I really need to leave this poor book alone, but with its two-year book birthday coming up tomorrow, I just couldn’t, especially when I discovered that I made a HUGE mistake in the formatting of the latest edition two months ago and readers downloaded a book with The End after Chapter 35 even though there were five more chapters right after it.
And that’s just the least of its problems. There were other, worse, mistakes that I won’t even enumerate here. Basically, I made an okay book worse – and over 1200 people downloaded it from Instafreebie when I included it in two giveaways. I had debated at first to give away my best book (before Everything She Ever Wanted), Loving Ashe, because, after all, first impressions matter and you want new readers to read your best work. But I didn’t listen to my gut. So now, 1200 people will think I’m such a terrible writer, but oh well, with my stiff neck right now that’s only getting stiffer, I can’t worry about things I can’t control anymore. It’s the past. It’s done.
What I can do is offer the correct version, and in my panic last night in fixing the huge mistake, I decided to create a whole new cover. After all, how much worse could things be, right? It needed a new cover anyway and designing covers relaxes me.
Finding Sam was my first full-length book that isn’t fan fiction. Before I wrote Finding Sam, I had written a 145K-word fan fiction novel set in BBC’s MI-5 universe or Spooks, for those of you in the UK. It’s the world of Lucas North and Harry Pierce of Section D. During that time I had no idea how “safe” posting original work online was and so I figured I’d practice by writing fan fiction. More than half of the characters in my fanfic are original but I was able to hone my craft with each chapter. Some people hate fanfic with a passion but hey, you pick your battles. I picked mine.
So Finding Sam was my first original fiction novel, and at 125K words, it was designed for a Wattpad audience, i.e. serial fiction. I posted every week and slowly gained an audience I never knew actually liked the stuff I wrote. I’d never written women’s fiction/romance before but this was where it all started. There were no car crashes here, or spies killing each other, or mysterious monsters flying off into the night like my previous stories. There was just a woman named Sam trying to find herself. Being my first ‘original’ novel, it’s far from perfect and some days I want to yank it off the market because of that fear that readers will think me such a terrible writer. Clients who’ve read this book and my later books like Loving Ashe have all agreed – I’m a way better writer now than when I started.
But then who wouldn’t be, right? If you put in thousands of hours into something, you’re bound to get better.
But even though I know Finding Sam isn’t my best work, I also wrote it with my best friend, Pam, in mind. She had lost her fight with ovarian cancer on November 6, 2010, and two weeks before she passed away, she called to tell me to keep writing even though she had no idea that I had stopped writing for ten years, having given up on the dream of getting published. I wouldn’t officially start writing again until two years later but as I wrote Finding Sam in 2013, I realized later on that every word I wrote was for her. It’s my most imperfect novel, and it’s my most raw. And with this new cover, I think I finally captured the essence of Sam this time, with the backdrop of the Manhattan Beach pier behind her.
A friend once told me that I was so like Sam and she’s right, just like I’m so like Harlow (Everything She Ever Wanted), Riley (Loving Ashe), Billie (A Collateral Attraction), Luna (EFLT – it’s a secret project), Darby (Swept Away) and every female character I write. They’re like Horcruxes – I leave a little bit of myself in each character.
But I think most authors do. What about you?