Whatever Happened To…

Now and then I get questions about sequels to some of my works. So I thought it might be handy to answer a lot of them in one post.

Whatever Happened…

after “The Mystery of the Last Line”?

A lot of readers found this story open-ended. I never intended to write a sequel, though after so many readers seemed to want more explanation, I did toy with the idea. I even started one, but I just couldn’t find the thread, so I abandoned it.

to the K-Pro sequel?

It was going to be called Ms. Fortune, which is a title I still really love. I had it all planned and even showcased it one year for the A—Z postings they do every April. But the first book didn’t do so great (and truthfully, if I had the energy I’d go re-edit it), so I didn’t end up investing any time in writing the second book.

to Peter Stoller?

That’s another one I started a couple sequels to but never finished. You’ll find a lot of that on this list, and that’s because [most] writers go where the readers are. If as an author I never hear from people who want more—and certainly if a book doesn’t sell—then I (like many authors) often won’t pursue that series or character.

If you’re wondering what happened to Peter specifically, though… I don’t know. I’d have to write the books to find out.

to The Great Divide and A More Perfect Union (the Changers sequels)?

Same story: yes, it was originally meant to be a trilogy. But the book sales were middling and the publisher never asked for more. Meanwhile, this was around the time I published Brynnde, which has been my best-selling book. So I redirected my time and energy in that direction.

to Hamlette?

Ah, the sad truth there is that I queried for over a year and had no takers. Some of the feedback left me really doubtful about the book’s viability. So I don’t know what I’ll do with it. I’ve rewritten it a number of times, but I can’t seem to get it right (at least not according to agents; CPs and betas enjoyed it). Sigh.

Sneak Peek

Want to see what I’m working on now? You can read the first chapter (subject to change during editing) here.

Note that it’s not another historical romance, though I will write more of those, too. This one is contemporary, and it’s an adaptation of my television pilot. Sort of a mix of Joss Whedon, Grimm, and The X-Files. Let me know what you think!

M/M Regency Romance

When I started writing Faebourne, I had a definite plan. It would be the typical Regency romance except that the male protagonist (Duncan) would be the one who needed rescuing from the very odd Milne family. That’s still in many ways the fundamental starting point for the plot. However, the planned romance between Duncan and Adelia Milne, well . . . It’s there, but not in as much force as another romance that has taken center stage in the book.

After Duncan’s abduction, his valet Davies and best friend George go in search of him. In the original manuscript, we didn’t even have any chapters from their points of view—it was all Duncan, all the time. But I decided that it wasn’t as interesting to have Davies and George just show up at Faebourne. Better to follow their little journey. And as their characters grew, they, erm . . . They fell in love.

Now, this leaves me in a conundrum of sorts. A number of people who read sweet, clean, historical romances do so because their religious views don’t allow for anything more, er, graphic. It’s the reason I grew up reading Regencies, and though I’ve since left my sheltered childhood, I still greatly enjoy these kinds of books. (And I still don’t read steamy romances.) Those same religious views often frown on homosexual relationships. So I’m a bit afraid that Davies + George will offend a number of potential readers. I’m afraid I’ll get bad reviews because of it. Which is why I’m trying very hard to make sure readers know BEFORE they buy the book. That way, if it’s not their cup of tea per se, they can steer clear.

I did seriously consider going back and taking the relationship out. But honestly, it’s one of the best things in the book (in my authorial opinion). It’s a darling I can’t quite bring myself to murder.

Readers familiar with the broader spectrum of my work won’t be surprised to find a gay couple in Faebourne. But those who have only read Brynnde, which is far more heteronormative and hews to the traditional aspects of the genre, may be caught off guard.

SO. Be aware and spread the word: the “romance” in Faebourne: A Regency Romance is—at least in one of the two couples showcased (and the couple whose romance is most focused on)—a gay one. Don’t read it if you think that will bother you.

IWSG: Publishing Paths

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

This month I’m insecure about the fact I entered Pitch Wars for the first time ever and have so far not received any requests for more pages. Between that and the fact that I keep being told by agents I’ve queried that my writing is “really good,” “engaging,” “flows well” . . . yet somehow no one wants to represent or publish it . . . I don’t know what to think or do. Which leads somewhat indirectly to this month’s question:

What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

As of now, I have eight books on the market. Two were published by small publishers, the others I self-published. I’ll be self-publishing Faebourne too.

For some manuscripts, I do try to get an agent. If I think the book might be commercial enough, I do an extensive round of querying. If, however, I know it’s too niche, or if it’s something I know I can sell on my own (like Sherlock Holmes or Regency romance), I self-publish.

I guess a part of me still hopes to someday be published by a bigger house. I don’t know why. A lingering desire for legitimacy? For someone to say I’m good enough? Hence the most recent heartbreaking year of queries. For this particular manuscript I’ve sent out 134 queries, and at the moment I’m waiting for answers on 3 of them. The rest were rejections or no responses. And now I’m hoping maybe, just maybe, a Pitch Wars mentor might see something good in my work. But that appears to be a no as well.

It’s tough to stay confident in your writing when no one else seems to believe it’s worth their time or effort.

Yet my Sherlock Holmes books and Brynnde sell well. So at least a few people like and read my work. And I have hopes Faebourne will follow in Brynnde‘s footsteps. All signs point to me continuing to self-publish because I come out ahead on those books. (Mostly due to my husband who handles the marketing.)

In short, my publishing path is something I determine on a book-by-book basis. If I think there’s a chance an agent might like the manuscript, I do some querying. Otherwise, I self-publish. I don’t really bother with the smaller publishers any more because I haven’t had much luck with them. I’m better off having full control of my ability to price and market, and in determining which format(s) to produce, etc. I’m sure there are some great small publishers out there that actually do market and won’t just churn out a ton of books and hope they sell, but I’ve ceased looking for them. If a publisher wants me to do the marketing for them, well, I might as well put the book out myself and keep more of the profits.

So this manuscript I’m shopping, well . . . First I have to get Faebourne out, and then I’ll decide what to do with it. Scrap it. Overhaul it. Or eventually put my faith in it and self-publish. Its fate remains to be determined.

Winning the [Ear] Lottery

A week ago, I lost hearing in my left ear. Honestly, it just felt muffled, like when you change elevations. But nothing I did could clear it. So I went to the doctor.

She looked in my ear and told me it appeared my eardrum had ruptured.

She wanted me to see an ENT, but of course they couldn’t get me in until yesterday. So for a week I’ve been deaf in one ear, and I’ve also had to take antibiotics because my ear started weeping. Ugh. That, in turn, led to ear pain and jaw pain and a swollen lymph node. I couldn’t chew, so I had to eat only soup and other soft foods like pasta.

It’s been a blast.

The ENT first gave me a hearing test, which I felt was kind of dumb since it was more than clear I can’t hear out of one ear. The test confirmed this. But it also made clear that (a) my right ear works beautifully, and (b) the problem with my left ear is not permanent. The bone and nerves are fine. It’s the middle ear that has an issue.

Finally, they actually looked in my ear. And it turns out I’d won the lottery. I have an ear infection AND a perforated eardrum. So they sucked gunk out of my ear, then put more gunk into my ear to clear the infection. I have to walk around with this gunk in my ear for a week. Then I get to go back to the ENT and have them suck it out. Hopefully that’s all that will be required. They can’t get a good look at the eardrum until this bit is taken care of. Once it is, they’ll be able to tell whether the eardrum is healing on its own (which is most likely) or will need to be patched.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, I’ve lost a week to having earaches that felt like someone was stabbing me in the ear with a screwdriver. (And now the inside of my ear is crazy itchy, but there’s nothing I can do about it.) The sum total is that I’ll probably have to push back Faebourne‘s release again. Sigh. It’s a mess, I’m a mess, the world is a mess. Best laid plans and all that. But I don’t want to release a half-baked book, so I’m going to take my time and do it right. I thank you for your patience and promise it will be worth it in the end.

Social Media Letdown

So I have a Tumblr that I only recently started seriously playing with. I was using it as a place to shelve snippets of a fanfic. But though some of the “chapters” got attention, it seems to have tapered off. That might be because I’ve been away on vacation (I did post a few pics while away, and I’m not officially “back” yet, but I’m home for a day before going off on the next leg, hence this post). Or it might be because I’m just not very good . . . at writing, or “tumbling” or whatever. Dunno.

Social media is so, so tricky. We’re told we need it in order to succeed as authors (or in other creative fields). Major companies are convinced they need a social media presence, too. But what we’re really feeding is our craving for validation. And we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. Or worse. People get more depressed when faced with Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. They see others getting all the followers and Likes, and they feel like failures. Comparison is the thief of joy, or so the saying goes, and social media is really just a massive platform for measuring how “popular” you are. Or aren’t.

I have several friends who have recently announced they’re deleting their Facebook accounts. I’m tempted to do the same. A few years back I slashed and burned a number of my accounts and profiles, but it seems to have ballooned again. There’s always some new platform that authors are being told they need to be on.

For those wondering about the fic on Tumblr, it was inspired by my recent reading of The Raven Cycle. I actually indexed the posts on this post. And then there is a post that came after those. Though I know where the story is going, I’m not sure I’ll bother actually writing it. Social media saps the joy and desire from me, forcing me to face the indifference of the world to my work. It perpetuates the feelings we had in school, I think: there are those who have all the friends (and followers), and those who have only a few . . . or none. The kids at the crowded cafeteria table versus the kids sitting alone.

Hamlette Update

I’ve officially closed out all outstanding queries for Hamlette. There are still some agents who requested pages that, despite my follow-up emails, have yet to respond, but as time passes, I hold out less hope that they’ll be interested.

Right now I’m focused on finishing up Faebourne and then I’ll decide what to do with Hamlette. Thanks to everyone who has critiqued and beta’d it, and those who keep asking when/if. I’ll let you know. 😘

A Couple Updates

So I have a couple bits of information for you. 1. The release date for Faebourne has been pushed back a bit. I really resisted doing this, but in order to give you the best possible book, it’s going to take me a little more time. And I’d rather give you a good book than a rushed one. The new publication date is 4 September.

2. For those of you in the Bay Area, I’ll be giving a presentation about writing and publishing at the Livermore Public Library in November. Yes, it’s some months away! But mark your calendars now so you don’t forget: 15 November, 7:00 p.m.. I’ll talk about the writing process and also about various publishing options. Just in time for NaNoWriMo!

And finally, a reminder that Brynnde is now available in audiobook format. You can pick it up here. And then you’ll finally know how to properly pronounce “Brynnde”!

A Handful of Water

I have a few things going on at the moment. For one, trying to get Faebourne ready for publication in August. For another, I’m waiting on responses to Hamlette from five places that are considering it. And then my short story “The Zodiac Clock” is likewise on submission to four places.

I’ve stopped submitting both Hamlette and “The Zodiac Clock.” If Hamlette doesn’t take, I’ll most likely self-publish it. Probably the same for “TZC” though I’d maybe try to write a few more stories and package it as an anthology.

I’m also waiting to hear from conferences where I’ve been put on lists to possibly be a featured author. I love going to conferences, but I’m at the point that I can’t justify the expense—particularly if there is a lot of travel—unless I’m at least contributing and being acknowledged. Still, I also recognize that I’m not as well known as some authors, and conferences want known names that will draw a crowd. At the same time, it’s a bit like the book marketing and publicity Catch-22: publishers put their marketing dollars behind authors who already sell. You’d think conference-goers would maybe get tired of the same handful of authors at each event and instead look for some new and interesting names? Or not.

I try not to be bitter, but I’ll admit a certain amount of frustration. People will say I should hide that side of me, but I believe in being real and honest about the hardships of being an author. It’s not all glamor. A lot of the time it feels like scraping and elbowing your way through a densely packed crowd.

So why call this post “A Handful of Water”? Because that’s also what it feels like: trying to hold something in your hands that leaks through. It’s fluid, and it’s running everywhere. I’ve got so much going on with submissions and my WIP . . . It’s hard to hold on to it all sometimes. And maybe I don’t have to. Maybe the only person who insists on it is me. I don’t know why I put so much pressure on myself, but . . . I feel worthless otherwise. All I have to offer the world is me and my work. If that’s not enough, then I don’t know why I’m here.