Yep. That is the print cover of my first published book. It is a novella, and it is, of course, the first publication in what will be known as myTelepathic Space Pirates series. You may remember it from my many posts and tags. It is currently up for pre-order on Amazon, here:
But this post isn't about telling you where the pre-order is. This post is about the journey it took me to get here. I know a lot of the old LJ gang isn't around anymore (on LJ or Dreamwidth), but I think a few still are. And I would be very remiss if I didn't post here and talk about how very instrumental your role has been in getting me here. When I joined LJ back in 2003, I was very active in fandom. I was writing fic and visiting forums and participating in chats with a lovely group of ladies who were also huge fans of the TV show, Alias. I started writing Sarkney fic before it was a thing (seriously - there was only one other writer at the time writing genuine Sark/Syd that didn't involve ugly rape-fic, and I wish she was still around to be reading this. Wherever you are, Rach, your stories gave me the confidence to write again.) This was during a period of my life when I had lost confidence in myself as a writer. I'd gone to a writing con, and a big time NY editor ripped my work to shreds in front of a room full of people. At the time, I thought I was okay. What was one woman's opinion? But I stared at a blinking cursor on my screen, and didn't write another word on that WIP. Ever. I didn't write another word of original fic for a very long time. Only discovering fandom and finding a safe place there allowed me to pick myself back up, dust myself off, and write again. I wrote, I posted, and people gave me instant feedback! They asked for more, they were positive and encouraging, and many of them became my friends. Without the confidence they gave me, I would not be here, looking at my book up for pre-order, looking at that gorgeous cover with my pen name on it.
For a long time, Livejournal was the center of my writing world. Not just for fic writing, but for my own original work. I posted progress meters, snippets, and talked about what I was doing when I finally started writing my own stuff again. The agent who originally asked to see the full manuscript of my first draft of the first Telepathic Space Pirates book, did so because someone she knew had pointed her to my Livejournal, and told her "I think you would like this." Even though I journaled anonymously, when I queried her for something else entirely, she recognized me, and asked to see the full draft of Nemesis when it was finished.
That was my first lesson in "you never know who is reading you online". A good lesson, thankfully.
That book, the book that was Nemesis, will be going up for pre-order in March, and will launch in June. I already have a gorgeous cover that is so stunning, I cried when I saw it for the first time. It wouldn't be happening if not for Livejournal, if not for those fandom friends who supported me, encouraged me, cheered me on, acted as beta readers, told me I had what it takes, and were generally the best damn group of friends a girl could have. Maybe someday, some hopeful writer will be writing fanfic of my worlds, and won't that be a kick? Words will never express what this community has done for me. Even though most of us have moved on, I will never forget it, and I do not regret spending the money for a "lifetime" Livejournal account. At times as I wait out this pre-order period, I am happy, excited, so anxious I want to throw up, and filled with self-doubt. And I remind myself, "This is no different than putting your fanfic out there for the world to read." And I take a deep breath, and know it is all going to be okay. Thank you, members of the Harem. You know who you are. I still think about you all. Some of you, I keep up with on Facebook, and some of you, I have lost touch with completely. But you are never, ever forgotten.
This is a copy of the acknowledgements I wrote to include in this first book. It doesn't say everything I wanted to, because I was limited by word count, which is why I wrote this post. I love you ladies. I hope you are all having excellent lives, and achieving your dreams.
This has been, in many ways, a thirty-year journey. I know every author says things like “a lot of effort from a lot of people went into this book”, and they are right. Always. Even if I discount those early years of scribbling terrible fiction into spiral-bound notebooks as a middle school student, or the later years writing and posting fanfic online, or the many, many years of querying agents and submitting short work to anthologies, collecting rejection letters – even if all of that is in some way meaningless to this book, a whole lot of effort from a whole lot of people still went into it.
But I can’t just discount all of that early stuff. It got me here. I still remember the moment, when I finished an epic 5-part fanfic series I was posting online, when I put it all together in my head and realized “Hey, this is like a book. A real book. I can write and finish something this long.” So I did. I wrote a 110,000 word dark fantasy novel about vampires and gypsies, and I started querying with it. I abandoned a multitude of unfinished manuscripts, and I stopped writing short fiction for a long time. I knew I could write novels then, and that was what I wanted to do. While I was querying that dark fantasy novel, I started something new – telepathic space pirates.
But here is where I back up, and I tell you about my co-author. My co-author has been my friend for twenty years. We have spent much of that time playing tabletop roleplaying games. Like D&D, except we (largely) made up our own worlds, and we had an all-girls group we played with regularly, because unlike the standard group I still participate in with my husband, the girls’ group added an element often missing from the other – romance. We gamed out not just overarching story plots of adventure, but also how couples ended up together. For years. We did this in Star Wars games, in Vampire games, in worlds based on our favorite books and television shows, and finally, in worlds we created. My co-author was the best at creating these worlds. Gradually, she became the one always running the games. Sometimes, I would co-run with her, but she was usually the one doing the lion’s share of creating the world and characters. When I initially told her I wanted to write in one of her gaming worlds, she was excited and pleased. She told me she just wanted me to acknowledge her creation if I ever published. A few years later, I realized this was crap. Maybe I would never make any money at all writing these books, but what if I did? How would I feel, knowing I had used her worlds and many of her characters, and all she got was a “thank you” in the front or back of the book?
I mean, sure, writing is hard work. How stories play out in a roleplaying game do not always make for a neat book, or a book at all. I have a lot of work I have to do to take that inspiration, and write a book or a series with it. Not everything you read in this book (or the others to come) happened in our games. Or, if it did, it didn’t happen exactly that way. To say nothing of writing the original draft, rewriting, revising, editing, and on and on.
But she puts a lot of work into creating these worlds and characters, too. I went to her and said “I don’t want to give you an acknowledgement. I want you to be my co-author.” And that’s what we are. When I don’t know what I want to do with a storyline or a character, I call her up and we talk it through. We have meetings and lunches scheduled just for world building, storytelling, and planning for future books. This is on top of our regular gaming. We are both creative inputs to this series. I am just the hand wielding the pen – or keyboard. Hence we decided to publish under one name, a pseudonym. But we also decided to be totally upfront and transparent about who we were behind the name.
So that is my first acknowledgement – thank you for letting me play in your world. For sharing it with me, for running the best games, and for always rolling with a natural 20 or a 1 that leads us down unexpected roads. Thank you, above all, for trusting me with your characters and your creations. I will never abuse that trust.
We just hope that all of you, the readers, will love them as much as we do. We have many worlds, and many stories to tell. We are starting with this universe, the one you’ve just finished reading about. Telepathic space pirates. Who doesn’t want to read about that?? We have a lot of stories to tell, and we can’t wait to introduce you to Mercy and Reaper in Pirate Nemesis, the first full-length book set in this universe. Mercy’s initial story will take three books to tell. But she and other characters from that trilogy will appear in other books in the series, just like Dem and Sanah. We have a long plan – one that could potentially go on for quite awhile if people want to read more. But that’s all I’m going to say about that for now.
To get here, many, many people have helped it happen. One, our spouses. Thank you to our husbands, who have been very patient with the amount of time needed to get us here, and the amount of time we continue to devote to it. Our families as well, have been outstanding cheerleaders, never flagging in their faith in us. Our sisters, our mothers, have all been supportive, given feedback, provided cheering up when we’ve been down. Thank you for everything you have done.
I want to give a special shout-out to my parents right now. When I was that bright-eyed middle school student, fresh off my first book about dragons (Anne McCaffrey), knowing I wanted to be a writer, they never once told me I couldn’t do this. They never said “Oh, honey, you need a real plan.” They have supported me endlessly over the years, and I am only sad that my father did not live long enough to hold my first book in his hands. Mom, I will never forget how much you have supported me and shown me that I can be whatever I want. I love you, and thank you so much for believing in me.
A lot of other people have played roles in this specific series coming to fruition. The old Livejournal gang provided endless encouragement and beta feedback when I was writing the first version of Mercy’s story many years ago. You were the original Beta Readers, and I will never forget your support and friendship, every bit as real as any friends I had “in real life”.
Diana Fox, the NY agent who first requested a full manuscript from me, read the whole thing, and spent two hours on the phone telling me how to make it better. After that, there were emails, more phone conversations, and nothing but absolute honesty and support. You are amazing, and any writer would be fortunate to work with you.
My writing critique group, Scott Hungerford and Elisabeth Knottingham. You were both instrumental in helping me whip this novella into shape. I can’t imagine writing without your feedback. Thank you.
My current Beta Readers: Heather, Janice, Tamatha, and Chaz. My past Beta Readers: Rebecca, Paula, Lea, Veronica, Jade, Eliza, Brooke and Amy – and many others from the old Livejournal group. I may have not known all of your real names, but your input and support was invaluable.
Also, this would not be complete without thanking the editor who gave me the best rejection letter I have ever received – Sasha Knight, who told me she was rejecting this novella only because she wanted to see it expanded into a full length novel. Except I was already writing a trilogy of novels in this same universe at the time, so this has remained a novella (albeit longer than the original version.)
Also, thank you to my friend Jason. He has provided all of the Japanese translations for the things Doc says.
I’m sure there is someone I am forgetting, and for that I am incredibly sorry. This series has been taking shape for eight years. That’s a long time, and a lot of people helped make it happen. Thank you to every single one of them.