I released Icara to the world last week, and it feels like the completion of a cycle. It has been an amazing experience, setting these books free. As alwyas, with the launch of one of my books, I am participating in a Goodreads Giveaway, so be sure to go to Goodreads.com and enter from July 1 - July 15 for one of two autographed copies of Icara, the third novel in the The Alison Hayes Journey. Alison Hayes is a fictional character who has walked with me since a creative writing class in college. I was invited back to the university the following year to complete a master's program in Creative Writing and Literature, with Intoxic being the creative portion of my masters thesis. I worked really hard that next year and completed my coursework with no problem. I worked really hard on my novel that year, too, but when it came time to hand it over to a panel of professors for judgement I wasn't ready to share. I wasn't ready to set Alison free into the world, I wasn't ready for her to be judged. I walked away from my masters program with my coursework complete.
I put Alison's book in a drawer and once or twice a year I would bring it out and make changes and over the years it transformed. There is very little resemblence now to the book it started out to be. It is a much more mature book, because I have enough experience now in living to see life without being sentimental. A couple of years ago, I reread the book, and realized that I was finally ready to share it. Through sharing it with the right people and connecting with my editor, Janet Fix at thewordverve.com, we brought Intoxic to press in August of 2016. At that time I thought I was done. I had finally completed something, and for the rest of my life I could say that "I wrote a book" and be satisfied. What I wasn't expecting were the reviews. I wasn't expecting for people to feel about Alison the way I do, after all, she had been a part of my life for years. The most frequently asked question about Intoxic was "What happens next?" I began to realize that I needed to know too. I started listening again, to Alison in my head, and thinking about the people who could help her find a path. Once I started listening, I started writing and the second book was completed in 30 days. It was an incredible, cathartic experience, writing that book. I sent it to my editor, and, she like me, felt there was something special in Purgus, something powerful. We released it in December of 2016.
I started work on Icara in February of 2017, and all through the writing I hedged, walking with Alison up to the ledge and turning her away. I had a really hard time writing the story she was telling me, because it wasn't what I wanted for her. I wanted this third book to show that she had found a path, that she was making good choices, and that her life was better because of it. I finished it and sent it to Janet, who said what I already knew, "You didn't tell the story you needed to tell." How she knew that there was conflict in me about this book I will never know. She was right, of course. Janet has incredible instincts. I got the manuscript back and did a ninety percent rewrite, and I let Alison tell her story without me interfering. It was better, much better. My editor agreed, even though it was essentially a different novel for her to edit. We released Icara in June 2017.
I am really proud of this series. I don't know that it will ever get widespread attention, because it's hard for people to become aware of it if they aren't somehow in my circle. I would have loved for Oprah to have picked it up, but I think her selections don't usually include independent publishers. Most big reviewers don't. After I wrote Intoxic I contacted my small, hometown paper in Illinois, asking if they would do a piece on it. The only question they asked was who the publisher was, when I said I had self-published they politely declined. I was didsappointed, because back in the day I was in the local newspaper every couple of months because of my theatre involvement. I was a hometown girl who had gone into the big world and done something good. That's how I saw it, anyway. Unfortunately, even though self-publishing is more respected than it once was, there is still a stigma for those not directly involved. There are wrtiters who put out novels that are not ready for publication, just to have a byline, and that's a shame, because it deminishes the whole lot of us. But that's for a different post.
If you haven't read my books, I hope you will. I think they are powerful. I think they will take you into canyons and lead you to flight.