I Am Going to Let the Readers Decide

It’s being said all over the place that the new “gatekeepers” in publishing are the readers. Because of self-publishing, and new initiatives by traditional publishers to go direct to readers via revamped websites, that certainly seems to be the case.
So I have decided to put it to the test by letting readers decide if a new idea of mine will become a series.
About a year ago my son laughingly offered me an idea. He loves to make up titles and concepts, just for fun. “Hey Pop,” he said, “how about a thriller about a nun who is secretly a vigilante? She knows martial arts, and can kick butt when necessary?”
I looked at him quizzically, and then he gave me the (you’ll pardon the expression) kicker: “You can call it FORCE OF HABIT.”
I cracked up. So did he. But he stopped when I said, “I think I’ll do it.”
“I was only kidding,” he said.
“It’s a great concept,” I said. “Original, great title, and I think I can do something with it.”
What I did was start to write it. On the side, as I had traditional contracts to fulfill. But as I played with this story, I got pulled more and more into it.
My martial arts nun I named Sister Justicia Marie (or Sister J, as she’s known by those close to her). I thought up her backstory. She is a former child star who grew up into a drug-using actress who then hit bottom. That’s when she turned her life over to God and entered into the sacred life.
But during her time before the cameras, she studied martial arts (particularly for a Steven Seagal film she was in) and those skills have not left her.
And as I like to dig into themes in my books, I thought this raised a most intriguing question: could a devout nun actually justify violence if it was in the course of doing good, like stopping violent criminals?
When a cop asks her the same question, I heard her say this about the criminal element: “They are the knuckles. I am the ruler.”
I started adding a cast of characters. And then I thought of plotlines, and the idea of a series started to unfold. These would be in novelette form, around 15k words each. I think that’s a good pulp fiction value for the reading dollar.
I even went so far as to commission a talented young artist to do a series logo for me, a nun issuing a flying kick. And then the pitch:
When a nun is viciously attacked, Sister Justicia Marie takes it upon herself to find out what happened. The cops don’t like that. Neither does her Mother Superior at St. Cecelia’s school. But when a couple of hoods try to stick up a liquor store and Sister J brings them down, something is unleashed inside her, something that will either confirm her calling . . . or destroy it.
So now here it is. For KINDLE and NOOK, the first of the Rogue Nuns series featuring Sister Justicia Marie:

Here is my request: I’m asking you, the, readers to decide if the series will go on. By reading FORCE OF HABIT, and offering reviews, you will help me make the decision whether to continue.  
In this case, you are indeed the gatekeepers and the decision makers. So let me hear from you. Thanks!

28 thoughts on “I Am Going to Let the Readers Decide

  1. I think that sounds like a great series! The concept itself is hilarious…in a Kill Bill sort of way.

    And that length, at an assumed 0.99 price tag, would be a killer sell as well.

    And, and…. if you ever want to make them into an audio series via ACX I happen to be…uh know…a narrator who’d really enjoy taking on something like that.

  2. Having graduated from Catholic grade and high school, James, I can attest to the fact that more often than not nuns are well-versed in the martial arts and can kick butt. Whether necessary or otherwise!

    I think this is a great concept and look forward to reading the first installment. Using my right hand at all times, of course, since left-handedness is the mark of the devil.

  3. Cool idea, Jim. I had a couple of Dominican nuns back in grade school that could serve as your models. I have the knuckle scars to prove it.

  4. JSB-
    Fertile soil for those w history of exposure to nuns. Perhaps a factor is their disappearance in US. Some reports state less than 60000 with 90% older than 60 years. Might contribute to narrow appeal in other than older catholic readers.

  5. I love the idea of a short story I can sink my teeth into.

    It’s a story-worthy problem – can she justify the violence if it gets the creeps off the streets?

    Very cool twist with the nun, and I like reading your short stories (Jimmy McCarren’s fall from grace in FORE PLAY, comes to mind) :grins:

  6. I love the front cover art. I have read 2 other series featuring nuns as the main character but they were not “rogue nuns.” The premise for the series in cool and I will get Force of Habit for my Nook.

  7. Jim, I love it. If you can write an entertaining book about a vampire lawyer, I can only imagine what you’ll do with a martial-arts, vigilante nun. Write on, and count me in!

  8. Canadian comedy troupe ‘The Frantics’ did something remotely similar (visually, mind you) with Flying Father Shapatinsky back in the 80s.

    Sounds good!

  9. Love the concept, Jim. Reminiscent of Sister Mary Veritas in your Ty Buchanan series. 🙂 On my way to get my copy for my Kindle.

  10. Thanks, everyone, for the nice comments and the willingness to give this a flyer. I had great fun writing it and hope you’ll have just as much fun reading it.

  11. Great concept.
    Killer title.
    No doubt it will be well-structured! (Your webinar on structure was great.)
    Well done, James and son.

  12. Nuns are awesome. My town had a small convent. A group of nuns was passing through in the 1800s and were appalled by the lack of medical care. So, they cancelled their journey and settled here to found the first of three hospitals.


  13. Certainly sounds like fun. My mother went to Catholic school and the nuns sounded more scary than any criminal!

  14. i have a friend who has a t-shirt proclaiming, ‘you don’t scare me…i was taught by a nun!’ we ‘did time’ with the sisters of NO MERCY.
    i’m still trying to figure out if ‘i will’ is in reference to ‘love you forever’ or i will ‘work on my short game’. are you ever going to help us on that?

  15. James, as a Catholic school survivor who braved the ruler and absolute rigidity of myopic thinking, I would devour a book where a vigilante nun thinks outside the box to bring The Wrath to bad dudes. It gives “The Flying Nun” whole new meaning. I say, go for it!!!

  16. OMG, that title rocks! What an awesome idea. And your son must be so tickled that you took the idea and ran with it. I’m willing to bet it’ll be a successful series!

  17. I’m all over it. Just purchased my copy and can’t wait to read it! I’m still on the fence about the zombie thrillers, as I’m not a fan of zombies; however, you have credibility with me, so I’ll likely try those too.

  18. I’m half way through Force of Habit and LOVE it! But really, what’s not to love? A nun who knows martial arts AND was formally a party-going, child-star diva.

    PLEASE continue with the series…if for no other reason than the references to Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohen.

    LOVE IT!!!!

    Victoria Allman
    author of: SEAsoned: A Chef’s Journey with Her Captain


  19. Jim, I’m in! Great unique premise and title. Kick-butt nun? Being one that went to Catholic school, I love it and wish I had one as a teacher. Will read and let you know.

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