Mario Acevedo is the author of the bestselling Felix Gomez detective-vampire series from HarperCollins. His debut novel, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, was chosen by Barnes & Noble as one of the best Paranormal Fantasy Novels of the Decade and was a finalist for a Colorado Book Award. His novel, Good Money Gone, co-authored with Richard Kilborn, won a best novel 2014 International Latino Book Award. His short fiction and essays have been published by Arte Publico Press and appeared in Modern Drunkard Monthly, Exquisite Corpse, and Now Write! Mario lives and writes in Denver, Colorado.
A LESSON FOR MYSELF by Mario Acevedo
First of all, my thanks to Carole for inviting me to post on her blog.
This is an auspicious time for me as I finally have a new book coming out under my name. This novel is a fresh story with my detective-vampire, Felix Gomez. My last book in this series came out in 2010 so I’ve had a lot of catching up to do.
Why took me so long?
I guess it was the hypocrite in me. I tell other writers to drive forward, to plow through rejection and self-doubt like an icebreaker through the frozen Arctic Ocean. Meanwhile I had given in to my fears and self-induced objections. With my first contract I started out strong, not great but better than most new writers. I had a three-book deal with HarperCollins, followed by another two-book deal. The advances were enough to keep me out of the day job if I lived close to the bone, which I did. Knowing that I needed new work in the pipeline I started noodling ideas. Several of my writer friends had snagged contracts with proposals rather than submitting competed manuscripts and so I decided to follow their example. At one conference I met an editor from a major YA publishing house who gushed about my vampire books. When I mentioned that I was working on a YA story she said to send it her way. Which I did. And she never replied. My agent at the time managed to arrange conference calls with other editors who seemed interested. And again, no follow up. Zip. I did start another YA fantasy proposal that my agent hated (but I still love). Just like that, it seemed like I had no clue about writing or telling stories. My great foray into publishing felt like a depantsing.
In the meantime ebooks began to take off. Writer friends practically begged me to put something on Amazon–a short story based on my vampire stories, a novella, finish one of my proposals and put that on line. But I didn’t. I was gun shy. I was telling people to shuck their fears and attack that page. Get your work out! Fix bayonets on your pens and charge! And where was I? Cowering in the bunker, demoralized and unwilling to set foot in writers’ No-Man’s-Land. So while I was second-guessing myself, the Wild West Days of Amazon came and went, and I didn’t make a dime because I had nothing new out there (other than ebooks from my previous contracts which earned me pennies).
To be fair to yours truly, I was still writing. I had attracted some free-lancing gigs and I was the ghostwriter for several novels. And part of the reason I didn’t pick up the thread of my Felix Gomez story was that I couldn’t figure out how to resolve the dilemmas I’d cornered my characters into in books 3 and 4. Then the epiphany came to me. The two story lines actually pointed to each other and if I could finesse a rather serious mash-up involving my vampires, the psychic world and aliens, plus Navajo and Hopi magic, and Mexican phantasms, I might be able to pull it off. Writing that monster of a narrative took two years and weighed in at over 110K words. My first drafts tend to be lean–barely 60K–which I then have to flesh out. In the rewrite for this new book I whacked away over ten thousand words. My intention was to self-publish as I should’ve done years ago.
During this time, the New York Big 6 shrank into the Big 5. Many established writers found themselves out in the cold and they turned to the growing crop of small-to-mid-sized presses. I decided to follow suit and approached WordFire Press out of Monument, Colorado. They offered a contract, my first in years. Check out their stable of authors. I’m in great company. Plus WordFire hustles the way you expect New York publishers would do but don’t. Outwardly I feel pretty good. Inwardly, I’m like every other writer waiting to feel the water break. I’m a nervous wreck. I took my best shot with this baby, but who knows?
Look for it this April. The next Felix Gomez adventure. Rescue From Planet Pleasure. Pervy bloodsuckers. Psychic whammies. Aliens. Skin-walkers. Galactic adventure. Gun porn. Hopefully a laugh or two.
So what’s the lesson here? What have I learned?
It’s not to give in to your doubts. Keep charging straight ahead. I know plenty of writers who got kicked in the teeth, and they didn’t give up the fight. They prevailed and reaped the accolades and the money. This thing called writing is never easy, and the rules keep changing. Who did I hurt by not writing? Me. If you give up, then how can you prevail? Have faith. Pick yourself off the mat and keep swinging.