Having a book published is the most amazing and terrifying thing, apart from childbirth, that has ever happened to me. It is also somewhat similar. You have labored, you have given life and voila, your creation is now ready to journey fourth out into the world. And the fear of this, the world’s judgment, is the first rung of the climb to the tree house in the Crazy Tree. There has to be a tree house, otherwise where would the TV and the DVD player go and the Supernatural posters, the mini-fridge and the People magazines? The Crazy Tree also has wicker furniture that makes that creaky noise when you sit in it. Ah yes, there have been many hours to fully realize the inside of the Crazy Tree tree house.
Amy Lane is adorable (see The Crazy Tree, Part 1, if you missed it) but she left out the first part of the process. Before you can make the climb up into the Crazy Tree in preparation of your book’s release, you would have been up and down the wooden ladder several other times.
The first time you make the trip up is when you submit your story for consideration to your publisher. Because the second you hit the send button you think, why in God’s name did I do that? It sucks and I sent it in? It wasn’t ready was it? Did I put it through spell check? Were there to many fragments? Did I catch all the consistency errors? How many dialogue-tags are too many? Did I put it through print-preview and check the chapters to make sure there weren’t two chapter tens? Were the margins right? Did I space it 1.5? What about when I realized that Mason and Michael and Mark were too many M’s in one book? Did I remember to change all the Miguel’s to Finn’s and all the Mark’s to Peter? I mean I wanted a Biblical name so that’s why Mark went to Peter or… Luke! Well crap, Luke is way better than Peter but I can change it again on the first edit if it gets accepted. But why will it even be accepted since it sucks so bad?
There is usually frantic checking at the same time that the ladder up is being scaled. Normally it is at this moment that my husband has a question about something inane like when he and my children will ever be seeing food. Am I thinking about dinner? Has dinner entered my consciousness at…all…
“I’m trying to send this! Don’t talk to me!”
I’m like Diane Wiest’s character Helen Sinclair in Bullets Over Broadway. “No, no, don’t speak. Don’t speak.”
My kids are both still in elementary school but they know the frenzied look of “Ohmygod what have I done?” And steer clear of me. They usually suggest McDonald’s at that point.
My husband will look at me, gesture at the computer and tell me to email Amy because he so doesn’t know what to say.
Frantically I e-mail her, sitting with my knees figuratively drawn up to my chest, rocking back and forth.
“It sucks, it’ll never be published.”
“Because you suck right?” She will respond and yes, I’ve heard it said before and I fully agree that there should be a “sarcastic” font. But I can hear the tone in her voice all the way from California to Hawaii clear as day even though I’m just reading it. She loves me and she wants me to believe in myself. And I know this of course, the love part. “Stop channeling the Chihuahua and talk to me.”
The Chihuahua way of thinking about one’s own writing that Amy coined is that “I’m no good- no one will read it- I suck…yip-yip-yip!”
It happens because of reader-response criticism. When I was in college I discovered reader-response. Basically it’s your opinion backed up by facts from the piece of literature and if you can make a convincing enough argument, then you’re right. Like I convinced Dr. Smith, my Shakespeare professor in college that Kent and Cordelia were actually way more than friends in King Lear by turning things around that they said. He didn’t like it but he had to deal with it because I used evidence from the text. This was my first foray into things being subjective. So, (here it comes, the point), people can and will draw the inferences they want. This brings me to the second time you go up into the crazy tree.
Your editor looks at what you’ve written and says “Wow, did you really mean for this guy to come off like a psychotic rapist?” Well uhm, no actually. I was looking for more a Yaoi style hero and that the guy being dominated would forgive the guy doing the dominating at the end because he knows that the brutality is really just love.
But the fact of the matter is that you need to make your hero not do anything that he cannot be forgiven for later. And even if he’s a good guy in your head, how he is on the page is how readers will know him. So back up in the crazy tree you go because now you have to rewrite and how can you when your heart and soul is down on the page already.
“How can I fix it if I don’t know how?”
“Your words are not carved in stone,” Amy points out in her wise-Yoda-like way. “Just fix it and don’t repeat the same thought over and over, you do that a lot.”
“Now you tell me this?!”
“I didn’t want to be a nag.” I can see her smiling from here.
So there are multiple trips up and down from the Crazy Tree and when finally, the thing is going to be released, dear God in Heaven it’s a wonder that the hyperventilating doesn’t make you pass right out.
So I sit and wait and try to walk around with a semblance of dignity and hope that someone rates it on Good Reads so I can gauge the likeability factor. And the ratings range from 5’s to 1’s because it’s subjective. And you want to say, but see he’s a good guy! And your editor’s going, uh-huh, told you, and so you sit up in the Crazy Tree ruminating on your life until your hear your friend call to you.
“Get your ass down out of that tree! I just submitted Living Promises and why the hell did I do that because it wasn’t ready? It totally sucked and I think I forgot to change the last name of one of the characters from Jones to Everett.”
“I’m sure you got them all.”
So I have to make room in the tree. Lucky I got the double-pack of Oreos.
After saving his younger brother’s child, Daemon Shar is cursed by a witch and runs far from home, a stray who will seemingly never be anything more. But destiny is hard to outrun, even for a man who is now more cat than man beneath his robes and cowl. A chance battlefield meeting between he and Ehron, a foreign lord, gives him purpose amidst the darkness of his accursed life. Soon Daemon finds that his true nature cannot be corrupted no matter the form he inhabits.
As Ehron’s consul, Daemon plots and plans to shape his new lord’s future so that he may leave it blessed when he runs away yet again. But he never counted on his soul hungering for Ehron’s brother Gareth or for his past to catch him by the tail at last.