Writing for a YA Audience: Do ghosts really cast no shadows?Posted: October 17, 2018
Anyone who knows me knows I’m obsessed with ghosts. Recently at work, someone drew a house on a whiteboard and everyone added something to the picture. I added a ghost screaming from an upstairs window.
Writing a short ghost story has always been a fun activity for a rainy afternoon. After compiling two steampunk anthologies, I decided to take a turn compiling one on ghost stories. I imagined it sitting on the shelves of local gift shops; the cover would show a ghost girl floating down a hallway of peeling wallpaper and cobwebs. With this in mind, I reached out to my critique partners, author friends, writing workshop attendees, and writing club members. They had a year to get me a short story or two. I wrote a few, and as stories trickled in, I put them together in a word document. We brainstormed ideas for a title and settled on “Ghosts Cast No Shadows.”
Once I had a selection of almost thirty stories, I submitted the manuscript to the publisher. The majority of the stories were accepted, but a few were rejected, and I had to break several hearts by telling writers their story didn’t make it in.
After the list of accepted stories was finalized, it was time for editing. Each story went across the desk of an editor twice, followed by a once-over with a proofreader. The proofreader was a different editor who could come into the anthology with new eyes. With the editing process over, we got to work on a cover. We’d originally submitted a worksheet of cover ideas, but the publisher felt a different style would be in order. The talented Eugene Teplitsky put together the current cover depicting a man haunted by his past and plagued by death. Ghost books, they felt, were too involved with Halloween. They wanted our anthology to be marketable year-round. This strategy meant we would need to change the title. “Ghosts Cast No Shadows was shortened to “Cast No Shadows.”
The book was in place and the release date was set for October 6, 2016.
We organized a cover reveal and blog tour for the release. Reviewers offered their services to help spread the word. I tentatively set up signings for the end of October through December. I had to hurry because my son was due October 18 of the same year. I didn’t want any of the release buzz to fall through the cracks. (I also naively assumed I would feel up to doing a signing despite just having a baby.)
The book came out to meet with rave reviews. (You can read Kaye’s review of the book here.) The blog tour sparkled. While the ebook sold, the paperback remained unavailable. My son arrived earlier than expected, and in no way did I feel like doing a book signing. They were postponed to the spring. Because of technical difficulties, the paperback still wasn’t available in the spring, and the signings were cancelled until further notice. When the paperback did release a year later, we were all set to push it.
The group of us who live locally (listed in order as they appear in the picture above: Elizabeth Zumchuk, Joan O. Scharf, Tracina Cozza, Jordan Elizabeth, Jeremy Mortis, W. K. Pomeroy, and James McNally) did our rounds wearing matching CAST NO SHADOWS T-shirts. The libraries welcomed us and in front of audiences, we talked about what inspired our individual stories and read the first pages. We sold copies to eager readers. Every October we do our rounds again. We stand together in our shirts with the books open in front of us.
It feels so mysterious to stand in front of an audience telling the story of a ghost who wanders dilapidated hallways seeking a future she will never find.
Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author. CAST NO SHADOWS is her third anthology published by Curiosity Quills Press. Jordan can be found wandering the empty houses and shadowed woods of Upstate New York searching for ghosts.