Saturday, March 22, 2014

When in Pine Oak . . .

Well, Secrets in Small Towns, the third and final novel in my Small Town series, is up and running, both in paperback and e-book. Please get you a copy and if you like it, tell Goodreads and Amazon what you think in a review. But that's not what I came here to tell you about. I want to talk some more about the short stories that will make up the collection Mysteries in Small Towns.

Since we last talked, I have written the last story in the Small Town milieu. I call it "Ghosts." In it, you'll find out what happens to Sue-Ann and many of the other characters in Pine Oak, Florida. Advance readers are excited about the direction that it and "Indian Summer" are taking the volume of stories as a whole.  This feedback made me realize on a completely different level how important each individual story in Mysteries in Small Towns is and how each has the ability to affect the next, both in tone and in story line. What were originally written as amusing "one-offs" have become important building blocks--or maybe windows-- for the Small Town world as a whole.

When I realized this, I began the process of revising the stories, one by one. "A Question of Breeding" and "Grand Theft" both received considerable attention and the versions that are now posted on are tightened and expanded versions of the originals. "Wonderful Town," too--which is supposed to be amusing and even a little silly--got its share of the red pen. When I came to "Sensei" and "Trail Ride and Barn Dance After," however, I realized that a thorough edit was not enough. Both stories needed to be completely rewritten.

"Sensei" was originally written for a friend's birthday. It was supposed to be a  horse mystery with a serious note about abusive training practices. Well, most of the original "mystery" are still there, but very little else. I have cut out several characters, added a few more, and turned the story from being about virtual strangers to being about Sue-Ann and Gina, as it should be. So although certain elements of the plot remain, I estimate that 75 percent of the original words have been replaced . The entire martial arts motif has been removed, making it necessary that I change the name of the story from "Sensei" to "When in Tennessee." Which, in turn, necessitates a new cover.

But rewriting the story so heavily, changing the title, and replacing the cover offers the possibility that someone might buy "When in Tennessee" thinking it is an entirely new story. It isn't. I'm not talking about millions of people here, but if you have already purchased "Sensei": and feel you have gotten the shaft, tell me and I'll let you know when I have a free promotion for "When in Tennessee."

The revision of "Trail Ride and Barn Dance After" is my next project. The good news is that I think I can keep the title and the story will be pretty much the same. It will just have to be rearranged some. Preliminary indications are that it will be a little more literary, like the novels. I'll let you know.

I'm still hoping to come up with two more, brand new stories before I publish the volume next February. Let me know if you have a subject you'd like Sue-Ann and her friends to delve into.