Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Launch Day!!!


Terry Here: Today I’m going rogue! Instead of writing on our weekly topic, I’m going to talk about my book that comes out TODAY: MURDER AT THE JUBILEE RALLY. 

 This book is special. Most books are born in the usual way: conception, growth, and birth. This book took an unusual route: conception, “growth”, and then the birth of Rosemary’s baby. And, eventually, a do-over. That’s right, a do-over. Why? Because the first attempt at the book produced a monster.

Here’s what happened: I wanted to write about a murder at a motorcycle rally. The town that Jarrett Creek is based on actually has a motorcycle rally every couple of years—at least it did pre-Covid. I conceived of the book before we ever even heard of lockdown, and had plans to actually attend a rally so I could see first-hand what transpired. But Covid happened, so instead of going to the Sturgis Rally, or one like it and getting Covid, I watched videos.
Lots of videos. And I got a flavor for what the rallies look like. I couldn’t smell the smells, but I could see the way attendees dressed, how they behaved, what the motorcycles looked like, what concessions looked like, hear the music of the bands, see the pole-dancing (yes, there is pole-dancing). 

 And then I wrote the book. Or rather, I wrote “A” book. Not a book about a motorcycle rally, but a book about people behaving badly. Okay, in a murder mystery people always behave badly, but this was different. My characters veered off into territory I had never intended. And the motorcycle rally became an afterthought—or a side gig, or something. I gave the book to my writer’s group and they said the equivalent of “What (the hell) is this?”
I gave it to my agent. She said the equivalent of “what happened? This is awful!” Which I already knew, but I was in a daze and hoped it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. 

I wish I could understand exactly what happened. All I know is that the characters were sleazy and unlikeable. The plot was muddled and mean. In some way, I think it was a monster born of Covid. Not that I minded being isolated during Covid. I had a good house, a good husband, friends who were careful so we could meet at distance in my backyard. 

It was the uncertainty that flummoxed me. It’s hard to make myself recall those early days when we were all so shocked and scared. I know not everyone was, but I’m in an age group that seemed to be particularly vulnerable. So in answer to my shock, I created a monster. And then I pitched it out.
Yep. I threw out an entire book. 

Now this isn’t the first time I had done that. A few years ago I went through my old manuscripts and kept thinking, “Yeah, I see why this was never published.” I had no problem ditching those. They were learning tools. This time was different. It was my ninth Samuel Craddock book. I know my protagonist, my supporting characters, and the town of Jarrett Creek. So throwing out this book felt different. 

When I considered what ditching the book meant, I had to address what I could learn from the experience. And I did learn, although the lessons were ones I knew, and had abandoned. The experience taught me once again that writing a book demands dedication to the idea of the book, not just wandering around on the pages until I have a collection of scenes. 

Writing a book demands a thoughtful understanding of my intention. It demands that I treat my characters with respect. I’m glad I tossed the book. It cleared the way for Murder at the Jubilee Rally, which really does center on the rally. And which explores the world of my characters with an interest in why they do what they do and how it impacts the people around them. It is true to my original vision, true to the characters and to the setting.
One side note: I retrieved one character from the original muddle: Hailey is a 16-year-old who makes a big splash on the page. She was such fun to write, and I hope readers will love her as much as I do. From The Reading Room review: Murder at the Jubilee Rally is another hit out of the park for Terry Shames


Dietrich Kalteis said...

MURDER AT THE JUBILEE RALLY sounds like a winner, Terry. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Brenda Chapman said...

Congratulations Terry and thanks for sharing your writing journey for Murder at the Jubilee Rally - you've got me intrigued!

James W. Ziskin said...

Congratulations, Terry! I loved this book. Thank you for the chance to read it early.


Terry said...

I was beginning to think this day would never get here!

Gabriel Valjan said...

Congratulations, Terry. I'm looking forward to seeing Murder at the Jubilee Rally in the wild.

Kaye George said...

Congrats and good luck!

Catriona McPherson said...

It *did* seem like you had been writing this one for a while and now I know why. I salute your courage to slash and burn instead of tweaking. Cx

Susan C Shea said...

Sorry my computer still wasn't functioning all the way so I couldn't cheer you on the day, but here's a toast to the new Samuel Craddock novel, done and dusted!