My dad's side of the family were all great storytellers. I was lucky enough to inherit some of those genes and spin a pretty good yarn myself.
As a kid we would take vacations to Atchison, Kansas and sit around Grandma and Grandpa's living room while Uncle Jim told us stories that sometimes involved a woman as ugly as ten miles of bad road. Then Uncle David spoke of some of the stunts he pulled that were 'slicker than snot on a door handle.' Although they were captivating raconteurs, I doubt if their writing abilities went much beyond their name and a list of favorite hunting spots. And while Dad was a preacher and known to bang on the pulpit speaking on the damnation of hell, he always considered himself as someone who simply retold stories from the Bible in a most entertaining way.
I've had somewhat of an interesting life having lived in eight cities in five states in Midwest America by the time I was eighteen. After a few too many cozy encounters with various law enforcement agencies in Indiana, I decided it was time to make something of my life. Screw that. I joined the Navy instead where heavy drinking and chasing women were seen as normal behavior. And other less than moral activities, if not encouraged, were at least tolerated.
After four years of fun frolicking in Hawaii and around the Western Pacific, I met Wendy, a British-born, green card holder who was living in California and came to Hawaii for a holiday. We hit it off and I gave up cheap women for a high-maintenance one. Ah, the ignorance of youth.
I made Wendy a Navy wife and we jetted off to Scotland. After five years there I came to the conclusion that the Navy isn't the best place to be if you're married and actually like your wife. Time apart became a way of life. I couldn't deprive the woman of my attention any longer, so I left the Navy and we moved to Seattle. Yep, that was fun, but within two years we missed the "European Way of Life." So we saddled up and moved back to the UK in 1992.
We ran a tearoom in East Sussex for six years before selling up and I went into property renovations. I enjoyed that until the economy went *poof* in 2009. Then I scrambled. While waiting for the phone to ring with multiple job offers, I decided to put my storytelling ability into print. I had written several articles before going for the big one – a full-length book.
After completing my Naval memoirs, I had second thoughts. Since I wasn't a Navy SEAL or ever captured a terrorist kingpin, perhaps there wouldn't be much of a market for a nobody who simply served during the Cold War of the 1980's. But I had done it. I had written a book at 76,000 words. What's more, I enjoyed it.
So I joined a writer's group and did it all again, this time in fiction.
After writing three novels, a real life drama in 2014 persuaded Wendy and I to return to America, this time moving to Minnesota to be near my parents. I found the cultural change so vast it possessed me to write two books about it – this time non-fiction.
Still living in Minnesota, I've finished my seventh book (fifth novel) and have begun on book number eight.
I have classed my writing as light-hearted fiction, comedic novels, and satirical memoirs. Whichever book(s) you decide to read, if I make you laugh, I've set out what I intended to do.
It is a myth that writing novels blazes a trail to fame and fortune. I've met and worked with many writers and only ONE of them has experienced instant success.
The rest of us toil long and hard trying to generate dedicated followers and hopefully build a base of readers who will support us enough that we can make a living from our passion. Most writers I know are at the level where they still work to put bread on the table - hoping one day their writing will be able to sustain their lifestyle. Or indeed, housewives with extraordinary imaginations who wish to share their talents with life form older than their toddlers. It's more escape than a living.
I have heard a few now well-known authors say they found themselves out of work and had to do something to sustain a living, so they took up writing. That is the most absurd reasoning I have ever heard in my life. If you want to make an instant living, writing is the last profession on God's green earth one should pursue for that fantasy.
Self-publishing aside for a moment, to go the traditional route and getting an agent to sell it to a publisher: After working for months (unpaid) to write a masterpiece, one then submits it to agents who are receiving hundreds of manuscripts (MS) per month. I mean like 300 per month. So out of over 3,500 MS they see in a year, many will only sign one or two new writers annually. When submitting the MS, most agents ask for 2-10 weeks to let you know yes or no. So you've spent six months writing it, two months for them to say, 'Yes, I'll look at it,' then assuming they are still interested, there are more months of edits and changes until they are happy it is something they can sell. And after all of that, they may not even sell it anyway. That's the reality of it. So now you've been living on air for a year - hoping, just hoping, you sell more than a few hundred copies.
In the self-publishing world, all the promotion work is down to the author - and that can be as time consuming as writing the novel itself. Once you get a following, things can tick over, but to keep ticking over, you have to keep writing. It's been said that everyone has a book in them, but you need far more than one book in your blood if you want to make it in this game.
So writers write for the love of it, not the financial gain. We have to believe that sooner or later our hard work will pay off. I'm just looking to pay the electric bill - not buy the power company.
My seventh book (fifth novel)
is finished, edited, and being sent to publishers for publication.
SOUTHERN HARM is a murder suspense novel set in Kentucky where Oscar Novak-Chambers sets out to woo the governor's daughter. But are his motives flesh driven or for political leverage?