Okay, so I’m always reconsidering pretty much everything, but this is a specific reconsideration: Whether to post novel-1 on Smashwords.
Part of it, I admit, is cold feet—what if nobody reads it? what if somebody reads it?—but part of it is wondering if this is the best way to send Unexpected People (soon-to-be-retitled) into the world.
You see, the editing worked: It’s better, now. A lot better.
It’s still not great, won’t set anyone’s hair on fire, but the stiltedness is (mostly) gone, the over-knowingness and, frankly, the Q&A aspect of so many of the conversations has for the most part been eliminated.
Here’s a bit from the first section:
From her crouch on the bed, Kit could both hear the squealing below and watch the neighbor lady getting into her car. She had a large bag and a bundle of papers; was she going to work on a Saturday? Bummer.
She was pretty, though, from what she could tell from the distance. Really tan, or maybe black; tough to tell from just the glimpse at her face; were those dreadlocks? Cool.
As the car crept backward down the driveway, Kit shifted her focus to the room. How many hours left? She didn’t have to be back on the ward until tomorrow night, so, what, 30 something hours left? Ten of those sleeping? A couple in the shower, dressing, her room. Twenty hours with her family. She sighed, then slid off the bed.
‘Well, I probably should shower, then,’ she mumbled to herself. A shower always made her feel stronger—not because that’s what normal people did, but because it helped her to gather herself to herself. Pieces of her flaked and chipped off every moment she was awake; taking off her old clothes then putting on new ones after she was clean was a kind of repair. It didn’t last, but those first moments out of the shower made her feel as whole as she could be.
She’d forgotten how humid the bathroom would get; the fans on the ward were much stronger. Still, Kit lingered, eyes closed, in the steamy room, waiting to propel herself into the day. You can do this. You can do this.
Janis heard the noise from the shower, and tried not to track how long it took before Kit showed up. Instead, she ransacked the cabinets for flour, sugar; did they have enough peanut butter? Check. Chocolate chips? Check.
She turned to Lindsay. ‘Chocolate chip bars or cookies?’
‘Cookies!’ Lindsay said immediately. She looked at Patrick, explaining, ‘You get more that way.’
He laughed. ‘It’s the same amount of dough, Linds, either way.’
She was unmoved. ‘But you get more cookies than bars.’
‘All right, all right,’ he relented. ‘You got me there.’
Kit lingered in her room, rummaging for her favorite socks. She didn’t have these on the ward—her parents did the packing—and wanted to make sure they were still around. The deep green didn’t quite match her purple hoodie, but she was satisfied with her outfit anyway. Low riders, moccasins, sweatshirt. It wasn’t like she’d be seeing anyone today, anyway.
The kitchen was so warm Janis cracked open a window.
‘Hey, did you meet the new neighbor?’
Janis looked puzzled. ‘New neighbor?’
Patrick flipped another cookie onto the board, then raised his eyebrows to Lindsay. ‘Pretty good, huh kid?’ She rolled her eyes back at him. ‘Yeah, the one with the Saab?’
Lindsay looked up from the cookie bowl. ‘That bug car? She’s nice.’
Janis’s frown deepened. ‘What, Saab, bug car?
‘Veronica,’ Patrick stated. ‘And she’s not nice, she’s fiiiiiiiine’ He waggled his brows at Lindsay, then flipped another cookie. This one hit the floor.
He scooped the broken cookie into his mouth. ‘No worries,’ he gargled through hot cookie. ‘Five second rule.’ He swallowed. ‘Mmm.’
You get the idea: Kit is home from the hospital for the weekend, her mom Janis is trying to something normal and homey, and her older brother Patrick and younger sister Lindsay are enjoying the Kit-free kitchen.
The manuscript as a whole is dialogue-heavy, with only minimal place-setting. Over the course of the novel you get bits of description: the neighbor Veronica’s house is a one-story ranch, while the family’s house is two-story; Veronica has a cement back stoop and a small detached garage she never uses, while the other house has a nice wood deck, a usable garage with a basketball hoop, and a large yard with a wood swing and various berry bushes. I don’t give the town they live a name, but, in my own mind, at least, it’s in the Midwest—maybe Illinois or Indiana—and large enough to support at least a small college and with a diversified economy.
You also don’t get too much by way of physical description of the characters. Veronica is bi-racial, with long dreadlocks, in her late thirties; Janis is blonde, works out, in her mid-forties; her estranged husband Rick has a mustache, and later grows a beard; Patrick (19) is tall, Kit (16) has dark hair, and Lindsay (10-11) has long hair. That’s it.
Anyway, none of this has anything to do with my reconsideration. I know the publishing business is in the pits and the whole agent-editor-book contract model is wobbling—against that, the self-pub route seems almost reasonable.
But there’s another option, as well, which is to go the small press route. I have to look into this further, to find out if manuscripts may be sent directly or if they still require agency representation, but I think this story would fit a small press well. That I have a second manuscript already in the can would, presumably, work in my favor.
So, much more research, a little more editing, and then: a decision.