The Amazon Iowan

Blog of Author Heidi Cullinan

Big news about the Special Delivery series: Old Blue is taking a drive

33 Comments

If you go to Amazon, B&N, and the usuals right now and try to buy Special Delivery, you’ll only have the option of picking up a handful of paperbacks, and before long those will be gone too. The book is, as of today, out of print.

PLEASE REMAIN CALM.

Special Delivery and Double Blind are on the move–today the contracts are in the works between my agent and Samhain, and that’s where the series is going. This includes, as some of you have been hoping, book three, Better Than Love. There might yet be more, but for right now, let’s take it one book at a time.

To be clear, though, there WILL be a third book, and it is for real coming, and its production is 100% my top priority right now. I’ll be delivering it to my editor by June, straight-up.

Let me anticipate some of your questions.

When will the books be re-released at Samhain?

I forget which months exactly, but basically this time next year. As I understand it, the releases will be 1-2-3 in a row, one month apart for each.

Why is it going to take so long?

Because I really, really care about these books, and I want to do it right. This production schedule will help Samhain give the books wider exposure, do solid, solid editing, get new covers, the whole works. Also, to clear three months of release, we had to look a bit ahead.

OMG DOES THIS MEAN YOU’RE CHANGING MY FAVORITE BOOK EVER???!!!!!

NO. Absolutely NO. The edits, I swear on Sam Keller’s cute peach-shaped butt, will not eat your favorite scenes or even one-liners. I’ve already cleaned up a lot of “and thens” and some stupid spacings and other things that always get left over. Sasha will push me to clean up any other bits and pieces, and we’ll clean up things that you’ll never realize were change and yet will make the whole thing smoother and sharper. If you notice what we did, we didn’t do our jobs. I promise, we will be good at our jobs. This goes for Double Blind too.

What about the audio book? Is it going to go?

Yeah, sorry. My agent is looking into that, but for now, yes, it’s not hanging around.

Why are you moving your books?

That was probably your first question, but it has the longest answer, so I put it later in the queue.

The why is very complicated, but the short answer is because it’s the right thing to do. There is no dramatic behind-the-scenes story here–moving the series is what was best for it, and this was a decision reached after discussing things with my agent, Dreamspinner, and Samhain.

Editors, publishing houses, agents–these are all relationships, and as in all relationships, it’s important that everyone is happy and feels good. Everyone needs to want the same thing and share the same vision. It’s not okay for one party to need something different and have to not get it because another party can’t give it, and when that happens, it’s time to go. It says nothing about any of the individual parties’ worth, and polite, professional partings are a sign of strong individuals who are good at their jobs. Consider this one of those moments.

So you really are going to write Better Than Love now? You’ve been saying that for three years, you know.

Yeah, I know. Thankfully, George R. R. Martin has set the bar really high for how long you can let a series go. Though while we’re on the subject of long breaks…

One of the biggest reasons there hasn’t been a book–in addition to needing to be at the right place–is that I have had a bit of a hellish three years. Health, professional stuff, personal stuff–it’s been a ride. I have, actually, worked on this story the whole time, sometimes actively, sometimes just in the back of my head. Being in the right place, having a solid plan, and having cleared my desk for the project is going to help a lot.

The thing to remember is that Special Delivery, Double Blind, and Better Than Love are what I call “big books.” Big in that they’re not just lengthy but full of meat. I do, truly, work like the devil to make them sing, and I am, frankly, relentless in my standards for them. Special Delivery took over two years to write, and I have probably about 200k (not exaggerating) of dead manuscript beneath what you currently read. Double Blind is a bit of a fluke–It took 25 days to write and has the least editing ever in any book I’ve ever done, but I wrote it under extraordinary circumstances and spent three months prepping the research. I also wrote it in the dark. When that book got birthed, none of you knew who I was. That you do now? That you’re watching? Yes, it changes everything, and it makes it very hard at times. It makes it slower, because I have to keep shutting off my head.

The current reality of publishing, especially in indie, is that we must produce with incredible speed, speeds that ten years ago would be considered inhuman. In 2004 I went to a national writing conference where authors (NYT bestsellers) were angry that their publishers were beginning to require a book a year from them. Please enjoy that fact a moment when you consider how many books in m/m most authors crank out right now. I produce on average three a year, and I’m one of the slower producers. I’m not when you consider that a “short” book for me is usually 60k. Not only is a 100k book (my preferred length) longer, it’s more difficult. It’s not simply more words. It’s more complex plot, more to hold in one’s head, more pacing to make sure doesn’t flag. I do not make more money for that length, either. In fact, were I to crank out 20-40k on a regular basis, I’d make a lot more money.

At moments this reality–too fast a production, too unstable a landscape–has been very hard for me to come to terms with. I suffer too from too many ideas and too many fingers in too many sub-genres, and while I’ve corrected that a bit, it came at a financial and branding cost. When you add how visible and connected authors have to be to fans to stay relevant–social media, conferences, etc–I sometimes wonder how I have managed to do this at all. I think, weirdly enough, my unstable health has helped, because it becomes a sort of laser focus, making me constantly assess.

But yes, there will be Better Than Love by spring next year. It will be as big, if not bigger, than SD & DB. It will be worthy of your fandom and pleasure. It will be worth the money you’ll pay for it and the reviews you’ll leave on social media sites. I will give it, and you, the gift of my full authorial attention.

This is how, honestly, I’d prefer to proceed from here on out. I’m open to some fun small projects, but my meat, my core, is this sort of thing. I honestly enjoy taking a big, crazy idea and taming it. I love taking subjects we shouldn’t write about (trucker fantasies, casino heists) and making them beautiful. I love inserting painstakingly detailed research and real things into works so that they feel so real they take your breath away. I love hiding little plot devices and structure you won’t notice, ever, but will make works stronger and smarter and better. I love crafting art out of same-sex romance, better yet when I can put a bit of dirty sex in it to boot. I love taking what is a rather extensive and expensive education on writing and story and how to do this job and writing not a staid piece of LITERATURE but a raunchy, riotous ride.

That, however, takes time. And energy, and focus. It’s why I moved the books, so I have the best opportunity to reach for those things. It’s why I have an agent to sell my books and advise me where to go. It’s why I have started saying a lot more NO to everything that is not writing and supporting the writing. Because the writing is what I want to do, always, forever. Without it, the rest of life is so tasteless I cannot bear it.

So this is the big Thursday news. Books are moving, new book is coming. Heidi is getting her game on, and we’re ready to go.

There actually is other news, which sort of steps on what was a nice closer there, but whatever.

  • Let It Snow, the first book in what will be the Minnesota Snow (I think that’s what I called it) Christmas series, will be available this year in November from Samhain. I think the 26th. My plan is one of those every year.
  • Hero is also out of print. I’m looking at probably self-pubbing it this summer just so it’s available, but more on that later.
  • Love Lessons, a new adult, almost-sweet romance is in the hands of my agent. She has Plans. I will let you know about them when they are firm.
  • Tucker Springs is on my radar, but right now I so very have to finish BTL and it’s the only thing I’m allowing myself to process. Though I’ll confess, I have a few characters talking to me from that town.
  • Damon Suede and I have many crazy cowriting schemes together, but first he has to finish his book, and I have to get ankle-deep in BTL before any of that gets serious.

I think that’s about all I have for news. So there you go. Ask whatever other questions you have, and I’ll do my best to answer them. Just don’t expect much detail on BTL yet, because the story is hot and doesn’t want attention. I can’t even tell Damon or Saritza about it right now, it’s in that kind of state. I’ll just say there are some high awesomes, and I’m excited. As for a Randy POV? Maybe. Only if it works and adds to the story, but so far, he seems to be determined to make himself essential.

Can’t say that surprises me at all.

33 thoughts on “Big news about the Special Delivery series: Old Blue is taking a drive

  1. Good luck with everything! Sounds like you’ve got a sound plan for your career, which is a great thing. Looking forward to reading BTL next year! :)

  2. And because you write the meaty, involved, rich with ideas, emotions, motivations etc tales…, you are one of my favourite authors. Not favourite M/M authors, Heidi, favourite authors PERIOD!

  3. Can’t wait and understand completely! I always know I’ll get a truly quality book from you so the wait is worth it. You are a total auto buy for me. Heck, I even have Google Alerts for you just in case I somehow miss something on CoP or Goodreads! Have a great day!!

  4. Heidi I am so excited. Special Delivery is one of my very fave books!

    xo

    Bubz

  5. I’m really surprised about this one. Either I’m not really connected or anything, but I had NO idea there was a third book on the planning! Which, obviously, makes me really really happy because Special Delivery is, by far, one of my most favourite books *ever* because it can sound so porny and/or cliché and when you read it is emotional and touching and asdasdas I *love* it and I was crying (really crying, tears rolling and all) when I finished it and for like 30 minutes later.

    Which makes me wonder, is BTL going to focus on both pairings (err, 4some)? in one more than the other? none of the previous? Sorry if you had explained this before, I really had no idea.

    Much much luck in your new book :)

    • Much of that is still up in the air. It will be a standalone book, though, with new characters and a new romance. The old gang, though, all the way to Crabtree, will be essential to the plot.

      I would say I don’t know that there will be group orgies this time, but Randy is involved. I’m not fool enough to rule anything out.

  6. I love you. And my heart thudded when I saw ‘Big Blue’ in the post title. :D

  7. What good news – for you and for readers. I’m pretty excited about BTL, since Special Delivery is one of my all-time favorite m/m books.

  8. So exciting! I love when an author takes their time to craft something special and I, in fact, completely disregard those authors that seem to churn out a book a month. No thanks on that, I don’t pay for shoddy and rushed.

    I waited a few years for Patrick Rothfuss and many years in between a book by George R. R. Martin… I can definitely wait a few months for a sequel to one of my faves.

  9. Thanks for the update, Heidi. I’m really excited for you!

  10. Well I feel really stupid! Special Delivery is still my favorite m/m romance. I bought Double Blind the other day because you mentioned it on a tweet. I had NO idea it was book 2. I didn’t put two and two together…Randy, Las vegas…duh!! And now your’re working on book three! Well Happy Valentines Day to me. You just made my day. Wishing you abundant health and good writing energy. Thank you for doing what you do!

  11. Yesterday I came to the painful concluson that I would no longer be buying a formerly favored author, because she has increased her production to books every other month or so, and along the way has seemed to forgot that plot is not an expendable aspect of the story. And today I read this, which I consider fantastic news. The depth, detail, and length were things that made Double Blind stand out for me, and I’m so glad you’re moving back in that direction. I am definitely willing to wait longer and pay more for a book like that. That said, I can’t wait for release day!

  12. So glad that you’re insisting on quality over frequency. And this section I wanted to keep as a quotation because it explains it so well:

    “Not only is a 100k book (my preferred length) longer, it’s more difficult. It’s not simply more words. It’s more complex plot, more to hold in one’s head, more pacing to make sure doesn’t flag.”

  13. Thanks for all the support–you guys are making me feel all mushy. <3

  14. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love your longer books and really don’t care for the way books are getting shorter and shorter. You’ve given me a lot of insight into why everyone seems to be cranking them out that way now. Double Blind and Nowhere Ranch are two of my all time favorites and now I feel like I can look forward to more. Special Delivery was great but I didn’t fully appreciate it until I reread it again after Double Blind. I’m giddy, I’m happy. Just thanks for your work.

  15. All this is good to hear. :) You are one of the authors I count on for quality writing and characters I care about, and I totally owe you some more in-depth fan mail for Dirty Laundry, because that book means a lot to me. However, continuing on the subject of WIPs, of all of your books Nowhere Ranch is probably my favorite, and I remember reading here a while ago that a sequel was in the works. Is that still a possibility at some point? I understand if it’s on the back burner…that’s the way of things sometimes…just hoping it hasn’t been completely shelved! Best, and happy writing!

  16. OK, I’m not going to lie, I had no idea there was a third book in the series coming, but I had been praying for it because I love Sam and Mitch, and Randy and Ethan, and I just want their stories to go on FOREVER. And now that there is one, I can’t stop squealing like a teenager. BUT, I also know that the main reason that those stories are so good is because of the care you put into them, and care and nurturing take TIME. I’d rather wait a year or two for a solid book. So we will patiently. We look forward to the day!

  17. This whole post is made my day. Not that you were having a hard time, that’s awful and I’m glad it sounds like you are doing better. I love love love hearing that there are going to be new books from you and that those books are the stories you like to tell. I’ve loved everything you’ve written.

  18. Thanks Michelle and emmy, and everyone!

  19. This is such great news. I was hoping for another book in the series. I was introduced to your writing after seeing an online comment with regard to one of your writing partners whose work i love as well, that being Marie Sexton. The comment, I believe it may have been on Amazon, stated that “if you love Sexton’s work, you’ll love Heidi Cullinan’s as well.” Well, I took the plunge with Double Blind and haven’t regretted it. I’m hooked! :) I just wished I had read Special Delivery first though. They are both so wonderfully written and such beautiful love stories. And I absolutely love the characters Randy and Ethan and Mitch and Sam. And now, it looks like we’ll get to experience the continuation of their stories. YAAAAAAYYYYYY!!!!! I also loved Nowhere Ranch, Second Hand and thoroughly enjoyed Dirty Laundry. I just downloaded Family Man to my Kindle to start reading in the next few days. I know I won’t be disappointed with this one either. Thank you and please keep the great stories coming.

  20. Will the Special Delivery series be available on Kindle?

    • Yes, in fact because it’s Samhain later this summer/early fall you’ll be able to preorder. I’m in this weird spot where I sold that awhile ago but have two other books coming out earlier that we’re editing first. But yes, it will be available in all the usual outlets and print within a year of ebook release.

  21. Can’t wait for BTL because SD will always have a special place in my heart, but I’m still looking forward to the rest of Etsey too. =)

    • <3 I always think of you, Adara, whenever I am trying to work producing that series back into my schedule! I swear the next book gets dedicated to you. Especially since I think I'm going to test the edges of your patience. :/

      • LOL. Unless I drop dead, I’ll be around and dying to know how that series continues.

        Now, does that mean testing my patience with a cliffhanger between books, or just with how long it’ll take for you to work them into your schedule? Because I can deal with the latter easier than the former. (And if you combine the two, I will hunt you down at GRL and maim you ‘Misery’-style.) *evil grin* =)

  22. So happy about BTL coming soon! Sam is by far, my favorite character in this particular genre. And after waiting for Twisted Hilarity’s The Last Pure Human to finish and Dani Alexander to finish up Not So Innocent, I can wait for BTL.

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