Monday, April 3, 2017

Forks in the Road

This morning, instead of writing, I decided to take a nap. I mean, why not? I'm finishing a novel that's not on deadline. At one time a limited edition hardcover publisher was interested, but it's been three years because the third act fell apart on me so I put it aside for a year and half, so who knows if they still are. If they aren't, because it's so heavily dependent on my Clifton Heights mythos, I'll offer it to Crystal Lake, who, I'm sure, will take it, so long as it's not trash. 

But no deadline, so why push myself? I was tired this morning. Didn't feel it. And it's not like I've been lazy. I only take a nap break like this morning's every few weeks. Yesterday afternoon I spent working on nonfiction columns with deadlines (though those are admittedly flexible). There's no contract, no publisher waiting on me, and it's not like the masses are clamoring for the first Kevin Lucia novel. So I took a nap instead of writing.

There are other extenuating circumstances, of course. Like having to grade state assessment tests for the next three days at the day job. Having that loom over me made taking a nap this morning preferable to writing. Which, of course, only makes me wonder...

Will I ever be able to write novels on a contract? This is assuming, of course, I ever get the chance. I like to think that, having been paid an advance, and with an obligation, I'd finish. But then, taking the morning off would probably not be an option.

I want to find out, though. Or at least try. If I don't...I'll never know.

This morning, I received the lowest royalty statement since Things Slip Through came out, November 2014. It makes sense, of course. Things is four years old. Through A Mirror is two years old. Devourer is three years old. Reviews have slowed to a complete stop. Devourer has finally dropped below the 1K mark on Amazon rankings. Things feel like they've come to a standstill.

Of course, not really. I recently nailed down a huge sale to Halloween Carnival, to be published in ebook installments next October through Hyrda/Random House  and limited edition hardcover through Cemetery Dance. And my next book, Mystery Road, is forthcoming from Cemetery Dance.

Really, it's just time for a new release. Things You Need is waiting at Crystal Lake. They've grown since my last release with them two years ago, their reach expanded. Of course, they're also publishing many more titles. Will that mean less attention for Things You Need? This is not to imply a faltering confidence in my publisher. Crystal Lake and Joe Myndhardt are standouts in the small press, and Joe works harder than just about anyone. But honestly, I would be lying if I said these things haven't been on my mind, lately.

The time has come for a change. An agent? Submitting to a larger publisher? For both those things, however, I need a standalone novel not so reliant on my mythos. That will take time. And I want to make clear: I'm not consumed with big time success. Bottom line is, I've been blessed in that I've reached many of the goals I set for myself when I started all this. Commercial publication is one I haven't. Maybe I'll never reach it. If I try and fall short - well, at least I tried. If I don't ever try? That would bug me, for sure.


So the last four short stories I've written have been solicited for pro pay anthologies. I have two more waiting in the wings, due September 2017, March 2018. Definitely a first for me. I've nailed three of those. I'm waiting to hear back on the fourth. I feel moderately confident in the story, but honestly, that's all I ever feel for each story. In my mind, best case scenario is the editor won't reject the story outright and will ask for changes which I'll happily attempt to make.

Which makes me wonder. What happens if the editor does reject the story? That would be another first; having a solicited story turned down. I mean, it must happen, right? An editor requests a story, author turns it in, the story is functionally sound, just not what the editor had in mind? None of this is personal. 

But how will I react? Will I brush it off and keep moving? Will I lick my wounds for a day? Will my very unsteady confidence implode?

To be honest - and this sounds stupid and shortsighted - that a solicited story could get rejected outright never occurred to me. I never assumed they'd be accepted outright, either. But I never thought about them getting rejected.

And that's basically me this morning. Standing at a crossroads which isn't quite as simple as a fork in the road. I'm not complaining, and I'm so happy and thankful for all I've been allowed to accomplish. It is what it is, however. And for the first time in awhile, I feel like talking about it.

More next week.