Monday, July 4, 2016

The Turgid History of Mary of the Aether

So let's talk about the Mary of the Aether series. It's a four-volume Young Adult, Urban Fantasy series, and the first volume was also the first novel I ever got published. Mary of the Aether was originally written between 2009 and 2011, and an indie publishing house called Whiskey Creek Press published it in July 2012.

Some cool things happened with that first book. Chiefly, in the summer of 2013, it wound up on a recommended reading list called "So Many Books, So Little Time," which is part of an annual workshop for Arkansas teachers done by a Harding University professor named Ken Stamatis. As a result of that list, thousands of English teachers across the state heard about the book, and I became a fairly regular speaker at area high schools and junior highs.

Now, I have to give some credit to the publisher at that time. Once Mary of the Aether got on that list, the publisher worked with me personally to create promotional materials to take advantage of the situation. It was an exciting development and led to some sales and lots of feedback (mostly positive).

By the time that book was published, I had already completed the sequel, Mary of Shadows. It came out in August 2013, right after all the hullabaloo with the reading list. Unfortunately, even as I worked furiously to finish books three and four, my publisher was struggling to survive. For reasons I still don't fully understand, Whiskey Creek Press fell on dark times and died a slow, agonizing death. It became harder to get hold of them. A lot of their authors expressed mounting frustration. We got less attention for our books.

Ultimately, Whiskey Creek Press ceased to exist shortly before the fourth and final book of the series, Mary of Cosmos, came out in 2014. Consequently, books two through four didn't get even a fraction of the attention that Mary of the Aether did. Just compare the number of Amazon reviews for the first book to the others, and you'll see what I mean. Honestly, I'm just glad the fourth and final book came out at all.

What saved the day for Mary of Cosmos and the rest of the series was that Whiskey Creek Press's catalog was bought by Start Publishing, and they went ahead and released Mary of Cosmos for me. The name "Whiskey Creek Press" became an imprint of Start Publishing, and the series continued to be available. But otherwise, since then things have been pretty quiet.

I have to say, the relative neglect of books two through four is a shame. They are so much better than the first book. In fact, my original editor, Melanie Billings, in her final email to me, had this to say about the series: "I have to tell you, I have LOVED working on this series. It is one of my absolute favorites! I could definitely see this series doing well if it just catches on like it should! I’m so glad I got to work with you on it." That's a nice little compliment.

Well, not much happened after Start Publishing took over. A quiet couple of years passed with a few sales here and there, some more school speaking gigs, but no major developments. Well, a major development has finally happened. As of July 1, 2016, Start Publishing has entered into a distribution deal with Simon & Schuster.

This means the Start catalog, including the Mary of the Aether series, is now distributed by Simon & Schuster. What does that mean? Well, first of all, it means a much broader reach, with the books available a far more retailers than ever before. It also means I've now got an author page over at Simon & Schuster. What else might come from this remains to be seen, but it can only be positive. Perhaps the whole series will finally get the attention it deserves.

And hey, if you've not given the series a chance, let me strongly plead with you to do so now. It's worth it, I believe. Just click the picture below and get started!


  1. Thanks for the history!

    I have to disagree with one thing: I thought the first book was the best of the series, not the worst.

    1. But you don't even appear in the story until book three!