February 26th, 2014

crossed heart

endings and beginnings – Edie Spence and The House

Originally published at Cassie Alexander. You can comment here or there.

I’ve been really shy about telling anyone what I’ve been working on in the background, because I’ve been afraid of getting judged. So let me back up, explain, and then move forward again.

Earlier last summer a friend (who I’ll credit in the acknowledgements later, if she gives me permission!) gave me a story suggestion for a choose-your-own-adventure erotica novel. Within 3 days of her idea, the entire plot of a book played out in my mind. But at the time, I thought, oh, no way, that’s too silly. I’m a Real Writer and I shouldn’t concern myself with smut…even though I happen to be perfectly good at writing it, heh!

Then early last fall, St. Martin’s told me they wouldn’t be continuing my Edie Spence series. Bloodshifted will be the final book out in it, through them at least. (Don’t worry, it actually has an ending, even though I did leave myself enough tails to keep on keeping on should I choose to do so at a later time.)

Getting traditionally published had been the pinnacle of all of my hopes and dreams, and for the most part, I loved the entire process. Getting edited was amazing, and I seriously love my covers. Getting fan mail — from different countries no less! — has been mindbogglingly awesome-strange. I still get mystified that people are writing…to me. It feels bizarre, like I’m living in some alternate reality.

So as you can imagine, I was pretty crushed by the news that all of that was coming to a stop. You might have noticed the quantity and chirpiness of my posts here dramatically decreased after that. And prior to that news, I’d been practically working myself to death for two years trying to hold down my very stressful nightshift job — the one where I need to not kill anyone — and juggling writing two books a year and we’d just finished buying a house and moving — by the end, I was exhausted. Deep bone-level exhausted.

So I took a break. A long one. For a while I wasn’t even sure I wanted to write again. Then I thought, Really, have we honestly been this pretentious about it all along? We wrote nine books before Nightshifted, sheesh. and I got over myself.  At the end of moving and coping with the loss of my childhood dreams, I tapped at my writing engine. It’d been a while, and now I was a bit nervous that nothing inside of it would answer me back.

And it said, “You know what? That choose-your-own adventure erotica novel idea was still pretty good.”

Sooooo…I churned it out. I needed to. For my own self-esteem as a writer, to show myself that I could indeed get back on the horse that’d bucked me. And it was lovely. It felt so nice to not be writing anything that was under contract, with no real plot, just to write whatever came into my mind. I wrote my hands off — 9800 words in one day!, 25k in a long weekend! — and turned it into my agent, and told her, “It’s weird, okay?”

She agrees that it’s weird — but it’s also awesome. Because the format is perfect for e-readers, and it’s a cool idea, and it’s well executed, if I do say so myself.

Which is why I’ll be self-publishing it this May.

I haven’t given up on traditional publishing or NYC — in fact my editor did take a look at it and said it was good but too edgy for them, which is fine. And I’ve finished an entire first draft of a YA that I’d like to be sold traditionally.

But I also wrote this thing that’s cool that could do well online, and it’d be a shame not to get it out there. (On a purely mercenary level too — I’d have to be blind to not see how much money certain authors are making in ebooks right now. I would like a piece of that pie. Now that I’m going to a dayshift code with fewer shifts, and after waving to my husband as he drives off in his 97 Chevy Cavalier — just like Edie drives ;) — with almost 300,000 miles on it — an enjoyable-to-write semi-passive source of income would come in very handy.)

I haven’t been talking about it here, because I haven’t wanted to admit that I failed, in a traditional sense. (This is despite me knowing soooooo many author-friends of mine with 40 pseudonyms, each garnered after a subsequent ‘failure’. It’s part-and-parcel of the business, the goal being to fail-up.) And because writing this is sort of out of my bailiwick. It’s not what I expected of me, or what my friends/family/fans expect of me either.

But that’s OK, because writers grow and readers change. Not everyone has to read everything I write — and I would be uncomfortable if they did!

So I’m not really asking anyone to make that change over with me, unless you’re comfortable with it. I’m going to put this book out — it’s called The House — in May, and then do a novella or two set in that world each month after that for awhile, and see how it goes. I’ll be talking about it here in between now and then, and I thought you all should know.

Phew. And now you all know what’s going on with me — and why I’ll be griping about proofing a 70k book for comma errors over the next three days on twitter ;).