A Good Start
I tend to have very particular dreams.
Last night, after celebrating the release of my first novel, Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling, I dreamt that a book appeared mysteriously on my nightstand. It was bound in cracked black leather, and the letters of the title were embossed in faded white paint: How To Be a Successful Writer.
I’ve been in something of a panic leading up to my “release date”, and the term itself has come to mean more than just the sale date of the book as neuroses and anxieties I didn’t know I possessed have slowly started bleeding into every facet of my life. Have I done everything I could to get the word out? Is there anyone else I should have tweeted at? Is it weird that I’m Googling my book so often? Will people like it, and if not, DEAR LORD WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM?!
In the dream, I picked up the book and began to flip through its pages. There was one section dedicated to blogger outreach strategies, and I distinctly remember a passage about how authoring a guest post on The Qwillery, would improve readership by 37%. Whether this detail was a result of the fact that I was terribly late on delivering the post you’re now reading, or a simple reminder that Sally was the first blogger to welcome me to the surreal and wonderful world of book promotion remains a question for my subconscious. Try as I might, I’ve been unable to recall any further specifics from the mystery book. It’s faded away, my nightstand is empty, and I remain as anxious as before, consumed by the question that the book articulated: how do I know if I’m doing this right?
It’s a strange thing to put your heart and soul into the writing of a novel for years on end, because the moment the book is released into the world it stops being the author’s. In many ways, the writer is losing something secret and special that no one else could ever understand as well as they do, until, that is, someone else reads it and the book becomes theirs. To truly share a piece of yourself, you have to be willing to lose it entirely, to let it become part of someone else’s life.
In the end, the only rule that matters is to let go. Not to stop caring, but to acknowledge that you did what you set out to do. The “secret” of the book may be gone, but that doesn’t make it any less real. The “success” of the book is that it happened at all, and for me, it’s sitting on the shelf at my local Barnes and Noble between Judy Blume and Boccaccio. For now, that’s a good start.
Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling
Charlotte Markham and the House of DarklingWilliam Morrow Paperbacks, July 24, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
When the nanny to the young Darrow boys is found mysteriously murdered on the outskirts of the village of Blackfield, Charlotte Markham, the recently hired governess, steps in to take over their care. During an outing in the forest, they find themselves crossing over into The Ending, "the place for the Things Above Death," where Lily Darrow, the late mother of the children, has been waiting. She invites them into the House of Darkling, a wondrous place filled with enchantment, mystery, and strange creatures that appear to be, but are not quite, human.
However, everything comes with a price, and as Charlotte begins to understand the unspeakable bargain Mrs. Darrow has made for a second chance at motherhood, she uncovers a connection to the sinister occurrences in Blackfield and enters into a deadly game with the master of Darkling—one whose outcome will determine the fate of not just the Darrows but the world itself.
Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling is a Victorian Gothic tale about family ties, the realm beyond the living, and the price you pay to save those you love.