Another Time

I ended the last blog post five years ago, and in the years since then, life has sort of flipped around, and flipped back again. 

I spent two years slowly editing, rewriting bits, correcting inconsistencies. I thought I had it about right, though I felt it was short. Things felt about as good as they could about the book. And then, two brothers brought pressure cooker bombs to the Boston Marathon. 

I realized following the attack and the rest of that week that I had the character of the people of Boston wrong. Not hugely wrong, but wrong enough that I needed to revisit parts that wouldn't ring true now that Boston Strong was part of the national story on Boston. David Ortiz saying "This is our fucking city," while not mentioned in the novel, had a huge impact on the rewrites. I tightened up some parts. I completely rewrote two chapters to take the bombing into account. I ended up with a much better novel than I'd started out with. 

And then I spent three years querying to agents and publishers. I'm sure my various query letters were not great, even though I did try to follow the advice of Query Shark and other helpful agents. However, as I'm sure you can surmise, the querying process went nowhere.

I'm still proud of this book. I think it tells a good story engagingly. But now, there is another aspect of this whole thing that makes me want to tear my hair out.

Marketing.

It's probably related to my query letter not being the best it can be, but I've never had a lot of luck with promoting myself. I've only had one project that I would consider successful, and that one just lucked into going viral one weekend. This is the area where I need to learn the most.

And since I have literally no budget for it, free marketing is what I'm concentrating on. Things like posting to Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, with hashtags to attract other writers who might also review and recommend to their followers.

I used to be good at online networking. I've kind of lost my mojo.

Forward to now, when my wife and I have three weeks to move out of our apartment and into a hazy future, and suddenly, I'm less inclined to try for a natural build-up of interest, especially when it hasn't happened yet. Still, no budget for advertising. 

In the immortal words of Cathy, "ACK!"

A Soft Launch

It's been a few weeks now since God's Evil was launched on Smashwords. Sales have been low, but that's to be expected. I've done almost no marketing for it. I didn't even have this website until a week or two after I published. My marketing, such as it is, has almost exclusively been to friends on Facebook and scattered Twitter and Instagram posts. In other words, it's not become an overnight viral sensation.

I figure it's time I chronicle the journey that has gotten us here. (By "us", I mean me, and partly my wife.)

Way back in the misty, somewhat hopeful days of 2009 (still dark, what with the Great Recession and all, but somehow still more hopeful than now), I lost my job. Or my job lost me. A little of both, really. At any rate, *poof* went the steady income and time suck. I spent a fair amount of time depressed about this. There were a lot of late night walks around the town, introspection, and, finally, resolve. Since I now had the time, I would write. God damn it, I would write like the wind.

Soon, in late 2009, I was thinking about how poorly vampires had been treated in popular media. Anne Rice, Twilight, Vampire Diaries, and even, to a certain extent, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, had pushed the gothic romance image of a tortured soul (or non-soul) and sucked (if you will) all of the terror out of the genre. In the meantime, zombies were taking off as a terrifying thing that carried the type of existential dread that felt right.

I started writing short pieces to flesh out what the vampires should feel like. I thought about what sort of world would spawn a creature of pure hunger as the apex predator. I also considered how that would would not even know that these creatures existed. 

I thought about how we perceive terroristic threats, and how the world can feel like it's turned upside down in the space of hours. I thought about how even given that feeling, it can still feel completely divorced from your actual life, and the scene at the end of Chapter 1 came to me. Scott was created, and then backtracking, Margie. Most of Chapter 1 is different from the original, but that last scene is almost exactly how I first wrote it.

Around that time, Mary Ellen (my wife, as mentioned above) was laid off, leaving us both unemployed at the same time. (Amazingly, we are still married. I count myself lucky on that.) She started going to a knitting group on Monday nights that met for a few hours at Panera. I went along and brought my laptop, some good headphones, and wrote. Every Monday, for over a year. 

And things started to take shape, but I realized that I would really need to start plotting it out. Pantsing it (that is, writing by the seat of my) had gotten me almost half-way in, and had helped me develop the characters and the world, but it needed some planning if it was ever going to come to a conclusion.

In the meantime, I got a new job, and then got laid off. I was able to type "The End", which clearly wasn't true, because that was back in 2012. But that is a story for another time.