Thursday, February 16, 2012

The die is cast

Today turned into a busy day for me. As part of the environmental restoration at Aquarena, two huge cranes were scheduled to lift the old submarine theater out of Spring Lake and move it to shore, where the steel structure could be cut apart for scrap and recycled. I got to wrangle media. The first attempt revealed that the submarine theater was heavier than estimated, so the the straps needed repositioning to better distribute the weight. The second attempt ended when one of the straps broke just as the lift began. After careful consideration, those in charge decided to bring in a larger crane to assist tomorrow before trying again. This took up my entire morning and most of the afternoon. It is amazing how draining it is to stand in chilly wind all day. Those of you in Austin might get to see me stammer in front of the camera if you watch YNN or KEYE. Point and laugh if you feel the need to.

But once I finished with all of that, I found something unexpected in my email. My Chicken Ranch proposal had made it through the first round of vetting, and I was formally invited to submit the proposal and sample chapters to the University of Texas Press. So I did. Now the nervous second-guessing sets in (those of you who are writers know this feeling). UT Press is, I'm pretty much convinced, the best possible home for the book. They understand Texas history and the unique niche the Chicken Ranch occupies in the state's collective psyche. That's not to say I'd turn down a six-figure advance from Random House, but I'm confident UTP will keep it in print with solid sales in perpetuity. That is, if they buy it. Fingers are crossed.

So, here's a sample of what I wrote last night:
Mixing that much testosterone together in one place, with cadets from Texas A&M and fraternity brothers from the University of Texas, plus however many other customers--most of whom had at least a little beer in them--practically guaranteed fights on occasion. Mostly those involved postured for a bit before backing down, but sometimes scuffles broke out. If things got out of hand, a quick phone call brought out a deputy from the sheriff’s office, but most fights sorted themselves out long before the law arrived.
I would hope the editors in Austin are so blown away by my timeless prose and literary genius that they call me up tonight and offer me a publishing deal. Alas, I know that's not how these things work. I can expect a response of some sort in 6-8 weeks, which is really going to drive me mad with anticipation. Have I mentioned fingers are crossed?

Now Playing: Philharmonisches Orchester Bamberg Franz Schubert: Wanderer Fantasy in C Major op. 15 d760
Chicken Ranch Central


  1. UT? Not A&M? Anyway, a great choice, and I hope it works out.

  2. Purely a business decision. A&M Press would be a poor choice for this book, I'm afraid, Bill. I suspect they'd take it, but it just doesn't fit in well with the bulk of what they publish. I suspect it'd end up a virtual orphan, unsupported. Texas does a much better job with Lone Star general history and folklore. Heck, so does TCU. And Eakin Press. A&M's pretty far down the list.