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Get My Groove Back

I hadn’t realized how low my writing confidence had sunk until I tried to sit down and work on the sequel to Humanity’s Hope. The words were there, but the motivation wasn’t. After handwriting a page and a half, I quit. I couldn’t find the will to write anymore.

In addition, I got responses back from the #PitDark Twitter pitch I participated in. Two people liked my Tweets—an agent’s assistant and an indie publisher. The way the process works is that if they like your Tweet, you go to their page and follow their submission instructions, which I did.

Friends, I’m going to tell you now that I did not have incredibly high hopes for my queries, especially after reading what types of stories these two places were looking for. Don’t get me wrong, they are some fantastically wonderful people and publishers, but after looking at what they normally acquire, I knew my story wasn’t going to fit into their repertoire.

The responses I got were rejections, as I expected. But they were very kind rejections. The agent’s assistant gave me some feedback on what she thought was working and what wasn’t—for her. I really appreciated her taking the time to do that, and it made me wonder if I needed to change something in the novel to get my point across.

You see, with Humanity’s Hope, the story starts out with Caleb (my main character) just getting ready for the day. Pretty mundane and possibly a bit boring. But while this is happening, he has a panic attack/flashbacks to when he was fighting zombies. The story actually opens with him waking in the middle of the night because of anxiety, but he’s not sure what triggered it.

I totally get why this can be problematic. Watching a character get ready in the morning can be boring. However, it was done on purpose. I wanted to show how Caleb is attempting to return to a normal life after going through what he went through, but it’s also a struggle because of PTSD. From there, things only get worse.

Again, maybe my point isn’t coming across the way I want it to. Maybe it needs to be more exciting and action packed. I’m not sure. The story is out with some readers, so I’ll ask them what they think and if it needs to be altered. If you’re interested in checking out the first chapter and letting me know what you think, you can find it on Wattpad.

The second rejection just said it wasn’t right for them and wished me luck in my publishing endeavors. Again, after reading the publisher’s site, I figured they would send me a rejection. I was cool with it. Such is the life of submitting.

Humanity’s Hope is pretty dark. It’s definitely not your typical zombie novel, though there is some zombie carnage. I wanted to delve into a survivor’s mind and explore how they are coping (or not) with the destruction, death, and loss. But I wanted that survivor to be troubled and having a hard time. I love my heroes such as Krista who is able to take charge and fight, but I wanted to look at it from the other perspective also. I can’t say whether or not I was successful, but I hope I am.

The best thing about Caleb being the way he is (suffering from depression, anxiety, and PTSD) is that he has a lot of room to grow. I know exactly what’s going to happen to him throughout the Saving Humanity series, and I can’t wait to write it down. I just need to find some motivation and desire first.

To help me along the way, I decided to reread some of the young adult novels that had an impact on me as a teen. I’m hoping to find some inspiration within the pages and have a chance to escape for a little while. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Maybe It’s Not All Doom and Gloom

Last week was one of those weeks that reminded me why I’m an author. All of my books were on sale for 99 cents, and some of them (ahem, Life After the Undead) fared better than some of the others. For several days, it was ranking back in the top 100 for its three categories. It’s since fallen out, but it’s not doing horribly. It’s still within the top 200 in its three categories.

It always amazes me when this happens. It boggles my mind that my book could make it so far up the list. But I love it. I love that readers are checking it out and (hopefully) enjoying the story. Readers are the whole reason I write, so it encourages me to continue on.

As I mentioned before, the books that have been already been published will continue to be available. I will self-publish them. As for what will happen in the future, that’s still uncertain. I told you last week that I was taking some baby steps, but I still need some time. I still have to set myself up mentally and emotionally for the slew of rejections I’m about to receive.

I’ve been spoiled—I know that. But that’s why I loved Booktrope so much. They were willing to take all of my stories and I didn’t have to go through the submission process. After hundreds of rejections, it was a breath of fresh air.

But that is no more, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Baby steps are good, but I still need to figure out what’s going to happen in the long run. I have finished Humanity’s Hope, the first book in another young adult zombie series I’m writing. Here’s what the book is about:

Seventeen-year-old Caleb survived the zombie uprising, but he’s scarred mentally and physically. Humanity is trying to rebuild, but after the loss of his family and friends, Caleb walks a path of self-doubt and self-harm. Caleb gets up every morning and goes to work at Zomtech, writing computer code so that the scientists can find a cure. Today, though, regulars—zombies—escape the ghetto and kill his neighbor, and the death is a message directed at him. He receives an email with a video of someone unleashing zombies onto her. The video says if Caleb doesn’t give them what they want, more people will die.

Then he and his friend Samuel are attacked by a hoard of undead in a park. These aren’t typical undead. In addition to regulars, there are mutants known as BZs and RBZs—Big Zombies and Really Big Zombies. A regular bites Caleb, and things only get worse when he discovers he’s immune to whatever turns a person into a zombie. Caleb has to make a choice: will he become humanity’s hope and save them from the undead menace, potentially becoming a pawn in a power struggle, or will he finish what he started long ago and end his own life?

If anyone has a burning desire to be a beta reader for me, I would entertain the idea. Shoot me a message and let me know!

Coping and Moving On…Sort of

Last week, I was in a dark place. The news of Booktrope closing hit me really hard. As you can tell from the previous blog post, I was contemplating whether or not I wanted to continue writing. Since then, I’ve had some time to think and figure things out…sort of.

I’ve decided that my books that are already available (Life After the Undead, Death to the Undead, The Appeal of Evil, Dealing with Devils, and Good Intentions) will be self-published. Since everything is already done for them (editing and covers), it will be easy to transfer them over to my name. Wucaii, which had been edited and was just awaiting a cover, will still come out on June 6. This will also be self-published.

The only book whose fate hangs in the balance is Undead Obsessed. As of now, I’m not planning on self-publishing it. There are some questions I have about the photos on the inside of the book that have to be answered before I decide what happens to it.

As for the future, I have no idea what it will bring. I’ve made some strides to get back into publishing, such as sending an author application to Books of the Dead Press and I was asked to participate in a Twitter pitch tomorrow called #PitDark. Both of these are for my latest young adult zombie novel called Humanity’s Hope.

I’m trying to stay optimistic, but I’m also having a hard time focusing on the positive. One day I’m sure I’ll get over this disappointment and heartache, but it’s going to take some time. Perhaps a little more time off from writing will help.

Too Tired to Fight

I used to be proud of my persistence. I knew when I started my publishing adventure that I would have to be thick skinned and pig headed. I knew that I would get a lot more rejections than I would acceptances. And I was ready for it. Sure, the Nos wore me down every once in a while, made me question why I was doing what I was doing, shook my self-confidence, but I carried on.

Even when I fell prey to a malevolent publisher who plagiarized, stole artwork for covers, and didn’t pay royalties to the authors he published, I didn’t let it get me down. I learned from my mistake and moved on.

When I had to deal with a publisher that didn’t return emails or send royalty statements or pay in a timely fashion, I still didn’t let it get me down. I remained persistent and reminded her over and over and over again that she needed to get me that information, and I would eventually get it.

And do you know why I persisted? Because through all this bad, I was able to accomplish some amazing things.

I found readers, friends, and fans who enjoyed my work. And that is the #1 reason I write.

I was able to publish an academic book with a prestigious publisher without having ties to a university. That’s pretty amazing.

Life After the Undead ranked in the top 100 for paid Kindle books for almost 3 months.

I grabbed on to the positive and let the negative slip away. It was still there, lurking in the background, but I ignored it.

Sadly, I can’t ignore it any longer.

Last Friday, I received word that Booktrope would be closing its doors at the end of May. It broke my heart. After everything I’d been through, they were a breath of fresh air. They cared about their authors. They made sure we had statements every month and that we got paid in a timely fashion. They helped promote my books and found opportunities for my work to get in front of new readers.

I have no idea why they’ve closed, and I’m sure they didn’t come to the decision lightly. All of us were shocked and blindsided by the decision. And things have taken a turn for the worst. I’m not going to get into how here, but it’s made me rethink a lot of things.

I write because it’s compulsion. Most of the time, I enjoy doing it. It’s fun. But lately, it hasn’t been fun. It’s been a lot of heartache.

I never expected to make a lot of money on my books. I dreamed about it, hoped it would happen. I would entertain fantasies of getting a movie deal and being propelled into fame. I hoped that my books would start selling like hotcakes. But as the years have gone by and things have slowly spiraled downward, I’ve let go of those dreams.

Sure, there’s always a chance. There’s still plenty of time left. But only if those books are in the world. Only if people can read them and find them.

I know I still have a lot options. I know I can self-publish or try to find another publisher, but I’m tired. I can’t deal with the rejection, uncertainty, and difficulties.

A strong person would see this as a bump in the road; an obstacle that must be navigated to get to the prize at the end of the road. Back in the day, I probably would have been that strong person. I would have thrown my shoulders back and pushed forward. But right now, I don’t have it in me. I don’t even know what the prize is anymore.