In 2006, I began an incredible journey toward something of which I’d always dreamed, but feared too much to attempt. With the encouragement of my wonderful partner, I began to write. In the coming years, undergoing countless revisions, rewriting, editing, and many sleepless nights, TEARS OF DESTINY was born. The first book in the ELEMENTS OF EAA saga, it began with a single character on a quest to discover himself:
TEARS OF DESTINY finds teen Billy Martin in a troubled place. He’s lost his entire family to a horrible car accident. What’s worse, was the disappearance of his twin sister. She’d been taken from the car, of that he was sure, but what tormented him was that no one believed his story. Despite fourteen years of fights, competitions, and shared birthdays, no one believes she ever existed at all. In a quest to find out the truth of what happened to Sarah, Billy must embark on a journey that will take him to the furthest reaches of the Universe to an strange and distant world where he must face an impossible choice: Rescue his sister, or save an alien race. In a struggle to save humanity and all of the sentient races of the Universe, Billy must uncover the truth, and learn to control the Elements of Eaa.
Four years of conferences, workshops, meeting with agents, pitching my work, I’d grown as an author and learned the power of patience and persistence. TEARS OF DESTINY was like a child, hard to move on from, but impossible to give up on. I realized, however, my writing would never reach the level I wanted it to if I focused on that book alone. I set down my treasure and began work on the sequel. It was then that TREES OF SHAKARA was born:
TREES OF SHAKARA finds Billy and his unlikely team on a new world completely different from the last. A lush pristine community of elvish-looking beings gives him a new definition of peace and harmony. But all is not as it seems with the Shakari people. As Billy searches for more clues about Tiamaat and the mysterious Akaadian god-like beings he encountered on Chulandria, he becomes caught-up in a civil war. With his new-found abilities and his growing obsession with finding Sarah, he must once again choose whether to help a race of strangers, or ignore their struggles and press on with finding his sister.
As I continued finished this book, I realized how much I needed to continue writing, not to give up on my dream, but keep fighting for something I’ve wanted since I was young. A BETA reader for TEARS OF DESTINY mentioned their fondness for the character of Sally (then only a small character who didn’t even have a last name). He mused that it would be interesting to see more of her in the book. A short time later, I sat down and wondered, what would happen if I told things from her point of view. I realized immediately the obvious connection between what was happening to Billy in far-off places and the things that needed to happen back on Earth in preparation for his return. It was then I knew the story had to be told and SALLY SINGLETARY’S CURIOSITY would be the perfect way to set the stage:
SALLY SINGLETARY’S CURIOSITY had always gotten her into trouble—it was perhaps the reason she became a school reporter. But on the day of Billy Martin’s disappearance, she found herself in the middle more than she bargained for. When her good friend Daniel, Billy, a well-known jock, and a teacher all vanish before her eyes, she begins an investigation that uncovers more than she thought possible. With the help of an Artificial Intelligence and a young friend with a knack for magic, Sally must get to the bottom of the disappearance before the true culprits are able to set in motion a chain of events which could have devastating effects on Earth.
And so my small ideas had taken roots in a major way. I was introducing very big ideas and scientific concepts most readers would struggle to understand alongside fantasy elements that seemed bigger than life. To make it all work, people would have to be introduced to ideas slowly, understand the connections between characters and big events. I also needed a way to tell what was happening on Earth while Billy was a way. SALLY SINGLETARY has grown into a four-book concept for the story of those events. What are the shape-shifters? Who is James Van der Haak? Why have they come to Earth and how do they fit in with Tiamaat and the other mysterious Akaadian god-like beings Billy has met along his travels.
Things didn’t end there.
Was I crazy? Am I still? Quite possibly, but my ideas continued to grow. Now that Billy had met Tiaamat, Maarduk, and the other Akaadian “gods,” I realized I could never portray them enough in his story to give their true rich history in the interactions throughout the series. They were supposed to mysterious, unknown. But wouldn’t people want to know the truth? Would they be curious about how these arrogant creatures who wore their pets as clothing came to be? It was then the concept of my next series came to be. What if the story were told from Tiamaat’s point of view. Not the grown-up, self-absorbed “Queen of Chaos,” but the younger, idealistic adolescent she once had been:
CONFESSIONS OF A YOUNG GODDESS tells the story of Tiamaat, the main antagonist throughout much of the ELEMENTS OF EAA books. While mysterious and aloof as a grown-up, she wasn’t always this way. When she was young, she was idealistic and proud, and not always the most graceful—especially around boys. When she’s reunited with her young love, Maarduk, she must navigate the grand halls of the Akaadian Akaademy as well as the labyrinth of her emotions. She faces her biggest challenge when she inadvertently learns the Council has shocking and sinister plans for Akaadia that will affect all of the lower beings of EAA to include her new-found favorite Reaalm of Eaarth. Can she defy the Council, stop their plans of ultimate Control? Or will her actions throw EAA into utter Chaos?
CONFESSIONS isn’t finished, but the ideas are in place. Another part of the ELEMENTS OF EAA saga. By this time, nearly ten years had passed. I’d managed to publish SALLY SINGELTARY’S CURIOSITY and SALLY SINGLETARY’S DISCOVERY through Amazon, but despite my efforts, I had neither the time nor the expertise to really get the books moving. Sure, they sold at first, but not as well as they would have if I’d had a team or even someone to help along the way.
So, yes, I have grand visions for all of these books. I’m probably insane for taking on something like this, but who knows? It might just work. I’m concentrating my efforts on SALLY SINGLETARY, since those are the books which are complete and published. One day, I hope the others see the light of day, but I knew it was a long up-hill battle, especially on my own. That’s why I was thrilled when I read an article about a publishing company that seemed like a dream come true. I’d longed to be a part of a company that would publish books differently from the big players in the industry. I was tired of hearing of author friends who had been published, only to discover the truth of the industry. Many found confusing contracts, and conditions that allowed them little control over their work. While it was exciting to be published by a big publishing house, many found themselves as much on their own as they had been before. I’d sought agents and publishers in the past, but while most had positive things to say about my work, I hadn’t found “the right fit.”
When I first read about Booktrope, I was intrigued. Here was a company who did things differently. They are a team publishing company focused on one thing, publishing books. You work with a group of people, each assigned to a different aspect of the publication process and all invested in the success of your work since profit is shared from sales rather than the antiquated system of advances. It was perfect. Why did something like this not exist before? I took a chance and submitted SALLY SINGELTARY’S CURIOSITY to Booktrope and waited.
When I got the response I was thrilled, but also very cautious. Was this really what I wanted? Would this get me where I wanted to be? Those questions remain unanswered. It was obvious this was a small company, nothing as grand as the Big Six, but what mattered is they had managed to accomplish quite a bit in that time. I read about other authors that had been picked up by Booktrope and their experiences were genuinely positive. And really, what was my goal? If I really am going to pull off a project of this magnitude, would a traditional route really get me where I wanted to be? What if my books didn’t meet the sales expectations of a big publisher, what then? I’d be dropped, and worse, could lose rights for my books. I’d be stuck in a nightmarish limbo, never able to accomplish my dream. I had to decide: Was I looking to be the next J.K. Rowling? Or did I just want to get my work out there?
I joined Booktrope.
I am now part of a family of authors, cover designers, book managers, marketing specialists, and other professionals who know the business, who’ve published books, who’ve made other authors successful. I may not ever reach the status of J.K. Rowling, but I know I’m on the right path for what I hope to accomplish. And it doesn’t end there. While I’m working through the process of re-branding and re-publishing SALLY SINGLETARY’S CURIOSITY and DISCOVERY, I’ve not stopped writing.
In an effort to step away from the other books, I sat down to write a few words, which turned into nearly 40,000 words on another series (unrelated):
Jimmy Figg is SNATCHED by a group of hideous creatures, but the thing that has always made him a thorn in his teachers’ side and an outcast among his peers has given him a unique advantage. Can Jimmy use his ability to find out the truth behind his abduction, or will his captors succeed in their insidious plan?
I’m not quite finished with SNATCHED, but nearly there.
Long story short, I’ve made writing more than just a hobby, something to which I’ve dedicated a lot of my time outside of work. Will it amount to anything? Time will tell. In the long run, I know I’ve set myself toward my goals. That alone is enough for me to know I’m at least headed in the right direction. I’m on the journey of a “thousand miles,” taken the “single” step. Where that journey leads is what makes the path exciting. I have big dreams and big plans. Some might think I’m crazy.
Only time will tell.