Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Writing for me

When I started out I was most definitely writing the type of story I liked to read - only with my embellishments.  As a teen I was in love with anything by Edgar Rice Burroughs - especially his John Carter series. I envisioned myself right there with him, battling the enemy, jumping gravity free, hundreds of feet into the air - and landing safely of course - then punching out or flailing around with a giant sword at anyone who dared come near John or me.

Burroughs wrote another book based on a prehistory culture, darned if I can find it anywhere, but it was one I actually used as a basis for my first story bashed out on an old Remington I paid five pounds sterling for. There were only two races on the planet I imagined - the Eagles , a golden haired people of immense physical stamina and beauty and the Ravens, people of a darker hue with bronzed skin and 'black as night' hair.Of course when my Eagle hero and Raven heroine meet, there is a fight for dominance which the Eagle (barely) wins. I was a little too young to give a complete, graphic description of their coupling, but one of my sisters who read my first attempt at literary success said, "So that's the kind of woman you want?"

Uh, no... but never mind that, at least I had injected a female into the story.

Later in life I fiddled with stories set in London about the theatre, usually with a detective solving a backstage murder with the aid of a singer, actor or dancer. None of these got anywhere near a publisher. The fear of rejection was alive and well, so it was amazing that I finally got the nerve to submit my first real attempt at a contemporary novel - A Portrait of Phillip. Naturally, it was rejected and rejected and...well that's the way it goes, so I self published, and amazingly it was a success. Who needs a publisher? I thought smug and self satisfied. My first six books were self published but the cost of going that route outweighed the return, so greedily I looked around for someone else to bear the cost, and found not one but three companies ready to do just that. Amazing what being placed in Amazon's top 100 will do for a fella.

Yay! Now I could go on writing the sort of stuff I liked to write - as long as I gave the characters a happy ending. Vampires, cowboys, detectives, soldiers both ancient and modern, all the heroes I dreamed of running about with, facing endless adversity, nine headed monsters, vast armies, but always coming out on top, were now mine to do with what I wished. What a great life. I honestly don't care if the reviewers like 'em or not. I learned long ago to take all of that snark with the middle finger upraised. And if the royalties go up and down , I'll grin and bear it - hopefully the publishers will too. Let's face it - in this economy of less disposable income and with the veritable thousands of authors all vying for the same readership, I count myself lucky that there is a check at the end of the month/quarter.

I love what I do, I love what I write, for the most part, and I'll probably keep on doing it as long as I can punch a keyboard.


  1. J.P. I didn't realize you'd gone the self-publishing route before signing with Totally Bound. And in the top 100.

    (Nor did I realize you'd ever written a M/F story. Live and learn!)

    One positive feature of the current glut in ebooks and epublishers - you're very unlikely to be dropped for low sales, since it costs nothing for the publisher to keep your books in its virtual inventory. One less thing to worry about!

    1. I used iUniverse in the beginning, but their publishing fee and rate of 20% to the author is a bit of a rip off - I wouldn't recommend then - oh and their graphic department sucks. You would really have to design your own covers - something I could do now but back then didn't have a clue! LOL

  2. You said-
    I love what I do, I love what I write, for the most part, and I'll probably keep on doing it as long as I can punch a keyboard.

    That's the place to be. Those who can make a few bucks doing what they love are truly the luckiest of people.

  3. How cool is it, that your first writing attempt was "fan fiction", before it was called that, based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs book series! I also read the Mars books way back when, along with all of the Tarzan books. My Dad considered him "pulp", but they were his books. He (born in Scotland) and Mom (born in downtown Chicago) both loved Zane Grey books also, for the romanticized view of the old west.

    I used to create myself fictional roles in my favorite sci-fi TV shows, like Star Trek. It's funny how I've always loved to read and watch sci-fi, but my brain won't give me stories like that. Sounds like your muse gives you stories in many genres. I envy that.

  4. Writing what you love probably makes it better, and readers pick up on the vibes. Just a theory, and hard to prove, but it seems likely.

  5. Yes, sincerity in fiction has a certain vibe. That's probably part of the recipe for success, however defined.

  6. This is great, JP, and probably the recipe for maximum writing sanity.