Things you should never, ever ask an author.

The  stranger asks:

The author answers:
You’re a novelist? Have you published anything?


You’re a surgeon? Have you ever operated on anyone?
Have you written anything I might have read?


Do you read novels?


Then, no.
Any bestsellers?


I read a couple every year.

Still haven’t figured out the formula.

Literature or fiction?



Any of your novels

made into movies?


Only in my nightmares.

Who do you get compared to,

as a writer?


My brother compares me to a

volcano of repressed anger.

My therapist doesn’t disagree.

So self publishing, how difficult is that?


It’s a challenge, from what I can tell.

I am not self published.

You have a publisher? how did that happen?


I wrote a proposal and a first chapter. My agent tapped the right editor on the shoulder, the publisher bought it, and that started the ball rolling.
You have an agent? how did that happen?


I wrote a lot of letters and talked to a lot of people

and had a really good proposal and first chapter.

Could you introduce me to your editor, publisher, agent?


Wait, you write fiction?

I plan to give it six weeks.

That should do it.  


Now that’s a coincidence. I was planning on

learning how to take out an appendix this summer.

That’s a no to the agent, editor, publisher intro?


Technically it’s a no, no, no.
So you’re writing a novel now?


Are you still practicing medicine?
What are your novels about? Any good reviews?


Funny you should ask. I’m wondering what kind of surgery you do and how your patients evaluate you.
You are tough.


Yes, I’m a published novelist.
So when is your next novel coming out?



About six to ten months after I finish it.


Really? So what are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be at home working? When will it ever be finished, the way you slack off?


Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.





Divide and Conquer

This weblog has been around for a long time. I no longer post to it regularly, but I haven’t taken it down because it still gets a lot of hits; that makes me think that some people find it useful. 

But it’s a big crazy monster of a weblog, and because it’s so big there are lots of bugs.  So I made a decision some time ago which I have been slowly implementing. Here’s the skinny:

This weblog stays put. All the posts about writing, craft, publishing, and related matters stay right here.

Everything about the novels goes to the wiki. You could pop over there and have a look. You should pop over there if you searched for something here and didn’t find it. 


If you’re looking for 

  • the series of posts on writing sex scenes
  • story v plot discussions
  • notes on constructing dialog
  • ideas on generating story ideas

… those posts are here. 

If you’re looking for

  • genealogy stuff, including a heckin big family tree
  • maps relevant to the various novels
  • information about what I’m writing now
  • clarification on Ethan and Callie’s relationship
  • FAQ

… then hightail it over to the wiki. 

This divide and conquer thing is not finished. It may never be finished, but I’ll keep banging away at it, for a half hour or so every day. 

If you’re interested in getting involved (say you would like to put together a short bio for Jack Mezzanotte, Dutch Ton, Anna Hauptmann, Galileo Freeman, or any one of the dozens of characters that still need to be tackled) then please speak up. You may not be interested in writing bios, but then there are dozens of other small tasks that need to be handled.

Note: People who contribute to taming the wild wiki will be rewarded. 




And you complain about your commute to work: Getting from NY to St. Louis 1857

This advertisement (found at the Library of Congress site) may look boring but I have been staring at it for an hour and now you can do the same.  It is in fact a cornucopia of information about travel in 1857. First consider:

If you want to travel by rail from Manhattan to St. Louis you will find not one or two but eleven possibilities. Chose the rail company you want to start with, which of four stations you prefer, and whether you want to set out at 6 a.m., 6 p.m., or sometime in between.

Of course you will be changing cars. In fact, you will have to get out of one train and onto another train in Buffalo, Cleveland and Cincinnati. Or maybe, if you prefer, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Columbus and Cincinnati. Or Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Parkersburg, Marietta and Cincinnati. With all your luggage, in your heavy traveling costume.

But then you will be in Cincinnati, where you can board the Ohio and Mississippi Rail Road (as they spell it) which will take you to St. Louis — and you won’t have to change trains again. Though of course the train will be stopping in Cairo, Vincennes, Evansville, Louisville and Madison before you get to St. Louis.  To make up for that,  you will enjoy especially WIDE CARS and even BROAD GAUGE SALOON CARS.

You want to know what a saloon car was? Good question, but no obvious answers. I do know that there were no dining cars at this point, nor were there berths or friendly porters to make up the berth into a comfortable bed.

If St. Louis is not your destination, your friendly ticket agent can book for you a Missouri River Packet Steamer, a seat on the Pacific Rail Road (which as far as I can tell, was not operational in 1857) or a Mississippi River Steamboat that will take you to Memphis, Vicksburg, Natchez or New Orleans.

There are two questions on your mind, two crucial questions: how long will all this take, and how much will it cost?

No answers on this advertisement.