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THE RED HEADED STEP-CHILD
Sometimes when you’re a writer, you’ll write something you totally love only to find out other people don’t seem to love it as much as you do. Such was the case with my novel, ‘The Growing Season’, which was the second book in the three book ‘Secrets of Neverwood’ Anthology.
This wasn’t an easy book to write. I’d committed to the project when my mom was healthy, but as we began work she was in decline. Finishing Danny’s story was like pulling teeth, between hospitals and my dad, who was beginning to show signs of Alzheimer’s. After Carina accepted the novel, the edits were extensive. My brilliant editor thought I had important plot elements in the wrong order, and she was right, but that meant re-writing fifty percent of the book. Then my mom died, and trying to edit while dealing with my dad’s grief and my own was a challenge. I did it mostly while he was either napping or in bed, which led to some interesting moments during sleep deprivation. (Car keys in the freezer. Ice cream in the cupboard while salad mix went in the freezer. Iceberg lettuce doesn’t hold up particularly well when frozen, FYI.) Finishing the edits on time was difficult.
But I did it. And when my fellow writers and I were done I was proud of the final efforts. I loved the three men in these books and their partners. Poor overwhelmed Cal of book one and his high school crush Will , returned to his life just when the stress of inheriting the crumbling Victorian mansion with his two foster brothers is becoming almost too much. Sexy, outwardly smooth oldest brother Devon of book three, a professional photographer who’s traveled the world and seen things that have left him with a cynical outer shell hiding the soft heart he’s afraid to share. And then there’s my ‘brother’, twenty one year old Danny of book two, who’s really sort of an obnoxious smart ass, but who’s hiding a secret that’s slowly tearing him apart. I grew to love the little brat, and hoped other people would, too.
The truth is, they didn’t. At least, the anthology didn’t sell as well as any of us had hoped it would. And I couldn’t help but be disappointed. Any book with as much angst in it as this one takes a bit out of the author. Actually, ANY book takes a lot out of the author. You live with these characters in your head for months, they become very real, you sweat through edits and cover art and blurbs and synopsis. (Grr, damn you synopsis!! shakes my fist at having to write a synopsis. Grumble grumble.) I’ve got theories about what happened with it, regarding the weak sales, but they’re just that; theories. Was it too expensive in a world where some of the self-pubbed books at Amazon are .99 cents? And I have no beef with self-pubbed books, believe me. There are some terrific self-pubbed novels. But there’s also a glut of… not so good cheap books, and this anthology started out at almost ten dollars. It was over a hundred and fifty thousand words, but still; $8.99 is $8.99. Was it the wrong time of year, was it the cover art? Who knows. The truth is, for whatever reason, readers just weren’t that interested.
And let me tell you… ouch. It is really sort of like someone not liking your dog, or telling you your kid is ugly. The red-headed step child syndrome. I feel so bad for Danny, like he’s a real person and I let him down somehow. It isn’t a rational response, but I’ve found most writers aren’t really that rational to begin with. We walk around with people talking in our heads, nagging us, wanting their story to be told next. Or just snarking at us, or emo-ing at us in Danny’s case. Well, emo with a healthy dose of snark.
So, you’re probably asking yourself what this post is actually all about, aside from a writer whining about how people didn’t like her baby. Well, that’s mainly it, because whether we like it or not that’s part of being a writer, too; that feeling of failure. But I also noticed that the three Neverwood books, and the anthology, are all on sale at Amazon right now. $2.42 for The Growing Season, Danny’s story. I’ll put the link at the bottom of this post. I’m also going to post an excerpt of Danny and Sam’s story.
That’s another thing about writer’s; we never give up on our ‘kids’. We always hope someone is going to find them and adopt them and love them as much as we do. I hope if you haven’t read Danny’s story, you might give it a try.
Title: The Growing Seasonb
Author: Diana Copland
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: 06/06/2014
Genre: M/M Romance
Secrets of Neverwood Book Two
The four years since Danny Redmond left Neverwood have been heartbreaking, and past mistakes continue to haunt him, even after he returns home. Together with two foster brothers he barely knows, he plans to turn the decrepit mansion into a welcoming place for runaways once again—the dying wish of their foster mother, Audrey.
Danny has nothing to contribute to the restoration, save for a gift for growing things. But his efforts to bring Audrey’s beloved gardens back to their former glory are complicated by handsome landscaper Sam Ignatius…and the feelings developing between them, despite their fiery differences of opinion. One voice gives him hope, the only one he’s always trusted—Audrey’s.
Danny comes to care deeply for Sam, but things look bleak when Sam’s city councilman father threatens to have Neverwood torn down. Why should Danny have expected the future to be different from his past? All his relationships end in disaster…
Three foster brothers are called home to Neverwood, the stately Pacific Northwest mansion of their youth. They have nothing in common but a promise to Audrey, the woman they all called mother…
Secrets of Neverwood is a multi-author trilogy; One Door Closes, The Growing Season and The Lost Year can be enjoyed either as a continuity or as standalones.
“Do you have any idea what the hell you’re doing?”
Assuming the question wasn’t aimed at him, Danny continued to trim the rose.
“Kid, I’m talking to you.”
Pausing with the shears near a brittle shoot, Danny turned.
A man stood behind him, feet planted and hands propped on narrow denim-clad hips. A very handsome man, Danny couldn’t help noticing. He had a fleeting first impression of sun-bleached hair and a square, firm jaw but his attention was caught by the hostile glint in dark eyes.
“Who the fuck are you?” he asked bluntly, instantly defensive.
“I asked if you know what you’re doing. That’s an heirloom rose. If you cut too much out, you’ll kill it.”
Danny carefully closed and locked the shears before slipping them into his back pocket. He crossed his arms. “Do tell.”
The stranger exhaled in exasperation. “That’s a Bourbon. It was probably planted when the house was built over a hundred years ago. You can’t just go hacking away at it. If you don’t know what you’re doing you could destroy it.”
“And of course, you instantly assume I’m a dumb shit that has no idea what he’s doing.”
The man lifted his arms, mirroring Danny’s posture. “Listen, kid. No offense…”
“And yet you persist in calling me kid, which is pretty damned offensive.”
Dark eyes pinned him, brows lowered and lips tight. To his dismay, Danny couldn’t stop the flare of something other than anger that ignited in his stomach. The guy was an asshole, but he was also alarmingly hot. He had a sturdy build, and the sleeves of his gray hoodie were pushed up to reveal solid, tanned forearms lightly sprinkled with blond hair. Strong forearms were one of Danny’s weaknesses, and this set was definitely strong. Pissed off by the attraction he couldn’t control, he lifted his chin, daring the other man to speak again.
Instead, the man dropped his arms, metaphorically standing down.
“Look, I don’t want to fight with you,” One of the strong arms lifted, and he ran blunt fingers through his sun- kissed hair.
“Oh, we’re not going to fight. You’re going to leave.”
“I just wanted—”
“I don’t care what you wanted. You come in here, shooting your mouth off, being an insulting prick. Well, you’re trespassing on private property, and you’re going to leave. Now.”
The chiseled jaw flexed. “Will Cabot is working on the renovation inside, right? I’d like to speak to him, if he’s around.”
“Well, he isn’t,” Danny lied. As far as he knew, Will and Cal were still in the kitchen. “So piss off.”
They glared at each other, at an impasse.
“What’s going on?”
Danny flinched at the unexpected voice. Devon was standing on the porch, a coffee cup in his hand.
“Nothing,” Danny snapped. “This jerk was just leaving.”
Instead, the jerk walked around him and climbed the porch steps.
“Hey!” Danny followed him. “What the hell…”
The man stuck his hand out to Devon. “Hi, I’m Sam Ignatius.”
“Devon McCade.” Devon took the offered hand, his eyes on Danny.
“Listen, Sam whoever the hell you are…” Danny started. Then the last name registered, and he stopped, his mouth open. “Ignatius? As in Councilman Bernard Ignatius?” Unless he was mistaken, a rusty stain was spreading up the tanned neck, but Danny couldn’t be sure. Perhaps it just looked that way to him because he was seeing red. “You’re related to Bernard fucking Ignatius?”
He saw the subtle shake of Devon’s tousled head. He looked like he’d just tumbled out of bed, his hair a curly dark mess and his jaw blue with stubble. He was wearing low-slung blue jeans and nothing else, and there was gooseflesh on his muscular chest.
“Ignatius, Devon,” Danny said. “You do remember the letter we got, telling us that returning the house to its previous use was not approved of by members of the community? That if we tried, we’d have a fight on our hands? It was signed by Councilman Bernard Ignatius. We ought to physically throw his ass out of here on principal alone.”
Devon looked between the two men, then his eyes leveled on Sam. “So,” he said slowly. “I’m guessing the good councilman is…what? Your uncle?”
“My father.” Ignatius looked as if it pained him.
“Yeah.” He grimaced. “But I’m hoping you won’t hold it against me. An accident of birth, I promise you.”
Devon’s lips quirked. “Not close, huh?”
“No. I…” He looked as if he wanted to say more, but clamped his mouth shut over the words. “No.”
Devon nodded. “So, what can we do for you, Sam Ignatius?”
“Devon! This asshole all but told me I have no idea what I was doing. We don’t need to do anything but show him the way out.”
Devon studied Danny for a moment, and then looked back at Sam. “Did I hear you mention Will Cabot?”
Sam nodded, his straw colored hair slipping down over his brows. “Yeah, I know Will. We’ve done several jobs together. He’s the one who called me.”
Danny stared, thunderstruck. “He what?”
Ignatius looked at him. “He called me, said the grounds were huge and overgrown and wondered if I—…”
Danny didn’t wait to hear the rest. He threw open the screen door and stormed into the entryway. “Will!” he shouted over the din of the hammers. “Where the hell are you?”
About Diana CoplandDiana Copland began writing in the seventh grade, when she shamelessly combined elements of Jane Eyre and Dark Shadowsto produce an overwrought Gothic tale that earned her an A- in creative writing, thanks entirely to the generosity of her teacher. She wrote for pure enjoyment for the next three decades before discovering LiveJournal and a wonderful group of supportive fanfiction writers, who after gifting her with a “”Best New Author”” Award encouraged her to try her hand at original gay fiction.
Born and raised in southern California, Diana moved to the Pacific Northwest after losing a beloved spouse to AIDS in 1995. She lives in eastern Washington with four obnoxious cats, near her two wonderful adult children.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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