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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.

My Books

Book 9 Coming August 6

enchanted ever after coverThose who follow me on social media have already seen this news, but I thought I’d make it official here. Book 9 of the Enchanted, Inc. series, Enchanted Ever After, is coming August 6. It’s available for pre-order as an e-book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo, and should be available at a few other places. There will be a paperback, but that’s not ready to order yet (it’s a more involved process). And there will be an audiobook. I don’t know when that’s coming. I originally set this release date to coincide with Audible, but I don’t have a contract from them yet, so I don’t know if we’re still on schedule.

This is probably going to be the last book in the series. It really ties things off nicely. I realized while I was writing it that I was ready for this series to be over, and I was running out of bad guys for them to go up against. It is possible that I’ll return to that world in the future, either picking up on the further adventures of the same characters or in a spinoff. I may continue writing some shorter one-off pieces in that world. But I’m calling it done for now. I’ve been working on these books since 2003, and that’s a long time to work on the same series. I’d rather quit while it’s still fun rather than drag it out. There have been four more books than I originally planned, so it went beyond my expectations. It’s been a lot of fun and I love these characters and their world, but there are so many other things I want to write.

Plus, their world moved so much more slowly than ours, to the point that they were more than a decade behind. I started writing in the near future (aiming at when I thought it would be published), then gradually caught up and then was writing more than a decade in the past, so I had to keep looking up what technology and pop culture existed then. If I return to that world, I’ll have to jump everything forward in time, so it will essentially be an all-new series.

But I have the next three or four things I want to write planned, a year or two worth of work, so I doubt there will be anything new in this series for a while.

My Books

From Book to Screen

One of the comments/questions I receive most often is along the lines of “Enchanted, Inc. would make a good movie or TV series” or “Why isn’t Enchanted, Inc. a TV series or movie?” Sometimes it’s “Why don’t you make Enchanted, Inc. into a TV series or movie?” I love hearing that question because it means people love my books and want to see them come to life, but it’s really not so simple as just deciding to make it happen.

I’m not the one who can make a movie or TV series happen. I could stop it, since no one can make that show or movie without my permission, but making a movie or TV series takes a lot of money. I’d have to have JK Rowling kind of clout to just decide I want it done and make it happen — and even there, it’s mostly because they know that movies made from her books are successful, so they want to be a part of it.

For a book to be made into a TV series or movie, it takes both love and money. Someone in a position to make things happen has to fall in love with the story enough to go through everything it takes to get a project through the whole process, and someone has to put up the millions of dollars it takes to get made. The person who falls in love may be someone at the network, production company, or movie studio. It might be a writer, producer, or director, who then has to get someone who can fund the project on board. It might be an actor who loves the book or sees a potentially powerful role who then finds someone who can fund the project.

Enchanted, Inc. has had a fair amount of interest in movie/TV series. There have been writers and actors who wanted the project but couldn’t get the funding (apparently, at one time Anna Faris was trying to get something done with it). It was actually optioned for film and a screenplay was written (by the guy who went on to write I, Tonya), but the project didn’t make it past that point. There was a team with a showrunner (from shows you’d have heard of) and head writer who put together a really good TV series pitch, but they didn’t manage to get any production companies to put up the money for them to put together a pilot to then be able to get network interest.

Mostly it comes down to whether the production companies, studios, or networks think that enough people will be interested in a TV show or movie for it to make money. The main reason they think a show or movie based on a book will make money for them is if the book is already a huge bestseller with a built-in audience. Most of the books made into shows or movies are already bestsellers — the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris were already big before the series, the Song of Ice and Fire books were already bestsellers before Game of Thrones was a hit on HBO, the Harry Potter books were a phenomenon long before the movies. They all became bigger after the shows/movies because more people see TV shows or watch movies than buy books, but there was a significant audience who knew about these things before they made it to the screen. Alas, while my books have sold reasonably well, they are nowhere near bestseller status, and if everyone who’d bought the books watched a movie or TV show, it wouldn’t even make a blip in the ratings or box office.

For non bestsellers, buzz can help — that sense that even if it’s not a big enough mainstream hit to be a bestseller, it does have a kind of cult following, so that the people who are into it are really, really into it. And that’s not really happening with the Enchanted, Inc. books. I know there are a lot of fans of those books, but there isn’t really a “fandom” (at least, not that I’m aware of). There’s nothing really to indicate to producers that there are people out there who would help raise the profile of a movie or TV series by helping generate buzz. There aren’t tumblr communities, memes, discussion groups, conventions. The last Google alert I got on the term “Enchanted, Inc.” was for a liquor distribution company that uses that name. The first book came out in 2005, so it’s pretty much old news, and people aren’t really talking about it anymore. I’m a fairly obscure author. I barely have 600 Twitter followers and there aren’t many more followers than that on my Facebook page (and only a fraction of those people actually see anything I post). That’s not the sort of thing that makes Hollywood executives sit up and take notice.

The other possibility is that it’s a kind of story or subject matter that tends to be successful, and that depends on trends. Right now, it seems like most of the fantasy stuff is dark. I can’t think of anything along the lines of the Enchanted, Inc. series that’s currently a hit. I do think maybe the time is right for a fun romantic comedy with a touch of magic, but someone at a network/streaming service/studio has to decide to make that leap and go against the current trend toward dark and gritty.

What can fans do if they want to see their favorite book on the screen? This applies to any book you would like to see made into a movie or TV show, not just mine. For one thing, buy the books and tell others about the books so they’ll buy them. Bestseller status does get attention. Leave reviews on the bookseller sites, on Goodreads, on Book Bub. Raise the level of buzz by talking about the books on social media. Make and share memes and reviews. Talk about how you think they’d make good movies or TV series. I don’t know if tagging the networks/streaming services in tweets suggesting books for them to make into shows would help, but it might not hurt (I do know that when a Netflix-related account asked for suggestions, Enchanted, Inc. wasn’t mentioned — as I said, there’s not a lot of buzz).

Basically, the books that get made into movies or TV shows are the books that are being talked about publicly. Telling the author doesn’t do a lot of good. The author is just going, “I know, right?” You have to tell the world.

It may also help to support movies and shows like the books you’d like to see hit the screen. If something like that is successful, it raises the chances of more like it being made. Then you can also use that as a discussion point for your buzz — if you like this series, you should read these books, and they’d make a good series, too.

So, long answer. The short version is yeah, I’d love to see it happen, but it’s not something I can do a lot about, and my books may have good potential but don’t have the awareness to really push a project like that through.

My Books

Status Update

I did finish my draft on Friday (yay!), and my brain immediately started work on another story. I’d had an idea fragment I scribbled down a couple of years ago, and it popped up and started fleshing itself out. So I may make a stab at writing a draft of it just to get it out of my head before I jump back and start revising the previous book. So, for those keeping score at home, here’s what’s in the works:

Enchanted, Inc. Book 9 — with the copyeditor. I’m hoping to release early next year, but there are some other things I need to get lined up first, like cover art, cover design, seeing if I can get it sold to Audible and coordinate the release, etc.
The new Audible book — that’s the draft I just finished. It will be coming out as an Audible Original sometime next year and will be exclusively on audio for a year. Then we’ll see what else happens with it.
Rebels 4 — I plan to dive into writing this early next year when I have the Audible book completely done and turned in. I’ve done some preliminary research and have some vague plot ideas that I need to flesh out.
Fairy Tale 4 — I would like to do more in this series, but I haven’t put much thought into it in a while. It’s started stirring, so maybe I’ll get to it sometime next year.

Then I have ideas for at least four other things in various phases of development.

But, hey, if I can maintain the kind of pace I had last week, I might get all this stuff done.

My Books

15 Years of Enchantment

I realized yesterday that it was around this time fifteen years ago that I started writing the first Enchanted, Inc. book. I’m not sure of the exact date, but I know it was early October.

I’d had the first spark of idea in early 2002 but didn’t do anything with it because I was focused on some other projects and wasn’t sure there was a market for it because I’d never seen anything like it. I hadn’t seen much fantasy in a contemporary setting, and the early bits of “urban fantasy” that had come out were much darker and more serious. “Chick lit” was a hot market, but I hadn’t yet seen any with fantasy or paranormal elements.

Then I had a conversation with an editor at a conference in the summer of 2003, and she was enthusiastic about the idea. I had something else to work on first that I’d promised to another editor (that ended up going nowhere).

In early September, I started doing research, and I added a side trip to New York to a trip I was taking in late September so I could do location research. After I got home, I spent a few days doing a bit more development of the plot and characters, and then in early October, I started writing.

That means I’ve been living in that “universe” off and on for more than 15 years. I’ve known Katie and Owen longer than I have most of my current friends (whom I met after that first book was published).

And yet, the characters have barely made it through two years. I’ve been trying to stay on the same timeline with them, so I’m at the point where those books almost count as historical fiction.

The ninth book went off to the copyeditor this week. I’m not going to say “never” since I never know when an idea will strike me, but I think that’s going to be the last full-length book in this series. I may do some short pieces set in that universe. If I get another idea, I will probably make it the start of a new series and do a big time jump. But I think nine books and fifteen years is a good run for a series, and I’d rather not get to a point where I’m bored with it.

Of course, now that I’ve said that, I’ll probably get hit with an idea that will distract me from the book I’m supposed to be writing.

writing, My Books

Origins of A Fairy Tale

When talking about summer being my planning time, I realized that I forgot to tell the origin story of my Fairy Tale series. That poor series is my forgotten stepchild. It sells okay, but makes up for that with being in audio and being published in Japan. I just tend to think of it as less successful because it gets about zero buzz. I seldom see people gushing about it online the way I do my other series. And it’s really, really hard to write, for some reason. I never seem to know what one of those books is going to be about until I’ve written a draft — and that’s after doing a fairly detailed plot outline. Entire characters and storylines appear out of nowhere to mess things up. I do plan/hope to write more books in this series, but they’re lower on my priority list at the moment.

A Fairy Tale

I started planning this series in the summer of 2009, so it fits my summer planning/research pattern. I’d had a proposal for a new fantasy series making the rounds earlier in the year, and the rejections I got were along the lines of “we were hoping for something more like Enchanted, Inc.” I had this vague mental image of a woman walking a bulldog down a city street and disappearing into the mist, and I had a character who’d been living in my head since I was in college who had never been quite right for any story I’d written. I’d also done a lot of research into fairy folklore for another project that hadn’t gone anywhere. All those things came crashing together when I woke up in the middle of the night with what ended up becoming Sophie’s first scene in the book, and I realized this could be my “more like Enchanted, Inc.” project. It had some things in common — the small-town Southern girl heroine thrust into a magical world — but was different enough that it wasn’t like I was just writing the same thing over and over again.

I was a bit discouraged about my career at that time, and I decided to make that summer into a boot camp of sorts, devoting a lot of time to reading books on writing craft, working on my writing, and really digging deep into developing this story. Meanwhile, I was researching various aspects of it — reading memoirs of cops to get into the head of one of the characters, reading books about southern women, reading more stuff about fairies and the psychological underpinnings of fairy tales.

In late August, I took a trip to New York to research the settings, and when I got home, I started writing. It actually took me a few years to finish that book because first I got sidetracked by Rebel Mechanics, and then the Japanese publisher asked me for another Enchanted, Inc. book. Between projects, I’d go back to this book and try to rework the ending until I got it right. Alas, when it finally went on the market, the editors didn’t know what to make of it. I was told it was too “romancey,” which is funny because there isn’t actually any romance in it. Characters have feelings, but don’t act on them. I guess they thought that since there were two cases of women meeting men early in the book, it was going to be a romance. If they rejected it for being too romancey for fantasy, they obviously didn’t actually read the whole book. By that time, I’d started self-publishing the Enchanted, Inc. books, so I decided to publish it myself. I guess maybe the publishers were right that there wasn’t a market for those books, but I still love them, as challenging as they are to write.

Now that the situation has been established, I’ve been thinking of transitioning the series to be more of a paranormal cozy mystery series, where Michael gets cases he needs to bring Sophie in on. It would be less about big stuff going on in the fairy world and more about these characters functioning between two worlds as their relationships slowly develop. But I have a few other things I want to get written first.

My Books

Diving into Rebellion

While I’m getting nostalgic about what got me started writing various books, I realized that I started working on Rebel Mechanics around this time eight years ago.

Rebel Mechanics cover

I’d been working on the book that became A Fairy Tale, and I was unhappy with it. I had a vision for it and couldn’t quite make that vision work. Meanwhile, I had this other idea that I thought might be more marketable — a steampunk adventure story. I’d been making myself not work on the Shiny New Idea, but thought that maybe what I needed was a break to help me figure out what I needed to do with A Fairy Tale.

That summer, I was also dealing with some medical stuff. I had a frozen shoulder, which involves tissue encapsulating the joint so that you can’t move it. It’s tricky because it starts with pain in the shoulder, and the natural impulse is to rest that shoulder so it can heal, but resting is what allows it to freeze. I’d reached a point where I could barely lift my left arm when I finally admitted I needed help, and the prescription was physical therapy. It was tough physical therapy that involved not only exercises but also the therapist stretching and manipulating that arm to loosen the tissue. And there was a lot of pain. It’s hard to be really creative when you’re tired and in that much pain, and since I knew I’d have to do a lot of research to write that steampunk book, I decided to devote the time to doing research.

So, that was my summer of heavy-duty reading. I read more than fifty books to research Rebel Mechanics. I read non-fiction books about New York’s history during the Gilded Age, American history, other revolutions, steam power, trains, airships, houses in that era, clothing in that era. I read memoirs of people who lived in that era and biographies of key figures. I also read a lot of related fiction — other steampunk books, science fiction written during that era (H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson), novels written during that era or about that era by people who lived in that era. I re-read Jane Eyre (since I was doing the governess thing), read The Scarlet Pimpernel (since that related to Henry’s story), read a lot of Edith Wharton (about Gilded Age society).

All the while, I was piling up notes and ideas that I shaped into characters and a plot. It was a summer of wallowing in Victoriana, and I now remember it fondly, in spite of the pain.

I did eventually get full use of that shoulder back and regained my strength in that arm. I’m not quite as flexible as I was before, but I’m trying to work on that.

It also took me a few years to sell the book. I originally planned for it to be an adult fantasy novel, but the adult publishers weren’t interested, mostly because a lot of them saw it as a romance and even suggested it be sent to the romance houses (never mind that the romance was quite chaste), or else they said they’d already bought a steampunk book. I tried reading some romances that might be along the same lines (multiple books telling the story of the same couple), but I started thinking it would work better as young adult since my characters were so young, so I read a bunch of YA before deciding to rewrite it as YA. That took me another six months or so, and then it took nearly a year to sell. It was five years from the time I started researching it before it was actually published.

My Books

Back to the Beginning

I’d have to look at a calendar to find the exact day, but we’re approaching the 15-year anniversary of when I started actually working on the first Enchanted, Inc. book.

Enchanted, Inc.I’d had the idea about a year and a half earlier, but I really wasn’t sure what to do with it because there was nothing quite like it in the market. It was “girlier” than most fantasy and was in a contemporary setting, which was quite rare at the time, but it wasn’t really romance. Every so often I’d play with the idea and add to it, but I was focusing on writing other things.

Then at some point in July, I was at a conference, and there was a party to launch a new fantasy imprint from Harlequin that was going to be more female-focused. The pre-launch guidelines said they were looking for traditional fantasy, which meant that even if it might be a good fit for the “girly” side of my book, they probably wouldn’t be interested.

But at the party, one of the editors wandered over to me and asked if I had any questions. I asked if they’d ever consider contemporary settings. She said they might and asked if I had something. I started telling her about this idea I had. She seemed quite interested (one of my friends who was nearby said her nostrils flared) and kept asking me questions. By this time, I’d run out of what I’d already developed and was making things up on the spot. She handed me her business card and said she’d love to see it. I told her that I’d just told her all I had. I hadn’t written any of it yet. She said, “Then why are you standing around here? Go write!”

And that was why I decided to try writing that crazy idea I had.

That editor actually ended up rejecting it, but I might not have started writing it if she hadn’t shown interest.

I never did really find the right market for it. It ended up being published as “chick lit” because that was what was really hot in the market at the time. It was up between two publishers, one that was going to publish it as chick lit/women’s fiction and a fantasy publisher, but the fantasy publisher couldn’t get the auction bid together. The chick lit market utterly tanked a couple of years later, and the books being promoted as women’s fiction and sometimes paranormal romance meant that fantasy readers didn’t really find them unless they heard word of mouth. I’ve often wondered what would have happened if the other publisher had been able to pull things together, since female-focused urban fantasy became huge not long after that. I’d have been on the leading edge of a trend instead of the trailing edge.

But that’s water under the bridge, and that book has done well for me. It’s still selling steadily and most of my income comes from that series. I’m thinking book 9 will be the end, aside from shorter pieces, because nine books is a pretty long series and I’m ready to try other things. But I also love those characters, so you never know.

My Books

Fun with Books

One thing that’s been really fun about dipping my toe into the world of YA books and publishing is seeing the innovative things librarians and teachers are doing with books to encourage kids to read — and to read for fun.

I’ve always been a big reader because I come from a family of readers. I was reading and loving books before I even started school, so I already knew books could be fun, and that’s a good thing because it almost seemed like the mission of school was to make you hate books. There were some exceptions like my fourth-grade teacher, who read fun books to us after recess every day, but the books you’re usually assigned to read tend to be dreary things about death and injustice. If you didn’t already know that there were other, more fun books out there, you’d think books were boring and depressing.

It seems that there’s an effort now to change that, with librarians coming up with lists of books to recommend to kids to read for fun, and it’s been a huge honor to be included on some of those lists, since that’s one of the reasons I write, so that people will have fun things to read. Because of my book being included on lists and in programs like that, I get to hear of other things librarians and schools are coming up with, like a quiz bowl-like program of trivia contests based on books on the list.

And then there’s this one I just learned about yesterday: escape rooms based on books chosen by kids. I’d love to know what the Rebel Mechanics escape room was like, and now I’m pondering how to work that kind of scenario into a book. Where might Henry and Verity get trapped and have to work their way out?

I really should come up with some supplemental educational materials to go with that book, such as what books I read to research it and what actual historical events I wove into the story, just in a different time and place.

My Books

The World of Rebel Mechanics

Since I’m losing my cable on Thursday, I’ve been frantically trying to watch all the stuff I’ve recorded on my DVR. When something came on that I thought might make good reference material for a book I might work on, I recorded it, and I was planning to watch those things when time came around to work on that book. But now I’m having to watch all of it and take notes, and hope I can still remember it all when it comes time to write that book (or hope I can get some of those programs through other means, like through the library or some streaming service).

And, wouldn’t you know, tonight something that would make an excellent reference for a Rebels book is going to be on PBS, and recording it would do me no good since I have to get rid of the recorder in a couple of days. So I guess I’ll be watching and taking notes.

The program is an American Experience episode about the Gilded Age, which is the period in which the Rebels books are set. I chose that period to base my steampunk world on because of all the things that it looks like this program will highlight. There was a massive inequality of resources, with a few extremely rich people, a small middle class, and a vast number of people barely getting by and pretty much being held back by the extremely rich people who owned most of the factories and other means of employment and who kept wages so ridiculously low that their employees didn’t stand a chance. Poor people lived in terrible slums that were breeding grounds for diseases while rich people owned mansions on Fifth Avenue and spent millions of dollars throwing parties. It’s actually kind of a miracle that there wasn’t a revolution during that time, since the number of poor people vastly outnumbered the wealthy.

I thought that made it a good setting for a book that moved the American Revolution to a later time. In my world, it’s magic that gives the upper class a monopoly on power and production, and the revolution is as much against the British Empire as it is against the economic inequality, but all of it comes into play.

I don’t know if I’ll learn that much from watching this show, since I did a ton of research before writing these books, but if you want some good visuals to go with the books and some broader info about the world that inspired the books — or if you’re a teacher or librarian wanting to work these books into your curriculum — this would be worth a watch tonight (and they usually have these episodes available on the PBS web site for a week or two).