Whenever I run into people who know I’m an author, they always ask when my next book is coming out, and invariably, “Why does it take so long?” It’s a really good question. To answer it, let me take you on a journey.

I began writing this novel just over three years ago. Seems like forever since I started talking about it, I know. The voyage since has been much like getting a second college degree and lasts about as long, though this diploma has already proved more useful than the one I absconded with when Reagan was president.

The book cover you see here is the result of those long semesters, starting from the time I was fortunate enough to get my manuscript to a top-notch literary agent in New York, the very heart of the publishing world (and where the best bagels in the universe are consumed). That process alone is daunting. It’s a minefield, really, with lots of places you can blow yourself to pieces. There are so many terrific (and undiscovered) authors out there, and competing for an agent is often more difficult than actually finding a publisher. I met a lot of authors along the way that had simply given up trying, having been rejected more than a hundred times. My agent began working on my behalf in early 2021, helping me to sharpen what started as PROJECT 57 and later became THE BITTER PAST. By May of last year, only a few months into our relationship, she had sold it to Minotaur Books, which is an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, which is a publishing house owned by the mighty Macmillan Publishers, one of the “Big Five” publishing companies, which is a subsidiary of Sears, Roebuck (I think). I’m ecstatic, literally jumping up and down at this point.

I began working with the folks at Minotaur, again to tighten up the story and get it ready for everything that needs to happen BEFORE it goes to print, and let me tell you, that’s a whole lot of stuff. We went through a couple more rounds of edits, lots of back and forth with a great team of people, all in an effort to deliver the absolute best version of this book to my target audience—essentially anyone who can read or has ears (audio version). This went on for several months. I started to see a dim light at the end of a very long tunnel.

Then we start a protracted negotiation on the title of the book. Picture a large boardroom in some Manhattan skyscraper with about twenty creative types sitting around the conference table—that’s what I did, anyway. A list is prepared of possible titles. The process takes weeks. There is much fighting, and several people on the team are injured. Finally, some sort of secret vote is taken, and THE BITTER PAST emerges as the winner. Honestly, I was a bit underwhelmed. But I’m not in the publishing business. I’m in the writing business, and sometimes you have to let the mechanic work on your car because he knows a lot more about what makes it work than you do. They promised a great cover to go along with the title, and I have to say the one you see here captures my story better than anything I had imagined.

My uber-agent and the people at Minotaur then set about securing author quotes for the book jacket. I can only imagine what this involves, but suffice to say that bribery ensues, favors traded, and people like Craig Johnson, people at the top of their literary game, are miraculously convinced to add their name to mine in an effort to drive sales.

There are miles to go before this book lands in bookstores in July, and from everything I’ve seen so far, it’s a trip well worth taking. I hope you agree and promise to keep you posted as more of these mysteries are revealed.


P.S. You can preorder THE BITTER PAST now at:


Barnes & Noble,