When I allow myself to dream about my ideal life, I envision a funky two-story house on the beach, an upstairs book-lined office and a large picture window. I get up every morning and go for a run (okay, more like a slow jog) with my dog (I’m between dogs at the moment, but I’m sure it will be some kind of retriever), stumble home, enjoy a nice breakfast with my wife, then settle in for three to four hours of writing before knocking off for good just before noon. I can support this lifestyle because I’m a fabulously-successful author and the royalty checks keep piling up in the mailbox. The money’s nice, of course, but mainly it lets me do what I want to do.
My real life, although not bad, comes nowhere close to approaching this flight of fantasy. When I published my first Las Vegas novel, “Dice Angel,” in 2002, my advertising career was winding down (or so I thought) and I threw myself into book promotion full-time. For more than 18 months, I did it all: book store signings, appearances at libraries and reading groups and book fairs, web forums, radio and TV interviews, basically anything to increase my visibility and help me build my new career. All the while, I worked on my second novel, “Money Shot.” Don’t ask me when I slept. (According to some reviewers, it happened while I wrote.)
I also found myself seduced by the siren call of the movies, making quite a few trips to L.A. for meetings with producers and other show biz-types who showed an interest in “Dice Angel.” Until I discovered that Hollywood makes Las Vegas seem like a bastion of honesty and sensibility, I rode the emotional roller coaster of “notes” and endless rewrites, all on the if-come. Ultimately, my screenplay adaptation of “Dice Angel” won the 2004 Nevada Screenwriters Competition, but nothing ever came of it. I did learn some valuable lessons, though. Primarily, not to get my hopes up until the check clears.
When “Money Shot” came out in 2004, I did it all over again. Meanwhile, an opportunity fell in my lap to merge my small ad agency with the up-and-coming Imagine Marketing, something too good to pass up. So I jumped back into the ad game with both feet, while still trying to carve out time to write. Although I consider myself a moderately successful novelist (I’ve sold around 35,000 copies and have developed a small but enthusiastic cult following), it was never enough to maintain a lifestyle that included eating. I must admit that I’m jealous of authors who’ve been able to make the leap to full-time. I don’t begrudge them their success; I would simply like to join their ranks at some point.
My output since 2005 has been, shall we say, inconsistent. A couple of other screenplays, one-third of a novel, a few dozen freelance articles in local publications and websites, three short stories, and a chapter in a collaborative serial novel called “Restless City” (even though it’s only 5,000 words, I think it’s some of my best work). And, of course, this blog.
This is all by way of explanation to alert readers (as Dave Barry likes to call them) who ask, “When is your next book coming out?” I appreciate the question because it shows they still care. But the short answer is, “I don’t know.” I’m plugging away. I have at least three books I need to write before I die. My current manuscript mocks me every day I don’t have a chance to work on it.
I hope this doesn’t come off as whining. Life ain’t bad. I have much to be grateful for. I just wouldn’t mind being even more grateful at the beach.