The Haunting of an Author

Please welcome guest author Adrienne Dunning to the Cafe.

Haunted house exterior

Photo: Francis B. Angelone;

Since this post is going live on Halloween, I thought I’d keep my post seasonally themed. (The fact that my latest release is a paranormal romance featuring a haunted house and a ghost may, or may not, have had some influence…)

This year is my first year as a published indie author. I tend to believe that the things that have been haunting me through this process are the same things that tend to haunt all authors, indie or traditional, throughout their career. Somehow, it gives me a little comfort knowing that I’m not alone in experiencing the harrowing and terrifying aspects of this path we walk as writers.

The ideas come–glorious, impatient, demanding. We spend countless hours with pen in hand (or fingers on laptop keys) giving life to the page and the incessant voices in our heads. Those voices love us, and we love them. Forty thousand…fifty thousand…eighty thousand. We surge onward, deliriously happy and in love with this story and these characters, words flying ever vigorously onto a blank page until we at last type “The End”. Then we collapse with the fatigue of having at last completed this little miracle of literary achievement–the manuscript.   To borrow a quote from my favorite Christmas movie–“All was right with the world.”

As we bask in “newly finished manuscript afterglow”, it begins. The faint, discordant notes of the JAWS theme. The dusty, cobwebbed corners of our minds start to slowly open, creaking and yawning from the effort. We all know those corners…the ones that house the doubts and fears all authors have. They suddenly start floating around our consciousness like little orbs of cold and electric ghostly light, interweaving with our thoughts. What if the ending isn’t right? I have an alpha billionaire…do readers still want alpha billionaires? What if this one flops…this one could FLOP! This is my first novel, and no one knows me from Adam. I’ll never sell any books. This is my forty-fourth novel–are people still interested in me?

We try to run away from the “fear ghosts” in our heads as we edit and revise our work to release it to the world. Our editors forward it to the design and marketing teams at our publishing house, or we design our cover art and format our manuscript for prints and ebooks.   We start to feel comfortable with our release. We’re getting excited and talk about our newest baby on social media to anyone and everyone because we just can’t help ourselves when, suddenly, the trap door opens, and we plunge butt-first through the darkness to a damp and eerie basement. Our butts hurt from the impact of the landing, and as we try to stand up, we’re cupping the elbows we banged on something we crashed into on the way down. Disoriented, we try to take in our surroundings when we see them. The skeleton armies from The Mummy. Every negative review any of our books have had on Amazon or Goodreads or Facebook or Twitter or blogs. Every rejection letter from an agent or publisher. Marching en masse ever closer. The clanking and shuffling of armored feet and swinging scimitars rings in our ears, and the panic rushes back to us in full force. No one’s going to like it! It’s awful! I should’ve just spent my time watching Netflix and eating take-out Chinese food. Celtic vampire time-traveler Viking pirates are OUT now! I’m behind trend!!

This is it. This is the end. The death of a book. The death of an author.   We hear a wall slide open with a whoosh and turn towards the opening. There’s a glimmer of light off in the distance! With skeleton armies surging, we run. We run down the longest hallway ever encountered by man towards that faint glowing flame of light. We look back to see the skeleton armies and the ghostly orbs of light following us still. So close! We try to pick up some speed, and the light grows brighter, grows bigger. We start, finally, to feel warmth instead of cold. The warmth of that light washes over us–comfort, confidence, courage. The light is us. The enthusiastic, persevering heart of us. That part of us that ever persists with its imaginative ideas, its love of spell-binding stories, its delight in fellowshipping with other “weird nerds” that love to write and create. The part of us that keeps us going despite the demons and evils lurking in our subconscious.

So we press on. We understand that we’ll have naysayers and trolls. Yet, we also cling to the understanding that there will be a little (or large) group of readers that love our stories and listen with us to the voices in our heads. And, it is those people–and ourselves–that keep us writing…dreaming…fighting. Authors are haunted by many “evils”, but I have also found that we are haunted by a great many “goods”.   Just remember to find the secret opening wall panel. Just remember to look for the light in the darkness and the fog. It’s there. You’ll see it. We’ll all see it.

~  ~  ~


Revolution CoverA woman on the run. A man devastated by a past marked with tragedy. Neither would ever have imagined their lives would change because of a war fought over two centuries ago.

Nate Emerson has spent the last few years wrapped in grief. It’s a weary burden, but one he has inevitably come to accept. Unexpectedly, Nate finds the walls he built around himself tested when confronted with a stranger at his family’s colonial homestead. Could she be the one to show him how to finally let go of the past?

Meg Grey finds herself at loose ends in the historical town of Yorktown, Virginia. Fleeing from a life she’d sooner forget, she simply wants to remain invisible. Spending a few weeks in an old farmhouse on the boundary of a Revolutionary War battlefield seems like the best way to accomplish that, yet Meg soon discovers that she isn’t alone in the old, neglected home. Sights and sounds that can’t be explained. Shadows and apparitions.

Will the spirits of revolution draw two people together, or will forces beyond their control keep them each imprisoned with their own personal demons?

~  ~  ~

Adrienne Dunning HeadshotAdrienne Dunning is simply a Southern gal who has fun playing poorly at golf when she’s not crafting novels.  She loves all forms of expression—writing, dancing, cooking, talking—and does them frequently and with abandon.  She creates endearing and feisty characters full of humor and just a little awkwardness to keep them “real”.  Although a possible mystery series is under current exploration, her current works are primarily aligned with the contemporary romance/chick lit genres.  She is heavily active in her local NaNoWriMo chapter, and Seeking Solace, her debut novel which released in April 2015, is the resulting product of a NaNo project.  Her second novel, a paranormal/contemporary romance titled Revolution, released October 1st.

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Twitter:  @adriennedwrites

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The Haunting of an Author — 10 Comments

    • Jana, I appreciate your kind wishes–thank you so much. I say we “poorly playing golfers” should unite! I’ll tell you what my daddy always tells me when we play a round together (bless him, he’s so patient waiting for me to finish each hole!)… “The round you quit laughing at yourself, is the last round you better play because at that point you’re just taking it way too seriously.”

    • Hi Liz!! Thank you so much; I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. I had a great time writing Revolution. It was my first paranormal, so it was a bit of an experiment!

  1. Sorry I’m late to the party, Adrienne! LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this post. This explains so well the phases we go through as writers with our confidence waning and waxing. Well done. Very intriguing premise for REVOLUTION.

    • Reese, I knew I couldn’t be the only one with these feelings and doubts, and I figured my fellow authors might just be able to relate! Thank you so much.

    • I completely agree Railyn! Perhaps in the spring when the weather gets pretty again, we can arrange something! With NaNoWriMo in full force and then the holidays, getting together this fall for a round may be a bit of a stretch!! So glad you liked the post!

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