It’s back on Smashwords! My most popular title: “Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Last Line.” You can get it here.
. . . Not to be confused with photographs, which these aren’t. But my best friend’s mother (the same one who has made me Sherlock, John & Jim) once did a series of illustrations of my friend and I in various costumes, playing the games we were so fond of as kids. Here are a couple of those images—just to prove I haven’t exaggerated my love of Indiana Jones or Sherlock Holmes, and show how that love has been kept for posterity . . .
(You may need to click on the images to see them more clearly.)
There was, at some point, a Star Trek one, too, I think. Maybe others. I had forgotten about these until my friend posted them on Facebook. A testament to my enduring love of these characters, the building blocks of my childhood.
My manager sent me some lovely news today. For one, sales of my e-books continue to steadily increase month over month. In fact, already this month I’ve reached the total number of downloads I had in all of August. “Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Last Line” is still my most popular title; in fact it’s been especially well received in the UK and is on the overall Amazon Kindle charts in Italy. And I’ll get my first royalty check at the end of the month.
I released “St. Peter in Chains” at the end of June, “Last Line” in early July, Star Signs in August, and “Ichabod Reed” at the beginning of September. And I have over 3700 downloads (on Amazon; these numbers don’t reflect other distributors), most of them of “Last Line” and “St. Peter,” but several hundred of the other two as well.
So what does this mean? Well, it means that having a popular character at the center of your work helps find an audience; thank goodness Sherlock Holmes is public domain! And it means continuing to put out more work can help you build your audience, too. And it shows that Amazon is still tops when it comes to people finding your work, though Smashwords has been pretty good, too. I got a few hundred more downloads from them.
So now I must ask myself, “What next?” Well, I have a play to finish (deadline 1 October), and The K-Pro waiting in the wings (a publisher recently said they’d like to get a look at it when it’s finished). And then there’s life, which always seems to be happening. Particularly when I’m not paying attention.
We’ve talked about this before, and we’ll probably do it again. You can chalk it up to my protesting too much if you like, but it’s simply that every now and then someone posts an article that is tangentially related. (In this case, should you fail to click on the link, the article is: “How Steven Moffat Ruined Doctor Who.”)
It’s no big secret that I have problems with Steven Moffat. I might feel differently if he could be bothered to act less smug and self-aggrandizing. And I’d say that’s beside the point, but it’s not really. He doesn’t allow for an open dialogue outside of his personal circle—a circle he controls. So . . . Whatever. That’s another discussion for another time.
What’s on the agenda here is the way Moffat and his supporters/fans react to criticism of him and his work. There is the smugness, and the insinuation that detractors are simply too stupid to “get it” or are otherwise jealous of Moffat’s great work and intellect. It’s not a terribly useful way to go about things, but it does close the door to discussion, which as I’ve mentioned seems to be the ultimate goal. Moffat doesn’t like to be questioned or second guessed, and he certainly doesn’t like to leave himself open to the possibility that he might not be, in fact, the smartest person in the room.
But here’s the thing. True fans of something—a television program, a person, a singer—will be the ones willing to point out when the emperor has no clothes. They do not blindly and slavishly drool over every little line of dialogue. Think of it this way: are your real friends the ones who let you walk around with spinach in your teeth, telling you all the while how great you look? Or are they the ones who’ll point out that bit of green so you can fix it before the flashbulbs go off? Do you want fans who worship you without filter, or do you want people who can think a little bit?
There is something rabid and unstable about fans who refuse to brook any conversation about where a show (or showrunner, or actor, &c.) falls down, something almost Nazi-like in their devotion as they blindly participate in follow the leader. The same can be said, of course, of those so adamantly opposed to a writer, show, what-have-you, those who seem to hate for the very sake of it or who blow their reasoning out of proportion . . . A lack of rationality and an almost religious fervor cause the ground to fall out from under any hope of finding and fixing any problems with the show in question. No one is willing to compromise.
I do think the article linked to above is well written and considered. I can certainly agree that Moffat has a terrible tendency to borrow and regurgitate from other sources, and sometimes even from his own work, to the point that it all becomes much the same. And yes, he’s made The Doctor and Sherlock Holmes—characters with rich backgrounds and history—into cute and, in many ways, far less clever versions of their originals (or even of other incarnations of the same). These are valid points worthy of discussion. Can changes be made, courses corrected? With or without Moffat? In the case of Doctor Who, there is always room for change; the very fabric of the show is woven just for that. As for Sherlock, well, Moffat holds the corner on the current BBC take, but there will always be more Holmes somewhere (Elementary preems on CBS in just a couple more weeks). And in ANY case, if Moffat would just open his door to some fresh blood and new perspectives, general opinions of him might change for the better.
I’ll admit, then, that I am not without bias on that score. I’ve been denied the opportunity to write for either of Moffat’s current programs, and not for lack of trying (nor for lack of talent or ability, at least according to some sources—and no, I don’t mean family or friends). That doesn’t make the arguments against some of his work any less valid, mind. And don’t they say you should be nice to people on the way up, and then again when you’re at the top, because what goes up . . .
I’ve lived with Sherlock Holmes, in various forms, all my life, and now it appears my children are destined to do the same. This morning, my four-year-old daughter came to me and said, “John likes girls.”
There’s only one John in our mutual acquaintance, and that would be John Watson.
“Yes,” I said.
“Does Sherlock like girls?” she asked.
At this point, I began thinking, Oh, God. But what I said was, “Not really.”
“Does Sherlock like boys?” my daughter asked.
I chose my words carefully. “Well, he likes John. But he doesn’t really like many people.”
If I had hoped to lead her in a new direction, I was disappointed. Her next question was, “Does John like boys?”
Tread carefully, I told myself. “For friends. But not boyfriends.”
“Oh,” my daughter said with complete understanding. “You mean not for kissing.”
At this point I was dreading a question about whether Sherlock liked boys for kissing, but my daughter skipped away to finish her Pop Tart. Oookay. I never know with her. That may be the end of the discussion forever, or she may come back to rehash it. Could happen today. Could happen a month from now. But now I’m waiting for her teachers to tell me, “E— said something interesting today . . .”
Of course, the truth is there are a million different takes on John Watson and Sherlock Holmes, a wide variety of feelings and affections, a tide of emotions. I can’t soundly answer for all of them. But I try never to lie to my kids, either, and I want them to be open-minded and tolerant, too. So it’s a narrow ledge to walk.
“They’re best friends,” I did finally tell my daughter. Because regardless of all other feelings and conjecture, this much is certainly true. And for the moment, at least, this is an answer that satisfies her curiosity.
So today through tomorrow, my latest Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of Ichabod Reed” is free on Amazon Kindle. Go get your copy!
My latest Sherlock Holmes story, in the classic vein of Doyle. This one takes place not long before “The Mystery of the Last Line.” It’s currently only on Amazon Kindle, but it will be made available to other formats in 90 days.
- “Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of Ichabod Reed” (Amazon Kindle)
- “Alice,” “Secret Admirer,” and “The Summons” in Daily Flash 2013: 365 Days of Flash Fiction (Pill Hill Press)
- “Warm Bodies” in NorthNorthwest 7th Edition (Northwest Playwrights Alliance)
There are no upcoming productions at this time.
- Austin Film Festival, Austin, Texas (18-21 October 2012)
- San Francisco Writers Conference, San Francisco, California (14-17 February 2013)
Thought it might be interesting to take a quick inventory of all that’s happened thus far this year. The good and the bad.
- Scott interviewed for a new job (mid-January).
- I made travel arrangements for my trip to London (mid-January).
- I wrote and finished my novella “St. Peter in Chains” (January).
- Scott was offered the job in San Francisco and accepted (early February).
- My play “Warm Bodies” was produced and was a finalist at the Valley Repertory 3rd Annual Lab Works (late February).
- Movers packed up our house, and after a couple nights at a hotel we flew to San Francisco and moved into temp housing (mid-March).
- I flew to Boston for a night, then on to London for a 10-day stay, then back to Boston and home to San Fran (March-April).
- While in London I: converted “St. Peter in Chains” into a short screenplay, saw two plays, and celebrated Easter alone.
- I submitted the screenplay version of “St. Peter in Chains” to the Nicholl Fellowship (April).
- An area agent and an agency in the UK asked to look at my Sherlock spec; the UK agency also asked to read “St. Peter in Chains” (April)
- We sold our house in Massachusetts (April).
- I found out three pieces of my flash fiction had been accepted to be published in a 2013 anthology (May).
- The agent declined to represent me and the UK agency did not respond to my follow-up query (May).
- Scott’s parents visited and Scott and I celebrated our 11th anniversary by staying at El Drisco, eating at a fancy restaurant, and seeing Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers play at the Red Devil Lounge. Scott also gave me a gorgeous ring (May).
- We moved out of temp housing and into a new house in Livermore (May).
- I flew to Washington D.C. to see “Warm Bodies” produced as part of the Source Festival, and also got a chance to meet and spend the day with one of Scott’s high school friends who until then I’d only known online (June).
- Scripts sent to Script Pipeline and the Page Awards did not advance (June-July).
- After repeated rejections, I self-published the novella version of “St. Peter in Chains” as an e-book; it’s had steadily increasing sales (late June).
- Encouraged by the success of “St. Peter in Chains,” I also self-published “Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Last Line.” It has outpaced “St. Peter” by a large margin and has been especially popular in the UK (July).
- I did not advance in the Nicholl Fellowship (early August).
- I self-pubbed my Star Signs Operating Manual (August).
- I found out my play “Warm Bodies” was to be published in an upcoming anthology of short plays (August).
- I was invited to submit a full-length play to a competition that only accepts full-length plays via invitation (August).
- I did not advance in the Austin Film Festival screenwriting competition (August).
So . . . A mixed bag. I’ve left out the fact that a small army of query letters has gone without response. I’m chipping away, you see, but I wouldn’t mind a bit more success. The year is two-thirds over. Not sure what else I can hope to accomplish. I am working on another Sherlock Holmes story, and I am hoping to submit something to that playwriting competition. I’m also hoping some other plays I’ve submitted to various venues get selected for production. And more than anything I’d like these scripts I’ve written to get some notice. That, for me, would be the big win.
Thanks to Christine Rains for tagging me for this. Here are the rules: Search your current WIP for the first instance of the word “look” and paste the surrounding paragraph for everyone to read. Then tag as many people as you like/can to do the same.
My current WIP is my new Sherlock Holmes story.
He finished his tea, and I asked him where he could be reached should Holmes want to interview him further. But checking his watch, Durstwell said, “I’m afraid I cannot stay any longer. I must catch a train home. If you could only persuade Mr Holmes to look into this Ichabod Reed, I would be most obliged. My whole family would be.”