Pride’s Children is WARM Psychological Literary Fiction

PSYCHOLOGICAL = happens on the inside of a human’s mind

Though into every life some of those people must fall!

I was checking through the pages for both Pride’s Children novels (so far), PURGATORY and NETHERWORLD, on their Amazon pages, and found the following earlier today:

Pride’s Children: PURGATORY – #753 in Psychological Literary Fiction

Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD – #660 in Psychological Literary Fiction

It made me think, because I set up that particular category with the following comment from reviewer David Rose in mind:

“…I cannot recommend this book, this trilogy, highly enough – but not to everyone. This is a book for readers who appreciate literary fiction and a very deeply developed romance with a thoughtful debate on ethics. I believe the pace and the delayed gratification will frustrate many modern romance readers who look for fast-burning romance, titillation, and simple love stories. However, if you are a reader who will appreciate a modern ‘Jane Eyre’, this trilogy is for you…”

D. Rose, PURGATORY review (used by permission)

The LITERARY FICTION, psychological, subcategory was coopted by the dark guys

We don’t need ‘psychological’ to represent negative human emotions only; we already have thrillers and ‘noir’ and ‘twisted’ and some really gory stuff.

The category, on Amazon as I just checked, was full of a slew of a majority of novels which would take you to a deep hole with little redemption even mentioned.

Plus a smattering of dark-ish stuff that doesn’t fit other categories, including disturbing works by many authors such as Jodi Picoult, and Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky.

Literary fiction is already by definition interested in more than the obvious, but where I see a possibility for exploring, and learning, and changing, many of these books have already made up their minds: it’s a dark place out there, BEWARE!

I’d like to allow for the full spectrum of human behavior

Humans make decisions for all kinds of reasons, change their minds, deal with consequences, make DIFFERENT choices, and have to correct course even when it’s hard.

In a category of books for sale, the balance is lopsided (which is cute in rabbit ears, less so in human behavior).

Positive, not forced or applied from outside, but because writers don’t only choose the knotty problems (or aren’t only rewarded for showing the grotty side of life), but because there is a core of resonance in most humans for the positive, good, meaningful experiences, even when they are not easy to acquire.

That’s what I’m interested in exploring through the characters in Pride’s Children – because Pride can be a deadly sin – or a warm human emotion.

Coming with me?

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FICTION must be sold on its own merits

So many possible future paths!

Not the author’s, except in very special cases.

This is true of biographies and autobiographies and memoirs, too – unless you’re a celebrity whose fans will buy anything you produce, just to have a complete set.

Non-fiction is sold on the author’s competence in the field of the BOOK. Would you buy a trail guide from a guy who claims he never sets foot outdoors?

Before you know authors through their fiction

you will buy their fiction only on a recommendation from a good friend, a trusted vetter, or the biggie: how the book grabs you when you give it a few seconds of your time.

An author is someone who has learned – in my case, taught herself – how to access some of the streams of being human, and more importantly than just dipping into them for personal enjoyment, has learned to turn that exposure into stories for other people, for those who don’t have the time or the desire to spend part of their life on the process, but still want the results.

Think. Of a story by Flannery O’Connor. Of what it cost her to write (she died of the complications of lupus at THIRTY-NINE). But all you have to do is find or buy a copy, and you get everything she worked for delivered to your lap! You cannot ever pay her for those hours of labor, but you can enjoy the fruit of her labor, and be transported to the world she wrote about, visit it for a time (it’s kind of scary) and leave it behind.

Whatever input you allow your brain will change you

You can’t avoid it, any more than you can avoid learning at least something from the experiences LIFE puts in your path.

So you have to ask: How do I want to allow myself to be changed? How can I process something which turns out to be negative or toxic for me? Is there input that will do more than entertain, but will allow me to gain understanding or develop empathy? What am I watching/reading – and is it doing what I want?

What will the Pride’s Children trilogy do to me?

It will entertain you.

But it will also make you question how you see friendship, love, commitment, marriage, work, childrearing, and the relationship between the sexes. And a big extra: What are your preconceptions about disability, chronic illness, and the effect of having them on society. One point of view, mine.

But I hope it makes you think what your point of view might be, and whether it’s the right one for you.

And I’d love to hear what you conclude.

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My reach has exceeded my grasp

IT IS MUCH EASIER TO HAVE SOMEONE ELSE NOMINATE YOU

Modesty and lack of bragging were bred into my generation by our parents.

But if you write indie, you’re going to be in charge of your own publicity and marketing, and that means doing everything a publisher does for one of their favored authors – up to and including suggesting their authors’ work to the various prize committees who choose the award winners.

Bit of an incestuous circle process, but some competitions that are meant for traditionally published authors actually don’t bar indies from applying.

Whether or not said indies are truly given a blind reading, so there is no bias – assuming the judges MIGHT be biased against SPAs – you’ll just have to trust them if you want your book considered.

If you don’t submit your book for an award

there is very little chance, astronomically small, that you might win that prize.

There is usually an entry fee, often substantial, always non-trivial, and indies have tight budgets: it takes a lot of sales at, say, $2.99 on Amazon and with the 70% royalties option, to cover a $75 entry fee – about 36 sales.

Plus you have to be very sure that your book, considered fairly, is the kind of book which might win that award – or you’re just throwing money down a hole.

And that’s where an honest look at your own work, by yourself or via the reviews people have left, and where you have to decide who is astounded at your writing ability and who is being nice or supportive.

The types of books which have won the award in question in previous years

may help to decide if yours is worth the investment.

You must be prepared to lose.

I’ve just applied for an award I think Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD could conceivably win. It would be a real coup for an indie. And no, unless I win or even get long-listed, I’m not going to name the award – because it’s exactly that reach the Browning quote talks about.

And I’m not that brave.

Things change as you go along

Having PURGATORY named 2021 Best Contemporary novel by Indies Today has emboldened me to seek other awards, because, after how tough on me physically this year has been, I could use a win.

My writing matured between the time I started writing a mystery (1995), and the time I had the idea for Pride’s Children, and acquired polish from then to when I published PURGATORY in 2015.

There were many nice words in the reviews the first book received, and some of those reviews were embarrassingly good.

Chances?

I hope NETHERWORLD is as good as or better than PURGATORY; I think it goes places the first novel in the trilogy wasn’t ready for, and has a powerful ending, but that’s me. It hasn’t received enough reviews yet for me to tell if only my beta reader and I like that ending, or if it’s going to be a game changer.

But then I remind myself that I bought myself an Airwheel S8 as my own 70th birthday present (as my mobility device), because I told myself I would regret it the rest of my life if I didn’t even try – and I’ve had the pleasure of being bionic (and showing off at all occasions – I’m such a ham) for over three years now, and I was right about being able to use a bicycle on a hoverboard to get around.

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Andrea del Sarto – a few more quotes:

By Robert Browning

…Speak as they please, what does the mountain care?

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,

Or what’s a heaven for?…

…At any rate ’tis easy, all of it!

No sketches first, no studies, that’s long past:

I do what many dream of, all their lives,

—Dream? strive to do, and agonize to do,

And fail in doing…

…Pouring his soul, with kings and popes to see,

Reaching, that heaven might so replenish him…

…Had you, with these the same, but brought a mind!

Some women do so. Had the mouth there urged

“God and the glory! never care for gain.

“The present by the future, what is that?

“Live for fame… I might have done it for you…

[Thanks to the Poetry Foundation for the text.]

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I’ll post anything that comes from these submissions, but I am so glad I made them.

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Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD cover reveal 2022

My huge gratitude to Bill Peschel for making my ‘vision’ real

WHAT A COVER DOES AND DOES NOT DO

When an author writes genre fiction, savvy readers can tell almost immediately, from the cover, whether the author knows the genre, and some basic details about the type of book it graces.

I write MAINSTREAM CONTEMPORARY LITERARY fiction – indie.

Not that many of us self-published authors (SPAs) do – because it is a category (‘a novel’) that big publishers have claimed as their own area of expertise. Many of the practitioners hope to land a traditional publishing contract, and advance, and what distribution their publisher may give them, depending on the publisher’s expectations that the book will sell enough copies to be a positive influence on the publisher’s bottom line.

There isn’t even a category labeled ‘mainstream’ on Amazon.

Covers in these categories are up to the publisher

with an occasional sop to the author.

Covers are created by cover designers selected by the publisher.

After all, if you have a publisher, your expectation is that you write, they do everything else (including sending you on tour with your book to TV stations and bookstores).

The reality is much more nuanced (ask any author who managed to land a traditional publishing contract, did NOT sell as expected, and after a book or two more, was ‘not renewed’ (i.e., dropped).

The royalties associated with these deals are such that most money is made by the author in the advance, because it never ‘earns out’ – sells enough copies to account for the advance – and then goes into the period in which royalties will be paid by the publisher twice a year.

It’s the dream of many.

It’s the meme of many a movie about writers.

And it must be very frustrating to an author who KNOWS (i.e., is convinced) that if the publisher had made more of an effort, the book might have sold more copies, and their career might have taken off.

Sort of the same mental gymnastics that happen when one buys a lottery ticket.

Genre covers for SPAs

The author can either spend time and effort learning how to do covers, or expend up-front money buying one.

Indie genre fiction is often priced at a few dollars, which means the calculus of the cover cost – and the possibility that a professional cover will help sell more books – can be very off-putting, and many authors do their own (not toting up the cost of the hours of their time spent learning and creating).

So the quandary of the indie mainstream author is creating a cover which will sell

Or, as some of the more stubborn of us aim for, will give the author the control over and input to what is on the outside of the novel they probably spent a lot of time creating.

It’s no bigger a challenge for the SPA than choosing everything else.

But it IS important.

PURGATORY’s cover was completely my creation

J.M. Ney-Grimm, who creates gorgeous covers for her fantasy novels, was my kind mentor, and I learned so much from her I have no idea where I’d begin to credit her input.

The year was 2015, and I spent most of the summer cover-creating and formatting the first volume in the trilogy, and had a blast (and, boy, was it hard work!).

NETHERWORLD’s cover was stuck in my brain

I had planned to do that this time, seven years later, and ran into a long stretch of months of brain fog which had me unable to focus, relearn Pixelmator and all the cover specifications from KDP, and get going on it.

I won’t call it writer’s block; with the ME/CFS, it is physical, has to do with the totality of stress and time and pain and insomnia of the disease; and you think it will last forever. In any case, I was stalled.

A few ideas were coming out – picking a scene representative of NETHERWORLD and then refining it into the second part of a trilogy concept (which has also left me with most of the ideas I need for the third cover). I was able to locate and then license a couple of necessary images from Dreamstime.

I tried finding formatters AND cover creators who would do things as close to MY way as possible – and ran into economics: those who do these tasks for hire, at least the ten or so I communicated with, have to do things quickly and generically with their own software. They were not interested even in finding out what MY way might be.

Until I had the idea of asking a friend, Bill Peschel of Peschel Press. He and his wife Teresa write, publish, and sell their own books over a wide range of fiction and non-fiction topics (I’m currently reading his annotated Dorothy L. Sayers mystery novel, Whose Body). I dared ask, he said he’d try tackling the task, and he’s been wonderful (i.e., able to put up with nitpicking me and MY way), and, among other miracles, essentially got me unstuck from my muddy mental rut – because giving him what he needed to work with gave me a series of small discreet tasks, a great way to tackle an overwhelming problem. My previous post about the cover was one of those small tasks (What did you have in mind?). Bill has been VERY patient and laid back.

Putting the pieces of NETHERWORLD together

Bill has just sent me the final proofed and formatted interior for the paperback version of the new book. Boy, is proofing – and fixing the quirks – NOT fun. But we did it.

I will produce the epub of the interior – I’ve already done it once with Scrivener, and the results were readable. Bill will send me the cover for NETHERWORLD’s ebook, and work on the cover for the hardcover version (which may take a bit more time, since I want to launch a hardcover version of PURGATORY at the same time, which also means relearning my graphics and doing some editing – now that my new Mac is on the way, it will be easier to handle the huge graphics files. I THINK I’ve located the input files – from the 2015 publication – I need.

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Hoping to get something out this week; if not, in the latter part of next week.

I’ll try the uploading – cover and print – when the brain is on tomorrow. Hope there aren’t any bugs to fix!

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My opinion of PURGATORY Page 99 test

Pride’s Children: PURGATORY – Page 99

99 – A DIFFERENT TYPE OF PAGE TEST

This test comes from Ford Maddox Ford, again via the Campaign for the American Reader blog, but is a different way of assessing a book, and may well be apocryphal, as mentioned in his Page 99 Test post on Aug. 6, 2014, by R. John Williams, Yale professor and author of The Buddha in the Machine.*

In THIS test, Marshal Zeringue asks authors, ‘whether Page 99 reveals “the quality of the whole” about their books.’

That’s a little harder, and the authors who speak about their P. 99 implications have wide and varying opinions about it.

Why is it harder?

Because authors have somehow picked up the notion that they are supposed to let other people – interviewers, reviewers, readers – comment about their work, not themselves, or at least not themselves praising the book.

It means putting my opinions of my own work on record.

Specifically, whether this one page – 99 – is a good way to display the ‘quality’ of the whole.

Funny how that makes my stomach unhappy.

I much prefer the nice comments from reviewers (and usually have no trouble ignoring the less-nice ones).

I’m going to do it anyway

Never waste a good prompt is my motto.

Parental rules to my generation from our parents were meant to keep us from turning into the loud-mouthed, self-centered kid we could have become, because it would mean our parents hadn’t reared us correctly. ‘Children are meant to be seen, not heard,‘ is part and parcel of the same.

I don’t think these rules are followed quite as much any more, but, for example, I never knew my mother thought I had turned out okay until, as a grownup with three children back on a visit to Mexico, I happened to tell her I never felt I had met her exacting standards, and she replied something like, “That’s ridiculous! I brag about you to my friends all the time.”

That was the key. She never told us. And the eldest child does have the tendency to try to please, especially if she’s a girl. I think my four younger sisters figured it out, but they didn’t really leave home (Mexico City) and not come back, as I did.

We had no brothers; I suspect it would have been different, possibly worse, if we had.

I don’t think they meant anything bad by rearing us to enter polite society modestly, when it was our turn, but I was already the odd daughter, the one who wanted to be a scientist, and the nerve endings were exaggeratedly exposed.

Self-promotion is an absolute requirement for indie authors

Many of us aren’t so happy with that part of self-publishing, or maybe it’s only those of use who were older when we started writing.

Or even possibly I missed a lot of changes because, as a Person with ME/CFS, there was little energy left for me and my own concerns after the family got what I wanted them to have from me.

So, do I think that page 99 of PURGATORY reveals the quality of the whole book?

It reveals a lot of the main relationship: Andrew has come to visit for the first time, taking Kary up on a casual offer to drop in if he was in her neighborhood (rural New Hampshire vs. where they met in New York City on Night Talk). The only reason she got a bit of advance warning – less than a minute – was that, due to an overly-aggressive fan, she has had a gate installed at the bottom of her drive, and he had to speak into the CCTV and ask permission to ride his motorcycle up her mountain retreat; otherwise, he would have knocked at her door!

This scene is in Andrew’s point of view (pov), and we haven’t heard from him until this chapter after they said goodbye in NY at the end of Chapter 3.

In the intervening time, Kary was moved to take in the movie Roland, based on the medieval epic poem The Song of Roland, which was the reason he was on the talk show, and was blown away, whereas, being basically a recluse, she’d had no idea who he was when she met him. So their entire relationship is being torn down and replaced though neither of them know it.

The novel has many such accidentally-fraught encounters, each one showing the characters’ behavior under unexpected stressors. And how each character’s inner and outer lives complement each other.

Does this page 99 show off the whole?

It shows Kary’s self-control under extraordinary circumstances – a result of her medical training as a former physician: ‘Never let them see you uncertain.’

I know what is going to happen in scenes – I’m an extreme plotter – but not how, and it’s been fun to essentially listen to the characters to see what they do with my stage directions.

I love that this page has a good example of working characters – so many novel characters don’t seem to do much, but work takes a huge portion of most real people’s lives. They discuss their work – but expectations and reality are at odds.

And it lets a changing inanimate object, the fire in her fireplace, take one of its many mood-setting opportunities. I didn’t grow up with a working fireplace, but after I left home, my parents moved, and the new house’s massive fireplace was used in so many warm gatherings they were almost not complete without a fire (houses in Mexico City usually have neither heating nor air-conditioning, and can be chilly, especially in winter months).

It gives a nod to the relationship between writers and actors which is fundamental to the novels: each asks about the other’s work. She’s been writing earlier, he (and his feet) came from a morning of filming locally. Each is cagey, neither takes the bait to speak at length about themself.

In the whole, I think it does

represent the whole: two of the three main characters, a developing relationship, the settled homestead of the rooted character, the peripatetic nature of a working actor, and something of me as the author.

Not bad for one page!

If I am allowed to say so myself.

*I still recommend the test and the blog, but am sad to say SPAs are not welcome to apply, though it took some doing to find that out, as it isn’t mentioned.

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If you’ve read Pride’s Children: PURGATORY, was there enough memorable about Andrew’s first visit that you remembered it?

Had you noticed the recurring fires?

Does this scene make you smile?

What do you think of books where no one seems to be employed?

Did you ever think anyone could make a movie out of The Song of Roland? Did it remind you at all of El Cantar del Mío Cid?

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The very first step to a cover: SKETCH

The threat of a cover for Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD

THE GAMES HAVE BEGUN

When you find the right people, things move.

Due to the extra challenges I seem to be facing lately, and because I’m getting very antsy about launching Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD, whose text has been finished for longer than I expected, I have explored various publishing assistance options – to uniformly fail in finding people who would do it MY WAY.

I have a book out, PURGATORY, for which I had plenty of time, learned graphics (Pixelmator), acquired a cover mentor (thanks, J.M. Ney-Grimm), learned how to format from Scrivener through Word to the final pdf files to upload, etc., etc., in 2015.

It seems quite reasonable to ask someone whom I’m paying to produce the same thing – so they look like a set. Right?

Well, even though the concept seems simple, and I don’t blame them, many ‘professional’ publishing services (all the ones I’ve approached ~ ten of them so far) must make their money by using their preferred software quickly and efficiently, because I had no takers once I explained I’d already made my own design decisions, and wished to keep them.

I don’t have the bandwidth to work with someone learning, or to spend a lot of time going back and forth explaining things, unfortunately, so that avenue didn’t pan out either.

The solution is probably at hand

as I had the inspiration and the sense to ask a friend who has published plenty of his and his wife’s books whether that was something he could see doing – and, if so, what his rates might be.

And got a ‘Yes – let’s try’ back.

I’m still in shock, because I sent him a few emails, and all the images I had accumulated, and a few questions – and the next thing I see (which you won’t, yet – that would be a proper cover reveal) was a cover (he modestly said it was his fourth attempt) that I could have used exactly as it was if I had needed it that fast.

Either they get you, or they don’t

seems to be my fate, and I admit, not to being difficult (every author is picky about their baby), but to being niche (indies don’t often write mainstream – mainstream authors usually want traditional publishers).

He understood everything I said – just as I was starting to think it was me (no, of course not, Alicia).

‘Niche’ means no precedents, no cover tropes to announce the content, and a wide variety of possibilities.

‘Mainstream’ means – for a traditional publisher – giving the cover designer a lot of freedom and latitude and little input from the author. There are some amazing (and probably quite expensive) covers out there that win design prizes. Okay, almost NO input from the author.

And we indies are stubborn.

When do we see it?

Very soon – he is working blazing fast, from what he sent me in a day.

I have a few more things to send him to do a bit of tweaking because we can.

Plus a thing or two about the fonts I should also have sent (but that brain fog has been heavy and dark) from the beginning, and which I will dig out and send today – quibbles.

So what on Earth did he start from?

I put it up there for you as the header image, probably against all reason.

But I thought you’d enjoy the improvement when it comes – though I’m not ready to reveal even that first example he sent yet.

Just see that I actually know what I want, but couldn’t make my brain do the work.

But I’ll get it anyway.

And that makes me happy.

From what he’s already said about formatting, that will be making me happy, too, as soon as I send him the raw materials.

As I’ve always believed – you just need the right person.

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The Happy Camper.

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Sharing a new toy: NETHERWORLD Page 69

APPLYING Temporary p. 69 TO NETHERWORLD: a preview for readers

This is labeled Temporary for one reason: I don’t have the final formatted version of NETHERWORLD, so this might not even be p. 69 in the final version, but it will serve nicely as a placeholder for now.

From previous post: I was perusing an SFF blog I follow, Weighing a pig doesn’t fatten it (highly recommended), I came across a link to another blog, Campaign for the American Reader, (highly recommended) and the Page 69 test. Follow the link for the details, which credit the idea to Marshall McLuhan via John Sutherland’s How to read a novel.

As usual, I learned something new about WordPress

This time it was that it is EASY in the new editor to get an image into a post – create an image block, and just hit CTRL v to paste the image in.

For some reason, I can no longer update my Media Library the was I thought I could, but pasting is MUCH simpler than that, and this post has the image!

It’s a screenshot, so a bit rough.

Problem temporarily solved? Who cares? Twill serve for now.

Temporary p. 69:

This page turned out to be centered on Andrew getting back to Ireland for a too-short visit before heading off to… India! to film another movie.

Andrew is talking to his agent, Maury, on the phone, as the page starts:

Temporary p. 69 for Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD

Threads:

  • Andrew is in Ireland, where he’s used some of his movie salary to add a nice recording studio to the family farm
  • His band – The Deadly Nightshades – has gathered for a rare recording session, since he’s now seldom home
  • George, his long-time mate who was his manager during PURGATORY but moved home to help with the family farm (and married his Fiona, with Andrew as Best Man), makes an appearance in NETHERWORLD, the only one until the next volume
  • Maury Gibbs, Andrew’s agent, interrupted the session
  • Reality is intruding, hard: Andrew spends little time in Ireland – and the band is suffering; a planned CD is not moving very fast
  • Andrew wants everything – and it isn’t possible

I’ll replace/add the actual p.69 when I have it – soon!

Still a very useful test, I’d say.

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Watch this blog – things are finally starting to happen.

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Progress: Copyright, Discussion Guide, Permissions, ARC

That I do myself

BUT IT IS A FINITE LIST

To keep you posted:

Registering the NETHERWORLD copyright at the Library of Congress

That was an interesting couple of hours!

After a very long and frustrating process, I regained access to my Library of Congress electronic copyright account, and have REGISTERED the copyright, including uploading the 3.2MB PC NETHERWORLD pdf I just created yesterday, and we are paid – so will just have to wait for the certificate, and am DONE.

I tidied up a number of small things – such as minor formatting on chapter titles – before uploading to LoC.

This is the backup – it contains the full text except for a table of contents, and is not in the final formatting ebook and print readers will experience, and it has some running heads about the pdf itself, but it is an important step because I’ve already had Amazon demand proof I wrote PURGATORY, at which point I was very happy to already have the registration certificate (they gave me a short time period to prove I wrote it OR they would take the book down, and, IIRC, we may have been in the middle of the big move).

These requests are never convenient, and always feel scary, and you wonder why, and whether someone is trying to publish your work under their name… Best to be prepared.

Discussion Guide for Book Clubs for Purgatory

When invited to a book club, I created the earlier version of a set of questions that a book club leader can use to help readers talk about Purgatory.

Those have been reorganized and expanded – feel free to copy/paste into any convenient word processor, and to send them out ahead of time.

Discussion questions help spark thinking about different topics covered by a book, and have no predetermined answers.

Permission to use the KJV quotes for Netherworld

The Authorized King James Version of the Holy Bible is copyrighted, and vested in the Crown.

Cambridge University Press manages the copyright for the Crown, and should be consulted when using extensive quotes or commercial uses.

For Purgatory, I requested and received permission by sending them the list of quotes I was using for chapter titles, epigraphs at the beginnings of chapters, and Ethan’s epitaph.

I just did the same for Netherworld – and expect to receive the same permission, as the quotes are unaltered, attributed, and labeled, and used with respect. There are MANY wonderful verses covering almost any topic you can think of. Not everyone has a Christian biblical background, but the KJV is my personal favorite for many of the verses (which modern scholars sometimes translate ‘more accurately’ but less poetically, and language has changed). These are the quotations you remember if you’ve read them.

Since the whole of Pride’s Children is, in many senses, a modern retelling of The Book of Job in the Old Testament, many of those verses are appropriate as epigraphs in the beginnings of chapters, and I enjoy finding the perfect ones.

ARC now needs to be created for reviewers

A big job is to created the interior for the books for uploading to Amazon. But a similar job is to create the electronic Advance Reader Copies that can be sent to reviewers for their reading and comments, and it is good to have those before publication, so that the book launches with some reviews already on its Amazon page.

The eARC will be the same content as the ebook, except that it is not the exact copy of the Kindle Unlimited version, so I’m allowed to send them out and not violate the KU terms and conditions of exclusivity.

They, of course, go out free of cost in exchange for the reviewer considering the writing of an impartial and honest review.

I usually have to go back and forth a bit with the pdf that provides the ebook and print book interior, so I use one of the early versions for my ARCs.

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The next big job – because I have to refamiliarize myself with Pixelmator, my graphics program, and update to the current version – is producing all the covers, back covers, and other bits of graphic information for reviewers to use.

And that’s the progress up to May 3, 2022. It’s going much faster than the first time. More when I have it.

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The hard part of NETHERWORLD is finished

NETHERWORLD NOW EXISTS

It’s a funny thing about books.

They start out not existing – an idea, notes, thoughts, bits of characterization are not a book (ask anyone who writes).

And then, for me, such a long time goes by before all the organization and notes start to take on form, even though I tell people that Pride’s Children was vouchsafed to me as a unit, with basically all of the major plot points, and the three main characters, and some of the setting coming as a finished story, one I would have read if it had been available.

But that day in 2000 is over twenty years in the past, and, though I’ve worked on the tangible form continuously, it’s been slow going.

PURGATORY was proof

of principle, of the ability to create something that wasn’t there, of the ability to learn how to write, somehow, to the standards of the vast reading background of writers good and bad and in between.

I did that – in late 2015.

I learned every single step in the process between idea and having an ebook and print book available for sale on Amazon. Every speck of that is me.

I had support. And mentoring when I asked for it. The internet is wonderfully supportive for writers who ask questions nicely and have done the work.

I found my cover mentor – J.M. Ney-Grimm – and my beta reader – Rachel Roy Gavris – online, on writer’s sites. I am eternally grateful for their advice and help.

The second book is another kind of proof

The world is full of people who had a very hard time creating the second book. It’s a cliche in traditional publishing: writer debuts to acclaim (the book was written over many years, or in school) – and cannot seem to write another (time pressures, deadlines, expectations). It even has a name: ‘the sophomore slump.’

And now NETHERWORLD exists

The complete story, from a continuation of the faux New Yorker article that begins it, through epigraphs and chapter titles, to ‘TO BE CONCLUDED’ at the very end of Chapter 40, promising the end of the story, the third book of the trilogy, as soon as I can write it (you don’t want to see the very rough draft).

Its cover is in my head. I have a title and cover for the third book, but am not sure I’m ready to commit, so I’ll call ‘LIMBO (& PARADISE?)’ or just ‘LIMBO’ a working title, and see how it goes.

I have a very long list of steps to take for NETHERWORLD, and it’s a little daunting how little I remember from last time, and how the publishing parts may have changed in the interim so I will have to start from scratch on some things.

The good part? Since I work only in finished scenes, and my beta reader processes each chapter as I finish it, the text is final. The editing and proofing is done as I go, and is not a long task ahead of me fraught with potential pitfalls, but a finished chore.

The years of writing, moving cross-country and fitting into a new community, getting back to writing – are finished, too. This is it – our forever home. I may even eventually get plants on the balcony (the writing has been more important up until now).

There is a lot of work to do

This post is part of girding my writing loins to do all those missing steps, from registering a final copy with the Library of Congress, through learning the new Pixelmator version to turn the cover in my head into one on the page, to figuring out again how to run the text from Scrivener through Word to Amazon, this time adding a hard cover version for both books because it is available, and exploring Large Print.

I did the obvious: I’ve contacted various companies for help with formatting and covers – which I would rather pay for than do – but I haven’t found one yet that will do it my way. After several months of looking, I give up. I’m too persnickety, too opinionated, and not the least interested in them putting my second book through one of their templates. And have been told that the covers proposed wouldn’t be similar and they can’t use my fonts.

I should have expected that – but I did have hopes I might be able to get someone else to do the hard work part, and now I don’t. It will, again, take me less time, and cause me less stress, not to try to get other people to do what I want.

It’s entirely MY fault.

So be it.

At least I can say that, when you get one of my books, it’s all me. For whatever it’s worth.

ARCs out into the world

I don’t know when I will have NETHERWORLD available as an ARC for those who are willing to CONSIDER writing reviews, but it’s high on the list.

I have signed up for BookSprout to manage the review copies and reviews – if interested, check it out; it’s set up for a campaign for PURGATORY right now, and I hope some people will read and review it in preparation for reading and reviewing NETHERWORLD. Accounts are free, of course, for readers.

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I just thought you’d like to know.

Should mention here that the time between final text and publication is typically 18-24 MONTHS for traditionally-published novels; I doubt it will take me more than 3.

Updates will be here.

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Can historical fiction be about 2005?

WHO DECIDES?

‘HISTORICAL NOVEL’ IS A DEFINITION WHICH NEEDS EXAMINING

Just for the fun of it, I’m going to argue that fiction from the early part of the 21st Century can, in some important ways, be considered historical – and I’m only partly tongue-in-cheek.

You decide for yourself.

I have ulterior motives which will be revealed at the end.

The usual, most conservative definition is: fiction from before you reached consciousness, or 60 years ago, whichever is further back in time (Historia Magazine), which quotes

The Historical Writers Association as choosing 50 years in the past, and

The Historical Novel Society as having selected 30 years ago, and

The Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction at an even more conservative 60 years ago.

Readers of ‘historical fiction’ have their own favorite definitions – which I won’t list, as they’re almost as varied as the readers themselves, and include everything from Neanderthals to Diana Gabaldon to, well, however recently your own definition sets the limit.

The 21st Century has been extraordinarily, uh, busy

A short (edited) list of events in a century of unceasing and exponential change, leaving a big bunch out, includes:

  • 2000- USS Cole Attacked
  • 2000-Hilary Clinton Elected to Senate
  • 2000-George W Bush Elected President
  • 2001-9/11Attack on New York and Washington
  • 2001-U.S. and Great Britain Attack Afghanistan
  • 2001- Anthrax Attacks U.S.
  • 2001-Enron Bankruptcy
  • 2002-Congress Authorizes Force Against Iraq
  • 2002- United Airlines Files For Bankruptcy
  • 2003- Shuttle Explodes on Reentry
  • 2003- U.S. Invades Iraq
  • 2003- Blackout in Northeast
  • 2004-Abu Gharib Prison Abuse
  • 2004- 9/11 Commission
  • 2004- President Bush Reelected
  • 2005 Hispanic Mayor of Los Angeles2005
  • 2005- Hurricane Katrina Devastates Gulf Coast
  • 2006- Tesla Roadstar Introduced
  • 2007- iPhone Introduced
  • 2007- Virginia Tech Shooting
  • 2008 Barak Obama to be Democratic Candidate
  • 2008 Lehman Brothers Declares Bankruptcy
  • 2009- Barak Obama Inaugurated President
  • 2009- General Motors Declares Bankruptcy
  • 2010 Affordable Care Act Passed
  • 2010 Elena Kagan Fourth Female Justice
  • 2010 US Combat Mission Ends in Iraq
  • 2011 Osama Bin Laden Killed by US Forces
  • 2012 Hurricane Sandy
  • 2012 Obama Reelected
  • 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing
  • 2014 Janet Yellen to Head Federal Reserve
  • 2015 Supreme Court – Same Sex Marriage
  • 2016-Donald Trump Elected
  • 2017- FBI Director Fired
  • 2017- Equifax Data Breach
  • 2018- Trump Leaves Iran Nuclear Accord
  • 2018-Contentious G7 Meeting
  • 2018-US North Korean Summit
  • 2018-12 Russian GRU Officers Indicted
  • 2018-Trump Putin Meet in Helesinki
  • 2018-Trump Addresses UN
  • 2018-Brett Kavanaugh Confirmed to the Supreme Court
  • 2018-Massacre at Synagogue in Pittsburgh
  • 2018-Mattis Resigns After Trump Announcement on Syria
  • 2019-Nancy Pelosi Speaker
  • 2019-Government Shut Down Ends after 35 Days
  • 2019-Mueller Report Released on Trump and Russia
  • 2019-House Votes to Impeach President Trump
  • 2020-COVID-19 Spreads Around the World
  • 2020-Vice President Biden Becomes Presumptive Democratic Nominee
  • 2020-Space-X Launches Astronauts to Space Station
  • 2020-Former Vice President Biden Elected President
  • 2021-Insurrection in Washington- The Capitol is Attacked
  • 2021-Second Impeachment Trial of Donald Trump
  • 2021- Taliban Victorious in Afghanistan US Evacuates 122,000
  • 2022- Supreme Court Rules on Vaccine Mandates

So, if you want to be picky, there has been an awful lot of ‘history’ happening since the turn of this century, compared to many previous centuries, and the pace of innovation and change has been accelerated enormously.

Has it really only been FIFTEEN YEARS since the introduction of the iPhone?

Yup.

And the events I’m writing about in Pride’s Children (the original planned date for the whole story was 2001/2002, but was moved to 2005/2006 when it became obvious I wasn’t going to write it very quickly, and those years worked better for many reasons) are from BEFORE 9/11.

Think about it: there were mobile phones and flip phones, but no iPhones.

For the younger readers (only some of the more widely-read of whom are in my ‘target demographic’) our there, Pride’s Children is ‘before consciousness.’

But I’d like to argue that so much has happened – AND everyone knows about instantly if they so choose – that the actual events of 2005/2006, background to the story – are almost quaint and old-fashioned BY COMPARISON.

Why am I poking at this?

Mostly because ‘historical fiction’ almost means ‘before it affected me’, even for many well-read adults.

It is almost safe to read about events as long ago as 2005 – interesting, a setting for a good story, but not likely oscillate wildly in meaning itself. As, say, WWII events and novels.

And it’s a nice category to list a book in on Amazon – because it’s a huge category with a lot of readers. And, of course, my main bugaboo: mainstream has disappeared as a category.

Read that again: what used to be the LARGEST category of ‘good fiction,’ mainstream fiction or simply ‘novels,’ is not a searchable category on the largest online bookstore in, well, history.

The categories have been sliced and diced and chopped very fine – you can pick a psychological Amish thriller with a strong female lead set in Western Montana. But you can’t browse through mainstream fiction as you used to be able to walk through the fiction section in bookstores, and browse by author.

If you don’t already know what you want, you’re not going to find it on Amazon.

But, if I can recategorize Pride’s Children as 21st Century Historical Fiction – a whole bunch of potential readers might be able to find it – and be intrigued into trying PURGATORY. And then NETHERWORLD, which is about to come out – and stay in a nice safe category of novels set in a reasonable past.

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What do you think?

Do I have the ghost of an argument here? Feel free to make your own definition of ‘historical.’

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