I Am Mortal, therefore I Self Publish!

Salon des Refusés

 

In 1860s Paris, the early Impressionist painters were denied the privilege to show their works in the popular and prestigious art galleries. So they held their own shows and called them the Salon des Refusés.

Father Time Chews my Heels

My writing has not been refused by editors and publishers, all of my short stories have been published or have bee accepted for publication, but I have always been independent and have admired people who have done things successfully on their own. I also feel very pressed by Time, the old Harvester who stands over my shoulder with a scythe reminding me that time moves on, even if nothing else does. Since that old Grim Reaper is a frequent character in my tales, I suppose we have a kind of pact.

Friends who have had publishing deals, with advances, have taught me a lot about this as well. By the time they find an agent who finds a buyer a year may pass. maybe more. By the time they get the deal and see their book in print, at least 18 months have gone by.

I have been writing seriously, with career in mind, for 12 years solid and have a huge backlog of novels waiting for polish. They are Dark Fantasies written before the Harry Potter craze and the vampire craze and a the faerie craze and in the years it has taken me to hone my craft, what were once rarities have become relentless – so does Time work its ways upon us.

Then, about 2 months ago, as I was seeing Kindle readers proliferate on the bus, I was turned on to Amanda Hocking and her success with ebooks. I studied up and realized I did not have to wait more years upon years to get my stories out there. Every writer must know that stories that stay buried in the cupboard for too long rankle in the soul, they clank their chains and cry “Let me out!” and you get tired of shushing them and saying “We have to be patient.” We understand why the often refused EA Poe wrote The Tomb of Ligeia about a woman buried alive. Stories are alive and they can’t stay buried while the wheels of the publishing world slowly grind you down.

I also have a few novellas, difficult beasts to publish because of their length. But i love them and read the ones I have over and over because they are short and satisfying. I figured these would be ideal for e-readers because the pages are so small, a novella becomes a short novel almost.

Therefore I say: I am mortal, therefore I self publish!

The Success of Les Refuses

For those who don’t know about it, I re-print this from Wikipedia about the impact of  Salon des Refuses, of how artists took matters into their own hands and changed the art world forever.

Many critics and the public ridiculed the refusés, which included such now-famous paintings as Édouard Manet‘s Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l’herbe) [1] and James McNeill Whistler‘s Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl. But the critical attention also legitimized the emerging avant-garde in painting. The Impressionists successfully exhibited their works outside the Salon beginning in 1874. Subsequent Salons des Refusés were mounted in Paris in 1874, 1875, and 1886, by which time the popularity of the Paris Salon had declined for those who were more interested in Impressionism…

FREE!

The Lady in Yellow – Victorian Gothic with Werewolves

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/150569

 

 

Roses, Briars and Blood: a Gothic re-Telling of Sleeping Beauty

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/140027

 

For a limited time,  The Lady in Yellow will be FREE, or you can pay what you want. Roses, Briars and Blood has been selling very well too. If you enjoy them, please review them! I will be ever so grateful!

 

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The Joy of Readers

The Love of Sharing Stories

 

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

 

Today I uploaded my werewolf novella, The Lady in Yellow to Amazon Kindle and Smashwords. I went out this evening and came home to find that people had downloaded 14 copies of The Lady, plus many more copies of my other stories to a total of 28!

That happening in one night is pretty exciting. I have no idea what set it off, but I sure hope people love them and write me some reviews.

This is so exciting after working so hard for 10 years to hone my craft, sometimes wondering if I was mad to work so hard for nothing. Never knowing if I would succeed or if anyone would be even slightly interested. Just having them take a chance is very wonderful.

Thank you to everyone who took a chance on my stories! I really hope you like them.

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The Joy of Revision

The Joy of Revision

Photo by: Sama Hotoke

I got a Writer’s Digest workbook “Write Your Novel in 30 Days” because reading these things gets the Muses going even better than reading fiction or watching films for some odd reason. It has great advice of second drafts as well. In there is a list off agents’  pet peeves and among them is beginning a story with dialogue.

I was in theater for most of my life and love films and writing screenplays, so sometimes dialogue is what gets me into a story. This happened with The Roses of the Moon (Which I wrote the first draft of in 30 days in November 2007 without even knowing there was this Novel in 30 days  thing going on.) My editor told me it was very bad to open with dialogue, so I grudgingly brainstormed a setting description. It improves the book a lot!

The Lady in Yellow opened with  an entire page of dialogue I wasn’t sure about that, but reading the agents’ pet peeves convinced me to open with the setting. I think it improves the book a lot!

Won’t argue with that any more.

I’d be curious what you think is better.

EXAMPLES:

This was the old opening of my novel ( to be released this fall) The Roses of the Moon:

The Roses of the Moon

“Marcsa Virag! Get away from the door!”

The voice burst out like a blast of cold wind, blowing me into the shadows below the torchlight. The points of my shoes caught in the swirling hem of my shirts, tripping me to the floor. I broke my fall with my hands and, winded for a moment, glanced around for my doll. She was gone. I turned to look back the way I had come and, through a blur of tears, saw my doll’s small, dark shape lying in a wand of firelight between the wall and the door cracked open upon the private chambers of the Countess Orzsebet.

 

NEW VERSION:

The Roses of the Moon

Our castle was full of echoes. In the daylight hours, the walls reverberated with the noises of men going about their business. Sharp footsteps, low conversations, doors briskly opened and shut reassured me that the world was as in its proper order, that we were safe. But at night, the isolated sounds of women threaded through the maze of corridors and stairs: skirts rustling, hinges creaking, whispers, cries, and songs. Sometimes there were screams.

One evening, at dusk, I heard a voice like a golden bell ringing along an eerie minor scale. The voice led me down a long corridor to a door that was always closed to me. A seam of firelight streamed along its lower edge, a snort of dragon’s blood seeped out. The beautiful voice held me in its spell, then slowly faded away and the emptiness was filled with a chorus of deeper voices, chanting.

Clutching my doll to my heart, I pushed the door open just wide enough to see clouds of smoke, flashing candlelight, and white, disembodied faces.

“Marcsa Virag! Get away from the door!”

The reprimand struck like a blast of cold wind, blowing me back into the shadows below the torchlight. The points of my shoes caught in the swirling hem of my shirts, tripping me to the floor. I broke my fall with my hands and, lying winded for a moment, glanced around for my doll. She was gone. I turned to look back the way I had come and, through a blur of tears, saw its small, dark shape lying in a wand of firelight between the wall and the door, holding it open upon the private chambers of the Countess Orzsebet.

****

The Lady in Yellow – a tale of Victorian werewolves inspired by Henry James Turn of the Screw, will be available on Kindle this coming week.

A young governess takes a job at remote Belden House only to find herself falling deeply in love with a werewolf…

The first version of The Lady in Yellow is in the previous post. Compare it to this and tell me what you think:

The Lady in Yellow

Chapter One

*

The spindly agent stood behind his shining Chippendale desk reading Veronica‘s reference letter. The stack of papers neatly squared on his blotter was much higher than the the mere covering letter and two references she had sent him. Veronica shifted her gaze to the classical sculptures, the enormous paintings, the imposing floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. He’d said he had the perfect position for her: governess to a pair of twins. The bonnet ribbon tied at her throat felt much too tight. When the agent cleared his throat, so did her smile.

“Miss Everly?”

“Yes, Sir?”

The agent leveled an assessing gaze at Veronica through a pince nez perched on the end of his long, elevated nose. She straightened her shoulders, grateful for the support of her stays, and tucked the scuffed toes of her shoes under her hem.

He set the letter down on top of the stack of papers, squared them, and tapped them with the tip of his boney finger.  Then he picked it up again and, pacing away from the desk, perused the missive one more time. He sighed.

“You must understand, the twins are a bit difficult. Am I correct in seeing in your covering letter that you have had experience with a mad child?”

****

Trouble with writing is that you never stop learning. It makes me very glad that I have 10-12 years of unpublished manuscripts, that I never submitted them and that they have sat stewing until I know what to do an why to make them the best they can be. I hope once I get these polished and out the door, that the next several books I have cooking will come together much faster. Have I reached mastery? Guess I’ll  have to wait to find out.

I have to polish up:

Salome: The Seventh Queen – novella about Salome who danced for the head of John the Baptist and then regrets it. Now she must dance to bring him back to life. Horrific!

Memento Mori – novella of a remote English village haunted by ghosts of those who died of bubonic plague in 1666

Rosewolf – YA  novel about a girl werewolf

 Once those are done and out in the world, I am back to the fabulous right-brain world of writing a first draft!

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The Lady in Yellow

The Lady in Yellow, or Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw with Werewolves

Its also like Jane Eyre with werewolves which is also like Beauty and the Beast as are so many such romances.

I totally loved writing this novella. It was inspired by a photograph by Sir Simon Marsden of a Medieval mural in a chateau in France that shows a lady in a yellow gown in the jaws of a wolf. Its is a lot like this, but much more sexual. The Lady in Yellow very much enjoys being carried off by the wolf.I have figured out that werewolves are really metaphors for over-sexed men, rampaging beasts, wolves as they are still known to this day. In Sir Simon’s  tale, the lady was a beautiful libertine who wore a yellow dress. I used this story as a starting point for my tale of Veronica Everly, a Victorian governess who takes a position at  the remote Belden House to teach a pair of identical and androgynous twins. She soon finds herself in the midst of terrible events rooted in an ancient curse form the side of their French mother, Sovay. Veronica falls in love with their father, Rafe de Grimston who forces her to take a stand she cannot even bear to contemplate.

I have been working on a cover which is difficult because I don’t know my way around digital art. I haven’t been able to do what I would like,which is to use Simon Marsden’s picture on the cover with color added – especially the yellow dress. So far I have this:

I’m not sure I can use it… but its a start. That’s Lily Langtrey who looks  very much like my heroine. Veronica.

This is the opening of The Lady in Yellow

The Lady in Yellow

by Alyne de Winter

Chapter One

“You must understand, the twins are a bit difficult. Am I correct in seeing in your cover letter that you have had experience with a mad child?”

The agent leveled his assessing gaze at Veronica through a pince nez perched on the end of his long, elevated nose.

“Yes. By God’s grace I was able to help her to live an almost normal life. Sequestered but normal.”

He sniffed, nodded.

“The twins are merely unusual. They are identical. White enough to be albinos, but their eyes are pale green. They are also, well, androgynous. Have you ever met a person about whom is was impossible to tell whether they were male or female? That is the case with the twins. So the family decided to name them one for a girl and one for a boy. The boy is called Jacques, and the girl is Jacqueline.”

“Are they French?”

“On their mother’s side. They actually own a chateau in the Auvergne but Mr. Rafe de Grimston spends all of his time trying to sell it. The family fortune is in a terrible shambles since the tragic loss of his wife. She had all the money, you see.”

“So, I shall not see much of him.”

“Indeed. Mr. de Grimston is rarely at home. This position requires a great deal of responsibility and endurance, Miss Everly. You will have to make many decisions on your own.”

The agent looked Veronica up and down, squinted as if he were scrutinizing her for cracks. She smiled, straightened her shoulders, grateful for the support of her stays. The agent went on.

“Mrs. de Grimston was a very elegant, very beautiful woman. Her children adored her and have refused to accept a governess in her place. But you, Miss Everly, pretty as you are….. Forgive me, but why would such an attractive girl as you are choose to work when you could have your pick of gentlemen?”

“Well, Sir, my parents are dead so I must support myself. And I do thoroughly enjoy teaching. I got used to all types of children growing up at Saint Mary’s.”

“Are you a religious girl, Miss Everly?’

“But of course. Saint Mary’s is a religious institution. We attended Mass every day, though I am not as conscientious about it as I used to be.”

Frowning and biting his lip, the agent flipped through Veronica’s paperwork, scrutinizing it again. Then he looked up at her.

“Very well then.” He sighed. “Though you are young….What is it? Twenty-one? Your references are impeccable.  Especially the report of your success with the mad child. I will give you the position. Just be aware that the journey to Belden House takes three days and nights by train. You will be far from all you know, and those who know you.”

“I’m sure I shall make new friends,” Veronica said brightly. “I am so looking forward to this.”

The contract signed, Veronica’s curiosity got the better of her.

“May I ask, Sir, what happened to Mrs. de Grimston?”

The agent cleared his throat. “That is a mystery Miss Everly. No one knows for sure….”

Tiffany Cole

A very nice writer girl, Tiffany Cole will review this story on April 23rd, so I must have it up on Kindle by then. Find her at:

http://www.honestcrits.com/:

 

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Getting there…

My New Blog 

As you can see this new blog is improving little by little. I forgot how much time it takes.

I decided that 2011 was the year I was going to publish, come Hell or high water. I am impatient. Too impatient to submit longer work over and over, too impatient to submit my novels, wait for replies and, if accepted, wait another 18 months for it to be in print. If I was 25 it might be different, but I’m not.

Time is not of the essence, it is the essence.

Over the summer of 2011, I sent out lots of short stories. All of them found homes. This was very exciting! It gave me ,not only confidence in my work, but a sense of having created a body of work. I do love the tradition of becoming know for short stories and then the novels come out to a hopefully warmed-up public. I have joined the tradition and that feels great!

My novellas on the other hand had difficulties. Novellas are notoriously hard to sell because they too long or too short. SO, I was inspired by this to publish them on Kindle.

My Amazon Page

You can visit my Amazon page here: Alyne de Winter’s Page.

The first one up is one that lots of people have liked at open mics, but it is an odd length. So up Roses, Briars and Blood: A Gothic Re-Telling of Grimms’ Briar Rose went on the Kindle where it takes on the size of short novel!

Then great Aubrey Beardsley helped out with the cover art. He is an old inspiration of mine.

 

This is the opening of Roses, Briars and Blood. As you can see, I’ve made it very atmospheric.

Roses, Briars and Blood

by

Alyne de Winter

Chapter One

The Queen longed for a child. Though she conceived, she could not carry. They simply slipped out of her womb in a torrent of blood. Her tears did not matter; she could not command them to stay the course. Frightened of the mocking laughter and sly whispers of the Courtiers, the Queen dressed in widow’s white and retreated into the dim lit Halls of Melancholy where the echoes of disembodied voices, the tap, tap, tapping of distant footsteps, and the soft pattering of snow falling upon snow were the only sounds she heard.

The King looked askance at the frail Queen, and complained. She was ever so pale, like that luminous, crown-petaled flower that glows along the dim paths and the banks of the streams that lead into the deeper shadows of the Otherworld. The fine, flax colored hair, and the small, perfect features that had drawn him with their poignant delicacy, were now an arrangement of signs and portents that hinted of thin, fragile bones, and a slipshod womb.

So, the King’s disappointed sighs filled the halls of the castle, followed, as the time wore on, by great majestic groans. The Queen grew anxious. Would the King seek to put her away and find another who could give him the heir he craved?

*****

I have more stories at Amazon kindle if you care to take a look.

Also, check out my other blogs: Gothic Faery Tales.com

And Winterspells.com

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