Greetings, readers and friends! Welcome to my webpage, where I'll be posting the latest news on my upcoming releases!
NEW RELEASE! The second book of THE SALVATION STATE, ABSOLUTION ISLAND is now available in eBook format and on Kindle via Amazon and Evernight Teen Publishing!
The chase is over. For
Rebecca, Daniel, and the rest of the Forgottens of Second Salvations, there is
only one choice: get with the program or die. But there’s a spy lurking
somewhere within the cabins of Angel Island, someone with contacts in the
outside world. Ruth Black is determined to find out who it is before the world
learns the truth about her—and about the special punishment ministry of her
husband, the Reverend Matthew.
Rebecca and Daniel are not destined to remain forgotten very long.
Welcome to New America: one nation, under God. An island prison, just for kids, built to convert the very worst of them. Kids like Rebecca and Daniel, with one impossible task:
16+ due to violence and language
Read the original SALVATION STATE for just $0.99 direct from the publisher:
Just click one of the buy links below:
Soundtrack! (And other nonsense...)
Thought I'd toss this tidbit out there for those of you who have read, will read, or are reading THE SALVATION STATE. This is something I originally intended to include at the back of the book--then, just as I did with a similar footnote for THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE'S CLASS, I decided that such a thing would be pretentious and unnecessary until the whole trilogy is out there. That won't keep me from sharing it with YOU, though.
To the Reader...:
Thanks for joining me on this little dystopian head-trip of mine. If you’ve enjoyed it, fear not. This is just the first of three planned books. The story of Rebecca and Daniel will continue, and hopefully you’ll be holding Book 2 before long.
Let the record show that I do not intend this book as an indictment against Christianity. I’m a Christian myself—and so is Rebecca, in every sense of the word. The reason I chose Christianity as the vehicle for fanaticism in this book is, simply, I was familiar with it. I was brought up in it. I was far less likely to err in my Christian citations (and manipulations) than I would have been with any other faith. Anyway, the evil is not in God. Where evil is to be found in the world of Rebecca Riggs, the reader will always find mankind at its core.
Now, on to my own personal delusions of grandeur. I picture everything I write as a movie. I’d sell this baby in a heartbeat. And so, like everything else I put out there, I’ve got my own little fantasy soundtrack to accompany the book—which I really did play, on repeat, while working on it.
For Part 1: REBECCA AND DANIEL
“Long Way Down”—Robert DeLong
“More Love, More Power”—the version by Jeff Deyo
“Hold Back the River”—James Bay
“Waiting for the Worms”—Pink Floyd
For Part 2: REBECCA ON THE RUN
“When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder”—the version by The Statler Brothers
“Run Like Hell”—Pink Floyd
“Before I Leave This World”—Ivan Torrent
For Part 3: REBECCA AND DANIEL, CONTINUED
“Open the Eyes of my Heart”—Paul Baloche
1/10/16: My new short story, "The House Sitters"--featured this week as the final story on Season 6, Episode 15 of the NoSleep Podcast!
Or you can read it here: https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/3ygcfn/the_house_sitters/
NEW RELEASE—now available for the first time in audiobook format: DEVILS IN THE DARK, Book 1 of The Devil in Miss Drake’s Class …
“The paramedics shared a look: This one was serious."
To most of the Facebook 15, bullying Audrey Bales was just a game - until two deep cuts with a Swiss army knife changed everything forever. Audrey didn't want attention anymore. After five weeks at Fairview High School, Audrey wanted to die.
The doctors did the only thing they could with her: they put her away.
But in Fairview, Virginia, the nightmare is only beginning. The chat session had not gone unobserved. The Facebook 15 have drawn the attention of an ancient evil that lives only to punish those who would prey upon the weak.
They are the ghosts of 1,000 dead children - 1,000 suicides - and their master....
Their master likes Audrey Bales.
And as Audrey attempts to heal her mind and body, far from home, their master prepares for the justice he will unleash upon her return.
Marcus Damanda is the author of THE FOREVER SHOW, TEETH: THE FOREVER SHOW BOOK 2, along with the other installments in this trilogy: A DEVIL IN DAYLIGHT, and THE DEVIL AT PLAY.
Narrated by Jessica McEvoy, whose other narrations include UNREAL CITY and the Parsec Award-winning NOSLEEP PODCAST
Praise for DEVILS IN THE DARK:
“Packed with emotion from start to finish …”—Rachel’s Willful Thoughts
“A gripping tale of how cyber bullying today has a real impact on our society and youth with a splash of the paranormal that will leave you turning the pages at a rapid pace…”—A Closet Full of Books
“Deliciously evil and horrific...”—Medeia Sharif, author of 52 LIKES.
“Heartrending and definitely dark …”—Meradeth Houston Snow, author of AN ABSENCE OF LIGHT.
“The subject matter is very current which makes the plot all the more riveting and heart breaking at the same time.”—Laura Reed, Smut Fanatics Blog
Editor’s pick at Evernight Teen Publishing
Available via Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Click one of the links below to see the complete cover and to listen to the sample:
There. Got your attention?
Ladies and gentlemen, it's ON! Tune in to episode 14 of Season 5 of the Nosleep Podcast, tale #2, to enjoy the full audio production of my short story SUPER MAX DREAMS, complete with its own soundtrack. Mike DelGaudio lends his deep, resonant vocal talents to narrate and play the lead. The brilliant and talented Jessica McEvoy plays the darkly mysterious "Alice," while the show's producer David Cummings and veteran voice actor Jesse Cornett chip in their considerable thespian chops for the supporting roles of Gavin and Brent. Now, here's the really good news: as my story appears in the first half of the podcast, you can hear the whole thing for FREE. Don't get me wrong, though--if you enjoy frightening stories, you could not possibly find a better deal than a season pass of this Parsec Award winning podcast. Either way, just follow the link to have your mind utterly blown:
May 8, 2015: I am so glad that Rachel's Willful Thoughts and The Romance Reviews took an interest in The Devil in Miss Drake's Class. She's reviewed all three, now, and the final one for The Devil at Play just posted on Amazon. Thanks again, Rachel--you're the best!
Marcus Damanda delivers the stunning conclusion to The Devil in Miss Drake's Class series with his third book, THE DEVIL AT PLAY.
This spine-tingling thriller may be published under the Evernight Teen label, but it is far from what I would typically expect in teen fiction.
From the very beginning with Audrey's suicide attempt to her subsequent recovery, readers get a clear taste of the writer's skill in building suspense.
The paranormal element of "the observer" is especially developed in this installment as justice continues to be served regarding the Facebook Fifteen, the teens who played a role in Audrey's public humiliation.
I found this installment to be the best of the three because all of the loose ends were wrapped up in a satisfying way. It might not exactly be the most believable storyline because of the paranormal element, but there were aspects that were all too real. This was a great series that left me with chills.
Brand new review posted on Amazon today, this one from Rachel's Willful Thoughts. Thank you, Rachel, you made my morning! :)
Although it is part of the Evernight Teen imprint, Marcus Damanda's The Devil in Miss Drake's Class series has all the components for an unsettlingly suspenseful adult read.
In the first of three books, DEVILS IN THE DARK sets the stage for a tale that combines the horrific side of teens using social media with a paranormal twist.
Every reader can identify with the feeling of being bullied as a child, or at least can recall an example. Today's version, though, involves social media, which is much more effective than items written on a bathroom wall.
At the center of the story is Audrey Bales, who has been pushed to the limits of her endurance by a group of other teens. The depth of her emotions catches the attention of an entity referred to as "the observer." As Audrey tries to pick up the pieces of her sanity within the confines of a psychiatric ward, the observer keeps an eye on the Facebook Fifteen -- the ones who had participated in the online bullying sessions.
While obviously a work of fiction, the author did an excellent job adding realistic details to the storyline. It's packed with emotion from start to finish.
The author leaves the reader ready to see what happens next. Because I initially read the second book first, I appreciated the back story. To get the most out of the series, I would recommend reading it in sequence. It's a quick read, perfect for a weekend. As a word of caution, though, this is not for the faint of heart.
A review from fellow Evernight Teen author SD Wasley, author of the amazing paranormal young adult novel The Seventh. This one is for Teeth: The Forever Show Book 2:
Amazing read - yet another winner from Damanda. It totally surprised me with the ending. Unpredictable and exciting, I was surprisingly satisfied at the end. As with other Damanda novels, there is a cast of many but they are all memorable and wonderful characters, developed and intriguing. I very much felt for th...e teens that were at the centre of the story and was anxious to the last moment!
Whoa! New 5-star review for A Devil in Daylight! Thank you, Rachel!
Reviewed by Rachel's Willful Thoughts
Although it is published by the Evernight Teen division, Marcus Damanda's series has all the right ingredients for a skin-chilling thriller for adult readers.
A DEVIL IN DAYLIGHT is the second book in The Devil in Miss Drake's Class Series. While I didn't read the first book, I would recommend that readers start at the beginning to get the full impact.
The storyline picks up with Audrey on the brink of a fresh start. However, the tormentors of her past are not quite ready to admit defeat. With that determination channeled into social media, it's not long before the drama kicks into high gear. Add a parallel storyline featuring a demonic character and the book quickly starts hitting high marks on the supernatural scale.
Some elements of the story, particularly the hateful teenagers and their use of social media, are so realistic that it is eerie. I found myself quickly getting caught up in the storyline.
While I could have done without the cliffhanger, it certainly was successful in making sure that I added the next installment of this series to my list. It might feature a storyline geared for teens, but it had plenty of appeal for this adult reader.
A new review from British Bookworm Blog on THE DEVIL AT PLAY (the third and final installment of The Devil in Miss Drake's Class). This particular blog has covered all three releases. I'm so grateful to them. And it's a VERY nice review, too! (They finally gave one of 'em an "A" instead of a B+)
What an ending to this story. Short, sharp and deliciously dark.
I really worried for Audrey, as Jack’s plan wasn’t obvious. But whereas the previous tales were about the planning, this one is all about the execution. Literally.
This final volume of the story grabs the reader by the scruff of the neck and hauls you along for the ride. And at the end, leaves you with a light of hope for more for Audrey. A feeling that this time, she may just be ok.
I found this to be a satisfying ending to the trilogy. No bottling out. No white washing. Just the ending that the story deserved.
3/16/15: Very grateful to Meradeth Houston for her very kind review of DEVILS IN THE DARK!
I've been looking forward to this one my TBR list for a while (too long--my TBR is getting away from me!). It absolutely did not disappoint. I was sucked in and read it in a single day. The story is heart-rending and definitely dark, but there's splashes of humor here and there that help light the way. Possibly the best part was the great characterization. Each of the characters were very well fleshed out and leapt off the page. Even in the darkest situations, I could understand motivations and found myself cheering Audrey on, while seriously loathing a few of the Facebook Fifteen. Damanda doesn't shy away from the extremely tough subjects in this novel--suicide, bullying, punishments--but it works well and is very authentic. I highly recommend this, and the next two books in the series are high on my list!
THE FOREVER SHOW just got its 20th review on Amazon.com (5 stars!), this one from fellow author and friend from the Land Down Under, S.D. Wasley. Thank you, Sasha!
Sinister but satisfying, February 28, 2015
This review is from: The Forever Show (Kindle Edition)
This is a layered and complex horror tale that makes you feel dismay, triumph, anxiety and relief, plus a bunch more feels. I am amazed at how Damanda managed to hold all the strings of this story together like a rather scary puppeteer! I was left shocked but strangely pleased with the outcome. I got attached to the characters, cared about them, and cheered for them when they found inner reserves of strength or compassion. The vampires are so believable. I was even able to get invested in what they cared about. A very skillful author and a deeply disturbing but satisfying read.
Very excited to be Benton Middle School's featured author in March! What a gratifying thing to happen ... so, so honored--I can't wait!
This will be a fun challenge. I was faced with an interesting quandary, though. I never meant for THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE'S CLASS to gather much attention from middle schoolers--it's a high-school-and-up book, deservedly rated 16+ by my publisher. So, for the purposes of this event, I'm turning my attention back to THE FOREVER SHOW and TEETH-...-both of them pretty bloody and scary, but it's all fantasy (and no teenage suicide angle). Anyway ...
I was hoping I could ask any visitors to this site to check out the CHARACTERS tab for THE FOREVER SHOW. These are the profiles I have in mind to show the kids. I've actually incorporated pictures this time, and made them less text heavy. They're kind of like trading cards, actually.
Just hoping for a little feedback--positive or "constructive," as to what I can do to make these more appealing to 11-14 year-olds. Anyway, it's Super Bowl Sunday, so this post may not see much action, but you never know if you don't at least ask ... Thanks in advance!
Available for the first time in its entirety, in paperback and E-book, Evernight Teen Publishing presents a horror trilogy in three parts: THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE’S CLASS!
In the all-too normal suburb of Fairview, Virginia, fourteen-year-old Audrey Bales is near to making a bad decision—a desperate solution to her loneliness, an end to the bullying. But two long cuts with her dead brother's knife won't put an end to the cruelty. She will, however, awaken the avenging ghosts of 1,000 dead children.
And she will attract the attention of “Mad” Jack Maddox, their master, who has a special punishment party planned for the kids who drove her over the edge …
All three installments were awarded the Editor’s Pick distinction by Evernight Teen!
Book 1: Devils in the Dark
Book 2: A Devil in Daylight
And JUST RELEASED, January 9th, Book 3: The Devil at Play
E-books available at very low prices via the following links at Evernightteen.com, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble!
Or, follow these links to get your 468-page paperback version—which includes all three books, plus a very creepy bonus origin story—via Amazon or Createspace!
JANUARY 19 - 23: THE DEVIL AT PLAY ON TOUR!
CLICK THE LINKS BELOW TO CHECK OUT THE BLOG STOPS!
THE DEVIL AT PLAY (Book 3 of THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE’S CLASS by Marcus Damanda) is on tour! Check out these blog spots and leave a comment to become eligible to win a $10 Evernight Teen gift card!
At “Harlie’s Books”, check out my article “Bringing It All to an End” where I discuss the benefits of making the final book in my trilogy “un-sequel-able”:
At “Gothic Moms”, read the final character interview with Jack Maddox—conducted over the Internet in the moments before the climax of the book:
And there’s a very nice Spotlight on the book at “A Little Bit of R&R.”:
January 20, 2015: Here on Day Two of the tour, check out the nice little spotlight shone on my book at the Deal Sharing Aunt Blog!
There should be another one posting tonight at Reviews by Crystal—this one featuring an article penned by yours truly—and you can reach it by following the hot link on the Bridging the Gap Schedule at:
That same link will take you to yesterday’s posts as well!
January 21, 2015: Here on Day Three of the tour, check out the author interview at Lusty Penguin Reviews!
And I’ve made another stop here, at Undercover Book Reviews:
January 22, 2015: The blog tour for THE DEVIL AT PLAY continues with an exclusive character interview featuring the one and only Audrey Bales! Visit A British Bookworms Blog and check it out!
January 23, 2015: Here on the final day of the tour, Laura from the absolutely wonderful blog, Smut Fanatics, provides another honest and very detailed review of this last book in the series:
Then, check out “It’s All about the Book” at A Passion for Romance:
There’s also another quick spotlight at My Book Addiction and More:
All previous stops may be accessed by going to this final link—and there you will find articles, author interviews, character interviews, all kinds of fun stuff relating to THE DEVIL AT PLAY and the whole trilogy:
BUY LINKS FOR DEVILS IN THE DARK, Book 1 of The Devil in Miss Drake's Class:
BUY LINKS FOR A DEVIL IN DAYLIGHT, Book 2 of The Devil in Miss Drake's Class:
BUY LINKS FOR THE DEVIL AT PLAY, Book 3 of The Devil in Miss Drake's Class:
“Everyone loves the devil until they know him. Until they see him for what he really is.”
Nobody ever did, even as the bodies started to pile up.
But now, too late for it to matter, Audrey understands at last. The devil of Fairview has been courting her for days, and watching her for much longer than that. The murderer is her boyfriend, and he’s been killing on her behalf.
His name is Jack Maddox, but everyone calls him Mad Jack. He’s planning a party, where everyone is invited, especially Audrey’s tormentors. Especially the Facebook 15.
Audrey will have her revenge, whether she wants it or not.
Because, in Miss Drake’s class, the devil will have his due.
A DEVIL IN DAYLIGHT, Book 2 of The Devil in Miss Drake's Class, is available now via Evernight Teen and Amazon!
The second book in the trilogy features a much stronger Audrey Bales, ready to start anew and find her place in the world. She's cut ties with her past, enrolled in a new school, eager for a fresh start. But there are two major obstacles that stand in her way.
First, the Facebook Fifteen are not done with her just yet....
Second, Audrey has an admirer--a friend who wants to exact revenge on her behalf.
A bloody, final revenge, against all of her tormentors ...
December 24, 2014:
18 pages, 6,300 words, and a new short story is DONE. At least, a draft is. It's a bit of a mess. Lots of editing to do.
I'll be sending this off to the Nosleep Podcast for consideration, before anywhere else. It's a companion piece to THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE'S CLASS, and takes place in 1912--the origin story of Alastair Hutchinson (a.k.a. "Jack Maddox"). The hopeful idea is to have it air coinciding with the release of ... but, no. It's too soon to let that cat of the proverbial bag.
THIS much, I can tell you. I just got the cover art for Book 3, THE DEVIL AT PLAY, and it's amazing! I can't wait to show you--but as the book won't hit until January 9, it'll probably be January 2 before I unveil it. God, it kills me. I want to show it now, right now ...
Here's my latest interview with Reviews By Crystal! Enter via the rafflecopter at the bottom of the page for your chance to win a $10 EVERNIGHT GIFT CARD! Please come on by. I'd love to take your questions or comments!
Click on the link below to my latest blogstop, this one at Naughty Book Eden (try not to blush) and check out the latest character interview. This time, ask questions of the mysterious "boy on the dirtbike" you see on the cover of A DEVIL IN DAYLIGHT, the charming (and deadly) Jack Maddox (a.k.a. "Mad Jack").
December 8, 2014:
Just finished the final edit on Book 3 of THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE'S CLASS. And ... that's it, I guess, as far the permanence of words that go into a story. Over and done.
Don't get me wrong. This frees me up to write more character profiles as the stuff comes out, ply my trade with gratuitous plugs ad nauseum. One more cover reveal to go, too--and don't forget, the next blog tour, this one for Book 2, for A DEVIL IN DAYLIGHT, begins on December 10. So, yeah, it's not like I ...have nothing to do. But still ...
The story's over, for me. Put a fork in it and hope it cooks. I celebrated pretty loud and hard when I finished the first draft of THE FOREVER SHOW. Not so much when I reached the end of the first draft of this book, back when it was only one book. But now, after the extraordinary acceptance from the Evernight Teen family, clicking the "save" button on the final edit really does resonate.
My first trip with a real family of published authors, storytellers, and tale-peddlers has finally rumbled to its final place. The car's still idling, as I wait to see how it will be received in the end. The interior light is on, as characters I love and hate all exit the vehicle. I want to hug them all, every one.
They say nothing. They wave. I don't turn the car off, though, as I bid these ghosts farewell. I check the GPS, find another story. Plot a course.
And in the safety of my living room, crack a beer, contemplating what's next.
November 28, 2014:I’ve dedicated every book I’ve written in the past decade to teachers.
Although TEETH: A HORROR FANTASY didn’t achieve publication until 2007, it was finished in 2004—and I knew then that my first dedication had to go to Barbara Posey, who taught me more about writing than anyone ever had or ever would. Of course, in the revamping of that book for young adults, I changed neither its dedication nor the acknowledgments to those who also helped me along the way.
When I dedicated... its post-written prequel, THE FOREVER SHOW, to my father, I did so not only because I missed him terribly (which I did, and I do), but also because he was the greatest advocate of my writing within my own family. And he wasn’t a big reader of anything, if it did not pertain to his business. He was actually the one who put in me in touch with Barbara Posey, back when I was only fourteen years old. All of my life as a child, I wanted to make him proud of me, and all he wanted to teach me was to find my own way, even if it bore little resemblance to his own.
Speaking of karate, Master James K. Roberts got the dedication for DEVILS IN THE DARK. When I transferred from private school to public school in 1983, I had no idea how to function in normal society. I was an absolute misfit from eighth grade to ninth grade, and the bullying didn’t end until Dad put me under the tutelage of Master Roberts. My neighborhood friend Tripp McDavid and I studied under him, and in time, it was the lessons in confidence, more than self defense, that allow me to this day to say that high school (from tenth grade on) were the best years of my life.
A DEVIL IN DAYLIGHT is all about a character who deserves a second chance after things did not begin so well in high school. She won’t have it as easy as I did, though. The world—as Maggie Lassiter wants to remind her boyfriend, Cody—is a cruel place.
Of all of my colleagues in the teaching profession, no one has taught me more than Susan Templeton Norman. She was there at my first job interview, already a respected veteran, and when I was hired she invited me onto her teaching team. We were partners for eight years. In the epilogue for TEETH, readers will find references to Susan, Kimberly Harbaugh, Elliot Bolles, and Beverly Stuard—a teaching dream team. Everything I do right these days can be attributed to them, and most especially to her. When I blow it (often enough), I reflect on what my old team, under Susan, may have done.
Her son-in-law makes an appearance in TEETH, too. As an author, I killed him. But he asked for it. He really did. I only did as I was told.
I’ll talk about the final dedication when the third book hits. But for today, the release date of A DEVIL IN DAYLIGHT, this one is for you, Susan Templeton Norman, in memory of all the drama we survived.
Check out A British Bookworm's blog and leave a comment at this excellent site for--well, you know the drill by now:) Hoping you'll stop in. You'll need to scroll down a bit once you go there, but I hope to see you there!
Hello, everyone. Alastair Hutchinson here, standing in for Marcus. He just got home, actually, and with a little persuading, led me to his Facebook page. Some of you may consider me to be his creation. That is wholly inaccurate, I assure you. One does not credit a reporter with creating the news, does one? Anyway, I’m the “bad guy,” if such a thing exists, in DEVILS IN THE DARK. You’ve caught me between books, something of a transitional time, while I wait for—but, no, you’d need to read the book to understand that. Meantime, I’ve taken an interview at a most amusing blog site. I do hope you’ll visit and not find the encounter too—oh, what’s the word?—haunting. Follow the link below to learn a little about me and for a chance at a free e-copy of the book. Happy reading, and sweet dreams.
I’d join you in those dreams. But I can’t. I never, never sleep.
Such good times! So, there I am, trolling about in the blog-o-verse, having just been interviewed at A Passion for Romance:
When, who should I bump into but Alastair Hutchinson, the wily old master of ghosts himself? He wouldn't sit still for me to do a character profile, but he DID indicate he got a much more tempting offer at an interview, which will be posted tomorrow. Good lord, I hope that interviewer knows wha...t he/she is doing--that guy is unpredictable ...
Anyway, please visit the above link and post a comment for your own personal chance at fame, riches, and the meaning to life itself! Or, at least, well, a copy of the e-book for DEVILS IN THE DARK!
I did an author interview at Harlie's Books as part of my blog tour, too! Please check it out and leave a comment. Again, free giveaway of an e-book copy of the book to a randomly drawn commenter! So much fun!
Four days until the release of Devils in the Dark! For fun--and for anyone who's interested--I thought I'd offer up some behind-the-curtain reflections in the coming days as I count down to launch time. Gratuitous and self-aggrandizing, I know, but I want to write these things down before I forget them, anyway. May as well do it here
So, it was actually in the summer of 2013, long before I started writing the original book, that I first had the idea for it. I knew when the s...ummer began I wanted to write again. I hadn't done a book-length writing since TEETH: A HORROR FANTASY back in 2007, and I was well over the commercial flop, ready to try again. I had the title, THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE'S CLASS, before anything else, and that is really against form for me. Titles generally occur to me during the writing, but I had this one before I had any idea what the book would be. I had a vague sense I wanted to do something with a "bad influence" kind of villain, something like "The Good Son," only in a high school setting. I didn't know if I wanted the protagonist to be male or female. I didn't know if there would be a supernatural horror element. And I had to either work all that out or bang out another vampire book--for practice, I told myself. Something to get "warmed up" with.
Because it was easier, I went with the vampire book--originally titled THE STAINED GLASS GATE. I had two main purposes going in: write for young adults and teens, and prequel-ize TEETH. My contract with Outskirts Press was over, the rights had reverted back to me, and I thought, if I sell this new one, I can rework TEETH for young adults and hit with two books very quickly.
That summer, my mom broke her hip, and I found myself at the rehab center visiting and coaching her every day. Nevertheless, I found myself banging out an average of four pages per day. Once I hit my stride, there were mornings when I would break ten pages before noon. The story just kind of lit up as it was written, and as I had anticipated, it was easy. Vampires--the kind that kill, more than kiss--are my comfort zone. Keeping that vibe while containing the content to a young adult audience was invigorating, too. Along the way, I renamed it THE FOREVER SHOW. It was done before school started back up.
It was revised, edited, and mailed before the kids reported. During all that time, I started percolating concrete ideas for THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE'S CLASS, but circumstances, good and bad, would soon conspire to make me wait on that some more.
The first things were bad.
More to come later.
Countdown, three days until the release of DEVILS IN THE DARK!
Picking up the thread of the story from where I left off yesterday ...
THE FOREVER SHOW was the first book I'd written with a female lead. I was excited by that challenge and very, very happy with the book. I was confident it would get picked up, in spite of how saturated the market was with vampire books. Sure, I said to myself, everyone and their cousin has written a vampire book--but mine are COOLER ......
I made a deal with myself as I shipped off THE FOREVER SHOW to a host of agents: if it got picked up and published in any kind of a big way, as I expected it would, then the protagonist of THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE'S CLASS (whenever I got around to it) would be male. If it didn't, the protagonist would be female. The reason for this was simply that I didn't want to fall into the trap of writing a second version of Lexi Cartwright (from THE FOREVER SHOW) so soon after her debut on the literary stage. I even had it in my notes that the lead for DEVIL would be named Gabriel, and the "bad influence" character would be something like a surrogate older brother to him.
The rejections came thick and fast, at first. That's something you never get used to. Being rejected on the query, without even getting the book read by anyone, is just absolutely soul-killing. Most of the rejections were clearly form-responses, too. Only two agents ever agreed to read the actual book--but one of them was a very, very big agent.
While I waited, I decided to get the young adult version of TEETH (now with THE FOREVR SHOW, BOOK 2 as the subtitle instead of A HORROR FANTASY) ready. That required a LOT of work. For one thing, I didn't have an electronic copy of the original anywhere, so it had to be retyped from the beginning. There was also a lot of swearing in it, a rather ... um, descriptive sex scene, and rivers upon rivers of blood.
It took nearly as long to complete that rewrite as it had taken for THE FOREVER SHOW to grow from a story embryo into a fully formed book baby. I was temporarily derailed from the project by the final rejections of its prequel, and even more by the encouragement given in one of the rejections: the "big" agent had told me he wouldn't rule out selling me, as an author, but he wouldn't sell my vampires.
I finished TEETH anyway, Chistmas break, 2013, feeling more than a little crushed even as I typed and typed the pain away.
And I made two more decisions about THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE'S CLASS, one of which I kept, and the other which got changed in the process of writing it. First, the lead character would be a teenage girl named Hannah Bales.
Second, she wanted to kill herself.
Countdown TWO DAYS until the release of DEVILS IN THE DARK.
Time to tell about some of the nicer things that happened along the way before I signed a contract with Evernight Teen. I know, yesterday's post was something of a downer ...
Even as I started writing the first chapters of THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE'S CLASS (which would later stand alone as its first book, DEVILS IN THE DARK), I published both THE FOREVER SHOW and TEETH via Amazon. My real-life and Facebook friends Meli...nda Landry and Dean Robinson urged me on, told me to just get them out there in some capacity. I did, and something rather unexpected happened: both books became minor "hits" with my students at school. This was something I'd always wanted and could not quite have dared to hope for, but within a few months, I had a small but ferociously loyal fan base among my sixth graders.
There was an awkward side to it, too. I started getting book reports--both written and oral--on my own material. But what was I going to do? Say no? Instead, whenever possible, I had other teachers grade these things. But I have a confession to make. I read them all. Some of them several times. I just could not help it.
All the while, I knew I would never be able to recommend the new book to them. DEVILS IN THE DARK deals head-on with issues like suicide, depression, and psychosis--along with having the requisite ghost-zombie action to keep the horror fans happy. Just not the kind of thing you plop in front of an eleven-year-old and say, "Here, try THIS."
Without giving anything away that would steal from the punch of the book--or any part of the trilogy--I made a decision from the outset, however, that neither Audrey Bales (renamed out of necessity), nor her friend from the hospital, Gale Hastings, would actually kill themselves. I didn't want to present suicide as a worthy solution to their respective conflicts, nor did I want to make it seem like a "cool" thing to do, not even in a goth way.
When I finished the book, it was longer than THE FOREVER SHOW. Also, my friends who read it during its composition promised me it was the best thing I'd ever done. Friends will do that, I know, but I really do think they were sincere. I felt good about it--quite enough to enjoy the champagne I'd bought to celebrate it. But I was also now jaded enough to know that there was every chance it would be rejected, too--if any agent ever agreed to read it at all.
I put it in the mail, and, as expected, the rejections started pouring in again. The agent who promised me "Yes, keep submitting. I may sell you but I won't sell your vampires," never even responded.
But before any good news came on THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE'S CLASS, a totally unexpected blast of good news actually came for THE FOREVER SHOW.
This tale wraps up tomorrow.
Countdown, ONE DAY until the release of DEVILS IN THE DARK! That's right, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, my book birthday is tomorrow! Woohoo!
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah. Finishing up on ruminations and reflections prior to launch.
Right around springtime of this year, just as the school year was beginning to wind down, I was in a state of psychological and emotional exhaustion. I wasn't exactly depressed--I was actually rather proud of myself, having written two books and re-written another, all in ten months--but my frustration with trying to get published outside of Amazon had gone well past its peak and left me rather numb. Some of you might even recall my "That's it, I surrender," post. And that's when the first of two very weird, very good things happened.
The first was, I got an email from the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), announcing I had another audition for THE FOREVER SHOW. The thing that made this one so fortuitous, though, was that I actually got a GOOD one. The voice actress Jessica McEvoy from the award winning NoSleep podcast, was interested in reading it, and when I listened to her sample, I was simply floored by it. I'd been looking for this for months, never thinking I would get it until the book found some fame or notoriety on its own--and Jessica ... well, she was the voice in my head, the audible embodiment of Lexi Cartwright.
It was a lot of work. Most of the chapters were reworked extensively, a few as many as four times. But I have to tell you, there really has never been anything in my life as a struggling writer as satisfying as hearing someone else--someone talented in her own right--bringing my own words to life. And this counted, to me, as real publication, and also forged a professional collaboration that remains satisfying beyond words. I did a short story for her podcast, too, and I hope and expect we'll do more work in the future.
The second thing was, while chatting about the audiobook to my The Lord of the Rings Online friends, Tricia Kristufek revealed herself as an editor to me, and asked if she could see some of my stuff. By then, I'd pretty much written off THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE'S CLASS as another failed venture--but I thought, "What the hell?" and sent it to her.
This is NOT, you understand, the way most people get their break.
All of the others had said no or declined even to look at it. I was able to submit to Evernight Teen and honestly say that it was an exclusive submission. So far as I knew, no one was considering it anymore--all of the reporting times with the other subs had come and gone. I didn't think Evernight would take it, either. I actually sent it off thinking that I was, more or less, humoring my online friend, who didn't know how cursed I was.
I nearly blew it, too, by letting the thing out on Amazon alongside my other books, although only for a short time and with very, very few purchases. I was very fortunate, in the end, that Stacey Adderley, editor-in-chief, decided to be understanding and forgiving about that. She forwarded the manuscript to Christine Klocek-Lim--and she (God bless her for all eternity) saw in THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE'S CLASS all the qualities I had tried so very hard to pour into it.
But it was too long. The response email from Stacey Adderley asked if we could cut it in three and make it a trilogy.
Could we? Why, yes. Yes, we could.
There never was a moment of me jumping around, whooping and screaming all over the apartment. The news settled in like the onset of shock after a carwreck--in the best possible way. And then the work began.
The tricky thing about it was that the three parts of THE DEVIL IN MISS DRAKE'S CLASS were not of equal length. Part 2, in its original form, was actually most of the book. DEVILS IN THE DARK, its first segment, had to be significantly expanded--and even so, it'll still be the "little book" of the trilogy. The following two books are quite a bit longer. It's just one of those things, though--its story had to end where it did. It's the story of a girl recovering in a hospital after making a very bad decision; the story of an ancient evil laying plans while she is away, all while a cadre of malicious teenagers plot her continued ruination upon her return. I am very, very proud of it.
I cannot wait for this story to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting world TOMORROW.
I hope you'll join me on this journey. I've worked hard to make it a fulfilling one!