Age 11. My best friend had a typewriter and using two fingers he typed
out a story I dictated, signed, stating my age, and submitted for publication.
I don’t remember where but I do recall that I thought using my age would
be helpful, that someone reading the story would think, “Wow! This was
written by an eleven-year-old! Amazing! Let’s publish him!”
In reality, I never heard back. Hard to believe. The story was about the
Earth “…opening up in a thousand places that day…” (I still remember
the first line) and squirmy creatures, The Leaks, coming out to eat
Sounds like a winner, right?
I received a small advance from an even smaller publisher that
found my first novel, A Satan Carol, of interest. That publisher
is now defunct. I hope I wasn’t the cause.
Then I submitted by next novels to a publisher in Texas
who offered no advance but no cost to me. Unfortunately, there was
limited editing services.
After that I decided to self-publish, hire an editor, promote through
Goodreads give-a-ways and, of course, excellent book tours like this one.
With Damnation and Cotton Candy these are statement poems
the product of thoughts accumulated over the years—thoughts about
war, climate, illusion, reality, and ghosts. Lots of ghosts.
My last novel, Ghost Dancer, resulted from a story my sister told me.
Her friend, a spiritualist, played back a recording she had made in
a Native American museum at closing time, no one else in a room of
artifacts. She heard white noise, then whispering, “We are not alone.”
I teach the marital arts and coach soccer; jump up when my dog,
Brownie, rings the bell to go out. I also throw and fetch the ball
for her. She has me well trained.
Not to be dramatic, but honest and truthful—I never thought about
the future. In the house I lived in, surviving the present left no space
for daydreaming. (See the “family” section of Damnation and
Cotton Candy) Often that meant escaping by reading and writing,
even if the writing was a child’s story about Leaks, imaginary
monsters easier to avoid than the real ones in the next room.
They hurt, no doubt. So I reread the good reviews, seek
affirmation from my wife and dog, and then, emotionally fortified,
analyze the negative critique in order to make my next book
better than the last.