My Sherlock Holmes Stories—now collected!

You may know that I got my start writing Sherlock Holmes stories. The first one was published in 2012, with a second not far behind it, and a third in 2015. They were originally sold separately, but we’ve now combined them all in one. THESE ARE NOT NEW STORIES. If you’ve already bought and read the others, don’t buy this too, because they’re the same. But if you’ve never read my Sherlock Holmes stories, now you can have all three in one book. The audiobook version of this collection should be out in another couple weeks, too. I’ll definitely post once it is!

Order

It probably doesn’t matter, but I get questions about this sometimes, so I’ll post an answer here. I’ve written three Sherlock Holmes stories, all available on Amazon Kindle. This is the order they were written/released in:

  1. “The Mystery of the Last Line”
  2. “The Adventure of Ichabod Reed”
  3. “The Monumental Horror”

But if you wanted to read them in the order the events take place, you’d go the other way:

  1. “The Monumental Horror”
  2. “The Adventure of Ichabod Reed”
  3. “The Mystery of the Last Line”

Not that it makes a difference. Each story stands on its own, though I have begun writing a direct sequel to “Last Line.” It seems many people feel they didn’t get closure with that one, so I’m working to fix that. I did once write a small epilogue of sorts to “Last Line,” which you can find here. It does not, however, give answers to the lingering questions, hence my plans to write something more explicit.

Half Way!

Time again to check in on those goals set at the beginning of the year! Goals in green have been achieved.

1. Finish the revision of Changers.
2. Find an agent or publisher for Changers.
3. With my co-writer, finish the Hard Reset script.
4. Write and release at least one more Sherlock Holmes story.
5. Attend at least one writing conference and/or do at least one reading or signing.
6. Find a home for “Aptera.”

I revised Changers and it has been accepted for publication by Evernight Teen. We’ve done two rounds of edits and I’m eagerly awaiting a cover and official release date (they projected July, which is, like, now).

Hard Reset is on the back burner due to extenuating circumstances. I am, however, working to land other scripts with producers and/or directors.

And I did also start writing a new Sherlock Holmes story, but with Changers being picked up, I’ve had to divert my attention to the sequels (it’s meant to be a trilogy). I’ve also been sidetracked by the siren call of a Regency romance novel—a very old project I picked up and dusted off and now find myself steeped in. But I’m enjoying it immensely!

As for writing conferences, I’ve got two booked: Writer’s Digest in New York in August (just an attendee), and InD’Scribe in Burbank in October, where I’ll be presenting and will also have an author table. I’m super excited to officially participate in my first conference as a guest author!

Finally, I’m glad to say “Aptera” found a home with Aurora Wolf. It was published there on June 1st.

Thus far, I’d say things are going well. (Knocking on wood and casting against the Evil Eye.) While 2016 has had its downs, I prefer for now to focus on all the ups—those that have happened and those still to come. Cheers!

The Stats

Another writing friend mentioned recently that for every 50 rejections he might then finally receive one acceptance. Now, this writer sends out both stories and manuscripts, so he’s juggling a lot of paper in all this. But it made me wonder what my own rejection/acceptance ratio might be.

I don’t write many short stories, my Sherlock Holmes stories notwithstanding. I self-publish those anyway, so I have no stats for rejections. Well, that’s not entirely true; early on I did send “Mystery of the Last Line” out to a few mystery magazines and the like. Maybe five? Then finally self-published it and never looked back.

That said, I did recently write a story called “Aptera.” It was written to spec for an anthology about Sirens, and though shortlisted did not make the final cut. (Tone too different from all the other stuff, which is a topic for another time.) Counting that rejection, “Aptera” was sent to 12 venues and rejected by 8 of them. I had not heard back from 3 others when Aurora Wolf accepted it. So, discarding the might-have-beens, my acceptance ratio for this story was 1/9.

Okay, what about novels? Which is more of what I do anyway. I queried The K-Pro just shy of 50 times before self-publishing it. So the ratio there is 0 for 50, more or less. The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller was my hardest sell. I queried that one exactly 100 times and had 2 acceptances. So my friend’s 1/50 estimate was spot on there. And Changers? I sent out 70 queries on that one. I received 2 acceptances and had not heard back from 4 at the time I accepted Evernight Teen’s offer. So if I subtract those 4, I get 2/66, or 1/33, which isn’t too bad.

And what about timing? I started sending out “Aptera” in January after receiving the boot from the anthology. It was accepted in May, so it took me 4 months to place it. I queried The K-Pro for a year before giving up and self-publishing. It took 15 months to place Peter, and 10 months to find a home for Changers. The reason for that is most likely there are more agents and publishers open to YA fantasy (Changers) than there are for adult upmarket espionage (Peter).

What all this adds up to is that querying and finding a home for your book or story is not, on average, a fast process. You’re going to hear “no thanks” a lot, and you should be prepared to stick things out for a year or more depending on your genre and how popular it is. There are more romance and fantasy publishers than, as I said, upmarket espionage publishers. So plan for a long-term siege. That way, if it happens sooner rather than later, you can be pleasantly surprised. But if it takes a while, you’ll be ready for that rather than disappointed and disheartened. It’s all a matter of perspective.

IWSG: Writing the Sequel

InsecureWritersSupportGroup The Insecure Writers’ Support Group posts the first Wednesday of every month.

I’ve done it now. My YA fantasy novel Changers: Manifesting Destiny is due out from Evernight Teen some time this summer. (It’s in editing now, and I’m also waiting to see the cover.) Thing is, it’s ostensibly the first in a trilogy. Which means I’m on the hook for two more books.

I’ve outlined what needs to happen in the second book (Changers: The Great Divide), and I’ve begun writing it, but . . . It feels so much weightier to write a sequel. There’s more riding on it, and I keep asking myself whether it’s good enough, which strangely was not a question I asked myself while writing the first book.

What’s keeping me sane right now is having a second, unrelated project—a Regency romance—going at the same time. Yes, it’s more work, but it somehow actually helps relieve the pressure a bit.

So what causes me to seize up when writing a sequel? I do this, too, when writing new Sherlock Holmes stories, and I think it’s the pressure to “live up to” the others. Whatever that means. It’s such an amorphous, subjective thing. But there’s an expectation—one I put on myself more than anything others put on me—and it paralyzes me a bit.

Still, I must trudge forward. Don’t want too much time to pass between books. Of course, if the first book doesn’t do well, maybe there will be no call for a sequel. But that’s another worry for another IWSG.

Meanwhile, please do check out my short story “Aptera,” which was published today on Aurora Wolf. It’s a contemporary tale of mythological sirens. Read it here.

Free Sherlock Holmes Story!

Today through the 17th, my Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of Ichabod Reed” is free on Amazon. It’s an e-book, but remember that you don’t need an actual Kindle to read Kindle books. Amazon has apps for your phone or tablet, and you can even just read it on your computer. Click here to grab a copy. And thanks for being readers!

2016 Goals Update

These are the goals with which I started the year. Items in green are accomplished.

1. Finish the revision of Changers.
2. Find an agent or publisher for Changers.
3. With my co-writer, finish the Hard Reset script.
4. Write and release at least one more Sherlock Holmes story.
5. Attend at least one writing conference and/or do at least one reading or signing.

The writing conference hasn’t happened yet, but I’m registered for it. I’ll be attending the Writer’s Digest conference in New York in August.

As for finding an agent or publisher for Changers, there has been some interest, so I have hopes it will work out.

I’m waiting for my co-writer to finish his end of the Hard Reset script. So in the meantime, I’ll be turning my attention to writing another Sherlock Holmes story . . . AND probably also poke at the Peter sequel. I’ve got about three pages of it written.

In fact, I’m doing so well it may be time to add another goal. I’m thinking:

6. Find a home for “Aptera.”

“Aptera” is a short story I wrote on spec for a specific anthology. If you read this blog at all regularly, you may remember that it was shortlisted but eventually rejected because it was too different from the other stories; it didn’t fit in with the overall tone of the anthology. So I’m hoping to find a home for it. It’s been rejected a couple more times, but I do believe in this story, so I don’t want to give up on it.

I’m pleased with my progress so far, despite a multitude of rejections in less than two months. Comes with the territory, I suppose. But I’ll keep my head down and keep plugging away. Ti par ti, as we say back home—little by little, I’ll get there.

Too Unique?

I received some bad news last night. A short story I’d written on spec for an anthology was rejected. It had been shortlisted, and I’d really hoped it would make it into the anthology. But ultimately, though the editor said it was a good story, it “didn’t fit with the others.”

Summed up, it was too unique, too different from all the rest. An odd duck.

I had actually worried about this a bit. I knew the story was a good one, but as the anthology editor began posting about the kinds of submissions she was receiving, I could tell my story was very different. And I knew that eventually, as said editor began whittling down to who and what would make the final cut, if my story was an outlier it would probably end up rejected.

It’s like stew. You want a variety of ingredients, but you want the flavors to all blend, I guess. You don’t want some random mandarin orange in with your beef and veggies. That would be weird.

Though I understand why it happened, I’m really pretty bummed. I’m going to have to start hunting for another outlet for the story. I only hope it isn’t so unique that no one has a place for it.

Insecure Writers Support Group

I’ve never done one of these. I don’t know if I’m supposed to officially sign up somewhere or what. But I feel like it’s fair for me, as a writer, to voice things that make me anxious or nervous about my work.

Like choosing the next project. I get emails from readers every now and then (and I love that!) asking whether I’ll be writing [fill in the blank]. And then I feel all excited that someone wants (a) a K-Pro sequel, (b) another Sherlock Holmes story (especially one explaining Lord Llewellyn), (c) to know where the hell Peter Stoller is and when they can read about him again (A: look at the countdown on the sidebar), (d) more “Hamlette,” (e) something else entirely, possibly that I’ve never even heard of, but will I please write it anyway.

Um . . .

So I keep a list on my desk of potential projects and when I hear enough rumblings from people, I push this or that one to the top of the list. But it IS anxiety inducing because I do want to please my readers, but it’s a lot of pressure! And then I also have directors wanting screenplays and that kind of thing, too.

So, yeah, I worry that I can’t do it all, or at least not quickly enough.

I guess, however, I should look at it from the positive side and be grateful I’m in demand.

But then I get nervous that, if and when I do write these things, the readers won’t like them. I mean, I love Peter (as much as I can be in love with an imaginary gay man), and I’m happy with his story and excited to share it with everyone, but what if they all hate it? *gulp*

So, yeah. That’s what I get insecure about as a writer.

Thanks for listening.