What’s the deal with WICKED COOL?

Ah, ’tis a long, sad story … but may have a happy ending. Or at least what RWA calls “an emotionally-satisfying, optimistic ending.”

As most of you know, I used to write historical romances set in the English Regency. A few years ago, the market shifted — editors wanted hot sex in their historical romances. I had to decide whether to alter my books or write something else. It seemed to me that shoehorning hot sex into my books was no easy feat, and would actually damage the character of the work. I have nothing against hot sex, mind you. But in my books? No. Didn’t work. Or at least, I couldn’t make it work. I made one half-hearted attempt and was roundly reprimanded by Publishers Weekly. My fans, bless ’em, were indignant on my behalf — but I thought Publishers Weekly totally had my number. (“Farr’s sure-footed prose falters when she tiptoes into the erotic realm …”)

I decided to loosen up my writing muscles by writing something completely different. I had always written historicals, so I started something contemporary. I had always written in third person, so I tried first person. And so on. Along about page three, I realized my heroine was a teenager. Lo and behold, I was writing what the industry calls “YA.” And Wicked Cool was the result.

My agent loved it, and sent it out to make the rounds. It seemed to take forever. Editors passed it around, had meetings, argued about it, and eventually “regretfully” rejected it, usually for reasons that did not diminish our confidence that it was going to sell somewhere, sometime. Finally I had an offer — from an editor who assured me he was “in love with this book!” We had a couple of terrific editorial teleconferences. I received the contract, signed it, sent it back. And never heard anything again.

That remains the strangest episode of my writing career. The editor claims my agent never returned his calls. My agent swears he never returned hers.

After a publisher-who-shall-remain-nameless (okay, it was Puffin) sat on it, and sat on it, and sat on it, passing it from reader to reader and promising every week that we would have an answer “next week,” I finally lost patience and pulled the plug on the project. It had eaten up several years of my life and I thought it was high time I moved on. But I couldn’t quite let go, so on a lark — more or less — I submitted it to an e-publisher, Cerridwen Press. Cerridwen was the non-erotic imprint of Ellora’s Cave, the 800-lb gorilla in the e-pub world. They snapped it up with lightning speed.

It felt good.

Now, however, Cerridwen Press — apparently a money-loser, at least compared to their “romantica” sales — is getting a new name and repositioning itself in the marketplace. Henceforth, they will not carry non-romance titles. And that includes Wicked Cool. So the rights revert to me on December 31.

One of my biggest frustrations with e-publishing has been the fact that most of my readers want a book they can hold in their hands, and Cerridwen — despite designing a wicked cool cover for Wicked Cool — never made that available. So I am PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE that I am readying Wicked Cool for publication through CreateSpace, affiliated with Amazon.com. A print version will finally be available, for those who are interested, starting at the end of 2010.

I will never get rich off this book! But I will feel better knowing that the title will be, at the very least, available for purchase.

10 thoughts on “What’s the deal with WICKED COOL?

  1. Oh, yay! I can guarantee that the minute I get my hands on a hard copy of that book, it will be read in one day.

    I am curious though…what book has a “half-hearted attempt” at hot sex in it? I can’t think of any of your books that have half-hearted attempts at anything.

    By the way…I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this to you, and this seems like as good a place as any.🙂 I’ve always loved the conversations between Lilah and Drake in Duel of Hearts so, so much. Their attraction to one another, and their frustration at it, is hilarious. So thank you for that!

  2. Thank you, Bethany! My “half-hearted attempt” at a sex scene, the one that PW thought was sub-par, was in UNDER A LUCKY STAR. I’m glad it didn’t strike you as lame. Please don’t re-read it trying to figure out what was wrong. (Aiee!!) My editor told me I had to be “more specific” about what occurred in the orangery, so I tried … and discovered that it’s much, much more difficult than it looks! Err in one direction and the scene becomes jarringly clinical; err in the other direction and the dreaded “purple prose” emerges. I think a writer is either good at it, or not. I’m not!

    DUEL OF HEARTS is a book that readers seem to either love (if they get the humor) or loathe (if they don’t). I’m so glad you “got” it!!

  3. That’s good news!

    Once it’s out, though, and teens can have this book in their hands, more teens will want it, etc., and the sequel might make you rich (hmm?).

    The cover is *gorgeous,* too.

    • Thanks, Jeannie! I am not exactly holding my breath…!

      Looks like Cerridwen isn’t going to let me use their cover art, but that’s OK. I have other options!

  4. Looking forward to buying a copy for my granddaughter, Diane. It will be interesting too to see how this type of publishing works out for you.

  5. Mike just bought me a Kindle for my birthday today. Wicked Cool is my first ebook! I can’t wait to read it. Glad that’s it’s coming out in print too. My niece will be ready for YA books in a couple of years.

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