Here’s That Announcement I Promised

Thanks so much to all my readers and blog-followers for your support and encouragement during last month’s Author Spotlight as my dad premiered his first novel. It means a lot to me. He is hard at work on the third novel and the second should be coming out this summer, once edits/blurb/cover crap is dealt with. Now, as promised, I have an announcement concerning my own plans for publication this year, which I think I can sum up by saying there’s good news and bad news. And because I’m a ‘rip the band-aid off fast and then kiss it better’ kind of person, I’ll start with the bad news first.

catastrophe

Relax. It’s not that bad.

 

Some of you have been asking where Pool is. (*cue ominous music*) The short answer is, on my computer. The slightly longer answer is, where it’s likely to stay.

 

Look, here’s the thing. I don’t read reviews. And the reason I don’t read reviews is because sometimes people–nice people, well-meaning people, people who love children and dogs and are not in the least slavering trolls hiding under bridges and grinding authors’ bones to make their bread–say hurtful things about the books that I have worked very hard on. And yeah, I know, all right? I know that anytime you throw something out in the public forum, you invite people to make their opinions publicly known. And I’m fine with that! I am! They can say whatever they want, positive OR negative, but I reserve the right not to have to hear about it, because while that pile of reviews is mostly flowers and only a teensy bit shit (and in many cases, well-deserved shit at that), and intellectually I understand that I need to gather up the flowers and let the shit slide off, emotionally, I will be smelling that shit for years.  So I don’t read reviews, because I have found that the easiest way of dealing with shit is not to jump in the fucking pile and roll around in it.

I really ran with that metaphor, didn’t I? Moving on.

So after Land of the Beautiful Dead came out, I was unavoidably exposed to some reviews. And the vast majority were overwhelmingly positive! But. Even in the midst of these otherwise glowing piles of flowery praise, lurked a whiff of criticism I have oft heard before, which I will paraphrase here as along the lines of, “I almost didn’t get this book because the author doesn’t always deliver a Happily Ever After.”

And I get it. I do. Because I don’t. And the reason I don’t is because I don’t write Romances.

I don’t write Romances. I don’t read Romances.  I don’t understand Romances. I write Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy that occasionally crossover into Erotica, but I don’t write Romances, and here’s the thing: The Happily Ever After in a Horror genre, or Sci-Fi or Fantasy or even Erotica, is NOTHING LIKE the Happily Ever After of a Romance. So these readers who have this complaint are 100% correct and 100% entitled to feel/voice their dissatisfaction, and especially 100% right to warn others that my books may not deliver a “good” ending. I would much rather lose potential readers who I know would not be happy reading my books than have them buy it, read it, and hate it.

Those readers are going to hate Pool.

Pool is not a Romance.

Pool does not have a Romance-genre Happily Ever After.

Pool doesn’t even have a “good” Horror-genre ending.

Pool is a B-Movie creature-feature all the fucking way, and I love it, and I will not put my baby book in a brand-new pair of sneakers and pack it a lunch and write its name on a flower-shaped nametag that I pin to its brand-new jacket and wave goodbye as it gets on the big-book bus KNOWING GODDAMN WELL it’s coming home in tears.

cryingchildfnaf

Like this, only even more sad.

I’m not a Romance writer, is I guess what you should take away from all this, and more importantly, I am not willing to become a Romance writer just to sell books. I’m just going to do what I do and let the readers do what they do, and eventually, we’ll sort ourselves out, but eventually is a long way off and my career is still very young. I’m lucky to be able to do this writing-gig for a living, especially considering how long I’ve been doing it, but that could change if I alienate my fanbase this early in the game. So, no, I’m not going to shoehorn a romantic plotline into a B-Horror book, but I’m also not going to put out a book I know the vast majority of readers are just going to hate.

So, yeah. I may change my mind in the future, but as of this moment, I have no plans to publish Pool.

This naturally raises the issue of just what is next on my short-list of projects. Well, I have a number of cards tacked up on the ol’ Write This board, but I think what I’m really going to do is take a year off and think about things. You see, two years ago, I was working on Pool when my sister walked up to me and said, “We’re going to the RT Convention in New Orleans,” and I said, “New Orleans? Awesome!” and then I said, “What does RT stand for?” and she said, “Romantic Times,” and I said, “I’m not a romance writer,” and she said, “Pack your alligator hat, we’re going,” and so as I was packing my alligator hat, she came back and said, “Oh, and I’m going to have space on one of the freebie tables, so I want you to write a 20k word novella we can put on it,” and I said, “I can’t write a grocery list less than twenty thousand words,” and she said, “Just do it and make it romantic,” so I went grumbling over to my computer and stared at it, thinking, ‘What’s romantic? Hmmm. Romantic, romantic, romantic…and short. Short and romantic. Oh! Zombies!’ and started work on what was to become Land of the Beautiful Dead (which turned out to be more than TEN TIMES the wordcount I was ordered to produce, but that’s okay because we didn’t get space on the freebie table after all).

I told you that story to tell you this one: Land of the Beautiful Dead was tough to write. This is in part because I wasn’t planning to write it. Most of my books percolate around in the back of my head for a long time before I start typing it into life, and with the exception of Cottonwood, I never start writing until I know how it begins and how it ends. I went into LotBD cold and blind and it was an uphill struggle the whole way. But it was also difficult to write because, seriously, the zombie apocalypse made for a bleak, depressing world and that was the world I had to inhabit for the nearly two years it took to write. I was having a resurgence of health issues at the same time, so I always felt scummy and tired, and I’m sure that added its own flavor to the finished soup, and the ending was…let’s just say non-traditional. Especially for a Romance, which, let’s be honest here, IS what I was attempting to write with that one. Seriously. Land of the Beautiful Dead is what I consider a Romance. This is why I don’t write them, folks.

Sexy.

The romantic possibilities are endless…like the hordes of ravening undead.

 

Because I was having a hard time at ‘work’, after I got done with my daily quota of LotBD writing, I would unwind with a little ‘me time’ in the form of fanfiction. I find fanfic relaxing, in the sense that I don’t have to build anything, just wind up my own toys and let them go in someone else’s world. Plus, since I can’t publish it, there’s no pressure to make it readable or likeable or profitable or anythingable. I can just write.

When I finished LotBD, I continued to noodle around on my fanfiction story, thinking that I would put it up when the new year started and get back to work on Pool. Then, as I said, the reviews for Beautiful Dead started appearing and people started sending them to me, and then I got sick again and as I was lying on my bed of pain, I began to think about the fact that I really am damned lucky I can do this for a living, and how that is by no means guaranteed to continue if I put out a book that straight-up spits in the eye of the successful romance formula, and yadda yadda yadda, you don’t need to hear this twice. Point is, since I didn’t have Pool to work on, I continued noodling around on my fanfiction, and eventually I reached the point where it stopped being scenes and notes and turned into a book.

At this point, I called my sister into the room and said, “I’m writing something I can’t sell. Tell me to stop.”

She said, “Change the names and sell the book.”

I laughed and laughed and laughed and said, “No. I get crap enough from people who think I already did that with Cottonwood. This book legit does not work outside of the source world. It doesn’t matter what I change, anybody who reads it is going to know what it is and where it came from. I cannot sell this book. Tell me to stop writing it.”

She said, “Do you want to stop?”

“Hell, no,” I said.

She said, “Write the book.”

I said, “If I write this book, I won’t have anything else to publish this year, and I can’t publish this book. If I write this book, this whole year might as well be a wash. If I write this book–”

She said, “Is it a good story?”

I said, “I think so.”

She said, “Do you want to tell it?”

I said, “Yes.”

She said, “If no one ever reads it, will you be sorry?”

I said, “I don’t care if no one reads it. I just said I can’t publish it.”

She said, “If you don’t tell it, will you be sorry?”

“Yes,” I said.

She said, “Write the book.”

shut up

 

So I’m writing the book. And as so often happens with me, once I started writing, I just couldn’t stop. The book is divided into five parts (it’s not a series, these aren’t stand-alone stories, just five parts of one novel, similar to the structure of Olivia), and each part is shaping up to be around 200 pages, so yeah, the end result will be easily 1000 pages long. Of fanfiction. Hey, it beats working.

Anyway, I finished the first part and am nearly done with the second, when my father asked when we were going to read it. We had just finished his beta-read-through of his second novel, you see, and he is really into this whole, how-writers-write thing. I explained that since I couldn’t publish it, I wasn’t planning on doing a beta-read. This confused him. He told me he failed to understand what one had to do with the other, and the more I tried to explain, the more I realized he was probably right. So, what the hell, I took the first part of the book downstairs, gathered my betas and my family, and we read it.

Honestly, this was possibly the best thing I could have done, because I not only got feedback from some of the people who knew the source material, but I got feedback from the people who had never heard of the source material. So my work was judged as fanfiction, but also as a standalone story. And the second thing I was asked afterwards was when it was going to be posted. (The first thing was, “You can’t end it there! What the hell?”) I explained, gently, that it was fanfiction and could not be published. It was explained to me, gently, that it could still be posted and made public, even if I couldn’t sell it.

For some reason, this option had not yet occurred to me, in spite of the fact that I read fanfic all the freaking time. All of which I have told you, just to tell you that there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is, I won’t be publishing Pool. The good news is, I will be posting Everything Is All Right after all. The bad news is, most of you probably won’t like it. The good news is, at least you won’t have to pay for it!

So what is Everything Is All Right based on? Well, I could just tell you, but I think it’d be more fun if you guessed. Here are some clues:

  1. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I absolutely despise fanfiction that is not based 100% in the world of the source material. So if it was Star Trek fanfict (hint: It’s not), my story would not make the crew  students at Enterprise High in the year 2016, where the plot of the book was mainly concerned with who was taking who to the Prom. That shit’s stupid. So if you go back and look at the snippets I’ve already posted, the source material absolutely would fit within those parameters, i.e., somewhere in the contemporary US of A.
  2. This is not a crossover. Apart from the Original Characters and other elements I bring to the pot directly from my imagination, everything within the book occurs wholly within the source material’s world.
  3. The source material is NOT a movie or TV show or comic book. Neither is it real-life celebrity fanfiction. I shouldn’t even have to say that. Writing smut about real-life celebrities is not fanfiction, it’s a stalker manifesto. The source material is very much a fictional setting with fictional characters.
  4. The source material is fairly recent, initially made public in summer of 2014, right about the time I was heading off to that fabled RT Convention in New Orleans. It achieved international acclaim and has produced a number of subsequent installments of source material and commercially-available merchandise. There is, in short, a damned good chance you’ve at least heard of it, even if you’re not yourself a fan.
  5. The characters of Ana and Rider, as mentioned in my previous posts, are Original Characters and have no connection to the source material whatsoever. In fact, I’m not sure there’s anything in those excerpts that tie in to the source. Neither is the image I used taken from the source material, although I consider it a clue.
  6. My fanfic references four locations from the source material, as well as fourteen characters, four of whom are main characters along with Ana, my OC. As previously mentioned, one of them is a musician. He plays the guitar. Music plays a small, yet important role in the source material as well.
  7. The source material is very much set in the Horror genre and I expound upon many of its original themes. In fact, this is the first time I have actually felt compelled to include a Trigger Warning, due to recurring themes of violence towards children.

Finally, while not a clue per se, I feel I ought to stop here and say that while the source material contained absolutely no sexy times, fanfic would not be fanfic without inappropriate mash-ups and lemony goodness. And I will say right now the sex scenes I wrote for this book are easily the weirdest I’ve ever written or am ever likely to write.

It’ll be interesting to see what your guesses are. Because I kind of want the guessing to go wild, I won’t be answering comments this go-round, because I don’t want to put an end to it too quickly by saying if you’re wrong or right. I’m just going to give it some time, say a week or two, and then post the answer, along with maybe some more snippets.

I WILL NOT BE POSTING THE ENTIRE BOOK HERE ON THIS BLOG. I know, I know, it seems like the ideal place, except, holy cow, this stuff is dark and I was not kidding about the trigger warning. Those of my followers who do not want to be subjected to it should not have to unfollow me to avoid it. So! My plan is to start posting on Fanfiction.net (and maybe some other places, if I can find a solid fanbase) by the end of the month, releasing one chapter each week. As each chapter goes up, I will make an announcement here, including a less-triggery excerpt and a link, and anyone who wants to can hop on over to Fanfiction.net to check it out. As I say, the book is divided into five parts. The first part is completely written and ready to post; the second part is about 80% written; the third part is maybe 40%; the fourth part is maybe 25%; and I got nothing of the last part except the ending right now.

 

Wow, this was a long post! But I hope it has answered some questions and I look forward to reading the comments!

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68 responses to “Here’s That Announcement I Promised

  1. I haven’t read all your books….yet…but what I have read, all seem to have an element of romance to them. Without intending it to be romance, I think it comes naturally to you. Romance can be a broad genre, and while you would likely be in the romantic horror/erotica category, it’s still romance. All this has done was broaden your reader base – including myself. The first book I read was Cottenwood, and I fell in love with your writing immediately. YOUR WRITING. The romance was just an added bonus. 🙂

    I read Scholomance, and while I know that was not a romance, it had some elements to it. Heat was horror straight up…but still had it, even the bad guy! Last Hour of Gann…you had AMAZING moments between Amber and Meoraq. Like heart-fluttering sweet moments that had readers feeling all gushy inside.

    While I don’t expect all of your books to have romantic elements, it’s just icing on the cake for me. But what I will say for Pool…you should never not publish your work because of what you think others might think. No matter what you publish, there will always be haters. People who will nitpick everything apart. I wish I had your willpower to not look at reviews. But those are the minority. You have a large fan base of readers who literally salivate for your next book.

    As your sister pretty much said to you: Write for you. Share it with your readers, and trust in them. ❤

    • Romance certainly can be a broad genre and certainly the paranormal/fantasy crossover market has never been higher (and only seems to be going up), but the point I guess I failed to make in my ranting up there is that the way you write and especially end a horror novel as opposed to a romance novel are wildly different. I would never call my romance readers Haters because they were dissatisfied with Pool. They want what they want and that’s perfectly okay. But at the same time and by the same token, it does not pay to alienate or provoke them. When I first became aware that a large percentage of my fanbase were romance readers, I remember thinking it was funny, like seeing grandparents at a Marilyn Manson concert. Sure, they might genuinely be into it, but odds are, they wandered in by mistake and as soon as they realize where they are, they’ll surely wander out again. I mean, surely. Right?

      Then I started getting nominated for Romance Genre awards. And then winning them. And then when I was at that RT Convention, sitting in a panel taking notes, my name was mentioned by one of the panelists and the room frigging exploded with ladies gushing over Meoraq, and I remember looking around with my mouth open, thinking, ‘Holy shit, these ARE my fans!’ And this is terrifying to me, because I really, truly, honestly, sincerely do not know how the hell to write a romance. But I am sure starting to learn what pisses them off.

      Readers are so different from any other fanbase out there in that they SHARE. They don’t just sit on forums and froth at the mouth over who got cast as what, they actively seek out other potential readers and say, “Read this. Don’t take my word for it, experience this for yourself. READ THIS.” So when they say, “Don’t read this, Don’t bother, You’ll hate the ending,” you ignore that at your peril.

      If I didn’t have to work for a living, I suppose I’d damn the torpedoes and write straight ahead, but I do. Plus, I’m self-published. I don’t have a huge marketing conglomerate behind me, shining a book-shaped spotlight into the sky over Horrorfansville. No one has my back. And just like any other owner of a very small business, when a customer comes up to you and expresses dissatisfaction with your product, you don’t tell them, “If you don’t like it, go somewhere else,” because THEY WILL.

      I love my readers. I love all my readers. I love my horror readers, I love my fantasy readers, I love my sci-fi readers and I love my romance readers. I am enormously grateful to all of them for putting their hard-earned money down and making it possible for me to do what I love for a living. And because I am grateful, I owe it to them to put out a product I think they’ll enjoy. I don’t feel I’m compromising my principles to do so; if I did, I’d be twisting Pool around into some romantic mutation. And I don’t think I’m knuckling under; no one is asking me to do this, I just think it’s the right thing to do for now. But I am grateful for each and every one of you, and I appreciate your encouragement and support in this decision. Thanks so much for your comment and kind words!

  2. Eeeeee!!!!! I will read anything you write. I love romances, but I love other genres too, and I’m ok with no romance in a book. Can’t wait to read this!! I won’t make a guess at the setting, because I’m craptastic at stuff like that

  3. Hi,

    I love your stories. You are an incredible writer. Really, I have never read a story like yours. I always thought they were romantic. I like your take on romance/ horror/ sci-fi a lot.

    • Well, thank you! I’m glad you enjoy them! Honestly, I still have trouble sometimes wrapping my head around the fact that other people really read my books.

  4. I am always wrong with my guesses. With that in mind, my guess is fan fiction based on Let The Right One In. I checked, and that movie came out in 2008, so that blows it right there, but I didn’t check the American remake, because I can’t remember the title. It’s definitely horror with children, though, so – maybe? Getting warm? Or not.

    I read a lot of romance, and so I read a lot of reviews on Amazon and write a few also. Romance reviews (some) drive me crazy. People will criticize a book because: there’s adultery. The Hero is with other women after he meets the Heroine. And so on. I wish you could go up on a mountain somewhere and just write what you want and let all of us read it because it’s really great to read your stuff, and forgive me for saying that because you’re entitled to live your life same as the rest of us. I hope someday you change your mind about Pool.

    • Thanks for your guess! I won’t tell you if you’re right or wrong, but I will confirm the source material is definitely horror with children (better check that list of clues again, though).

      Yeah, there’s definitely a short-list of expectations when it comes to romances and I have no frigging clue what’s on it. I heard a lot about Azrael keeping other women while he was with Lan in Land of the Beautiful Dead, and Taryn sleeping with other people after she and Antilles hooked up, and of course, Olivia. I will never stop hearing about Olivia, LOL. But let’s be honest here, if I had the chance to go back over my books, I wouldn’t change those things. I do write what I want. I never allow the possible repercussions to affect what I write…just what I publish.

      • Thanks for the gentle reminder about reading the clues. I was operating under the delusion that I HAD read them, but clearly that can’t be true. That would make me an idiot 🙂

        I like the way you use “source material,” as if anything more specific would be too big a hint, but I have no idea what it could be. All I know is I’m looking forward to reading it.

      • I’m trying to be really clever about the clues. Honestly, I think I’m being too broad, but my sister thinks they’re so obtuse, no one is going to get them. You’re also the only one so far to even guess. I feel like that ought to be rewarded. Why don’t you send me your email address and I’ll send you the first chapter?

  5. I love to read and I love your books. Nuff said. I can’t imagine having a talent like yours. You have a gift and selfishly, I think you need to publish more. Here is a thought, publish Pool under another name. Then, no expectations from those who read it under the R. Lee Smith name. But, could you tell me when you publish that book under another name, so I can purchase it. I’m a greedy little piggy and would prefer if you published 1 book every six months, minimum. (big grin).

    • I’ve thought about using a different name, but let me tell you, it is such a hassle to set up separate publishing accounts with the same banking information, especially when you’re a person and not a publisher. This is how plagiarists operate, it seems, and how Amazon deals with it is by suspending accounts first and asking questions later. My books are already pretty controversial in some respects and I’ve had to deal with them ‘black marking’ my books in the past, which means they hide me in the search engine so that my books cannot be found unless someone searches for my full name and the exact title of the book. My new readers come from word of mouth and browsers, and I cannot afford to be hidden, which means I can’t afford to trip over Amazon’s ridiculous bullshit rules. (Amazon people, if you’re reading this, I love you).

  6. I am very disappointed that you will not be publishing Pool, but I can see why some readers would be expecting a happy ending since you put your sneak peek at the end of The Last Hour of Gann.

    I totally understand what kind of a writer you are. Would anyone call the Lord of the Rings an epic romance? Heck no. Was there romance in it? Sure, a little, but that’s not what the point of the story was. And for me the greatest part of The Last Hour of Gann was the evolution of Meoraq. The growth of his character was a story in and of itself.

    Ignore the romance fans. What’s the point of reading a story if you know how it is going to end anyway? Bleh. Boring. Let them stick to the Harlequin books, and you write your epic stories.

    • Yeah, the sneak peek in LHoG was a bit misleading. I foolishly just put in the first chapter, not taking into consideration that it made it seem like Pool was the hero (I guess he is, from his perspective) and Echo, the heroine. Then when I subsequently let it slip in a blog post that Echo dies, readers kind of got slapped in the face. I suppose I should have included a excerpt with Norah, the woman Pool encounters and attempts in his own way to woo, except that she is being wooed by someone who thinks eviscerating small animals and leaving organs on the doorstep is sexy, and knocking off one’s romantic rivals is a logical step when one’s lady-love expresses indifference. Pool thinks he’s showing off his talents as a protector and prospective partner; Norah thinks she’s being stalked by a goddamn monster. This was the book and I think you can agree, romance readers were not going to be happy.

      • Ah, but there is so much potential there for some seriously deep characters and interesting perspectives and character growth! I’d really like to get into Pool’s head.

  7. One more thing: You are the creator of characters Amber and Sarah. I suspect you even admire them, so I am really surprised that you are letting the romance fans get to you. Be true to you and keep doing what you love best–writing scifi/horror epics. (What would be super cool is if you did publish Pool and the cover art was your own painting!)

    • One of the reasons I started painting was in the hopes that I would someday do portraits of characters and landscapes of those worlds, even if I only posted them here. I am not there yet, LOL, but maybe someday. It’s damned hard to make book covers with lizard people and such on them when you’re working from stock photos. I’m self-published; I can’t afford to hire models and commission exclusive art. My cover artists do amazing work, in my opinion, especially when I so often begin with, “Well, she’s blonde and he’s a bug…”

  8. Let me just say that I am a Romance fan and I have found elements of romance in all of your stories. Not the hearts and flowers kind – that would be boring and your are never boring – but the sneak-up-on-you-delightful-surprise kind which I can’t relate here and spoil it for those who haven’t read your stories. Your books are a wonderful amalgamation of genres that are immensely entertaining and highly addictive. Hell, I would probably buy your grocery list and enjoy reading it too! So, I will wait patiently until you decide Pool is ready to enter the world and will enjoy your other offerings in the meantime. I just thank God you do write and offer those stories to us AND that my friend introduced me to your writing.

    • And I’m very glad to have such an enthusiastic and loyal reader! I think you’re one of the first followers of this blog and it’s always great to read your comments.

  9. I hope some day you feel comfortable enough to publish Pool. I would love to discover the world you created in that story. I love your writing style and your stories. I almost never re-read books but I constantly find myself going back to yours. Your stories are so rich that I find something new every time I read them. I’m super excited to see what you come up with next!

    • And I’m super-excited for people to read it too! It’s bound to be outside of some people’s comfort zone, not to mention a monster-length read, but it’s also essentially going to be a serialized novel, with chapters being posted weekly, and I’m interested to see how that will go.

  10. *waives frantically* Hi grandparent at a Manson concert here! (Although if we use that analogy I would be a grandparent who already had a cd collection of non English death metal in her car when she accidentally wandered into the concert)

    I read Gann first (then Heat, cottonwood, Olivia, and LotBD) and was blown away, I think I found it on a goodreads alien sci fi romance list. I have always devoured the romance elements in your books, even if that relationship was unhealthy crazy (I loved reading about Kane and Raven, man I wish we could see how they are tearing apart the galaxy)

    It’s a bit sad about Pool, but I get where you’re coming from. I saw another comment saying use another pseudo and your remark that Amazon was a hassle. Maybe one day it will be easier and pool may see the light of day.

    Even though I definitely see myself as one of your romance reader fans I have always found myself reading horror every now and then. It comes down to the fact that you’re an amazing writer, and romance or no romance I’ll read whatever you put out with the understanding that even if there is no “happy ending” you’re stories are very captivating.

    One thing is for sure, I’m about to get into a new fandom. The fact that I have no idea what source your talking about means I need to get cracking on finding whatever book (?) this is from.

    • Well, thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to leave these kind words on my metaphorical doorstep! It’s a great way to end the day (it’s about 2 in the afternoon here, and I’ll be headed to bed as soon as I finish the day’s edits; the greatest part about being a writer is being up all night and sleeping all day).

      Yeah, as nervous as I am about posting fanfic (I’ve been muttering under my breath about how it’s going to kill my career, but heck, I do that every time I publish), I’m interested to see the fallout. Are any of my readers already fans? Will they become fans, due to my book? Will the source fans who read it become readers of my other books? So many possibilities….

      • Funny enough I have found 2 published authors from fandom! Loved their fics and found out they also sold books. Definitely a way to pick up new fans.

      • I’m sure hoping so. I read a lot of fanfiction and I’ve let friends and family read what I’ve written, but this is the first time I’ll be posting publicly, and I’m…let’s just say “interested” to see how it will be received, both by the source’s fanbase and my own readers.

  11. I have loved every single one of your books. Read most of them multiple times. And while you may not consider yourself a romance writer, I do. I actually discovered you while looking on goodreads for some new “Mars needs women” smexy book to chew on when I stumbled on Heat. And OMG did I fall in love with Kane (and you in the process :D). I went on to devour everything you’ve written and I’m dying for your next book.

    While it is true you don’t provide the HEA endings that I normally look forward to, you generally have a very satisfying HFN ending and that’s more than good enough for me. I wouldn’t be surprised if a majority of your fan base feels the same.

    What I love about your books is the fact that you are not just crossing that line, but stomping all over it then strutting your way on the other side. I never know what to expect with your books and the universes you create, and that’s exciting. I love that the romance element is usually between a human female and some funky humanoid that I can totally relate to on a human level and fall in love with for who they are, not what they are.

    I don’t think you should deny yourself writing and publishing whatever book you feel inspired to write. As a romance/erotica fan, I would not consider it dissing your fan base. I will read it, enjoy the heck out of it and get my smut fix on the side until your next book!

    Please don’t write it under a different pen name. A “no romance” warning should be enough. At least all of your fans (including those who don’t check your blog) get to see what you’ve been up to and can choose whether or not to read it based on their tastes.

    Either way, sorry for the long-winded comment. But bottom line, we love your work because you write what the story tells you it wants to be and it resonates with us every time. Don’t change that to try to please us. You’ll never please everyone and frankly, people usually think they know what they want. But in fact, they don’t know until you actually give it to them.

    Cheers!

    • Somewhere in my Inbox, I have a fan letter that reads, in part, “…a lot of authors out there write books that change lanes. Your books change lanes, jump the curb and plow into a sandwich shop. Then you order a sandwich and walk out, because you totally meant to park there.”

      I go back and forth on whether or not that’s really a compliment…

      So yeah, I’m going to write what I write. Frankly, the reason I started writing in the first place is because I felt too many stories “pulled their punches”. And I sure can’t be alone, because in the years since I started writing, there has been a real explosion of edgy paranormal reading material, since self-publishing has become more prevalent and suddenly there’s a glut of authors out there who can write whatever the hell they want to write, without a publisher telling them what to do. No, you can’t please everyone. Heck, there will be times you can’t please anyone, but that doesn’t mean you stop writing.

      Ironically, the only thing that would make me stop writing is if I no longer had the time because I had to work at a more conventional job. So…I do have to be aware of my readers and their preferences. That doesn’t mean I cater to them. I wouldn’t insult their intelligence by telling them what they want to read. But I’d be a fool not to listen to their feedback when they are generous enough to give it. And believe me, that’s what I take away from my fan mail and reviews–that those people took the time to tell me what they thought and felt, and I am enormously grateful. Regardless of whether my books’ endings make you feel happy or angry, as long as they genuinely made you FEEL, I call that a success.

  12. I admit after reading the announcement about Pool, I had to skip the rest of the post and come right to the comments. I am really effing pissed -not at you R. Lee, but at the idiot readers who are reviewing your amazing books against the standards of a genre you’ve never even pretended to write in. After I read Gann, which was a life changing book for me, I headed over to Good Reads because I wanted to find a community that shared in my love for this incredible work. And while most of the reviews were overwhelmingly positive, I was stuck as well by the few complaints about the subtle HEA. For me, the ambiguous or non happy endings are a breath of fresh air when every other book overly sappifies its conclusion, even if it rings false. Real life and people can be pretty ugly, and I like to see that reflected in what I read.

    The first book of yours I picked up was Olivia, and reading it felt like finding home. Here was a unique story teller, meshing together my favorite things -horror, sex, theology, strong heroines – and it was unapologetically unpretty. Flowery romance novels and authors are a dime a dozen. I can’t even begin to name any one like you, and I read like it’s my job.

    Anyway, thanks you boring, EL James reading Romance enthusiasts-you’re the reason we can’t have nice things.

    • Gosh, it’s nice to know someone other than me likes Olivia, LOL. It’s one of the two books I wrote for the E-Pub Site That Must Not Be Named (the other being Heat), and I gave the person running the site way too much influence over how that book turned out. I like to think I have learned from the many, many, many mistakes that were made in both those books, but the one thing I would never change is the ending. But, we live and learn, right? One of the few hard and fast rules I try to live by when writing is to always seek to improve.

  13. I am one of your biggest fan, I have read Heat and Cottonwood and I love that they are so different and uniquely weird ( in a good way )from anything out there , it’s sad that you have to hold back on releasing a book because of some peoples need for a normal story with a happy ending. I see a lot of authors that write dark stories put a warning in the blurb and some people still read them and complain after. Please don’t ever stop writing your stories just the way you want them to be , some of us are sick of the same old thing all the time .

    • Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement! I’m glad you enjoyed my books! I do put a warning in my blurbs because I do want my readers to know what they’re getting into before they pay their good money for something that may be too much for them to handle, but it’s amazing how many readers can take down a 500 page book in a single day, yet not be able to read a 250 word blurb.

  14. I have missed so much! I can’t believe I have waited so long to catch up on all of the goings on in R Lee world!

    I am frequently astounded by the comments of reviewers and while I will never understand what makes some critters feel they are qualified to comment with authority on something they have never actually attempted themselves, I do understand the entitlement of opinions. I also remember what my momma says about opinions! ; )

    If, however, said opinions or comments have prompted you to travel a different path of creativity? Roll on! I would read your grocery list too!

    Inquiring minds must know… Was the original source a graphic novel by any chance??

  15. Not a movie, TV show, graphic novel or book? “What does that leave”, you say? A meme, facebook post, knitting pattern? I’m totally lost now, I even tried having a little google about it and came up with nothing! I don’t know about your clues being obtuse, but I certainly am.

  16. After checking off all the things it isn’t, the only things left (that I can think of ) are music videos, video games or commercials. I have less than zero knowledge about the first two so…I googled “horror, commercial, with kids, 2014” and came up with this. The Geico insurance commercial horror movie spoof which aired in 2014. The “kids” are teenagers and too old to be considered children but it is definitely horror and a really cute commercial. Even if it isn’t your source material, some entertaining stories could be made from it. I imagine you will get a good giggle out of my guess. It is kind of “out there” but, heck, I can say I tried.

    • Without saying how (at least here), I will say that you did hit it in the ballpark. But you did guess, and I like to reward that! Check your email, as I will be sending you a sneak peek of the first part of the fanfic!

      • Thank you so much, R. Lee! I am so glad I took that chance and can’t wait to discover what your source material actually is.

  17. Hi,

    I’m at that point where I’m going to read ANYTGING you write. I might not LOVE everything you wrote but I’m going to pay for it and read it because you are a one of a kind author. I love a HEA and I’m mostly a romance reader but HEAT is still one of my all time favorite books, and I’m not sure if HEAT would be considered a romance book. I think I read it twice each year.

    So I can’t wait getting the link to fanfiction.net and immerse myself into a 1000 page story written by YOU.

    Years ago when I started reading English only (I’m from Germany) I grabbed a Harry Potter and started translating . It dragged and took me an eternity to read a few pages. At that time I must have come across a Buffy TV episode in English and I fell in love with Spike. Researching brought me somehow to the fanfiction community and entire homepages devoted to stories about spike/buffy. I was in heaven and haven’t read a book written in german ever since, that must have been approximately 15years ago.

    Wow, i didn’t intend to write this much.

    Anyhow, what I wanted to say is that I can’t wait to read what you came up with.

    Thank you for writing!!!

    You have been a truly amazing find and I can’t be more grateful to whatever blog brought me to you.

    Corina

    • You won’t have long to wait! I think I’ll be posting the first chapter next Saturday (I’ll post an announcement and excerpt here), and do regular weekly posts thereafter until each part is complete. I believe the first part (there are five in total) has 18 chapters, so it’ll be a good, long read.

  18. Thank you so much, R. Lee, for rewarding my guess with the prologue to your new story. I’ve never read fanfiction before (that I know of) but do know that this was a GREAT beginning and a horrible tease (in a good way) to the story you will be giving us. Thank god I won’t have to wait too long. The suspense to find out certain things is killing me! I see what you mean about warnings of violence against children – and this is just the prologue. I suspect things will get MUCH worse. *Shiver* If the prologue is any indication, I may have to start sleeping with the lights on.

    • Heheh, awesome. Yeah, it’s a harsh one. I know I say this a lot, but honestly, this is really the darkest thing I’ve ever written. Since I didn’t have to worry about making it saleable or anything, I just went all out on the atmosphere. And when you start with a source as dark and horrific as this one, it was easy to take it even further.

      Glad you liked the prologue!

  19. First things first. Thank you for writing The Last Hour of Gann and all your other books and puttingthem out into the world for us to enjoy. The amount of love I have for Gann can’t be measured. It’s my go to book. I read it every few weeks. After I finish a new book, or because I don’t feel like starting a new one and not liking it, or just because I miss Amber and Meoraq. He is the man. Lizard. The best. And I absolutely love how much Amber changes within the story. Plus it contains my two favorite ‘villains’ aka people I love to hate.

    And I was already wondering what happened to Pool… now I know. 🙂 I kind of want to guess at least once. So the only thing I could think of was a comic. Parasyte?

    On another note, if you’re still looking for a different fanfiction site to bring your story out, you might want to look into Archive of Our Own: https://archiveofourown.org/ It’s a great alternative to ffnet. Personally I like fanfictions a lot. It’s a different kind of creative outlet with different parameters. Some of my favorite books/stories are fanfictions.

    I’m really looking forward to reading your next book! Published, fanfiction. Whichever. I know, I’ll enjoy it.

    • Okay, so first things first, thank you for reading! I’m glad you enjoyed the book! (I never know what to say to compliments. I always feel like such a huge tool, but not acknowledging them feels even worse)

      Second, thanks for playing the guessing game! I won’t tell you here if you’re right or wrong, but you’ll know for yourself soon enough (cue ominous music). Check your inbox.

      Third, I will be posting on archiveofourown, as a matter of fact, as well as fanfiction.net and, once the book is 100% complete, probably also on wattpad. When I was researching fanfic venues, those were the three with the largest established fanbase for the source material.

  20. I was wondering if the original source was the video game The Last of Us? I can’t wait to start reading it, no matter what it is based on because I know it’ll be amazing.

  21. I love all your books (even parts of Olivia)! You got me to read a book with ravenings zombies and LOVE IT, so I trust you. You’re an auto-buy author for me. I even made fan art of Amber on tumblr waahhh nerd time.
    Ugh I feel so dumb. I’ve been googling for the last hour to come up with guesses and my brain is not helping – I immediately zeroed in on all the things you said it wasn’t (tv, movie, comic book). So it’s not from anime/manga like Monster, Psycho Pass, Tokyo Ghoul… Blergh. Nor is it Household, Stage Fright…
    Sigh, it’s been a long time since I read fanfiction. I used to write Gargoyles fanfic back in the good ol days of dial-up.

    • I used to write Gargoyles fanfic too. And not that long ago, come to think of it. I love that show and keep hoping for/dreading the inevitable movie reboot.

      And wow, just found your fan art. I’m printing it out and hanging it on the wall. Thanks.

  22. Thank you, for rewarding my guess with the prologue!! Holy Shit!! You ROCK!!! I FREAKING LOVED IT!! How incredibly descriptive and wonderfully frightening!! I checked under my bed before going to sleep last night!

    If the prologue is this scary, (bite-nails-to-the-nub-cold-chills-a-little-pee-came-out!) I can not wait for the rest of it!! It was every single time I was afraid as a girl, all mashed up into one sick knot in the gut feeling!! I felt like every film freak and book boogey-man that ever scared me was looming in the shadows… waiting to rip my childhood self to ribbons!

    Yes folks, it is dark. Be warned.

    Then hop on! Strap in! And let’s scream ourselves inside out all the way to the end of this crazy ride!!

    Horror who?? R Lee Smith, that’s who!! HorroR Lee Smith!

    • I’m signing all my correspondance HorroR Lee Smith from now on.

      Thanks so much for your wild and not at all stalkerish, totally normal praise!!! (With three exclamation points, so you know I’m serious)

      • I think the exclamation point is highly underrated in the punctuation world. Sometimes you just can’t use enough of them! : )

        I remember going to a slumber party when I was about ten, and because I knew the girl through our parents friendship, she and the rest of the girls were all a bit older than me. We were telling ghost stories in the dark and I was already feeling that frightened flipping in my stomach when her older brother and his friend decided it would be funny to sneak around outside and scratch on the back door, in front of which, I was seated.

        Pandelerium ensued! All the girls let out screams that should have shattered windows, except there weren’t any, (finished basement, two solid doors and no windows) and scrambled to get up the stairs and out the other door. With one exception, the room was enveloped in hysteria.

        The exception was me. I froze. Cold chills ran up my spine and I held my breath waiting for the bad thing behind the door to come in. Even when the door flung open and slammed against the wall, I sat frozen with my head bowed and my clammy hands clenched tightly in my lap waiting for The Bad Thing to happen.

        When the evil brother and friend finally burst into the room laughing and revealing themselves to the girls, there was lots of yelling and threats of “never speaking to you again” and “You are so mean!” but they were, of course, forgiven and allowed to stay and watch the movie and eat junk food.

        That was a long story just to tell you, I remember that night vividly because I was scared, but also because when it was over and we were watching Invasion of the Body Snatchers, I was thinking how much scarier the unknown is and how that feeling… couldn’t possibly be shown or told with words.

        And then there was you. And I started this tale just to relate how you “told with words” in a prologue that exact feeling, and that was why I was so excited that I went wild with exclamation points, and I am really not a stalker but an awed fan, and still I sound stalkerish!

        Anyway…. I am looking forward to holding my breath and clenching my clammy hands together through the rest of your wonderfully frightening story!!!

        : )

      • Well, you won’t have to wait much longer. If I can figure out how to upload to the sites, I start posting tomorrow. At present, my plan is to post new chapters weekly, but I’ll have to see how that goes.

  23. Ok so I know I’m only one person and it shouldn’t matter what one person says, but for me often all it takes is the words of one person and I have that “thunderclap! revelation!” moment. So here goes: I’ve read all your books and loved them. LOOOVED. To me they’re all Romances – kinda sorta – but really really satisfying in their own way. You are extremely talented, and your true fans will follow you and read your published material no matter what (and no matter where, so why you refuse to make money I will never understand). So please keep writing and we will keep reading. Who cares what the nay-sayers say? I hope you don’t. And I hope you know that Gann made you into one of those EPIC authors that can now do literally anything and still have a devoted fan base for all time.

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