Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Literary Background

I wrote a lot when I was little. I imagined even more as I got older, but only managed snippets, newsletters and unfinished stories.  Only in the past decade and a half did I became serious and actually begin . . . and finish something. I wrote novels and short stories. I wrote as an escape from a difficult work situation. (After all, story characters do not call you to their office every other day to "chastise" you. Characters are forgiving; they only coax you to continue their adventures or give you suggestions as to what roads to follow.) After several not so great novels and unsuccessful forays into the world of mainstream publishing, I decided to venture into fan-fiction.  It was exhilarating! I could let my imagination flow. There was a ready made audience as well as wonderful editors (beta's) to help me improve.

I did this for almost a decade, all the while knowing I wanted to do more. I wanted to publish. I tried several stories that came to my mind, but creating a world of brand new characters is much more difficult than taking established characters and creating new scenarios for them.

Then along came the Mission San Luis Rey....

 I visited, I visited again and was smitten. I read some of the history and a plot formed. I began writing the story of Noki, Eti and Father Antonio while I was trying to find work in Las Vegas (and made another visit to the mission). I continued the novel when I returned to Tennessee. There were parts that drove me crazy and I put it aside for a while. The story wouldn't let me go, though. I researched deeper and was shocked to find the word Noki in a lexicon of the Luiseno language. It meant "my house." This was like some kind of epiphany and I realized the story it was meant to be finished. I had some really great editing work from another writer and the manuscript was finally ready. My House of Dreams could go to a publisher.

Now came the hard work. Finding a publisher . . . finding a publisher. No kidding, it was hard! Eventually, I decided to self-publish and found a fairly low-cost print on demand (POD for short). Anyone want to jump in with their publishing stories? Feel free! I was lucky, I had backers. My new publisher formatted the manuscript--it looked nice! It was a no-go trying to format a cover on my own even though I had a design from my artist friend and advice from someone who knew about that kind of thing. (If I recall that advice, it was go ahead and pay them the extra!)   The finished book with my friend's design (thanks Pat!) with professional set-up was beautiful!

....and it was difficult to sell. I had no clue on marketing; had little time to beat the bushes, so to speak, as I was working in a new school district in a school 45 min. from home. Marketing is an ongoing process where one keeps on learning and growing. Then came a transfer to another school that demands even more of my time. On top of that it became more and more difficult to ask people to pay fifteen dollars for a 180 page young-adult historical novel, especially when it was not even local history. So when I joined a local writer's group (Etowah Writers Guild) and one of the members told me of his success with CreateSpace, I checked it out. I could get My House of Dreams published with no up front cost to me and I could charge what I wanted for it. The per-copy price was cheaper for me and therefore cheaper for those purchasing. If I didn't have but a little bit of time to market and sell, at least no one was going to lose their shirt because of it. So I switched. My House of Dreams is now with CreateSpace and also in ebook form with Kindle. (That was also free.)

I have a recently completed two part set of novels in process of editing that I am excited about. These stories are young-adult science fiction, the genre that I loved so much as I was growing up. They deal with genetically altered, created mutants sent to live on a planet that humans cannot live on. It deals with growing up in harsh conditions, dealing with those who would manipulate and control their mutant creations.

In the past year I have ventured back into writing short stories. It is so much more enjoyable than it was a decade and a half ago.  I submitted several to short story contests. One, "Myths," about a dragon discovering something very unexpected and strange was selected for an anthology called aMUSEing Tales. It is published by Fantastic Publishing ( and is available on

I also recently came in second place in a contest on the Attic Girls site; with my short story The Legend of Billy-Bob Flybottom; an old-fangled Appalachian tall-tale. It will be posted there in coming months.

I welcome any and all comments, suggestions and questions.