This has been an incredible year! I've been crazy busy and the Bloggery has been neglected. On the upside, there is a lot to write about!
Way, way, way back in the day, I called my blog From Slush to Pulp because I was submitting stories to the “slush pile” and hoping to get published, and “pulp” is what the old sci-fi/fantasy/adventure/weird stories were called because they were printed on cheap paper and churned out for thousands of eager readers. Well, I didn't care what kind of paper my stories made it to! The story is the important part, and the readers are what matters!
I brought back my blog title because I still feel that way. I'd quit using it in the first place because I felt awful about not trying to get my stories out anymore. There was a long period of time when I lost hope and life was just too complicated to ever have time to sit down and write fun stories just for myself.
Every now and then, I'd come across a magazine or an anthology that sounded interesting and like my stories would fit in there, and I'd write and polish and submit. And I got some very nice rejections in response. Several asked me to keep submitting to them, but I was writing so rarely that I hardly ever did.
I was not very nice to myself in those days. I was taking care of my family, but not myself. I let myself get anxious and worked up over every little detail both in my control and out of it. I had awful brain fog and was easily distracted. I couldn't get in the zone to save my life.
Gradually, I worked my way out of it. A big part of that was getting published in the Paragons anthology by Silver Empire Press. I'd been returning to Pen and Kail's story in my mind so often, they were like friends. It was such a thrill to see more people get to meet them that I asked the publisher if they were interested in the rest of their story. And they said yes, send it in when it's ready!
Suddenly, my writing was not a selfish thing that I did only for myself that took away from every little thing that I “ought” to be doing (that I worried I was failing at and was the very opposite of fun). My writing was wanted somewhere, even a tenuous, tiny bit. And I had just promised these people I'd have a novel, or nearly a novel, ready by spring. My little story about the lives of two people trying to overcome horrible childhood circumstances to become heroes, whether it was likely or not, had at least one reader who believed in it and wanted more.
It was like a switch flipped and channeled my nervous energy into something productive, and more importantly, fun. I was worried it wouldn't be enough to really be a whole novel because in the past, I edited as I wrote and pared things down to nearly nothing. But now, getting the thing finished was more important than making it realistic. I went for reasonably plausible and occasionally outrageously crazy instead, which is perfect for a superhero novel anyway. Any idea I had while writing that made me laugh got in. Any idea that made me cry – yes, there really were some scenes that I cried for – got in. Whatever made my heart pound got in. I had no time to worry about hypothetical other people maybe thinking a piece of my story – my heart – was stupid. The rest of the writing was just flow and making sure it made sense as it went.
There was a lot more there than I first thought in my story. So much that I had to break it in the middle and write an ending that I hadn't planned on being the ending, just so I could end on a note that resolved the first page's problem. There's a whole other book or two to go before Pen and Kail are done!
I finished book one and sent it on, I think, the last day of spring. Or at least close. I hope so, so that I technically kept my promise!
I went on a lot of long, argumentative walks with myself during the wait to hear back. I told myself that I'd given it an honest shot and that it was a solid story, not perfect, but once the rejection came back I could use my savings to hire an editor and try self-publishing it. I designed a whole backup plan, picked out my first and second choice freelance editors, knew what self-pub company I would go with, finished drawing my cover art and got started on the colors.
And then, Silver Empire sent me an email saying they liked my story but... they had a very big superhero novel project called Heroes Unleashed they were working on that they wanted my story for, and since that wasn't the traditional standalone novel deal, they wanted to know if I was interested in that.
Now listen. I am essentially nobody, due to my rare story subs, and at the time I was actually getting more paying gigs as an artist. I'm far below anybody's radar. And they want me to join their biggest project, with the most push they can get behind it, to launch a whole series, alongside their best, better known authors who will also be launching series and cross-promoting mine too and eventually working together to do crossovers.
Oh and by the way, my story was practically complete and ready to go, nice work, just need to tidy up the pacing in the last half and bring in a bit more foreshadowing early on (side effect of just going with fun stuff as it occurred to me), maybe a couple more things to help continuity in the universe. It should be next in the queue after the initial set of series is launched.
Are you kidding me. I thought I'd sent in a solid story, yes, but SO MUCH was in it that was just what I personally had fun with. Maybe my sense of “fun” wasn't weird and defective. Maybe it was worth something. I'd been trying to make myself believe that for awhile, but now that I really acted like I believed it and actually put it in the story, things happened.
During those long walks arguing with myself, I'd already worked through how sad I'd be if my novel was rejected by my first choice publisher. I'd resigned myself to a long and expensive slog of figuring out what I'd missed in my edits and how to get my book self-published and promoting it all by myself. And now I don't even need that plan because the first plan had come through and it was even better than I'd thought? Of course I was interested! Yes!!! It's like my series will have cousins to play with!
Here is the Kickstarter link for the first set of series getting launched - http://kck.st/2weqnbH
My characters have a cameo in the first book, Heroes Fall by Morgon Newquist!
I'm so excited to see everyone involved in this project succeed. We are going to bring a massive new universe of incredible heroes to read. Best of all, this is not a depressing anti-hero project. Superhero stories are where the good guys struggle but in the end, they win. That's hope. We all need that.
Artist, writer, creator of stuff. I just want to build worlds for you to escape to.