The Art of Juggling

Things have been rather quiet this week at Stark House. No new books came in. No review copies to mail out. Very few returns. Hardly any orders. The Fall Doldrums are upon us, that brief lull before Holiday Madness. In fact, most of the mystery bookstore folks are probably at Bouchercon this weekend down in Raleigh, North Carolina. Rick Ollerman is certainly there, making the rounds.

He’s got a new book out which we had hoped to publish before Bouchercon. But we had to push it back to December for one reason or another. Truth Always Kills is the title, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say on that before too long. Bouchercon notwithstanding, it’ll be worth the wait. It’s the story of a cop who has to decide between protecting his family, and remaining true to his profession. Rick nails it with this one.

Meantime, we continue to offer a bit of the old and the new this month with a new dark urban fantasy by Catherine Butzen—Fell the Angels—and an early mystery by Andrew Coburn called The Babysitter. I usually try not to offer two books in one month because it wrecks havoc with the Stark House Crime Club. These patient members keep trying to catch up and I keep doubling the number of books we’re publishing. As I mentioned in the current newsletter, this year we’re publishing 22 books. Two years ago we published seven books. We’re just going book-crazy here at Stark House. (Going, going, GONE!)

But seriously, I do worry that we’re starting to get ahead of ourselves, publishing more than even we can keep up with. Sometimes I’m sitting here working on three or four books at once—scanning and editing one, working on the cover of another, trying to find someone to write an introduction for a third, and dealing with the printer proofs on a fourth. I’m not very good at making lists, and I sometimes wonder how I juggle all this around. And then I’ll forget to follow up on something and realize, I don’t have this juggling thing down as well as I think I do.

This week, for example, I sent out two proposals for what I hope will be new Harry Whittington and A. S. Fleischman books. I’m also working with Mark, the art director, to finish up the text and cover files for the review copies of our January book by H. Vernor Dixon, as well as work on designs for the February books. I also found time to scan another Algernon Blackwood book for next Spring, while reading a couple of Clifton Adams westerns which are so noirish, I am very tempted to reprint even though we aren’t really a western publisher.

And as much as I’d like to take the rest of the afternoon off and just do nothing, here I am writing my weekly blog. And, you know, I still love it. I’ve been a book person all my life, collecting and voraciously reading everything I could get my hands on as a teenager, reviewing books for the local newspaper in my 20s; working in a bookstore, then repping for a book distributor, finally becoming a sales rep for a New York publisher before starting my own distribution company in the 1990s. And then Stark House.

I still don’t know what I’m going to do when I grow up and have to get a real job, but hopefully, that will never happen.

–Greg Shepard


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