Very Nearly Unearthed

I promised a big dramatic story Brian O’Rourke‘s The Unearthed. This is it, and I’m doing it a day prior to release because I copy edited this book, and can therefore play the favoritism card in a singularly shameless fashion before talking about the other March releases.

Ready? Good. Here we go.

It was a dark and stormy night… Okay, it was actually a hot and muggy July afternoon, and the submissions pile was getting pretty deep. This was back in the days before we had a screening process, so when I say the pile was getting pretty deep, it really means something more along the lines of “Oh God… I really, really, really hate writing rejection letters. Do I have to do this to myself (and authors) today?”

Meanwhile, child #2 kept sneaking in here to remind me we were under a severe thunderstorm watch. This pleased me greatly because weather bad enough to make me shut down the computer = no rejection letters. Woot.

This is about the time the guilt began to set in. Here were all these authors in the submissions inbox waiting on an answer, and the wuss factor had me in its grips. So I decided to cowboy up on the subs.

And here’s the part where I admit something I shouldn’t — The query letter authors write and rewrite and then polish until their eyes bled? I skip it. I go straight for the book. If the book grabs me and I’m still reading by page 5? Then I read the query letter. Afterward, I go back to the book.

Well, I’d been at it about an hour or so when I finally came upon Unearthed.  As usual, I downloaded the file, opened it up, and started reading.

Page 5 blew past. I forgot all about my usual procedure and was still reading when child #2 bursts into the office, freaking out. “The storm’s coming.”

Those of you who work at home with school-aged children during the summer months will understand why I just flapped the mom wing. Those of you who don’t, the flap is universal sign language for any combination of  “I’m working”, “Go bug your father” and “Be quiet, for the love of God.”

Child #2, who’s a certified Work-at-Home-Mom sign language interpreter, quickly exits before the yelling begins. Two minutes later, the husband comes in and says “You better shut your computer down. It’s getting bad out there.”

I was not having this — sure, it’s green outside and the wind’s ripping leaves off the trees, but The Unearthed was the kind of sub you get maybe once a year, the one that’s so good your hands are shaking, and you want to call someone to talk about it until they’re forced to hang up out of sheer self defense. No way was I stopping this read-through for a stupid storm that would make a lot of noise but probably veer north of us anyhow.

So I ask hubby to go grab the laptop, just in case I actually do have to shut down the computer (which also, it bears admitting, gets him out of the office so I can read longer in peace). 

Some time later, two things happen at once: Hubby whips the office door open again, and a pop of very bright light through my office window followed almost immediately by thunder loud enough to make my back crack finally gets my attention.

Husband: “Are you nuts, woman? Big red blob on the radar. Huge. Get downstairs.”

And then the hail started, so I finally (and begrudgingly) saved TU to the thumb drive and loaded it up on the laptop, still reading while I’m shutting down the desktop.

I finally get downstairs and am huddled on the couch with 3 kids and 3 cats, reading away while the husband is — no doubt — upstairs standing right by a window watching the hail and lightning strikes. (I have another story about him standing out in the middle of the street, going “What’s that noise?” while watching trees fly up in the air a quarter mile away a la a scene from Lost. And another one about how he sprained his ankle while rubber-necking a funnel cloud. The man has issues, I tell you, but I’ll save those stories for another post)

About 3 pages later, it dawns on me that the kids are pretty scared and the cats are acting weird. Not a good sign. Normally I would have fired up some candles or stumbled around after a flashlight, but today it’s no sweat, because the laptop  monitor gives off plenty of light, right? And hey — I’m reading a book that’s one part Hitchcock, one part Ghost Hunters, and one part Columbine, and the weather’s just mood music, as far as I’m concerned.

Making a concession for child #2 who’s a little alpha and doesn’t like being part of the weather’s food chain, I break down and stream a local station on the laptop to hear the weather reports, then go straight back to the book.

About twenty pages later, the power goes out. Kids freaking out in earnest now, and I can hear wind tearing at the house.

Then it gets a lot quieter rather abruptly, but I’m not paying attention, I’m reading, even as I register the fact that the husband has just said, “Oh, shit” and came running down the stairs. There’s a brief struggle for the laptop — I win, of course, because having been married a long time, I have mastered The Look — so now everyone else in the basement is struggling to hear the report of the tornado touchdown while I’m asking the husband what Brian thinks he”s doing, subbing to a brand new, tiny little house.


The Unearthed by Brian ORourke

The Unearthed by Brian O'Rourke

I can’t remember off-hand how long the tornado was actually on the ground. What I do remember about that day was finding a book in the sub pile good enough to keep me reading through scared kids, a husband left un-nagged for storm curiosity issues, and tornado touchdowns.

That sort of thing doesn’t happen every day, and okay, so I’m a bit of a Ghost Hunters fan girl and was predisposed to love this book, but that’s not what really kept me reading. What’s really gripping about this story is what goes on between dads, sons and brothers. It’s a one-of-a-kind read, and finding this sort of gold in the inbox tops the list of reasons why I love my job, despite rejection letters.


Oh, and Brian? I don’t think I ever did read your query letter. There. I’ve admitted it.


The Unearthed releases Monday, March 2, 2009. Once the links go live at Once Upon A Bookstore, I’ll hook us up.

ETA: (Buy link)

Now go forth and read. And be grateful it’s not tornado season.


4 Responses

  1. Hey Emma,

    Thank you so much for the kind words, although Hitchcock is probably rolling over in his grave right now!

    And it’s a good thing you didn’t read my query email. I think I misspelled your name in it… Just kidding. Really, I am kidding. I just went back and re-read it to make sure.

    To everyone else reading this, I have to say that Emma is an absolute pleasure to work with! I count myself among the very lucky.


  2. I gotta admit, this was worth the wait–thanks for treating us to this, Em! And Brian, what can I say? I’ll be online to pick up my copy of The Unearthed first thing Monday morning. Emma’s endorsement aside, I know from our chats that this story is going to be an awesome read! Kudos to you both.

    Oh, and speaking of Chats, I’ll be hosting a release party for Brian O’Rourke and Sean Cummings on March 9th at 8:00 p.m. EST. All are welcome to join in the fun. Prizes to be given away include two free ebooks (The Unearthed and Unseen World) and a $10.00 gift certificate to the Lyrical Press bookstore. Here’s the Chat Room link:

    Congrats again, Brian!

    Catchin’ ya both later.


  3. […] now, of course, we come to Brian O’Rourke’s The Unearthed. In case you missed it, yesterday’s post was all about the day I “met” this book. I claimed this book was one part Hitchcock, […]

  4. Well, The “Look ” is more scarey then any storm.. I think I just might have to read your book Brian.. Congrats..

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