contemporary fiction

Your Hero Sucks

ed

I met Ed online awhile ago, and was excited when he announced that his thriller novel, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, was going to be published by Black Opal Books. I’ve already got the book on my TBR list because if anyone knows me at all, they know I love a good thriller with some depth to it — especially depth that has to do with family relationships. And that’s exactly what Ed’s book sounds like. But Ed says his hero might suck, so read on to find out more of what he’s talking about. Maybe your hero sucks too? Somehow, I have a feeling this might not be the worst thing ever.

E.A. Aymar studied creative writing, earned a Masters degree in Literature and is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers and SinC. He and his wife live with a relatively benign animal menagerie just outside of Washington, D.C.

I have a problem with my hero, the protagonist of my debut thriller I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead. He’s not very heroic. After his wife is murdered, he decides to seek revenge, and in doing so he places revenge over the importance of raising his daughter. This troubled me when I published the novel and, although the reviews have been largely cheerful, a few readers took issue with that aspect of his character. I understand their concern, even though it seems to me that any number of characters in literature and television choose duty (or perceived duty) over family. Still, though, I thought the critiques were valid, and considered them constructive – maybe the choice he made could have been presented differently, and that’s on me.

But it also touches another topic – heroes, and how they should be depicted. I wrote a thriller and, as a hopeful entrant to that genre, I had to take a long look at the typical hero of these books and what they tend to embody. The following excerpted review of the film Jack Reacher, based on Lee Child’s celebrated series, highlights some of the same issues I have with my genre’s typical protagonists. Note that I don’t share all of the author’s views; these are like my opinions, but on crack: 

Jack Reacher is the embodiment of a certain kind of narrow alpha fantasy. He is the best at all the things: the smartest detective, the best driver, the greatest fighter.… His mind works faster than anyone else’s; he sees patterns no one else sees. He is Batman without the silly costume. He is the entire A-Team rolled up in one, such that he can disappear like a ghost (though he somehow pulls his military pension each month), but will still walk into a room at the most dramatic moment, just after someone has said, “You don’t find this guy unless he wants to be found.

Naturally, being so exceptional isolates him in his noble loneliness…. In particular, he has no time for women, who only exist in his world as victims to save or to manfully mourn. For those who buy into the extremity of his excellence — for those whose suspension of disbelief rivals the suspension system of the Golden Gate Bridge — he’s a potent fantasy. But for everyone else, it can be tiring listening to subsidiary characters go on and on about him, or watching him stand three steps ahead of everyone else, waiting with annoyance for them to catch up.”

Like I said, I don’t agree with everything the author wrote, but she makes some good points. Genre writers rightfully bristle at the notion that their work isn’t comparable to literary fiction, especially with the assumption that plot twists and timing are more valued in thrillers than characterization and prose, but the archetype depicted above, when realized, doesn’t help. Still, though, it’s a bit of a quandary. We like James Bond movies, and find Bond fun, but the character depicted in the movie is decidedly not a complex person. And writing about a character without complexity is describing a corpse.

Happily, there are a number of writers in my field who create great protagonists: Meg Abbott, Chris F. Holm, Lawrence Block, Michael Sears, Lou Berney, Gillian Flynn, Kate Atkinson, and many more. And they don’t sacrifice prose or good storytelling to do it. If you want to learn how to write a good thriller or mystery, check out their work.

In the end, you want to make someone complex and believable without disappointing fans of your chosen genre. And you want to create someone compelling to you. The choices your character makes may trouble you, give you a sleepless night or two, and some readers or reviewers might find their actions disheartening. The trick is to keep the reader invested when that doubt surfaces, to keep them turning pages even faster when their devotion shakes. You know you won’t satisfy every reader, but that’s okay. You want to be a good writer. You want to create a good character. You want readers to believe.

ISWYD cover

Tom Starks has spent the three years since his wife’s murder struggling to single-handedly raise their daughter, Julie, while haunted by memories of his dead spouse. When he learns that the man accused of her murder, Chris Taylor, has been released from prison, Tom hires a pair of hit men to get his revenge. But when the hit men botch the assassination of Chris Taylor, Tom is inadvertently pulled into their violent world. 

And now those hit men are after him and his daughter.

Add I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead to your Goodreads shelf.

E.A. Aymar’s debut thriller, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, was just published by Black Opal Books. To learn more about I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, and to watch the animated trailer, visit www.eaymar.com/novel

Purchase I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead on Amazon, B&N, or Black Opal Books.

Find E.A. on eaymar.comFacebook, and Twitter.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Guest Posts, Writing Process, 6 comments

My Affair with Canada Does Not Stop With the Music

Sherryl Cas Side Low res

I’m so excited to welcome Sheryll Caulfield to my blog today! I met Sherryl online just a short while ago, but I’m already impressed with her sweet, caring and attentive personality and her professionalism and enthusiasm for everything writing and publishing. Please welcome her today as she talks about country music and all things Canada (which is awesome because she lives in Australia), including her new novel that is just out.

Sherryl Caulfield is an Australian-born marketer, traveller and writer. After twenty years working for some of the world’s leading technology companies and a stint with Outward Bound, she longed to write about the human experience and the redemptive qualities of nature. Her first novel, Seldom Come By, Book 1 of The Iceberg Trilogy, will be released in December 2013.

Michelle is right. Everybody does love country music – even if they don’t admit it. I thought I wasn’t a fan. But you know I grew up listening to a British-born, Australian songstress singing about a river in America, “The Banks of the Old Ohio”. My mother would hum Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy”, my brother would sing Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” under his breath while I personally favoured “Canadian Dan Hill” and his “Sometimes when we Touch”.

Then came the other Canadians:

Cowboy Junkies (how country is that name?)

Shania Twain Jane Arden and her Insensitive anthem And the incomparable

k.d. lang who covers practically every genre there is

Love, love the music, but like Michelle’s Maggie from Out of Tune, can’t sing to save myself.

My affair with Canada does not stop with the music though. I’m a fan of Canadian literature as well. When I was twenty I read No Fixed Address, An Amorous Journey about a young, sexually-liberated, travelling lingerie salewoman who drove a Black Mercedes. I became enthralled with Arachne and Canada. And then came the idiosyncratic The Shipping News, followed by the Novia Scotian drama, Fall on Your Knees, leading up my recent fascination with the novels of Joseph Boyden.

Yes, I am truly, madly, deeply in love with Canada. I’ve travelled to many parts and still have many more to visit. But it was on my first trip to Canada that I came across a single woman whose image followed me home and into the pages of a series I’ve called The Iceberg Trilogy – epic adventurous love stories about three irrepressible Canadian women and their remarkable men.

They’re epic because each woman has a disastrous experience that defines their life; each one has a breathtaking, heartbreaking hard-won romance that is the love of their life; and each one celebrates the frail mysteries of families in all their beautiful twisted forms. The Icebook Trilogy also takes you across the stunning land and seascapes of Canada with cinematic, signature moments that you will never forget.

My first book, Seldom Come By (Book 1 of The Iceberg Trilogy) is a about teenage girl, called Rebecca, who feels trapped by her surroundings.

This soon-to-be fifteen-year-old lives on a remote Newfoundland island overlooking Iceberg Alley, which to her is the only redeeming feature about the place. Icebergs are the most exciting spectacle in the months of monotony and mediocrity that mark her year. If it weren’t for icebergs Rebecca doesn’t know what she would have to look forward to. Just the thought of climbing on board one of those frozen forms and seeing where it might take her is magnetic.

To Rebecca icebergs represent something magical; a sign of lightness in darkness, a sign of hope and endless possibilities.

And then one spring, this young woman who lives and breathes longing, is looking out to sea, yearning for an iceberg, multiple icebergs, when she discovers a shipwrecked sailor and her world is never the same again.

Nineteen year old Samuel, near death, with his blonde straggly hair and his out-of-this-world Samuel smile and his far-flung experiences and talk of nude sculptures and the teal waters of the Carribean, is like no one Rebecca has ever imagined, let alone met.

One look at her sister, Rachel, and Rebecca knows they both are in the same boat: Samuel’s boat. The summer Samuel stays with them, recovering from his misadventure at sea, ignoring requests from his brother to come home, is the most exciting summer of Rebecca’s life.

And then one day she casually asks him, ‘Have you ever been up close to an iceberg?’

‘No,’ he tells her, ‘but you know it would be something, to be able to get up close and have a look at one, don’t you think?’

‘Yes,’ she sighs, in a way that is more an inhalation than an exhalation.

Seldom Come By

Seldom Come By, named after an actual place in Newfoundland, is Rebecca Crowe’s coming of age story and Samuel and Rebecca’s soaring and unforgettable love story. It’s out on now! Come, meet Samuel and Rebecca and the iceberg that started it all. Visit. www.theicebergtrilogy.com. Oh, did I mention, it’s set in 1914? Don’t let that stop you 😉

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Guest Posts, 1 comment

What is New Adult Fiction and Should You Be Reading It?

There’s a not-so-new emerging genre out there on the market these days called New Adult fiction. Wikipedia states that this genre was coined by St. Martins Press in 2009 when they held a contest. In the contest description, it says:

“Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult — a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.”’

1. AGE

When I heard about NA, I had hope. This described what I was writing. New Adult covers the age range of 18 – 26, or in more vague terms (since I think 26 might be too strict of a cut-off age), the age in which a person is no longer in high school, but has not yet established a career or a family. But sometimes NA covers teens in the later years of high school, like Colleen Hoover’s CRASH and HOPELESS series. We’ll get to why down below.

2. THEME

You know? That limbo stage. The party stage. The WHO THE HECK AM I? stage. The newfound I’M INDEPENDENT stage. That’s what I write and it finally has a specific genre publishers seem to be embracing (at least beginning to). The themes of New Adult tend to be structured around living on your own for the first time (or preparing to), learning how to make ends meet, establishing a career, entering or preparing for marriage and maybe even pregnancy, going to college, experiencing sex, experimenting with drinking and drugs (more so than in high school), entering more adult peer groups, and generally exploring any other adult experience that is new to that character.

3. IS NA ONLY ABOUT OVERSEXED/UNDERSEXED TEENS ENTERING ADULTHOOD?

I’ve noticed New Adult is starting to pair up with descriptions like “YA-like stories, but with more sex, and more detailed sex, at that.” When I go on Amazon, I see countless New Adult books that are selling big, especially ones with descriptions that say “For Mature Audiences Only”. You see, this is such a developing genre, and I have a feeling that it will go through some pretty big mood swings and phases before/if it lands into a more solid place.

BUT NO, NA IS NOT JUST ABOUT SEX. Like any other genre, NA can be about many, many, many different things. Story lines featuring a lot of sex or virgins looking for sex or someone recovering from rape, or anything along those lines, seem to be the popular thing at the moment. But there are other NA genres, ranging from urban fantasy to paranormal to dystopian to historical to literary, etc. Take your pick.

I’ve found that Romantic New Adult fiction is fiction that uses the romantic relationships in the story to further the main character’s self-discovery and complete his/her character arc. 

4. CROSSOVER?

I also want to point out that New Adult might have a fancy schmancy name now, but I think some books that neatly fall into its category are still being marketed as YA. Here’s a few.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman — It’s a sequel to a YA novel, sure, but it’s 100% New Adult, in my opinion. Two main characters living separately on their own, establishing their careers, not married yet, looking for who they are. By the way, I adore this book. It’s heavy on the romantic themes, but I wouldn’t call it romance.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman — Can you tell I love Gayle Forman? I think if anyone writes anything close to what I write, it’s her. This book strikes me as NA as well. It’s about a girl who just graduated and is on a trip in Europe. This one felt more romance to me.

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard — This is about an 18-year old who travels to Central America looking for independence and no-strings-attached hookups. It felt borderline YA/NA to me, but could easily be NA, I think. It has romantic themes, but I wouldn’t call it romance.

So why are these not NA? I’m not exactly sure, but I think it has to do with many factors. Maybe that author mostly writes YA and the publisher wants to keep all of his/her books in that category. Maybe the book, in its general feel, appeals more to a YA audience despite the age of the characters. Maybe the publisher hasn’t embraced NA yet and they prefer to market to a YA readership. There are a lot of different reasons. Either way, I think NA will probably always be a somewhat blurry category, just like in some areas YA is blurry.

5. WRITING STYLE

I’ve read 32 YA books since January of this year. Most of those 32 books were written in first person. Many of them were first person present. I haven’t read that many NA books so far, but I’ve heard that like YA, they are also mainly written in first person present. As many of you may know, I tried to write my current NA novel in first person present. It didn’t work. This taught me that despite popular trends, you shouldn’t write a book according to what everyone else is doing. Duh. So my NA novel will now be in the apparently unpopular third person past tense. Like any other genre, NA can be written in whatever tense and POV the author wishes and it will still be NA.

6. SHOULD YOU BE READING NA?

That’s a loaded question, isn’t it? I’ll say this — like covers, sometimes books shouldn’t be judged by their genre. I think if a book’s description appeals to you, even if it’s in a genre you normally don’t read, give it a try. Like a friend of mine says, don’t be a genre snob. 

I’d like to know how many of you have read anything you might think is New Adult? Have you heard the term before? What do you think of it?

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in All Things Publishing, 4 comments

The Post-Revision Antsy Blues

So I’m not really into post-revision on Pieces yet since I’m waiting for two more readers to get me feedback, but after getting feedback from my other readers, and doing major slit-my-wrist revisions on the book, I’m sitting here staring at my computer and wondering what the heck to do with myself. I’m antsy. I’m nervous. I’m hungry, but I don’t want to eat. My brain feels like it was a rubberband all stretched out and then somebody let go. Now I’m lying on the floor, helpless. I’d watch a movie, but I’m too antsy. I’d read a book, but I’m so tired of reading after reading through my book like five times, forward and backward and up and down. The worst thing of all is that I’m exhausted. I’ve been exhausted for a long time now because when I do revisions, I DO REVISIONS. I don’t do anything else. I don’t do laundry. I don’t cook (much). I don’t clean (much). I don’t sleep (much). I just revise until I make myself sick, which I’ve done.

Does anyone else get like this?

Also, let me clarify what revisions are. Jennifer Hubbard did a great post about what revisions are for her. She sums it up better than I can.

As Jane Lebak notes, this is about more than fixing commas. This is about deleting entire scenes, moving chapters around, writing new scenes. Bringing in new characters, or getting rid of old ones, or merging two characters who have too-similar reasons for being in the story. Changing the plot: changing what happens or when or in what order. Chopping unnecessary pages from the beginning, or the end, or even the middle. Introducing new subplots. Jane Lebak discusses the most thorough kind of revision: the rewrite that starts from a blank page. Sometimes it does come down to that.

And, yeah, I’ve done the rewrite that starts from a blank page before. More than once. Thankfully, this book does not need that extensive of revisions. I’ve restructured and rewritten and added and deleted and shuffled stuff around. Now I’m onto the line stuff, and then a final read-through for copyedits. Then it all goes to my editor and I get to do all of the edits she sends to me. Then more copyedits.

I guess all I’m saying is when people ask me how hard it is write a book, I honestly don’t even know where to start. It’s definitely a job that goes beyond the mind. It’s physical too. Revisions, for me, are the equivalent of running a marathon. I’m pretty sure I end up burning as many calories.

The post-revision antsy blues get me every time. Like my friend Becca said to me, last time this happened to her, she sat in her office chair in the middle of the room and just spun around forever. Sometimes that’s all your mind can handle! I really just don’t know what to do with myself while my brain gets back to normal. Yoga. Maybe some yoga.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Pieces, 16 comments

Daily Dish Utah | My First Experience on TV

As I spoke about earlier, I was invited to interview on Utah’s Daily Dish show, hosted by Good Things Utah. Nicea and Brianne were wonderful hosts, and I felt at home and comfortable. Let me just say that I wasn’t so nervous to actually talk on television as I was about everything surrounding it. First of all, I was only given two days’ notice, and second, it’s in my nature to worry about little details when it’s something new. I worried about directions and driving and parking and getting into the right place. I worried about what to wear, how to do my hair, which jewelry to pick out, which shoes to put on, how I would answer the questions, etc. On and on. I honestly don’t know how news people do this every day! But then again, it’s not in my blood to just do this sort of thing as a career. But I suppose being an author, you have to have to have some level of comfort-zone with being in the public eye.

My dear friend, Alicia, offered to drive me to Salt Lake City to the news station building, and another friend offered to watch my daughter all morning. So a huge thanks to these two! My poor hubby had to work. I wish he could have been there.

All in all, this was an amazing experience and a wonderful opportunity not to pass up. I had the chance to talk about my work in a professional time and space, and I am honored to have done so. I don’t know if doing this will garner more sales, but that certainly isn’t why this was such a wonderful opportunity. I realized something important today during this interview—in the end, it does not matter what kind of “level” I see myself at in the publishing world, because I often see myself as inferior for so many reasons. But all that really matters was the two lovely hosts interviewing me were genuinely excited about my book and the story it tells.

My friend Alicia took me to a lovely bakery in downtown Salt Lake. I bought some cannolis, my favorite pastry. And we had some breakfast since I was not able to eat before the interview (I was too nervous!) It was an exciting morning and then a relaxing breakfast.

A huge thank you to ABC-4 and the hosts at The Daily Dish for interviewing me today!

To watch the interview, CLICK HERE.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, The Breakaway, 0 comments

How to Stand Out in a World Crammed With Books

Color me surprised. Overall, The Breakaway did so much better than my other books in the first few selling weeks. I think it’s a combination of factors – the first being that the book hits an apparently huge niche market for young adult and adult readers who love kidnapping/captive/Stockholm Syndrome books. I had no idea such a market was out there for this genre, but it’s big. And it’s also picky, I’m finding. This specific niche market loves a certain type of ending, I think, and The Breakaway messes with that type of ending. So I’m really not sure how well it will keep doing. I have no idea. The other reason I think The Breakaway did so well (and will hopefully keep doing well) might have to do with the marketing tactics my publisher took – several that they did not do with Monarch because they hadn’t explored those avenues yet. But Monarch is also adult and a thriller and not really a true thriller, at that. Other reasons for The Breakaway’s success might also have had to do with the fact that it is young adult, the cover people seem to love, marketing tactics I took, or, well, sheer dumb luck.

So all of this one-book-doing-better-than-another thing has me thinking about a lot of publishing points. I have asked myself if I would be as jazzed about publishing more books if The Breakaway’s sales had been the same as Monarch and Cinders in their first few weeks. I worry that I question too many things. I worry that the sheer dumb luck I mentioned above is a bigger factor in all of this than I’m willing to admit. Because, honestly, that’s what it seems like at this point. I did less marketing for The Breakaway than any of my other work. I cared less. Maybe that was important. Or maybe it’s because I have other books out and I’ve built more of a readership. Maybe it’s because I’ve focused more on marketing to readers than writers. Who. The. Heck. Knows.

And I walk into a bookstore and realize that all the books on the shelves are like .0000001% of the books out in the world, and I get short of breath and realize that my books are only a tiny speck in the huge cosmos of stories out there. How … I ask myself … how in the world will I ever make it? How will I ever stand out in a world crammed with books?

My answer to that is: I already do … in certain people’s worlds. And that’s what matters.

But … I don’t write to take over the world in general (hahaha, if only), and I don’t write to stand out everywhere, and I don’t write to be on every shelf in every bookstore, and I don’t write to please everyone, and I don’t write just to make money and sales. I write because I write and want to keep writing. And the small, beautiful success I’ve seen with The Breakaway is a happy perk and something special I treasure right now. But quite honestly, while all those sales will always be awesome, they do not feel as poignant as that first sale I made on my little self-published book, Cinders, when I felt even smaller than I do now. And that’s what makes me stop and think. I look at the authors I love and wonder how small they feel, even if they are big in the publishing world. I wonder if I will always feel insignificant standing in a bookstore or sifting through hundreds of books online.

And I sit here and fret and worry about my next full-length book, Bonded, and how it will fare compared to The Breakaway in its first few weeks. So far, each book I have put out has done better than the last, but I am not sure I can top The Breakaway, and that scares me because beyond hundreds-of-thousands of dollars I don’t have to spend on marketing, there’s not much me and my publisher can do beyond what we have done for my other books. At least so far. I am sure my publisher will keep surprising me with their brilliance in marketing! And I know it’s not always about “the first few weeks” … it’s often how your books do overall over a long period of time, but still, the beginning can say a lot.

Everyone says Bonded will do amazing, but I have my doubts. Bonded is completely different, and it’s a collection and fantasy/fairy-tale based. Is that market as big as the market for The Breakaway? The first novella in Bonded has a controversial ending. The second novella, Thirds, is happy, but will people keep reading after Cinders and all the punches I pull in there? Perhaps not. The third novella, Scales, is far from a happy ending, and it’s my very favorite, like a piece of dark chocolate I think should be savored. Some people hate dark chocolate.

I guess this is enough rambling about all my worries and fears. It all reminds me of a post I wrote last year right before Monarch came out. I had cold feet, but I came to a conclusion I need to remember now. I need to staple it to my forehead: So bring on the cold feet. I know I’ll still worry and fret as the release date grows closer, but for me, the best part of the book has already happened – the fact that I finished and got it to a place where I’m 100% happy with it. Nothing will erase that. Ever. Remember, published or unpublished, you are a writer, an author, and a creative person who strives for the ultimate goal of creating something you’re proud of. Don’t ever let the little publication tag get in your way (and I need to add here that sales numbers should not get in your way either), because it doesn’t change anything in the end. It only overshadows the best part.

In the end, the only thing to do is write your next book, and at the end of the day, I’m pretty happy with that. So I’m going to go work on my next book and stop worrying.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in All Things Publishing, Books, The Breakaway, 0 comments

A Sequel for The Breakaway?

michelle-d-argyle-the-breakaway-coverEver since I first wrote The Breakaway years and years ago, I have had friends and family interested in knowing more about how it might end beyond the conclusion I gave it. If you haven’t read the book, the ending is bittersweet and not what you might expect, so I think a lot of readers get very attached to the characters and want some more wrap-up with them at the end. For me, the ending does wrap everything up, but there is definitely more that could happen.

Since The Breakaway’s release, I’ve received dozens of emails and tweets and FB messages asking about a sequel for the book. At first I was a little defensive because I kept thinking that maybe my ending wasn’t enough for people. They were disappointed or it wasn’t written well. That may be the case for some readers, I imagine, but the more I’ve thought about it and talked to my publisher, I’m seeing that it’s more because readers enjoyed the story enough to want more.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that there are very few sequels I enjoy, and so far in my writing career, I have had no desire to write a sequel to any of my stories. But with The Breakaway, I have always had in mind what happens to Naomi and Jesse  beyond the ending I give them in the novel … I’ve just never really shared that with many people, and honestly, over the years I’ve altered what has happened in my head. First it was a tragic ending, then very happy, then bittersweet again. The fun thing about writing is that while you have control over the story and your characters, it’s not always as much control as you want to admit. I’m the kind of writer who allows the story to control itself and guide me, the writer, to where it needs to go. The Breakaway has definitely taken its own course.

Because I’ve always had in mind how The Breakaway expands beyond its current borders, I am quite open to sharing that expansion with others. The question is how do I want to share it? The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’m comfortable with writing a long short story or novella and sharing it with fans. At the moment, my publisher is open to this idea as well, although the idea may not be cost-effective for them. In that case, other options for publication are available.

Now that I’ve rambled long enough, if you are a fan of The Breakaway and are interested in a somewhat unconventional alternative to a “sequel”, make sure you sign up for my newsletter so you’ll be updated when and if this short story will be released. I’ll be open right now and say that it will probably not be available until 2013 because I have to finish my current novel before I can begin anything else. Good things are worth waiting for, right?

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Pieces, The Breakaway, 0 comments

What It’s Really Like on Release Day

Today is a big day for me, but in reality, it’s not a big day at all. It’s a big day in my mind. My novel, The Breakaway officially releases. It’s a big day because for most authors, any day their book releases is a big day. Some authors have big launch parties. Some go on tour. Some hit the NY Times bestsellers list that same week. Most, like me, don’t really do anything except write a few tweets and FB posts and a newsletter announcement to announce the book. I might go out to eat or something. Most of the work I’ve put into my blog tour is already finished and it’s simply up to the people involved to post their reviews/interviews/posts.

The truth is that unless you are some really cool exception, your release day is pretty darned quiet. Most launch parties and tours happen after the fact, and most people won’t read your book until after it’s out. So while there may be a little bit of hype on that huge release day (special thanks to anyone who helps spread news about the book today!), I’ve found that any time a book of mine is officially out there, it always feels a bit anticlimactic. This is silly since I don’t expect much anyway, but I think it feels that way because it is a HUGE FREAKING DEAL in my head. So big that fireworks should be going off. A novel is a deeply personal, blood-sweat-and-tears project. It should feel like a huge deal. It is a huge deal!

But in publishing, it seems, it’s rare for things to happen all at once, especially on one day. Traditionally publishing is a painfully slow business. There is so much waiting, waiting, waiting, for everything. There are little spikes of excitement, I’ve found, but they rarely snowball into anything super-exciting. It’s like, WAIT. WAIT. WAIT. WRITE. WRITE. QUERY. SUB. SUB. SUB. SUB. WAIT FOREVER. WRITE. WRITE. WAIT. Agent! Book Deal! Publisher! WAIT. WAIT. WAIT. TRY TO WRITE. WAIT FOREVER. Cover! WAIT. WAIT. WRITE. WRITE. WAIT. WORK. Edits! WAIT. EDIT. WAIT. EDIT. WAIT. More edits! WAIT. EDIT FOREVER. WAIT. WAIT. WRITE. Blurbs from Awesome Authors! WAIT. WAIT. WRITE. WAIT. Oh my gosh, I get to hold my book! WAIT. WAIT. WAIT. WAIT. WAIT. Release day! WAIT. WAIT. WAIT. WRITE. Oh, look, good reviews! My book on a shelf! WAIT. WAIT. WRITE. WRITE. SUB. WRITE. SUB. WAIT FOREVER. Another book deal! And then we start over. Of course, individual mileage may vary for every author, but my point is there is a freaking ton of waiting.

And, honestly, so many of those exciting things get buried in all that waiting and writing that I often tend to forget them and what they were like. Keeping a journal with lots of exclamation points is helpful. I think the biggest highlight for me is getting my book delivered to me, and I finally get to hold it, touch it, read it. For me, then it is real. I don’t think I’d fare well with eBook only. It’s so intangible. So getting my physical book is probably one of the most exciting things – even more than release day. Getting my final cover is also very exciting and memorable.

But…I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again and again. Nothing beats the excitement of finishing the first draft of a book or a very long and intense revision. To me, that’s why I keep doing any of this and endure through all that waiting. And nothing beats receiving an email from a fan you have never seen or heard from before, or even fans you do know, telling you how much they loved your book. Magic, I’m telling you. People reading your book, especially years after it’s released, is magic.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in All Things Publishing, Books, The Breakaway, 0 comments

Monarch Butterfly Population Down 28 Percent in 2012

michelle-d-argyle-monarch-coverI have a purely unselfish reason for wanting my novel, Monarch, to hit bestseller status and go monumentally huge. If that happened, it would not only raise more awareness for the monarch butterflies, but I’d donate the royalties to help preserve the monarch butterflies. Why would I do this? It’s because the monarch population is dwindling, not only due to illegal deforestation in Mexico where the monarchs in the Eastern United States spend their winter, but due to dwindling milkweed supply. Leave it to farmers (who keep increasing their herbicide-tolerant corn and soybean crops) to inadvertently choke out the milkweed plant – the only plant  on which monarch caterpillars feed. As an organic food lover, I have issues with those kinds of crops, anyway. Gah.

I recently read this article on the Huffington Post about the monarch population dwindling this year. My heart hurts when I read such things, and I only hope it’s just a dip and not part of a huge, steady decline. But, sadly, I’m afraid things are only going to get worse for the monarchs, not better. Did you know that here in the United States, we didn’t even know until 1975 that the monarchs migrated down to Mexico? That sure hasn’t given us a huge amount of time to marvel how far they fly every year just to survive. All the way from Canada to Mexico. It’s incredible.

My novel might be fiction, and it might be teeming with action and spies and drama, but at its heart is the monarch butterfly and what a beautiful insect it is. I’ve always had a soft spot for butterflies, especially monarchs. I, for one, do not ever want to see them die off. We would lose something magnificent.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Monarch, 0 comments

A Book That Came Out of Left Field … Maybe

I pick up my butterfly book, Monarch. You know, the one with butterfly and dead feet on the cover? That one. And I flip it open and I wonder what possessed me to write such a thing. Then I remember I grew up in the ’90’s when authors like John Grisham and Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton were hitting their stride. They were huge. Everybody read them. I read them. I was fifteen in the middle of that decade, for crying out loud, and reading legal thrillers and stories about cloning DNA. I loved this stuff. I. Ate. It. Up. I also read Joan Lowry Nixon and Lois Duncan. I loved anything that got my heart rate up.

So now there’s this series of books out there about a dragon tattoo, or something. And a girl. Or something. Right? Stieg Larsson. You’d think I’d be all over that because I love serious adult thrillers, intrigue, and danger. Well, I used to. Apparently, after so many years, my taste for this sort of thing has taken a back seat to other tastes, and I haven’t even put Larsson’s books on my Goodreads shelf. I’m reading all over the place. Young adult, adult, literary, fantasy. No thrillers. I have a few on my list, but I keep pushing them back. Maybe I’m afraid I’ll compare them to Monarch and feel disappointed in myself? I’m not sure. Because Monarch is not a true thriller. I simply can’t compare it to other thrillers. It was a book that came out of all those years in the ’90’s, all that reading I did, all that passion I had bottled up for those elements, combined with the literary elements I learned in college.

I have no idea if I’ll ever write another thriller. I feel, in a way, that Monarch satisfied my craving to write somewhere in that genre, and now I’ve moved on. The next book I have planned is historical and magical, a lot like my Bonded stories. I wonder if that’s where I’ll keep writing, but then I look at The Breakaway, a young adult contemporary suspense, and I’m confused all over again, because I really do love contemporary. Gah, I guess I just need to keep writing and see where it all goes. Signing off. Confused and laughing at myself!

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Monarch, 0 comments