I have regaled both of my regular readers with the sad tale of the Press that will henceforth be known as the Publisher That Sucks Dick, or PTSD for short. My fellow authors of that soon-to-be-former e-book factory will agree that this is a fitting acronym. Anyway, I have promised myself and others never to refer to that place by name again, so PTSD it is.
“What was that? A c-c-contract? OH GOD, IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN!!!”
Moving on … or trying to
Frank Sinatra once crooned that after being shat upon by the bird of paradise, one should pick oneself up, dust oneself off, and start all over again. Never one to flout the instructions of Ol’ Blue Eyes, that’s just what I’m doing after the PTSD debacle. How? Oh, let us count the ways.
Firstly, I have worked to find new publishing homes for the books I’ve already written.
You may recall that the fantastical Deadtown Abbey was the book that landed me the contract—emphasis on the “con”—with PTSD and inspired them to “buy” that and my next 9 books. So I said to myself, “Self,” I said, “what should we do with Deadtown Abbey now?” And I sat on a stump in the yard (disclaimer: I did not literally do that) and went down the list of what makes that book awesome and more specialer than a kid running with his pants on backwards winning a gold medal:
1. It is Lovecraftian. It’s got your Yog-Sothoth and your Cthulhu the Great Old One, not to mention a thoughtful (seriously!) meditation on what religious faith means in a time of monsters and a serious imbalance of money and power.
Not that anything like that could ever happen in real life.
2. It is funny. It plays with expectations both readers of eldritch horrors and viewers of the BBC show Downton Abbey, with references and Easter eggs galore for horror and zombie aficionados. That said, you don’t have to “get” any of the references to enjoy the book on its own as a horror tale. But it’s still pretty amusing.
3. It has vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches, imps, and possessed people shitting themselves. It takes each concept and turns it on its head in the service of this apocalyptic story.
4. But most of all, it’s Lovecraftian.
It was this final point that told me I must send it to the new Lovecraft eZine Press imprint helmed by the indomitable Mike Davis. He had already read it and recommended it on his 175,000-follower-strong Web page, so I thought it would be perfect for his new Press. I bought the first release in print from his publishing arm, The Sea of Ash, and was impressed both by the content and by the perfection of its design and presentation.
A box stuffed full of my former publisher’s beautiful print offerings.
I haven’t heard back from Mike yet—he’s a bit busy with his duties both on and off the computer-based Lovecraftosphere—but if Deadtown isn’t brought on board there, I will send it out to other dark presses, of which there are many in the land. Still, Lovecraft eZine Press would be my number one choice.
Reviva Las Vegas! and the Cthulhu trilogy
This marvelous addition to the pantheon of landmark zombie fiction was sent out after PTSD’s implosion to Severed Press, an excellent horror publisher that gives its readers what they really want and has been quite successful, receiving rave reviews from both those readers and its authors alike.
But sad face! Reviva was praised by the editors, but they had to pass on it because it was a more character-based zombie tale than the good ol’ visceral chomp-a-thon that many zombie fans want in their genre fiction. Think of what they wanted as the parts of Jaws with the shark eating people and boats, and what I wrote as more the scene where Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw are sitting drinking in the boat and talking about their scars while waiting for Bruce to attack again.
“And this one’s from when Spielberg cut me for leaving Seaquest!“
However, happy face! Because Severed did like my (one-third finished) Cthulhu: Book 1 and contracted with me for the whole Cthulhu trilogy plus a sea monster book—Severed Press readers love their sea monsters and kaiju—to be written later. Severed stepped up to the plate and, um, swung for the bleachers? Wait, am I the pitcher? Oh, metaphors, you tricky devils!
Ain’t That America
Friends and neighbors, the first edition of Ain’t That America was self-pubbed by Yours Truly back in 2000, with a revised “second edition” being self-pubbed in 2013. It’s a comic thriller along the lines of Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen—suspenseful, yes, but also very fun to read for the despicable characters and how they interact (read: fuck each other over). The whole PTSD experience sent me seeking out other (legitimate) publishers, and so I have sent out Ain’t as well, to the extremely exciting crime fiction publisher 280 Steps.
It’s a great book—why not send it out and make an honest author out of myself? Self-publishing is great, don’t get me wrong, but I’m aging like a time-lapse of a rotting tomato. I want to go legit before I drop dead. I haven’t heard back from the folks at 280 Steps yet, but I know some genre publisher will ultimately take it on and love it like a child who’s going to make them pots of money.
“I’d kill you all if I could! Tee hee!”
By far the most literary and worthy book I’ve ever written, Darwin’s Dreams is the only non-“genre” book in my lineup, and thus the hardest to figure out where to place it. I self-pubbed it in 2008, and it has made a sizeable impression on everyone who has read it. It’s history, philosophy, drama, all in one 45,000-word package. The only place I can think to send it, the only alma mater for this book, is Prometheus Books. If, however, they pass on it, my head will be unbowed. I’ll keep searching.
A collection of short stories ranging from erotica to Buddhist meditation to hookers rubbing the eye sockets of retards in motel rooms, Inappropriate Behavior was self-pubbed in 2011 and will probably never, ever be sent to a legitimate publisher. It’s on Amazon, so peeps can buy it. But it’s so horrifyingly outré I doubt it’s legal to even submit by email in some localities.
“WHY DID I OPEN THAT ATTACHMENT? WHY? WHY?!?“
The other books
Some of the books that PTSD contracted for were “sequels” to Reviva Las Vegas! and even Deadtown Abbey. They really weren’t meant to be anything other than standalone novels, but I may just write a prequel to Reviva called Pawn of the Dead, the story of how the zombie apocalypse started … right here in Vegas, of course. And I had sold PTSD on another sorta-kinda pop culture and Lovecraft mashup called Grim Acres, the story of a staid lawyer and his eastern European bride moving to the sticks and encountering the community of Innsmouth, Massachusetts.
The other two books, How to Train Your Dagon and an unnamed (and unnecessary) second sequel to Reviva, are just going to fade into the aether. Like much of what happened with PTSD, they really never had any reason to happen.
Pictured: A reason for them to happen.
So what, if anything, have we learned?
Remarkably little. No, I kid—we have learned that there’s got to be a morning after, if we can make it through the night. (If you get that reference, make sure the orderly at your nursing home mashes your canned beets the way you like them.) As disheartening as the whole PTSD experience was, I’m a wiser author. I’m the same writer I always was—FUCKING BRILLIANT—but as an author trying to get his babies out into the world where they can be sold for money, I’m much wiser.
Look at those faces! They couldn’t be happier if they were in color!