Hey, Pretty in Black fans! Hope you're all having a fantastic December.
I received an e-mail from Samantha G., a reader of the series, and she asked me some very important questions and expressed some concerns.
I'm really glad she brought this up because I've been meaning to post a lot about the series and what's going on with it, but I've simply been sooooo busy actually writing it so I can get it back into your hands that I haven't stopped to write these posts yet.
I am going to answer her questions on this blog.
Here is the letter she sent me: (reposted with permission)
I am a new reader of your series. I found your free book on google one day while at my boyfriend’s hockey practice.
I instantly fell in love with the first book. I quickly finished the first and bought the second and third. They were amazing. I went to purchase the 4th and found it hasn’t released yet. I had to do some research to figure out when I could get my hands on the next one.
I came across your blog and learned I won’t be able to get the next one until October of next year?! I don’t know if I can make it that long. I’m dying to read of the wedding, and Marcus and Ellie’s first night together in Evermore, and if they’re going to stay in Nevermore or move to Paris....
I did see in your blog that you are rewriting the books? Some of the points you make I can understand why you would consider the rewrite, but my concern is about not making Ellie a hunter. I mean obviously you know better than I, considering I’ve never written a book before. But I do wonder why you are changing that particular part. I feel like that part of Ellie makes their love that much more magical. If you take that part out, the whole storyline will be thrown off. Vincent won’t be needed, therefore he wont be a demon. The whole part about Ellie’s grandmother can be removed. I’m not writing this email to be construed as hate mail or rude, so if it is coming off that way I sincerely apologize. I was just hoping to get some more insight as to the reasons behind changing the story.
Thank you for your time,
I am not going to lie: these words, THESE WORDS right HERE: I instantly fell in love with the first book. I quickly finished the first and bought the second and third. They were amazing.
They are . . . puzzling to me, shocking to me, and I am incredibly humbled by them and nearly in tears.
Because, up until THIS VERY MOMENT IN TIME, words like love and amazing weren't words I would be using to describe my own book. Why? Because I thought it sucked, I didn't believe in it. I felt like the books I'd written didn't deserve these words to ever be associated with it.
The last thing I want to be is a Negative Nancy or Debbie Downer, but, from late 2011 when I first published book one in the Pretty in Black series until April of 2015, nothing was really happening with this book. No one was really reading it. And I certainly wasn't hearing good things when people did stumble across it and read it. I mean, I wasn't hearing all bad things, I did get a few good reviews here and there, but during that time it was also ridiculed a lot too. And I was receiving hate mail about it also, saying how bad it is and this, this, and that. How I shouldn't've written it. I really felt like publishing this book was the WORST thing I could've ever done.
And then, the ugliness changed when I published it to Google Play. It all changed in a major way.
I'm still incredibly shocked by it all because there are 13k+ plus reviews, the majority of them all saying how GOOD the book is. In the USA, the book series has reached over 150,000 people, with a world wide reach of an estimated 200,000-ish over all.
But my belief that the book was bad didn't change. I felt ashamed and embarrassed about it. I really thought that when I published it to Google Play that readers were only going to echo what I'd already been hearing—Your book is terrible, you're not a good writer. I had soooooo much anxiety built against this that I refused to even so much as look at what was happening over on Google Play.
This was all going on in between March 2015 and April 2015. (I think I published the book to Google Play in October 2014)
In the Spring of 2015, I decided that, okay, so this book is terrible, but now I'm going to make it GOOD somehow. Maybe they're right and I can't write and there isn't any finesse to my writing style, but by golly there will be!
All I really remember is getting up in the middle of the night sometime near April 2015 and making a list of everything that was wrong with the book and why it needed to be fixed. I also remember crying a lot. A lot.
But I never wanted to GIVE. UP. I was determined because deep down, I believed in the story. I've always, always, ALWAYS believed in it.
So I began researching writing techniques, buying books on craft, and really digging in there and figuring out how to write, how to make this book better. There was a lot I wanted to know, like, how do you pace a book well? How do you bring description and setting to life so that the reader really feels like he or she is right there inside the novel? I just went to town on every aspect I could think of.
And I began rewriting the book.
Lets break this down further:
Twilight. Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Let it be known that when you have a vampire book, it's going to be compared to Twilight as though Meyer invented vampires.
And if you have a book that mentions vampire hunters? You're obviously copying BTVS. (Let it be publicly known that I am not a BTVS fan: I don't dislike or hate the series—Truthfully, I've never seen it. I only saw the movie and that was years ago.)
I did not want my book endlessly compared. I wanted Pretty in Black to be PRETTY IN BLACK soooooo very badly that I would've done nearly anything in my power to make that happen.
I have my OWN imagination and it's gotten MUCH more stronger than it's ever been before, and now I want to use it.
Now, I do want to say that I am very aware that a book will never please 100% of the people, and that has never been my goal because it would be impossible to reach. The problem with this was the fact that I believed they were RIGHT—my book wasn't very good. I believed it so much that I was losing sleep at night and it was taking a toll on my health.
However, I did not begin rewriting the book because someone told me it was bad. I did not begin rewriting the book to please a handful of people who didn't like it.
I began rewriting it because, suddenly, I had so much clarity about what it could be and where it could go.
And I'll never really know where this new inspiration came from, but it came to me and it was there and I seized the opportunity of a beautiful moment.
I mean, I'd written the books at a relatively young age, I really didn't have a lot of writing experience. I wrote it for fun and wasn't expecting to become like, an author. I'd always dreamed of being one, but I wasn't thinking, oh yeah, here I go, I'm doing this. I just sort of fell into it, in a bittersweet way.
I am GRATEFUL for those “negative” reviews because those are the ones that SENT ME IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. It lit a blazing fire in me that I will never be able to explain or even understand.
NOW, here's the good stuff—the reason you're even reading this blog post.
You have some valid concerns and I am going to do my best to answer those. I will say, that before I began the rewrite, my first and foremost question had always been: how will I keep this book the same, but different?
I did NOT want to change anything about Pretty in Black that you had read and loved.
Never once did I forget about YOU. NEVER. I knew that I did have fans out there—some which I already knew about—ones who'd messaged me or left reviews for the book—and future fans who I knew in my heart would be soon discovering the series.
YOU have always been my primary focus and everything that you're asking me I've already asked myself.
And I will be answering all of your questions right here on my blog, beginning with Samantha G's letter:
Q1: not making Ellie a hunter. why are you changing that particular part?
I feel like that part of Ellie makes their love that much more magical. If you take that part out, the whole storyline will be thrown off. Vincent won’t be needed, therefore he wont be a demon. The whole part about Ellie’s grandmother can be removed.
I am changing it because it no longer serves the story.
I have had bloggers, and even readers, tell me that the hunter aspect was not needed to tell the story. Yes, I am the author, so in the end, I get to choose how to tell the story because IT. IS. MY. BOOK, buuuuut, sometimes, the critiques are RIGHT.
Editors take books every day and suggest changes to improve the narrative before the book goes to print. Since I do not have an editor, I consider my betas, and my readers, my go to source on knowing what works for the story and what doesn't. We authors are so close to our book babies that we cannot always see the over all picture clearly, and we need an unbiased opinion to help us pinpoint ways we can make it read better, work better.
But the biggest question is WHY am I making this change?
Answer: Not only are there too many vampire books, but there are simply too many vampire books that feature hunters.
Pretty in Black needed to stand apart from the rest in some major way, so I am giving Eleanor an amazing, and highly different, character arc, and I really, really, really believe you're going to LOVE IT!
(We will come back to Ellie's character arc in a minute!)
Q2. I feel like that part of Ellie makes their love that much more magical.
I can see what you mean. With Ellie being a hunter and not killing Marcus, I guess that does make their love seem magical.
However, I have given them a stronger relationship arc and they will not need this aspect for their love to seem magical. In the new version of Pretty in Black, I alternate chapters between Marcus and Eleanor and I really dig deep into what makes each of them tick, what their fears are, what their hopes are, and how they come together and fall in love with each other. I've extended their date scenes and given you, the reader, lots more to (hopefully) fall in love with. They have struggles together, he worries about her because she's sleeping in the cemetery at night instead of going home, and once he discovers why? Oh boy, let me tell you, he is PISSED at Nick.
Marcus is depicted as having a dual nature—he's so sweet and loving, but he can also be dangerous. He's never, ever violent with Eleanor though, but he does, however, let the darker side of him show whenever anyone tries to mess with her.
I'm really in love with this newer version and it is the book of my heart. I threw myself into 110% and really brought out the uniqueness of the characters and their world.
The thing that is going to make this book magical, in my opinion, is how deeply these two love each other. You can actually feel it on the page. It's . . . intense.
I really want to blog more about what changes I've made because there are some interesting ones, especially with Marcus's character. He's one way with Eleanor and a different way with everyone else and we get to see that.
We get to understand him in a new way and the reasons behind why he leaves in Black Satin. The ending of the second book has been extended and the moment she gets him back is truly heartbreaking because it's during that moment we see that he COULD be a monster, a demon, but it's her undying love for him that keeps him from going dark and it shatters the beast in him.
I could blog and blog and blog about this book series because I love it so, so, so much, but I have to actually write it and get it into your hands so you can see everything for yourself, and then we can all talk about it then.
I'm aiming to have the new covers and blurbs up by the first of the year.
Q3: The storyline will be thrown off, Vincent won't be needed, he won't be a demon, and the part with Ellie's grandmother will be removed.
Trust me, this was the FIRST concern that I had too when I contemplated rewriting the series. I didn't want to change the HEART of the story, which, as you know, includes ALL OF THESE THINGS.
So, I hope you will be overjoyed to know that, while Eleanor will not be a hunter, that plot thread has not been removed from the book.
This took some creative engineering, but I kept ALL of these things!
The story line will NOT be thrown off, rest assured.
Here is what I've done with that particular element and Eleanor's new character arc:
I have passed the job of being a hunter on to . . .
wait for it . . .
wait for it . . .
Eleanor's ex-boyfriend, Declan. And let me tell you, this makes things MUCH MORE INTERESTING, in my opinion. His role becomes a much larger part of the series than before. I feel like every character in a book should carry his or her weight, and since I invented him and he's in the book, something should happen with him, especially since he is featured in other scenes throughout the series.
Remember how he appears in the train track scene in book one and Marcus saves Ellie from being hit by the train? And remember the way he is acting in Black Satin toward Ellie because he knows something weird is going on about her sister and all of that? Well, his being a hunter fuels all of this and gives him motive for being in these scenes.
Without completely spoiling the books, I will say that he causes major trouble, especially in Black Satin.
Vincent is still in the book series. The part in Black Satin where Ellie meets him and he tells her she is adopted and is a hunter still happens.
The difference is this: In Pretty in Black, the possibility that Ellie could be half-Evermore is hinted at vaguely, but the hunter thing isn't brought up until book 2.
On her eighteenth birthday, she ascends, meaning that she will either become a hunter, or be a Parevermore. What's a Parevermore, you ask? (Pronounced: PAR VER MORE)
Eleanor, as you know, is a half-Evermore. But, I have given her a more specific term for what she is.
As taken from the Evermore Lexicon
Parevermore: a half-Evermore; a child born of one human parent and one Evermore parent. Has Parablood. The "demigod" of Nevermore.
Neverborn: one born in Nevermore with the ability to control the shadows; the sixth (and hidden) Ravenmore sector.
Because her father was a hunter and her mother was an Evermore, Ellie will either ascend as a hunter or her Parevermore and Neverborn abilities will rule.
Well, she ascends as a Parevermore instead. (Vincent has no idea about this because he doesn't know her mother was an Evermore, thus, he thinks she is a hunter.) And as the book continues, she learns what being Neverborn means for her.
However, on the day of her ascension, something MAJOR happens in a big way that will steer the rest of the plot in Black Satin.
I really really don't want to spoil this for you before you read it, but lets just say that it's badass. Lets just say that, when Paul/Corvus tries to kill her cheerleader friends that she is now able to stop him herself!!!
(The cheerleaders don't die in this version)
Speaking of cheerleaders! It was only hinted at in the original story that Eleanor was a cheerleader, but in the new book, she will be a cheerleader and we will get to see and experience all of that with her.
Here is how I kept her grandmother's role!
In the new version of Pretty in Black, Ellie goes to the library to get some books for a school project or whatever. There she meets the sweet elderly librarian lady who is a little cuckoo! LOL. She has lots and lots of crows and ravens everywhere and tons of books on the paranormal.
So, in Black Satin, when Vincent tells her she was adopted and tells her about her grandmother, she searches for her grandmother's address. She doesn't have time to go visit her right away because of cheerleading practice and all of that, so she decides to do it later.
The opportunity presents itself when Ellie is at school. Paul/Corvus attempts to kill her cheerleader friends and she stops him.
But, after her ascension, she is not quite sure what's going on and she immediately thinks of the librarian with all those crazy paranormal books, so she drives there to ask for help with what's going on.
The library is closed that evening, so Ellie decides she will go ahead and visit her grandmother now since she is already missing school anyway.
And that's when the discovery happens, the ah-ha moment! The librarian IS her grandmother, and now her grandmother will explain why/how she is a Parevermore and give her some books and tools on how to use those new powers.
Ellie was born in Nevermore, and is a Neverborn Parevermore, making her case a little special as most Neverborns are Evermores and not half-mortals.
Her new goal now is to complete her mother's quest and destroy the Nightly Shore Court, something which she will complete in Raven in the Grave.
(What's the Nightly Shore Court, you ask? Oh, how I wish I could share all of these things with you right now!)
As of this moment, the storyline is still on track. A few small changes, but better ones, in my opinion.
The new problem arrives when Declan saw her ascension and witnessed her save her friends. He'd been tracking Paul/Corvus himself when Ellie intercepted without knowing he was watching. Since this takes place after Ellie had visited Vincent, Declan thinks she will show her true hunter nature and slay the demon that way, but she doesn't. The way she kills Corvus makes him believe she too is a demon that must be killed.
And so now Declan wants to kill Ellie.
I cannot go into more details about this without spoiling the plot, but I will say that yes, Walter is still a major part of this book series, no, it's not a love triangle (but some of you may wish it was!) and he will be taking Ellie on an adventure of a life time!
Both Nevermore and the Land of Naught have new world building that I think is absolutely fantastic!
Man, I want to tell you about ALL THE THINGS. Especially about the gargoyles and the gargbeast and the underwater creatures!
There are lots and lots of new twists and exciting turns that this series is taking and I am delighted to share them with you! I cannot wait until the new books are in your hands!
There is so much more I want to share with you!
I am not taking anything away from the series, I am simply reconstructing it and expanding it, adding MORE to the World of Nevermore. More things which I think you will LOVE.
What more can you expect from the series?
Without spoiling the plot, I will tell you this!
There is a new “vampire” mythology for this book, one that I invented. It is inspired by Greek Mythology and Edgar Allan Poe.
CLICK HERE to read about that!
And, because I wanted to portray a Realistic YA relationship, and positive relationship between love and sex, the intimacy level between Ellie and Marcus has been slightly raised in each book.
Pretty in Black doesn't go past kissing, buuuuut, THERE ARE A LOT OF KISSING SCENES!
Black Satin sees them edging toward second base at the end of the book, and Raven in the Grave gets an extended Mad Rush—Tomb Scene! Which is very sexy if you know what I mean.
I know lots of you are looking forward to their wedding and honeymoon and let me just say, I am saving ALL the gooooood stuff for that night! And there will be no fading to black!
If you are reading this and have more questions that have not been answered here, PLEASE e-mail me and I will answer them.