Make Your Voice Heard (And Help Out A Writer)
|Like this one, for instance!|
|Like this one, for instance!|
|We agreed on the rules when the game started.|
I remember years ago when I was still a reporter for a small rag in town that I was asked to interview local author Kate Collins who had just released the 13th book in her ongoing mystery series (Nightshade on Elm Street I believe it was). I was thrilled with the assignment! It was partly because it's always nice to hear a fellow author hold forth about their work and process, but it was also because I wanted to talk to someone who was clearly more successful in the book racket than I was. I had the same burning question that I've heard asked in hundred different panels at a dozen different conventions now.
How did you do it?
|Seriously, you got 13 of these, and it's not your only series!|
The answer Ms. Collins gave was as honest as it was disappointing. All these years later, though, I can vouch for its veracity. None of us like hearing this, and none of us want to believe it, but the sooner you do, the sooner you'll be able to move forward with your career.
It's luck. That's all there is to it. All you have to do is make sure that you, or your manuscript, happen to be in the right place at the right time to close a deal, and you've got it made.
For her, it had simply been putting her manuscript in the right hands by pure chance. She'd submitted a romance novel to Viking more than ten years ago at the time of the interview, and it just so happened to catch the editor's eye while they were looking for the specific flavor she'd penned. It wasn't the font she used, the typeface she wrote in, or some trick of phrasing in her cover letter that made her stand out as more worthy of being read. It was just that she happened to get plucked off the pile that day.
Of all the authors I've spoken with over the years, this is the one commonality that all of us share. When someone asks how we got our books published it was never the culmination of a carefully enacted plan like something out of Ocean's 11. Without fail it's always been because of some random quirk of chance. Someone we talked to at a party, a friend of a friend who heard about what we did, or in my case impressing the right people at a panel.
|Come on... you know you wanna check it out!|
|They'll come up boxcars eventually!|
When we design our characters, we tend to give them at least some basic morals. The more page time a character gets, and the more high-pressure the situations they're put into, the more their morality comes into play. However, a character's morality is kind of like their superpowers... if you don't actually see them at work, then it's kind of tough to take them on faith.
Which is why you need at least one establishing shot before the stakes get raised.
|Come on, how many powers is this guy gonna pull out of his ass, huh?|
|And now, some context for why this is a serious moment.|
|Seriously, if you don't have your copy yet, you should get one today!|
I've been sitting on this news for a while, but now that my new book has officially dropped it is time for me to tell you all about it. And if this is the first you're hearing about my novel Marked Territory from Eric Flint's Ring of Fire Press, then settle in for a bit... you're going to want to listen to this pitch!
|Got your ears open?|
At it's core, Marked Territory is a noir mystery thriller about a back alley heavy getting roped into someone else's problems. And the deeper he digs, the less things start adding up. So far so Bogart, right? The difference is that in this book our protagonist is a Maine coon named Leo. And before you start thinking that this is one of those books about animals solving human crimes, the rest of the cast are New York City street beasts, too. From Charity the church mouse, to Ringo Longtail the current mover and shaker among the south side's raccoons, every member of the cast is an animal of one variety or other.
The humans are still there, it is NYC after all, but they're just background characters. Sort of like how dogs and cats are treated in most other novels; there, but rarely noteworthy to the meat of the narrative.
And for those looking for the specifics, he's the back cover material:
"Leo does his best to keep his whiskers out of other people’s business.
He’s perfectly content to spend his days stretched out in the sun, or
wandering through his little patch of the Bronx. So when a south side
mouse comes to him with a sob story about a pack of hound dogs trying to
run her and her friends out of the abandoned church they call home, his
first instinct is to walk away.
But why would a mouse be desperate enough to call on an alley cat for help? The raccoons on the south side have their paws in the mix, he discovers, and any deal the raccoons are tied up in is guaranteed to get messy. Add in the fact that the dog pack seems to have come out of nowhere, and Leo’s got more questions than answers.
Curiosity killed the cat, as the saying goes, but Leo isn’t going to stop digging until he figures out exactly why St. Bart’s has become… Marked Territory!"
If you'd a longtime reader of mine, this might sound like a familiar premise to you. You're not imagining things, either. You see, Leo first came onto the scene a few years back in my short story "Stray Cat Strut" in the collection From a Cat's View. In that story an old shelter mate of Leo's named Tigger calls in a favor to get the big bruiser to help an uptown cat find her missing sister. It's not a job he particularly wants to do, but a favor is a favor, so he starts digging... and uncovers something particularly sinister going on in a bad part of town.
For those who've read it, don't you fret... the Persian will be back again in future stories. And if you're not sure what I'm talking about, I'd recommend getting a copy of this anthology as well so you can get the complete history of Leo and his adventures to-date.
|You have not heard the last of me...|
Ideally, I'd like it to be! People who know me as a writer know that I'm not really big on writing series, but I've got plenty of future cases for Leo to take up if a tomcat enforcer with a bottle brush tail and a chip on his shoulder is something the readers out there would like to see.
But, as with anything else, what's really going to decide if that happens is the audience! So if this is the sort of thing you'd like to see me develop and expand on, make sure you get your copy of Marked Territory as soon as you can! Then after you give it a read, drop a rating and a review on it, and don't forget to tell your friends and family to give it a read as well.
Because if the demand is high enough then I'll have no other choice than to give you what you want, will I?
Also, for those who are still on the fence Amanda Lyons has a lovely review up at PetLife!