It is with much relief that I announce that my previous publisher agreed to return all rights on my debut novel - Headlocks and Hexes.
From the beginning of this experience there was always a nagging voice in the back of my head telling me I was settling, that I could do better. My best friend warned me from the day I got the offer that this wasn't going to be a good fit for me.
I'm not even sure why they extended the offer to publish my work since it's nothing like their standard formulamatic romances. No, I don't read the romance genre and from the onset I have been absolutely terrified of having my writing branded in that particular niche. I don't believe in happily ever after and I certainly don't believe in all that hearts and flowers perfect world nonsense. Most of the time my characters fuck instead of make love.
Don't get me wrong, I do believe in the L--- word and happen to be very much in love with the guy in my life. I guess I'm more a believer in happy for the here and now. I'm a big believer in hot steamy sex. That's why I am able to embrace the erotic genre.
In my starry eyed desire to get my work out there, going against my better judgement, I signed the contract and planned to promo my work to the best of my ability. The edits weren't that bad as I am a good writer. I am extremely proud of my edgy in your face voice. You either love it or hate. There doesn't seem to be any middle ground with getting my work.
The whole time they kept harping on sticking my book with an "Adultery" disclaimer. My "hero" and his brother are both very unhappily married at the beginning of the story. I had no problem with this whole adultery tag. I guess they never read a little classic called The Scarlett Letter. Stick a big fat red A on my book and I'll market it as a selling point.
In the real world 50% of all marriages end in divorce. In the wrestling world I'm going to make an educated guess that it's way higher, probably 80% to 90%. Having been around the inner workings of the pro wrestling industry for close to 25 years I can guarantee you that at least 90% of the wrestlers have cheated on their spouses or had extramarital affairs. It's just the nature of the beast of being on the road so much with temptation right there in your face night after night after night. Going back to my wild ring ratting days of the early '80s I would say that number would have been closer to 99% and the 1% that I'm thinking of was forced to be faithful because his wife went everywhere with him.
But I digress... on Friday evening I came home from work and opened the email with the proposed cover for Headlocks and Hexes. It was so hideous that I literally threw up on my wireless keyboard. I cried. I threw a screaming fit. I took my dog for a nice long walk. I came home and took a second look. I barfed again.
Thank Goddess I do the majority of my writing on the netbook that was tucked away in it's secure carrying case. Unfortunately, there was no writing to be done this weekend. My characters were so terrified by the creepy looking stalker dude on the cover that they refused to speak to me. If Dylan, the most gorgeous character in the whole series, was made to look like a deranged stalker, what did the rest of the cast have in store for them?
I was VERY specific in the publishers 3 page cover questionnaire that I DID NOT want my characters faces depicted on the cover. This publisher is notorious for one cover artist who sticks stock photos of random not exactly attractive models on their covers with no rhyme or reason. Some of their covers aren't too bad, but of course I got stuck with the worst of the worst.
Please name for me one New York Times best selling novel where the characters have been depicted on the cover with stock photos of models?
If the supposed hero had at least had short blond hair and been half as pretty as Dylan, then I might not have thrown up. The supposed heroine looked to be closer to 40 than 20 and it was a dark haired model with altered by the cover artist red hair. Not even a real red head. Rowan being a red head is a HUGE part of the plot.
I was specific to the extreme in my vision for the cover - a torso shot of a girl with long flowing red hair clutching a candle to her small bare but strategically covered breasts. I asked that she be wearing a ruby encrusted pentacle necklace on a silver chain. That is a key element in the plot and something I plan to use as a marketing element.
Yikes, I've digressed again... Anyway, I sent the publisher a polite email expressing my concerns. I explained in a civil manner that I was too embarrassed by that cover to even think about anyone seeing it, much less using it to promote my book. After not getting any response and on the advise of an attorney who read my contact I asked for my rights back.
Sunday evening all the stress have my IBS in an uproar. I was squirting blood out my ass and my colon was spazzing so bad I had to go to the ER. This is despite taking the emergency pills from the moment I first gagged on the cover. Minutes after having a morphine drip attached to an IV, I got the email that I had my rights back. My colon relaxed almost as soon as I read the message. Maybe it was the morphine, maybe it was the relief of not having screwed my characters up the ass by selling them out.
All I know is I am completely at peace with my decision and ready to find a publisher who totally gets my work and embraces my uniqueness. Sometimes it's better to wait for the right moment than to compromise your beliefs and settle for less than the best.
Maybe I do believe in happily ever after, after all.