My desire to write dates back to a 7th grade challenge given by my English teacher. A speech contest was coming up and we were all encouraged to enter. I cannot remember my personal motivation at the time, but it was probably a desire to boost my fragile self-esteem by finding something I was good at. It would never be sports or academics, and I had a terrible time making friends. I was a lonely, rudderless kid searching for a place in the world.
There were various themes from which the contestants could choose, and I selected to speak on Big Brothers/Big Sisters. I did my research, interviewed someone at the organization, and set about to write and memorize my speech. I recall how nervous I was that night, standing on the stage in front of a hundred strangers. The speech went off without a hitch, and I was flabbergasted to be awarded first prize! I don’t have that trophy any longer, but I kept it for years as validation.
From there I was emboldened to continue writing other things – mostly short stories, songs and poems. (I still have some of these, and might be persuaded to share them with you sometime if you ask nicely!) My new-found confidence spilled over into drama and music, as I finally found something I could DO, something which reflected the real me. I never got over the nerves of performing in public, but I didn’t let it hold me back. Public speaking became a regular part of my life for many years, though my writing took a back seat until very recently.
In some ways, publishing my books is just as nerve-wracking as public speaking. It is difficult to leave my creations out there for all to see (and criticize). Reviews are both a blessing and a curse, since most authors tend to take negative criticism very personally – even though we are warned not to. I am learning to appreciate the feedback from my readers; even the ones who are unnecessarily vicious in their comments. I have learned much already, and my readers are helping me to be a better writer, editor, and businessman.
The learning curve has been steep, but I hope that a year from now, or ten, my books will be better in every way. Who knows? Perhaps I still have a chance to win a trophy or two.
As my first book, Second Chance Earth will always hold a special place in my heart. Strangely enough, I never thought it would become a novel, and generally speaking, am not a fan of post-apocalyptic stories. Allow me to explain.
In the year prior to starting this book, I was reading a lot of gay romance/gay shifter stories. Most of these were free (perfect for my limited budget), but many were poorly written and it was driving me crazy! I was convinced I could do a better job myself, but had never attempted such a thing, and didn’t see any pressing need to try. Several of these stories centered around MPRG (male pregnancy), a new concept for me at the time, and one I found rather silly and unbelievable. Eventually, I was forced to acknowledge the idea of male pregnancy was intriguing, but it needed to be presented in a way which sounded more plausible.
The general ideas for Second Chance Earth began to coalesce into an idea for a story I really wanted to write. The final motivating factor came when my work hours were cut back for several months, and I had extra time on my hands. I finally took the plunge and started writing, absolutely certain it would only end up being a short story. As it has been with all my books, the story unfolded as I wrote, surprising me time after time! Several weeks passed, and I crossed over the word threshold of a novel and kept on going. The book turned out to be even more than I hoped, and I was inordinately pleased at having written a novel length work on my first attempt.
If you happened to read my post from yesterday, you may wonder how I ended up writing a book about the end of the world. Dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels are not usually known for being on the cheerful side or including a happy ever after ending! Well, it was the vehicle I needed to tell the story in a believable way, and still allow me to paint a pleasant, rather than depressing, picture. I was able to introduce a number of cool ideas, and had a blast writing it. I hope readers enjoy the book, of course, but I will always be the #1 fan of Second Chance Earth.
NOTE: This book is no longer in print. See my post “Saying Goodbye to an Underperforming Book” for the full story.
As of this afternoon I am a published author! Since this is National Book Lovers Day, it seems appropriate to be making my own personal contribution. I never really considered the possibility until about 18 months ago, but it still feels great to have come so far so fast. What excites me the most is the potential interaction with my readers as we discuss the plot and characters of my books together.
In future posts I want to discuss my books one at a time, providing some personal insight and background. Meanwhile, there’s work to do and I have new books to write!
After months of anticipation, my books will arrive at your favorite retailer within the next couple of days. Strange as it may seem, excitement is only one of the things I am feeling right now – the other is a bit of anxiety. Most of that stems from my lack of marketing knowledge and computer ability. Writing the book is only about 10% of self publishing; the rest is marketing and sales. As I understand it, this is the Achilles heel of most new business ventures and the primary reason they fail.
What this means for me is a commitment to the long term, and continuous learning and growth. Little by little I will get the hang of it and make incremental changes which will help me grow my share of the market. Practically speaking, I am not expecting to see enormous sales figures or wild throngs of fans waiting with bated breath for my next book (might be nice though). For some authors it takes a couple of years for their work to be noticed, and I am expecting the same. Meanwhile, I will keep writing and adding to my collection of great reads. If you are reading this post, and happen to be one of my earliest of fans, I say WELCOME! I am very excited to have you along for the ride, and hope you enjoy my stories as much as I do.
When I started on the path to self-publishing, I really had no idea how many different things I would have to learn to do for myself. In traditional publishing, the author relied on the publishing house to take care of all the details (and there are a lot of them) while they happily returned to doing what they wanted most to do – write.
I know it sounds like I am complaining, and I suppose I am in a way, but I don’t think the average reader has a clue how much is involved in publishing your own work. The process is daunting and frustrating, along with scary and time consuming. I’m quite sure there are other words I could use, but not in polite company! Will it all work out in the end – sure. Will it be worth it – yes. Is it for the feint of heart – no!