A Writer’s Year

Hi folks–I’m on a February 1, double deadline, so today I’m rerunning an old favorite. See you next time. Barb

A Writer’s Year

By Noel Farquar, author of The Mean Streets and Fire Hydrants of Chicago, Ballou O’Brien Mystery#1

January: So full of happy expectations for the New Year. Must complete 85,000 word second-in-series mystery by November. First-in-series Amazon ranking currently 211,111 on the hardcover. Feeling optimistic. Only challenge to productivity is spouse who keeps coming into study and muttering about snow removal. Doesn’t she know I have a novel due? Word count so far: 7345. Onward!

February: Oh happy day! Publisher has dropped the price on my ebook to $1.99 for the month. Amazon ranking has zoomed up to 25,436 and I am Number One on the Amazon Bestseller List for Kindle ->Mystery, Thriller, Suspense -> Mystery -> Hardboiled ->Male PI ->Chicago Setting -> In the 1970s ->From Canine Point of View! Ahead of even Seymour Blatsky, the king of the subgenre. Gave in to urge to text Blatsky, “Suck it!” Let’s see him pretend he doesn’t know me at Bouchercon this year, even though we’ve been on the same panel four years running. No response so far. May have texted a few more times. Total Word count 10,712. Hard to write when you are checking Amazon ranking hourly. Also, spouse has been coming into study, dripping on carpet, and waving snow shovel in menacing manner. What does she want, some kind of credit? She lives here, too.

March: Alas, ebook price has returned to $12.38 and Blatsky has returned to the Number One slot at Kindle ->Mystery, Thriller, Suspense -> Mystery -> Hardboiled ->Male PI ->Chicago Setting -> In the 1970s ->From Canine Point of View. Curse you, Seymour Blatsky, undisputed owner of 1970s Chicago, as seen by a dog. BTW, he finally texted back. “Who is this?” As if he didn’t know. Can also report all that snow shoveling has made spouse eerily strong. Total Word Count 15,170.

April: The Amazon reviews have started rolling in from my former period of heavy sales. Tell me please, what do these mean?

Five starsHated it. The dog had such a co-dependent personality. He should see a shrink, LOL. Will not read another.

one starCould not put it down. Best book I have ever read. Can’t wait for the next one!

three starsPlease stop sending me these surveys. As I’ve said, time and again, I’ll review the books if I want to.

one starHe’s no Blatsky.


Total Word Count 18,756. Exhausted from hourly check for new Amazon reviews. Also, Goodreads.

May: Unexpected call from agent today. Forget, since we rarely talk on phone, how young she is. Anyway, news not good. She’s heard some rumors. Bad winds blowing. Any chance I can turn my second-in-series in early? I tell her this is “unlikely” (given that I only have 20,013 words–I do not tell her this). She says, the sooner I have it in and on the editorial calendar for next year, the better. Nuf said. I ask, given my February performance on Kindle ->Mystery, Thriller, Suspense -> Mystery -> Hardboiled ->Male PI ->Chicago Setting -> In the 1970s ->From Canine Point of View, am I not safe? She is unimpressed.

June: Book Jail. Spouse is leaving sandwiches outside study door and muttering things about a “summer vacation.” “Don’t you know I have a novel to write?” More muttering. Good news: Total Word Count 50,347.

July: Book Jail. No sandwiches. Perhaps spouse has gone on vacation of which she spoke? Have had many pleasant chats with pizza delivery kid. Total Word Count 75,236. We’re on our way, baby!

August: Another call from agent. Publisher has merged, or more accurately, “been absorbed.” New guidelines: will only publish authors who own Number One in their Amazon Bestseller List category, and since the merger “partner” publishes Blatsky, I am on the chopping block. My editor thinks I have a shot of hanging in if I shift my novel from Chicago 1970s to Seattle 1980s and switch out dog for cat. I protest, have never been to Seattle, don’t know anything about 1980s, and am allergic to cats. Agent’s response, “That’s what Google is for.” Total Word Count -25,567. Also, spouse has not returned.

September: Seattle in 1980s turns out to be fascinating time. Cats, though, are bastards. Doing my best to make this one likable. No chance he’ll be co-dependent, though, LOL! Total Word Count 85,974. First draft is done! Still no sign of spouse. Several items of furniture and electronics also missing.

October: Bouchercon. Once again I am on panel on 1970s Chicago from canine point of view with Blatsky. “Nice to meet you,” he sniffs when we are introduced. Nice to meet you! This is our fifth panel together. Of course, am wondering about the wisdom of paying all this money and flying all this way, especially on a deadline, to be on panel about 1970s Chicago with a dog, when my series is apparently now set in 1980s Seattle with cat. Ah, well. Total Word Count 86,456. Returned exhausted to find marital bed removed from home.

November: Received royalty check for period January-June. Apparently, number one spot on Kindle ->Mystery, Thriller, Suspense -> Mystery -> Hardboiled ->Male PI ->Chicago Setting -> In the 1970s ->From Canine Point of View not as lucrative as I’d hoped. Puts me in a bit of a jam as spouse has unaccountably stopped paying utility bills. In good news, will be sending The Grungy Streets and Sand Boxes of Seattle, Snuffles O’Brien Mystery#1 to editor tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

December: Another call from agent. The bad news, editor has been sacked. The good news, new editor loves manuscript and is prepared not only to publish but to offer additional two book deal if I can change story back to 1970s Chicago with dog, by first of the year. Can I! Have nothing but time on my hands now that I am burning remaining furniture for heat, recharging laptop in car, and typing by firelight. Feeling so lucky. God, I love this life!

Hope you had a great year, too. Happy Holidays to all, and Good Bless Us Everyone!

About Barbara Ross

Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Portland, Maine. Readers can visit her website at www.maineclambakemysteries.com
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17 Responses to A Writer’s Year

  1. Karla says:


  2. I’m falling off my chair laughing, Barb. Thank you and happy holidays!

  3. Gram says:


  4. Bruce Coffin says:

    Lol! My smile for the day. Thanks for sharing this.

  5. Edith says:

    I love it, Barb!

  6. Ruth Nixon says:

    Thanks Barb, my day will be brighter since reading this post.

  7. Kait Carson says:

    I laughed till I cried. Oh, this is precious. By the way, don’t burn all those lovely pallets you find lying about the property – something evil in them!

  8. My smile is a little wider now. Thanks Barb for putting this writer’s life into perspective.

  9. Barb Ross says:

    Thanks, all. Glad you enjoyed it!

    (Noel conveys his thanks as well.)

  10. MCWriTers says:

    Love, love, love it! Barb – you should be writing funny mysteries!!! Lea

  11. Kate Cone says:

    Hilarious! I laughed so loudly, the dog started barking.

  12. Thanks for the laugh!

  13. Too funny! Thanks for the hilarious break from cookie baking!

  14. Barb Ross says:

    Glad you enjoyed it–
    Noel Farquar

  15. Barb, this is absolutely hysterical. You should be a writer!

  16. What a hoot! Thanks for the LOL! Susan is correct…you should be a writer. 😉

  17. Barb Ross says:

    Thank you, Susan & Patti.
    –Noel Farquar

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