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Did I write that?

I could write a beautiful, poignant 1,000-word version of this post that’d keep me from my kids for a couple hours. Alternatively, I could write a more succinct, less illuminating version that takes me only ten minutes. I’m opting for the latter.

My sister Rache and I are very similar in some ways. She’s an ASNAC nerd who took me to the Jorvik Viking Center on my one trip to England, so we definitely diverge in some ways, but … in many ones where it counts, we’re clearly cut from the same cloth. Read more…

Maybe someday

I wrote an autobiography in 2004.

(There are three sentences worth reading in the whole thing.)

I was still broke and without internet after finishing that, so I wrote a trilogy. I published the first book, The Monster’s Daughter, in 2011.

I intended to publish the other two, but then I read them.

No. Just no.

I don’t have enough lifetime to waste editing them.

(Seriously, I’d need a thousand years apiece. I’d do better rewriting them!)

I’ve written a fifth book since. That novel’s first draft is better than The Monster’s Daughter‘s final draft. Despite that, I’m not editing it. I’m not interested.

Maybe someday.

Another half-dozen books whirl around my brain these days. Despite their insistence, I’m not writing them. I’m not interested.

Maybe someday.

For now, I’m content to blog and know I’ve fulfilled the writing maybe-someday that once mattered most to me: I wrote a book.

The rest is gravy.

NOTE

For anyone who ever asked what happened to Joey, highlight below to see the short version:

He’d become a vampire. Ginny, not actually dead, killed his not-so-friendly vampire incarnation. Then, for added giggles, Wendy became a vampire and Ginny had to kill her, too, for I am a cruel bastard.

Don’t like these outcomes? Awesome. I welcome you to imagine your own, which I fully endorse as authentic. The real ending for me–the one in my heart–is much kinder than the one I wrote earlier with my hands.

A reader’s expectations, or: “None romance! NONE!”

Beloved readers,

The Monster’s Daughter is not paranormal romance.

Until yesterday, I failed to understand why people would buy my first novel expecting romance. After all, nothing in the title, cover, nor description hints at romance. See the description:

Ginny Connors doesn’t believe in vampires. There’s totally a rational reason her dad is a lot more bloodthirsty and a lot less interested in food than he used to be. Still, she hangs a cross on her bedroom door. Just in case. 

When Ginny discovers people aren’t the guests but the main course at her father’s New Year party, she wishes she could save the day with garlic pancakes. Instead, she must face the limits of her daydreams, and attempt to stop the monster her father has become.

Vampires: check. Dads: check. Daydreams: check. All present. Romance, though? Romantic love? Smoochie-face? Gaga-eyes? Infatuation? These guys had other places to be. Read more…

The three-star rating rock

The Monster’s Daughter‘s rating went from 4.24 stars to 4.22 stars on Goodreads. “Sweet damn!” I exclaimed aloud. “That means another four-star rating!”

When I published the book two years ago, a four-star rating would’ve sent me into a downward spiral of mopiness. I wanted everyone in the entire world to read my book, and I wanted every single reader to give it five stars.

A lot can change in two years. (Don’t believe me? Ask the parent of a one-year-old.) My perspective as an author has certainly changed. I know not everyone wants to read an unromantic tale of moderately evil vampires. I know that some of those who might welcome such a tale want lots of staking with not so much teenage coming-of-age angst.

I’m glad for the change. Now, when I see someone has read my first novel, I cheer. It doesn’t matter if they gave it one star, or three stars, or five. My first response is, “Holy cow, somebody read my book, and they probably weren’t even at gunpoint!”

Don’t get me wrong. I do love those four- and five-star ratings. I thank the folks who give them, when I can.

Then I turn to my fiancee, Anthony, and say things like, “The Monster’s Daughter just got a four-star rating from someone whose rating average is 3.25! Score!”

My newfound perspective is one I wish I could package and distribute to new authors everywhere. There will almost certainly be bad reviews. You’ll learn from them. There will likely be good reviews, too, if you’ve done your homework. Those victories should be celebrated, each of them, because each means someone is reading what you wrote. Someone experienced your creation, and cared enough to document the experience.

That is sweet fuel for the stories to come, which will–as I am finding with my second novel–be all the better for the lessons learned in creating the first.

What’s in a genre?

Labels can be useful.

Is this parsley? Or is it thyme?

Is this a middle school? Or is it a high school?

Labels can also be useless or, worse, counterproductive.

Is he a nerd? A geek? A poser?

Is he a future success story? Or a failure waiting to happen?

As a writer, I’m struggling with labels right now. Is my first novel, The Monster’s Daughter, YA? Or is it horror? I’d put it squarely into the category “YA horror,” no matter how I envision it as a coming of age tale, but the categories available don’t allow me this designation.

tmd one year collage

I’m left to choose between “Teen: monsters” or “Horror.” I personally feel the latter fits somewhat better, but it also makes my novel virtually invisible in searches. The former doesn’t fit quite as well but opens my book to a much wider audience. Read more…

The sweet memory of magic

In 2004, I wrote a YA trilogy over the course of six weeks. The trilogy retold a story I’d begun as a vampire-obsessed high school freshman.

I ignored the trilogy for a long time and for many reasons. I’m not a writer, I told myself. I just wrote some stuff because I was bored and broke in the middle of nowhere.

When my mom died in 2010, I remembered all the times she’d encouraged me to write professionally and hated myself for waving her off every single time. I started editing the first book in my trilogy not because I suddenly saw myself as a writer, but because it was important to me to do this one thing in my mom’s memory.

I edited the book as I edit my contracts, parsing the story down to its barest essence instead of letting it breathe as fully as it needed to. 78,000 words became 52,000 words, and those 52,000 words were released as The Monster’s Daughter.

Over the last eighteen months, I’ve tried dozens of strategies to force myself to edit its sequel. I’d written a trilogy, by damn, and I needed to publish a trilogy.

I told myself it was OK to pause editing the second book if I wrote a new, unrelated book. I wrote the new book and still balked at returning to the second book of my trilogy.

I released a non-fiction ebook while beginning work on another non-fiction project. A few weeks ago, I set aside the non-fiction book in progress to work on a new fiction project. Anything to avoid returning to my trilogy!

The deeper I delve into my new project, the harder it becomes to imagine returning to my trilogy. It’s not that I don’t love the trilogy or its protagonist, Ginny, who made otherwise excruciating loneliness tolerable. I do love the trilogy, and I love Ginny, most especially when I am lonely or aching.

I love the trilogy the way I love Edward Scissorhands, The Bridge to Terabithia or The Escape Club’s “I’ll Be There.” Once, these things were my everything. They occupied my mind, my heart and even my aspirations, both for what they were and for the layers of meaning I added to them. When things are deeply beloved, it’s hard to look at the past they belong to head-on and embrace that it’s the past. The moment is gone, the moment’s magic transformed to the sweet memory of magic.

As I wrote to my friend El, to whom I first confessed I was thinking of letting The Monsters’s Daughter stand alone:

I think I was afraid of letting [Ginny] go, but it’s impossible to let her go; she lives in me, now and forever.

Watching the words pour out of me for this new project just makes it so clear that I need to follow whatever voice is singing to me right now . . . not try to catch a tune playing miles away, now.

Ginny and The Monster’s Daughter were once my everything. Today I set them free, with a sigh and a butterfly kiss, as I turn my ears toward the music that plays for me now.

Bon voyage, Ginny. Bon voyage.

In pictures (and words!), a year of being an author

Seven years ago, I wondered if I could write a book in a week.

I answered that question soon after by the following voice post:
“Six days and 67,000 words later, I’ve written a novel, and I’m now going to sleep for nineteen years. Good night.”

I celebrated the accomplishment by writing the book’s two sequels in quick succession. After realizing I hadn’t written a single perfect book the first time around, I banished the books to a suitcase, where they lived for several years.

I wrote about the journey from unearthing them to editing the first book here.

On January 18, 2011, I was feverish and feeling crummy, but not enough to keep my paws off the just-received first proof of my soon-to-be-published first novel, The Monster’s Daughter.

Not feverish enough to mistake the book for a unicorn

Barely more than a week later–a year ago today, to be precise–my name showed up in Amazon searches. The ex-boyfriend who’d suffered my typetypetyping through much of his visit to Japan was the first person to buy a copy of my new novel. I whooped at the picture he sent me:

Hey, that's my name!

I went into indie publishing understanding sales would be slow, especially for the first couple of years. Indeed, I just sold my 100th copy of the novel last month.

I wouldn’t be heartbroken if I’d sold 1,000 or 5,000 copies instead, but am I disappointed by the hundred? Only if the sky is zebra-striped today, for my hope was that somebody else “could come to love [Ginny Connors] the way I do.”

A hundred pairs of hands have held my first novel. Some of the hearts behind those hands were moved by it, and by Ginny, as is evidenced here.

Am I disappointed? Looking at these pictures, how could I possibly be?

Pictured (Top to bottom, left to right):
(1) Angel Girl. (2) The Dash Between and her daughter, Megan. (3) I Want A Dumpster Baby‘s
hand. (4) Running from Hell with El. (5) MAD Queendom’s crown. (6) MAD Queendom.
(7) Madilyn. (8) GoGuiltyPleasures and her extremely literate canine, Uncle Jesse.

Pictured (left to right):
(1) Transitioning Mom‘s daughter C. (2) Sapphire and Rain‘s son Chubbs.

Today I rejoice a year of being an “author,” a word it’s taken me most of that year to grow into. I celebrate the new connections I’ve made–to other writers, readers, bloggers and generally good folks–and the new lives that have since bettered my world.

I’m so thankful to those who have shaped, read and shared this book. I’m especially thankful to Mackenzie, who designed the book cover, the real Miss Sassypants, beta reader extraordinaire, and Silver Star, who read virtually every draft of The Monster’s Daughter, including the first one. And still loved me.

Soon she’ll have finished writing her own first novel. As you can see, she’s got more than writing to keep her busy in the meantime:

Silver Star and her apprentice

As for me, today? I’m just going to keep sitting here listening to “Tattoo” and grinning at how very, very grand it is to see that releasing Ginny freed me, too.

© 2012 Deborah Bryan. All rights reserved.
Duplication in whole or substantial portion is explicitly forbidden.

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