Wiping the Slate Clean
You know when you’ve solved a complex calculus equation, and you take the eraser and literally wipe the slate clean? I did that last week with my writing career.
Three acceptances triggered the erasure:
- First, I was accepted into the Community Writers Workshop in the Virtual Valley for July of this year. This fabulous writers conference has nurtured many successful authors including Michael Chabon, Anne Rice, and Jennifer Egan, with teachers including Steve Almond, Mark Childress, Anne Lamont, and Amy Tan. An excerpt from my work-in-progress, IN THE NAME OF MISSISSIPPI, garnered the acceptance.
- Second, I accepted that my Coot mystery would not sell and parted ways with my most-recent agent.
- Third, I did a public reading in Bay St. Louis from the opening of IN THE NAME OF MISSISSIPPI, and it was well-accepted.
The eraser swiped, and I begin anew.
My Writing Past—Gone
Some of y’all have been with me through the slog of my (third) agent trying to get the Coot mystery published. Some have been here since my (second) agent couldn’t sell my fantasy, The Bone Trench. Hell, some of y’all have endured this torture since the days of Tracking Happiness, the Southern humor novel that my (first) agent couldn’t sell, and I eventually self-published.
You could say I’m on the hunt for my (fourth) agent, but I’m not. This is brand new. Slate wiped clean. Starting all the way over.
What Novel is This?
IN THE NAME OF MISSISSIPPI is the first novel I wrote. Way back when, it was a semifinalist in the James Jones First Novel Competition (25/600 entries). I’ve tried over the years to get it where it needed to be, to no avail. I picked it back up last year because it was timely (the backbone of the plot is a unique civil rights case), and I wondered if I could get it right this time. I’ve had lots of Beta readers. They’ve made it much better, and most (but not all) like what they’re reading. “Best thing you’ve written.” “Mesmerizing.” “Draws me right in.” “You’ve got me hooked.” Nice stuff to hear.
At the Q&A after my public reading, when I mentioned that I’d already had three agents, a member of the audience said, “Come on. Isn’t that the story of writers, how many rejections you’ve gotten?”
I didn’t want to point out that I hadn’t just gotten rejections. I’d had three agents who couldn’t sell three different manuscripts. But he had a point. So I said, “Right. And I haven’t given up.”
Y’all Come on Along
With my slate clean, I’m focusing on one thing: getting IN THE NAME OF MISSISSIPPI into the hands of a publisher. Okay, two things. I also want to get folks excited about reading this book. I’m still gathering reader feedback, so it’s fluid. But here’s a brief synopsis:
A groundbreaking lawsuit for civil rights reparations upends the lives of everyone it touches.
After four years practicing law in New York, Imogene Tolbert considers herself smart about her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, but she doesn’t grasp the danger of the racist opposition to the suit. Her goth paralegal Karol Reid resents Imogene and doesn’t trust her to win the case, which Karol is counting on to impress her working-class dad. Neither can figure out the lawsuit’s expert Tom Dennery, unaware he took the job to atone for a drowning in his racist past. And the lawsuit is of no help at all to Mrs. Lois Dixon, Mississippi’s premier seamstress who is trapped in an economic scheme as bad as any from the 1960s. As the team fights to keep In the Name of Mississippi in court, each must grapple with the impact of racism on their lives.
I’m sharing this with y’all to bring you along on this latest leg of my journey. Get ready. I expect it will be quite the ride…
ps if anyone wants to give it a read and offer feedback, shout at me!