Friday, April 28, 2017

River City Reissue...All New Covers (and their stories) Revealed!

On Facebook this past week, I revealed the new covers for my River City novels Under a Raging Moon, Heroes Often Fail, Beneath a Weeping Sky and And Every Man Has to Die, as well as my three River short story collections, Dead Even, No Good Deed, and The Cleaner. All of these covers were designed by Eric Beetner, who in addition to his graphic design skills is also a supremely talented writer.

The reason I'm re-issuing these books began with the fact that Gray Dog Press, my print publisher for the River City series, is no longer publishing fiction. As a result, the print rights reverted to me. Since I already publish all of these titles myself in ebook form, I decided to publish the trade paperback editions as well. This meant reformatting the interior and at least tweaking the existing covers, which Russ Davis of Gray Dog Press was gracious enough to transfer ownership of to me. I did an extensive re-format of all four novels. Then I got to thinking that I should re-format the three River City short story collections, too. Having all of them look the same way inside went a ways toward better branding.

Of course, that got me to thinking about better branding when it came to the covers themselves. True, every River City novel and short story collection has the iconic River City badge, but the look of the covers themselves vary, sometimes a little, sometimes significantly.

I contacted Eric and he went to work. The guy has great visual ideas, and only requires a little bit of direction when it comes to what you're looking for. Over the course of a month or two, we worked on these covers.

When you publish your own work (call it independent publishing or self-publishing, same thing either way), often the largest expense you incur is paying for the book cover. It is money well spent, because the cover image is an important one in catching a reader's attention. A cheap, lame, or amateur cover is a turn off. A well done cover takes the reader to the next stage of exploring the book.

All of that is to say that I'm extremely happy with the work Eric has done for me here, as I have been with his previous work (Kopriva series, Ania Trilogy, etc.). Great work. Just stellar. Plus he's a cool guy, so there's that.

I thought I might share a little about these different covers and their previous versions, as well as the thought process that went into the development of the current covers.

Under a Raging Moon has had an interesting journey. I began writing it in 1995 but put it aside in 1996 when I went back to college full time (while working full time). A degree in History requires a lot of reading and a lot of writing, so until May of 1998, that's all I read and all I wrote. Then I got promoted in 1999 and 2001 and late 2002, so I spent a while learninng and getting good at a new job. When I finally started writing again in earnest in 2004, I picked up this novel and revised it. It was first published by Wolfmont Press in 2006, with this cover:

Wolfmont Press version
I liked the cover at the time because it had the moon, and a very defined Spokane landmark (River City is, after all, a thinly veiled Spokane):  the clock tower in Riverfront Park. Although this landmark doesn't appear in Under a Raging Moon, it is part of an important scene in Beneath a Weeping Sky.

My relationship with Wolfmont Press unfortunately and unexpectedly went south when the editor passed on the second River City novel, Heroes Often Fail. His feeling was that no one would read a book in which child was the victim or potential victim. He even created a Survey Monkey poll with leading questions to "prove" his point to me. He was wrong, of course. I knew it at the time, and I know it now, but there was no convincing him. So we parted ways, though he hung onto Under a Raging Moon until the contract expired (can't say I blame him -- I would've done the same thing).

Koboca version
I was fortunate enough to find another publisher, Koboca Publishing, that was willing to pick up the River City series with book #2, with the understanding that book #1 would join the family as soon as its contract with Wolfmont expired. Koboca published Heroes Often Fail in 2007, with this cover:

I really like this cover, designed by Martina Irabarren. It's got another iconic Spokane landmark, and the haunting eyes of little Amy Dugger, whose fate has such a significant ripple effect in the River City universe.

Unfortunately, Koboca over-extended itself with too many titles too early, and ultimately had to close its doors. As a result, the rights to Heroes Often Fail reverted to me. But I had no publisher.

This was in 2008 or so, when the idea of self-publishing was still stigmatized. Most self-publishing at that time was still vanity publishing, and most of it was poor quality. And ebooks were mostly a book file on a CD-ROM that you had to read on your computer. Neither option was very attractive.

So I kept writing short stories and the third River City book, Beneath a Weeping Sky, until in late 2009, I discovered Gray Dog Press. GDP was based in Spokane, so a series also based there was attractive to them. After some of the difficulties (which I didn't detail here) I had with my previous publishers, a publisher who had a local door I could knock on to have a conversation was pretty attractive to me. By this time, the contract for Under a Raging Moon with Wolfmont had expired and I recovered my print rights. So Russ Davis of GDP and I  struck a deal, and in 2010, Gray Dog Press re-issued Under a Raging Moon and Heroes Often Fail with these covers:

GDP version
GDP version

I love the Under a Raging Moon cover, which has a gorgeous photograph by Matt Rose, and it screams Spokane. I wasn't a big fan of the Heroes Often Fail cover, even though it is featuring the Post Street Bridge, which is where a critical incident occurs involving Officer Katie MacLeod. But it just wasn't as good as the Martina Irabarren designed version. Still, when you're working with a publisher, there are always compromises, and this is one I reluctantly accepted.

GDP version
GDP version
GDP then published both Beneath a Weeping Sky and the fourth installment, And Every Man Has to Die. Here are those covers:


I seem to be a publisher killer (oh my God...maybe my books suck!), because as I mentioned earlier, GDP eventually decided to stop publishing fiction in 2017. So I got my rights back, and made the decision to publish the print versions myself. That led to contacting Eric, and that led to the new covers.

I liked the cover of the GDP version of Under a Raging Moon a lot, and even though Eric and I looked at other options, I kept coming back to the beautiful Matt Rose photograph, and ultimately we used it for the new cover. Eric made some adjustments to the title, author, and the iconic River City badge, which ultimately made for a bolder look.

So here's the evolution of covers for Under a Raging Moon:

Wolfmont Press version
Gray Dog Press version


New version!

I really like this new Heroes Often Fail cover as well. We talked about a possible variation on the Koboca version of the cover, but ultimately the power of branding won out. I wanted the four River City novels, the forthcoming 5th, 6th, and 7th novels, as well as the three River City short story collections to all be clearly branded as part of the same series. So here is the evolution of covers for Heroes Often Fail:
Koboca version
Gray Dog Press version

New Version!
When it came to Beneath a Weeping Sky, I found myself in the same boat as with Under a Raging Moon. I loved the dark ambience of Matt Rose's photograph that was the backdrop of the GDP cover. It fits the tone of the book, in which a rapist is terrorizing River City. Additionally, some significant events occur in Riverfront Park, where the photograph was taken. So much like before, we ended up using the same cover, simply punching up the graphics to make it bolder, and consistent with the rest of the series.  Here's the evolution:
Gray Dog Press version
New Version!
I ran into greater difficulties with And Every Man Has to Die. While the GDP cover has a neat shot from Matt Rose and is well designed by Russ Davis and Andrew Corder, it isn't consistent with the other books in the series. If the book were a stand alone, the cover is perfect. But it isn't, and so it needs to marry up with the rest of the series somehow.

I considered getting a new shot from Matt Rose, ranging from another iconic landmark in Spokane to a stylized shot of a Spokane coffee shop (one of the characters in the novel has his base of operations out of a coffee shop). But in the end, Eric's design branding won out, especially when the cover he designed has a sunset featured, which ties into the events in the novel. Spoiler alert: someone dies. Of course, with a title like that....

Anyway, here's the old and new covers:
Gray Dog Press version

New Version!

Additionally, Gray Dog Press also published Dead Even in 2010, my first short story collection. This collection reverted to me when GDP ceased publication. Here's the evolution of that cover:
Gray Dog Press version



New Version!

I published my short story collection The Cleaner in 2010, using a cover designed by Jonathan Scinto. I liked it because it used the clock tower again, and had an otherworldly feel to it. But Eric's new cover really rocked. Here's the difference:

Old version
New Version!

I also published No Good Deed myself in 2010, with another cover designed by Jonathan Scinto. I really liked this Scinto cover, even better than the GDP Dead Even cover or Jonathon Scinto's cover for The Cleaner. Ultimately, though, I went with Eric Beetner's cool new cover because a) it was cool, and b) branding.

Old version
New Version!
So, there's a deeper look at the process I went through with these books, both in their publication journey and book cover design. If you made it this far into the post, then I'm guessing you found it interesting. If you didn't, then you're not around to read this part, either...if you Google Wolfmont Press or Koboca Publishing, you'll find a few references to both, but neither one is viable anymore. But I'm still around (and Heroes Often Fail is still selling copies, so I guess a certain little survey was bullshit, right?). I don't know if I should be proud of that or maybe take a little blame, but it's a fact either way.

Lastly, for those that might be wondering about the audio book versions of this series, it was wonderfully produced by Books in Motion, using the stellar narration of Michael Bowen for all four books.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

River City Re-Issue

Gray Dog Press, the publisher of the River City series in paperback since 2010 has stopped publishing fiction. As a result, the print rights to this series have reverted to me. Since I already publish the ebook version, I've decided to re-issue the print version myself. So over the next couple of weeks, the first four books of the series will become available again in print, complete with new covers. As part of branding the franchise, the three River City short story collections will also get new covers.

All of the covers have been designed by Eric Beetner. Two of the covers (Under a Raging Moon and Beneath a Weeping Sky) feature photographs by Matt Rose. This is the same team that I plan on asking to contribute to the cover for River City #5 (In the End), which I'm currently writing, as well as #6 (Place of Wrath and Tears), and #7 (Still Untitled).

I'm going to release these covers over the next few days on my Facebook page, so keep an eye out! But here's the first three anthology covers right now...




Saturday, April 22, 2017

New Story Accepted! (and other news!)


I am happy to announce that my short story "Titus, My Brother," was accepted for inclusion in the military fiction anthology The Odds Against Us


The anthology is a crowd-funded project from Oren Litwin, and should be out late 2017/early 2018. I'm joining a fine cast of writers, including two of my old friends, Jim Wilsky and John Floyd.

My story is a little bit of a departure from my usual fare of crime fiction. In keeping with the theme of the anthology, it is military fiction, set in first century Britain, during the Roman colonization (or occupation, depending on your point of view). Boudicca has just led the Iceni in an uprising against Rome, and a depleted Roman legion is marching to Camulodunum to put down this rebellion (or push for freedom, again depending on your perspective). For those who like a good battle story, I think you'll enjoy it. For those that like to look for subtext, I think you'll see a couple swirling around in the underbrush of this tale.

In other news, I've been invited to be part of a Lawrence Kelter-edited anthology project that will be out around the same time. It hasn't been officially announced yet, though, so I'm not sure how much information I'm able to share yet, so I'll get back to you on that.

Another unannounced project that I know will happen one way or another is one I'll be editing and also providing a couple stories. It's a series (call it a season if you like) of novellas featuring a pair of grifters on the run. Some of your [or mine, at least] favorite authors will be contributing, though some of them don't know it yet. More on this further on up the road (for those of you playing Zafiro Bingo, you may now fill in the box marked 'Springsteen Reference').

Answering Questions at Auntie's on 4/9/17
My appearance at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane on April 9 was a successful one. This place has been an independent bookstore since 1978, and remains viable in a wildly different marketplace than when it came into existence thirty-nine years ago. Great people, great atmosphere, and always a fun time. If you were one of the people who made it out on a Wednesday night, thank you!


My next stop is in Seattle at the Seattle Mystery Bookshop on Saturday April 29 at 12 PM. I haven't been to SMB for a few years, so it's exciting to be coming back. Hope to see a lot of you. The reason I'm there is to promote and sign copies of my most recent release, The Last Collar, written with the aforementioned Larry Kelter.  But hey, I'll sign anything, talk about anything, or just hang out. It is the final weekend before Independent Bookstore Day on May 2, so come celebrate early. If you haven't seen the inside of SMB yet, you're missing out on the coolest store in Seattle...period.

On Monday, May 1st, I'll be back in Seattle, taping an interview for "New Day Northwest," a Seattle TV program. I'm not sure of the air date, but it should be soon. This will actually be my first TV interview as a writer since KXLY's Robyn Nance did a feature on me years ago in Spokane called "Crime Fighter, Crime Writer" and I'm looking forward to it.

And last but not least, the news that more people probably care about more than all of the previous...I've started work on the next River City novel. It's called In the End and it is book 5 in the series. It will definitely be out this year. Books 6 & 7 should follow pretty quickly after that.

What's this one about? Well, more on that as we get closer. But expect Katie MacLeod to play a larger role than 2011's And Every Man Has to Die (book 4). Chisolm and Sully are in there, along with Detectives Tower and Browning, and the rest of the supporting cast....yes, including the weaselly Lieutenant Hart.

More to come. Hope to see you in Seattle!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

G Strikes Again!

G is a young writer who emailed me with some questions about the craft. Since the questions were intelligent ones that bear discussion, I offered to answer them in an ongoing series of blog posts.


Today's question: What's the best way to set a book up for a sequel without making it obvious? One of the big things about my book is that it's part of a series. From my research, I've learned that most first time authors have a lot more trouble publishing when their book is first in a series. 

It's a great question.

There are two kinds of series. One kind is when you follow a character from book to book as s/he encounters stand alone adventures. There are recurring secondary characters and the main character may grow and change over time, and there may even be a plot string or two that occur over the course of the series, but for the most part, each book can stand completely on its own. The fact that it is part of a series is great but reading one doesn't necessitate reading a second or third in order to get the whole story. Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder series or Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series are both great examples of this. I'll call these a Character Series.

The other kind of series is the purposeful series in which the overarching story plays out over more than one book. Think G.R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. Let's call this a Story Series.

In writing a first book in a Character Series, the biggest focus should be on that single book. Make sure it is a great book that stands on its own two firm feet. Ensuring that there is room for a second book is only a small part of a book like this, not the main focus. This book, and each of the others in the series, stands alone and you could pick up any of them and get enjoyment from it without having read any others in the series. 99% of the effort should be on the book at hand, and 1% about setting up future books or continuing existing series plot threads.

Interestingly, when Block finished When the Sacred Ginmill Closes, he thought the series was over because Scudder had faced the fact that he was an alcoholic. Then he realized he had a lot more Scudder tales to tell, so he picked up the thread again, and we got more books that stood alone as mysteries. But we also saw Scudder venture into sobriety, and eventually marry.

In a Story Series, you know going in that there will be a sequel(s), and that the sequel(s) is necessary to tell the entire story. But the first book still has to be a satisfying segment of the story. One way to accomplish this is to have an intermediate goal for the heroes to accomplish, and the first book is about striving toward that goal. A reader can enjoy some aspect of a finished goal that way, but the ending should also set up the next big step in the series, too. Think about how Star Wars ended...the Death Star destroyed, but the rebellion still not over. A battle won, but not the war.

This is a very simplified explanation of what some very talented authors accomplish with strong craft, but hopefully it points G (and anyone else contemplating the same question) in the right direction.

Of course, I welcome any further thoughts on this question...

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Where'd the TIme Go?

I got an email recently from Cindy Rosmus, the editor of the online magazine, YELLOW MAMA. She wrote to tell me about their 10th anniversary issue, being published on Valentine's Day 2017, and asked to reprint my short story "Cassie" in that issue. More specifically, she said that she was going to run her five favorite stories from that first year, and "Cassie" was one of them.

First off...cool, huh? When she asked if that would be okay, I sent a fast, enthusiastic "YES!"

So my first thought was that it was cool that she wanted to include "Cassie," and the second thought was that it was even cooler that it was one of her favorites.

Then I got to thinking...tenth anniversary? Tenth? It seems like only a short time ago when that story went live, and here I am, about forty stories and twenty novels down the line.

Where does the time go?

That was rhetorical. You don't have to answer.

"Cassie" is a short story featuring Stefan Kopriva, who is a pivotal character in the River City universe. He's one of the main protagonists in the first two River City novels, the main protagonist in three novels of his own, and featured in a couple of short stories, including this one. Chronologically, "Cassie" takes place after the events in Waist Deep but before those in Lovely, Dark, and Deep. It is one of the few stories that I've written that includes some graphic sexuality (if you're keeping track at home, "Good Shepherd" and "Gently Used" are two others). The sexuality included in this story made it a little more difficult to place, and resulted in a couple of rejections based on content. So when Cindy decided to take a flier on "Cassie," I was pretty thrilled.

If you're interested in this story, it's out there now and you can probably find it. But I'd suggest you bookmark YELLOW MAMA and when the Tenth Anniversary issue goes live on 2/14, give "Cassie" a read along with the other gems Cindy picked.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Another Q from G

If you're wondering what 'Q' is, your first guess was correct:  question.

If you're wondering who 'G' is, you can check out my previous post about it, but the short version is the G is a young writer who emailed me with some questions about the craft. Since the questions were intelligent ones that bear discussion, I offered to answer them in an ongoing series of blog posts.

Today's question: How do you tell a backstory without having a flashback or outwrite [sic] telling it?

(Sorry, I couldn't resist including the original typo from G's email...even though we all know it is a typo, it seems like it somehow ought to be correct, doesn't it?)

Anyway, this one seems like a simple question, and I suppose it has a simple answer, but the execution is everything.

For starters, I think most writers would agree that we know waaaaaaaaay more about each character than the reader ever learns. We know these back stories intimately. And because we know them so well, and because they excite us so much, and because, dammit, we did the work to create (or discover, depending on how your muse prefers to work) these stories, and because they are frickin' amazing...we want to include every little detail.

Don't.

Back story is like the spice in a meal, not the meal itself. It flavors the meat, but it isn't the meat. The meat is the story you're telling in the here and now, and that's where the focus should be.

Oh, but yes, I know...the back story is crucial to this character's persona, or her motivation, or you name it. And maybe that's so. I'm not saying the back story shouldn't be there. It absolutely should. But like seasoning on the meat, it enhances. And a little can go a long way.

Let's say your character has a hard time with intimacy, and recently endured a hard breakup. How much of that back story do you need to tell? The answer, of course, is that it depends. If the story you're telling is about reconciling with that partner, probably a lot more of the back story needs to be told than if the relationship and subsequent breakup is merely a part (albeit an important part that affects her immensely and drives her motivation) of the character's history but won't be revisited in this story. Because remember, this story is the one you're telling.

In The Backlist, my novel with Eric Beetner, one of the main characters, Bricks, has recently suffered exactly what I just described:  a tough break up. And the breakup reinforces the fact that she has intimacy issues. But the story is about something else entirely, so how much to devote to the loss of her recent love?

Well, in a book of about sixty thousand words, I spent less than two hundred giving that part of her back story.

Of course, there was more to her back story, especially with her mother and her father, but these also came about organically. Probably fifty percent of the back story centering on her Pops comes out in dialogue with other people, and most of the rest in scattered references she makes throughout the book.

Back story can be the most effective when it is told (or better yet, shown) in revealing snippets of conversation (whether dialogue or internal monologue), and not all at once. Creating a little mystery about the backstory isn't a bad thing at all. In fact, it can be intriguing.

Ultimately, unless the key to the story you're telling now is about resolving these past events in the character's life (and maybe not even then), what the reader needs to know is the flavor of those events and a couple of salient facts. Too much emphasis on the backstory might be an indicator that you're telling the wrong story now.

So go easy on back story. Reveal enough to meet the needs of characterization and/or plot points, but don't be afraid to let it dribble out in intriguing bits through dialogue. Oblique references and hints are fair game here. After all, the reader doesn't have to know everything...and certainly not right away.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Happy Accident and a Little Obsession

As you will know if you follow this blog, some of my projects are collaborations. For example, I just finished a third Bricks and Cam Job with Eric Beetner earlier this month, and am also working on one called FALLEN CITY with my The Last Collar partner, Lawrence Kelter.

The chapters in both of these collaborations flew back and forth pretty quickly. Eric and I got off to a slow start, mostly because of me, but once we got rolling, we rolled like a freight train. Larry and I were a little sporadic at first, too, but experienced the same phenomenon once things were established -- we flew. In the last couple of weeks, that freight train has positively morphed into a high speed bullet train.

So it was no surprise to me when I got back a pivotal chapter from Larry late last night (even later for him on the East Coast). Although I was seriously considering going to bed when the file arrived in my mailbox, I decided to at least read it. So I did, and it rocked, and as always got me even more excited about the story. That led to doing the revision piece that we always do on incoming chapters. Nothing big, just catching typos and doing some minor polishing. When that was done, I felt like I was in the groove, so I started my new chapter. It was to have two scenes, and I burned through the first scene, creating some conflict and feeling maliciously good about it. I was about a third of the way, maybe even halfway, through the second scene, when something weird happened.

It's still kind of a mystery to me. I must have inadvertently had a key depressed or something while I moved the mouse up to the task ribbon to switch it back to the HOME setting. I wanted to be able to italicize with the click of the button (yes, I know I can CTRL-I, but sometimes I like to click the italics button instead, okay?). Anyway, I used the mouse wheel to try to change it and my tired, clumsy fingers may have even depressed the left mouse button.

Can you see the disaster coming?

All of the sudden, Word closes and I'm staring at my desktop. My first thought was probably the same one you had -- immediately after uttering a favorite curse word, of course.

"When did I save last?"

I opened the file up again, scrolled down and...time for that favorite curse word again. No partial second scene. No completed first scene. No revisions.

Nada.

At that point, I just went to bed. I told Kristi what happened (she painfully endured the "And then I used the mouse wheel" description that she said was taking forever...and in truth, it kinda did) to vent a little, and we hit the sack. Being the great wife that she is, though, she said, "Why don't you go rewrite it while it is still fresh in your mind?"

But I refused. Stupid Word document wasn't going to me to jump through hoops.

After pouting for about five minutes, I realized she was right. Also, there was no way I was falling asleep, even though it was after eleven. So I kissed my wife and got back up. I grabbed some water and for consolation's sake, a few 'Nilla Wafer Minis. And by a few, I mean two gargantuan handfuls. But I stopped at two. Because that was all that was left in the box.

I did some Google research, asking if there was any way to recover an unsaved Word document. The first answer I found was in one of those help forums like Answer.com or something. Some idiot didn't save his document and wanted to know if it could be recovered. Some smug asshole replied that if he didn't save it, then there was nothing to recover. No help at all.

Luckily, there were about forty million other hits, and a couple of them had actual suggestions worth trying. I explored a couple of dead ends and finally landed on one that said if I had the autosave feature turned on, then I could find the auto-recover document at a particular location in my file directory. I crossed my fingers and went there. Lo and behold, an auto-recover document with a time stamp on it that seemed hopeful. I clicked on it, opening it with Word when prompted (why did I have to select Word? What else would I open it with? Excel, just for fun? Excel is never fun).

The first thing I noticed was that it opened with the Track Changes margin visible to the right. That meant some of my changes were intact, because I always made it a point to accept (or rarely reject) the changes Larry made on my previous chapter before going into his new chapter. So that was good news.

I scrolled down and saw that all of my revisions were there, and the beginning of my first scene. True, my protagonist was cut off right before he says something nice to his wife (who is piii-iiissed at him, oh!), but I probably only lost ten minutes of work, or less. Just spitballing, but I felt like that was a good estimate, since I noticed the setting on the Auto-Recover option was to save every ten minutes.

Still, that was a lot of lost material, because I had been rolling. I closed my eyes to envision the rest of the scene at the apartment, and the beginning of the second scene, which occurs at a crime scene. Then I started tapping the keys.

I finished the first scene, and drove right into the second. I got to the point where I'd left off and just kept rolling.When it came time to send it back to Larry, I did what we usually do for each other, inserting a page break and typing in the next chapter number. Then I sat there, staring at the screen, because I knew that his next scene, which I was looking forward to, didn't have any ripples into the final segment I was to write next. And my final segment was the end of the book, a time any writer knows is exciting.

So after a little deliberation (very little), I added another page break, was nice enough to type in the chapter heading for myself, and I started tapping the keys again. I wrote what I thought would be the final scene of the book, wrapping up some loose ends and putting a ribbon on things from the perspective of the main protagonist. It went well, I thought. Of course, it was late and I was both tired and mildly biased. But there was some irony, some mild self-awareness, and some love, both of the married and fraternal kind. I also happily tied it back to the very first scene in which the reader meets the protagonist.

When I was done (and had hit SAVE), I sat there a little longer. There was one nagging little loose thread dangling, and it was bothering me. It involved a character that could easily be categorized as the second only to the main protagonist in terms of screen time. And while Larry and I wanted to leave his fate a little bit shrouded (who knows if this will be a one-off or a series, at this point?), there was a part of his story-line involving his family that I didn't want to leave unresolved.

Besides, like I said, I was rolling. I felt like Bruce Springsteen, getting ready to introduce the band near the end of the show right in the middle of the song "Light of Day." Just chanting, "100 miles, 200 miles, 300 miles, train keeps on rollin', goin' 400 miles, 500 miles..."

So I kept writing. Since we had a prologue, I decided to go beyond our original plan and write an epilogue. Nature and art like symmetry, right? I took the approach of keeping the narrator's identity unstated, though it will be obvious to the reader who it is. The epilogue ended up only 366 words, but it did exactly what I needed it to do.

Then, finally, I was done. The bottom right corner of my monitor told me it was after two in the morning, which didn't used to seem so late, but seems positively rebellious now. I did a quick read-through, tweaking and polishing and correcting along the way, which took another ten minutes or more. Then I hit SAVE repeatedly, gave my monitor a sturdy middle finger, and exited the document.

And immediately opened it again to make sure it was all still there. If I was really crazy, I would have muttered an apology for the finger part, but just because I'm a writer doesn't mean I'm full out whacked.  So I only thought the apology.

Still there. All good.

I closed the file and went to bed. I fell asleep fast, and hard.

Now who know what will happen...I haven't heard back from Larry as of this writing, but it is well within his normal window for reply. He may read my two in the morning ravings and hate them. Or he may not agree to an epilogue. It is the ending, after all, and endings are important. But I think he's going to dig it. Because sometimes bad luck can turn to good luck, and a happy accident can end up putting you in a good place, if you're willing to contribute a little of your own obsession.