I’m what they call a “hybrid” author, meaning I publish traditionally as well as independently. As a result, I’m often asked which I prefer, which I recommend, and which is more lucrative. But there are no black and white answers to any of these questions because each of them has had its perks and drawbacks. For instance, as an indie, I pay for my book covers…but I have sole control over which cover ends up on my book. As a traditionally published author, I have a little input but, in the end, my publisher has the final say—even if I strongly object to the design. Which, on occasion, I have been known to do. But, then again, as a traditionally published author, I have a marketing force behind me and much greater exposure than I would on my own. So, for the most part, I try to abide by my editor and publisher’s requests and suggestions…unless my gut is screaming at me to do otherwise.
One request/suggestion came last year with my first traditionally published book, Solo. I had a very specific ending in mind—and wrote the epilogue accordingly. From my editor’s perspective, it was a little too specific. She wanted me to leave the door open for subsequent books in the series. So I obliged and wrote a less definitive ending for Kate and Drew. Alas, my publisher chose not to pick up the rest of the series for publication…so it really didn’t much matter. That being said, I do plan to follow-up with these two down the road in a self-published volume. But that won’t be for a bit…
Now, if you read my recent blog post on “trusting your gut,” you might accuse me of not trusting my gut… and you’d be right. This was one of those moments when I should have, but didn’t. Not that I lose sleep over it or anything—it was a learning experience on many levels and I’m pretty proud of the book as it stands.
Anyway, this week marks the one-year anniversary of Solo’s publication so I thought I might offer up my original ending to folks who enjoyed the book—especially those who wanted more closure the first time around. So, without further ado, here’s the original epilogue for Solo:
Two Years Later
If you’re lucky, when the clock strikes midnight on the best day of your life, someone is there to warm you. If you’re lucky, it’s something you see coming. Something you can circle on your calendar and look forward to for days and weeks and months. If you’re lucky, people will remind you it’s coming. And, when that lucky day comes, you will just wake up knowing.
I gasp audibly, involuntarily, as the back doors of the sanctuary open and she is there. As she moves, the train of her simple, unadorned ivory dress and long, sheer veil seem to float out behind her. Her hair hangs in soft, loose, ebony curls. In her right hand she clutches a ribbon-wrapped bouquet of calla lilies. In her left hand she clutches the arm of her father’s suit.
I cannot take my eyes off of her, even as the Senator declares that he is the one to give her in marriage. He takes her hand and presses it into mine, giving me a pat on the shoulder before taking his seat in the front pew.
We’ve returned to Kogan, North Carolina to be married in the tiny chapel on the outskirts of town. It’s late in the afternoon and dappled sunlight streams through the stained glass windows, casting a rainbow of specters on the walls. There are only a handful of guests to witness our union. Next to Tucker Brenner is The Ice Queen, AKA Leandra. She seems to have thawed considerably since the two were married themselves last year. Russell and Maureen, still divorced but reevaluating their situation, have opted to split up with him on Katherine’s side and her on mine. She’s sitting just behind my parents, who have made the trek from Portland, Oregon to be here and my brother who lives in Ohio. Over the last two years, they’ve all grown to know and love my bride the way I have.
And, while we wanted to come back here to be married, New York has been very good to us. Katherine sailed through her doctoral degree at McInnes Conservatory and is in the running for the Assistant Conductor spot with the New York Symphony. If she gets it, she’ll be the first woman and the youngest person to ever hold the position.
While she studied, I got my head back into the composing game, writing a few small pieces on spec for different orchestras. I was stunned when the offer came from Philadelphia. I’ll be their Composer-in-Residence starting next fall. I suspect Russell had a little something to do with that, considering he’s the new conductor there.
I left Shepherd University at the end of Kate’s final semester. By then, Barry Green had been given the tenure position. Tessa left a short time after that to take a position at the Minnesota University. Maureen saw her recently at a conference and tells me Tessa is engaged to a professional hockey player and very happy. She’s also still wearing those ridiculously high heels. I couldn’t be happier for her and hope that, someday, we’ll be able to reconnect. Someday.
But, until then, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy. Loving Katherine, honoring Katherine and cherishing Katherine all the days of my life.
“I do,” I promise her, our families and God. And, I will
Five Years Later
It’s Showtime! Breathe, Kate. Breathe. In… Out… In… Out… I can do this. I’m insanely nervous, but I know, in my heart, that everything is going to be all right. This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for my entire life and it’s finally here.
The last two years have been a whirlwind. I think about my father, who’s here with Leandra. We won’t know for a few months yet, but it looks as if he’s got a good chance of winning his party’s primary. This time next year, we may be visiting the White House!
Drew’s folks are somewhere out there, too. They’ve become my newest cheerleaders, egging me on as I’ve moved up the ranks of conducting at warp-speed. We haven’t told them I’ve been offered a gig with the Oregon Chamber Philharmonic that would put us less than an hour from them.
Russell wanted to come, but he’s back on top of the classical music world again. He tried settling down in Philly for a while, but it didn’t suit him. Now he’s the most sought-after guest conductor on the planet. No more hiding. No more recluse. No more Ghost.
Maureen’s been travelling with him the last year or so. But now that she’s been named the newest Dean of the McInnes Conservatory, they bought a pretty swank apartment near Lincoln Center where she’ll be based while he’s on the road. They were remarried last summer in the same chapel where Drew and I exchanged our vows five years ago. Five years! Already?
“I don’t want you to be afraid, Katherine. You’re not alone. You’ll never be alone again,” he murmurs in my ear and wipes the sweat from my brow with a smile. “God, you’re so beautiful.
“Are you insane?” I laugh. “I’ve never been more terrified in my life!”
“Oh, please,” he says, rolling his eyes. “You’ve conducted the New York Symphony! This is a walk in the park compared to that!”
I’m about to point out how very wrong he is when an excruciating pain takes my breath away.
“Drew…” I moan in agony. “Drew, please…”
He squeezes my hand tighter.
“It’s show time, Kate!” I hear the doctor say from a few feet away.
“One more push, Katherine. You can do this. I’m here with you,” Drew says putting his forehead to mine. “It’s time to meet her face to face.”
I nod and brace myself as one more blinding wave of pain washes over me… and recedes into relief.
It’s so easy to love him. Much easier than hating him. Much, much easier than pretending to hate him. Is it fair to pin all my happiness on this one man? I don’t know, and I don’t care. Because he’s my entire world. Him, and the little girl they’ve just put in my arms.
“Hello, Cassandra Elaine,” I smile down at our daughter. “Welcome to the world, baby Casey.”
Okay, so … what do you think? Would you have liked this version better than the one that made it into the book? What else would you like to have seen in future of Kate and Drew? Do you think it’s creepy that I wanted to name the baby after Drew’s deceased fiancée?
What are your thoughts on self-pub vs. traditional and the control an author does or doesn’t have as a result?
I’ll be watching for your comments!