Monday, June 04, 2007

Letting go

Patty here…

This morning I sent the manuscript of my fourth book to my editor, the fabulous Kristen Weber of NAL/Penguin. It was hard to let go of it because I’m still thinking of ways to tweak scenes or replace a word or phrase with something more profound. The book will come back to me for edits, of course. My manuscripts are seldom as perfect as I think they are or as horrible.

I let go of my 3rd manuscript ten months ago and have barely had time to think about it because my focus was on finishing my fourth. When you’re on deadline, the pressure feels overwhelming sometimes. For the past few weeks, I’ve stopped answering nonessential emails. Some of them I haven’t even read. My desk is piled high with unopened snail mail. There are dust bunnies under the bed and dried up geranium leaves that should be pinched from the plants in my window boxes. Everything has been on hold.

That all changed last week when I received a copy of SHORT CHANGE hot off the press. I also got my first review from Publishers Weekly. It was a good one and I was glad. Here’s the cover but you have to see it and feel it to appreciate how much fun it is.


The background red is a satin finish. The letters of my name are pillowy crimson foil. Tucker's Boxster is highlighted in foil, too. On the back flap of the jacket under the author information is this: “She is a regular contributor to the crime fiction blog with fellow mystery authors James Grippando, Paul Levine, Cornelia Read, James O. Born, and Jacqueline Winspear.” Yeow! I hope that doesn’t ruin anybody’s career.

The audio version of SHORT CHANGE has been recorded by Books on Tape and will be out on July 10 or so. I was curious about the voice “talent” who was speaking for Tucker, so I went to the BOT Web site a few days ago to investigate. She’s New Yorker Allyson Ryan.

This is what she says:

People love my voice because it is sexy, deep, and has a sensual rasp. I have the ability to sound authoritative and professional, but warm and fuzzy at the same time. For more light commercial type copy, I can sound bouncy, fun, and energetic. I can do character voices for cartoons and can sing for jingles. I also do a flawless standard British and Cockney accent.

It’s a strange sensation giving up control of Tucker’s voice to a stranger but it’s also intriguing to think that somebody may soon be stuck in traffic on the Santa Monica Freeway listening to Allyson Ryan as Tucker Sinclair, growling her way to the exciting conclusion of SHORT CHANGE.

This isn’t the first time my books have been recorded. In fact, did I ever tell you that FALSE PROFITS was the number one most talked about mystery in the dining room of my mother’s assisted living facility? I know, it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Mostly it’s because the Braille Institute recorded my first two books for Talking Books, a free service offered to the blind or the visually impaired. My mother is a subscriber because she has macular degeneration and can't read anymore. When she was finished listening to FALSE PROFITS I asked what she thought of it. She said, “You sure know a lot of words." She raised one eyebrow in a gesture of disapproval. "And some of them you didn’t learn from me.” Oops.

Ceding our character’s identity is a tricky business. When I go out into the world and speak to various groups, people sometimes ask me who would play Tucker in the film. I never know how to answer that question. In my mind’s eye I have always thought of her as Juliette Binoche in “Chocolat.” My friend Mims thinks Tucker is Hilary Swank.

I wouldn’t have thought of Hiliary in a million years, but Mims has a brilliant mind and after giving it some consideration, I realized she was spot on. Tucker is tall and skinny with brown hair and eyes the color of Old Grand-Dad Kentucky bourbon. She has an insatiable curiosity. She is vulnerable but plucky. Tucker is Hilary Swank.

Now that book four is finished, I'll have a lot more time to ponder these issues. You may even get an email from me asking what you've been doing for the past year. For now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll take a nap...


  1. Congrats! Can't wait to see Short Change for myself.

  2. YAY PATTY! Congratulations on turning in number four--we are all so proud of you!!

    Hope you have a wonderful fluffy nap, with great dreams.

  3. YOu still haven't signed my False Profits yet. I'm very impressed.


  4. Thank you!!!!!!

  5. Wow! SHORT CHANGE is going to be shouting "Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!" at fine bookstores everywhere.

    Congratulations on the manuscript. Take a fluffy nap AND a brisk sail.

  6. Yes, Patty. Parting (with a manuscript) is such sweet sorrow.

    Do you feel weird listening to audios of your books? I have yet to listen to the unabridged "Solomon vs. Lord," read by the fine actor, Christopher Lane on Blackstone. ( He has a nice sly voice and won an Audie nomination for the performance. Guess I'm gonna have to listen.

  7. Thanks, Mims. I will. Paul, I haven't listened yet. It might be too weird.

  8. Fabulous, Patty! Congrats on turning in the book!

    And what does the PW review say????

  9. Congrats to you maybe you can answer "Groupie's" emails ....[ I know he's had to be sending you some "off site"]
    Seriously, though, keep plugging along, meeting those dead lines and know we're all rooting for you.

    Not to rain on the parade, but why does Paul toot a tin horn? Cornelia's book was also nominated for and audie.....and, NO SURPRISE to me, S v L didn't win,once again, delegated to "also ran" status of "great to be nominated"....Unfortunately,though, Field of Darkness didn't win either....

  10. Jon, if I'm not mistaken one of Our J's books was nominated for an Audie, too.

    Poor Groupie is having computer problems, so he has been silenced for a while. I know we'll all miss him.

  11. Well Patty, it's different when YOU point out our J's nomination....certainly she was deserving......It's shameless self promotion which chaffs my hide......especially when it is lacking and consistantly comes up short......
    hey, this blog is about Truth at some level, right?

  12. Well, I'm not too familiar with the Audie. Is it a book/reader award or only a reader award? If it's just a reader award, none of the authors can take credit for a win or even a nom, could they? The Oscar isn't awarded to the Best Actor/Script. This is all too confusing. We need Groupie to sort it out...

  13. My dear anonymous Jon,

    Like Rick who'd come to Casablanca for the've been misinformed.

    The Audie is an award for the reader, not the writer. I was not tooting my horn; I was tooting Christopher Lane's. He's got the perfect light touch for the Solomon & Lord books, and I'm happy that he was nominated.

    As writers, we hang our work out on the clothesline to be examined by the neighbors We put OUR NAMES on our books. We get kudos and brickbats, and once in a while, constructive criticism. The titles of my dozen novels are posted on our site. I'm proud of all those books in the sense that each represented my best work...the best I could do at the time, given my life experiences and writing skills. The reviews and awards are easily accessible on the web. I invite you to write a full review of any of the books, rather than just take ad hominen potshots from the bleachers.

    And...if you would be so kind to give me a list of your publications, I'll be happy to read them and give you my well-considered thoughts.


  14. Amen, Paulie

  15. I am fully aware of WHO the award is for, just commenting on who apprised us.......while failing to mention Cornelia or our J.....

    If you wish to view my comment as an ad hominnem one, so be it. I think, however, for that to apply we would have to be engaged in argument, and I would be attacking you as a person rather than the substance of your argument.
    If there is no truth or validity to what was written, then it should stand as a "ridiculous" comment......

    Because I am not a well published author,does not mean that I'm in the bleachers taking pot shots.

    You do have the better of me, for alas, I don't have any novels for you to critique. But now who makes the ad hominen argument?

  16. Patty, you are right that the Audie goes to the reader of the novel, but there is a reason it is nominated. The reader has to have a good work to work with....Just like an Oscar is won by an actor who is empowered with a great script. I think my comments fell on deft ears. The point was, rather, why write a sentence of something substantive about what you were writing, only to follow it with a paragraph about yourself.I think it is shallow to dismiss the point in some pejorative way, by labeling it "ad hominen."

    Paul,your hero Joe Paterno, who has won many many awards, and has turned out numerous hall of fame players, always speaks in terms of team and not "I." He never praises himself, rather he lets others praise him. I've never seen him promote himself, display braggadocio or much as he's won and accomplished, he maintains humility.
    BTW: I do hope JOE PA has a great year this year.....and gets that "players with felony charges" thing straighten out.
    PS: these comments are provided by a lay person and as such carry no warranty, implied or implicit. Taking said comments to heart is done solely at the risk and discretion of the reader.The reader shall hold this author inviolate for all harm or help which emanates from this post.

  17. Jon, I think that's how people communicate, by sharing our similarities. You say, "I had this weird experience at the airport the other day..." And I respond with "Omigosh! That happened to me last time I flew to..."

    Paul has had a successful career but is still one of the most modest and supportive authors I know. I didn't take his comment as BSP at all. He was just contributing to the conversation.

    As always, we appreciate your take on literature and life. Cheers!

  18. Patty, a mind is like an umbrella, it only works when it's open.....Thanks for continuing to welcome me, the lowly lay person who has never been published, nor have I ever tried to be published, to the blog about TRUTH......and as Paul pointed out,in a previous blog, we the readers can separate the wheat from the Wheaties.....his response to me,at this juncture, indicates I must have hit a nerve, and to that extent, I extend an apology. My intentions are only to make everyone who reads this actually think about what is written......with an eye towards becoming more in tune with what we write, why we write, and of course, TRUTH [or lack of such]. I don't think we should just slap each other on the back and say,"you're the greatest."

    still "anonymous" Jon

  19. A pat on the back is a good thing now and again, so here goes...

    Jon, you're the greatest!

  20. Hey Patty! I wanted to say hey, congratulations, and thank you for writing such an entertaining and dynamic novel. It was a pleasure to read and I hope that I did justice to the voices you have imagined with Tucker and the rest of the cast. Thank you also for including me in your blog. I too am a little freaked at the thought of someone on the 10 listening to me read! I wish you the best and have a great holiday!