Happy New Year, everyone!
Gone is 2016, and not soon enough if I might say. It was a year full of wonderful times, and not so good times. The year began on a high note for me as I had self-published my novel, Prince of the Sea, in December of 2015 with the help of author/publisher, Ryan Field and his husband, Tony. I didn’t realize the amount of time and effort needed to self-publish a novel-not to mention the significant learning curve. By the beginning of 2016, I realized that I needed to do something different in order to market the book because sales were very minimal, and I needed to get additional exposure in an indie market saturated with gay and m/m romance stories. Upon the advise of a some fellow authors, I decided to pull the novel from all third-party distribution and go exclusive with Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, which unfortunately carried a commitment of three months. Sales continued to be low, even after I’d reduced the price and offered a FREE promotion. I believe much of the problem with sales was due to lack of distribution channels, and a rapidly slowing e-book market not yet evident.
Nearing the end of my commitment with Amazon KU, I felt self-publishing wasn’t for me at this time in my writing career, so I reached out to a publisher I had been watching for few years. Steve Berman with Lethe Press graciously offered a contract to re-release Prince of the Sea, and I’m so glad he did. My little novel received a greater distribution channel, and received much more exposure with my association with a well-known indie publisher. Even better, Lethe also released Prince of the Sea in paperback, which was something I was unable to offer on my own. And, to top off the year, Prince of the Sea has just been released in an audio version by Lethe, narrated by the very talented Philip Church, and distributed via Audible and Amazon.
2016 also brought some not so good times. Early in the year, I began experiencing near-fainting episodes, and was eventually diagnosed with hyperglycemia. Basically, my blood-sugar would fall low enough to cause dizzy, near-fainting spells. I learned that I am pre-diabetic a few years ago, and I had not been watching my weight closely, or getting much exercise of late. Though I started out the New Year vowing to drop some weight, time eventually caught up with me, and my body let me know just how unhappy it was. So, I got my butt into the gym and within six months, I’d lost twenty-five pounds. The good news is my doctor agreed not to prescribe a daily diabetic med; the bad news, I still have to watch my eating habits, and ensure I eat every few hours to avoid any hypoglycemic episodes. And continue to get exercise.
More bad news came on April 11th. While out with my husband for the afternoon, we got a call from our home security company that our alarm’s motion detector in the finished basement had been tripped; they were sending police. We got to the house at the same time as a police officer, who insisted he enter our home first. He then immediately reappeared onto the front porch and ushered us inside. To our shock, we heard–then saw–the water running down the walls and ceiling from the upper floor; everything in sight was saturated and water was continuing to spill at an alarming rate through the ceiling. Rick raced to to the basement to cut off the main water supply, but the damage was already done. We later determined a water supply line beneath our master bath vanity separated at the connection, and water ran wide open for about five hours, spreading from the master bathroom to the bedroom, closet, beneath the walls to one of the guest bedrooms, into hallway, down the stairs, the walls, through the ceiling of the main floor into the kitchen, dining room, breakfast room, a portion of the living room – then traveled through the floor into the ceiling of our finished basement into the den, our home office (where we run our business) and finally into the storage room.
Once insurance settled our loss, we were able to begin reconstruction in June to the home we’ve been in for twenty-two years now. Yes, you heard right; we’ve stayed in one place so long because we’d had the house built and still love the area of town we live in, which is ten minutes north of downtown Atlanta. With so much reconstruction needed, we got the bright idea to remodel at the same time, first by hiring an architect to design an open floor-plan on the main level, filing for a construction permit and hiring a general contractor. We chose to remain living in the two rooms and one bathroom on the upper floor not destroyed by the water. We have a family; Rick and I, and our four dogs, two of which are senior, so we felt displacement for them would prove too traumatic. Lord, what a mistake that was! What was estimated to take three-four months at most ended up being nine months later when finally had our belongings and undamaged furniture returned to our home from storage.
Our business remained very good throughout the summer, but the stress of our living situation, and the need to be home for various contractors coming and going a daily basis impacted my goal of working out at the gym, and I slowly began to slack off. The summer brought good news, however. With the contract nearing the end of its term for my Lammy Finalist, gay police-procedural novel, Pretty Boy Dead, I also decided to pitch it’s continued publication to Lethe Press. To my great surprise, Steve Berman offered a contract for not only the debut novel in the Kendall Parker Mystery series, but the second novel as well, titled The Deadwood Murders. Release is currently slated for late summer 2017. In the new edition Pretty Boy Dead received a fresh edit, and a new cover designed by the wonderfully talented, Elizabeth Leggett. Pretty Boy Dead was released by Lethe Press in November 2016 in both e-book and paperback. The novel is being recorded in studio for release in audiobook. Stay tuned for the release date in early 2017!
The year end on a high note as we are now settled into our “new” home, sales of Prince of the Sea and Pretty Boy Dead are going well, and we made it through a brutal presidential election cycle! Heading into 2017, I am steadily working on finishing The Deadwood Murders, drafting notes to a sequel for Prince of the Sea, and eagerly looking forward to sharing the release date of an exciting anthology edited by multi-talented Lori. L. Lake titled, TIME’S RAINBOW, in which a story I wrote is included. In this new anthology, contributors wrote our gay ancestors back into history by telling stories about people who managed to find a way to influence their worlds. Alexander the Great was quite clearly gay – surely there were others around him whose stories could have been told, but were suppressed. Bayard Rustin was an integral part of the Civil Rights Movement in the US – until he was discovered to be gay and removed from the forefront. Katherine Lee Bates, who wrote the song “America, The Beautiful,” was definitely a lesbian. Ther must be a story told about her, or the people close to her and influenced by her. How about all the young quasi-trans women who fought in the Civil War, and whose stories have not been told? Stay tuned for an announcement of the release date!