I've been on a writing roll. It's as if my ennui, where I have had to slug out the pages and pray for the best, disappeared into the mist. MURDER ON THE MATTAPONI was in the desk drawer because I was afraid to tackle its rewrites. Once I became brave enough to assess the mess ( how cheesy is that?), the book took back its life and shaped itself up. I was so pleased, I tackled another 100,000 word monster I'd been avoiding. Voila! The freedom to make wholesale cuts (and boy, howdy, did I) pared it down to a lean 79,000 worder and a better story. OUT OF NOWHERE lived! The Halloween stories I've written every year for about 20 came together as SCARY STORIES FOR HALLOWEEN with some judicious editing. Eight stories were too young for the collection, so I may edit a set next year for younger readers.

This puts the current new mystery front and center. Time to quit tinkering and start hammering. I always cut the first forty pages of every new book (I think it just takes me forty pages to warm up to the people), so I don't worry about those "lost" pages anymore, I just write 'em. The first forty are done, so it's time for THE CASTOFFS to rock and roll.

I may put on Aerosmith in the background.