I’ve never really been someone who can sell myself, and that’s been one of my biggest worries about trying to start a writing career. But this Keycon, I was involved in several panels – more than last year – and now that it’s over, I’m realizing that it’s been a very different experience than last year. By Sunday I’d had people familiar with my blog come up and introduce themselves to me, random people who’d heard the first page of The Eyelet Dove, or who had heard me talk about Dieselpunk in the panel with Anne Aguirre and Leia Getty, wanting to know if I had anything published, and I’ve had emails from people who met me at con, offering to beta read. It’s like, suddenly I became popular.
What did I do to deserve all that attention? All I did was put myself out there and talk about the things I love. You know how people say, just go out there and be yourself, and people will respond? Well, it just happened. It’s a huge confidence builder. I mean, I knew I had something interesting to say with my writing that people will enjoy, but now I know I’ll be able to convince people to buy it and not be that poor writer whining “Please buy my book, it’s good, trust me!”
The other big one was the positive reaction to the opening page that was read at Writer Idol. It’s enticed people to approach me looking for more. And that first page is so crucial – that little bit is the first thing people read when they pick up a book after reading the back cover copy. I know I’ve bought books and put them back on the shelf based on that.
A while ago, I had my opening chapter posted up here on the page I had set up for my novel. After going to the SIWC, and hearing Donald Maass describe what makes a good opening, I realized, wow, I have all of that stuff he just rattled off!
In Chapter Two. Claire is an engaging, passionate character, and her introduction goes straight into her primary conflict.
And since Chapter One was, structurally, a prologue, I did what I keep joking I always do, and cut it. Now, after Keycon, I have unequivocal validation that it was the right decision.
After Keycon, though, J. M. Frey, in my Blue Pencil Session with her, pointed out that the opening contained an element that was not only a tad cliched, but also apparently nearly identical to another unfortunately (well, fortunately for that author) well known book in the Steampunk Subgenre, Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan. I had Claire disguised as a man to sneak into a world dominated by men, and I certainly don’t want my book looking from the first page like it’s a ripoff of Leviathan, especially when the disguise thing doesn’t last through the end of the opening scene. And maybe an editor would overlook it once they got to the end of the scene, but would they get to the end of the scene once they saw that similarity? Not gonna count on it.
But it was easy to fix, and I think it’s overall better for having that element removed, for several reasons. And so do others, it seems. In any case, I’ve decided I’m ready to put it up as a teaser chapter, for all those who wanted more than the first page. Here it is.