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Thursday, October 29, 2015

I'm in Ecstasy!


Today was the official publication date of Winds: A Novel, and I’m ecstatic.

I began writing Winds (working titles “Whispers on the Wind” and “Written on the Wind”) in 1979. The first draft featured Philip Ashur, the main protagonist of a planned series of supernatural fantasies I tentatively titled “Cast Away Stones”. Over the next 35 years, Philip Ashur evolved into the villainous behind-the-scenes manipulator you’ll meet in Winds.

Ashur could astral travel. He learned the precious secret more than 8,000 years ago in the Indus Valley. Philip Ashur wasn’t originally a bad man. In his own way, he was quite heroic. Like all mortals, however, Ashur wanted a way to not only prolong his life but to accumulate incredible knowledge and wealth he could take with into his next lives. Ashur’s fatal flaw was he didn’t care what he had to do nor whom he had to hurt to accomplish his goal. I sought to follow Ashur’s quest for immortality, omniscience, and omnipotence through multiple reincarnations. I think I have done that in Winds. Spoiler alert: Ashur will return next year in Stones.

I pitched the idea to my agent Barbara Puechner in 1989. Barb said she thought Stones and Winds would be my break-out novels. She encouraged me to continue developing those stories. But, she said, editors wanted me to also produce the kind of horror and police procedurals I was already known for, and that’s what I did.

I worked on Winds and wrote a few short stories for anthologies and magazines while Barb took time out to deal with family and personal health issues. Gretta, my wife, also had family and personal health issues in the early to mid 1990s, and I experienced my own health crisis and close brush with death in 1996 and 1997. I didn’t try to find another agent nor attempt to market any of my novels on my own when Barbara Puechner died. I had nearly fifty novels—science fiction, fantasy, horror, westerns, and mysteries—in various stages of completion when Gretta died in January of 2012. If I wanted to see any of those novels in print before I also died, I needed to get busy. I completed twenty 100,000 word novels and began work on several more between January 2012 and November 2015.

4 agents and six respected editors expressed interest in my work, but none wanted to tackle the Winds series. David Niall Wilson at Crossroad Press agreed to reprint my previously published horror novels and short story collections, and David said he also wanted to publish all of my original horror and police procedural novels. I revised those manuscripts and Crossroad Press has been successfully publishing them as e-books for the last two years.

Eldritch Press published Abandoned, the first novel in the Winds-series, in March 2015. I pitched Abandoned as a stand-alone novel to several small presses, and Eldritch was the first to offer me a contract. I wanted to see how Eldritch marketed the book before I offered them the rest of the Winds novels. I’m glad I waited.

Because Eldritch Press did little or no marketing, I revived the 2AM Publications imprint Gretta and I had founded back in 1985. 2AM published Darkness in June, Light in September, and Winds in October. Winds was still in the hands of a traditional publisher in May 2015. The editor loved the novel but the publisher saw no place in their list for a novel with a reincarnation theme. When I received their rejection, I was thrilled. 2AM would publish the novel. If Eldritch Press does not renew their contract for Abandoned, 2AM will publish a new edition of Abandoned late next year.

Likewise, the editors who have considered Spilled Milk for nearly two years without offering me a contract, are out of luck. 2AM Publications will publish Spilled Milk in November 2015.

Some people have cautioned me against publishing too many titles in a single year. When you’re 71 years old and have been writing novels for fifty years and few of your titles are in currently print, you don’t want to wait. And you sure as hell don’t want to use pseudonyms. Been there, done that. I want all of my new books to be published with my byline.

I write every day from 9 AM until 2 PM, and again from 10 PM until 2 AM. I produce at least a thousand words a day of fresh fiction. I write four novels a year with time to do revisions and minimal marketing. Writing has taken over my life.

Although I have had ten new novels appear in 2015, those novels were written long ago and recently revised. I have another forty novels—some in first drafts, many in second and third drafts, and a few in partials with detailed outlines and synopses—in progress. And I have one or two brand new novels on the drawing boards.

I also have a couple of hundred trunk stories I’ll get around to revising for magazines or short story collections.

I have no idea when Damnation Books will publish Deviants. That novel has been under contract for more than a year and no publication date has yet been set.

I have news for all the agents and publishers who said reincarnation doesn’t sell: Reincarnation is the next big thing, bigger even than zombies. During the twenty-plus years that I was a professional hypnotist and past-life regression therapist, I regressed thousands of people who discovered their own past lives. I was completely booked up at conferences, and even today I get people requesting past life sessions every week (I tell them to buy my books instead). True, there are many people who are turned off at the thought that their karma will follow them even after death. The main selling point of Christianity is forgiveness for one’s sins. The fact that one is responsible for one’s actions and must suffer the consequences for everything one does is reprehensible to those people. They’re entitled to their beliefs. I pity them when they stand before their God and must account for what they have done with their talents. They’ll be up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Crying “Forgive me for I have sinned” just ain’t gonna cut it.

Winds is fiction. It’s a suspense thriller. You can read Winds as a stand-alone novel or as part of a series. The same is true of Abandoned, Darkness, Light, Time, and Stones.

I did something completely different with Spilled Milk. Part of that forthcoming novel is written in first person from a female’s POV. Part of Spilled Milk is written in third person from male POVs. Like the rest of my novels, Spilled Milk is not for everyone. It’s filled with graphic depictions of rape, murder, and mutilation and is meant as a cautionary tale. If you’re offended by graphic violence, please do not read Spilled Milk.

Read Winds instead. Then read Darkness, Light, and Abandoned. You’ll be glad you did.

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