Thursday, August 23, 2018

Today's the Big Day!

It is an honor to announce that my first novella, Cthulhu's Car Park is live on Amazon.  As of this post, it's available to Kindle Unlimited subscribers for free, so you can download it and check it out with no risk.  How awesome is that?

Thought I would take a second to talk about my book and why it's so important to me.

Where did this book come from?

Okay, so for about three years, I worked as a parking attendant in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Considering we were still dealing with the recession and that I didn't have a college degree, it was a pretty well-paying gig.

For those of you not familiar, Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, which is a pretty large college known for its sports teams, particularly football.  Wolverine Stadium is one of the largest non-NFL stadiums in the country.  So this meant I was dealing with a lot of college students.

The company I worked for was pretty okay for the most part.  Everyone outside of management was in the union, so there tended to be some animosity sometimes, but overall, it was like a big extended family.  This came with some problems as well though.  Like gossip and backstabbing.  Gossip was a huge part of the parking attendant day.  My husband also worked there, and it seemed like, when we got home, all we seemed to talk about was people at work.

There were also asinine  rules, management changes, horrible customers, just crazy things happening.  We probably got one or two suicides a year and a major customer-related incident once a week.

Before I started working there, I had no idea there was so much drama and craziness involved.  Working in a parking lot can be a lot more interesting than people assume, I think.  A lot of the incidents I include in this book are fictionalized versions of real events.

The idea of monsters emerging from the basement of the parking garage came from the fact that my regular garage really did have a mysterious covered hole in the basement, and it always creeped me out.  The basement was pretty much just as I described it in the book, and I've always had problems with dealing with dark, underground places, so the cistern being there just made my imagination go wild.  Sometimes, I would entertain myself by imagining what would happen if monsters really did live down there and decided to slither out.

When my husband and I had our son, I quit that job and became a stay at home mom, but the memories I had from working there, some of them good, some of them bad, stayed with me.

Why this book?

That, I really can't tell you.  Seriously.  Before I wrote Cthulhu's Car Park, I was trying to write a completely different book in a totally separate genre, one I've been thinking about for over a decade.
  And I did write it.  I was actually deep into editing my first draft when I decided to take what I thought was a break.

I wrote the first page and realized that I hadn't been having fun writing in a long time.  I told myself, "Okay, I work on this a little more, since I'm having such a good time with it."  And it just got away from me after that.  I'd talked to my husband about writing something like this, a short story maybe, to capture our work stories, and because it was an idea kicking around my head for years, but it just took off.

How did this book happen?

My husband, who illustrated the book for me, by the way, was getting frustrated that I seemed to be spending all this time writing with no results (you know, aside from the rough draft of a novel that might never see the light of day) so he suggested that I set a deadline and just finish the thing.

Amazon offers a program to its self-published authors, allowing 90 day preorders, so I decided I would go whole hog and set up my novel as an eBook, giving myself those 90 days to write, edit, format it and produce a cover.

It worked for me, but I really don't recommend you do this unless you work well under pressure.  One of the big risks is that if you set up a preorder with Amazon and fail to deliver, you lose your preorder privileges for something like a year I believe.  If you want to make a living writing, that can be some serious skin in the game to get your product out on time.

So, with that fire lit under my butt, I got down to work, probably better than I ever have before.  I think I started the eBook in early June and was close to halfway done by mid-July.  Then, my husband and I watched a documentary about H.P. Lovecraft, and I thought, Wouldn't it be cool if we released the book on his birthday?
Yeah.  I'm crazy.  Having cut my work time by something like two weeks, I scrambled to finish it by August 20th.  I designed the cover, I wrote the story, I proofread it, I edited it with feedback, my husband drew the monsters (and some awesome extras we hope to release soon) and we produced a book in something like a month and a half.

And if this wasn't crazy enough, I set up a preorder for the sequel, Last Cull, a couple of days before this first book came out, so that's due in November, if we don't finish it sooner than that.

I would describe this process as unusual, but I found I really needed a hard deadline to keep me motivated.

What did I learn?

Dude, I learned so much.

On the technical side, I learned how Amazon and their publishing arm work, I learned the limitations of eBooks and how to format them correctly, I finally learned not to be afraid of CSS and brushed off my HTML skills from decades ago.

I also learned how much work it is to produce a novel, even a short one, on your own.  And now, I'm in the process of learning how to market it, which is a whole new adventure.

On a more personal level, I figured out a bit more about how I tick, what motivates me and makes me work harder and more efficiently, and most importantly, that I can do what I've dreamed pretty much my whole life of doing.

What am I doing next?

My next project is Last Cull, which as I said, is due in November.  I also have a short story that's been knocking around for a year or so, I'm going to try to crank out either before or right after.

I'm hoping to go to some writing conventions as well, but there are no solid plans for that at this time.

If you want to keep track of me, I have a handy newsletter, sending updates straight to your email.

Finding a copy or more information

Cthulhu's Car Park is currently only available as a Kindle edition and exclusively through Amazon.  I hope to release a paperback in the next few months, and if things go well, I'll be releasing it to other platforms in the next year or so.

You can find out more about it at Amazon, or Goodreads.  You can also find it on BookBub.

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