The birth of an obsession
It started thirty years ago. I had this fantastic idea for a new book. I wrote the first draft entirely on college-ruled notebooks. I slaved over it, obsessed over it, finally finishing it after two years.
Then I started to rewrite it on a computer. Back then, it was Windows 3.1, and the Word Processor program was DOS Wordperfect. It was clumsy, clunky, but it worked. The only good part about this was that I took typing class in high school and could use all the fingers on both hands without usually looking down at the keyboard.
Finished! Ecstatic! Ready to be made famous! Knowing absolutely nothing about the publishing world, I did some library research (there was no real internet at the time, I didn't get my first dial-up account for another four years), got the names and addresses of some publishing agents, and started sending out full printed manuscripts.
I honestly think my mailings and the rejection letters passed each other on their way to their ultimate destinations.
Then life happened. A casual relationship became serious, a job turned into a career, and my dreams of being a world-famous, wealthy, renown author got buried in the same box as the rough draft and the floppy disk upon which the revisions had been saved.
But I never stopped reading. I acquired quite an impressive collection of books over the years, eagerly, obsessively waiting for the next installments from my favorite authors. But this too eventually turned into heartache as my favorite authors, one by one, started dying off, sometimes with works unfinished and series incomplete. David and Leah Eddings, Dave Gemmel, Tom Clancy, Robert Jordan, just to name a few.
Now, I don't know if it was to cash in, to held the dearly departed give one final farewell to their fans, or some combination of the above, but others took it upon themselves to finish or carry in the name of the deceased.
With sometimes horrific results!
Brandon Sanderson did a fairly decent job of finishing up the Wheel of Time series for Robert Jordan, but he didn't try to subsume his style with that of the original. You can definitely tell which parts were Jordan's word and which parts where his own additions.
Gemmel's wife hired a writer to finish his Troy series, and whoever she picked did a pretty damned good job! Maybe they just did the final edits on what he'd written, or maybe they were such a fan they knew how to weave his kind of story his way.
The people who took over for Clancy, on the other hand.... Damn! They turned the promising series about Jack Ryan Junior into badly written James Bond fan fiction! Horror doesn't begin to capture the butchery I witnessed trying to read some of that.
Other writers began to disappoint. Like Goodkind, Stirling, Weber, Griffin, and Feist. Derivative, cookie-cutter, boilerplate tomes with predictable plots, cardboard characters, and their new books had me feeling deja vu all over again.
And that was when it hit me.
The read the stories I wanted to read, I'd have to write them myself.
So I dug through storage and found my first draft of my old masterpiece.
And damned near threw up!
God, was it bad! The English language has no words to adequelty convey to others the experience of reading through that pile of pure excrement.
But the notion that I had to be the one to pick up the torch dropped by my deceased favorite authors persisted.
Ten years ago, I started over. The seeds of a new idea found fertile soil, and I began to write. For the first time in twenty years, I again dedicated myself to writing.
I worked, and worked, and worked. Jotting down a few lines during lunch breaks and an hour before bedtime, spending a few hours on the weekend when not otherwise occupied, and two years later, was finally able to type "the end."
That was when I first started to do some research into what it takes to get published. "For a new author in sci-fi and fantasy, 80,000 to 100,000 words is preferred," seemed to be the concensus from the experts.
"No problem," I said to myself. "I might have to add a little bit, but there's plenty of room in the story for more words."
Silly me! I finally looked at the word count of my little novel. 330,000!!!!! OMG!
Time for a new plan. No way could I cut out 200,000 words and have the story make any sense! But a trilogy?
So I started to chop it up. And in doing so, had an epiphany.
My main character playing all the roles himself just didn't make sense. Someone would have to be crazy to do all that by himself! He'd have to have split person.....!
Talk about a lightbulb moment! Had there been anyone around me at that time, they'd have been blinded for life.
So I started over.
After completion of my second first draft of what was now a trilogy, I realized that, while it was good, it was no where near ready for submission, to say nothing of publication. Something about it, about the flow of the work, just seemed off. But I couldn't afford the services of professional editors. What I needed was more experience. Somewhere along the way of writing that second first draft, other ideas for other stories and series started cropping up. I had to get them put down in permanent form. I put aside the trilogy for a bit and started writing a fantasy series, the seed of which had been rolling around in the back of my head for years, mostly without my realizing it.
I wrote the first draft of the first book, and it was good. Not great, but good. But the experience allowed me to return to my trilogy with a fresh set of eyes and ideas. And along the way, came up with a better back story for my main character. One which wouldn't fit within the story itself, but one which deserved to be told. A short story, perhaps. One which I could submit to contests and maybe earn some recognition.
Forty-five thousand words later, The Wraith was born.
I didn't even bother trying to take it to publisher or agents. Too short to be worth their while. But self-publishing?
This is where we are now. The Wraith, as well as the first two books of the Alexander Gambit trilogy, are now available for your reading pleasure. But don't think I'm a one-trick pony! As good as I believe these books to be, what's in the pipeline is, in my humble opinion, infinitely better. Aside from book three, Flight of Angels, which I intend to publish this summer, there are also seven other books from two other series basically complete, just needing final editing and tweaking. And, lots more to come after that.
So if you've come to like my work, if you think there's talent and promise, you ain't seen nothing yet! But, hopefully, I can garner enough sales and attention with my Gambit books to go traditional. Because I don't mind telling you this self-publishing/self-promoting/self-advertising gig is time-consuming, difficult, and often frustrating. And I do have that career that pays the bills while I pursue my passion, so it's not like I can devote near as much time to my writing as I could wish.
So please bear with me as I plod along. And if you like what you've read of my works so far, do us both a favor and spread the word to your friends, coworkers, anyone who you know likes to read. And absolutely provide ratings and reviews on Amazon!
Thank you for reading through this lengthy first blog post. As you might have guessed by now, I tend to be a wee bit wordy. Short stories are my kryptonite. But as with my novels, I promise I will only get better. Hasta la pasta!