Hindsight it truly 20/20. But it doesn’t lessen its value. If you told me 5 years ago that I would have a bestselling series of books out there based upon a talking/psychic mule, I would have told you to fuck off. I had long ago given up my dream of ever being a published writer. I had resigned myself to finishing out my life of quiet desperation being a lawyer. And there is nothing wrong with that. It is an admirable profession.
I had met a lot of famous people, worked on some really interesting and high-profile cases, with and against some really brilliant people, and made enough money to enjoy a comfortable, middle-class existence. After three decades, I had made it in a tough profession in the toughest city in the world. Most of the people I met along the way were quite happy with that life.
But one early morning back in late 2018, I adopted a mule named Claire. A truly magical beast. That’s her on the covers of my books, above. Right from the get-go, we had some great conversations, and a lot of laughs as I pulled my Green Acres attempt at becoming a Mule Whisperer. Claire was very patient and insightful. Listened to my stories about growing up in the Bronx. She thought I was crazy. Imagine that?
Anyway, one day in early 2019, Claire told me I should write it all down. I hadn’t written anything creative since the last century. I didn’t know if I could even really do it. Part of me wanted to delay the process by going out there and reading books on how to write a novel. Falling back on my legal training, I felt that if I was doing research I was moving forward.
But then I realized that I didn’t want to have anyone telling me how to do things. I didn’t want to learn the rules of the process. They would just make me feel like I couldn’t and shouldn’t try. I was too old for that shit.
So one morning, after I had gone out to feed Claire before the Witching Hour, and by the way, she was always pressing me to see if I had started writing, I sat down and typed the first sentence – “I promise not to bore you with a tedious recitation of my formative years.”
I didn’t know when I typed those words whether I would keep that promise. I wasn’t sure where the story was going to take me. I didn’t plot anything out. I just started writing.
Three months later, working two-hours each early morning, I typed what I thought was the end of the story. When it was done the title became obvious – The Wise Ass.
I put it in a drawer.
Now, in the summer of 2019, I met a real character named Ricky Ginsburg. He was a New Jersey transplant to Northern Colorado, whose accent was almost as thick and funny as my own. He had an east coast sensibility and sense of humor. And the man could write like all get out. Funny as fuck.
Ricky had recently published a novel called The Blue Macaw (I highly recommend it) with a small independent publisher in Texas called Black Rose Writing. I had let Ricky read TWA. He got the New Yawk humor. He told me I should go on line and submit it to BRW. He couldn’t and wouldn’t guaranty that they would like it, but he said it was worth a shot.
I didn’t get around to submitting it until January of 2020. A New Year’s resolution to take more risks. Then I forgot about it.
One morning in March 2020, I saw an email from BRW. It took me a few seconds to place it. In fact, I had deleted it before it dawned on me what it was. So I went into the trash file and recovered it.
I still didn’t read it for a few minutes because I was pretty sure it was going to be one of those “nice writing but” emails.
It was from a guy named Reagan Rothe.
The first two sentences read, “[w]e feel strongly that your project will make a successful addition to our publishing house. I am excited about adding an author with such high potential to the Black Rose Writing family . . . .”
I double-checked the email to make sure I was the right recipient. It took a few minutes to sink in.
Then I did the unthinkable (and slightly dangerous). I ran up three flights of stairs and woke my still sleeping wife.
After I signed the one-off contract to publish the book, I reached out to my old and dear friend, the Irish author and film maker, Colin Broderick, and asked him if he would read it for me.
You never want to impose on writers to read your work, because they are busy with their own shit and you are afraid that they will tell you something horrible about your writing or story.
The next day, Colin sent me an email containing the magical blurb “This is Grisham on mushrooms.”
Now that I had the cover blurb, I needed a cover. I had reached out to two artists to create something, and for their own reasons, they had to back out at the last second.
A dear friend of mine, Jimmy Fronsdahl, who had read TWA, and gave me some valuable editing suggestions, said his wife, Kathy, was a great photographer and maybe could help me out. That Saturday, she stopped by Casa Claire and just followed Claire around until she has shot 400 photos.
The very last shot was Claire standing on the side of the barn, looking back over her shoulder. As soon as I saw it I knew it was perfect.
Jimmy became the basis for Whitey the Werewolf in KMAG.
On February 18th, 2021, about two years ago, TWA was launched for actual sale on all of the major literary outlets.
I remember one of the first reviews that appeared on-line was a scathing – this author is one and done.
Over 5 thousand readers have chimed in since then, and most liked the story, and loved Claire. I have become friends with some of those readers.
During that time I’ve written three more books. An Alien Appeal and Kissing My Ass Goodbye, has rounded off The Claire Trilogy. Both have hit number 1 and have been perennial bestsellers – both sitting this morning in the top 10 with TWA.
On April 13th, 2023, the prequel to TCT, Finding Jimmy Moran, will hit the shelves.
Claire thought I should write the prequel before the sequel to TCT. Who am I to argue?
I intend to write the sequel – Where The Ley Lines Meet – this summer.
I have a few more sets of eyes photos to display which basically represent the FJM cover – with Claire again on it (Richard Lamb does my covers and is brilliant) – and the story.
The first is Dr. Bob Gentry, the husband of one of my reader friends, Adrienne Stuki, who has gotten an author’s copy of FJM.
Thank you Adrienne for arranging the photos.
FJM has started appearing sporadically in the top 100, along with its siblings, during the past week or so, with two months left before it actually arrives to the public at large. Fingers crossed.
It provides the magical insight as to the flawed but redeemable character, Jimmy Moran, but it should only be read after you meet him in TCT. Because Claire is a central character in FJM as well. And Jimmy doesn’t really exist without Claire. I put my heart and soul – and most of my family and friends – into FJM. I think anyone who enjoyed TCT, will love FJM.
Think about one of those crazy nights in your youth, where your funniest friend rushes into the bar where you have been drinking all night, and starts with the line, “You are never going to fucking believe this . . . ”
I pinch myself every day over the luck I have had over these past few years.
I cannot explain why TCT is successful, beyond the fact that BRW has been so very supportive of all of the books. I love Reagan Rothe. He took a chance on this old dude with no writing credits to his name. That’s ballsy.
But I can tell every aspiring writer out there that you should never give up on your dream, no matter how old you get, or how discouraged you may feel. Do not die with your story left untold within you. Write it down, even if you are only going to leave it in a drawer. You never know what will happen. Even if you die before it is published. I refer you all to an amazing novel called “A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.
Toole’s mother found a smeared copy of the manuscript in his desk after he died and she relentlessly pushed for its publication to anyone who would listen. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1981.
So make sure you always leave a clean copy of your novel in an accessible drawer. You never know.
To sum up this story – I am long winded – never, ever, give up on your dreams, whatever they are.
Okay, now I have to go and take care of my weekend chores. Claire awaits.
But I want to thank you fine, five readers for your continued support.
I couldn’t have gotten here without you.
I hope you enjoy, Finding Jimmy Moran.
Most of all, have a great day.
The paintings behind both of my guys were done by my dad LDW. Bob’s last name is Gentry…Dr. Bob Gentry. I can see him rolling his eyes now. I kept my original married name because everything I owned was in it. A real pain-in-the-ass to change. My mom said HELL No to a picture. Okay mom. Every single person I have suggested your books to have loved them. That’s a lot of people. 🙂
All fixed. This is a no eye rolling zone.
Never doubted your ability..your perseverance has paid off..honored to know you
Tommy – in my Outlook calendar I have a monthly reminder to “Write my Story”. You have inspired me to do so and I will begin immediately. I have all of these memories, achievements and adventures that I have fortunately experienced and I would like to pass those down to my kids, grandkids and future Droz’s to come. Thanks for the push. Love you brother.
Quite a journey, and how ironic it took a “kick in the ass” to get you to fulfill your dream. (I know Claire didn’t kick you, but in a way she gave your mind a kick.) All good, and sometimes the best things happen to those who wait. The Clan loves you!
Actually, the very first time I brushed Claire she cow-kicked my in my right knee. Saw stars. She was just letting me know not to take liberties without asking.
I am so happy for you and grateful to know you and these magical books thanks to our mutual friend Helen.
Since I’m writing this in game day, “go birds!”