I know I say this every time I come here, but I really need to do this more often. There are noises everywhere that it really can be done--make money as an independent author (which is not to say I'd turn down any form of book contract!)--but that the key to doing so is to blog, and tweet, and make all sorts of vulgar and comical-sounding noises. Apparently it is pretty key even with a conventional contract. So, without further ado, I will announce that my short story More Than the Quest, published by Keith Publications, is now available on Amazon for Kindle. Here is the link to it: http://www.amazon.com/More-Than-the-Quest-ebook/dp/B00E5G85DE/ref=sr_1_1/177-8323824-7150801?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1375573403&sr=1-1&keywords=more+than+the+quest.
It's a short fantasy tale, a stand-alone excerpt from a novel I am writing called The White Squirrel.
I want to do more with this blog, however, than publicize myself. In the last entry I made, I posted a link to a book written by a friend from my old writers' group, Barbara Ann Wright. Her first book, The Pyramid Waltz, did very well for itself, and got a review in USA Today; her second book in the series, For Want of a Fiend, came out in May, and here's the link to it: http://www.amazon.com/Want-Fiend-Barbara-Ann-Wright/dp/1602828733/ref=sr_1_1/179-9177260-5298851?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375574265&sr=1-1&keywords=barbara+ann+wright
There are electronic versions of both books, now, too. I haven't had the time to read it yet, but I'm sure it will be every bit as good as the last one. I'll be sure to review it when I'm done.
Now to the actual topic of this entry. Not all of my friends know that I've become absolutely addicted to Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's Pendergast series, but my kids sure do. And I have made a great many online friends on one of the Facebook pages devoted to their works, Team Pendergast. I picked up the first in the series, Relic (please do not judge it by the movie that was made from it; Pendergast was left in all his magnificence on the cutting room floor!), looking for a quick, keep-yourself-from-being-bored mystery fix, and came away, eleven books later, with an obsession and lots of new friends. (Actually, he had me at the third book, Cabinet of Curiosities; his brother Diogenes had me by the seventh, Book of the Dead.) Not only that, but the authors themselves are genuinely good human beings who are willing to interact with their readers. While they cannot officially endorse fan fiction, they are okay with it; on their author website they include links to fan sites that include fan fiction about their characters. Mr. Preston even seems somewhat proud of the subgenre called, for obvious reasons, "Pendergasms."
As prolific as these Gentlemen (my pet term for them) are, the wait between Pendergast books is nevertheless excruciating. My friends and I have often been driven to the vast body of Pendergast fanfic in desperate need of a fix. Still, most of the aspiring writers I know would not ever write fanfic. It is, to their minds, a waste of time, to work on something they can never sell to a publisher, or even independently, because the characters belong to other people. I have such a hard time making time to write that I could ill afford this kind of indulgence. However, as I was trying to work on The White Squirrel, and writing myself into corners, a story with the Pendergast characters came to me and would not let me alone. I kept telling it no, but it would keep whispering yes, in Diogenes' sibilant tones, chiming in with the lyrics of the songs I listened to on the long commute to my day job and showing up in my dreams. Eventually, it occurred to me that the quickest way to get it to leave me in peace to write my original, and, God-willing, someday profitable work, was to actually write the damned thing.
And so I have. I have been sharing it with my friends on Team P, on an offshoot page christened The Writer's Shack after a cottage Mr. Preston uses to write in. They have been gracious and kind. I have been having fun, too, and recapturing an enthusiasm that has often eluded me. In a PM with one of my Team P friends (or Penderpeeps, as most of us call each other), I affirmed that even TRYING to write like Preston and Child made me a better writer; my wise friend compared it to art students learning by setting up their easels in the Louvre and copying the masters. That is exactly how it feels. Also, I have never felt that I would be any good at writing any sort of mystery; I have never felt I would be able to come up with a plot in which the reader would not immediately know who the murderer was from the first chapter. This fanfic was a safe area to play with a genre in which I was not at all comfortable.
From the beginning of my fanfic adventure, my daughter has been making Fifty Shades of Grey comparisons. I have been shrugging them off. I feel like the characters I have been borrowing from the Pendergast universe are too distinct, and that the things I am writing about them would not be as funny or--yes--sexy!--if they were about different people that we didn't already know like old heartthrobs. But my wise friend at Team P has urged me to think about it a little harder, and at his urging, I have been thinking of some ways to change the characters enough, but still preserve the dynamics between the four I find the most fun to write.... Who knows? We'll see.