My Thumb Drive Books

With my twelfth book on its way to publication next month (*ahem, No Love Songs, April 18) people sometimes ask me how I have the time to write. 

It’s a good question, one I’m not sure how to answer. I write, when I can. Snippets, moments, early, often. The truth is, the stuff that’s coming out is only the tip of the iceberg. For every book that is published, at least in my case, there’s two projects that never made it off my thumb drive.

Back to the when, though. I used to write like a maniac, every spare minute of the day. And over that period, I wrote some really, really bad stuff.

But it was all part of the process. The learning. And it was so much fun.

Around ten years ago I started taking this writing thing seriously. At times, way too seriously. And the success of getting published didn’t happen overnight. Far from it. It took maybe a million words before that came along.  

So let's talk about the ones that never made it.

Some were okay, some were decent. Some were blah and a few were just plain bad. All were fun to write.

Keep in mind, these are the thumb drive books I more or less finished. I have five or ten more in various stages of horrendousness. Ones I won't even go into detail about. Anyway, let's take a look at some books that never made it to primetime. 

A Blue Ridge Season – I know what you're thinking. Such an engaging title. No? But for me, this was it. This was my first real attempt at a novel. And boy did I get into it. I remember sitting at a cemetery, on my lunch break, so I could really feel the scene in the book. I drove old back country roads to get a taste of that gravel and let the sunlight dapple through the trees. I even watched a few little league practices at a nearby elementary school, probably looking kind of sketchy, all so I could get into the flashback scenes.

But you know what? This was the book where I learned how to write. Not a class, or workshop, but by doing. And it wasn’t all a lost cause. Sure it was sappity sap sap sappy, a bunch of drivel, but I managed to salvage those flashback scenes and they became the basis of a little book known as Bricktown Boys.

Speck – Oh boy, my 100k word mg contemporary. Yep, you read that right. But I did get my first full request from an agent, after I shaved half this thing down.

Mighty – Not sure this one was bad so much as specific. A boy with Mitochondrial Disease tries to raise money for awareness. A good cause, baaaaad writing.

Villa РSpeaking of bad. This one involves a rich girl, poor boy, and love at first sight. I think the clich̩ factor alone in this one keeps it in the desk drawer.

Super Bowl Shuffle – I shouldn’t even mention this one. All I remember about the plot was that a senile dad could predict the outcome of NFL games based on a NES Super Tecmo Bowl video game. I’m not proud…

Miracle on I56 - From what I remember, this is a boy lost in his own mediocrity as one of eight children. All I remember is he liked to play alongside the interstate that ran behind his house. Sounds illegal. I'm sure other stuff happened but I'd have to read it to find out. No thanks

Kurt – A stab at adult fiction. I was reading way to much Richard Russo and not so quietly imitating what I was reading. A couple of middle aged white guys acting like children. Bar shenanigans, divorce, the problem was, this book—some eighty thousand words without a satisfying ending as of now and forever—was that it just wasn’t as witty as I thought it was.

Vows of a Vagrant – Another stab at adult fiction involving a crumbling marriage and a man child. I will say this one was better than the one above, but I can’t seem to like it enough to return to it.



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