Ten days ago at the New Jersey Romance Writers Conference, I gave a speech about the changing landscape of publishing. (Putting that talk together was a real chore, because really, who knows???!!) But today’s blog is about some of the interesting things that can be tossed up by the eddies of the new publishing river.
Years ago, Jo Beverley and Karen Harbaugh and Barbara Samuel and I did an anthology called Faery Magic—historical romance novellas involving faeries. It was the first of three anthologies we did together, and a whopping great amount of fun, as author generated anthologies so often are. We go wild with world building and bouncing ideas off each other and a good time was had by all. Much time was spent discussing the usages of faery, fairy, and Faerie. (Okay, so maybe one has to be a word wonk to enjoy such discussions. <G>)
Faery Magic was published in 1998. and reissued with a new cover several years later when it became ripe for the reversion of rights to the authors. In those distant days (around 2004), authors were generally very happy to have books reissued.
But when reversion time recently rolled around again, the publishing landscape had changed. Any author reclaiming her rights can now indie publish a novella in e-book format, and maybe make some reasonable money.
I’ve indie published backlist novellas before: I have a four novella holiday collection called Christmas Mixchief , and my one contemporary Christmas novella, A Christmas Fling, is available as a free standing story.
So I asked for reversion of rights on my story, Dangerous Gifte. But this is where the twist came in. Kensington said they were starting a new e-only line and would like to publish my story as part of that. I was torn. I’m very possessive about my stories (MINE, MINE, MINE!!!!), which is why I’ve always been quick to revert rights when possible, a habit which has stood me well in the new age of indie e-booking.
But Kensington is also my principal publisher and they’ve done very well by me. After much indecision and further coaxing by my editor (imagine trying to lure a feral cat to hand), I decided it would be an interesting experiment to have my publisher put out a novella electronically. So as of last Thursday, Dangerous Gifts is available from all the usual downloading places, including the Kensington site. Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.
Dangerous GIfts is a Regency riff on “be careful what you ask for.” I reread the story a few days ago, and remembered how much I enjoyed writing it. A faery lord, Ranulph of the Wood, becomes enamored of the enchanting harp music of a girl who plays in his woods, which are on her father’s estate. He wants to bring her into Faerie so he can always have her music, but there are rules about how this can be done. So he offers her a faery bargain: the greatest wish of her heart in return for her performing any one of three simplel tasks.
The plain, lonely daughter of elderly parents, Leah Marlowe yearns to be beautiful and beloved. Such a dream seems impossible until a handsome, well dressed London gentleman magically appears in front of her as she plays in her favorite glade:
“I am Ranulph of the Wood, a lord of Faerie," he said softly. "I can give you beauty so great that it will bring all mortal men to their knees. Wealth, fame, the love of heroes—you can have whatever, or whomever, you most desire.”
She gaped at him. He was mad; there could be no explanation. Or perhaps she was merely dreaming.
“This is no dream.” Ranulph took her right hand and raised it to his lips, pressing a cool kiss on her tense fingers. “It is a sign of your own magical gift of music that you can see me. Usually only sorcerers or simple country people can see the Folk, but sometimes artists and poets and musicians can also.”
She pulled her hand away, beginning to wonder if by some wild chance this encounter could be real. The woods around her had always had an uncanny reputation, and the villagers avoided the area. Leah came to this glade to play because the music inside her was always most powerful here. “If you’re a faery, prove it.”
He shook his head sadly. “So skeptical, you modern mortals.” He reached inside his coat and drew out a small looking glass. Then he extended it to her, his fingers trailing sparkling light. “See what you might be.”
Leah looked into the glass, and almost passed out with shock. The image revealed was stunningly beautiful. Her mousy brown hair had become a marvelously thick, glossy mane streaked with sun-kissed blondness, while her nondescript, gray-green eyes were a striking shade of green. Her fair skin seemed almost to glow and her features had been refined to exquisite perfection. Yet eerily, the face was still hers.
The image shimmered, and suddenly it showed plain Leah Marlowe again. She gave a small whimper of protest at the loss of that vision of loveliness.
Will true love survive the dangers of a faery bargain? Trust me. <G> It’s a fairly long novella and includes more than one romance, a dazzling female faery from India, and a magical cat with long, fluffy black fur.
A great advantage of e-pubbing is that stories like Dangerous Gifts that have been buried in old anthologies can become readily available. Readers who are completists and want to glom all of a particular author will find it easier to do. Me, I’m just glad to have a favorite story available again.
What do you think of this new trend for e-publishing long lost stories? Have you pounced on some that you’ve long wanted to read? Are there such stories you’d love to see e-pubbed?
Mary Jo, wishing everyone magical cats of their own <G>