In which I nip things in the bud

I’ve been feeling on top of the world lately. I’m writing full-time, I’m moving to a beautiful local island with a Mediterranean climate (yeah, it exists in Canada!), my partner is leaving his thankless job and taking over a business. My books are selling well, The Dex-Files continues to win over readers (well, sort of…so many still on the Dex fence!). My agent is going to start pimping EIT to publishers come the fall. Things are good. I’m happy.

I’m just keeping my head down, dealing with the cover for Into the Hollow, plus cool posters and graphics for The Devil’s Metal. I’m writing it every day and think it’s really coming along. I love Dawn. I love the 1970’s. I love the music and the creepy aspect and I love Sage. I have my doubts, of course, as every writer does. Am I good enough? Will people want to read this? Why do I have to write things that aren’t straight-up commercial fare? Is this going to suck? You know, normal doubts.

Then I get kicked in the fucking gut.

A book comes out a month before mine is set to. It deals with pretty much the exact same thing as The Devil’s Metal. And it’s already #66 on Amazon kindle.

You guessed it, I’m talking about The Mighty Storm by Samantha Towle.

So, with a bleeding heart, I look at the reviews to see how similar the books sound and the results shatter me. Like, make me feel like jumping off a bridge. How fucking rotten is my timing. How am I compete with this book? Why would people want to read mine when they can read one that is highly-acclaimed? And seems to be almost the same! And how on earth am I going to stop readers from comparing the two when I’m doing it myself?

Now, I know there are differences between the books. But the similarities are there. Both are about a young female music journalist who goes on the road with her favorite band and falls in love with the hot, tattooed bad-boy rockstar. There are shenanigans with bad behavior and groupies. There’s angst. There’s sex. There’s music. Etc.

As I noted, there are differences. Mine is horror. It’s set in 1974. I was/am a music journalist and many of my own stories have found their way into the book. In Storm, the two lovers were childhood friends and sweethearts and are reunited. There’s another man in the mix. In Metal, Dawn is a fish out of water and Sage is one of her idols. There’s no other man. Mine’s not erotica, it’s horror/romance (I’d say paranormal romance but that has strange connotations with it).

For all I know they are totally different books. As a friend pointed out, you can’t compare Cujo and Old Yeller because they both have dogs with rabies. And I know that. I hear Towle did a fabulous job with The Mighty Storm, making it the next Beautiful Disaster and I do intend to read it….one day, when mine is all done so that I don’t get wrongly influenced.

But the problem I am having – the one that makes me afraid to publish this book – is the accusations that I might get, the ones that say I’m jumping on this book’s bandwagon and that I’m copying it.

Not true. Coincidence is a funny thing but I can say with utmost honesty that The Devil’s Metal came from my little whacked head.

For one, I am a music journalist and I, one day, sick of dealing with real-life groupies of another band, thought wouldn’t it be great to write a period piece that dealt with this stuff, but had a demonic, scary spin on it. I wanted to put my experiences down but make it fun, sexy and entertaining. The Devil’s Metal came to me in summer of 2009. I even tweeted about it and called it The Devil’s Death Metal, before a friend suggested that The Devil’s Metal would be better.

I wrote the book into the fourth Experiment in Terror novel, Lying Season. It’s a hollowed out book in Dex’s office that Perry finds.

I started talking publicly about the book at the start of the summer of 2012 and even talked about it in an interview here:

“I’m just about to start a book called The Devil’s Metal, which I am hoping for a September release date. It’s a 2-3-book series, adult paranormal romance. A lot of it is based or inspired by my work in the music industry. It’s set in the 1970’s and it’s: Almost Famous but with demons instead of groupies. I’m super freaking excited to start it.”

And August 2nd, I wrote the blurb for it here:

I know this all seems like a bit much, but I feel it’s best to nip this in the bud before readers, or god forbid, the author accuse me of plagiarism. Not that I think the author would because she seems like an awesome and talented lady who is soaring into best-sellers list, but speaking from experience, I know what it feels like when you see books that come out after yours that read a little too much the same (don’t get me started on a paranormal YA book I saw about a lighthouse on the Oregon coast and a mysterious guy called Declan or “Dex” because that one did my head in). I’d hate for any author to feel that way.

So there you have it. This is my dilemma. I’ve spent most of my day grappling with whether I should still release the book or not. I still don’t know. I know if I do, I’m going to get some backlash, even with this blog post. I know people will compare my wee little horror/70’s piece to a book that’s not only selling well but getting 5-star reviews across the board. My book will be compared and it will not measure up. It’s not what people want – it’s not straight-up romance and it’s not a tearjerker. I have my work cut out for me and there’s a chance this book will flop…all because of bad, rotten timing.

Of course, it could flop because it flat out sucks but that’s something I was worried about anyway.

Sigh. I don’t know what to do. I might not publish. I might postpone it. Or I still might release it on September 21st and hope for the best. Plug my nose and take the leap.

I will keep writing it though, because it’s a story I always wanted to tell. I just hope my muse is gentle with me and that everything happens for a reason.

I’ll keep you posted.

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