Hey, have you heard? It’s Women in Horror Month, which means all of us spooky gals are at full tilt, slapping you across the face with our books, burning our bras, and yelling at you about the patriarchy. Girl power!
Which is why this next part is probably going to make me sound like some sort of anti-feminist jerk, but I think Women in Horror Month is a bit overblown. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I understand why we need it—and we do need it. There are still a few dudes out there that genuinely believe chicks can’t write horror because vaginas aren’t scary. (Clearly, they have no idea WTF they're talking about on multiple fronts.) That said, in my ever-so-humble opinion, if you’re only reading horror books by chicks in the month of February, you’re a dolt. Please lean forward so I can slap you across the face with one of my books.
And now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I can skip adding to the WiHM noise (because seriously, by the end of this month you’ll be up to your eyeballs in WiHM-related blog posts and book recommendations) and, talk about myself. Because hey! I’m a woman in horror, it’s February, and I just finished an edit on my next novel, “If You See Her”, so this blog serves as a nice breather from all the shadows and spiderwebs that make up my spongy brain.
In my last blog post (and most recently on my Facebook page), I told you that I’d be sharing some news about my upcoming projects and some developments regarding my writing career. I’m going to make good on that now, but I want to clarify that sharing this news isn’t something I take lightly. I’ve spent more than a few restless nights (thanks, Baby Bird) stressing out about what the hell to do with myself, career-wise. Because that contract I had with Gallery Books? It’s over. Finito. And the book I offered them as a follow up (not “If You See Her”, but a domestic thriller I’ll talk about a bit later) seemed to only garner half-hearted interest. Meanwhile, my own heart screams “this book is fucking fantastic”. Pair that with a less-than-stellar advance offer, and, well…it was one of the scariest things I’d ever done, but I decided to walk. Every so often we are given a chance to stand up for ourselves and what matters to us most. It was my time to do that, to champion the integrity of my work and the fact that, oh hey, I’m actually kind of good at this writing thing. (That, of course, is subjective. But if you’re reading this blog and you think my stuff sucks, please lean forward so I can slap you across the face with one of my books.)
I’m not saying that my publisher didn’t think my work was good. Of course they did. I wouldn’t have ever gotten a contract otherwise, and I truly did enjoy working with everyone that crossed my path during my time with Simon & Schuster. But I also feel that they had lost some of their enthusiasm for my stuff. Or maybe it’s simply a lack of enthusiasm for the type of book I presented. Is the domestic thriller on the outs? Pft, come on. I wasn’t born yesterday. But none of that matters. It all boils down to the fact that striking a half-hearted deal for a book I feel so strongly about felt wrong. So, I bailed. No hard feelings. This stuff happens all the time. (I think.)
My agent and I decided we would “shop” the thriller to major publishers, cross our fingers, and see what came of it. Well, it’s been a year and a half, and you know what came of it? Absolutely nothing. Yeah, that’s right. I was as shocked as you are. Actually, I’m lying. I wasn’t shocked. If anything, the more time that passes, the more sardonic I become about the whole thing. The more those old feelings of “screw this nonsense” come back to me, scratching at my insides like a pissed-off alley cat. Because it’s hard, guys, really hard, to listen to your agent explain that this publisher and that publisher “liked the book a lot, but it’s not quite what they’re looking for.” It’s tough to have someone tell you that your idea isn’t original enough while bestseller after bestseller seems like a repeat of itself. Different covers and different authors, but the same story over and over again.
So, after a year and a half of sitting around, waiting for someone to validate my work (again), after having a baby and being forced to shift my perspective on, well, everything (including how scary vaginas really can be)…I finally made a decision.
I started this journey on my own with “Seed”. And I’ll be damned if I came this far only to come this far. So, see you later New York City. I’ve got shit to publish, and I’m not getting any goddamn younger.
“If You See Her” has the feel of a classic haunted house story with a splash of exorcism for taste. My goal is to publish this proverbial baby by my literal baby’s first birthday, which is in mid-May. I do not, however, know whether this is feasible. The manuscript is 95% there. It still needs a few more run-throughs so my perfectionism and anxiety can reach their crippling peak,. But I expect I’ll be done-done by the end of February. I’m also working with the designer that gave you the original “Seed” cover, the illustrious Jeroen ten Berge, which I'm quite excited about, if I do say so myself. If you need cover work for your own stuff, he’s one of the best in the biz.
That said, I feel completely out of my depth. I have no idea what advancements and changes have been made in the self-publishing market since “Seed” was released. So, yeah, I’m shooting for mid-May. But it might be later. Because I might have a mental breakdown. I will, of course, keep everyone updated regarding the release and my mental state.
As far as the domestic thriller goes: if, by some miracle, my agent can find it a home by this summer, we may put it with a publisher. But honestly? It’s been so long that it’s probably a long shot, and they'd have to offer me a hell of a deal. I have, however, made peace with this particular reality. And if reality dictates that the thriller has to be self-published as well, so be it. How do two new Ahlborn books within the span of a single year sound? Good? Good. Because that’s what you’re going to get, friends. Lean forward. I'm winding up for the pitch.
I’ve also forayed into shorter work and will have a couple of short stories coming at you by way of two anthologies. “The Debt” will be published in Hex Life, which is a ladies-only (girl power!) witch-themed anthology slated for an October release. “The Governess” will be featured in a yet-to-be-titled anthology coming out this summer via Cemetery Gates.
So, there you have it. News, news, and more news. When all is said and done, I'm actually setting myself up to be a busy little bee for a decent stretch. Girl power! (Sorry. I had to.)
I will, of course, blog about my (mis)adventures during this whole rediscovery process. I might even blog about mid-publishing meltdowns and panic attacks. You guys, what if I get so overwhelmed I end up in a mental institution? Exciting, right? Imagine the material!
Now, go read some horror by some kick-ass women. They’ll have to keep you sustained while I fumble my way through this new-yet-familiar territory. I should probably Google 'South Carolina mental health facility' while I'm at it. You know, just in case.