James D. McCallister

author of the Edgewater County series

February 2013 Writing Projects Update

As work progresses in 2013, every month or so I’ll post an update.


After a fast and somewhat mysterious rejection from Simon & Schuster, the MS is currently at Penguin Group, where the longer it stays the better: these things take time. I persuaded an agent, Michelle L. Johnson, who persuaded an editor to take a look at the MS, who (we hope) liked it and wants to buy it and is now persuading the folks across the table that this book has potential. Which it does. All good things in all good time.


The big dog: this literary drama sits ready, willing, and able to move readers: revised through many drafts and with support materials prepared and at hand, I remain optimistic that this layered, heady, darkly humorous wail of Gen X nihilism and despair one day finds its way to bookshelves and e-readers. With its Edgewater County setting and intense subject matter—tortured end-stage alcoholic Devin confronting narcissistic best friend-slash-secret serial killer Billy—MOHG would make a fine, ready-made followup to DOGS. Readers of my work, most of whom won’t realize that this book was completed before DOGS, should perceive MOHG as a major step up in literary ambition and accomplishment.


Since the piece was always intended to have foreign and movie potential, after I was signed by my agent I set to work on a screenplay version, which I’d already thought about but hadn’t tackled. At over halfway to a first draft, I feel really good about how the story has translated so far—it’s been a blast figuring out ways of distilling down the layers of plot from the expansive novel form to the very restrictive parameters of screenwriting. A draft in hand by the middle of the month.


Novel 2012 a/k/a LET THE GLORY PASS AWAY is in 2nd-draft form, and day by day I’m reading and tweaking little bits of business. This one’s inspired by the last couple of years of watching Columbia’s arts community come into its own. I’ll be asking for beta readers on this MS very soon.


This first-draft, short ‘new adult’ or ‘crossover fiction’ piece has gone out to beta readers. It’s far too early for beta readers, really, but I wanted to get a sense of whether this narrative and voice is working. I’ll make a post about the reactions to this one after they come back—I’ve heard from one already who feels that it has potential but needs work, specifically in terms of consistency of voice. No big surprise there—I had my own concerns about that and other issues, and all fixable through revision.


This script is polished and being sent around this spring to a few competitions.

THE NIGHT I PRAYED TO ELVIS (story collection)

This linked story collection, which includes previously published material like ‘Trailer Trash’ and ‘Heroes and Villains,’ simply needs to be given an overall polish and tweak to make sure that all the stories fit together as they should. Will go out to a few competitions this spring (but I’ve already missed Ohio State U’s annual comp—something has to occasionally fall by the wayside).

I’ve more than a few ideas simmering on the creative stove as well (including a very commercial dystopian romance), but I’ll save comments on non-completed work for a future post. For now, I’m following the Henry Miller rule of (basically) working on one major project at a time until completion, and for the next week or so it’s that DOGS script. And while I think my Edgewater County crime saga WANDO will be my novel for summer 2013, I’ll have to see if any of my new ideas seem more interesting, or feasible, than that one—WANDO will cover a little Edgewater County history along with its story of aspiring writer Jasper Glasscock and the captured killer Coy Wando, and my research is not all in place on that one yet. Soon.

About dmac

James D. McCallister is a South Carolina author of novels, short stories, and creative nonfiction. His latest book, a story collection called The Year They Canceled Christmas, releases in November 2017.

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