It was a tough decision. Seriously.
Perhaps I was premature. Perhaps RB isn’t up to professional standards yet, or -as a first novel – never will be. Perhaps I took the easy way out. Last thing I want to be is prima-donna deluded (or is that prima uomo?) and come across as sniveled and sanctimonious. But after 18 months of queries, waiting, lack of communication, editing, wondering, I decided it was time to stop scratching at the door of the traditional gatekeepers and move on.
To be clear, I’m not lifting my leg on agents and publishers. They’re professionals with a tough job, and they don’t owe me a thing. I’ve received very gracious responses from several who took the time to read and comment on my manuscript. Their feedback was invaluable to this first time author.
It’s just that between the slogging and waiting, and the exploding opportunities for self-publishing, I opted to change my course. From Smashwords free services (free ISBN for ebooks… how cool is that?) to Lulu, xLibris, iUniverse, CreateSpace, etc, the field is wide open and I’m sensing the readers are becoming the new gatekeepers. The material, distribution and access is at your fingertips.
Yes, there’s loads of trash to wade through. I’ve winced my way through the opening pages of many stories. (Get an editor, guys) Some will toss “Running Black” on the garbage heap, but that’s not the point. The game has changed, and I think in the midst of all that verbiage, there’s genuine talent that will rise to the surface and be appreciated.
And, I bet dollars to doughnuts if a self-pubbed book starts selling well, a publishing house will overlook their qualms and work something out.
I’d love to tell you I had a plan, but it really started as a scene in my head that wouldn’t go away, so I wrote it down. And then wrote another scene, and another, and another, and soon enough I realized a story was spooling out in my head. I completed the first draft almost a year later on Christmas morning, and then the real work began.
I was so stunned that I’d actually completed a novel, I didn’t realize a good book isn’t so much written as it is rewritten. (Thank you, Marc Giller) Queries to agents generated requests for partials and fulls, but at the end of the day, I’d let it out several drafts too early and garnered a (well deserved) collection of nice rejection letters. Now, several revisions later, it was time to kick it out the door and start writing a second novel in earnest.
Two impulses drove the story: one was the conviction that only a spiritual ethic that upholds life as sacred will restrain humanity from becoming inhumane. Lose the preciousness of life and you open the door to contempt and cruelty; commodify people and you’ll end up committing atrocities. Second was the struggle write a standard sci-fi action novel and present genuine Christian themes in an organic way.
I don’t know if I succeeded. The content is certainly ‘mixed” and definitely not for the usual Christian audience. Some will condemn the novel for it’s violence and profanity, others dismiss it as proselytizing garbage. I made an effort to portray the characters in a realistic manner. They are what they are and it is what it is. I hope my intent and themes come through regardless. More on “Mixed” content later.
All for now. Thanks for reading.
With “Running Black” going to print, and plans for more novels, I decided to hang a shingle to interact with readers. I’ll endeavor to answer questions, post thoughts, and respond as best I can. Thank you for visiting. Let’s keep this intelligent, civil, and creative.