Sincerest apologies, Dear Reader, for my absence. It has been more than a month since I last posted. But Your New Favorite Writer has been busy.
Only about three days ago, I finalized the Major, Tooth-to-tail Revision (Version 7.1, if you’re counting) of my historical epic, now titled The Maelstrom. It is still 83,000 words—but at least half of them are different words than the 83,000 in the commercially unsuccessful previous version (6.4) known as Freedom’s Purchase.
This is more than a random switching of words, Gentle Reader. It betokens, dare I say it?, a Whole New Approach.
Perils of the Market
You will recall, if you caught this post from almost one year ago, that I took Freedom’s Purchase to the literary marketplace, querying literary agents and independent publishers. I got a contract offer, which I deemed inadequate, from a marginal publisher. But I also got two Golden Rejections—one from James Abbate of Kensington Books and the other from Dan Willis of D.X. Varos, Ltd.
A Golden Rejection, Dear Reader, is a rejection that includes honest feedback on why the manuscript was deemed unsuitable. If an author is astute enough to swallow such rejections whole, they can be wonderful medicine.
At about that time, I also read Donald Maass’s noteworthy assertion: “At some point, attention must be paid to the writing.”
So I plunged back in, using my two Golden Rejections as my lodestar, and heeding as best I could the advice of Maass to put conflict on every page and the advice of the late Elmore Leonard to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip. I hired premier writing coach Christine DeSmet to help me work out what things I needed to change.
So here is the result, in the best way I can describe it:
Had Freedom’s Purchase, Version 6.4, been published as it was, you would have bought it, because you are my friend. You would have read all the way to the end, because loyalty is one of your great virtues. And you would have said, “Well—heh, heh—that was pretty good, considering it was only my friend Larry who wrote it.”
Now, when you buy The Maelstrom, Version 7.1, you will read it all the way to the end because you love the characters and want to know what happens to them.
(I hope you’ll be able to put it down and get some sleep, because it’s too long to read at one sitting. But I also hope you won’t be able to put it down very often or for very long, because you’ll find the story compelling.)
When you get to the end, you will feel satisfaction. You’ll say, “Wow! That was a real novel, gripping and engaging. And to think my friend Larry wrote it!”
But I need you to remain patient, Fair Reader. I still need to sell it to somebody, and then most traditional publishers take a year or two to actually produce and release the book. And I know you have been on this journey with me for some time already.
So Meanwhile, Please Read My Blurb
Here, to tide you over until publication, is a teaser—a bit more indication of the plot than I’ve given before:
It’s 1853. ANDERS, the law on his heels, sails from Norway to seek a life of honor and respect in America. MARIA, a boat builder’s daughter, knows she is just what Anders needs in his life. She also needs a new start just as much as he does.
DANIEL, a young runaway chased by slave catchers, makes his way north to Illinois—free soil, crisscrossed by fugitive slaves and their would-be captors. Newlyweds Anders and Maria find Daniel in their barnyard, posing a truly American problem—one they did not seek, yet cannot ignore.
The Maelstrom is a tale of three pioneers whose lives depend on one another. The Civil War puts one in the Navy, one in the Army, and one at home working the land by herself, under pressure from a merchant who covets her farm, forcing her to a unique solution.
Anders’s, Maria’s, and Daniel’s harrowing journeys—filled with death and despair, love and hope—take them from New Orleans up the Mississippi River into America’s wild heartland.
There you go—straight from Your New Favorite Author to you.
Wish me luck—and I could use your prayers as well.
Larry F. Sommers, Your New Favorite Writer
Author of Price of Passage—A Tale of Immigration and Liberation.
Price of Passage
Norwegian Farmers and Fugitive Slaves in Pre-Civil War Illinois
(History is not what you thought!)