Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cincinnati Reds and Superheroes

My very first book is called Seven. I originally wrote it four years ago, when I didn't know much about writing and knew nothing about the publishing world. Years ago, I thought that book was my ticket; it would propel me to the top.

So I entered it into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.

Didn't even make it past the first round.

Yeah, I was bummed. But that book never stood a chance (read why here). I didn't understand that at the time. Now I do.

That's called learning.

I've learned a lot about writing and publishing in the intervening years. I'm no expert, but I'm a much better writer now than I was four years ago. If I didn't get any better--and I didn't realize I was getting better--I don't think I would've retooled my blog and kept writing.

I now have a business card. It's a simple thing, but I took the step of ordering them. I'm not going to call myself a brand--I'm a person and a writer, not a brand--but branding is an indelible part of what writers do. That's why I have the business card.

Early on in my career, I seem to have hitched my star to the world of superhero fiction. My first published story was a superhero story. Four of my first six published works were superheroic in nature (and a fifth was about a vigilante, which could certainly fall in that category). Over the last two months, I've devoted considerable time and energy to polishing a book I don't think a traditional publisher would want to touch because it's a quirky superhero book. I thought maybe I'd "ebook it." Maybe I still will...I haven't decided.

Let me circle back now to Seven, the story of a genetically-engineered baseball player. When I wrote the first draft, the Cincinnati Reds were awful. They hadn't made a playoff appearance since 1995 (excepting a one-game playoff in 1999). I built that book around the Reds' recent history of lackluster performances, but now that sentiment no longer sticks. Cincy made the postseason last year.

In its current form, Seven is no longer viable. The novel needs major rewrites as it stands, but now I face the daunting task of scrapping the idea of setting the book in the Queen City. Perhaps I should focus on a franchise much more snake-bitten than my beloved Reds. And I could stay in the division by choosing either the Pirates or the Cubs.

A very early draft predating the mad rush to finish an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award entry set the book in Chicago, with the owners so desperate for a winner, they cloned a baseball player. The basic framework of that idea still exists and most of the characters would still fit with minimal tweaking.

One "character" wouldn't survive, however, and that's the city of Cincinnati. It would be supplanted by Chicago.

I'll have to think about this some more.

Then again, maybe I should just forget Seven entirely and concentrate on Timey Dancer!