Friday, June 20, 2014

Goodbye to Strange Chemistry

Today was a crummy day. Yesterday was a crummy day, too, because I was privy to some information that didn't hit the airwaves until this morning:

Strange Chemistry is shutting its doors.

Yep, you read that right. Effective immediately, my imprint will no longer be in the publishing business. (In case you missed the press release, you can read it here.)

To say I am saddened by this news would be an understatement. I feel absolutely deflated, and my heart goes out to every single person--author and staff member--who was affected by this decision.

ESSENCE--which slipped out of the gates barely two weeks ago--will be the last novel Strange Chemistry ever publishes.

I have to admit I am not 100% surprised by this news. Four weeks before my debut, my team broke the news to me that my sequel had been cancelled and ESSENCE would only be available as an eBook. I didn't realize the enormity of the issue at the time (and naturally took the news personally), but today, every other outstanding Strange Chemistry sequel or trilogy has been cancelled, and the rest of the summer and fall debut authors will no longer see their work in print (under the Strange Chemistry name, anyway).

Why? This is a tough damn business, and it seems like Strange Chemistry was unable to carve out a niche in the young adult market.

This is NOT because Strange Chemistry doesn't care about its authors.

I have read some truly mean comments on Twitter today, and--while I appreciate everyone's outrage over our displacement--I do want to say publicly that my heart goes out to all the staff members who have worked so hard on my behalf. They have believed in me from Day One, and I know they are just as shocked and saddened and hurt by this as the rest of us.

Sometimes, life just slaps you in the face. And I know we are all feeling the burn of this today.

In some ways, I am one of the lucky ones. I was able to grieve about the loss of my sequel last month, and my first book was published two weeks ago. (It will continue to be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.) And although I have been working on my sequel for the past year or so, I never really intended ESSENCE to be part of a series, so I am comfortable with the way my story now ends.

Most of all, I have decided I will not let this setback define me.

Sure, I got angry and upset when I heard the news. And I felt cheated. I cried and sank to the floor and wondered if my steadfast determination to become an author was quickly turning into a delusion. I thought about the disappointments and failures I have experienced leading up to this moment, and I wondered what the point of this whole thing was anyway.

Publishing is a dying industry, right? And no matter what you write, people are going to say terrible things about it (and you) on Amazon and Goodreads. Why pour your guts into something if all it brings you is heartbreak?

But then I remembered something. (Actually, I didn't remember it. My amazing agent Hannah Bowman did. Have I mentioned how much I love her lately?)

I didn't get into writing because I wanted to get something from it. I got into writing because it's part of my heart, and I can't imagine my life without it.

So... In spite of all the setbacks, in spite of the uncertainty, and in spite of the fact that I'm not entirely certain what's going to happen to ESSENCE next... I'm not quitting.

I will continue to write, and I will continue to spin stories that make my soul come alive. I pray my family of Strange Chemistry authors does the same, because I truly believe the world needs to hear our stories. And selfishly, I want all of us to rise from these ashes like goddamn phoenixes. (Sorry for the curse word. Think it's justified.)

I will write an ESSENCE novella if my heart requires it, and I will move on to another project that may or may not be read by a single other human being. And you know what? I will be so damn proud of that book, regardless of its final outcome.

Just like I'm proud of ESSENCE, and just like I'm proud and thankful for the time I got to spend with my Strange Chemistry team. Caroline Lambe is one of the most amazing people I have encountered in a very, very long time, and Michael Underwood and Jonathan Richardson brighten my day every time I interact with them. When Amanda Rutter believed in me enough to offer me a contract and called ESSENCE "simply superb," it made my entire summer. And when Lee Harris went to bat for me and my cover art, I could have hugged him.

Today is a crummy day.

But it's not the last day.

You can count on that.


Shallee said...

This is so perfect and heartfelt, Lisa. Thank you for sharing with such honesty and determination! I can't wait to see what you do next. :)

Leandra Wallace said...

I was so shocked to get on QT and read this. I'm so sorry, Lisa. But you've overcome so much in this journey, and I know you can this too. If we lived closer, I'd totally take you out for dinner and some fun girl time. *hugs*

Mark Stevens said...

Beautifully said, Lisa ! You have a thousand stories in you -- and you will keep on cranking them out. I have no doubt. Keep on rocking. Your pal, Mark

Robin said...

So impressed with your strength. I'm sad to hear Strange Chem is gone. Wash to keep moving forward and remember why you write.

Courtney Schafer said...

Oh Lisa, I am so so sorry. As a survivor of Night Shade's implosion, I know just what you mean about feeling cheated of the experience that publishing was "supposed" to be. You know, the one you hear about all the time before you get a book deal. The author gets a deal, celebrates, survives the edit letter, works really hard to make the book good, the release goes well - maybe not bestseller well, but well - and then happily sells more books to the editor, the audience grows slowly but steadily, ta-dah, happily ever after.

Whereas the reality so far as I can tell is that type of experience is the happy exception, not at all the rule. This business is so crazy and so stressful, and one of the things it seems like they never tell debut authors is that the ride after you get a book deal is often just as rough (or even rougher) as everything you surmounted before.

I'm a firm believer in just what you say above: keep writing from your heart, and don't let the craziness of publishing take away your joy in your work and your pride in your accomplishments. I've got Essence sitting on my Kindle right now and I can't wait to enjoy it.

Tez Miller said...

Wishing you and your fellow SC authors all the best. It was great that they let you self-publish the print edition with the original cover art - that doesn't often happen, so you're fortunate in that respect.

May you and Hannah go forward to forge some wonderful new paths.

Caroline Lambe said...

Oh Lisa, your kindness and generosity know no bounds. Thank you for sharing this. Best wishes, Cx

Suzanne Payne said...

Thank you for not allowing this, sort of set-back, to define you. I hear a determination in your words I haven't heard in a while, which helps mine as well. Hugging you and giving you a fist bump to not give up. Like you said..write because you love it. Tell stories because it's the coolest thing ever. You're awesomeness shines through in this post.
Love ya,
Suze :)

Anita Grace Howard said...

I believe in writer's Karma, and you have some AMAZING coming your way. You've earned it a thousand times over. So proud of you for your class, your graciousness, and your tenacity. *HUGE HUGS*

rene said...

Lisa, thinking of you. What a wild ride this has been and will continue to be! Ahh, the life of the writer...but you're a strong, vibrant, talented woman and I can't wait to see what you publish next.

Charlie N. Holmberg said...

I immediately thought of you when I heard the news. Crummy, yes. SO crummy. But you are fire Lisa Ann Okane, and you will keep burning!

alexia said...

So sorry! To say that sucks is an enormous understatement. But you will rise like a goddamn phoenix, my friend :) I know you will.

Beth Ellyn Summer said...

ugh Lisa I'm so sorry about this...hang in there.

MegA said...

Great post, even though you'd already told me this news via FB. You do embody grace and integrity. And, you are NOT a quitter! Swear word IS justified, I'm just thankful you didn't bandy about the words "breast" and "nipple!" :)) Love your book; looking forward to seeing what you produce next (and, I'll soon be reading the mermaid manuscript!). Love your face. :)

Altha Fidia Oktora said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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