Creepy Crazy Christmas is now available on Smashwords. Only $0.99. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/261592
I’ve never been more surprised than I was last night, although it was somewhat a cross between shock and disappointment. I wasn’t that upset, however, not in the throes of a screaming hissy fit or weeping endless tears into a pillow.
Just puzzled and in a state of utter disbelief.
Later, though, the whole situation became rip-roaring funny, and I literally had tears cascading down my cheeks and a belly I thought would explode from the pain. Literally!
For the past week or so, I’ve been working on a book of short stories, which I titled, Creepy Crazy Christmas. I’m not sure what possessed me to even start such a book, but I think I began with the intention of writing one not-so-nice Christmas story, because I was feeling sorry for myself about having to remain home over the holidays instead of travelling down south and thus felt like bashing Christmas. Although I knew how wrong that was, my fingers had a mind of their own, and before I knew it, I had eight stories drafted, which I fine-tuned to perfection. (I trashed one other which was about half done, thinking I’d re-do it for the book’s sequel to come out Christmas 2013. Yep, I didn’t even have that first book done and I was planning the follow-up!)
Finally – done! My masterpiece! Eight short stories, approximately 13,000 words total, all of which take place during the Christmas season. The stories follow several Christmases of the wacky and warped Grimes family, including the parents, Bob and Elise; their young Jimmy; and Winnie, Jimmy’s estranged paternal grandmother.
While writing them, I never laughed so hard in my life, and every time I re-read them, I’d laugh again (and still do), and I’m not normally a laughter-type person. I couldn’t wait to share them – with someone, anyone! A writing buddy crafted a gorgeous cover, using a sly Santa pic I had found online, so I was all set with a wonderful, but wacky book of short stories, plus a fantastic cover.
I had approached another writing bud to edit the stories for me, and then at the last minute I decided they were good enough the way they were (yeah, they were THAT good!). He offered to read the stories, however, so I sent them off to him. In the meantime, Hubby arrived home from work . When he found out what I was doing, he excitedly asked if he could read them.
I was flattered! Hubby has never read any of my stories, other than a few poems. He has asked, but just never followed through, so it’s a bit odd he keeps telling me to give up prose and concentrate on poetry. How can he tell me to give up writing stories when he hasn’t read any of them?
So I downloaded my Creepy Crazy Christmas book to my tablet and Hubby began reading, while I watched him with bated breath, waiting for his words of praise and astonishment at my great accomplishment. It WAS my masterpiece, after all!
Well…he finished – just barely – the first story and wanted to quit.
“But I don’t get it,” he said. “What’s all this about chickens and turkeys with their heads cut off?”
“But that first story is just the lead-in,” I said. “You have to keep going. The stories are kinda intertwined. And you have to read carefully, or you’ll miss stuff.”
He hesitantly started the second story.
“You’re skimming,” I said. “I told you that you have to read carefully. You’ll miss the little innuendos and foreshadowing if you don’t.”
“But this is painful.”
Painful? “Well, keep going. They get better.” They didn’t really get better, cause they were so good to begin with, but I had to tell him something to keep his interest.
Before he reached the third story, I had heard more “painful” phrases and words like “boring” and “dumb” and “no purpose.” When he reached the fourth story, he threw the tablet at me. “I can’t continue.”
What! “Why not? They’re my stories. Don’t you want to read your wife’s stories?”
“But they’re painful to read. I don’t get them. They’re just a jumble of words,” he said.
“They’re quirky stories,” I said. “They’re odd and wacky and funny and sarcastic, and a little warped. I spent a long time writing them.” I truly believed Hubby didn’t know what he was talking about. “I know they’re not your type of stories, but just finish. There are some good ones coming up,” I said.
He grudgingly accepted the tablet back, but I knew his heart wasn’t really in it.
“I don’t understand this one. Who’d do something like that?”
“Krampus is a real fictional character in Europe somewhere. He’s like Santa, but bad. He steals little kids at night and eats them, but I changed my guy to Grampus,” I said. (Did he get the gist – Grampus, “Grampy”?)
“Never heard of him. And what’s with these mice? I don’t get that one at all. None of them make sense.”
“Did you understand Winnie and the stuffing?” I asked.
He threw the tablet at me again before he got to the sixth story. “But you need to read the sprite story,” I said. “You must have heard about Elf on the Shelf?” He hadn’t. “It’s a kid’s book. My story is a play on that book, but I called my little guy Sprite. Sprite of the Night.”
When it sunk in my thick skull that he truly hated them – each and every one of them – I was devastated. I had visions of this book becoming a best seller and bringing in a ton of money. Perhaps Hubby was more disappointed than I was, because I think he expected great things from me, and I think he wanted to shower the praise on me but just couldn’t. To appease myself, I sent off an email to my bud who was going to read them, just to give him an FYI that Hubby hated them, positive I’d receive immediate accolades in return.
Instead, when his email arrived, I read his first words, “Cathy, Hubby is right.” He went on to say: “Creepy Crazy Christmas is not at all ready for prime time. In fact, the only story among the eight that feels complete is “Winnie’s Christmas Goodies.” I’ve read all the stories and found 7 out of 8 half-baked. Not that I couldn’t see potential in what you, I think, are trying to do. Dicken’s Pickwick Papers comes to mind, but your Grimes family is batshit crazy compared to the simply eccentric Pickwicks. So, let me dare to point out the Grimes tales are salvageable, but only with patient design and outlining, not what appears to presently be a quick put-together simply for the author’s entertainment. Take 6-7 months of the coming year to rework these Grimes family stories and add many more to build to a full book of their bizarre lives and adventures. Suggested title: The Grimes…..”
I trusted this guy’s opinion, so I had to believe him, but the worst part was that I had to tell Hubby he was right. You’d have to know my husband to understand how difficult this would be for me. He’s a guy who believes he’s right all the time, no matter if someone proves him wrong, so this would just add more ego to his already swelled head. When I told him, he laughed, of course, and when I began reading my bud’s email out loud to him, I started crying. And then my stomach hurt. Yes, I was laughing – at me, and the whole situation became one hilarious laughing fit. All evening long I had been saying, “I just don’t believe you didn’t like them,” or “This was my masterpiece,” and “It took me a whole week to write these.” And: “They’re so cute and perfect,” and “I just don’t understand why no one likes them.” (You get the drift.)
Later, I said, “Did you hear that part of the email? He wants me to spend six or seven more months on them.”
Hubby replied, “Trash them now. Don’t waste another second of your precious life on them.”
I wrote the guy back: “I’m stunned at your email. Didn’t you get the little snide remarks to Jimmy from the parents, especially the mother? How cruel they were? But subtly? And how things from one story were brought into another? And the sarcasm and how “Sprite of the Night” is a play on Elf on the Shelf. And Krampus IS a fictional character somewhere in Europe that kids think is real.”
Part of his reply: “Yep, I got all of those things, but wit and sarcasm, while entertaining, are not enough to buttress a story with. And writing fiction is no game won simply because the writer is impressed with his or her self-apparent brilliance. A week is rarely sufficient time to generate a ‘masterpiece’. You have shown you can write 5 star short stories. You have also shown you can write garbage, but love it anyway simply because you wrote it…”
Oh jeepers, I thought. Now he thinks I’m tooting my own horn and he thinks I’m a jerk cause he thinks I think I’m perfect. Or, even worse, I’m as wacky as the Grimes family.
I read that email to Hubby, too, and we both had another great laugh. Then I left my warm bed to send the file to another writing friend, a female. Surely she’d like it?
The next morning, I received her reply. She couldn’t follow the first story, unless the husband was in the dressing. The second was too sad for her. I had author intrusion in the third. The fourth would scare little kids to death and she wanted to know if Jimmy would appear in other stories. (Yes, he did, since there were four more after that one which mentioned him! And it’s not a kid’s book, so no worries there!) She wanted to know if the rats got Winnie. (No, they weren’t rats, they were mice!). She didn’t “get” the ending of Sprite’s story. Where did his parents go? And why would they put pictures of a Sprite on display? “This is one messed up family,” she wrote. “They treat each other awful.” She ended with a “good luck.”
Okay, I can read between her lines; she’s just nicer than the two guys, that’s for sure.
Today is today: I’ve been laughing off and on all morning, but I guess it’s just my warped sense of humor. In one of my Facebook writing groups, I’ve been piling on the messages asking for help with this and that and one person suggested I was on a media blitz. “Is this some kind of marketing strategy?” he wrote. “There’s so much buzz around these stories that I can’t wait to read them. Just tell me where to go so I can start reading.”
I offered my book to other readers for comments and received three takers. It’s in the hands of one of them right now. I’m waiting…with bated breath again….
DING! Yay, a message! “I’ve started it, but am gonna have to finish it later. Have to take a shower and head into the real world for a little while. I’ll catch up with you when I get back.”
Bummers…more waiting. So, stay tuned for more of this saga…
As an afterthought: if nothing else, this whole fiasco has been therapeutic, since I haven’t laughed this much in years. But…I still love those stories! I still want to publish them, even though apparently no one likes them but me!
But I think I’m over my slump and actually in the Christmas spirit. And that’s a good thing!
AND, after further editing and more reviews: Creepy Crazy Christmas is now available on Smashwords. Only $0.99. https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/camack