My aunt is a professional palm-reader, and as such, she has a fairly diverse customer base. Apparently, a real big-time Hollywood producer has my Noni commune with the spirits, I would guess, to see if Polar Express would pay off on the back end. My mom thought it would be a good idea for me, as a burgeoning young writer, to take advantage of this connection. I demurred, largely because working for Hollywood sounds like no fun on almost all accounts, and also because I couldn’t imagine telling that story to anybody later and ever being taken seriously. (“How’d you get this gig?” “Oh, my aunt is the producer’s psychic.” “Oh. Hey, fetch me a coffee, would you?”)
But as it turns out, the guy has run into some major health problems lately. I guess the spirits didn’t see that coming. (Actually, to be fair to my aunt, she insists that the deal she made with the universe was based on the fact that she didn’t wanna be privy to any bad stuff. Maybe she can’t prevent assassinations like Johnny Smith can, but I can understand not wanting to see the dark side of… whatever the hell it is she’s talking about. I digress.) But my aunt still wanted to help in some way with my writing career, and at this point, I was a little more open to the idea, since the Chinese water torture of forklift operation training at my day-job. So she put me in touch with writer and all-around lovely person, Tucker Malarkey (whose moniker officially surpasses “Catfish Hunter” as greatest name ever).
Tucker is a published author with two novels under her belt, and a pretty impressive résumé in general, including a book on the Reagan administration and teaching kids English in Africa. I fancy myself not a bad author, but the scope of my experience doesn’t go much farther than the graveyard shift at the 7-11. Naturally, Random House is not beating a path to my door, but I guess my mom and my aunt thought Tucker could somehow grandfather me in or something. They don’t know any more than I do about big publishing, but I’m pretty sure that ain’t happening.
But Tucker gave me a call one afternoon as I was washing the dishes, and in short order, it seemed like she was pretty envious of me. She had checked out the stuff I’ve had published on the exclusive Internet over the past couple years and reached the conclusions that:
a) I am in fact quite a capable writer, but most importantly,
b) I have a built-in support system.
This is the Internet. At least as it is today, now that I’ve come to realize it’s more than just a forum for Star Trek nerds. There was a time when I wouldn’t have one of these machines in my house, left-over technophobia from early exposure to Maximum Overdrive. But then e-mail became fairly essential in keeping touch with my yahoo friends, especially since I still don’t own a cell phone.
Then, a couple years ago, I was reading CrimeSpree Magazine and heard of this on-line rag called Plots with Guns. I had been sitting on this one short story entitled “When Dawn Came Without Salvation,” which I really liked, but never figured on it getting published. Out of the handful of short stories I was at the time shopping around to various little literary mags, “Salvation” was the red-headed stepchild, a story chockfull of all the table scraps littering the margins of my notebooks. But I figured, what the hell, it’s got a gun or two in it, maybe this Anthony Neil Smith guy would dig it.
So I shot it over to him, and then almost immediately forgot about it. I’ve found the turn-around for rejections to be a couple months, so I settled in for the wait. Four (4!) minutes later, I had an e-mail in my in-box from Smith. Hell, that was fast. I hadn’t been shot down that quickly since last time I hit the lesbian bar.
But sure enough, the crazy sum’bitch accepted it. And to this day, I kick myself for not diving into this neo-noir scene that much more quickly. It’s like when I finally discovered punk rock: hey, there’s a whole shitload of people who are into the same stuff as me, creative, funny, and smart people who want to be my friends! Who woulda thunk it?
Tucker is a very talented writer, and her success is well-deserved. So to have her call me up and pretty much congratulate me on what I’ve managed to build already with the help of my friends was no small gesture by any means. I can now count on people to not only be wise associates but also dear friends in this venture: Cameron Ashley, Josh Converse, Aldo Calcagno, Laura Roberts, Daniel B. O’Shea, Keith Rawson, Eric Beetner, Jason Duke, Paul D. Brazill, A.J. Hayes, Garnett Elliott, Anthony Neil Smith, Patti Abbott, Christopher Grant, Chad Eagleton, Brian S. Roe, and so many more that I kinda wish I hadn’t started this list for fear of leaving someone out. Words fail me when it comes to expressing not just my gratitude for being associated with these guys and dolls, but for them helping me build this city on rock and roll. I only hope I can help do the same for them as well. And perhaps one day, the whole motley crew of us shall rule over the publishing industry with an iron fist in a Playtex glove.
I’ll ask my aunt what she sees in our future.
In the meantime, make mine small press.
For more info, visit attentionchildren.blogspot.com, or send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to “Jimmy Callaway Information,” Pueblo, CO.