Second Edition: You Can Go Back!
Do overs are a great thing, right? I mean, you write a book, you print that book, you re-read that book, and, BANG!, page 4: T-Y-P-O.
Repeat after me: ARGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! Then: “If only I’d read it one more time. If only I hadn’t been in such a rush. If only…”
Get the picture?
As my contract renewal date for the first novel approached, I wondered how much I could change. Paragraphs? Scenes? That crazy bit of exposition mid-way through the second act? It was like Editing Class 101 Part 2 with a dash of bloody hell to give it urgency.
I checked with my publisher, and after confirming that I could fix comma faults and shorten indulgent sentences, I asked if I could change the cover too. The answer was “yes.”
Why change the cover?
Aside from the obvious “to draw more readers,” there was another, more personal component. I had received all kinds of amazing and (mostly) positive feedback from readers, reviewers and bloggers about the humor, the darkness, and the grittiness in the embalmer’s O.R. But the lion’s share of it wound up on my protagonist, a sometimes odious creature struggling to come to terms with changing circumstances.
Heuer Lost and Found wasn’t so much a book about punishing a bad guy as it was about trying to understand his motivations. A lot of that came from my work as a funeral director.
Bound (rightfully) by a stack of privacy laws and a professional code of ethics, our work is often subject to speculation that can be both sensational and incorrect. “Heuer” was my way of shining a light, opening a door—not to whistleblow (I honor my profession)—but to attempt to make an unloved and unwanted profession more accessible.
The back door to my old funeral home (it’s closed now) made sense for the cover choice three years ago. More than opening the door to readers, it was my way of paying homage to a business that had changed because of market pressures. It simply no longer had a place on the street where it had been a fixture for over seventy years.
Nice as this gesture was for me personally, it was the wrong choice. Sentiment had over-ruled what the market was telling me. “People—you need people on the cover.”
Giving Heuer a Face
I loved that first photo—a simple door with a windowlight cutout that lent an eerie other-worldliness to the frame. It’s intended purpose was to define the boundary between Heuer and Enid’s world of death and regret and the “sunnier” and hopefully more positive world outside. Beyond that, it was Heuer’s gateway to the “Otherside,” whatever that might be.
But it didn’t mesh with reader comments. They wanted him. They wanted to connect to the character whom crime writer Angela D’Onofrio calls “rude, lewd and thoroughly self-serving.”
A second chance with a second edition allowed me to hear what was being said because WRITING IS LISTENING TOO.
After many, many hours of “pay for” photo site scours, I found “Heuer” in all his dark glory trapped between two worlds. As an added bonus, a hint of the man with the answers glances out from his left eye. I couldn’t have designed it better myself!
Heuer Lost And Found, The Second Edition, is a better book because I took reader feedback into account. I also slowed myself way, way down to deliver a script that is—I pray—error-free this time.
I have learned a great deal between the editions and expect to pick up more in the coming years. For now, I’ll write. I’ll listen. I’ll grow.
Tips for writers:
What have I learned three years after the first release?
1) Check that spelling. Check it again.
2) Get rid of those indulgent sentences. They really are too long.
3) When you’re ready to hit the submit button, don’t. Push away and stay away for a month if you can. Then read it again. You will find things the beta readers missed and you will be glad you took the extra time.
A. B. Funkhauser is at work on her fourth novel, a prequel to Heuer Lost And Found. Learn more at a.b.funkhauser.com or find her here:
About the Author
Toronto born author A.B. Funkhauser is a funeral director, classic car nut and wildlife enthusiast living in Ontario, Canada. Like most funeral directors, she is governed by a strong sense of altruism fueled by the belief that life chooses us, not we it.
A devotee of the gonzo style pioneered by the late Hunter S. Thompson, Funkhauser attempts to shine a light on difficult subjects by aid of humorous storytelling. “In gonzo, characters operate without filters, which means they say and do the kinds of things we cannot in an ordered society. Results are often comic but, hopefully, instructive.”
Her most recent release, Shell Game, is a psycho-social cat dramedy with death and laughs that takes aim at a pastoral community with a lot to hide. “With so much of the world currently up for debate, I thought it would be useful to question—again—the motives and machinations championed by the morally flexible and then let the cat decide what it all means.”
Heuer Lost And Found
Available through Solstice Publishing and Amazon
Unrepentant cooze hound lawyer Jürgen Heuer dies suddenly and unexpectedly in his litter-strewn home. Undiscovered, he rages against God, Nazis, deep fryers and analogous women who disappoint him.
At last found, he is delivered to Weibigand Brothers Funeral Home, a ramshackle establishment peopled with above average eccentrics, including boozy Enid, a former girlfriend with serious denial issues. With her help and the help of a wisecracking spirit guide, Heuer will try to move on to the next plane. But before he can do this, he must endure an inept embalming, feral whispers, and Enid’s flawed recollections of their murky past.
Winner Best Horror, Preditors & Editors 2015
Medalist Winner “Horror,” New Apple EBook Awards 2016
5 Star Readers’ Favorite 2018
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the author of the award-winning novel In the Context of Love, a story about one woman’s need to tell her truth without shame.
2017 New Apple Book Awards Official Selection
2016 Sarton Women’s Fiction Finalist
2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
2016 Readers’ Favorite Finalist
2016 USA Book News Best Book Finalist
“…at once a love story, a cautionary tale, and an inspirational journey.” ~ Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage, and critically acclaimed Once Upon a River,and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters