Sunday, February 27, 2011

Like a Phoenix From the Ashes . . .

A little more than three years ago, when we were cleaning up after the fire, we found some of our manuscript files that were charred to various extents but still appeared to be reasonably complete because they were in file folders packed pretty tightly into a metal filing cabinet. All of them went into a plastic tub, and there they sat in storage, unexplored.


Until now.


The other day Livia and I dug out that tub and went through the manuscripts. We had no idea what they were or whether anything would be usable, but with the possibility now of publishing things as e-books, it seemed like a worthwhile endeavor. Like a little treasure hunt, almost.


Boy, talk about the memories. About half of the manuscripts in the tub were copies of stories that were published, going all the way back to my MSMM days. Nice to have them for historical and nostalgic purposes, maybe, but not anything we could use now.


Then there was a big stack of unsold proposals, outlines, and in some cases up to 25,000 words or so of unfinished novels. Some of it may be crap, but I’ll bet a lot of it isn’t. Those of you who are writers know that some of the books you don’t sell are just as good or better than some of the books you do. There are a couple of science fiction adventure novels and several big historical yarns that I’d love to have the time to finish and upload to Amazon for the Kindle. I’ll have to add those to the list of things I’m going to get around to one of these days, if I can ever figure out how to get by without all that pesky eating and sleeping I’ve been known to do.


Now the best part. We found a complete novel mystery novel by Livia that sold but was never paid for or published. Also a Western short story of mine that was published in Finnish in one of Juri Nummelin’s magazines but never in English, and a couple of hardboiled sleaze yarns aimed at the DUDE/GENT/NUGGET market. I’ll have to read those two to see if they’re worth doing anything with. Maybe I’ll stick ‘em up on Amazon under a pseudonym for 99 cents.


I have no idea when any of this stuff will see the light of day, if it ever does, but it’s good to have these stories back. That’s probably the end, though, as far as recovering older manuscripts goes. I can’t think of anywhere there could be anything else.

15 comments:

Terrill Lee Lankford said...

James, you can get those pages scanned cheap and you'll be more than half way to the Kindle sales.

Glad you found this stuff and it's a damn shame you can't find more.

David Cranmer said...

Very cool you were able to salvage these. Treasure hunt indeed!

pattinase (abbott) said...

What a treat that must have been.

James Reasoner said...

I can get the stuff scanned real cheaply since Livia has a scanner and OCR program. She'll photocopy the pages so she doesn't have to feed the charred originals through the scanner. She's already done some work on a cover for my hardboiled sleaze double feature, as I'm calling it. Now I just need to actually read the stories and see if there's anything there worth publishing.

Charles Gramlich said...

Some good luck indeed. I'm glad this stuff is still alive.

Matthew P. Mayo said...

That's fantastic for you both. I can't wait to read this stuff (be sure to share your "sleaze" pseudonym!).

James Reasoner said...

I'm almost afraid to read the stories. Evidently they didn't sell, so they might be really terrible.

The pseudonym I used most often on men's magazine stories was Jay Morris. I may use it on these if I publish them, or I may just say the heck with it and use my own name.

Juri said...

The Western/horror short story is very good, you should put that up immediately! I'm pretty certain I have your ms. in my computer, would you like me to take a look?

And congrats for the find! I'd be interested in your hardboiled stories for my mags, if you'd care to send me some.

James Reasoner said...

Juri, if you've got that file and can send it to me, that would be great. Many thanks!

Richard R. said...

a couple of SF adventure novels, eh? I am intrigued.

Cap'n Bob said...

I salivate at the prospect.

Cap'n Bob said...

BTW, thank god for paper.

George said...

The ebook format is going to give a second life to plenty of novels and short stories.

Juri said...

James, I'll take a look. In the mean time, I sent you an e-mail, but it seems to have bounced back. Should I use Facebook instead?

James Reasoner said...

Juri,
I don't know why your email to me bounced, but yeah, just go ahead and send me a message on Facebook.