1st Anniversary of Publication (and future projects)

Apparently, my publisher has been around for eleven years. They sent us an e-mail to tell us to promote a sale they will be having (which will likely expire before anyone reads this) and to encourage us to reminisce about our first book published with them.

 That made me think—I totally missed the one year anniversary of my first novel being published and of being published in general in August. It’s definitely something to be proud of, and I am. One thing I wasn’t expecting was the sheer mediocrity of life afterwards. I knew it wasn’t going to be an earth shattering experience—I wasn’t going to get on the best seller by writing a gay werewolf novel. I did expect to feel different, though.

 I’m a slacker of a self-promoter, I loathe most social media, and I’m very secretive about my writing. I’ve counted, and only four of my friends know I’ve written anything. Why? We’d be here for some time. But I expected to have this inner glow or something. I’m thrilled, but I think I naively expected some constant, ongoing mental orgasm. It just doesn’t feel like a year yet for many reasons.

And what of the future? I’m working on something new that’s sort of beating my head in, constantly mewling like a needy child with volume control issues. When writing the synopsis, I knew that something was going to happen, but wasn’t exactly sure how, but as I was writing the synopsis, I sort of zoned out. When I finished writing the synopsis scene, I sort of snapped out of this daze, realized that was exactly what I wanted for the ending scene, and that it touched on and linked together all the things I needed it to. It was almost trance-like. I know how lame-bordering-on-pretentious-insanity that sounds, trust me. I’m making myself sick just typing this. But it was like I wasn’t even in the room when it happened. I sort of snapped out of it and realized that I had the ending I needed and wanted. And it was not only infinitely more exciting than what I had planned, but made more sense. But I didn’t see it coming. It’s logical, and when I finish writing it, I’m sure that absolutely nobody will be shocked, but I was unaware.

It’s times like that that I think Stephen King might have something. Maybe stories really are artifacts and we are just the archaeologists. Hopefully, I can assemble this one to be as good as it can be.

As for my wolf series I had a dream/cusp of sleeping thought which basically wrote Taylor’s book or filled out the remaining parts in the back of my mind. It’s a little dark, so I think that some of it will need to be lightened up, but knowing myself, it will likely stay right where it was. Taylor’s book is third (please, he was only 16 years old in the first and will be 18/19 in the second—he’s not ready to handle his mate yet, because...well, anyone who could handle Taylor would be a handful...and he is, trust me), but that did give me more direction with Quinton’s book.

One of the reasons I haven’t started Quinton’s book yet (aside from being distracted by life and working on other stuff), is that I have not liked his mate. I know who his mate is, I know that he’s an interesting character, I know his entire history, but I don’t yet understand him, and consequently I don’t like him all that much. It’s going to take some work to make him not only empathetic but to bring out the story there. Seeing how Taylor responded to Quinton’s mate (his name is Lucian, or “Lucky”, by the way) told me something about not only Taylor (who wants to take over every single scene he’s in. Freekin’ ham), but how he and Lucky react to each other and why. I think they will be hilarious together.

I am mostly over how difficult the publishing and editing process was, so that’s not the reason I haven’t written much. It has been a challenging time in my life, and things are finally evening out. Then…well, for the writers out there, have you ever done all the groundwork for something, researched, did family trees, lineages of magical creatures and their offspring, maps, cultures, religions, character sketches, and were starting to work on the synopsis…only to realize that it just wasn’t time to write it yet? It’s enough to give you an aneurysm! I’m sure the stuff will remain the same, but my enthusiasm wasn’t there, I don’t think I have the experience to pull it off yet, and (aside from being a giant chicken) it just didn’t feel right. I wasn’t in the mind set. I was more doom, gloom, apocalypse, and (apparently) pseudo-steampunk rather than fantasy. So, I put it off and it felt right. I’m not abandoning it…it’s just not time yet.

But mostly, I have been lazy and preoccupied for a year. That has changed. Writing can support life rather than the other way around and it is a valuable lesson I’m still learning.

Xmas Wishes and Mental Betrayal

So, this is the last week before the Pig Launching Extravaganza which always taints the beginning of the year at my day job (the one we are always being admonished not to quit). (For those newcomers, I don’t want to say where I actually work and therefore curtail what I might otherwise say — people have gotten fired for openly maligning the Almighty Company on public media. So, I state that my job entails launching pigs from cannons.) We got the e-mail today and are looking at 10 hour days, 6 days a week for the first month and “as needed” for the ensuing months. It was expected.

However, Christmas draws nigh. I have consumed my weight in Hershey’s Candy Cane kisses and watched my Christmas movies — chief among them Disney’s CGI A Christmas Carol. If you want a traditional Xmas movie with horror overtones, this is it. An argument could be made for its rating to be bumped up to PG-13 (the end of the Ghost of Christmas Present’s scene alone…). It’s very true to the book, and these aren’t your cuddly Muppets (however awesome they are). Also included in my movie fest were Charlie Brown’s Christmas, Polar Express, The Grinch, and Nightmare Before Christmas (duh). And hopefully that deranged  horror version of Jack Frost…the horror movie about a possessed snowman. (I’m not even kidding. Look it up. And I don’t mean the one with Michael Keaton).

What all this should point to is that, in a very rare instance (almost unheard of), I was more excited for Xmas than Halloween. I must be terribly ill — I’m broke and don’t give a crap about presents, that cuddly family stuff does nothing for me, it’s going to be 80 degrees here on Christmas (and for almost a full week afterwards), and yet I’m as excited as a kid who sees a dozen large presents under the tree bearing his name.

Should be fun.

In other news, while getting ready to prepare to move, I was also assembling notes for the novella I was planning. Because my mind is a perverse, awful thing which delights in nothing more than my torture, I noticed two special calls for short stories (I suck at short form writing), and my mind switched. Totally jumped ship.

I thought it was some form of mental rebellion, a diversion tactic to avoid loading anything more onto my already burdened back and to cause me to get distracted and not write the novella yet. I tried to force myself to focus on what I originally planned to write and also to consider if I should write anything during this busy time. That never works. I dreamed about the stories.

Even more than that, if your mind is so intent on some other creative project or (for instance) one character seems to “want” more screen time, then you don’t fight it. It is probably supposed to be that way and doing anything else interrupts the flow.

I started on the first of the two short stories today. About three pages later, I’m still going strong — the most I’ve written since Winter’s Trial was published, sadly (and isn’t even that much). The bonus to this project is that even if it is rejected, I can still use it as part of a larger work I plan to do. Besides, I really like it so far, and that’s what counts for me. I’m not good at the short format, and my betrayer brain wants to add all sorts of extra bits and keeps fleshing everything out, but I could stand to learn the (incredibly difficult) short story format. So, if nothing else, this will be a valuable training exercise. Is that mental self-preservation in case I’m rejected? Probably, but there is truth to it, so I will let it slide.

I took a break from that to write this entry. Now, if I can keep Valkyrie Profile and Disgaea D2 (Laharl, Etna, and Flonne again…finally!) out of my clutching claws, I will be well down the road to my next project.

The other short story has quite some time before it’s due, so I may write it and let it sit, or go to the original novella I was ripped from by my traitorous mind.

Anyway, Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays/Happy Yule/whatever makes you happy and warm inside. May we all be a little more positive and gracious throughout the year (especially my evil ass). *cackle, throwing Xmas confetti*

Release Day!

My terror and elation have not abated. Am I a writer now? Will I ever be? I don’t know, but for good or bad, the day is here. For anyone who wants it, you can get my book here: To buy the book:

Torquere: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=97&products_id=3966

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Winters-Trial-ebook/dp/B00EOR0406/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377110900&sr=8-1&keywords=darren+endymion

I have also set up about a billion pages for myself. If you want them, here they are:

Twitter and Facebook I can be found under Darren Endymion (both of which have very little of anything right now, I assure you)

My (very much in process) web page: http://darrenendymion.com/

(It's hideous and new. Don't judge me. Yet.)

(Later)

Okay, so I'm in the process of setting up my author pages on Amazon and Goodreads...and I noticed that someone is reading my book right now! *cheer, nervous, vomit, die* This shit just got real. Hahaha.

I’m so nervous, I don’t know what to do with myself. I think I may drink heavily today. Cheers!

What now? Now I work on the short mer story I mentioned before. I think from there I will branch into something bigger and more ambitious than I have any right to try at this stage, and maybe even write a novel about some super heroes, a life-long geeky passion of mine. In the meantime, I will be here, annoying, terrorizing, and hopefully amusing people. Now everything won’t have to be about this novel, because I’ll be able to think about something else. I’ll keep everyone updated on writing and all that, but with the ability to think about something else comes…bliss.

I’m ready for this stage to end, but at the same time I don’t want it to. I’m not actively working on anything else right now. I just have snippets here and there and a short story to edit and submit. I have too many ideas to run out of stuff to write for a long, long while, but I’m not involved in any of them right now. Not yet. For now, I will be adrift at sea. It takes me about 3 months to pound out about 360+ pages, even with my atrocious writing habits, so I will let people know what’s going on. And it won’t be long.

I will miss Austin and Cris. I will miss Pearl, and Quinton, and especially Taylor, and all the others, but I think I’m ready to move on. I’ll come back to them—there are at least three more books to write there. But I think I’m ready to move away right now.

Until the separation anxiety kicks in. My editor thinks it started for me about a month ago. J.L. Langley has mentioned suffering from it frequently in her Yahoo group. I have read many, many other authors talking about it, and it makes sense. You spend so much time, effort, and love on these people, and then they are gone, but with you forever. They aren’t just yours anymore; they belong to anyone who wants to pick them up, for better or worse. They are out in the world. It’s like a mental empty nest.

But, this is a happy day, not time for examining the melancholy of a writer’s (?) separation anxiety. I’m sure I’ll talk about that in a later entry. Lucky you! Hahaha.

Thanks to everyone who has read my babblings up to now, and for those who might have just joined. I’d have a drink with all of you if I could. *cackle, clink*

Holy Crap, the Big Day is TOMORROW!

Luckily, I have the day off tomorrow, because I think there will be little sleeping tonight. Tomorrow I will be a wreck, likely flitting about my apartment in a daze, like some deranged hummingbird with ADD. Tomorrow, my first novel, Winter’s Trial by Darren Endymion, published by Torquere, will be released.

The very thought loosens my bowels. *cackle, stealing my dearest friend’s line* It’s my first, and I’m proud, scared, and…horrified. What if people hate it? What if they love it? What if nobody, not a single person, buys it? What if all this work was for nothing? What if it actually becomes popular?

It all seems like terror and happiness wrapped in seaweed and bile. I don’t know how to feel. What I do know is, as the illustrious Blanche Devereaux once said, “I’m as jumpy as a virgin at a prison rodeo.”

Blanche at the rodeo

I will leave you with that. Tomorrow I will have links galore for all the imaginary readers of this blog and for all my future (hopefully not so imaginary) novel readers.

*terrified*

Being Difficult and Thanks

I sincerely hope not, but I think I might have been difficult through this whole publishing process, and several misunderstandings only added to this. Luckily, I was surrounded and helped by some wonderful people. First, there was the acquisitions manager/owner/head honcho. “This contract doesn’t say ‘novel’ it says ‘novella’. Will it be billed that way, therefore excluding me from a print book after the eBook?” No, idiot, it was a mistake. She was kind and good humored, and went through extra work to appease my throbbing insecurity. I appreciate it.

Then there was the author liaison. She was great and very understanding with my million questions right after my book was accepted. When do I start? What should I be doing now? Is there anything I should know? After a while, I’m sure it sounded to her like the cacophonous kawing sound of a flock of crazed ravens.

Ka-KAAAW!

Second, (and the biggest hero here), was my editor. She and I do have a rapport, and I think she’s a clever, witty woman. One of the biggest misunderstandings was with her, and it led to us (me, mostly) being a little snippy with each other. Once we uncovered the misunderstanding (curse you, Mercury Retrograde!), things were fine. As a professional, she recognized that her unrelenting beating of me about the ear, nose, and throat with a certain aspect of the process was making me absolutely insane. I was a man on the edge.

She realized this and decided we should back off from it and come at it fresh. She couldn’t have been more correct. Not only did it help, but I was able to give her six examples when she needed only one, and together we decided on the best short blurb we could come up with. Her sense of humor was intact and charming throughout. I’m sure she wanted to choke me, though.

Obey me!

Third, the establishment pissed me off. I mentioned the pronoun rule in a previous entry. Again, I don’t know what’s okay to divulge, but this gave me severe angina. It seemed so arbitrary to me (and still does). If a pronoun is unclear, the editor should mark it and I should fix it. A blanket rule applying to all pronouns and all paragraphs seems unnecessarily limiting. People do not naturally read or write that way. I thought it would actually pull people out of the book. “Why the fuck is this idiot writer name dropping a billion times in this freakin’ paragraph? There are only two people in this scene!”

I said as much to my longsuffering editor. While she understood how I felt, and even said she felt the same way once upon a time, she very kindly (and with a lot of humor) told me it’s a publisher rule and I had to suck it up. I did, but with ill graces.

cranky-early-morning-1

Once again, taking a step back, and the fact that I was paired with an amazing proofreader helped this. (My editor was more excited than I was. “Oooooo! You got the good proofreader!” And she was right.) The proofreader was almost like a second editor, not just fixing commas and run on sentences, but commenting. She also helped elevate the language. If a sentence was unclear, she helped me upgrade it, not downgrade it to make it less intelligent.

I was in contact with an author, J.L. Langley (recently seen on Huffington Post along with my publisher’s head honcho), who has been supportive and kind through this process. She told me more than once that I shouldn’t feel pressured into changes and that I should basically stay strong. I have told her since how helpful that advice was.

Even if I’m a wordy bastard, I churned out something I’m proud of. Pronoun changes and all, though I emerged from that fight bloody, strong, and still unconvinced of the necessity of these changes.

Leave my pronouns alone.

Third, the cover artist. This was total misunderstanding, and I hope he believed me. He sent me a cover with a comment that if I liked it we could move on to the next step. I assumed that “next step” meant “not done  yet” and said it was a great start.

“Uh, asshole, that wasn’t a start. That was the goddamned cover.”

No, he didn’t say that, and he was nothing but patient and professional. I, however, was mortified at my own misunderstanding and the jerkface it made me seem like.

He was amazing and incredibly kind, despite my babbling insistence that I misunderstood. He said he felt that I wasn’t satisfied with the cover and asked for suggestions. I was floored. I didn’t think that was an option after I turned in my Cover Art Request form. I asked two friends and they helped slap me into reality. I gave some suggestions, he took them, and he gave me back the cover art I currently am in love with.

Winter's Trial

I hope it all seemed like a noob, fretful, insecure, green writer with a little strength (as that was the case), but even if I came off as the biggest, most high maintenance ass-face on the planet, everyone was professional, kind, and absolutely wonderful. I have learned a great deal, especially about this particular publisher, and for the future books in the series I will know what to do. And, when I decide to branch out, I will take with me a treasure trove of knowledge.

And I can’t thank everyone enough for putting up with me. Hopefully I wasn’t as bad as all that.

Winter’s Trial excerpt

Well, here is a snippet from my upcoming novel, Winter’s Trial by Darren Endymion, released through Torquere on August 21st. I suppose I’m late in the marketing game, but as discussed previously, I am seriously terrible at that. This is the scene where my two protagonists, Cristiano and Austin meet for the first time. As werewolf True Mates (soul mates, more than the typical Chosen Mates, divinely linked), their meeting is something strong and life altering.

Well, the excerpt is long enough (and the indents refused to work consistently), so here it goes (hope you like it):

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As the official claimed that he had business to attend to, and the other members of the local architectural firm had left as well, Cris continued to talk with Mrs. Hill. She led him back to the front desk, leveling with him about what she wanted and what she could spend.

They were laughing together in quiet library whispers when Mrs. Hill raised her hand and positively beamed as Cris heard the library's glass doors open behind him.

Cris' senses exploded.

 ***

      Austin got out of his car and shut the door, unable to stop the nervous growling in his stomach. He wasn't hungry, but he was… excited? Nervous? Yes, both. But more. His insides seemed to be boiling with anticipation. He seemed alive, the pale white of the world outside seemed too bright, too full of life.

He giggled and peered through the glass door to the library, noting Mrs. Hill talking to a tall, broad-shouldered man with dark skin and neat, slicked back ebony hair. She waved at Austin and he raised a hand to wave at her as he pushed open the door.

Then his world came together with an almost audible click.

***

      Austin Holcomb's nostrils flared, the hair on the back of his neck stood up, and his eyes shifted back and forth from lupine to human.

Cristiano Raposo winced as if in pain, his hands clenching into fists. He leaned forward and turned, as though he had been hit in the stomach.

Their senses reached out, like gentle, smoky hands, and came together in a sweep of ecstasy, pleasure, and longing. They knew each other in that moment. Part of each of them knew it before their minds knew that they had come together. Their souls meshed from across a barren library lobby, and the True Mates looked into each other's eyes for the first time.

Austin looked up and gasped. There before him stood a gorgeous man, 6'2", dark black hair, deep brown eyes, thick red lips, a slight goatee, broad through the chest and trim in the waist. The light blue sweater he wore dipped down into a V neck that showed just the barest bit of short chest hair and was pulled tight around a body that made Austin suck in his breath.

Cristiano gazed into green eyes that were a deep, gorgeous shade of emerald. When he could look away for even a second from those eyes that Called him even now, even this close, he gasped. His mate was beautiful. He was 5'8", his buzzed brownish red hair stood out in perfect contrast to pale, smooth skin. His lips were not as full as Cris' but they were shaped in a downward bow, as though just managing to suppress impish thoughts and comments.

They felt the other in a way they never would again, though they would often come close. They knew each other. Memories and quirks and feelings shuttled from one to the other in a swell of empathy and desire and need. They became one being, their thoughts and memories whirling across the small space between them. No longer separate people but one throbbing soul, an aching hole between them that only closeness and the weighty task of getting to know each other could fill.

Cris thought about kissing those lips and stroking the delicate, pale face, even as Austin thought how it would feel to press up against this man's chest, to feel those powerful arms around him, stroking the small of his back.

And there was more. Their memories flashed out at each other in globs of empathy, visions of things past, like one being thinking of how it came to that place, how it suddenly became whole. Memories of…

      …summers in Brazil, sunning on the beach, digging his feet into the sand, thinking of the time when he would meet his True Mate…

      …jumping through the snow in a Minnesota winter with the Matriarch and the Alpha, young and just his third time as a wolf, thinking that the only thing that could be better would be to have his True Mate at his side. Before things got bad…

      …watching his video, loaded into his suitcase back at the hotel even now, and hoping his mate would be fair and have blond or auburn hair. Looking at his own dark hair, dark features and wondering what his skin would look like next to his mate's…

Time and space were meaningless as shards of memory stabbed and shone and healed. Things sped up, memories flashing across the void in rapid succession, like twinkling flecks of light in the dark, running over and through each other, separate, confusing, and perfect.

But there were horrors, too.

      …broken leg in the jungle before he had Changed…

      …tumble from a rooftop before he had Changed and been banished…

      …fight with his brother, the worst ever, and the split lip he had given him, the smell of blood, and the instant remorse…

      …wandering through the snow, weeping, alone, frightened, and betrayed…

      …leaving his father, his mother, his pack, leaving everything for a job and for the reality that lay behind it, but most of all leaving his younger brother, his best friend, and how much he missed him already…

      …his mother and father turning away from him, scared hurt in her eyes, and scorn in his, the rocks thrown by his former friends, the growl coming from deep in the throats of those he had once cared for…

And then there was greatness.

      …becoming a lab technician, testing his theories about the wolf blood, about the healing properties of it, and being right…

      …getting accepted to school, passing the tests, getting his architect license…

       …the love of the Matriarch, the slight support of the Alpha, and the acceptance of a small child…

       …the Sage and his Alpha and his brother, all wishing and…

      …not comparing to what he had…

      …knowing that his life had led up to…

Now.

Bloat

I'm really sick of being wrong. Re: my upcoming novel (duh, what else do I talk about these days?)

My previous assertion that 145,000 words would end up being about 360 pages was both true and false. In a Word document with Times New Roman font at size 12, with double spaces between paragraphs, that's exactly what it is.

Poured into a .pdf file, 360 pages somehow turns into a mammoth 527 pages. This behemoth has been puffed out to the actual size it will be when put on sale -- I just confirmed with my editor.

Basically this. This man has clearly gone insane with the unmitigated size of my novel.

If I had any strength left, I would do my normal wailing that it isn't my fault. I think I'm over that now. It is what it is. I love it and I'm not ashamed anymore (though this may sound suspiciously like self-justification).

Going over it, the font is unbelievably huge. Being near-sighted, in the dark, and dangling upside down, one could still read this monster from across the room. During a severe earthquake. With one eye closed. I wouldn't be surprised if I were to see the dotted lines across the words, like it was given to a kindergartner to knuckle out.

One whole page of my novel. (Different text, of course. Let's not be silly).

It's bloated, as though someone threw an old dictionary into a puddle of water to watch it swell like some magical dinosaur terror-sponge.

Dino_Spongers

Before and After.

My first thought was that someone is going to see the page count and flee immediately. There's nothing I can do about that, or my publisher's choice of font. Not a single word is different just because it has been poured into a .pdf file. It's still good, despite it's size. Or perhaps because of it. Luckily, it will be in eBook format first and Kindles (and other eReaders) have this handy feature to adjust the font.

There's no need to fret, mainly because there's nothing I can do about it now. It's long, but not the bloated monstrosity it will seem. I hope people will give it a chance.

When am I a Writer?

While watching Hemlock Grove recently, I had an epiphany of sorts that bewilders me. I don’t think I see myself as a writer.

One of the characters in Hemlock Grove—I believe she’s about 15—tells everyone who cares (and many who don’t) that she is a novelist and that it’s important for her to understand people’s motivations. She says this right before asking a series of questions which are both obnoxious and insightful.

I want to slap that heifer bald-headed.

My knee-jerk reaction was to think, “Wench, you haven’t written shit. You’re no more a novelist than my intestinal leavings.”

I see this online, too. On dating profiles (gay ones, specifically, I imagine), people will say they are writers (or dancers, or models, or *yaaaaawn*). My first reaction in the modeling example, is to recall a Scott Thompson quote from Kids in the Hall. “’Modeling’ can mean a lot of things.” Ron Jeremy can be considered a model. William Hung could consider himself a singer. Stephenie Meyer, gods help us, can be considered a writer. That drunken sow you last saw galumphing around in the club also considers herself a part-time dancer.

My thought process on this disturbs me, so I had to ask myself: Is success the measure of what you feel in your heart? My mental answer was immediate: Hell no!

Then why this feeling about my status as a writer (or others')? Am I railing against perceived pretense? I don’t know. I am certain what I think means nothing to anyone but me, so I keep my mouth shut. (Until this entry, I suppose.)

I have always felt this way. It’s not that this haughty, jerkface attitude started when I got the acceptance for my novel. I love writing. I love reading what I write for myself (as most everything I write starts out), my first novel will be published on August 21st, 2013, and I have written little stories and snippets my whole life. Yet, I have never truly considered myself a writer. Not enough to proclaim myself so. Am I being too hard on myself, and therefore on others? I think it’s defining myself as a writer that kills my confidence.

Maybe that’s it. Maybe I’m shy and (apparently) stupid. It’s not fair of me to judge others or myself against a prejudice I don’t even understand. What makes a writer? Anyone who loves to do it and does it, I guess.

Logically, that makes sense to me, but I don’t know when I will personally consider myself a writer. My editor recently outlined the few remaining steps I have before the fateful release day. She said something like, "And then you can call yourself an author!" But I don't feel it. I don't feel like it's on the horizon, either.

When will I feel it? When I am published? When I have ten books under my (fake) name? If I break into the mainstream? If I am ever fortunate enough to make a living off of my writing? If I ever manage to get critical acclaim?

I still don’t know.

What, really, makes a writer? And, ultimately, does it really matter if you’re doing what you love?

The Cover and Back of the Book Blurb

So, what the hell have I been babbling about all this time? What’s the freakin’ book about already? Well, here’s the synopsis/blurb that will go up on sites and will eventually be on the back of the book (if/when it goes to actual, physical print). Hope you like it.  

The blurb:

Cursed to be a Three Form, blessed to be a True Mate, Austin's life is a nightmare. He is hated and bullied by his pack, because under his timid exterior lies the strength and savagery of a Hybrid werewolf. Only the thoughts of his True Mate, and his desperate desire to escape his pack, sustain him through the daily abuse.

When Cristiano finds Austin, things go from bad to worse. The True Mates must keep their connection a secret as Cris is inducted into a conspiracy for rebellion. The pack's trust in Cris grows, even as their loathing for Austin spirals into escalated violence. Soon Cris and Austin are drawn into a battle for control over Austin’s pack. Both sides will gladly exploit Austin -- his strength, the venom in his claws and bite, and his inability to leave the pack.

However, though Austin is both gentle and savage, more than anything he is vulnerable. He and Cris have one last chance at getting away and finding a new pack to take them in. Because unless he and Cris can get out, neither of them is likely to survive the coming storm.

The cover:

I got this a while ago and I’m still not over it. The cover artist, Brandon Clay (his cover art here: http://www.bsclay.com/covers/), was very open to what I wanted and incredibly nice and accommodating. I was probably annoying and demanding, but in the end I think the cover is great (I even got to pick out the boys).

 

Winter's Trial

 

I hope everyone else likes it, too.

Marketing

One of the (many) reasons I wanted to go with a traditional publisher for my first novel is that as a self-published author, you have to do all the marketing yourself, hoping that you can get your name out there enough to make people want to buy your stuff. Once you have a name people recognize, then you have an advantage over a newly published author desperately trying to market himself. I don’t know dick about marketing.

I have read numerous cautionary articles that indicate how unwise it is to not market yourself, relying on a book being contemporary, or relevant, or even good to light your way through the mires of everyone else. The publishing company I’m with does a lot of that for you, and offers a lot of opportunities for guest blogging, giveaways, etc., to get your name out there. They also send your crap around to be reviewed, I believe. They tell you about a dozen different places and ways you can help yourself, each unfortunately less practical than the last. From taking out ads to banners on web sites to parading an elephant with the title of your book down LA and Manhattan streets.

The opportunities they provide through them and their contacts are great, though the really good ones involve having a book already out there. There are giveaways (awesome—give your book to someone, they read it, they tell others. They are already happy about not having to pay, and the more people who read your stuff, the better), contests, etc. Many of the authors will feature other authors on their blogs.

It’s daunting. So many options and methods are thrown at you that I cannot keep them straight. What’s the most effective? What works? What’s easiest? And what would be a waste of valuable time I could spend working on something new? I am bewildered and lost in a sea of things I simply do not understand.

And, I find that most of the marketing opportunities are for those already published. What do I do right now? I’m going some guest spots, and I am branching out, but it’s all too little, too late.

One author expressed some disdain for all the methods above. He said that the marketing he did had no impact on his sales and that he would prefer to actually be writing instead of spending months promoting what he is done with. I don’t know what outlets he tried, but I understand the sentiment. I’d rather be working on something new or editing, as will be the case this next week when I get my last round of proofs. That’s the ideal situation, really. I’d rather be writing my next project rather than focusing on self-promotion and pimping myself out anywhere I can.

Some authors have Twitter, Facebook, personal websites, Goodreads, blogs, billboards, skywriting, telepathic goats, lights from the sky, trained dancer-fireflies in synchronized tandem, and cyborg flamenco dancers stomping the titles of their books in sexy Morse code. I just can’t keep up with all that.

I will do what I can, I will expand, and I will promote in ways I can. I loathe social media, but I’m fond of my writing and I would like others to be. If I have to suck it up, then I will. I have a feeling that this is all Newbie Terror. I adjust well once the first time is over. The very idea that my first novel will be released in less than a month, that someone believed in me and my writing enough to think they could make money off of it, that it will be out there for anyone in the world to read, scares my bowels loose and moist. (Ewwwwwwwwe! I’m sorry. I don’t know where that came from, but it’s so horrifying that I think I will refrain from editing it out.)

I still don’t know dick about marketing.

What’s Wrong With Size?

Elevate your minds from the gutters, brethren; I’m referring to book length. I have been reading a bit on this subject and most sources seem to think that anything over 200 pages is bloated and beyond anything any reasonable person could ever be expected to read. (Yes, that's a slight exaggeration. Work with me.) Maybe it’s this first genre I’ve chosen to write in, but this seems to be all the worse with gay novels. Meanwhile, many of the books out there can be considered fluff to pass an afternoon with (and I am a very slow reader).

For instance, there is a book I found on Amazon which weighs in at a paltry 135 pages. It is touted as a novel, which after 50 pages, I suppose it is. However, this retails for $6+ in eBook format and $10+ in print. For a rather dramatic contrast, Stephen King’s IT weighs in at 1,104 pages and retails for $9, both eBook and paperback formats.

135 pages is a pamphlet. I could wash that out of my hair in a couple weeks. I downloaded a sample and was not impressed, nor was I appalled. It was okay. However, for that price and with what I read, I declined to buy the whole thing.

Granted, I have been repeatedly told that my forthcoming novel, Winter’s Trial, is long. Longer than average. Much longer than it “should be” for this genre. I thought about it, looked at it, and asked my beta readers and editor what could be cut. I cut wordiness (a crime I am guilty of), I eliminated crap, I cut out the pointless stuff, and I elaborated if needed for clarity. At least three people have been over it a total of eight times in seven months. And there are two or three more to come (final proofreader and then me, and probably my editor after that).

My astronomical total? 364 pages. 146,000 words with Times New Roman 12 font. A full space between paragraphs. Long? Meh. The vast majority of books I own are between 300 and 500 pages. Even the gay books I pulled off my shelves are about 250-300+.

I recently read online that an author was worried that his/her current project was going to go over 100,000 words and was asking for advice from other authors on if this was acceptable or not. I stayed silent. I am far too biased and too green to comment to someone who might even potentially care what I have to say on the matter. I am opinionated and new and so I shut up. Until I got here.

But I like to read books. Not pamphlets. I like robust characters I can love or hate or understand (and sometimes still hate). I want a story I will remember. Not watered down, brief snippets. I want to feel something. I tried to make my novel closer to this; I tried to write a novel, not a pamphlet. Even if I failed at all these other things, I learned a great deal through this process and I can only get better. And this is only the beginning. Pamphlet or novel, you can fit good characters and plot in almost any space. It’s about the story. We shouldn’t shun the pamphlet, the novel, or the tome based solely on length.

As the vernacular goes, it’s not the length but how you use it.

Give Me Back My Life!

Okay, so I've been gone again, this time working on the second round of edits for my first novel. It's been...an experience. I don't agree with some of the editorial rules the publisher imposes, specifically regarding pronouns. I think it alters the normal flow of reading (and of writing) and forces the author to name drop over and over for perceived clarification. Have you ever read a novel where the author seems to have a penchant for using characters' names repetitively, way more than is normal, even if there are only two people in the scene? That's what I'm afraid might happen to my novel and to others because of publisher rules like this. (Yes, this is me wailing, "It's not my faaaaaault!")

So, don't judge me. Hahaha.

However, let me not denigrate the publisher (not only because I'd be playing with kindling on a bridge, but because it's not all bad). Not at all. My editor is funny, concise, open, and warm, and for a first foray into traditional publishing, that's an enormous benefit. I could have had an emotionally dead harridan, but I was lucky. She has been accessible and professional. And may the gods bless her sense of humor!

The publisher is involved, reputable in their field, and full of sweet staff and authors. I really only have that one complaint (and now that I know what their rules are, I can change it as I go rather than in one long, sweeping bonanza of frustrating editing). I'm very much content and would recommend them to anyone looking to publish in the very broad gay genre (yes, I will reveal them eventually...but not in this entry. *cackle!*)

However, I'm a wordy beast, and my editor wanted me to cut out a lot, and I think she was right. It wasn't anything particular, like an offending scene that I decided to keep against her wishes, but more general than that. I tried, and my novel is long for the genre (about 350 pages), but I think we did a good job.

I told my editor that there was a time where my writing was devoid of life, of feeling, and of description. I was writing for myself yet it was boring me to write and to read. I worked with myself and over time I managed to get the descriptions and life back. I wonder if I didn't over compensate.

Also, there may be up to four books in this series, each with a larger part of a story, and almost all the characters are in, mentioned, or alluded to in this first volume. At the end, one could go back and pick out several instances of, "Oooooh!" I guess there's some world building, though not that much, considering it's contemporary.

So, the editing is done, and while it was grueling, I loved it. My days were full of something that's endlessly fulfilling. I don't have that nagging feeling of, "You know, if you ever wanna be a writer, you should be...you know...writing." I have a cover art form and a marketing form I have to fill out, but that's not that difficult because I've been working on them (and may have the much maligned blurb done already).

However,the editing was the big thing. I was tired, frustrated, elated, and buried. I haven't gone out with friends as much, my DVR started to delete things, my day/real job has seemed intrusive, my weekends have been working and little relaxing (unless out of obstinate refusal), two friends are cursing at me to finish watching Netflix's Hemlock Grove, and I started to feel like I was running up hill through waist-deep snow toward a goal that was never going to be as big as I want. At the top of that hill were not the temples of ancient Greece, but a Target in the ghetto.

Still, I'm proud, happy, and relieved. The process has been good, it has shown me my flaws and strengths as a writer, and I have emerged on the other side feeling like I'm better for it. However, I'd be lying if I said I was upset at having a life back. I just hope this whole process ends well.

*faint, drool*

I'm back! (For those who noticed that I have been MIA). What have I been doing? A great deal.

I hate to sound like a one-note hussy, but that's pretty much how my life has been. I had a birthday in there, which I will thank nobody to mention and which took some time to recover from. My friends insisted on doing things with me. What the hell?

Anyway, the majority of my time has been spent editing my novel. Yeah, about that.

First, I was very, very wrong about the time frame I was looking at. I got my edits back from (who else?) my editor along with a lot of paperwork. That has probably been the biggest shock to me, which is a little stupid if you think about it. I have had cover art request forms, marketing forms, the obligatory W-9, style guides, etc.

When someone tells you that the easy part of writing a novel is the actual writing of it, I assure you that it is absolutely the truth.

Another thing I didn't expect was the formatting and style rules that would be imposed on me. Since my novel will start its life as an eBook, some of the formatting rules are understandable -- certain things will, paraphrased from the words of my editor and her colleagues, give the code vertigo or make it want to drink  whiskey.

This involved omitting certain characters (symbols on the keyboard, not people in the story), no indents, double spacing after a paragraph, single spacing after sentences, etc. (I'm not sure if this is standard for every publisher, but if you're thinking of writing a novel, it's something to consider and research. I'm horrified that, during all my research, I neglected this *ahem* detail).

That was painful because I used the tab to indent. So, I had to go through about 350 pages and correct every single tab-indent in the document and double space between paragraphs. Since it was for formatting, it wasn't something I could finagle with Word and make pretty. It had to be done manually.

Now you may understand the title of this entry.

The only other thing that really bothered me was what seemed (and still does to an extent) an arbitrary rule from the backside of Satan himself. In a m/m (usually romance) novel it's important to always know who is doing what and who is speaking. Anyone can understand that (and it's not limited to m/m novels). However, this publisher has a rule regarding pronouns that essentially gave me cholera, shin splints, arthritis, Hanta, and scurvy. *cackle* (Please do not take that literally. Could you imagine me trying to hobble into the ER with those ailments? "Hel... *cough, fall, die*")

I don't know how much is proper to mention, so let's wrap this up by saying that the edits I got back -- as in the things my editor specifically thought needed altering, enhancing, or elucidating -- were relatively few. However, because of these aforementioned rules, I had to go over the entire novel, paragraph by paragraph, and make adjustments, whether it be to the tabs or to comply with the pronoun rule. (A moment of self defense here: I don't think the pronouns were out of control or that their references got lost, but I figured it was better to comply if it didn't change the style, tone, or timbre of the novel, which it didn't. And clarity is rarely a bad thing).

Did I learn something? Lord, yes. Will I use it in my further writing, even if I don't stay with this publisher forever? Absolutely. As much as I protest, do I see the literary wisdom in MOST of the changes? Yes.

However, as with any time I write, I fear I may have gone in and over-edited. Fixed things which weren't broken. So, I am requesting a second editing cycle (bless my editor, she's been so amazing through this process and hasn't tried to have me killed yet), and rest in the faith that there will be fewer changes to make and therefore the process will be easier the second time around.

To squeeze into the time frame I was given and to have time for that second editing round, I had to sleep, eat, wake, and dream about editing. (Yes, I had dreams of pronouns assaulting me, their sharp edges and lack of clarity making them like drawn ninjas with the power to annoy). I finished in what I thought was good time, despite my computer having an aneurysm on me during the home stretch and switching the colors of the tracked changes in the document.

I took today off, but I will have to get back on that proverbial diseased nag and get to the paperwork tomorrow. While I wait for my new round of edits I will edit the short story I might have mentioned in an earlier post.

This may be weird to say, but I consider deadlines challenges, and the whole editing process, this whole writing thing in general, has been a high unlike anything I have ever known. I don't want to stop it, and think I may do my best to stay in motion. Launch from this novel to that short story, into more edits, and from there into the next novel (not in the series, but in general). During all this I hope to post more here, and not just about that one-note trick I'm apparently not so bad at.

This summer, however, will be a challenge. This project will end, and it will be the culmination of a dream years in the making. Of course, then I have to face the idea of possible reviews and sales. Terror incarnate. If I don't have something to leap onto when that ends, I may fall into the cracks.

One dream ends and another starts on the day my first novel will be published -- August 21st.

Impending...something

Shortly after my rambling, apparently unpopular last post, where I discussed the circlings of my mind (mostly the Tudor dynasty, X-men, sci-fi novels, and half nekkid boys), I realized why my brain was in overdrive.  After all my lamenting about whether or not to wait for the impending edits on my *Jesus light* first novel before writing anything new, my mind seemed to short circuit. I was unable to focus on anything at all.  Even the mindlessness of video games was too much for me.  My greatest joy was watching SyFy movies like Swamp Shark, Sharktopus, Malibu Shark Attack, Alligator X, and all those others. Also, they were, all I could focus on.

The reason?  Well, to make a lame comparison to the movies I was watching, my mind was circling like a hungry shark around my next novel idea.  Each of the subjects I was bouncing on had some part, large or small, in my thought processes, ideas, inspirations, and plot points for the new stuff.  It was like I was too stupid for my own brain - I'm hardly Encyclopedia Brown, and it took all that time to figure out what my brain was trying to tell me.

When I realized that, things kicked into "normal" mode.  Scenes started haunting me, I dreamed about the characters, I woke out of pre-sleep with the name for something I had been thinking idly about (and without intellectual fruit).  I started making notes on a time line (as there will be more than one), wrote a scene, and then...

I received another e-mail from my editor.

She was just touching base with me (which I love) and to tell me that she should have my first round of edits done very soon.  How soon?  Well, today or tomorrow, not to put too fine a point on it.

I'm thrilled and totally dismayed.  I told her that was great news and proceeded to shimmy for most of the day.  She happened to e-mail me on my birthday and, considering that I had chosen that day to switch the gas bill from my ex's name to mine (requiring a shut down and restart and therefore three days without gas), I needed that good news.

But, now I'm back to the same place I was, only worse.  Do I work on the new idea?  Do I put it off, hoping this desire to work on it will return when I'm done with edits?  Do I work on them both at the same time and hope neither suffers?  Most likely I will go back to the planning stages and refrain from the actual scene writing for now.  Once I'm done with the first edits, maybe I will be ready to spring back into the new stuff with all the groundwork done.

That's not my real problem, though.  It's my nerves.  This is the next big step and though I'm incredibly excited, I'm also anxious.  I have checked my e-mail several times today and been both anguished and relieved when there was nothing new in there.  Part of me wants my editor to rip me to shreds, to be kind but brutal, to take it apart, cut it up, and put it together and make it as good as it can be.  I don't want it to be "good enough".  I want it to be as good as possible.  But I can be fragile and sensitive at the same time.  Criticism is difficult to take, especially when it's something you care about.

However, it's something I'm gonna have to get used to.  It's not like once it goes out into the world it's going to be universally embraced and loved by everyone.  In my last post I discussed one of my favorite books ever, The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge.  It won the Hugo award and its successor was nominated for one.  They don't just give those away.  Yet it has its detractors.  Some of Stephen King's best work is routinely bashed.

The classics will eternally be manhandled by the ignorant and the young.  Who hasn't heard some school kid complain that The Scarlet Letter or Lord of the Flies or Pride and Prejudice are "boring" or "hard to understand" or "stupid" or "OMG, a total waste of time!"?  (Granted, these are usually the folk who think the Twilight "Saga" is the epitome of literary grandeur.)  The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is pooped on regularly for the dumbest of reasons (suspension of the smallest amount of belief in a story which calls itself "a fable", usually).  Hell, even The Diary of Anne Frank gets people saying it's boring or not good or they couldn't get into it.

So, I'm bound to be trashed if these wonderful books are.  There are going to be people who don't like talking and want more sex (request denied!).  There are going to be people who don't understand parts of it, relationships within, parallels, or anything about it (the eternal justification of a spurned "artist", right?).  Some people won't like it at all and will be particularly vocal about it.  I have to be ready for that.

So, my (hopefully) thick skin will have to get thicker.  I will have to center on my desire for the best possible outcome.  I will have to learn to eat critics on toast with strawberry jam.

Of course, I am way ahead of myself here.  For now, I just have to breathe, do my time lines for the new, relax, wait for the old/current, and hopefully prepare to be shredded.  Is it masochistic of me to be excited?

Time, the Vile Betrayer

Okay, so it's a dramatic title.  I couldn't think of anything else.  *cape flapping* So, to update on the last post, just a few days after sending my previous post (The Long Road to Publication) out into the world to fend for itself, I received my first e-mail from my editor.  *angelic light, high note*  It seems that things have either sped up, or I was grossly mistaken as to the time frame I'm looking at.  I assume, as I am totally new to this, that it was the latter.

Maybe August was the last month my novel would potentially be peered at by an editor, and things got sped up.  Maybe August is when my novel is set to be released.  Maybe neither of these is the case. *shrug*  These are things I will have to ask.

Maybe...well, regardless of the maybes, the e-mail informed me that I'm looking at having my first round of edits to me in mid-May. Or sooner.  I accepted this time frame (you can bet your sweet ass I did!).

My biggest problem here is that I'm a procrastinator.  Wait!  Hear me out here!  I don't think that procrastinating on edits will be an issue for me.  I expect to have them done quite soon after being given them. This is literally and figuratively a dream come true.  I am not messing this up.

What I meant was *glaring at the imaginary people who would have jumped on my back* that during the sending out process last summer I was either too crestfallen or nervous to really focus on anything new.  I have no less than three more novel ideas racketing around in my head, and that's just in the short term.

A very dear friend gave me good advice - to put the "how soon and when" out of my mind, stop cheating myself out of the joy this should (and did) bring, and maybe write something else.  Some time ago I joined a particular author's Yahoo group and she is very accessible to her fans on it, as well as being very funny and very sweet to her devoted (some would say "rabid") fans.  While she was working on the edits for her last novel I asked her if she wrote something else in the meantime, or if she waited for one project to finish before doing more than notes on the next.  Her answer was what I expected - it's not realistic to wait for one project to be totally edited, done with, and set to be published.  (The inferred ending here was, "Unless you want to always be just a casual writer while slaving away at your day job."  She didn't say this, and maybe didn't even mean it, but it's what I took away from it.)

My problem?  I have about 10 pages of the new novel written down.  I found myself unable to work on it because I was too focused on what was happening with the last? current? one.  I recently figured that with edits not happening until August, I had plenty of time (the procrastinator's favorite phrase) to work on the new one, and with the upheavals in my life right now, things would have time to settle down and I'd have a lot written out by that time.

False!

So, now I'm wondering - should I take the plunge and start on the next one?  Will the edits on my current project interfere with the almighty (and somewhat pretentious-sounding) creative process?  Should I edit the short story I mentioned previously and go with that?  Should I use the time between now and May to have an intervention on the amount of Netflix streaming that is consuming me?  Should I...should I...and more should I.

I'm not worried about the edits themselves.  I welcome the suggestions and help from a professional editor (or so I say now, bwahahaha!).  I want this novel to be the best it can be, and I'm sure everyone involved with this project at the publishing company feels the same.  (Even writing that makes me giddy.  And for those wondering, yes, all of this STILL feels like a dream I am constantly horrified I will wake from.)

Advice is always appreciated.  A cheap joke is, too.  A lot of the nervous, needy edge is gone from the writing process, but life does intrude - unpacking from my recent move, working, being social, reading, my Netflix intervention, prying my PS3 controller or Vita out of my own hands (damn you, blessed-but-life-eating Disgaea in all your incarnations), and trying to be active.

But now, because it's very late and I have tomorrow off, I think I will turn the lights off, relax, and scare the crap out of myself by watching The Descent.  Perhaps it will scare me into a revelation.  Time and procrastination be damned...for one more night.

 

The Long Road to Publication

There comes a time in every wannabe writer’s life where he has to, in the most vulgar of words, shit or get off the pot.  I’m not so old or so entrenched in my life where I have to get off that pot, but I started to feel that way. In reading Stephen King’s On Writing, he mentions that you sometimes get to a point where you read books that make you sort of grimace and say, “Hell!  I can write better than this.”  I have run into this before (I have listened to the audiobook for Flowers in the Attic, after all), but during a frenzied period of reading I ran into at least three books that made me seriously say, “Look.  These assholes are actually published—people are paying them to write—and I could wipe my ass and churn out something more palatable than this.”

Yes, my thoughts are as charming as my writing.  Little filtering here.

During this time, I happened to run into a book about gay werewolves which intrigued me.  Before this, nothing about werewolves interested me unless they were attacking, maiming, and killing.  This book made me look at them in a different way.  So, I read another gay werewolf book.  And another.  And another.  And so on.

Some had plot holes which were so ghastly and gaping that they made me groan and want to spit up.  Another was entirely charming, had endearing characters, and was funny.  I read that one again and loved it again, and it started me thinking of werewolves in a different light.

Another was well written in that the prose was poetic and flowing and in some cases beautiful.  The dialogue, however, was eye-roll inducing.  It was so antiquated and the setting so vague that it wasn’t until she mentioned a car that I knew it wasn’t written in the year 1740.  It wasn’t until later, where certain other details about the car were mentioned, that I was able to confirm that it was supposed to be a contemporary novel.  Then the sex scenes, sparing at first, started flooding in.  They were bad, they were pervasive, and they were obviously put in as filler.  There was a second novel I did not bother with.Hell noSome of the others I read during that time don’t bear talking about.  Not all concerned werewolves, and most were good, but there were two that really astonished me.  Someone accepted and paid for this stuff (I count myself among their number).

Now, I love bad novels.  I love bad SyFy movies.  Novels with this cheese factor are personal favorites.

Awesome

But some of the gay books I read in that time made me think I could do better, however egomaniacal that may sound (and I know it does—you’ll have to forgive me).  I have respect for anyone who can conceive, plan, structure, sit, and write a novel.  It’s a huge dedication, an enormous act of creation to make up lives which have never been, and anyone who has finished a novel has my admiration and respect.

So, I decided to write my own.  I have been writing all my life, but with all the gay and werewolf in my head, I decided to try my hand at that.  Within three months I was done and, though I had never meant for it to be published, I decided to try to get it out there anyway.  I knew it wasn’t great, I knew I could do better, but I had been reading such crap that I thought this would be acceptable.  I tried my hand out at being a hack, basically.  It’s not something I’m proud of.

I submitted the novel to a publisher and was rightfully, justly rejected.

denied

The editor who rejected me was wonderful, kind, and explanatory.  She said my characters were charming, but that I introduced too many in too short of a time.  (I counted later.  10 in as many pages.  Ugh.  It’s embarrassing, frankly.)  She gave me more good advice and recommended other publishers I might try.  She was so helpful, going way above and beyond what an editor rejecting work needed to or should do.  She gave me some other advice and every last bit of it was true.  Every part.  (I found out later this was the best kind of rejection—feedback, advice, and help combined with an admonition to keep writing and a welcome to submit to that publishing company again.  I had a brief correspondence with Piers Anthony, a childhood idol, who put my experience on his site, mentioning that my experience was very rare).

I did not try to submit this story elsewhere.  I abandoned it, but not the characters.  I loved the characters, but I had phoned in that novel and I wasn’t proud of it.  I decided that the story I had hacked into was really the third story in that group of characters, so I should start at the beginning.

So, I wrote again and this time I put no limits on myself, not for length, character, thoughts, language, or subject matter.  Three months later (it seems to be a standard length of time for me) I was done.  I was very proud and I thought that it was pretty close to what I was capable of doing.  I thought it was good, so I put it away and worked on something else.  I came back, edited, put it away.  I read it again and sent it to five trusted friends (some writers, some readers, some brutal jerk-faces whose opinions I valued).

sts_jerk_face_tee-rbd05e80eeddc4b8d87c5657c4ea764e7_804gs_512

The response was very positive.  One friend actually wrote her reactions down as she was reading, and sent them to me in a document.  This became a beacon of honesty and a source of strength for me in the upcoming months.  Another friend was basically a line editor.  He was tough (he would be in the jerk-face category), but he was usually right.  They both commented about the language usage and both liked several passages I was particularly proud of, which still gratifies me to no end.  One was a reader and didn’t notice particular passages but gave me story critique.  And so on.  I took all the criticism and praise and edited again.

I felt I was ready to submit again.  This project had gone from something to get myself out there and get my foot in that proverbial door, to something I believed in.  Without those constraints, without those limitations I put on myself I had done better.  However, the original place I submitted to had a word limit at the time.  They would not accept anything over 120k words.  My novel was close to 150k.  I managed to get it down to about 145k, but I felt that setting up the world and the characters needed that room.  Editing out an additional 25,000 words would have been difficult.

So, I decided to change tactics.  The characters felt real and it was getting emotional responses from the wonderful, cold bitches I lovingly call my friends.  The plot concerned bullying, acceptance, change, someone rising up from the mire of his own self-loathing and allowing himself to fight and be loved.  He just happened to be a gay werewolf with the stigma of having a third, more violent Hybrid form.  One of the characters in the rejected hack novel was very young in this one and still one of my favorite characters.  I really liked and believed in the novel as a whole (and unlike almost all other gay novels, there was no expressly described sex scenes.  I can't with that.  It gives me angina).

I decided to go for an agent.  I browsed Writer’s Market online and made a list of about 11 agents who took gay novels and listed them in descending order.  I wrote a query and a synopsis.  (The most ghastly, awful torture possible for any writer ever.  There are thousands of websites dedicated to mastering the arts of writing these.  All good advice, and it is still very difficult to do.)

I was rejected 6 times in rapid succession.  All form letters, and all within days of submitting.  This usually means that they read the blurb (similar to what you would read on the back of a novel) and realized it wasn’t for them.  I got no personal feedback.

My ego was crushed.  Humility set in.  Doubt came with it.  And then a brutally hot summer settled in (I hate the heat) and the anniversary of my grandmother’s death happened at the same time.  My insides were an Unholy Trinity of horror.

Like this, but not as pleasant

After about two months of watching Disney movies, laying around dazed, and listening to music to always distract myself, I slowly came out of it.  I rewrote the query letter and synopsis.  The will and strength it took to do this and start sending my novel out again cannot be understated.  Was I as good as I thought I was?  Was I still a hack?  Was this dream I had for so long really a dilapidated shack in the sewers of seventeenth century France and not the castle in the clouds I had hoped for?  Were my friends being kind?  I didn’t know.

So, I sent it out again.  I was rejected four more times.  One jerk didn’t even bother with a form letter.  He said, “Not for me—thanks anyway.”  That was it.  My personality kicked in then and kicked the last vestiges of depression out.  That rejection made me sit up and say, “Fuuuuuuuuuck YOU!”  It was unnecessarily rude, short, and audacious considering this man’s web site was literally the last on my list and looked like it was designed by a blind, special-needs fourth grader.

Your web master

One agent has yet to give me the courtesy of a response.  Another I had given up on during my depression got back to me months later with a jerky response I disregarded immediately.  If you can’t get to your stuff within six months when there are other agents who represent bestselling authors who were able to get back to me within days, and then you have the unmitigated gall to be rude, I can’t take you seriously.  (I aimed high at first, I admit, but why not start at the top and work your way down?  Who knows what could happen, right?)

Then one of the agents rejected me with a personal message which seemed to confirm what I was thinking all along—that with the travesty of Twilight, agents were simply over all things werewolf, and with the gay added in, the audience was that much more limited.  This agent told me, “You are a good writer, but this project doesn’t call to me.  Good luck.”  If I’m a good writer, then it probably really is the project and/or subject matter.  Most agents didn’t have time to read the sample chapters sent.  They read the blurb, weren’t interested, and passed it on.

So, I changed things up a bit.  I started researching publishers, retooled the synopsis and query, and made a list of top ten publishers specializing in or having gay book lines I could get into without an agent.  As with the agents, I put the publishers in descending order of most- to least-desirable.

I got an acceptance from the first publisher I sent my novel to.

I checked my e-mail at work, saw that I had an e-mail in the writing e-mail address I was using, and thought, “Well, on to the next on my list.”  I checked the e-mail and I think I actually let off an electric current through my body—anyone who touched me would have been electrocuted.  “We reviewed your story and would like to take it for publication as a novel, if it’s still available.”

Are you kidding me?  It’s so available, I’m practically a hooker!  Take me!

Available

I signed the contract, reviewed the materials sent to me, and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I knew publishing took a long time, but it was taking forever!  I contacted them just to get an idea of what I should expect and the very patient, very kind author liaison informed me that my editor-to-be (such a thought!  Still gives me chills!) is assigned to my novel in August.  For a new author who is new with a publishing company, I think this is pretty standard.

So, I wrote a short story for them (for an anthology) in about a week (honestly, about two or three days of sporadic writing).  The cutoff date was March 1st and I submitted it the night before.  It was a retelling of The Little Mermaid with the mermaid being a merman.  I thought it was pretty good, but I don’t think 8,000 words was enough to cram all I wanted to in there.   I was told a few days later that the anthology was already full, but that if I wanted to run it through a beta reader (How did she know I hadn’t?!  Was she watching me?  *paranoid*) and resubmit it for their general short story line, “please do so.”  It was a rejection and it wasn't, precisely.

The lesson—don’t skip the steps, asshole.  *cackle*

I have not resubmitted it yet.  I plan to.  I was (and remain) rather fond of it.  From the time I submitted that hurried abortion of a novel the first time and had the good fortune to run across an astute and kind editor (whose instructional and generous words also sustained me through that awful summer), I have found my lost voice, I have come to a place I want to be, and I am apparently churning out stuff with decent quality.

Think of the contrast in my summers—one spent mired in self-pity and sadness, the next working with an editor on my first novel.

The change and the happiness is mind boggling.  I'm ready!