Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Where Have You Gone, Texas Cryptid Hunter?

When I wrote the title to this post I had the tune from Simon & Garfunkle's "Mrs. Robinson" going through my head. I don't think it quite worked as well as I would have liked but no matter. Onward.

I know that a few of you out there have noticed that I’ve been less active on the blog over the last year or so. I’ve received multiple emails over this time period wanting to know if everything was all right and if I planned to keep the site up and going. The answer is yes, everything is ok and I do plan on keeping the blog up and going. It is true that I’ve been less active over this past year but there is a reason for it. Multiple reasons contributed to my posting less often but the biggest of them is a project I’ve been working very hard on for about two and a half years now; a project that I’ve mentioned in passing from time to time on Facebook, Twitter and the blog.

I’ve been writing a book. To be specific, I’ve been writing a children’s book.

The idea for the story first came to me almost a decade ago. As the years passed, I refined the idea, added to it, took things away and basically went through about fifty drafts in my head without ever writing anything down. Finally, I had what I thought was a pretty unique tale; one that combined real life events with a separate fictional story line. I remember thinking to myself, “Somebody ought to do that (write it).” Then one day, I simply forgot about it.

I’m guessing that roughly three years passed where I didn’t think about the story at all. Then one day, something jogged my memory and brought the story rushing back to me. I do not recall what the trigger was but am grateful for it. I decided then and there that I needed to write it all down so that I wouldn’t lose it forever. So, that is what I did. I sat down one summer day and knocked the whole thing out in less than two hours. It didn’t take long as I had been through all those mental revisions years before and had, in my mind, a satisfying story all laid out. Satisfied, I saved the story and went to watch television. I hadn’t been watching too long when a familiar, if slightly revised, thought returned to me.

“Somebody ought to make this a real book.”

I decided then to try and make this book a reality. To do that, I needed an illustrator. I contacted Robert Swain, author and illustrator of the Laughsquatch cartoons, to see if he would be interested in the project. To my everlasting gratitude, Robert agreed to do the illustrations for the story. I sent him the text to the story and a crude idea for a layout where I described what I envisioned would be on each page and what I would like to see in the accompanying illustration. Robert took my thoughts, added to and improved upon them, and came up with a series of brilliant illustrations that rival anything out there as far as quality. We also collaborated on a very unique aspect of the book that I am very excited about and will describe in more detail at a later date. It took the better part of two years to get all of the illustrations complete but they were absolutely worth waiting for and I can’t wait for everyone to see them.

Robert and I now had a mock-up of the book with the text embedded in the illustrations. I was very excited and just knew that some publishing house would be falling all over itself to publish this book. Boy, was I na├»ve. Practically no publishers accept unsolicited manuscripts. Most only accept manuscripts sent in by literary agents. “Ok,” I thought. “I’ll get an agent.” Again, I had no idea what I was getting into. I found a lot of literary agencies out there but very few accept non-referred clients. Of those that do, most only accept 2-3 new authors a year. I spent months submitting my story to agents without success. Most of the time, these agencies want you to submit your work to them on an exclusive basis and then take 6-12 weeks to get back to you (likely with a rejection). Some simply state that if you haven’t heard back from them within 3 months, they have passed on your manuscript. It was all very educational… and frustrating.

Some of the agents were very nice. I had three basically tell me the same thing. The story and illustrations were of high enough quality but the subject matter was likely too “niche” to guarantee a high volume of sales. It seems the publishing world is a bit conservative when it comes to taking a chance on someone new or something a bit unconventional.

Robert and I discussed it and decided we would just publish the book ourselves. Self-publishing has sort of a mixed reputation depending on whom you talk to but we have worked very hard to ensure that we have a professional-looking and polished final product. I am excited to report that the final edits have been made (finally) and the book is going to press this week. I expect the book to be available for purchase within the next 2-3 weeks. The book will be available in conventional format and electronic formats (think Kindles, iPads and other e-book readers) through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other outlets. Again, I’ll let you in on more details as the release date approaches.

So, now you know where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to. I’ve been anything but idle. Now that this project is wrapping up, I’ll have more time to see what else I can get into, haha.

More soon. My best to you all.

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