New eBook Release and Other Writerly Happenings

I haven't provided much of an update in the world of Allie (the writer) since returning from the conference.

Yes, I've epublished my book Scarlet Letters: The Tale of the Vampire Mailman on Smashwords and Amazon, but more on that in a minute.

First, I received a response from Joanna Volpe, whom I pitched on The Stargazers at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. While it was ultimately a rejection, she was incredibly helpful in identifying areas that she thought were weak as well as the ones that were strong. She remembered me specifically from the pitch and was incredibly supportive and friendly there as well, so I'm so pleased I met her. I hope to be able to query or pitch to her again in the future, because those who have her as a representative are incredibly lucky and I'd love to be among them.

But because I've had my head buried in that story for three months nonstop working on revisions, I've decided to put it away for awhile so I can just let it (and my brain) rest. See, I've discovered something recently. It was when I cracked open Scarlet Letters to revise it last week. I hadn't looked at that particular book in the better part of a year, and as some of you might have read a few months ago, I had originally decided to shelve it permanently, giving it up for lost.

Louis Cross, hero of Scarlet Letters, through the brilliant artistry of Justin Wasson
In other words, I let the story (and the rejections it received...and really not all that many rejections, like maybe a dozen or so, which is basically nothing) defeat me. I'm more easily cowed than I think. My very supportive husband and friends (who had read the story in earlier drafts and enjoyed it, and who wouldn't just blow sunshine up my ass either) didn't agree with my decision. They thought it was a fun read and didn't want me to give up on it. My husband suggested maybe I was just feeling a little jaded by rejection and I wasn't seeing the same story everyone else was.

That stuck in my brain. After all, never has there been a better (and easier) time to self-publish. I already have a Smashwords store and a small presence on Amazon and other online bookstores. Why not bring it up to current standards, put it out there, and let the people decide? Of course, it needed a great cover, and I knew my writer/graphic designer friend Jeff Fielder was up to the task.

The act of hiring him really inspired me. It put a new sense of action and purpose into the project. It was like, "Hey, I just paid someone to help me put a real face on this book. This is for real. I need to make sure it's as good as it can possibly be so it will sell." It was no longer just a whim, but a business venture.

Another illustration by Justin Wasson
With the editing process, I put to use the great tips and lessons I'd learned about narrative voice at the conference, and I think the story really pops now. The original narrative was just so uptight and heavy (like most of my narratives unfortunately...that is my weakness as a writer). I also cut about 3000 words worth of info-dumping and other unnecessary words. On my next blog, I'll post some passages so you can see the difference. But even with the voice issues, the book was better and less simplistic than I remembered it being. It's a good book. It was time I forgave it and gave it the chance it deserved.

With The Stargazers, I intend to attack it again after a few months to give it the same sort of attention that I can't right now because its current rhythms are so embedded in my brain, and I will start the query process anew, because I believe the book can and will be published someday. Every professional who has read it so far has had the same thing to say: "Concept is great, but the voice needs to be stronger." My query has caught the attention of some pretty big agents. So I just need to let the manuscript live up to its promise.

Finally, I have two (well, actually three...no wait, FOUR) projects in the works. First is a diselpunk noir/murder mystery, Colt Coltrane and the Lotus Killer. If you like pulpy, dark stories featuring hardboiled detectives in an anachronistic 1940s Los Angeles with a little bit of H.P. Lovecraft mixed in for fun, this is for you. If you're wondering whether I was inspired to write this by my obsessive play of the new game L.A. Noire, you'd be right. Hey, I've always wanted to write a story like this, but now I actually feel inspired.

I'm also putting together a short story collection for release on Smashwords and Amazon later in the summer called Cigarette Burns. It'll feature about 10 stories, some previously published work, some already written but never published, some as yet written but in my head. Why that title? Because in searching for a common theme among my short work, I think most of the characters experience a "dark spot" in their lives that signals a "changing of the reel." So to speak.

The third project will be a return to my co-authoring steampunk project with Ian Healy, The Oilman's Daughter. It's taken forever to get this one rolling again, but we're about 40,000 words in, and a recent re-read of the material affirms that it's a hell of a story that needs to be finished.

Last but not least, I'm finally bringing about a return to my movie review site, ReviewKu. Originally intended to be a haiku-film review fusion, it's going to be featuring mostly straight-up reviews and other musings on movies. Though I'll probably throw in some haiku for the hell of it. For those who don't know, I used to write movie reviews many years ago, and for whatever reason (namely laziness), I gave it up to pursue other things. Reading some of my old pieces recently, I realized that many of them were pretty damn good. And I miss it. So expect to see an announcement about the revamped site in the next few months.

Well, that's my present and immediate future as a writer. Great things are happening, and I look forward to seeing what the later part of the year brings. Glad to have you all along for the ride, and do check out Scarlet Letters. It's the best three bucks you'll spend on a laugh. Promise.

1 comment:

  1. I'm very excited about the new project, as well as thrilled to get back into regular production of The Oilman's Daughter. I really think we'll sell that one.