My newest novel for an adult audience, entitled COLD AS WINTER WOODS, is soon to be published under the name J.F. Akin. It’s a thriller about the victim of a kidnapping, and how she fares when misunderstandings lead investigators to dangerously incorrect conclusions. It’s about unrequited love that isn’t love at all. It’s about little white lies, false allegiances, one woman’s fight for survival, one man’s insanity, and another man’s fight to stay sane. And, when all is said and done, COLD AS WINTER WOODS is about the tenacity, the strength, the sorrows, and the “hiccups” of love.
On the eve of publishing this novel for adults (just as when my book for middle readers, THE FILIGREE SLIPPERS, was published), I could write pages and pages about a writer’s disappointments and struggles. I know that many of you wordsmiths out there could write those pages with me.
I mean, once we get beyond the months–often the years–of developing back stories for our characters, researching technology or professions, planning our stories’ trajectories, writing down the stories and conversations of our characters’ lives, there is the waiting for agents to get back to us about our submissions. But, first, there is the rigmarole we must go through in just supplying an agent with the appropriate package so she won’t end up tossing our work in the circular file* before she even reads it! And even when we give an agent all she asks for, we might find she never contacts us about it at all. Ever.
Of course, there’s always self-publishing–no going through the watchdogs of the literary world in order to have our voices heard there. Once considered taboo in the industry, self-publishing is now accepted as legitimate in more circles than you’d expect. I’ve got editing clients whose novels have won self-publishing awards through Writer’s Digest Magazine–once the bastion of anti-self-publishing snobbery.
Still, either way we go, traditional publishing or self-publishing, we’ll experience disappointment and struggle.
But we continue to write the next thing. We’re always writing the next thing or editing the last thing. What else can we do? We’re writers, and we must write.
COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF WORK…STOLEN
I’ve completed three novel-length manuscripts and four partial manuscripts in the last few years. The actual newest one is a mystery which I finished in mid-2017, but the mystery’s final editing has taken a backseat to the manuscript I am calling my “newest”–COLD AS WINTER WOODS. I actually finished writing COLD AS WINTER WOODS in 2002, but I put it away at the time of my mother’s death not long after. Then I took more college courses; my husband and I spent a lot of time fixing up a terribly neglected 1840 Colonial; we sold the Colonial and moved–a few times–and, finally, we settled in New England in 2016. THE FILIGREE SLIPPERS (written under the name Jean Foster Akin), was published in the midst of all that in 2011.
Then, my laptop was stolen in 2014. It housed all my novel-length and all my partial manuscripts that were just waiting for me to get back to them. Crazy disappointment. Crazy struggle.
The thought of rewriting all those manuscripts was beyond daunting.
I would have to re-write characters and plots based on the backstories I’d written for all of them in black and white notebooks. The bones were there in those notebooks, yes, but nothing anywhere near the sinews and flesh of those stories, nothing anywhere near the beating heart of those stories. As for COLD AS WINTER WOODS, I had interviewed detectives, patrol, and undercover cops–both male and female–over a 24-month period in the early 2000s. As the years went by, I always knew that if I wanted to see that novel published, an update on technology and investigative/police practices would be necessary. But the manuscript was now gone. Lost forever with the rest. All I could do was mourn its loss.
A STUNNING & JUBILANT DISCOVERY
Imagine my shock when my husband found the entire novel again in 2017–ALL my pre-2014 unpublished novels, in fact–on a forgotten thumb drive! Disappointment. Struggle. And, in this case, sheer disbelief in my good fortune.
I’ve spent months, from late 2017 to early 2018, editing and rewriting, and bringing the 2002 technology and police procedures in COLD AS WINTER WOODS up to 2018 standards. It’s finally finished. And right in time for Spring.
When COLD AS WINTER WOODS is published in the next few weeks, I’ll give you a shout out. I want to ensure the first many copies from Amazon are FREE for you early-birds.
And I hope you’ll find COLD AS WINTER WOODS a thrill to read!
*an author/agent term for the agent’s trash can 😛
Photos of “Wintry Trees” and “Potted Plant on Windowsill” by Jean Foster Akin
Other photos: Unsplash.