Tuesday, May 17, 2016

See Also Murder on sale

The ebook for SEE ALSO MURDER (@SeventhStBooks) is available for $2.99 on Kindle, Kobo, and Nook for one week.

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Spark (or How I Got Here)



My 12th novel, See Also Deception (Seventh Street Books), will be published tomorrow (May 10, 2016). This is the second Marjorie Trumaine Mystery featuring my freelance indexer amateur sleuth. What a fast, strange, wonderfully interesting trip it has been.

To be honest, for a long time, my goal was just to publish one novel with a major publisher.  I became really serious about that effort in the early 1990s, after writing a string of short stories, getting close to publication, and finding a little success in the small press.  Along the way, a rejection slip would come along with some encouraging hand-written words:  “Close, keep trying.”  Or “This was a really good story but I just bought one that is similar.”  Those were sparks that fed the flame, that made the walk to the mailbox a little easier, especially when I retrieved a brown envelope that wore the stamps I had put on it so it would come back to me.  Those were the days before email, when there was a cost to sending out stories, and when every penny counted as Rose and I struggled along early in our marriage.  There were sacrifices, life-changing decisions made during this time, and every time I was about to throw in the towel, another spark would come along to prevent it.  An agent was interested in seeing my work, or another hand-written rejection slip found its way to the mailbox. 

I found joy in writing.  My fingers longed to touch the typewriter keys (and then a keyboard) like a musician longs to strum the strings of a guitar.  Magic happened.  And the rejection slips kept coming in.  Year after year.  I scrubbed toilets, worked at whatever job I could, to help keep a roof over our head.  Rose worked, too, every day, without complaint.  At lunch I would steal away and write down ideas, write snippets of stories, and then I would go home, eat dinner, and make a beeline to my desk.  I was obsessed and determined.   But you know what?  It wasn’t about the money or the fame that people perceive that writers have.  It was about the art of storytelling.  I was trying to figure how to do it.  And instead of going to college and getting an MFA, I read a lot and I wrote a lot.  It seemed the best way for me to learn. 

Somehow, we managed to scrape up the money for me to go to conferences or workshops, and I began to meet other writers.  I wrote a mystery novel, and I sent that novel into the Malice Domestic Best Traditional Mystery contest sponsored by St. Martin’s, and headed up by the legendary editor, Ruth Cavin.  This was in 1994 or 1995.  I didn’t win, but I was a finalist.  Another spark.  That novel, that close call, garnered me an agent.  A real New York literary agent.  I was on my way. Except, I wasn’t.  The agent sent the book around while I wrote another.  He wasn’t real thrilled with the second, hadn’t sold the first one, and we parted ways a few years later.  It was about this time that I began to learn to index.  That took a lot of my time, especially when I saw that I liked indexing books, and saw a way to make a living at it.  I still read novels and wrote, but not at the pace I had been. 

The fire inside still burned, and eventually, I wrote a short story that I was asked to write.  “Can you write a modern-day mystery story featuring a Texas Ranger character?”  Of course, I could.  I wrote the story, sent it in, and it was published in a Western anthology published by Berkley, edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg (how many writers got their start from this dynamic duo?  A ton!).  It was my first professional sale and publication as a writer.  That was in 2004.  Fourteen years after I gotten “serious” about being a writer.  To my shock and amazement, that story, “The Promotion” went on to win the WWA (Western Writers of America) Spur award. I had written a mystery, not a Western.  But I was on my way.  I met another agent, and she took me on in 2005.   She began to send out my work.  And nothing happened.  More rejections.  I kept writing, indexing, and gathering sparks.  I wrote another short story.  “See Also Murder.”  It was a finalist for the SMFS (Short Mystery Fiction Society) Derringer Award.  It was Marjorie’s debut, and I was encouraged to write a proposal for a novel and series.  My agent sent it out.  Nothing.  Three years later, I got the call every writer dreams of.  “I got an offer for your novel.”  It was for The Rattlesnake Season.  A paperback Western for Berkley.  I said yes and in 2008 and the novel was published in 2009.  Nineteen years after I had started.   The first Marjorie book, See Also Murder, sold in 2014, ten years after the short story was first published. 

Why do I tell you this now?  Eight years later when I am publishing my twelfth novel?  Because a pursuing a dream is a journey, that’s why.  It takes time.   If it had been about the money,  I would have quit a long time ago.  I don’t think the need for money or fame can sustain the desire to create, to write, or make art, or play music, or whatever it is one needs to do to be an artist.  Writing is an addiction, a need, and completes me in ways that I can’t even begin to describe.  The sacrifices of time, of not spending enough time with friends and family has been huge.  I’ve missed a lot of things, making up my “little stories” as somebody once said about what I do in a not so nice way.  And I have regrets, but honestly I wouldn’t change a thing.  Not that I could.  Being a writer is my place in the world, and I know how lucky I am to have found that.

A couple of other things.  During this time, the publishing industry has gone through some major, dramatic changes.  Most of the publishers who rejected me early on, and even recently (yes, I still get rejections) no longer exist.  Books are delivered in a myriad of ways now that I could not imagine in 1990.  My work is pirated on a daily basis, and the money is hardly what most people think it is.  This is not Hollywood, it’s reality.  I’m a working writer who could STILL not survive without working at another job.  Which happens to be indexing, and that world is just as precarious and uncertain as the writing world.  Two parts still make a wonderful whole for me. I spend as many hours at my desk as I ever have.  Probably more.  I work more, not less, to survive. 

And that takes me to my final point, about why I really wrote this essay.  I couldn’t have done any of this alone.  At every stumble, at every bad turn, Rose, my wife of thirty-two years, has been there for me, offering advice, comfort, and a swift kick in the pants when I needed it the most.  She has been my toughest critic and my greatest cheerleader.  Rose has given me more support and encouragement than I have ever had from any one person in my life. She has believed in my storytelling ability from the start.  When I said I wanted to be writer, that that would make me happy in my life, she said, “So be a writer.” And she meant it.  Granted, there are times when I don’t think she knew what she was getting herself into, but she’s never wavered.  She sees the all of the rejection slips, the not so nice reviews, the five dollar royalty checks, and urges me on.  It’s not about the money for her, either.  It’s about the life we’ve built, about the possibility of the future, of what’s next, just around the corner.  Rose has not only been my first reader, but my ideal reader.  I write for her as much as I do for myself, and all I can say is thank you, and keep on writing.

And I say thank you to my agent who has stuck with me since 2005, all of the editors and production teams I have worked with, reviewers (who have gave me good and bad reviews), fellow writers, and most importantly, the readers who have offered me the spark when I needed it the most.  You all have changed my life.   Success isn’t money or fame to me.  It’s about being the best writer I can be.  It’s about persistence and determination and love.  Success is about loving what you do so much that you can’t quit, and loving all of those who encourage you on, one step at a time.    So, thank you, again.  All of you.  I hope you like the new book.


Monday, April 18, 2016

My First Play



So, the first play I was ever in was "Rosencranz and Guildenstern are Dead." I was in junior high school, seventh grade, but it was a high school play. I was one of the Tragedians. Kris Estep Ginley came to Math class and told me I got the part. I couldn't believe it. That was the real start for me, the exploration of art, of character, and the pursuit of a dream larger than I could grasp. I was involved in theater for the rest of my time in high school. It saved me, gave me a community where I belonged, a place to be safe, where I could be myself. It was the 1970s in a little high school in a Midwestern town, surrounded by corn fields, and we were doing a Tom Stoppard play. Amazing. Lucky. A million words can't describe the good fortune of being in the right place at the right time. We had a great time. We had a great teacher (thank you, Ron Clark), and a priceless education that we took for granted. Teachers change lives... Art changes minds. I'm still chasing the dream. And I will love Rosencranz and Guildenstern for all of eternity (It never stops!).


Monday, April 11, 2016

Here's some info for the upcoming release of the second Marjorie Trumaine novel, SEE ALSO DECEPTION (Seventh Street Books):


SEE ALSO DECEPTION: A MARJORIE TRUMAINE MYSTERY
 
Larry D. Sweazy’s 12th published novel, See Also Deception, features freelance indexer and North Dakota farm wife, Marjorie Trumaine, who first appeared in the critically acclaimed See Also Murder (05/2015). The novel will be released on May 10, 2016. Book signings are listed below.
 
ABOUT:

October 1964—Just months after freelance indexer Marjorie Trumaine helped solve a series of murders in Dickinson, North Dakota, she is faced with another death that pulls her into an unwanted investigation. Calla Eltmore, the local librarian, is found dead at work and everyone considers it suicide. But Marjorie can't believe that Calla would be capable of doing such a thing. Marjorie's suspicions are further aroused when she notices something amiss at Calla's wake, but the police seem uninterested in her observations. Despite pressing job commitments and the burden of caring for a husband in declining health, Marjorie sets out to uncover the truth. What she finds is a labyrinth of secrets—and threats from someone who will kill to keep these secrets hidden.
 
PRAISE:
 
“A satisfying sequel.” — Publishers Weekly
 
“The second of the Marjorie Trumaine Mystery novels does not disappoint. Marjorie is a strong, fairly independent woman –still somewhat unusual in 1964 –which sets her up as an appealing heroine… The setting is perfect for the desolation that Marjorie struggles with, and her love/hate relationship with what her life has become. **** –COMPELLING” - RT Reviews

“Brimming with atmosphere and filled with well-drawn characters, See Also Deception is bound to delight mystery readers everywhere. Marjorie Trumaine rings as solid and true as any heroine ever created.” —SUSAN CRANDALL, bestselling author of Whistling Past the Graveyard
 
BOOK SIGNINGS:
 
05/10/2015 - 5 to 8 PM, Barnes and Noble, 17090 Mercantile Blvd., Stony Creek Marketplace, Noblesville, IN 46060
 
05/14/2015 - 12 to 4 PM, Barnes and Noble, 8675 River Crossing Blvd, Indianapolis, IN 46240

Monday, March 21, 2016

Spring

"Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child who knows poems."  -- Rainer Maria Rilke


Shaking the gray, gloomy grip of winter is always welcome around our house.  I like winter, the silence of it, the solitude, but it can linger too long, even for my liking.  This past winter was mild and the best kind of winter to bring a new pup into the house.  Kassi has done well, adjusted and matured into our routine so that it is like she has always been there.  Now that it's spring, she is ready to go. I'm looking forward to a great many new adventures with her and Sunny as we continue our daily walks. The truth is, we all need to get out of the house a little more.  And that is part of the lengthening days and the warming of the sun that I enjoy the most.  The renewed hope of what is to come. In spring, anything is possible.  We all need that after the deep silence of winter.   It's like starting with a blank page.  Happy Spring.







Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/spring.html
Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/spring.html
Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/spring.html
Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/spring.html
Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/spring.html

Monday, March 14, 2016

Fog

Sometimes the story is lost or just out of reach.  The best thing that I know to do is keep writing, keep working your way out of it.  If you pay attention when you're lost in a cloud, the sounds are amplified, all of your senses are working to together to help you find your way out.  Don't panic.  Don't give up.  Keep moving forward.  That's the only way I know how to make the fog clear.


Monday, March 7, 2016

Influences: Pat Conroy



I was sad to learn this week of author Pat Conroy’s passing.  As a reader, I discovered Conroy in the 1970s with The Water is Wide, but it really was with The Great Santini and The Lords of Discipline that I began to understand that the reason I loved Pat Conroy’s books so much was that I was able to bring my story to his.  I understood his pain and anguish, his difficult family relationships and torn devotions.  I recognized myself in his stories and I felt less alone, less isolated.  And it was in that understanding that helped free me to explore my own emotions, my own story in the form of fiction.  I loved his beautiful use of language and was captivated by his flawed characters.  I knew them all, had lived with some of them, and was a few of them myself.  Very simply, I was inspired to write because of the emotional scope and depth of Pat Conroy’s books.  There were no boundaries, no reasons to restrain the darkest, deepest feelings.  If it was honest, it belonged on the page.  I will read his books over and over again, and will miss knowing that his work is complete, that there are no more stories from this master of voice.  I can think no higher complement to a writer.

“I’ve never had anyone’s approval, so I’ve learned to live without it.”

                                                                                 -- Pat Conroy, The Great Santini