Finishing a series is bittersweet.
On March 8th, Effie’s Senior Year: The Complete Effie Stories will be published. Effie will graduate from high school, and in a small way, it feels like I’m closing a chapter, too.
For the last few years I’ve seen Effie as a series of shorts that brought her through her senior year, though I did leave myself room for an Effie novel that takes place during the summer before her freshman year of college. That said, I don’t know what Effie’s story is that summer.
So for now, it is goodbye to Effie, Ophelia, Robbie, and all Effie’s crazy relatives. And while it sometimes doesn’t feel like it, I’ve actually been with Effie for quite a while.
The Beginning of Effie
“The Wedding” was a short story that I previewed on the blog back in 2009. I later published the whole draft in three separate posts, and got a lot of positive feedback (though it looks like along the way, I deleted those three posts.)
Between 2009 and 2010, I uploaded a finished version of Effie At The Wedding to Scribd as an experiment. I forgot about it for a while, until I started shopping for an agent. The story had been featured as a Scribd Editor’s Pick and had racked up more than 40,000 reads. (By the time I switched to distributing to Scribd through Smashwords, it reached over 72,000, but alas, they couldn’t merge the counts from one version onto the page for the new one.)
I played with the idea of a non-linear version of Effie’s story – an interactive website where one could click various pieces of ephemera and learn more about Effie and her life. I started building a sample, but in the end, I didn’t have the resources to execute this idea in a way that I’d be proud of, and so I scrapped it.
I also started working with Antlers on a stage adaptation of Effie’s story. This was put on hold, but I still have all of our work, and would love to get back to it some day.
A Different Opportunity for Effie
When I was started working on Pub Speak: A Writer’s Dictionary of Marketing Terms, I was having so much fun with the process that I decided to purchase new cover art for Effie as well, and distribute through the same channels. Effie At The Wedding was published on Amazon on March 31, 2011 – one day after Pub Speak.
After publishing, I started to see Effie as a series of shorts. I published George & Ophelia’s First Christmas in November 2011, Effie On A Date in May 2012, Effie On Vacation in June 2012 and Effie Goes To Prom in November 2012.
In all this time, I learned about how to find readers, how to gather fair and honest reviews, how to use giveaways to increase readership and – frankly – how much work is required to move that dial!
I also started graduate school in September of 2012, which is partially why the final Effie story wasn’t ready until 2015.
The other reason that the end of Effie’s story has taken me so long to write, is that I didn’t want to get it wrong.
In a way, this short story that I wrote on a whim in 2009 became the impetus for my entire self-publishing journey. But what started as an experiment with Scribd quickly became a character that readers were identifying with and rooting for.
I don’t know that I will write that Effie novel. I know that I have other books that have to be written first. But I’ve also felt the pressure to write an incredibly satisfying goodbye.
I hope I’ve done it. I’m excited to see Effie’s full story available to readers. But I’m nervous, too.
Stories are usually judged by their beginnings and endings. And Effie deserves a great ending, since she was a great beginning for me.
My latest book, Effie’s Senior Year: The Complete Effie Stories is available for pre-order on Amazon.
You can also download Effie at the Wedding free for a limited time on Amazon US (UK), Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Scribd, Smashwords, and the Sony eReader Store.
New subscribers can receive two free short stories by signing up for updates about my books or editorial work here, and you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Goodreads.