How I Came to Write Smoking on Mount Rushmore
One Sunday morning last autumn, I was grocery shopping with my wife at Shoppers Food Warehouse when the idea hit me. Why not put together a collection of my best published short stories as a Kindle or e-book release? I’d already published a collection of my P.I. Frank Johnson stories (Out Of Town A Few Days) in 2004. I didn’t believe I had enough material to fill out another new collection. So, after we got home and put away the groceries, I began poking around on my laptop in my “Published Short Stories” folder. I’ve been working exclusively on my novels for the past several years, so I’d forgotten about many of the stories. I also checked out my Publishing Bibliography I’d kept updated for some ideas on which stories to use.
I saw my crime short fiction had first appeared in venues like Shots, Thuglit, Mississippi Review Online, and Crime Scene Scotland. The editors selecting the short stories included Sarah Weinman, Allan Guthrie, Anthony Neil Smith, Todd Robinson, and Russel D. McLean. None of that seemed too shabby to me, so I decided to keep on pressing ahead with my project. After a lot of mental wrangling, I selected 13 stories and called them my “best of,” completely based on my opinion, of course.
After I did some online research about assembling short story collections, I read where the author is expected to offer the reader something new besides the previously published stories. That struck me as a reasonable deal, and it sent me scurrying to my “Unpublished Short Stories” folder. Fortunately, I culled out three unpublished stories, one of them a longer tale. They weren’t half-bad either. I spent a few weeks polishing those three stories before I read the other 13 stories. Their quality just didn’t leave me feeling happy at all.
I’d also read online that short story writers often have to do major edits on their work before it’s ready to be included in a collection. That made me feel a little better. Off I went and tackled the edit job on each of the 13 published stories. That effort to do it the way I wanted to took longer than what I’d originally estimated it would. Sometimes edits seem like they’ll go on forever, but I finally reached a place of enough peace to end my revising.
Smoking on Mount Rushmore rounded out to 55,000 words, and the stories range in tone from soft-boiled to hard-boiled and noirish. Smoking on Mount Rushmore is for sale as a Kindle release on U.S. Amazon for $2.99 and U.K. Amazon for £1.91.
I’d like to thank Patti for having me do a guest blog post.
U.S. Amazon link: http://is.gd/8qaWbz
U.K. Amazon link: http://is.gd/FKk97J