Thursday, March 2, 2017

Cannon and prologue and the art of telling a story



A long time ago I wrote this short story about a football player and a Marine who were high school best friends who fell in love but went their separate ways after school. The final word count was around twenty-three thousand words. I wrote the story in five days.

The reason I wrote the story was because I'd quit. I was finished. I didn't want to write anymore. I didn't want to deal with publishers anymore. I was gutted and bitter and hurt and angry. I wrote that book as a fuck you to the publisher who'd just stolen pretty much everything from me that was possible to steal. My books, my money, my reputation, my peace of mind. That publisher fucked me over in a way that still haunts me five years later. I wrote that book because I wasn't going to let that fucker have the pleasure of destroying me.

Six Ways from Sunday was my first completely independent self published book. It was my third self pub but the first two were previously with a different publisher. Six Ways from Sunday wasn't my biggest selling book ever, but it was something that gave me hope. I could do this. I could write and be independent and have this dream and people would read me. But I was on my own and I had no one to guide me through the process. Mistakes were made. I still make mistakes. The story was never a mistake.

Six Ways from Sunday was written in five days. It was supposed to be a stand alone short and I was going to write a few more stand alone shorts with a day of the week in the title and release them as an anthology.

Six Ways from Sunday was NEVER supposed to be part of a series. NEVER.

There were no characters in the 6Ways to spawn a series for. Just two men. There were no players named. There were no friends. A couple of parents. Some coaches. No one to ever think... what if... about. There were no What If's about anything for a second book.

Until Levi Brody sat up in bed and said he was the Brody mentioned in that book and he had shit to talk about.

Sidelined was not supposed to be linked to 6Ways in any way shape or form. Hell, Levi wasn't supposed to even be with the New Orleans team. Until he was.

And the whys and what ifs started. Why was Levi not getting ready for the season? Why was he injured? Was it just an injury? What if he had a broken heart? I thought maybe he was supposed to be straight and maybe lost his girlfriend and came home to take comfort with an old friend. But Tracy said they weren't friends. Tracy was very emphatic in his dislike of Levi...why did Tracy hate Levi so damned much?

Because Levi had the career he wanted? It happens. But no. Because he was a rival? Maybe. Maybe one he'd had a huge thing for and Levi didn't know he existed.
Yep.

But if Levi hated coming back there... why was he back there?

He lost his career and had his heart broken. Oh... okay... and oh wait... Bo... Bo broke his heart.

It happens in romance all the time. The next book focuses on the jilted potential lover finally finding his/her true love.

That was the trope. Yep. Winner winner.

So backstory was needed. If he had a thing with Bo, it would have been after... or because of.
Because of.
Because Bo's story didn't include those months that Dylan was dead then presumed dead. Because Bo's story didn't go into detail on how he survived those months as the first homosexual in a highly homophobic sport. Or how his team treated him.

Or how the deeply closeted quarterback reacted to having to face his own worst fears. While developing feelings he could never show. And then losing the first person he gave a shit about.

Because the goddamned backstory from that time period would never need to be told.
Nooo....
Because those seven months never happened and everyone can get on with their HEA and nothing will ever come of it.

Until it does.
And it will.
Because that's the whole fucking point of Blindsided.
Those seven months will come back to fuck everybody in the ass. EVERYBODY! Because Bo and Levi had an illicit affair while playing on the same football team. And because Levi's father is an evil fucking bastard who will ruin everyone to ruin his son.

But there's the problem.

6Ways and Sidelined are classic romances. And Blindsided will not be a romance.

And then there's Offside Chance and Last Man Standing. And classic romance. And ROMANCE. And HEA and Bo and Levi fucked. And Dylan and Levi hate each other. Because they seriously need to fuck...but that's not cannon.

And Blindsided must be rooted in cannon if it is to exist.

Cannon in literary terms is that what has happened on the page is real, that what is not on the page is not real. It has to be written in official published form to be cannon. Short stories and ficlets and conversations on a blog or in notes during a brain storming session does not cannon make. It must be where the reader can easily access the information... to be cannon.

Past is prologue. God, I loathe prologues. Especially in contemporary romance. Start at the damned beginning, but if the beginning was years ago that's backstory. Prologues to relay backstory are tedious. I don't give a crap what other people think. I loathe them. I loathe reading them. I barely like epilogues. Epilogues are future... and fill the void...and more importantly put a punctuation mark in any future sequels. If I don't want to write a sequel... and I hate writing sequels... I epilogue. If I might write a sequel...and I hate writing sequels...I can always work around an epilogue...because it's future.

Sidelined started at the epilogue of 6Ways. They are concurrent. Last Man Standing runs concurrent with the beginning of Blindsided. If you're looking for answers to the epilogue of Bootleg Diva, read LMS. If you're looking for hints about Blind...read LMS.

But the problem with Blindsided is that I wrote half of a book that was supposed to end the series, but ended up telling the entire backstory of those missing seven months. And I cancelled that book because I thought I didn't need it. I thought I would never finish it. Because the second half would be the months after Dylan came home through to the end of Blindsided...which is still unfinished...and it's unfinished because I need that goddamned backstory to finish this story or...there's no reason for Blindsided at all. I could simply write a short story where Levi and Jude confront their father and they live happily ever after....but I left so much unanswered. So many small dangling details woven throughout the middle books that have nothing whatsoever to do with Bo and Dylan...and everything to do with Bo and Levi and those seven months Dylan was dead.

So what does one do when the need to write a ton of backstory overshadows a project to the point one will just be writing backstory to explain why Bo and Levi have a sex tape...because it won't make any damned sense to have one go public to ruin Bo if I never wrote about the time Bo and Levi accidentally made a sex tape...or when Bo met Liv. Or when Levi helped him buy his house. So when Jude realizes Bo bought his house from Jude it won't be funny to anyone but me.

Cannon.

None of that is cannon.

And I don't want to write a two hundred thousand word book just to cover flashbacks and shit when I already have all of this written in half a book that will never be published.

But what if I publish it?

What if I change the title, because the first half has nothing to do with Sunday going to school. And it is a complete retelling of the first book and dear god what have I done? How did one stupid little five day hastily thrown together sex story become so fucking complicated?

Because it's me and that's how I roll.

Did you skip Bootleg Diva because it's not part of the story? Did you skip Last Man Standing because they're not the original characters and you have no idea why they're there?

Did you hate my guts and swear to never read another word because Levi fucked up Bo's HEA?

Why the hell is Levi the damned Mary Stu of my life? Why can't I kill him to end my misery?

Any Given Sunday is not going to make a lot of people happy.

I retold Six Ways from Sunday. From the day they met at age seven. Until Dylan is resurrected. There are sex scenes with other men. This is not a romance. It is the parts between what already exists in 6Ways. It's the parts that weren't mentioned between the day Bo finds out Dylan is dead and the day he finds out he's alive. It's all of the flashbacks from Sidelined. And some of Bootleg Diva is thrown in for good measure...or rather, the parts of Levi's memoir that Bo is aware of. Which means Liv. Because Bo is the only one of the seven characters who knows the real Levi. That includes Tracy. And Liv isn't the real Levi.

So...if it is published it is cannon. I need it to be published so I can finish Blindsided.

It is not a romance. It is graphic and destroys everything you thought you knew. But it never swerves from what is cannon. It is all there, in Six Ways from Sunday and Sidelined. Every bit of it.

I'm not going to write a blurb. Only a warning. It will be listed as a companion book. You'll be lost without reading it. But if you skip it, that means you skipped Sidelined. So Blindsided won't matter because it's Levi's ending.

Will I finish what I started in what was formerly titled Sunday Schooled and give Bo and Dylan their ending? We'll see how badly Blindsided kills me. And what pieces need to be picked up. If any, then it will come behind Blindsided.

When will Blindsided be published?????????

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Not a damned clue. After it's finished. It's barely started.

So... there we are.

I start edits for Any Given Sunday tonight. Cover is in the works. I'll set a date when the first edit is finished and the art is approved.

Cold Shadow will follow two weeks later. But that's a completely different story altogether.

Mercy

3 comments:

  1. I just...lotta feels. I'm in awe of what you do. I trust you to tell the stories that need to be told and I don't care about genre or hea. I like honesty and I like characters who struggle. We all struggle. Not everyone gets a hea. I've never hated you or your work. It speaks to me. Thank you for doing what you do.

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  2. Hi Mercy, I have read all these interconnected books, and I am really looking forward to this companion book. I love that your characters are so complex and the plots are so interwoven and frenetic. You have an amazingly individual style and I am hanging for this book. Cheers, Linda

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  3. Any fan of the “Summer Scrimmage” series who hasn’t read “Bootleg Diva” has missed out on an indescribable amount of backstory on Levi, Jude, Bo, Levi's and Jude’s traumatic childhood and complex relationship, Levi’s high school and college football careers, and very importantly, the intriguing and fascinating origins of “Livy St. Cinq.” You *absolutely* can’t fully appreciate or understand Livy or Levi without knowing Livy’s story. (And “Livy St. Cinq” should go down as one of the truly most original and clever character names in the entire “romance” genre — M/M, M/M/M, M/F, M/F/M, F/F … ALL of them. Period.

    I bought “Bootleg Diva” (another great name — Mercy has a brilliant knack for clever, appropriate titles!) as soon as it came out. (I’m not a Kindle Unlimited member.) I’d just finished reading “Six Ways” and “Sidelined,” and I was much more excited about learning more about Levi than I was in the blurb for “Offside Chance.” I absolutely love “Diva,” although not as much as “Sidelined.” “Diva” even persuaded me to finally buy “Offside.” (So, Mercy, a bonus sale there!)

    I’m thrilled to see that, as of today, “Diva” has a 4.8 out of 5.0 rating on Amazon, with 53 reviews — the highest rated book in the series, and one of the highest-rated of the 200+ M/M Kindle books I’ve read! So obviously, those who read it appreciated it. It’s lowest rating is a 3.0, and there are only 2 of those. The only criticisms they have basically say only, “not what I expected. No HEA,” etc. But they also say it’s well written and that the series should definitely be continued.

    BTW, Mercy, I think “canon” is the word you want, not “cannon.” According to the dictionary, one of the senses of “canon” is:
    “ • a collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine: the formation of the biblical canon.
    • the works of a particular author or artist that are recognized as genuine: the Shakespeare canon.
    • the list of works considered to be permanently established as being of the highest quality: Hopkins was firmly established in the canon of English poetry."

    Finally, Mercy has no control over this, but the software for this blog doesn’t date the author’s posts, at least not that I can find. It just shows the time of the post. But it does date the comments. How odd.

    Write on, Mercy!

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