Two weeks ago I got the word that all small-press writers dread: My publisher, Five Star, is dropping my entire category of mystery books. Thinking of what Five Star Mysteries has meant to me is like opening a scrapbook found in an abandoned house. There’s a page for my first published book, Josh Whoever. I see a picture of the look on Five Star’s legendary editor Deni Dietz’s face when she said, “I like that title.” First nice thing any industry big ever said about a book of mine. Another picture of me opening a UPS box to find books with my name on them for the first time, understanding at that moment how Pinocchio felt when he realized he was a real live boy. First time I admitted to myself how much I had wanted it. Book signings. Royalty checks (checks!).
And the thrill of being associated with and appreciated by remarkable people: Deni Dietz, Gordon Aalborg and Tiffany Shofield. I sent Tiffany several bottles of wine for all the help she was on Josh. She deserved even more.
Breakfast at Killer Nashville with my publisher and friend, Deni. Email arguments with Gordon. Two more books.
And my little book of memories is only one in a whole library. Five Star Mysteries has been the mother and the home for many of us.
Now, no more.
I’m not entirely sure it’s a bad thing. I may be at a point in my career (a word they gave to me) where I want to do more. Maybe write something that’s not a mystery. Maybe write more stories. I’ve dabbled with a couple of self-publishing projects, and enjoyed them. I’ve done a collection project called Eight Mystery Writers You Should be Reading Now, and found the experience of working with some exceptional writers to be one of the most satisfying times of my life. Maybe I’ll do more things like that.
Maybe, maybe. They say that everything that dies, dies so that something beautiful can be born. So I truly look forward to something new and wondrous that I can already feel pushing itself to life and pushing me to a fuller life.
But I will always miss my original home. Farewell, Five Star.