I have finally published the first book in my psychological thriller trilogy on Amazon. I have bounced around from not putting it back out in the world after my publisher did not renew my contract (as they had before for Deceptions) to wanting to make big changes to the story. Do I just publish it verbatim from its first printing or do I devote my writing time in delving back into the story to change it to make it "softer"? By softer, I mean dropping some of the realism of the kidnapping situation since that is what some of the reviewers complained about. I hemmed and hawed for months over this as I’ve mentioned before on my website. Finally, I put my foot down and decided to leave the story as is.
This edition has a few editing/grammar changes, but the story is the same. I didn’t change any aspects to it and I didn’t “soften” anything. As I’ve said before, I feel like Deceptions and the other two books in the trilogy still have legs. I am proud of the sweeping story I created, and I want to see the trilogy live again. I want readers to get to know the main characters of Penny and Jack and their backstories and see how important friendships can be.
The Kindle version of Deceptions is available through Amazon here. Physical copies should be available through Amazon in the next couple days. I will try to have the remainder of the trilogy available in the next 7-10 days.
Here is the link to the Deceptions book trailer.
I hope that my new readers will keep an open mind and focus on the overall story. Also, another thing reviewers dinged me for was the fact that my trilogy is a trilogy. The story lent itself to a trilogy format and I didn't break the big story up over three books to make more money.
I have been making exciting progress on a new novel idea (Evergreen) that evolved in a matter of hours. It has been extremely exciting since I was frustratingly stumped on the story I was working on at the time that Evergreen struck. I have started posting behind the scenes items for Evergreen and I hope my readers and visitors look forward to the Evergreen journey.
However, as I planned my new work in progress, my psychological trilogy still gnawed at the back of my mind. I have written about the evolution and frustrations I met with the Deceptions trilogy and even published a blog post on March 12th about it (which I have linked to in this blog post).
I finally decided what to do with the story and will devote a part of my writing time each day in making Deceptions available while at the same time, streamlining the expansive story. I’m not deleting deleting deleting deleting in the traditional editing sense. Instead, I am keeping the parts of the trilogy that may be bogging the story down but publishing them separately on my website for readers to experience should they wish. These stories-within-the-story are sill important overall and so instead of just editing them away, I will make them available in another format.
I have pulled and edited the first story from what will become the 2nd edition of Deceptions and published it on my website. The Deceptions trilogy will still be a trilogy, but it will be a single novel in three parts. At least, that’s what I’m envisioning at the moment. I am excited about offering this expanded reader experience that I played with a bit for Sunset Park.
So, just to help readers understand where I’m coming from, I’ve included the previously published blog from March 12th, 2020 to help.
Stay home (if possible) and stay healthy,
After two weeks of hammering out the very basic plot of a new novel (title: Evergreen), I split the plot into scenes and began color coding them.
Last May, when the publisher of my Deceptions trilogy opted not to renew my contracts (as they had done before), I decided that I would just publish them myself on Amazon. I had no plans to do any revisions and such. I figured it was just best to still make the trilogy available but move on to my next story. I could have ignored the very unhelpful negative criticism and instead, take the constructive criticism I received (not that there was much) and produce a second edition. But losing my publisher really derailed my creative flow and I produced nothing for the remainder of 2019.
I focused on breaking through the writer’s block with the New Year and started working on my new story again. However, I was still bothered about Deceptions. 2020 is the 10th anniversary of a few things – my mom’s passing, moving into my own place for the first time, and writing Sunset Park which became my first published novel in November of 2012. But before I began writing Sunset Park, I wrote the first words of Deceptions to get back into the writing spirit.
Deceptions was never intended to be a finished novel, let alone a trilogy, but it did. I spent way more time writing the story than Sunset Park and I consider the story rather sweeping in that it covers moments from three decades and touches on subjects such as the Cold War. There are two languages including Russian – thank you Google Translate – and I really tried to work on conveying a range of emotions with my main characters. No matter what story I’m working on, I refuse to Hollywoodize my stories and the trilogy was no exception. The main characters are kidnapped and like I have said a gazillion times before, they are not going to sit around eating bonbons and watch Netflix.
But many readers had issues with the realism which I have addressed before and for the sake of my sanity, I’m not going to rehash all that. However, I would be a very weak writer if I did not take a second look at this. Does that mean I’m going to buy my characters a box of chocolates and a big ass TV to watch Orange is the New Black? No. But what I can do is, perhaps, work on the psychological thriller feel of the trilogy. When I started the story, I didn’t intend to write something considered a psychological thriller. It was my publisher who tagged it as that, and they were correct; I just didn’t recognize such a specific thriller niche. I will thoughtfully decide if certain dark aspects need to be toned down.
At least, that’s the plan. I may get three minutes into this project and say screw it and just focus back on my newest story. We shall see.
As a writer, the first, and probably most important thing to be prepared for, is rejection. Like a lot of rejection. I’m not talking weeks or months but possibly years. That’s a lot of rejection and although it occasionally is hard, you just have to let it roll of your back and move onto the next query. My college writing professor always said to keep your rejections and in the era before email, that file became pretty thick.
I still keep my rejections but now with email, it’s easier to keep (and also to query and submit). And run the numbers. Since going electronic, I have 61 rejections out of 220 submissions (not all publishers/agents bother to even send a rejection) for three books and one short story. 99% of the rejections are form emails but on the rare occasion I will receive an email with constructive criticism which is always welcomed as I received this week from an agent.
Not to be pessimistic but when I query, I don’t dwell on it once I hit send because I know that first, I might not even get a response and second, slush piles are mountainous. I imagine it’s a bit like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. The response to my query might come in a week, or in three months, or never. One of my favorite experiences has been from an agent sending me a rejection letter seven months after I queried him. In those seven months, I was offered a contract for the book AND it was released by my current publisher. I did make sure to respond to his rejection thanking him for the belated response and let him know about the book’s release. Perhaps a bit snarky but it really was ridiculous. Why even bother after seven months? I figure I’ve been rejected if I haven’t received a response in two to three months.
The other amusing experience from queryland is when I got the exact same rejection letter – word for word – from two different agencies/publishers. I have no idea who plagiarized who, but I found it quite funny considering plagiarism is a humongous no-no in the publishing world. At least they remembered to change the names.
Way back when, I took my first creative writing class at Morningside College. I had dabbled in writing before the course, but this was my first formal experience in a writing workshop-type class. I was excited about the class and came away knowing that I wanted to be a full-time writer when I grew up. But more importantly, I came away with what is often believed to be the number one rule in creative writing – write what you know.
For the longest time, this rule challenged me because I didn't experience anything that would be genuinely story worthy. I would come up with these plot ideas (not based on any of my experiences) but struggled to write with authority and finish a story satisfactorily. I languished with my writing and eventually, life took up most of my time, and my writing took a backseat.
But eventually, life settled down, and I could devote more time to writing, but again, I was challenged by the whole writing what you know conundrum. But I wanted to write, and I still didn't want to get caught up in the limitations of that rule.
And so, I just started to write beginning with just a scene just as I had started back in my first creative writing class. And I continued writing and eventually, I realized I was writing what I knew. It wasn’t the tangible of the story; it was the emotions I was connecting to. I realized that writing what you know is not limited to just experiences. It can be about writing about the emotions I was feeling. Suddenly, the process of writing became less of a chore, and I could just write.
It was such a defining moment for me as a writer.