Before I wrote Bones in the Wash, I wrote Wasted, a “green noir” murder mystery set in the gritty world of garbage and recycling. I “completed” it for the first time around 2001 and many rewrites later, I contacted seventy agents. Eight nibbled. Two asked for the entire manuscript. One seemed on the verge of saying yes, but didn’t.
Somewhere along the way, I began working on my second novel, then called Turquoise Trail, and Wasted was set aside in a banker’s box and floppy disk. (Remember them?)
Now I’m recycling it — re-editing, even a little rewriting — and preparing it for publication on December 1. I have advance reader copies available as e-books on Smashwords right now, and soon I’ll have them in trade paperback as well. Contact me in the comments below if you’re interested. I’ll send you a copy if you promise to write and post an honest review.
I’m designing the inside pages in InDesign instead of Word, which gives me far more control. Here are a six chapter opener pages. Which do you like the best? (You can click on the image to see a higher resolution pdf. And add comments below.)
You can read the first three chapters of Wasted here.
Thanks to my friend Lawson LeGate for his perceptive review of Bones in the Wash. I wish I could say that I consciously set out to do the things he says, but maybe it doesn’t matter.
“It is remarkable how the author so completely understands the characters he develops for this story: the dynamics of Zamara family; the competitive relationship between two young women friends; the distinctly different romances between young Sierra and her boyfriend, between Mayor Zamara and the mysterious Tory, or the strained marriage of Sierra’s parents.
“You feel as if you’re peering into the private lives of real people, all skillfully set against the backdrop of the highly competitive world of presidential politics, with the sinister world of organized crime casting a faint but menacing shadow. It takes a fertile imagination to dream up a flash flood that threatens the lives of the mayor and his lover on an outing in one part of the state, while uncovering the bones of his murdered wife in another. I found myself eagerly turning the page to discover how the various plot lines in this book were going to turn out.
Everything he says above I did intend to do, but I never spelled it out quite the way he did. Now it’s true that I very deliberately linked the flash flood that the mayor and his lover were caught in with the bones in the wash discovered downstream. I remember mapping that out.
But the contrast between the relationships was not as conscious. The distinct differences were not so much planned as much as they grew out of the distinct characters. After all, what makes relationships similar are the universal things, like sexual attraction and getting each other and common likes. What makes them different are the people who come to them.
It’s been a challenge getting the word out about this novel, which I sweated over for years. But when someone enjoys it and captures so well the reasons I wrote it in the first place, well, that makes all that sweat worth it.
You can read the first three chapters here, and the Making of Bones in the Wash, Parts 1 and 2, here.