Publication: The Never-Ending Rollercoaster Ride

So many things keep jumping up and chomping my behind, that then keep me from adhering to any type of decent schedule at this blog. Oh wait a minute – not my behind – my pseudonymous self who is leading a much more thrilling and adventurous life than I am.

So, here is where things stand: when last we met, I had just gotten the final edits turned in for my first release coming out May 7th. Yay! I had a wonderful experience with my editor, she had glowing things to say about me – I was feeling pretty damn-spankin’ good about life in publication land. I began to feel the mounting pressure of scheduling guest blog spots, arranging giveaways, lamenting that I’m too poor to attend the Romance Times convention in Chicago (where my publisher and fellow smut peddlers will be) and twittering like a raging maniac.

Then I opened my alter-ego’s email that contained a message from the art department. The subject line claimed it was the cover art for my book. Odd. I already received the cover art for the anthology my story will appear in about a month ago. I opened it up and actually cried. This wasn’t a “the world is crashing about my ears” crying. This was “OMFG – I can’t believe how GORGEOUS this is!” You see – this was the cover art for my story alone, that will be released as a stand-alone 90 days after the anthology comes out. I just stared at it and was wept. It was not only incredible artwork, but it epitomized the look and feel of my story. If the artist wasn’t in England, I would have run over and hugged her.

It’s really happening. It’s real. Somehow the anthology cover – while exciting to see my girl’s name on there – wasn’t the same as seeing my own title in all its glory. Okay, I realize we’re not talking the next Hemingway here, but seriously, for as long as I’ve waited to get frickin’ published – it was epic. Then came the really fun part, The Booty Box. Yes folks – the Booty Box. They have a merchandise page at the publisher website that includes things like thong underwear, tote bags, mugs and iPad cases with my book cover on it! There was also a T-shirt that said “Such & such publisher author (my name) ROCKS!”

Too funny. But very cool.

But wait, you ask. How is that like a rollercoaster? These all seem like “ups”. Yup. But then there was the email that arrived – I swear less than 10 minutes later. You know how on some emails you can see the first few words of the actual message? So, I see one from the actual publisher who has only contacted me one time to welcome me to the fold. Surely she must be writing to tell me how massively awesome I am, right? Yeah, right. The first few words in this case were “I’m sorry to inform you…”

Gasp. Choke. That seemed like a rather precipitous beginning. I’ve never really experienced a positive outcome from anything that began with those words.

I literally froze. Did I really want to descend from my heights of self-imagined grandeur and crash, burning in flames, to the dirt of this earth? Not especially. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted. So I decided to live on the edge and open the email. Turns out my editor – who must be even more awesome than I originally realized – just received a full scholarship to get her Master’s in English at Oxford. She’s writing her thesis on Mid-Renaissance poetry. Damn. I guess that was a pretty good reason for her to put in her notice.

Sigh. So how self-involved could I be about this? I couldn’t help it. Pretty self-involved. She was the first one that said “I would like to publish your book”, and then sent me a contract. She’s not only the first professional editor I ever worked with, but it was a great experience. She’s also the one that I just submitted a new story to not a week earlier. The one who said she would like to see a synopsis on my 3 book series.

The publisher was very gracious, and let me know that I had been assigned a new editor who would contact me shortly. This new editor might not like my “voice” or story ideas. She may have other writers she’s more interested in working with – where’s the antacid! Also – those vague time references always make me nutty – I am waaaay too impatient. So I was going to have to wait. I thanked the publisher for taking the time to tell me personally what was going on, and that I would look forward to hearing from the new editor. Since the publisher also left it open at the end of her message to be sure and let her know if I had any questions or concerns – I tread lightly into that territory. I decided to save the series question for the new editor, but I did politely inquire about the submission I had just sent in for a Halloween anthology.

Five days went by with no communication. So now I was sweating bullets. Stomach twisting – all the angsty cliches you can possibly think of – I was living them.

The publisher answered me on the 5th day and apologized for not getting back to me sooner, but said that she had forwarded my submission to my new editor who would look it over the next day; but could I please send her the synopsis as well? That would be fine I thought – if I had her email! Since there was a time element involved, and I knew the publisher was busy, I contacted my current editor who is there until the end of the month. I was able to congratulate her and thank her for the experience of working with her, and then ask for the new editor’s email.

She got back to me right away, and I sent off the synopsis. Phew! Then I figured I had done all that I could, and probably wouldn’t hear anything for at least a few weeks. Apparently the rollercoaster had another plan in mind. Five minutes later, my new editor replied with a “speak of the devil”, saying she was just about to email me. Apparently, the anthology was already filled, but she loved my story ( she said something really glowing about it that I’m too embarrassed to put here – but I think I am going to make a poster out of it and hang it above my computer for the next time I get discouraged) and wondered if I would mind if they published it as a stand alone book. Mind? MIND?!?!?!?! Holy 2nd contract Batman – no I don’t mind!

There you have it. And I get that this is how it is. Been there done that in music. But in some ways, I feel that I have more to lose now with the writing. I think it has to do with the resilience we have when we’re young. When we think there’s forever and maybe even an extra day to achieve what we desire. When I got the “I’m sorry to inform you…” email, it felt like a cruel trick the universe was playing on me right after the heady feeling from my cover art on men’s boxer shorts.

Which reminds me, I wonder how much 11 GPB is in US dollars?

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The Saga of Crazy Billie Pt. 3 & More Publishing Updates

Here I am again, trying to sort out the confused madness of the last few weeks. I have been glued to my computer, and have figured out how to use my Word 2010 software so that my alter-ego can properly communicate with my publisher and editor, turned in the third – and final – edits of the story coming out May 7th, finished and turned in one of the new story ideas, and began research on the 3 book series that my editor requested a synopsis on. Plus, I have been preparing promo spots for my alter-ego, because yes, writers have to be promoters too.

 

My final comment on my first experience with a professional editor is that it ROCKED. I have learned so much that will make me a better writer. I’ve heard so many horror stories about writer/editor relationships, that I was going into the whole process with a lot of jacked up nerves. My editor was the most amazing, respectful, fun and professional person I could have dreamed up for the job.  Especially as I’m a newbie and we were both working with a slight language barrier. My publisher is in Britain, and even though I did a pretty good job of turning in a British English manuscript, I did miss a few. Then there were also slang and terminology differences, so that part was pretty interesting. In addition to her, the two final line editors were great, and their marketing and promotions person is fantastic. I feel very blessed.

I also feel overwhelmed, and more grateful than ever that I was demoted at my day job. I’m pretty sure my family appreciates it too. This way, they can occasionally interact with me on a personal level. Fortunately, my hubby and I have discovered that the “poke” feature on facebook can be utilized repeatedly in a matter of seconds; we tested that out earlier while he was in the bedroom and I was in the living room.

But on to other things! Billie was such a not-so-hot mess, that I could probably carry on about her ceaselessly. I’ve been going over various episodes with her in my mind since my last post, and it’s going to be tough to just hit the highlights. For now, I’ll pick up where we left off.

The sounds of something charging towards us was getting louder and louder, yet, we couldn’t see it. In reality, all of this happened in seconds. I didn’t even have a chance to say anything, when I felt something brush roughly against my right ear and right leg, as if it had flown past me, and right into the Suburban I was leaning against.

“Something just flew over my head!” yelled out Billie, who was standing to my left.

None of it made sense, we could hear something loudly crashing through the bushes, charging towards us, and running into us from all sides. However, we had seen nothing. I had pretty much reached my tolerance for other-worldly beings, smells and sounds at that point. Valuable garbage or not, I was out of there.

“I’m going home,” I calmly announced.

“Wait! What was that?”

“How should I know? You’re the one with the weird creepy house. I’m not sticking around in case it comes back.”

“Do you think it will?” She was looking at me as if I’d suddenly become the freaky occurrences expert.

“Well, I can assure you that if it does, I will not be here to welcome it. See ya’.”

I left, and fully intended not to go back. I tried doing garbage runs with some other people, feeling that it wasn’t the safest thing to do alone late at night, but no one was really into it like me or Billie. I was putting more time into the yard and estate sales again to stock the store, but people wanted you to give them money for stuff at those places, so it just wasn’t the same as helping yourself to free things. Free has always been my favorite price.

Billie started calling me late at night because she couldn’t sleep. Duh. I wouldn’t be sleeping either. I’d be curled up in the corner with the shivering whippet jumping at every little sound that house made, and apparently, it had now taken to humming. Yes, Billie told me her walls were singing. You’d think after all of the wacky stuff I’d personally experienced, I’d be accepting of it. But I was being Agent Scully to her Agent Mulder. No matter how many times I’d been probed by aliens and seen ghosts and other weird creatures, I couldn’t accept that this stuff was really happening. At least I didn’t behave that way for 8 seasons – I caught on a little quicker.

 

So, I eventually drifted back. After all, it had been late, I was tired. The farther away from the actual event I was, the less dramatic and scary it seemed. It all happened so fast, right? It could’ve been anything. It was highly unlikely that is was some demonic creature that had manifested from beyond. I should just get over it and move on.

Oops.

Still skeptical regarding the whole singing walls situation, I was at her house one evening, and we were just hanging out in her living room. It was pretty late, and one of the things she had said to me was that the later it got, the louder the singing would get. So far, nothing odd had happened – wow – and I was sort of lazily rocking in an old rocking chair she had, while she was sitting across from me in a big easy chair. While she was talking to me in her breathless Marilyn Monroe voice, I heard something to my left, where the living room tunneled into the rest of the the house. To the right of me, was a big front picture window. Since the house had about 3 or 4 steps leading up to the front door, the bottom of the picture window was actually about four to five feet off of the ground. Many Valley homes have that same building design – they’re stucco with wood trim, and are set up on a foundation.

“Did you hear that?” I said.

Billie stopped talking, and listened. We both could distinctly hear a humming noise from the wall on my left. It’s difficult to describe. The way she described it opposed to the way I experienced it was very different from my viewpoint. But it was very much as if someone, a person, were humming a little tune, except that it was coming from the wall. It didn’t seem to move around, it would be in one spot on that particular wall. But then another wall might start to hum as well, but that tone and tune would be slightly different. And she was right. It was getting louder as it got later. There was no doubt in my mind that I needed to leave.

I stood up to put my jacket on, and I was turned so that I was facing the picture window. I froze in absolute terror. It was one of those moments where all you can do is stare. Anyone remember the Amityville Horror movie where the red glowing eyes are staring in the window? Yeah. That was what was happening. I don’t remember any demon pig attached to the eyes – just the eyes. They were in the the middle of the picture window on the outside, so they must have been six to seven feet off the ground. Really tall pig or whatever. With glowing red eyes. And it was outside where I had to walk past to get to my car. Not good.

“What is it?” said Billie in a worried voice.

The red eyes blinked once, and then they were gone. Instantly gone.

I’m not sure how to spell all of the stammering and blubbering that came from my mouth, but at some point I was able to explain to Billie what I had seen. So far through all of the psycho goings-on at her place she had really come across as rather blasé about it all. This might have been the one though, because she was acting very concerned.

It took me at least another half hour to leave because I didn’t want to run into the evil pig from beyond when I went to my car, and she had to promise to stand on the porch and watch me when I left. And leave I did, this time, to never return. But the saga of crazy Billie wasn’t over. Because even though I refused to go back to her house, I was to learn that sometimes the house is not the problem. Sometimes it’s the person in the house.

More on that next time…