First, I should thank Matt for inviting me to make a post about my book YA fantasy adventure, Sandy Morrison and the Pack of P*ssies. I’ve been trying to promote the book through my Twitter account, but it’s hard catching attention for something new when promotions slip through the tweet stream faster than a f**t in a wind tunnel. It also doesn’t help that I’m cursed with chronic blabbermouthitis, and my promos get lost in my drivel pretty fast. (I’m approaching 100K in tweets with only 3 years on Twitter.)
Sandy’s book is a bit of a weird project, a YA adventure with two inspirational sources. One is easy to explain, while the other may be a bit too TMI for some folks. I’m a big fan of fantasy, and I loved reading Kept by Zoe Winters, a paranormal romance which features werecats of the housecat variety. This idea tickled my funny bone, while the romantic elements tickled my…thighs. Ahem. After I finished the book, I decided that I wanted to write a story about a werecat pack of my own. But I wanted to make them more scary, perhaps a bit like that 1980s movie about demonically possessed cats. (The title of which eludes me just now. Now all I can recall is a man throwing a fluffy white cat in a microwave for trying to eat his shoulder.)
Around the time that I sat down to write the book, I looked over my past writing efforts to come up with a unique character I hadn’t already written about before. I’ve been pretty diverse with my main characters, but it occurred to me that I hadn’t done many books with a trans heroine, and this is odd given that I’m a trans writer. This is not to say I hadn’t made attempts at writing trans characters, but those stories got trunked because to me they felt too preachy. Also, in those stories, the character’s gender and sexuality were the central focus of the plot, and what I really wanted was a story about something else, while the fact that they were trans was just one facet of their personality.
So I hit upon the idea that my heroine’s problem was that she was a witch whose powers were just kicking on, kind of a magical form of puberty. In this world, witches would be the mortal enemies of werecats, and the story would get it’s conflict because the heroine’s best friend was a werecat. I decided to make this a YA book, because then, guaranteed, I wasn’t allowed to have any gratuitous sex scenes, and ideally, I wanted to make a story with no sex. This way, the average fantasy or paranormal YA fan could get into the story without feeling the need to skim a few pages of TMI.
The result of this brainstorming was Sandy Morrison and the Pack of P*ssies, a YA adventure in which a witch, a werecat, and a cheerleader are forced together for a crazy road trip to get the witch, Sandy, away from the clan of werecats who killed her mother and came after her. The trio are also pursued by Sandy’s aunt Vanessa, a witch of considerable power tasked with bringing her niece in for training and indoctrination. The story also features weredogs, fairy godmothers, and a vampire with a sick sense of humor. Before publishing it, I floated chapters to teen readers on Inkpop, getting some good reviews and a lot of helpful comments from my first readers. I contacted Karen Koehler, a talented artist and author to make the cover, and then I self-published the book.
And…nothing happened. I got a handful of readers, and only three reader reviews, and while these were glowing endorsements (one from a pastor, one from a long time fan of my previous novels, and one recent review on Amazon) it was not enough to convince anyone to try the story. I think part of the problem is that when people see a trans person is the main character, they expect the whole plot will be about what’s between their legs. And to be fair, there is a bit of romance in the story due to a miscast charm spell. But this isn’t a romance, and the “mushy stuff” is more of a subplot, taking a back seat to Sandy’s larger problem of being a fugitive witch hunted by both her clan and her best friend’s family.
Perhaps another part of the problem is a lack of exposure, and I’ve only promoted the book on Twitter. While I’m also on Facebook, I have 15 friends. (Half of which are actually my relatives from Texas.) People can’t buy something they don’t know about, right? Right. So, if you’d like to check out the book, you can preview the first few chapters on Amazon’s Kindle store. I also have DRM-free ePubs directly through my blog’s ebook store via Gumroad. If you’ll give it a shot, I believe you’ll find it’s unlike anything you’ve read before. A bit dark, a bit light; sometimes sad and sometimes funny. Maybe a little like real life, only slightly stranger.
I’m sure a lot of readers might be wary about trans characters, but I think if you give Sandy half a chance, she’ll be able to cast her charm spell on you. And, if I can generate anything over double digit sales, it will encourage me to write the sequel, Sandy Morrison and the Pixie Prohibition. I really hope I get to write that, cause my pixies are gonna be scary little turds.