Monday, April 25, 2005

How I Got Here, Part 41

Happy Monday, BGs.

I am traveling back to California today from Kentucky. The Ichthus festival was over Saturday night. Man. The Kentucky weather didn't exactly cooperate. A tornado warning Friday night shut down the performance. And Saturday night we rocked out in the snow for the closing performances. Of course on Sunday--after the festival was over--it was warming up, and the sun managed to come out. But hey, think of the memories. I'm already looking forward to going back next year.

Before we return to our Never-Ending Saga--thank y'all for the comments left Friday. Glad to hear about some of your own experiences with Christian rock festivals. Ron--you don't need to wait for your daughter to grow up as an excuse to go to Ichthus. Pull a Nike and just do it. My daughter's 15 now, and do you think she would go with me? Not on your life. To be seen with a rockin'-out mom would be waaaay too embarrassing.

Kathy K--so glad to hear this blog helped prepare you for a manuscript rewrite. That makes me very happy. Cindy and Tina--thanks for the kind words about Eyes of Elisha.

Okay. We ended our NES last week with September 2001 approaching and my awaiting the release of Eyes of Elisha. With much trepidation. Then on the 11th tragedy struck our nation, and for some time all other worries were put aside. I did not know anyone personally who worked in the Twin Towers. I consider myself one of the fortunates.

At the end of that month, Eyes of Elisha began releasing from the warehouse. It was showing up in most bookstores by mid October. Oh, what it felt like to hold that first copy in my hand! It was just as exciting as it had been to see Cast a Road Before Me for the first time. And the cover was way more cool in person than seeing its picture on a computer. The thing was glossy, see, and you could run your hand over the knife blade and feel its edge. Wow! My heart just went thumpety-thump. The first novel I ever wrote--now published!

I proudly placed a copy of the book on its stand on the top of my office partition. Stood back and looked at it, all glowy-hearted. Four stands now full.

As copies began to hit shelves, I emailed my writers loops and sent out copies of the cover flats. Lots of my friends promised to read it. Great. I'd sell--maybe 100 copies.

The Publisher's Weekly review came in. Favorably! "Collins, a general market crime author turned CBA novelist, pens a chilling tale of suspense that makes a worthy contribution to the sparse genre of Christian mystery fiction...a confusing, twisting trail that keeps pages turning." Library Journal's review called it: "A thriller that keeps the reader guessing until the end." RT BOOKclub (Romantic Times) said: "Don't forget to BREATHE. Unique and intriguing...filled with more turns than a winding mountain highway—and just as dangerous. Will Brandilyn Collins become the Mary Higgins Clark of Christian fiction? No doubt about it."

"Aha," y'all are saying about that RT review. Yup. You are right. My tagline that I still use today, "Don't forget to b r e a t h e . . .", came from that review. Amazon reader reviews were also very favorable. Well. Except one that . . . wasn't. Here it is in all its glory:

"This book typifies what is wrong with most 'Christian' fiction. I am a Christian--but I also like to read books with intelligence and depth--this book doesn't have much of either. The plot is see-through, the characters are shallow, and as is typical of this genre, every problem is a 'spiritual' one. Most characters are 'good' or 'bad', and the ones that aren't are wishy washy 'spiritually lost' people whom we are to pity for their lack of 'knowledge' about God. The only reason I kept reading after about the 4th chapter was that I was sure the book would get better--I was wrong."

Ah, me. I consoled myself with the belief that this person (who of course didn't sign a name) never read the book. Actually, I still believe this. Note the very general statements. Nothing specific about the book mentioned. Comments like "see through plot" and "every problem is a spiritual one" really did it for me. I find the latter comment particularly odd, since there's a murder on about, oh, page 3.

Whether the writer of this review read the book or not, there's a lesson to be learned. If he/she did: ya can't please everybody. (Where have you heard that before?) And if he/she didn't: there are those who simply don't like even the idea of Christian fiction because of what it stands for, and if they spot a chance to cut it down, they will. Be prepared.

By the end of October, Eyes of Elisha was on shelves everywhere. In the last week of that month I got great news.

It had gone into its second printing.

Yowsa! Time to Snoopy dance and polish cabinets! I was sooo excited, I could hardly stand it. My second novel to be published was actually selling. What a concept!

And it was gonna keep selling. It was gonna do well. I just knew it. It had to, after all the years I'd worked on it.


Oh, boy. Wouldn't be long before I learned the truth about that question.

Read Part 42


Tina Helmuth said...

I don't think the person who wrote that review did read the book. It sounded like a rant about what he/she doesn't like about CBA fiction in general. Eyes of Elisha was intelligent, the characters were NOT shallow, and I was surprised by more than one twist in the "see-through" plot.

Of course you hardly need this consolation now. It's funny how, even though I know you're now a best-selling author, I still tend to empathize with where you're at in the NES. As always, you left me wanting to hear more.

mrsd said...

'...polish cabinets' :D Yay for the cabinets!

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Brandilyn, it's your willingness to share the ups and downs of your NES that make this so helpful (and your talent as a writer that make it so entertaining). Thank you.

C.J. Darlington said...

Just want to agree that the cover of Eyes of Elisha is a grabber. That must be an amazing feeling to hold a book that looks that great (and has your name on it!) in your hands.

What would you say is your favorite book cover of all the books you've done so far?