Since I've been trying to manage my review queue a bit more, I stopped accepting self-published novels submitted for review on the blog. However, I am happy to feature these authors and their novels on the blog, and I'm so excited to share one such title, X&Y by Rebecca Finlayson, with you today. She's offering us a little insight into the world of writing, as well as a sample chapter for all of you. Enjoy!
Notes from Rebecca:
That is, as much as a novel can ever feel finished, but every author has to stop editing at some point and be brave enough to let their work out into the world.
The process of writing for me was very cathartic. I’d had this story buzzing around in my head for over a year before I actually had the time to sit down and write it, and with every word I typed it felt important that I kept on typing. I hope I’m not vain in saying that I feel “X&Y” is an important story to tell, and that Olivia Adonane (the heroine of the story) is a character that readers need to get to know.
How then, did it feel, to have my work rejected by agent after agent?
Well, rubbish, and saddening, to be perfectly honest. But then I read that agents typically get a few thousand submissions a year. Out of these, they only read about one hundred and fifty full manuscripts. And out of these they take on an average of three or four authors. So, not good odds.
I turned to self-publishing. As it turns out, it’s been a really good journey for me. I’ve had a lot of control over my work. I’ve been learning how to market (most of these lessons learned from Amanda Hocking) and I got to collaborate with my fantastically talented older brother on the front cover. I’ve been meeting (inasmuch you can meet people through email) some wonderful and really helpful book bloggers who are keen to help me get my story out there and read. And I’ve had the pleasure of seeing people download “X&Y” and give me feedback on how much they’ve been enjoying it.
There’s still a lot to learn about self-publishing, and about the book industry in general. But though I’m less naïve, I’m no less hopeful that people will keep downloading and reading my work and that the story will stay with them after the last page.
Below is the blurb and first chapter of “X&Y”. If you enjoy it, head on over to Amazon Kindle where you can find the book with a free seven-chapter sample.
A Snippet From X&Y
Thunder rumbles in the early hours of this morning and when I wake I think of Lily and what we’re going to do today. We’re meeting before school so we can post off our university applications together. To anyone who does not know who we are it seems such a little thing, but in this day and age it is not. My Ambition means I’m guaranteed a place at a prestigious institution, but Lily’s venture is a little more uncertain. Her portfolio, given to her parents when she was still in her mother’s womb, states that her Ambition is to be a waitress, which I’ve always thought was some kind of mix-up, as I’ve never thought she was right for the Service Industry. Very clumsy, and perpetually distracted by “higher things”, as she calls them, her different Preparation Experiences in cafes and restaurants have always ended spectacularly badly, though I will give her current boss come credit; she is unremittingly patient with her.
Lily is also extraordinarily clever, which is why I persuaded her to fill in a university application in the first place. Strange, I think, considering her family’s Ambitions, that her Tag gave her the chance to advance as much as she has. I know that Lily thinks this is too risky, bordering on dangerous – especially when the admissions boards find out about her humble family background. What harm is there in trying, though? Despite her reluctance, I know when she gets offered an opportunity to study Philosophy and Poetry she’ll be ecstatic and all the fear will have been worth it.
My own Ambition is very different. I will be following my father down the Designer route. First, six years of medical school followed by three more years of theoretical and practical study at the School of Human Design. I will learn how to create Tags with which to start unborn babies off on their uniquely selected paths, learn to further the research that reduces – and, hopefully, eventually eradicates – glitches in the System, and such like. My father is the most renowned Designer in the country, the head of the Triad – the Triad comprises of the country’s top three Designers – and one day I will take his place. It is a huge responsibility, but it is one for which I have specifically been Designed. I have no need to doubt myself.
“Good morning, father,” I chime, kissing him on the cheek as I bounce down to the dining room for breakfast, schoolbag and big brown envelope at the ready. I fling them down untidily on a chair and fix myself some cereal.
“Still in bed; she’s a little under the weather this morning. Not to worry though, she’ll be up and about in no time,” he says while sipping his coffee and reading the newspaper.
“What is the news like this morning?”
“Calm, as usual,” he smiles, and my curious doubts are quieted. Why do I harbour them? Our Society is near perfect. While other nations are constantly embroiled in bitter civil struggles, slowly destroying themselves from within, our country enjoys peace and prosperity. The “Utopia”, that the old writers dreamt of, is being achieved at last. I just wonder what the other countries are doing so wrong. Father soon breaks me out of my reverie.
“Is that what I think it is?” he asks, indicating the brown envelope.
“Yes,” I say proudly. “I wonder which school will want me.”
“All of them, I expect. Look how strong your application is, after all.”
“It doesn’t hurt that I have your name on it, though,” I say slyly.
“True,” he says, winking at me. “But if your Ambition was not to follow in my footsteps, they would turn you down as any other school would turn down an applicant whose Ambition did not meet with their requirements.”
“There’s something I wanted to ask you related to that,” I say. “You know Lily, my best friend?”
“Yes?” His tone is careful. He has never met Lily and there’s something about his wariness whenever I mention her that makes me uneasy, like he doesn’t think we should be friends.
“Do you know if her Tag and her Ambition portfolio got mixed up somehow before she was born?” I ask.
“I don’t know; I wasn’t assigned to her case. You would have to find that out from her hospital. Why?”
“Well, her Ambition is for her to be a waitress, but she’s not suited to that at all.”
“Waitressing is a perfectly good and sturdy profession,” my father says, his tone reprimanding.
“I know; I’m not being high and mighty. It’s just that, Lily doesn’t seem to enjoy it at all. She seems much more interested in pursuing Academia after Mandatory Education is over. I just wondered whether her original Portfolio was along the lines of some kind of Higher Educator, and the folder got mixed up in the hospital.”
“That’s impossible,” he says, though his dark eyebrows narrow a little over his thick-rimmed black glasses. “Are you sure this isn’t just some Secondary Interest that she is feeling quite strongly about at the moment?”
“I don’t think so,” I say, although my instincts tell me to shut up. “Even in between her work breaks she’s always reading a book of some poet or another. She excels at school – really, she would do much better at my school – and it crushes me to think she can’t do what she really wants.”
“She wants to be a waitress,” my father says quietly. “If her portfolio says so, then that is what her Tag has prepared her for, and that is what she will do. I think you might be seeing more in this situation than there is.”
“But-” I start to argue, about to reveal that I’ve helped her fill in university application, but something in his voice tells me that would be dangerous. His mobile phone rings and he frowns when he sees who is calling him.
“What is it?” he snaps into the phone. His eyes widen as the speaker on the other end rapidly relays information, though I can’t hear what he is saying. “I’ll come immediately.” He clicks off, his expression a mixture of annoyance and something else. Dismay?
“We’ll talk about this later,” he says quickly as he dons his suit jacket and picks up his briefcase and I assume he means our earlier conversation. “I have to go. I’ll see you for dinner. We’re going out to The Glade tonight.” He kisses my head and leaves. Soon I hear the car rev up and speed away, gravel flying everywhere.
“Sure,” I murmur, wondering what on earth that was about.