Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Spring came early to Western Oregon this year. Crocuses and daffodils started to bloom in February instead of March, but they’re the same old daffodils. Yet year after year, “my heart with pleasure fills, and dances with the daffodils.”

This year, March brings me a different renewal: My very first mystery is being reissued, in trade paperback, twenty years after its first publication. Of course, even with a brand-new cover, it’s not quite as exciting as when it came out in 1994, but it’s still a thrill. It’s been “out of print” (except in Polish and Hungarian) for quite a while.

I write “out of print” in quotation marks because it doesn’t mean what it used to mean, that the books are unavailable unless the reader hunts them down in used-book stores or libraries. Only an author’s most dedicated fans would make the effort to obtain every title. And if they did, it resulted in no profit to the author.

Now, we have ebooks. Practically anything published today will probably be easily accessible till the fall of civilisation.

Not necessarily a good thing—there’s a lot of junk that would never have made it into print, as well as everlasting electronic versions of junk that did get into print and would quickly have gone out of print. I suspect that a fair number of gems will be buried by the sheer volume of rubbish.

I wonder whether the invention of the printing press caused the same apprehension. After all, the monks copied sacred documents. With printing so easy, who could tell what might be produced!

Do I sound jaundiced? It’s probably because I’ve just discovered that I really can’t make my plot work in the setting I’d chosen, so I have to move the whole kit and caboodle to a different village. It’s a complicated mixture of deleting, editing, and rewriting, and it’s driving me nuts. I’m just glad I’d only written 17,000 words, which will shrink to about 12,000, I fear.

But still, when I find a moment to wander round the garden, my heart dances with the daffodils. And Death at Wentwater Court will reappear in print, fresh new art and all, on March 17th.

Carola Dunn is author of the Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries, Cornish Mysteries, and multitudinous Regencies.


  1. As some wag (somewhere, sometime) said, "80% of (fill in the blank) is junk." Luckily, Carola, when it comes to books, yours and mine fall into the 20%.

    1. 90%-- Theodore Sturgeon, the SF writer. And of course we are among the 10%!

  2. As a reader, there is nothing more disappointing than stumbling upon a new writer you fall in love with only to find out their backlist isn't available anymore. I encourage all authors to make them available in POD and e-book when possible. In this era, even though there are so many titles, there are more opportunities for us to discover you. Your previous books can enchant new generations of readers, and you might make a penny or two.

    1. My Regencies were transformed into ebooks in the early days of the medium. Sales took off when they became available on Amazon and they're doing very nicely, and it's all pure gravy as I wrote them long ago.

  3. Ah, Carola, I've always loved that wonderful poem by William Wordsworth.

    Having noted that in celebration of the coming spring, I am reissuing my first and second books after their minor polishing and redressing in exciting new covers. They will become e-books now as well as hard copy because I have someone who will do a professional conversion and spare this hopelessly un-nerdy dinosaur from a complete technological breakdown. Both novels should be up by early summer -- or before.

    1. Congratulations, Linda. My Regencies were "e"ed by a fellow Regency author who decided to do her own and expanded from there first to other Regencies and then to women's fiction in general. She does all the tech stuff. www.RegencyReads.com and www.BelgraveHouse.com


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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