Sunday, April 10, 2011

Unfinished Business #7: Praying for a Flood

A couple of weeks ago, I sent the final files for my ripping horror yarn Dragon’s Ark into Lightning Source/Ingram: Its short, sometimes pot-holed road to publication was reaching its terminus. I received my first copy at the end of March. It’s a lovely cover as you can see—or at least lovely in the Gothic sense: stark, hypnotic, forceful, brilliant.

In the run-up during the weeks before, Joel Friedlander, my interior designer, suggested planting a few words from one of the blurbs I’ve received on the front page, under my byline. I selected some of David Corbett’s kind and excellent words, but when I presented it to cover designer Cathi Stevenson, she couldn’t make them fit. Nor, I decided, would they have fit well higher up the cover because they might have distracted from the “Dragon’s” cruel, compelling stare. I love it as it is, how he grabs the eyes, unapologetic in his ruthless intelligence and ferocity, a character out of classic horror fiction. Like I always imagined Dracula would be.

I imagine bookstore customers coming upon it. They freeze suddenly, sunk into dumb hypnosis. They then marching stiffly over to the cashier: “Must . . . buy  . . . Dragon’s Ark . . .  mmm . . .  no . . .  buy TEN . . . copies . . . Dragon’s Ark.”

On March 31, I sent my approval for Dragon’s Ark to be released.

April 26, 2011, I thought. That day draws closer.  Plans started to congeal for the week leading up to that date. I ordered 22 copies from Ingram (my credit card screamed as its flesh was torn once again), ten of which will be for sale at my first public reading on Sunday, April 17; the rest for individual sales and gifts.

I suppose I should have waited awhile. The next day, April 1, 2010, my email box displayed a Facebook message from lovely FB friend Janna Shoemaker:

“I ORDERED your book Dragon's Ark from Amazon, I should be getting it in a week!! I CANT WAIT TO READ IT :D Thanks ! ;).”

I stammered out a reply, something along the lines of: er, um, really wasn’t intending on releasing it now you know. I was kinda gonna wait . . . .

And then I sighed . . . Oh, the hell with it . . . Let's go! as Pike Bishop says in The Wild Bunch.

You can buy Dragon’s Ark right now at your local bookstore (the ethical preferred method), or you can order it here at the non-taxpaying corporation called Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, or you can wait a couple weeks until it’s ready for the KindleNookPad.

Since then, I’ve found two text errors. I won’t tell you what they are. For those who collect ephemera such as print and continuity errors in books, you’ll have to go out and buy a copy. (People do this with movies—even great ones—so I imagine they do it with books, too. A challenging exercise in detective work, not necessarily hostile.)

I’ll find more errors. Maybe some of you will tell me yourselves. However the news comes, it’s best not to think about it now, even though I know that there will be readers who throw books into the trash the second a comma slips or an unzipped modifier shows the slightest dangle.

I will receive bad reviews. I will also receive positive reviews. And I will receive views that are negative, but interested and thoughtful and speaking with a sound, quiet voice—“Nice try, Burchfield, but here’s where you went wrong.” I look forward to those. You have to step around in front of your ego if you want to be good at what you do.

As for persnickety Amazon flatheads, like John Waters’ Serial Mom, they only want to stick their scissors in someone, it doesn’t matter who, or why. The sticking of the scissors, the knowledge that they’re causing pain, that’s the thing. They’ve been with us since the dawn of consciousness, through the Hill at Calvary, through the last awful century and into this one. There’s no point in writing for them. It’s one of the things I hate most about the Internet. Sometimes I think the web is nothing but a chorus of psychopaths, drowning out the best voices among us.

And there will also be able to who simply “don’t like this kind of thing,” whether because it’s genre fiction or horror fiction. Or maybe they think I “should be writing something else.” Nothing I can do about them, either. No book has ever pleased everyone. Dragon’s Ark will definitely be no exception.

Whatever happens, I’m not waiting to shoot up the bestseller lists. I won’t even check my sales figures for a little while. It’ll be drips and trickles at first, maybe for quite along time to come. But I’ll praying for a flood.

No, I’m not Alfred A. Knopf. (Hell, even they’re not Alfred E. Knopf anymore). Instead, let’s pretend it’s 1957 and I’m Roger Corman—a hero to scrappy talented independent artists everywhere--trying to make the best movie I can on only a dime. Maybe the editing’s a tad choppy, the dialogue flat, the camerawork shaky . . .

. . .  but darn aren’t we having fun . . . ?

Or, I hope, aren’t you having fun?

Dragon’s Ark: Go for it.

(re-edited 4/11/11)

Thomas Burchfield's contemporary Dracula novel Dragon's Ark  is available right NOW, published by Ambler House Publishing and can be ordered through your local independent bookstore, through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and will be available as an e-book by the end of April. Other essays and postings can also be read at The Red Room website for writers. He can also be friended on Facebook, tweeted at on Twitter and e-mailed at tbdeluxe [at] sbcglobal [dot] net.

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