Tuesday, October 19, 2021

No Looking Back (I Wish)

Cringe – Is there any of your published writing that you’re not particularly proud of any more? Give us an example of something you’ve written that made you cringe. Why does it make you feel that way and what have you learned since you wrote it?

From Frank


Strong verb, that.

A lot of us on this panel (perhaps all) have been writing a long time. My first novel was published in 2006. So, yes, when I look back at passages from that or other books written in the time surrounding it, I see things I'd like to fix. This is especially true of my first book, Under a Raging Moon. I've even considered doing a complete revision.

But I don't think I will.

Is it my best book? No. Might be my worst, in fact. And given that it is the entry point to my flagship series, there's another point in favor of a 2021 revision. At the same time, the book has its own charm. It captures who I was as a writer at the time. And if a reader continues to follow that series, she will see a marked progression in my writing craft and storytelling scope.

So while it doesn't quite make me cringe... check that, I guess I do get some mini-cringes at times but not full-on, despair-inducing level cringes... anyway, I do recognize it is inferior to my current work in terms of raw craft.

The one thing that does make me cringe in that earlier work is when I encounter uses of epithets. There are times in some earlier books and short stories that I was free with terms that I would be far less likely to use today. Granted, it was very much to do with the specific character, not me having fun with taboo insults. 

But still. 

Back then, I had no qualms having a racist character use the n-word or a bigot use the f-word (and I mean the homophobic slur not the versatile one that rhymes with truck). Today, I would be inclined to find another way to get that information across, or at least weigh the usage far more diligently before deciding if it was necessary for the book.

So, yeah, coming across a casual use of such epithets, even if it makes sense within the context of the character using the terms, makes me cringe.

But I'm not going to go back and change it. For one, I'm not going rewrite my own history as an author. For another, I'd rather spend my time looking forward and writing something new (applying lessons learned). 

Writing something that, hopefully, doesn't leave me cringing fifteen years from now...


BSP:  I'm pleased to announce that the audio version of Sugar Got Low is now available. This is a collection of thirteen of my short stories, a couple previously unpublished. There are seven different narrators for these stories, so for the listener, it has a little bit of an anthology feel to it.

For my River City readers, there are four stories set within that universe. There's also a third La Sombra tale (which is technically in the same universe), a Derringer finalist, and a story born from a misheard lyric...

I narrated two of these stories myself, so if you dig the novelty of an "author at an event" reading, there's that. Other narrators include Darren Meekin, who narrated Blood on Blood, and returns here to read a prequel story to that novel; veteran narrators David Temple and Craig Jessen; Jacob Daniels; newcomer Dave Mather; and my wife, Kristi Scalise.

I priced this title to make it accessible, so feel free to give it a try at $9.99.

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