Whereas each of my first three drafts took six to eight months to complete, I began writing Save Me, Rip Orion in February and was finished, along with another edit, by Mother’s Day 2012. No trudging along until November this time. Luckily, I was able to import several large chunks of story from Anymore Forever via the greatest invention in human history, the “copy and paste” tool. I suppose that the quickened rate of speed in which I finished the novel was directly proportional to my pre-chapter 1 preparation. As in my prior attempt, I had a note card for each scene in the manuscript. Many of the note cards contained sloppily written sentences that curled in funky loops in order to fit in the diminishing white space. I also required a lot more note cards this time.
When I began scribbling my notes Kait’s stomach was taut (taut is a funny sounding word). When I concluded the first edit her stomach was already very, ah, pokey-outy. She was only in her second trimester, but judging by her pokey-outyness I’d say she could’ve easily passed as third trimester. The Parents magazines continued to appear in the mailbox monthly, but now their journey ended at the coffee table rather than the milk crate in the basement.
One of my concerns pertaining to my first three drafts of the novel was the lack of a sufficient one sentence synopsis. Furthermore, I could not conjure a buzzword that would instantly make ears perk. When the idea occurred to me to integrate the superhero element into my existing storyline, the pieces began to fit. First of all, the word superhero is attractive. When someone asks me what the novel is about, the word superhero is in my answer. Most importantly, the superhero theme fit each of the character’s plights, and glued together bits of the plot.
At the risk of being labeled as pompous or pretentious, I am going to take a moment to explain what I hoped to achieve with Save Me, Rip Orion. I really had two themes in mind, one being that fantasies fail. Several of the characters fantasize about either becoming a savior, or believing that a savior will come to their rescue. Roscoe fantasies about saving Marcy from the clutches of her past; Mitch fantasies about saving his relationship with his son; Damon fantasies about saving himself from obscurity and recapturing his glory days. The second theme concerns deciphering the “good guy” from the “bad guy”, and how that distinction is really just a matter of perspective. Roscoe and Mitch mirror the comic book superheroes of their youth, Rip Orion and his sidekick Scutum. The arsonist at large mirrors the comic book villain, the flame-throwing Fornax. Even Damon, a textbook antagonist because he is in opposition to Roscoe, harbors heroic intentions. I chose the tagline “In order to save the world, he had to become the villain.” for good reason.
After I finished the novel I kicked back for a few months. In the meantime, I watched Kait’s stomach become gradually more pokey-outy until the poor girl almost needed some kind of mobile truss system to aide her in her daily ventures. Although the bulge may have been the bane of her existence (the weight of the bulge, not the contents), it had a practical purpose for me; it was a ticking clock. When the alarm would go off (baby comes out) I would need to transition from author to father. Remember, I told Kait “Let me have my baby than you can have yours.” I had precious little time left to deliver.
Rather than go the traditional, dying route of mailing dozens of query letters and such to agents and publishing houses I decided to self publish. I hired a great editor, Chris O’Bryne, who offered me half his typical rate to edit my manuscript; he said it was well-written enough to qualify for this hefty discount. (I received several quotes, and none were as generous as Mr. O’Bryne’s) Besides correcting grammar and sentence structure and the like, he also offered some valuable insight into big pictures issues. I made some changes, including writing two new scenes, and then allowed him to format the manuscript to suit different e-reader platforms. Once completed, I uploaded my draft to the Amazon Kindle store and Smashwords, who distributes to Barnes and Noble’s Nook store, and other fine retailers.
As a matter of opinion, going the indie/ebook route offers many advantages. A book is downloadable instantly, from anywhere in the world. Plus, digital books are not pulled from digital shelves. Furthermore, an author controls all aspects of publication, including the cover. Kait designed mine.
I did face the problem of how to categorize Save Me, Rip Orion. The novel is not genre fiction. In fact, the story is a somewhat lighthearted generic mystery until a twist occurs about halfway through that blows up the formula. The novel certainly should be considered an addition into the literary fiction universe foremost. I also added it to already overstuffed action/adventure bin as well.
Uriah erupted from my wife’s birth canal on September 21st, of 2012, 11 days after Save Me, Rip Orion was published. I had my baby and Kait had hers; except I’m claiming ownership of both babies. Uriah is a healthy bulldozer of an infant. (As of this writing his body size is in the 70th percentile in terms of size; his head is in the 90th percentile.) I dug up and dusted off the 2010 and 2011 issues of Parents magazine from the basement and placed them on the bottom compartment on the coffee table. What’s more, Kait now has a badass double breast pump, purchased just yesterday. It looks like an alien dual action laser gun.
These are good days. Villains be damned.
These are good days. Villains be damned.