If you’re one of my 200+ readers who have bought my books, then you may be happy to know that I’m closing in on publishing my latest e-book, Night of the Hellhounds, a novel based on my short story with the same title (earlier shorts were titled “Night of the Hell Hounds”). The due date is Saturday, November 15 at Amazon.com.
Meanwhile, my beta readers sent their findings to me over the past weekend and I put my red pen to my book, making corrections. Now, I’m waiting until Thursday to take one last look at the book before I upload it to Amazon on Friday. Those two days will give my brain a small R&R from the story (I know it front, back, and sideways, by heart, and I have grown tiresome reading it).
The novel is a major overhaul of the original Kindle e-book I published in 2013 as Night of the Hell Hounds. Although the novel has earlier published material, much of the story is new. I considered publishing the novel as a separate book, but many Kindle customers bought the original book, so making them buy the new version struck me as unsavory.
Night of the Hellhounds (or NotH for short) began as a story idea in 1971 when I was 14; it stayed an idea until I rediscovered my old story notes almost two decades ago. But the story stalled along the way, so I cobbled together what I had written and published it as a short story at my old website in 2002.
Still, I always knew NotH was more than a short story, so in 2012 I attempted again to turn it into a novel. But the project stalled again, so I reduced my second attempt into another short story and published that one as an e-book at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble in January 2013.
NotH, however, wasn’t done nagging at me to turn it into a novel.
During October 2013, I wrote a detailed synopsis of what I wanted the story to be, structured it into twenty-one chapters, and then considered turning the book into a serial with chapters published every month. But after further consideration, that sort of venture seemed like a costly one for my readers at 99 cents or more for each chapter. So, I decided to buckle down and write the novel that NotH wanted to be, scene by scene and chapter by chapter until I had a finished draft.
From there, the story took on a life of its own. Even the characters took on a life different from what I’d envisioned. Dialogue became important, defining the characters. Vree says “Whaddaya” and Lenny says “Whatcha”—two different dialects between northwestern and southwestern Pennsylvanians for “what do you” and “what are you.” There could have been other oddly spelled words, such as the Allegheny “wooder” pronunciation for water, but I decided not to bog down the story with too many dialects … just a dash of spice to tickle the taste buds.
After twelve months and a few more drafts of tweaking and fine-tuning its parts, I believe this version—the final version—is the best of what NotH has always wanted to be. I expect you readers will let me know either way. So far, two beta readers have given me glowing reviews via emails. One says, “Night of the Hellhounds was amazing! It captivated me from the very beginning. Artistry at its finest. The novel has a strong storyline with a very strong set of characters. I have nothing negative to say; I really enjoyed reading it. I can’t wait for the official release!” Another says, “If anyone could get me to enjoy science fiction, it would be you.”
Here is the unofficial story synopsis (though I’m leaning toward making it the official one):
Vree Erickson’s life has gone from bad to worse. She left the lawnmower in the rain and lightning killed her father and burned down her family’s home. To complicate matters even more, the lightning struck her and left her with psychic powers.
Now, Vree and her family are forced to move to her maternal grandparents’ home on Myers Ridge, a strange place near Ridgewood, Pennsylvania. There, July fifth marks the annual “Night of the Hellhounds”—a time when a vengeful spirit witch and her hellhounds return to the property next door every year and reign terror there until midnight.
Unfortunately, try as she may, Vree is unable to ignore the strangeness around her or the witch who wants to take away her powers and kill her. With the help of the cute boy from up the road and mysterious creatures that only they can see, Vree embarks on a difficult journey to save her life and destroy the ghost witch who wants her dead.
After reading that, I’m ready to read the story again!