My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Thursday, February 4

Transfer Time

I've decided to transfer here most of my other website, the one that describes my novels and other writing. Why? Because I don't think anyone is going to that website, and it's harder to get to than this one. Hey, maybe no one is visiting this site either. I refer again to that empty auditorium where my words echo portentously (or possibly pretentiously) off the back wall. Nobody but me to hear them. I don't care (well, yes, I really do). If I weren't able to write I think I'd rather die. So here goes. How and why did I write stuff and what happened to it?

Sometime around 1970 I had an idea for a golf novel, one built around a crazy golf course with some really crazy holes. And I wanted it to involve lots of golf on an amateur level, with the main character pitted against someone not only in golf but also in romance. And the bad guy is even badder than the main character first thought. I wanted it to involve a late night confrontation between them on the golf course, in an underground cavern that had been secretly created as a bomb shelter when the course was built.

I toyed with the idea for years, always putting off the actual writing because it was easier putting it off than doing it. Finally, though, just after 1980, I got past the opening chapters and the story sort of took over for me. It was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle: episode #1 here, episode #2 there, etc. I discovered that the characters also took over for themselves.

I finished it in the summer of 1982, finally called Match Play, and I was thrilled to think that I'd actually done it. And it was sure to be published, right? It filled a gap in the current market by appealing to those millions of golfers worldwide who had just taken up the game, plus the millions more who had always been ardent golfers. It had golf, it had humor, it had sex, it had violence and suspense. A sure thing, right? Wrong.

I did the homework on publishers and requirements and letters of inquiry. I sent out several letters to major publishing companies, like little ships out on stormy seas. And then I waited for replies. And waited. And waited. It seems that in publishing the wheels grind exceeding slow. And when I finally did get a response, it was invariably "Sorry, but your manuscript doesn't meet our present needs."

I spent nearly three years learning all the outs and outs of publishing. The old Catch-22: You need to have an agent to be considered for publication; you need to have already published to be considered by an agent. And then there were the agents who would agree to consider your manuscript for a nominal reading fee (anywhere from $100 to $300) but always they were interested only in the fee, not in representing you. I found it was a cruel game.
I even went so far as to print copies of my manuscript and send them to people I thought might have some influence on publishers: Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Jack Lemon, Kevin Costner, etc. Many were returned undeliverable and unopened, many were never seen again. The only one decent enough to write me and thank me but no thank me was Jack Nicklaus. The editors I was able to contact over the transom told me that Match Play didn't fit any genre they were interested in.

That's when I decided to write one filled with blood and gore and see if that didn't fit a genre they could live with. This one was called Dust of Autumn, set in a high school near Buffalo, centering on a young girl who, because of her father's sexual abuse, created an alter ego named Maleeva. And Maleeva was able to do rather horrible things to those who crossed her.

Couldn't even get anyone to read it, let alone consider it for publication. By this time, near the end of the Eighties, nearly all publishing had been swallowed up by only a few of the large publishing houses, and they had their family of best-selling authors and would rather put their money into pushing the sure things than try anything new. I don't mean to sound like sour grapes, because there are still young authors who are able to break into publishing. But that break-in, about as tough as entering the vaults at Fort Knox, still involves knowing someone in publishing or being very very good or very very lucky.

Then I said to hell with it and wrote one because I wanted to write it. I would set it in my home state of South Dakota, in a town called Prairie View, very much like my hometown of Mobridge, S. D. And I would color it with characters I'd known from my boyhood, and a plot that would involve some romance, some suspense, and a grand chase that would lead to the top of Rattlesnake Butte west of the old Missouri River (now an immense body of water instead of a river). I finished Prairie View in 1990 and felt very good about it. But I didn't pursue the hopeless task of trying to get it published. I'd had all the pain I needed from that pursuit.

In 2000 I first heard about a company called Xlibris. It was a self-publishing firm that would print my book or books for a very resonable price. And I took them up on it with Match Play. And then again with Prairie View.

In 2005 I wrote a children's book called Life in the Arbor, using as my cast of characters the various critters I and my wife Rosalie had observed in our back yard over the years. And in 2006 I had it published by Xlibris. In 2008 I finished an old project and wrote a novel called The Black Widow and had it published along with It's a Doggy-Dog World, a memoir I'd finished about five years earlier in 2003.

Now, to have all my writing (or most of it) published, I had them publish my second novel, the bloody one set in New York called Dust of Autumn, and a collection of short stories and essays called A Baker's Dozen Plus Two. Now, to keep me out of mischief, I've started another novel, called Happy Valley, about a guy very much like me who feels the weight of mounting years. And it will have a story within the story, a children's story about two desert elves called Joshua and Saffron, and their faithful companions called Smoke, a no-nonsense cat, and Cree, a Harris's Hawk. I hope to have it finished sometime before I die.

For a closer look at any of the above before I get it moved to this location, you might try I even have a little music there for your entertainment.

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