Thursday, February 16, 2017

I Need Your Help!

Something has been on my mind for a while. I've thought about it and stewed about it, and I think it's time to share it with all of you. Hopefully, you can give me some advice so I know what I should or should not do. First, a little background.

From the time I was a child, I wanted to be a professional writer. I used to write stories and make my own books out of construction paper. I remember being so proud of the fact that I was the only person in my fifth grade class who understood how to use quotation marks in my dialogue.

What I wrote was influenced by what I read. When I was younger, I read a lot of Judy Blume and Lurlene McDaniel and the like. Judy Blume appealed to me because she wasn't afraid to tackle tough issues and didn't shy away from portraying teens in a realistic light. I liked that Lurlene McDaniel's books never took the easy way out. In every Lurlene McDaniel book I'd ever read, someone died, and it was usually the main character. Growing up, I remember thinking I wanted to be a combination of these two awesome women. I wanted the grittiness of Blume and the drama of McDaniel.

As I got older, I moved from writing angsty young adult stories to even more angsty new adult stories. There was just one problem with that. When I wrote, Letters from Linc, agents didn't know what to do with my book. Though they claimed to like it, they didn't think they could sell it. The new adult genre didn't exist yet.

I did have an agent who liked me enough to ask if I had anything else he could see. I gave him one of my young adult novels.  The agent liked it, we signed a contract and he set out to sell it. Nobody wanted it and nobody could agree why. One publisher liked the character development but thought the dialogue was weak. Another thought the opposite. Yet another felt like the story was underdeveloped. After so many rejections, my agent explained that vampire books were all the rage and asked if I had any. I didn't, but I was willing to write one if it meant getting a book deal.

I ended up writing a four book vampire series. The agent set about trying to sell the first book and I'm sure you can guess what happened. No one wanted it. This was about the time Twilight was hitting theaters and True Blood was airing on HBO. I was told my books weren't good enough to compete with the others.  My agent suggested I come up with a concept no one had tackled yet because he believed I hadn't found my story.

At this point, I was pissed. I'd never wanted to write vampire novels anyway. It was probably that anger that led me to the decision to write my next stories. If they wanted something different, I would damn sure give it to them and The Unholy Trinity was born.

The tagline for the first book in The Unholy Trinity series was; what happens when the daughter of a mass murderer falls for the son of Satan? The books, three of them, were based on the concept that the son of Satan was looking for his soul mate and he wasn't as bad a guy as everyone thought. Sure, he did some evil stuff, but there could be no good without evil. The guy was the ultimate anti-hero, and his nemesis, Christian Church, was the son of Jesus.

Yes, I was taking a big chance with this concept, but that was the point. I was going for shock value. I wanted to be brave and bold and tackle the most taboo subject of all. And do you know what happened?

My agent was appalled. He freely admitted there was no way he could push this novel. It was too risky. No one wanted the son of Satan to be a good guy and no one wanted to read about people selling their soul to Satan.

We parted ways after that, but I decided I was going to put my money where my mouth was. I started uploading the first Unholy Trinity book on Wattpad and sat back and waited. And the damnedest thing happened. Readers loved it. It shot to the top of the most read lists. Readers were following me and clamoring for more. They were sending me art and poetry inspired by my characters. They were debating about plot points and giving me feedback that I used to develop future installments. Some even wrote fan fiction! How cool is that?

Of course, not everyone loved it which is to be expected when you take on sensitive subjects. Some people told me I was going to burn in Hell. They prayed for my soul and begged me to stop writing. I never engaged with these people, but I didn't have to. My readers were always quick to jump to my defense.

After publishing all three of the Unholy Trinity books on Wattpad, I published a prequel as well as a spin off. Then I walked away. I left Wattpad and went back to writing romance novels, everything from young adult to new adult and even gay romance.

It's been five years since the first Unholy Trinity book was published on Wattpad and to this day, I still have people who seek me out on social media to ask one question. Am I ever going to publish a print version of the books? Usually, my answer is no.

Lately, I've been giving it more thought, but I have to admit I'm worried about a few things. Is it too late? Will readers still want to buy these books? And my biggest fear? Am I going to lose any of my new readers who have read my romance novels but didn't know about my Unholy Trinity series?

My husband tells me to go for publishing the books, but I'm still divided. Once in my career, I sold out in an attempt to sell my books and it didn't work. I swore I wouldn't do it again. I would write what I wanted, what my readers wanted, and screw what people thought I should do.

So, I ask you, my readers, the people I write for. What do you think? Better yet, what do you want? Do you want to see these books in print, or do you think I should leave them firmly in the past?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Remembering my Dad

Four years ago today, I lost my father. He passed away at the age of fifty-nine, leaving a huge hole in my life. Every day, I wish he was still here, and these are just a few of the reasons why:

My dad always encouraged my writing career. Every time we talked, whether one day or one week had passed, he asked if there was anything new going on. Even when I told him that nothing had changed, and I was still getting rejected, he told me not to give up.

When I decided to pursue independent publishing after too many years of rejections and one sham of an agent, my dad was surprised. I remember him asking if I meant I was going to use a vanity press. I was upset by his attitude, and I think it showed. The next time we talked, he could not stop apologizing for what he said. He told me that times were changing and it was smart of me to change with them.

After my first novel, Letters from Linc, was released, my dad told anyone and everyone that would listen that his daughter was a published author. The dreaded phrase 'vanity press' was all but forgotten. Not only did he champion me to anyone within earshot, he put a copy of my novel in his office and always plugged it when they stopped by.

My dad never wanted to read any of the sex scenes in my novels. He told me it was because fathers didn't want to know that their daughters knew such things. I didn't mind. The fact that he knew my novels had sex scenes meant he was reading them.

Growing up, my dad was full of funny sayings, some of which have made their way into my books. I've often joked about making a book devoted entirely to his quirky quips, but I don't think I could do him justice. I also don't think I'll ever remember them all.

My dad was a good listener. He was always willing to help others and he didn't expect a big deal to be made in return. At my father's funeral, I learned he took in a homeless couple and helped them get back on their feet. My dad was a big man who was larger than life. He liked being a father, but he loved being a grandfather.

When I eloped at the age of twenty, my dad didn't disown me or harm my husband when he found out what we'd done. He laughed and then he said, 'Now, the real work begins.' Truer words were never spoken.

My dad wasn't perfect, but he was my dad. I miss him every day, and I would trade anything to have even one more day with him.