After years of rejection and wanting to be a writer, and trying to be a writer, I finally feel like, well, a writer. I’m happy to say that I signed two new book contracts in the month of March.
The first one, with Black Rose Writing, is Shed Girl: A Juliet French Novel, due to be release January 2024.
Shed Girl is a contemporary crime novel set in the small fictional town of Annie’s Court on Washington’s northern coast. Annie’s Court has a runaway problem. Runaways arrive and then they disappear. Juliet French, an old runaway herself, does tarot readings for petty cash at the Farmers Market. Across the market Tony LeCrosse sells toys. Juliet notices the runaways flock to LeCrosse. Just before they go missing. After witnessing the abduction of a young boy, Detective Benson Picard solicits Juliet’s help. Already determined to find the boy, she agrees to Benson’s terms. Juliet, a strong female lead, feels the danger in the cards when Tony LeCrosse invites her to a party. He wants her to entertain his guests with tarot readings. Juliet balks at the word “entertain” but agrees anyway. When Kyle shows up at LeCrosse’s party, Juliet’s spine “turns to stardust and fairies rush in.” The two team-up to find the missing kids. But Kyle has secrets of his own.
The second one, with Farcountry Press, is Mary MacLane: Butte’s Wild Woman and her Wooden Heart.
Mary MacLane: Butte’s Wild Woman and her Wooden Heart is popular history and will likely be out in 2025.
Mary MacLane, a western woman like no other, believed her voice mattered. She lived in Butte, Montana, in 1902 when she wrote her first manuscript, I Await the Devil’s Coming. In contrast to the murky hues of the mining town, MacLane’s writing was sensuous, poetic, and colorful. It was full of rich inner revelations, all scandalous for the time. Although some felt appalled by her bold irreverence, many in the public loved it.
That spring, for some unknown reason, she sent the manuscript to a religious publisher in Chicago, George H. Doran. He realized that they could not use it and sent it over to Herbert S. Stone & Company. Herbert S. Stone & Company picked it up, changed the title to The Story of Mary MacLane, and published it. The Story of Mary MacLane sold over 100,000 copies in the first month.
Besides being an instant bestseller, the critics bellowed their disapproval. The New York Herald wrote, “She is mad.” The New York Times suggested she should be spanked. The Butte Public Library announced that it would not allow the book on their shelves.
Mary MacLane was 19 years old when she found fame.
She had a conflicted relationship with her hometown of Butte, Montana. The town referred to her as “Butte’s Wild Woman,” both disparaging her and claiming her. She said the town “loved to hate her.” She couldn’t wait to escape and live her wildest dreams. And for a while, she did. She moved east and wrote, “Far away in Butte, Montana I had fancied the sea, and here it is.”
While today we might say that she was self-centered, self-absorbed, or narcissistic, she lived during a time when only absolute faith in herself opened doors and brought her freedom.
She wrote during a time when women could not vote, female convicts were housed in male prisons, pimps were grabbing the sex trade out of the hands of the madams, Jeannette Rankin was on her way to becoming the first woman elected to the US House of Representatives, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn rallied working-class women around the west to organize against oppression and join the IWW. She wrote during a time women were trying to find a world with equal ground, a world where their voices did matter.