Posts Tagged ‘publisher’


For some writers, research is a necessary evil, something that simply needs to be done to keep from giving  inaccurate information to his or her readers. For me, probably due to the content I write about, research is a guilty pleasure~ a wonderful excuse to explore things I wouldn’t normally dare to.

For writing purposes, I’ve researched topics like mental and behavioral disorders, serial killers, drug withdrawal symptoms, vampire history, the process of death and dying (as well as embalming a body and the other duties of a mortician) and various physical and psychological illnesses, just to name a few. I know more about how a serial killer thinks, and the rate at which a human body decomposes than I ever wanted to know. Nothing, however, was more fascinating than the research I did on BDSM, or as most of us know it, kink.

In 2009, before I’d even heard of Fifty Shades of Grey, I had an idea for a vampire novel I wanted to write that had to do with kink. I imagined what it would be like if vampires treated humans as their personal slaves, trading doses of euphoria-inducing vampire venom for a limitless supply of human blood. In my mind, these vampires owned their humans and kept them like “pets.” Naturally, the customs of good old-fashioned S and M seemed like the perfect place to start, and I began my search for the local underworld of kink.

It wasn’t as easy to find as one might think. Kinksters don’t tend to advertise, apparently. I’d been searching for this community for several months when a friend of mine who knew about my quest for all things kinky, gave me a call and said she’d found the local kink community. I was thrilled.

I was stunned to find out that there were classes you could take, and that before I could attend one of their kink parties, I had to go through orientation. I had no idea it was so formal.  For fear of being exposed as a fraud, the first thing I needed was a “scene name.” A scene name is what you choose to go by among your fellow kinky peers. I chose the name Angel (as it turned out, the kinksters were perfectly okay with people who are just curious, who don’t wish to participate, and who just want to watch and ask questions, but I didn’t know that at the time, and thought I needed to be a believable kinkster.) So I started going to the classes once a week, and learned as much as can be learned  in a classroom setting about bondage, domination, submission, sadism, masochism, and the like.

Once I had familiarized myself with the lingo, the general rules, and had made friends with some of the kinksters, I was ready to start attending the kink parties. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do at one of these parties, so I asked a few friends of mine to go with me. They agreed to go to the orientation and attend the party with me afterwards… as my personal pets.

The friends I took as my slaves were two women and another guy. The women I named “Isis” and “Poetic Justice.” The guy I named “Winter” after a character in the book I was working on. I wore a suit and eyeliner. “Isis” was in a bustier with a frilly skirt and high heels. “Poetic Justice” was in piggy tails tied with red silk, a long overcoat, and hooker boots. The male, “Winter,” was in nothing more than a sheer pair of mesh boy-shorts (he had a thong on underneath so he wasn’t showing everything,) and one of those massive, cruel-looking metal dog collars that digs into the pets neck if they stray too far. We’d written various lines of my own poetry all over his body with a marker and I also put him in eyeliner. He wore no shoes.

I had leashes for each of my “pets,” and let me tell you, entering and exiting rooms is a lot harder than it looks when you’ve got three people on leashes… but we made it to the party. We were greeted by some of the folks I’d met at the classes, and I introduced my “pets” to them, though the pets aren’t allowed to speak without their master’s permission, and as pets, no one spoke to them without asking me first.

We went in and sat down. Well, I sat down and my “pets,” as per the custom, kneeled on the floor at my feet. We watched several floggings, saw a woman bound and suspended upside-down from the ceiling, and watched some very fascinating fire play on a nude woman. One of the friends I’d met in the community was there, and she was having the skin on her back punctured with colorful body “pins” to create a design that made it appear that she had wings. Another one of the kinksters I’d previously befriended was also there, and he wanted to give me a beating with a wicked-looking bamboo stick. After much hesitation, I finally agreed, after laying down my ground rules: no clothes come off, no hitting me below the waist, and start out soft!

I quickly tired of the bamboo stick, and realized with no surprise, that such exercises didn’t do much to excite me in the same ways it does some people. Fascinating as it the whole thing was visually, we all grew very tired pretty early on and left the party after just a couple of hours. I attended one more party after that before considering my research complete.

Although the world of kink had little to offer me in a personal way, I made some great friends, and learned many fascinating things that have continued to feed my writing. My few months in the BDSM community gave me years worth of material, and I used every bit of it in The White Room, and in Beautiful Monster, which will be released on September 1st, 2012.

Research is, if nothing else, a mind-opener. As it’s been in all cases, I quickly learned that the truth about kink is about as far from my pre-conceived notions as it can get. I was astounded to realize how few kinksters do this solely for sexually gratifying purposes. I was intrigued by the customs and the very proper protocol. I was relieved by the safety and sanitary measures that were observed in these practices, and I was amazed by the laid-back, welcoming attitude of the group. I gained a certain respect for kink that I never had before, and although I don’t go to the parties anymore, I still have a lot of friends from that time. The psychology and philosophy of these folks has given me many things to muse about, and for me, that’s the whole point. Sometimes, when we’re stuck, we just need something new to stir our creative minds. That’s what research does, and I absolutely love it.

Since Beautiful Monster has been accepted for publication, my publisher has asked to see The White Room, which is the book I did the kink research for that was written previous to Beautiful Monster. The manuscript needs a lot of work and my goal is to have it ready by the end of this year. As I’m revising the book, I’m remembering all the things I learned about kink, and I’m grateful for the research I did on that topic. No, I don’t mind research a bit, and I look forward to doing more of it on more fascinating subjects in the future.

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We received the contract for Beautiful Monster today. By now, I’d done enough research on the press and learned of some other well-respected author’s represented by the press, that I felt optimistic we’d probably be signing it. Still, I refused to celebrate until we saw the contract, looked at it very closely and agreed with it. I’ve spent the past eight or nine hours going over the contract with my co-author, Kim, and we both agree it’s a good one.

(Kim and I, professionals that we are, going over the contract via Skype)

Last week, Kim and I went out on a limb, and without having received the contract, went ahead with some formatting revisions that are standard to the press. This consisted of changing all text to Georgia font, spelling out, hyphenating, and capitalizing all chapter headers, Finding and correcting all (or most) passive voice passages, spelling out all abbreviations, separating chapter breaks by four asterisks, deleting all spaces before and after ellipses, adding quotations to all of the Fiend’s dialogue (as this is considered internal thought since the Fiend speaks in Sterling’s head), and eliminating all sentences that begin with conjunctions. It was leap of faith on our parts, considering the task took nearly ten hours and we weren’t even sure if we would sign the contract. I’m glad we did it though. It saved us a little time.

Along with the contract, we received tax forms (which kind of scare me) and Author Information sheets. These sheets are where you fill out your personal information, book dedications, and make mention of those folks you’d like to acknowledge and thank. It also asks for key points of the plot and physical descriptions of the main characters. When answering these questions, they ask that you be concise, as this is done for the sake of giving the cover artist a clear idea for your books cover picture. I guess this ensures you don’t end up with a picture of a blandly handsome, buff dude holding a petite, well-cleavaged, raven-haired beauty in the sunset on your book cover when your book is about tractors or something.

The majority of the contract is basically a long list of your legal rights and expectations, the legal rights and expectations of the publisher, royalty percentage agreements, and a whole bunch of other legal jargon that, although quite simple, is not necessarily interesting enough to go into serious depth here.

It’s still a long way to go to be able to hold my own book in my hand. It could, and likely will, be two years before I am able to have that. First, we will be assigned an editor to whom we will be accountable to as we begin a long series of editorial revisions. We will have deadlines and we will have them aplenty. Between these rounds of revision, there’s nothing to do but keep on keeping on. I will keep working on Tyranny Hall, my solo project, Kim will continue working on hers, and God help us, we’ve been throwing around the idea of a sequel (a trilogy, actually) for Beautiful Monster~but that’s another blog…

I realized today that I’m glad Beautiful Monster is the one that got the gig. Not only because I love the story and feel it is substantially stronger than The White Room, but also because I don’t want to do this alone! This is all very intimidating to me still, and I am lucky to have someone to go through this with.

A lot can happen in the time it takes for this to really be a “done deal,” but I feel like I can at least exhale a little now. I have wanted this so badly for so long, and now that it’s here, I can’t help but feel a little exhilarated. I’m too tired to celebrate tonight though. I just want to sit here in the dark and mentally replay what a wild journey it has been thus far. I can’t think about the deadlines right now. I can’t think about the marketing plans, and the book sales, and my future as an author. I can only be right here, right now, taking a big deep breath and saying to myself that no matter what happens from here, someone finally thought I was good enough to take a chance on~ I can look at myself and say that I have worked very hard for this, and it hasn’t come easy, and I didn’t give up.

In a way, I think that’s all I ever wanted.


After ten years of dreaming about it, seven years of preparing for it, and almost three years of ruthlessly pursuing it- I’ve finally done it. It took me exactly 190 rejection letters between two completed novels, but I have at last been offered a contract. It wasn’t for my first novel, The White Room, which was ultimately rejected by the two publishers who were recently interested in it. Instead, the offer was for Beautiful Monster, the horror story which I collaborated on with Kim Williams-Justesen~ a fact that, given the gruesome nature of the novel, surprises me. But that’s beside the point.

What happened: On the eleventh of May (my birthday!) we submitted the story to a press I’d come across through a strange chain of events two weeks before. A day after the initial submission of the first three chapters and the last chapter of the book, we received an e-mail asking for the entire manuscript. We’ve been down this road before, I thought, bracing myself for the agonizing coming months I’d spend waiting for the eventual, “thanks, but no thanks.” But… that isn’t at all how it played out. Instead, just a couple of days later, we received an e-mail congratulating us. Our novel was accepted for publication. I didn’t get the e-mail. I got the news in a phone message from Kim.

What it was like: It was unreal. I guess if I had to compare it to something, it was a little bit like being on an airplane when it climbs or drops several hundred feet in a matter of seconds. Your vision swells, your stomach lurches, your heart does a somersault, and your head feels like it’s imploding. I don’t think I took a breath for several minutes after I heard the news. I sat down, suddenly unsure if standing was such a good idea. In her message, Kim said she’d forwarded me the e-mail. I got on the computer, logged into my account, and there it was. I blinked at it. I read it three times. I logged out of my e-mail and back in again to check it a fourth time. It was still there. I picked up my phone, went to my voicemail, and listened to the message one more time. Nothing had changed. We’d just been made an offer.

That was when the bliss hit me. Bliss may be a strong word, but I think it’s deserving of its placement in this context. My body tingled and my mind raced. I wanted to jump out of my skin, but in a good way. I wanted to leap from my chair and run into the streets, thrusting my glee upon anyone within a five-mile radius. I could not sit still. I had nowhere to go, so I grabbed my phone again and began texting the news. I later learned that in my excitement, I’d made several errors in my efforts, sending the message, “We just got offered a contract on Beautiful Monster!” to my dentist in Utah, the landline of my poodles’ vet hospital, and, I’m pretty sure, to a woman I’ve never met named Joyce whose number is in my phone because six months ago, she was handling my property out-of-state. But I didn’t care. I was spreading the joy.

You’d think that after all the months and years of working for this very moment, waiting for it to be realized, the bliss would last longer. It doesn’t. I think I squeezed about ten wonderful minutes out of the whole deal before the doubt started in. The doubt is mean and ugly and wants nothing more than to crash your party. No sooner had I hit the send button on the fifth or sixth text to anyone within send-button range when the doubt began creeping in. It told me it wasn’t real. It told me I was being scammed. And worse, it told me that now I was going to have to go back and explain to everyone I’d texted that it was a false alarm. The sting of that blow was very real to me then, and I briefly considered sending out a mass Just Kidding! Gotcha! text to all my contacts.

Suddenly, I doubted everything from the reality of the e-mail to the legitimacy of the publisher. I’d researched the press before submitting of course, but now I was obsessed by the idea that I’d somehow missed something vitally negative about them. I got on the computer. I spent the next several hours combing through their website, researching their authors, and looking for holes in their plans to rip me off. I googled their reviews. I visited Editors and Predators. I read everything I could. I found nothing that supported my suspicion that this was some kind of scam.

We got another e-mail from the publisher saying we’d be receiving a contract in the next few days. We also got our author guidelines and editorial formatting forms, which I believe is for e-book formatting. By now, I’d talked to a friend of mine, an author who has been in the business for about twenty years. She had a little experience with the press and knew someone who had substantial experience with them. The conversations that ensued calmed my mind enough that I made peace with the fact that until I saw the contract, there was no reason for me to neither celebrate nor mourn.

In the days while I wait for the contract, I am surprisingly peaceful. If this is a good gig, then great! And if not… I am out nothing. It is during these days of waiting that I believe I have probably grown the most as a writer than I ever have before. I’m realizing during this time that even when the dream comes true, there’s still the reality to be reckoned with; as soon as a wonderful thing happens, there begins the threat of the next potential great disappointment. A lot can happen between the signing of a document (assuming we sign it) and when the actual book is produced, and somehow, I’m okay with that.

All of a sudden, I’m not fighting anymore and this is new territory for me. I think I’ve finally given up. I don’t mean to say I’m quitting. I mean, I think I gave up the control that I never had in the first place. For the first time in years, I don’t care whether or not I get published. I’m turning my attention back to my writing, back to my life, back to the things I love. And for the first time, I’m realizing how hell-bent I’ve been on this thing… for the first time, I understand that even when it does finally happen, it doesn’t actually fix anything. Until now, I didn’t even know I’d been trying to fix anything.

I’m standing here~ facing, for the very first time, the reality of a dream I’ve been entertaining for ages… and I don’t care about it anymore. I realize that I love my writing and that’s all that matters. Above all, I realize with painful clarity all of the unnecessary pressure I’ve put on myself~ the tremendous weight of my self-imposed demands… and the unreachable heights I’ve set for myself.

I haven’t talked to many people during the past few days. I’ve been quiet and withdrawn, but I am at peace. There’s nothing to say. There’s nothing to do. I am tired, as if all the time I’ve spent working for this has finally caught up with me and is taking victory over me. I’ve been sleeping a lot. I don’t think I’ve ever been as exhausted as I have these past few days. I feel raw and weak, but I am finally at peace with the world around me, and at peace with the knowledge that whatever will be will be, and it’s no longer up to me to try to force it.

I’m optimistic about the contract. I don’t know yet whether or not we will sign it, but I feel good about it so far. Whichever way this goes, this experience has been nothing like I thought it would be. It is… real, and somehow I guess I never thought it could be. One thing is certain though. This is not the final destination I somehow thought it was. This is just the beginning. I’m as curious as anyone to see how this plays out.