Archive for My Books

My Books

News Updates

I’ve got a few updates about what’s coming and what I’m working on.

First, my next release will be an Audible Original, coming in early January. It will be in audio only for the first year, but I’m hoping to have an e-book edition after the end of that exclusive period. Stay tuned for more info about this one. It’s a contemporary fantasy romantic comedy unrelated to any of my other series. By the way, I get a bonus if this is the first book you get after joining Audible, so if you were thinking of doing that, keep that in mind.

Second, there’s going to be a delay in a Rebels book 4, for business reasons. One of the problems I have with that series is that the first book is controlled by the original publisher. That means I can’t do anything about the pricing, which is way too high for an e-book, especially for hooking new readers into the series, and that means there’s little I can do to promote it. I can’t do BookBubs or Amazon ads. The publisher certainly isn’t doing anything to promote it (they didn’t even do anything when it was first released), and since they don’t have any more books from me, they have zero incentive to do even so much as lower the price. Sales are really tapering off, and I’m getting to close to the level where I can ask for the rights back and republish the book myself, which would give me control over the whole series. But if I put out a new book, that tends to boost sales for the rest of the series, which would delay me getting control over the first book because I’d be farther from the threshold once more, and yet that boost wouldn’t be enough to really make a difference in income for me. So, I’m holding off on doing a fourth book until sales either surge so significantly (for whatever reason) that it’s worthwhile to do another book anyway, or until I get the rights to the first book back and the whole series is mine. It’s weird to be in a position to tell people not to buy or promote one of my books, but unless whatever promotion is so big that several thousand copies sell all of a sudden (it’s been selling under 400 copies a year), it’s better for me if sales drop off entirely.

Third, I’ve sold a short story to an anthology. There will be a Kickstarter to fund that anthology, so when that comes about, I’ll be letting everyone know. I don’t want to say anything more than that because I don’t want to steal their thunder.

My Books

More About the “Ideal Reader”

Thanks for all the responses about my “ideal reader.” It’s good to hear that I pretty much have it nailed. I guess my instincts were right. And it seems that I have a lot of Hufflepuffs among my readership. I’m more of a Ravenclaw, I’m afraid, possibly a Ravenpuff. Or else I’m the Ravenclaw who hangs out with Hufflepuffs because the other Ravenclaws are a bit too intense and competitive for me. But I digress.

I was asked where the Rebel Mechanics books fit into this. When I was writing that first book, I was aiming squarely at the steampunk community. I figured it would be right up their alley. There were characters who actually were “steampunks.” It was a subculture within that world. There was fun costume potential. I even came up with a plot reason to put gears on things as a decorative element. I had all kinds of fantasies about the steampunk crowd at conventions wearing gears on red ribbons and it becoming a thing.

But the adult fantasy publishers all rejected it, saying it was “too romancey” and suggesting I submit it to romance publishers. Instead, since the characters were all pretty young, I did another edit on it to tighten it up, added a bit more romance and emotion (yes, the version rejected as being “too romancey” had even less romance than the version that got published) and submitted it to YA houses, where it sold. That publisher marketed it to the YA segment (schools and libraries) but didn’t market it as fantasy or as steampunk, so the steampunk crowd didn’t really find it. A few people in that community found it and have loved the series, but it never seems to have spread or caught on there. I never see it mentioned when people ask for steampunk book recommendations.

In spite of what I had in mind when I wrote it, I suspect that the core of my “ideal reader” is probably the same there. Possibly less Harry Potter (though the Fantastic Beasts movies are getting closer) and more of the Jane Austen/Jane Eyre interest, but still a very similar-looking Venn diagram intersection. There would probably be more outliers who don’t fit in that central overlap, like the few steampunks who found it, and there’s the big circle of the actual pre-teens and teens. Some of them might fit a number of those key characteristics (they’re the younger versions of the “ideal reader”), but I think the big factor there was that the kids found the books through teachers and librarians, and most of the teachers and librarians I’ve heard from fall right in the target zone for my “ideal reader” demographic. For YA books, I might spread my promo to hit a younger audience, but I think my core “ideal readers” would still be my main target.

The trick will be finding a way to communicate with a broader audience of this readership to reach more people who might like my books. A lot of the things I’ve been doing or have been thinking about doing probably won’t do a lot of good. Since these aren’t hard-core fantasy readers, I doubt they’d be reading the SF&F magazines, so trying to sell short stories might not bring me new readers. They might read anthologies, though, so that may be something to focus more on. There are a lot of aspiring writers in that group, so writing tips might be good. I might need to be more active on Goodreads and get back to posting reviews. That seems like a place my ideal reader may be likely to hang out. Pinterest seems to fall right into that area, so I might want to explore it. Science fiction conventions might be a waste of time unless one of the other guests is someone who’s a really big name that would lure people who might also like me, but speaking to library associations or teachers groups would probably really pay off for me. I should probably talk more about books on my blog (alas, I’ve been in a reading slump and haven’t read anything I’d strongly recommend lately), possibly discuss some of the other things my core readership is into.

Having this hypothetical reader in mind actually makes me feel better about a lot of things. I’ve hated going to science fiction conventions and feeling invisible, but knowing that my readers aren’t likely to be there makes that make sense. I’m also less likely to be someone considered as a special guest at these cons because that’s not where my core readership is. I likely won’t get nominated for the big genre awards because my readers aren’t likely to be members of the relevant groups. A lot of the things I’ve considered career yardsticks are probably not realistic. Not getting them doesn’t mean I’m failing. It just means my readers are elsewhere. Now I just have to find where they are.

My Books

Finding my Ideal Reader

I spent a lot of yesterday reading various things about publishing, marketing books, etc., and I had a big “Aha!” moment that led to a hypothesis that I now need to test.

One of the books talked about having an “ideal reader,” the hypothetical person you write your books for. There will obviously be outliers who don’t fit the profile, but this is the core readership you’re targeting. This is the person you have in mind when you write, so that you’re writing books that appeal to this person, and this is the person you target in your marketing efforts. One way of testing whether you’re doing this the right way is by looking at the “also boughts” for your books on Amazon. Are these books that you think your ideal reader would also be interested in? If not, you may have problems because the people who bought those books are going to be the ones Amazon will promote your books to.

My “also boughts” are kind of weird. Aside from my own books, there’s a bit of contemporary fantasy, then there are the cozy paranormal mysteries with cartoony covers, and then there are a lot of vampire and shifter romances. I can see there being some crossover, but generally, people who are into sexy vampire and shifter romances probably aren’t going to find what they’re looking for from my books. But then I remembered that my publisher keeps promoting Enchanted, Inc. as paranormal romance. Whenever they do a BookBub, that’s the category they put it in (no matter how many times I beg them not to). The number of people who buy the book during a BookBub has probably totally skewed things. The cozy paranormal mystery thing may be more organic. There’s likely some crossover with the paranormal romance market, but I think that readership is also drawn to my books because there’s a “case” in each book while the relationships develop over the course of the series, and like a cozy mystery, there’s no graphic sex or violence.

But this doesn’t really fit my “ideal reader.” When I started writing Enchanted, Inc., it was essentially for people like me, adults who enjoyed the Harry Potter books but wanted something like that for and about grown-ups, applying the magical whimsy of the Harry Potter universe to the adult world of work, with bad bosses, office politics, and office romances.

Digging deeper into that, and considering the readers I’ve met or talked to, I would say that my target ideal reader is probably a woman (95 percent of my author Facebook page followers are women) who’s a big reader, but not necessarily a hard-core fantasy fan. She really loves the Harry Potter universe (either read the books as an adult or was a teen fan who’s now grown up) and wants more stuff like that, but has a hard time finding it. She’s probably also a Disney fan, both of the animated movies and the live-action remakes. She may like romance in books, but her tastes tend more toward Jane Austen than the kind of thing generally sold as “romance.” She’s possibly more likely to read YA fantasy than adult fantasy because she’s not so into the heavy, grim stuff. Normal life is stressful enough! She’s more concerned with a world she enjoys visiting than in the intricacies of worldbuilding, and the characters are the most important part.

That doesn’t mean that other readers aren’t welcome, just that this is the center of the Venn diagram of all the various types of readers, and it’s who I tend to write for. Now I just need to find a way to reach this reader. When we were launching the first Enchanted, Inc. book, I tried to convince my publisher to go after the adult fans of Harry Potter, especially since one of those books was coming out a month or so after my book. They told me, “We want people writing about you, not writing about Harry Potter,” and I told them no one was going to be writing about me, but they would be writing about Harry Potter, and if I got included in that, it would give me a boost. I did go a little rogue and sent a review copy to a local reporter who was writing about Harry Potter, and I did end up getting an article about “What moms can read while waiting for their kids to finish the new Harry Potter book,” so it might have worked on a broader scale. I also sent a review copy to one of the big Harry Potter fan sites that also did reviews of books their fans might like. But I’m not sure my “ideal reader” is someone who’s that kind of fan. She probably doesn’t have a lot of time for “fandom.” She just reads things she enjoys. She may buy some merchandise, but probably isn’t spending time on fan sites.

So, how close does my “ideal reader” come to hitting the mark? Does this sound anything like you or someone you know? Of course, the fact that you’re reading my blog probably puts you deeper into “fandom” than the majority of people who read my books, so that’s going to skew any feedback.

My Books

Beginning A Fairy Tale

While I’ve been waxing nostalgic about the origins of the Enchanted, Inc. series with the publication of the last book, I nearly missed another series anniversary. It was ten years ago when I took my research trip to New York to write A Fairy Tale. It’s rainy this morning, and that sparked the memory, since a tropical storm hit during that trip, so the first day was gorgeous, and it rained just about non-stop, sometimes torrentially, for the rest of the trip. If you look at the photo gallery for that book on my web site, you can see that some of the photos of Central Park show a bright, sunny day and the rest are dark and gloomy.

I’d had the first germ of the idea for that book years earlier with a mental image of a woman in a floral dress walking a bulldog and vanishing into the mist. It took me a long time to tease the story out of that image. I’d decided to try writing that book when I got a lot of rejections for another story, with the editors saying they wanted something more like Enchanted, Inc. This was a contemporary fantasy involving a southern woman in New York, so I thought it might work. I spent the summer doing research reading, digging into all the folklore about fairies. Then when I decided that the guy involved would be a cop, I read a lot of books about police.

The settings I had in mind were in parts of the city I hadn’t explored in depth. I also had never really taken a schedule-free trip, when I didn’t have any meetings, so I booked a short trip. It would be nice and like a working vacation to just do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it, without having to worry about fitting it around meetings with editors or agents.

So, I spent a few days walking non-stop, much of it in the rain, and found all the places I wanted to write about.

It took me more than a year to get the book written (though I wrote Rebel Mechanics during that time when I put this book on hold to figure out the ending). Then it got rejected all over the publishing world, in a couple of cases because it was “too romancey,” though I find that odd considering there isn’t so much as a kiss in the whole book. There’s just some mild attraction. I guess the fact that there are two cases of a man and a woman meeting early in the book made them think it would be a romance rather than fantasy, which proves they didn’t read beyond the first couple of chapters. It was a few years later, after I’d successfully published the continuation of the Enchanted, Inc. series, that I decided to write more books in the series and publish them myself.

I’ve sold that series for audio and to the Japanese publisher, but it’s still sort of my forgotten stepchild. I may have packaged it badly. There have been a few people who thought it was intended for children. I may need a more conventional “urban fantasy” cover, or else the “paranormal chick lit” kind of cartoon cover. I do want to write at least one more book, but as much as I love that world and those characters, they’re not really clamoring for attention right now.

Maybe I need another rainy trip to New York to inspire me.

My Books

Status Update

Because I get a lot of questions, I thought I’d do a status report of sorts to let everyone know where various projects stand.

Enchanted, Inc. book 9 — Enchanted Ever After
Published! It’s available in e-book in most online booksellers. The paperback is supposed to be on expanded distribution, but I haven’t found it anywhere but Amazon so far. I’m not planning to offer it on Google Play because there have been some issues there. They can be difficult to deal with in ways that affect other stores (they change prices without consulting authors, then the other stores match their prices), and I only ever sell a few copies there, so it’s not worth dealing with them.
I don’t know when the audio version will be out. We made the deal for that earlier in the year and I set the release date to accommodate their needs, but then the contract ended up in limbo, and they changed their boilerplate contract, so all the terms had to be renegotiated. I still haven’t seen it. I also don’t know about any foreign markets. My agent has offered it to the Japanese publisher, but there’s been no answer yet.

As for what might happen beyond that, I am aware that there are events in the characters’ lives that might make good stories. But at the moment I don’t have much interest in writing them. I’ve been working in that world since 2003, and that’s a long time to work on a series. I wrote most of this book about two years ago and the rest of it about a year ago, and I knew while I was working on it that I didn’t think I could write another one. While there’s stuff in the characters’ lives that might be interesting, I am fresh out of magical plots for them, and I’m not interested enough in the domestic stuff to want to write about just that. It’s possible that a new idea will hit me that I must write, and there are potential side stories about other adventures that might happen to other people in that universe. I’m not saying never, but it’s been about a year since I worked on that book, and nothing has struck me.

Rebels 4
I’m doing some reading to research this book. I thought I had an idea for what might happen, and the research has changed the idea, so I have a lot of thinking to do. I plan to work on it later this year, and hope to get it released in maybe the late spring or early summer. That all depends on how long it takes me to write and what else ends up going on. I don’t think I’ll be able to wrap up the series with this book, so it’s possible that there will be another one after that, but I won’t know until I start writing.

The Fairy Tale series
Ah, my poor neglected stepchild. I love that world and those characters, and I have managed to sell it for audio and to Japan, but it seems to underperform. Meanwhile, my cover artist went and hit the big time, doing covers for Marvel, Star Wars comics and a Firefly piece. I’m so happy for her, but I doubt I can afford her anymore, if she can even squeeze me in. So, if I do another book, I’ll likely have to go a new direction with the covers (I’m not sure the direction I went with the covers was the most marketable. I absolutely love the art and it was just what I wanted, but I may not have made good choices from a marketing standpoint) and rebrand the whole series. I’ve sort of outlined the next book, but I don’t know when I’ll get to it. It isn’t exactly burning a hole in my brain, while there are other things that are jumping up and down and begging to be written.

Meanwhile, I have about five or six things that I really want to play with. I want to find a new traditional publisher, at least for my YA books, so I’ve been working on something new for my agent to submit. I’ve got ideas for a fantasy series and a paranormal mystery series. I’ve also got some ideas for big fantasy books that might go to a traditional publisher, but I’m hoping to raise my profile in that area first.

Oh, and I’ve got an Audible Original book that will be exclusive to audio for a year that’s supposed to be coming out later this year. It’s a contemporary fantasy with touches of romantic comedy and is unrelated to anything else I’ve done.

So, that’s what I’ve got going on and planned. Plans are subject to change based on inspiration, editorial revisions, life, etc. I’m mostly over my little existential crisis from earlier in the year. I realized that I do want to write, and I’d rather not do anything else, even if I could. I know I don’t really want to work in my old field, but I don’t know what else I could do. I registered with an agency for doing freelance work and have had no response, so it looks like I need to just stick with the writing. I just wish the business side of it wasn’t so challenging. I really do struggle with promotional stuff — a reason getting a job in my old field probably isn’t a good idea because that was my job. It does get depressing that my career seems to be moving backward, but I’m hoping I can move it forward again. The new book is doing pretty well, but it’s still only reached a tiny fraction of the number of people who read the earlier books, and most of the money I’ve made on it so far has just covered the cost of getting it published. But I’m trying to focus on the things I can control and just write without worrying about the rest of it.

My Books

Paperback Available Now!

The paperback for Enchanted Ever After is now available to order from Amazon. It will also be available at other online retailers, but it might take a day or so to make it through the system. If you have Prime or if you pay for express delivery, you might even get it early. They don’t make it easy to do paperbacks and get the release day lined up properly.

I’m off to enjoy an early birthday celebration with my parents, and then next week is Music and Arts Camp, where I’m volunteering, so I might be scarce or late with posts.

Enjoy the new book!

My Books

The Book in My Head

Thinking back on starting to write the Enchanted, Inc. series, I’ve been remembering some of the initial ideas that didn’t quite work out. A book that exists in your head as mostly an idea is very different than the book once it’s written, and this one spent more than a year in my head before I even started trying to mold it into an actual book with any kind of story to it.

To start with, I initially thought the company the heroine would end up working at would be the kind of business that had been in lower Manhattan for a very long time, with the city growing up around it. I even read a whole book about the House of Morgan, because I thought that fit. Once I started thinking more about what the story would be, I realized I couldn’t make a financial company magical. I ended up going with the software industry as a model, even though it was relatively new, because it fit the idea of spells as software, and because I’d done PR for technology firms, I had more of a grasp on that. It was a lot more fun to make fun of.

There was originally going to be a lot more bad boss stuff. When I was first discussing the idea with that editor, my pitch was “Bridget Jones meets Harry Potter when she goes to work with Dilbert.” I read books about women dealing with sexual harassment in the financial industry. Most of that went by the wayside. I still had the bad bosses, but they were just jerks, and the coworkers weren’t that bad.

Before I figured out who all the characters would be, I had this idea that there would be a number of potential “Mr. Right” guys the heroine ran into, and it would take a few books before one became the front runner. I imagined “shipper wars” going on among fans, with each guy having a faction cheering for him. But once I started developing the cast of characters and came up with Owen, that idea went out the window. I couldn’t imagine anyone else winning.

I do sometimes think I got them together a little too soon, but the initial contract was only for two books, and I wrote and turned in the second book before the first book was published, so I had no idea if there would be more books, and I felt it was important to give it some kind of closure. Then I got the contract for two more books, and I did the temporary breakup at the end of book 3 to allow a little bit of a reset to slow things down a bit and let them have at least a little conflict.

I had a lot more whimsical magical stuff in the first book because I was trying to make everything magical, but a lot of that didn’t carry through later because I realized I didn’t need it.

I knew Owen’s background from about midway through the writing of the first book and always planned to reveal it in book 5. That’s part of why I was so upset when they decided to end the series at book 4. Fortunately, the Japanese publisher wanted more, so I kept writing and was eventually able to publish it. I thought I was done with the series then, but the Japanese publisher asked for more books, so I came up with the idea for book 6. After that, I figured I ought to at least get them to a wedding. That’s why I think this really is the end. I went beyond what I planned and got them to the ending I’d hoped for. I’m not married and don’t have children, so I have to admit that I don’t have a lot of interest in writing the next phase of their lives, but you never know what might strike me.

Sometimes I wonder if I could go back to the very first seeds of that initial idea and come up with something entirely different. It might be fun to play with that concept.

My Books

Starting on Enchanted, Inc.

enchanted ever after coverWe’re now just a week away from the release of Enchanted Ever After. I’ll make the paperback version live this Thursday so there will be time to order them and get them shipped around release day. It looks like there may be a delay for the Audible version, since they’re taking a very long time with that contract. I set the release date to give them plenty of time to have it ready, but I didn’t find out that it wouldn’t be happening then until I already had the pre-order up. It will be coming, but I don’t know when.

Last week, I talked about some of the very beginnings of the idea that eventually became Enchanted, Inc. When I first had that idea, though, it was more about the kind of thing I wanted to read. There was a part of me that thought it would be fun to write, but I went looking to read it, first. The problem was, I couldn’t find anything like that. I’d have thought that, given the huge success of the Harry Potter series and its popularity among adults, someone would have capitalized on that and done something like that for adults, substituting the workplace for the school environment. But I didn’t find it. There were only a few urban fantasy books out at that time. I read Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, which came close to what I wanted, and there was Emma Bull’s The War for the Oaks and Charles de Lint’s books, but not much else.

At that time, though, I was desperately trying to write a chick lit book. The American publishers had started looking for them, and new imprints were opening up to focus on that kind of book. I have to admit that I was a little dissatisfied by the American offerings, since they seemed to miss a lot of the point of what made the British books fun. They seemed to be trying to skew younger, aimed at the twentysomethings, when Bridget Jones’s Diary had been about a woman in her thirties. There was the emphasis on shopping that hadn’t been in the British books I’d liked. I was trying to write something that captured what I liked about the British books but that was distinctly American.

Unfortunately, it was without much success. When I sent a manuscript to my agent, I didn’t hear anything at all for about four months, then found a package on my front porch that was my manuscript with a note scrawled on my own cover letter saying, “I can’t sell this.” I sent that agent a certified letter severing the relationship — not because she didn’t like my book, but because of the lack of communication. I expected some kind of response within four months, and if there was a problem with the book, I’d have hoped she’d talk to me. I got the impression she was essentially breaking up with me, or at least being distant and unresponsive enough that I’d break up with her, an impression that was strengthened by the fact that she didn’t respond at all to the certified letter other than signing the postcard that came with it to verify receipt.

I was a bit worried about being unagented, like I was starting my career over again. I think I had at least fifteen submissions that year, all rejected. Then that summer, I went to a conference in New York. Harlequin was launching two new lines, a fantasy imprint and a romantic comedy category line. Most of my friends were writing for the romantic comedy line, and I had hopes of selling something there, so I went with them to the launch party. Their introductory titles for the fantasy imprint were fairly traditional fantasy, set in quasi-medieval worlds, so I figured they wouldn’t be interested in that crazy idea I’d had. I’d been thinking about it off and on over the year and a half or so since I came up with the idea, and I’d developed it enough to know that instead of getting magical powers, my heroine would be immune to magic and be the extremely normal one in the middle of wacky magical people. The problem was, I was afraid it was too girly for a fantasy imprint and too weird for chick lit.

At the party, one of the editors approached my little group and asked if we had any questions. I asked if they’d ever consider any contemporary fantasy. She said they might after the launch and asked if I had an idea. I told her the bare bones of my idea. My friends who were with me said her nostrils flared and she was visibly salivating. She handed me her card and told me to send it. I said it wasn’t written. She said, “Then what are you doing standing here? Go write it!”

And that was why I decided to write that book. She ended up rejecting it, but I didn’t get that rejection until after I already had an agent (a new one) and the book was on submission everywhere else. Still, it gave me the confidence to give it a shot, and it’s probably been the easiest book I’ve ever written. It just came pouring out of me, and I didn’t do massive revisions on it. There was some tightening and tweaking once I got an agent who wanted to represent it, and she suggested the frog-kissing sequence (which had just been a conversation with an offhand reference to kissing frogs as a way of meeting men in the initial draft), but the structure of the plot was more or less the same.

It was still a fairly hard sell. Since chick lit was the hottest thing going at the time and they were looking for something different, that was where we focused, though there was also a fantasy publisher in the mix that made it as far as the auction (before dropping out). I’ve had a lot of second thoughts about that, given that the chick lit market imploded soon after the first couple of books were published, and it took the series with it. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if we’d targeted the fantasy publishers instead, but urban fantasy was just starting to take off, and it went in a darker, more horror-oriented direction, so maybe they wouldn’t have been interested. And I don’t have time travel abilities, so it’s not as though I can change things now.

I never imagined when I first had that idea, when I wrote the first book, that there would end up being nine books and that I’d still be writing that series a decade and a half later. Though, I will confess, I did imagine that it would be more successful than it was. They didn’t really go after the adult fans of Harry Potter market, and no one else did, either. I still can’t believe no publishers really got on that bandwagon. I’d have thought the market would have been flooded with books about magical workplaces. I guess publishers are bad about thinking in categories. The Harry Potter books were for kids, so they focused on finding the next big thing for kids and didn’t consider how many adults were reading those books. Even my publisher balked at making that connection because the Harry Potter books were for kids (when I did my own PR using that angle, it was successful, so I wish we could have done that on a broader basis).

So far, this has been my most successful series. I haven’t really been able to get anything else to click like that, and I keep hearing from publishers that they want something else like that. But I’ve written that. I don’t really know how to write something that’s like that but that isn’t that. Maybe something else will click for me the way that one did.

My Books

The Very Beginnings of Enchanted, Inc.

Enchanted Ever After is coming two weeks from today. The paperback will also be available then (actually, a few days before that so they can be shipped). I don’t know about the audio. There’s been some holdup in the contracts over there.

Since I’m coming to a close on the Enchanted, Inc. series, I thought I’d look back on how it all began. I usually tell the story about when I got the specific idea, but the groundwork actually came much earlier.

It probably should have been a sign that my first published book was a romance novel about a woman trying unsuccessfully to write a romance novel and realizing that what she needed to be writing was fantasy, but I still kept plugging away at romance, banging my head against that brick wall. My romance writing career came to an end when my editor at Harlequin returned the manuscript we’d been going back and forth on for about a year with a photocopy about the upcoming US publication of Bridget Jones’s Diary, which had been a hit in the UK, and how that sort of thing might be the next trend. Her note to me was about how that seemed more like the kind of thing I should do, that the book we’d been working on would probably make a better single-title book than category book, and she enclosed the business card for an agent she suggested I contact.

I had a minor panic attack because that sounded to me like a polite kiss-off, but Jenny Crusie (who I knew from some online groups, and I’d given her a couple of PR leads) talked me off the ledge. She said that if they just wanted to get rid of me, they’d have rejected the book, not recommended an agent, and the agent my editor had recommended was her agent. I talked to that agent, who said she wasn’t sure why they’d rejected it because it was the perfect category book. She guessed the line was about to fold (it did). She didn’t think she wanted to work with that book, but she said good things about my writing.

The problem was, no one in the US was publishing those Bridget Jones kind of books. They were republishing the British ones, but it was a couple more years before they started looking for American authors writing that sort of thing. That was the era of the single-title contemporary romantic comedies with the cartoony covers, and I kept trying to turn that book into one of those — unsuccessfully. Then the American publishers started looking for chick lit books, and I came up with a few proposals that didn’t go anywhere.

Meanwhile, my life had all the ingredients for a chick lit novel. My job was going in some annoying directions — the bosses who’d been supportive had left, the tech bubble had burst so we’d lost clients, and my new boss was threatened by me and shutting me out of things I should have been working on, so we lost even more clients. I dreaded work, even though I was working at home. My dating life was sputtering. Everyone I went out with who seemed promising disappeared without a trace or a word after a couple of dates, in spite of leaving the last date with discussions about a specific thing we ought to do together the next time we went out.

I’d gone on a couple of vacations to England, where most of my souvenirs were books — more of the chick lit books I couldn’t get in the US, and I’d picked up the first few Harry Potter books. I’d read those over the holidays, so in mid-January I guess that’s what was on my mind when I climbed the stairs one morning to go to my home office and had that “Bridget Jones meets Harry Potter” idea burst. I liked the books about young women struggling with job, family, friends, and dating, and I basically had been Hermione Granger when I was a kid, so I related to her school life. What I wanted was a book that had all the chick lit stuff, but with magic, or something like the Harry Potter books, but about adult life other than school. Actually, my first thought was that I’d love to check my e-mail and find an offer for a new job that would take me away from what I was doing. Then I thought it should be a magical job. Then I had the “Bridget Jones meets Harry Potter” flash. At the time, though, I was just thinking about what I wanted to read, not that I wanted to write it, though I did get that “ooh!” shiver that told me it was a good idea. I just ignored that shiver because I was trying to write something else at the time.

There was no magical job offer (unless you count the idea that gave me a writing career), and I got laid off a couple of weeks later.

It was more than a year before I started writing that book.

My Books

Paperback Mix-Up

There’s been a bit of confusion about the paperback of Enchanted Ever After, thanks to some Amazon communication issues.

There will be a paperback. For some weird reason, they don’t let you do pre-orders of paperbacks. What I plan to do is make it available for sale a few days before the release date so that you can order and have it delivered around that time. I’ll announce when that happens.

The paperback that’s listed for sale is kind of a phantom listing. Avoid that one. If you buy from those people, I barely make any money on it, and you probably won’t get it any sooner.

What happened is that when I was setting up the e-book for pre-order, they gave a pop up that asked if I also wanted to do a paperback based on the same info, and since that would be easier than re-entering it all, and I was doing a paperback, I went ahead with it. There was no opportunity to enter a release date, and I thought that was because it was tied to the e-book. It took a few days to get the paperback approved for publication, since they get weird and picky about the files. We had to tweak some things about the cover. Then when they approved it, they sent me an e-mail saying it was available for sale. I hadn’t realized that they were putting it on sale immediately and quickly jumped to take it down and leave it as pending. But in the five or so minutes it was up for sale, some of the third-party booksellers grabbed the listing and are now saying they’re selling it.

I really don’t know what Amazon’s deal is. You can’t put a paperback up for pre-order, and it can sometimes take a week of going back and forth to get it approved for publication, but you can’t get the approval without saying to publish it. That makes it nearly impossible to be sure of having it available on release day without running the risk of it being available right away..

Anyway, I will announce when I make the paperback live, and don’t buy anything from any of the third-party resellers.