would be named for The Magnificent Yankee, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

    He was the most literate of all our Supreme Court justices, and his quotes stand the test of time.

    "I think it is a less evil that some criminals should escape than that the government should play an ignoble part...." (1928)

    In response to a reporter's question on the Justice's 90th birthday, "Young man, the secret of my success is that at an early age I discovered I was not God."

    And finally, also at age 90, while walking down a Washington Street with a fellow Justice and seeing an attractive young woman, "Oh, to be seventy again!"

  4. We have the same deadline, James... but I haven't run into Tommy Chong anywhere around Berkeley.

    I did once meet his daughter Rae Dawn. It was at a dinner party in Carmel. She told me she was an actress. I felt a little bad for her. And then Quest for Fire came out about a week later.

    Hope all goes well for you on the deadline front!

  5. "The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size."

    "Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprung up."

    "The main part of intellectual education is not the acquisition of facts but learning how to make facts live."

    Three very apropos quotes from The Magnificent Yankee, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. As Paul points out, Holmes' quotes DO stand the test of time. I'm sure that the children fortunate enough to hear your speech and be exposed to Leapholes did indeed experience an expasion of their minds.

    Per your request: wishing you luck,

  6. Thanks for all these comments. I just heard from a teacher at Oliver Wendell Holmes Middle School who tells me that a box of thank you letters from the 5th and 6th graders is on the way . . . I'll cherish them.

  7. Also good values to have: SAYING THANK YOU in a formal way with a thank you card........guess they're not "too priviledged" in that way either.


  8. Whoa, there, Paul! You're a great writer, a great lawyer (you DID successfully defend Jack Reacher, I seem to recall), but what besides your legal background leads you to assume Oliver Wendell Holmes Middle School was named for Jr. and not Sr., the Great Dissenter, a co-founder and the namer of the Atlantic Monthly, the man whose "Old Ironsides" saved Old Ironsides from being destroyed, a doctor who believed women should be admitted to medical schools, a...? Oh, well, you could be right. James?

    Tom, T.O.