Guest Blogger – J.T. Warren

Today’s Guest Blogger is J.T. Warren, author of Hudson House.

Much like most of the other writers I know, I’ve wanted to be a professional author nearly all my life. It started when I wrote a short story about a raindrop that was born as it fell from a cloud and experienced all of the ups and downs of life while all the time falling and then died when it splattered on a concrete street. I wrote that in second grade. My teacher read it aloud. The kids clapped. I thought I was a star.

It wasn’t long before my fiction took an even darker turn. By high school, I was writing steadily about monsters living in basements, serial killers hunting unsuspecting women, and average people driven to the edge of their sanity–and typically well-past that edge.

Also like most writers I know, I’ve written a handful of novels that I was sure at the time of creation were fantastic. That they were, in fact, destined for bestseller status and that my days as an unknown literary neophyte were rapidly drawing to a close. Rejection letters helped me keep those grand delusions in check. At least most of the time.

Right around the time my sixth book (this one has got to be the one) received its fifteenth flat-out sorry-this-isn’t-for-us rejection, I realized that if I wanted to ever get published, I needed to get really serious about my craft. I couldn’t just write the first draft, proof for grammar mistakes, and send it out. I needed professional help.

That led me to Scott Nicholson, who has proven to be a literary angel on my shoulders. I’ve come to understand that he serves that function for many writers, struggling and established. Scott edited my young adult haunted house novel (then called The House and now, Hudson House) with a skilled editor’s eye and a unique understanding of what makes a book work. His recommendations were extensive but well-supported and in a seven page hand-written letter.

I was, at first, really depressed. How could I have thought this book was the one when Scott was insisting it needed an over-haul? After some healthy time apart from my manuscript, I returned to it and, most importantly, to Scott’s comments. I began to make his changes.

When all changes had been made and after I had polished those crucial first fifty pages over and over, I really felt that this book would be the one. The thing was so good now that agents would be fighting each other to sign me and that the book would ascend the Times’ list with eye-popping speed.

Again, rejection taught me to keep things in perspective. Around rejection letter twenty-two or three, I set the book aside and got to work on another novel. When I turned to Scott again for his editorial assistance, he asked about Hudson House. My story of endless rejections was nothing unique, of course, but Scott’s recommendation was so unsuspecting that dreams of bestseller status returned.

In the six months since I had first contacted him, Scott had taken his career in a whole new direction: he had embraced the new electronic wave of book publishing with fervor and gusto. And, he insisted, I could embrace it, too.

He explained the world of ebooks to me and the future of the publishing industry as he saw it. He answered all my questions, even the stupid ones. He assured me my book was good, as good as what was currently being published in the genre. He formatted my book for the Kindle market. For a book cover, he led me to Neil Jackson (a man who seems to work all twenty-four hours of every day), and Neil created a cover that captured the book’s creepiness and simultaneously made me feel like I was a real, credible author. I was getting closer to that elusive dream of success.

I’m a high school English teacher (not a terribly surprising career for a wannabe writer), and when many of my former students found out that I was, actually, a writer, they offered to help in any way they could. A particularly passionate young woman named Karla took it upon herself to get my presence on the Internet. Thanks to her, I have the necessary Facebook, website, blog, and Twitter needed to get anyone’s attention these days. She also put sample chapters of my book on every site she could find that catered to writers and readers.

People started to read it. Within a few days, the sample chapters had been viewed over a thousand times. The comments began to pile up. The praise was so surprising and so completely gratifying.

Karla asked about a paperback edition. The thought had always been in my mind, of course, but now it seemed like maybe a few people out there might buy it, even if there was already an ebook version. I turned to Scott. He led me to Stephen James Price. Stephen assured me that he could take my book and format it so it would be as professional as anything released by a major house.

As with Scott, Stephen guided me through the process. He answered all my questions, especially the stupid ones, and helped me every step of the way. He took Neil’s front cover and created the back art needed for full product. He worked fast and created a wonderfully-designed book.

Today, I hold the proof copy in my hands and marvel that I wrote this book, that I am actually the author of a real, physical book that looks so damn good. Online, the sample chapters of Hudson House are approaching five thousand views. Project Fiction is featuring the sample on their main page. Readers are posting glowing reviews.

I wrote this book because I wanted to create a haunted house story that was also a coming-of-age tale about loss and friendship that was also completely accurate to how teenagers actually interact with each other. I wanted to create a story that would give readers nightmares but do it through characters readers would genuinely care for. I had the original idea but Scott Nicholson helped me shape it into the affecting work I envisioned, and Neil Jackson gave it the art to lure in readers, and Stephen James Price was the mad scientist who brought Hudson House to life, who put the haunted place directly in my hands, who made me feel like a real writer.

Hudson House is available for Kindle and will be available in paperback in time for October, the perfect month for a spooky story about a trio of teenage boys who venture into a house where something unspeakably evil waits for its next victim.

Maybe this is the book. The one destined for greatness. If so, I have so many people to thank.

I can almost hear the applause.

Check out Hudson House for Kindle here

Read the sample chapters and vote here

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