As the title indicates, yep, my novel is being featured in an English class. The teacher asked me to write an introduction, and I am putting it here as I really liked how it came out.
There is some good info here for those people wanting to write and publish or just know how a writer goes about some of it. Enjoy!
Hi there readers, I’m C.J. Peter, and it appears you are about to open a book I wrote!
First up a little about me…ripped from my blog-site:
Writer/Geek/Driver/Fish and Tarantula Guy
Having discovered the joys/pain/insanity of writing fiction in early elementary school, I proceeded to move on to a technical career following military service, all the while dabbling in my limited free time with the creative itch that could never be completely scratched. Twenty years later, it was do it or don’t… …so in a ‘throw the hat over the fence’ move, I left the IT field, grabbed the wheel of a taxi to take care of the necessities and started pounding the keyboard. A couple years since then, I’m published, I do private hire driving instead of the mafia encrusted taxi stuff, and am happily working on the next book in my series.
Your teacher and an old friend of mine, Ms. Jeannette Miller Prentice, asked me to talk about a few things ‘writerly’ involving the book before you, so here goes…
First off, ‘the idea‘:
A very long time ago, I read a Stephen King novella called ‘The Mist’, in which a military research experiment goes horribly wrong. It involved a world covered in fog/mist, monsters on the prowl and the usual stuff for an apocalypse story…and it had a very open ending. The type of ending leaving you to wonder what happens next.
(Please do not confuse the rancid movie that was made from this work. They changed the ending in the film to something that to me was horrible and left a very bad lasting impression in my mind.)
Some of the ideas from that story stuck in back of the ‘to-do’ compartment in the writing section of my head for a very long time.
While my novel doesn’t have anything to do with that story, it had its genesis with that world changing event:
‘What would happen if something apocalyptic happened, and what would that world look like several thousand years later?’
Every writer is different. Some do the deed for money or…the hope of money first. Some write because they think it ‘cool’ or ‘trendy’. But most writers write because the stories are there needing to get out, whether there is money waiting at the end of the line or not.
The story you see in front of you is the first part in an epic that has been growing in my mind for years.
The story needed to get out, so I wrote it.
A question that is asked quite a lot is: ‘When’s the next book?’
And my answer to that is…when it is done.
What a lot of readers do not understand is just how difficult and time consuming the writing process can be. Combine that with having to have a real job (most writers are in this situation, even the published ones) and it can be a long process between published works.
Some writers, such as that aforementioned King guy can put out material at a prodigious pace, while others (such as myself) take a lot longer.
Part of that is the process itself. It has been said that writing the 1st draft is ‘for you’, while everything done after that makes a published work ‘for everyone else’. The reason is that the first draft is the most fun, where the discovery happens. When characters seem to take a life of their own and change things from your original thoughts. When twists and unexpected turns change your narrative into something better than when you started. When you have the freedom to explore all of this stuff.
Once done with that, the hard work starts. Proofreading, editing and more editing, slashing and burning stuff that doesn’t actually need to be there, and then grammar checking all of that…BEFORE handing the material to a first reader…and then to an actual editor (J-M-P…*cough-cough*).
THEN, you the writer have to take or disregard the editor’s suggestions for the final draft.
All of that is before another decision (which was an easy one for me) which is: To publish traditionally or self-publish? I went the self-publish route and yap about that in its own little area farther down.
Even after all of that, seeing your work in print or available in e-reader stores, there is no guarantee that money will flow. There are many things involved in that process such as marketing, adwords (for search engines) and an active web presence for the writer.
In my case, understanding that having more than one book ready for an audience, means waiting to do the whole marketing rigamarole until the second book is done and the third is more than 50% there.
I published the first book in this series without a lot of knowledge of the intricacies that make up that part of the process. I probably should have waited, but the entire project was a learning experience, and yep, I sure did learn.
I have still garnered several great reviews and have sold books, but it will probably be more once that part of things gets going.
Another question that also gets asked a lot is: ‘What are you working on now?’
The answer is several things, but primarily the series “After the Burning”. There are several side projects I’m futzing about with, but only when stuck on something in the main work, or just to change pace a bit now and again.
To self publish or go the traditional route:
When I was a wee nipper in elementary school, everything was ‘traditionally published’ by big printing houses that were in charge of weeding out the ‘bad’ and only printing the ‘good’.
When I started the process for this novel, things were changing. The internet, the web, and non-traditional means of reading (e-readers) were really starting to take off.
Originally I meant to go the traditional route, but the more research I did the less optimistic that goal became. Being ‘lucky’ was and is more a part of the process than it should be.
Traditional publishing, like movies and other money making ventures looks for the ‘safe-bet’. While I’m all for that, I AM NOT for it when it is a sham turning what should be a wonderful marketplace for all sorts of ideas and stories into a walled garden.
There is a story that was released several years ago by a published author who decided to change the title of a Pulitzer prize winning book and submit it to publishing houses just to see what would happen.
What happened was that over twenty publishing houses REJECTED it…not because it was plagiarized, but because they didn’t think it was any good, some thought it would never make any money, and others rejected it for other ridiculous reasons. Only ONE publisher out of the bunch realized that it was the prize winning work.
That was the last straw in my decision to self-publish.
I went self publishing partly so that I could actually see my work ‘out there’, and partly to educate myself on the ins and outs of the process.
What is really cool is that the self-publishing side of things has really matured and expanded. There are multiple venues to see your work in public, and multiple ways to distribute that weren’t there at the beginning.
One warning: If you EVER decide to publish your stuff, NEVER EVER EVER let anyone charge you to do so. If someone offers a ‘contract’ and it has you paying ANYTHING, walk away, as you are being led to the slaughter by con artists if you accept.
(The exceptions to this are people YOU hire to complete things such as proofing/editing/artwork.)
These publishing scams used to be called ‘Vanity Press’, but in the current day and age, it is just predators seeking the gullible to take their money.
This little introduction has gotten a bit longer than I originally intended…hope you’re not bored yet. heh heh.
Last bit here is for your teacher, as she specifically asked this. I’m quoting the question here:
‘Do authors intentionally place themes and symbols and archetypes into their writing or is it “all just random and English teachers are just digging for things that aren’t there?’ -j.m.p.
The answer isn’t a strict yes OR no, surprisingly.
For most of us, the ‘tale’ is the thing. We are human however, and our biases DO get into the narrative whether consciously or not from time to time. The trick as a writer is to know when it is getting out of hand and reign it back in. (Out of hand means: taking away from the story!)
For instance, in the book in front of you, there are clear signs (if you know where to look) that the author is an objectivist/libertarian in political/philosophical leaning.
I believe in rugged individualism, freedom, self-responsibility, common sense and things like that, and it does color my story. Not overtly, but as an example, ALL writers do this. Can’t be helped.
Some writers do this stuff (symbology and archetype) on purpose. Usually it is the type of writer that wants to write LITERATURE, rather than a novel. Very few can pull this off, most of it being self-important garbage that isn’t worth the time of day. <—-this is my opinion and I’m sticking with it.
Personally I cannot stand some of it especially when it becomes overt and in one’s face. I want the stories I read to stand on their own merits without having to ‘figure it out’.
There are some writers who write as allegory, and if you KNOW it is, then it can be wonderful.
As my favorite example of this, C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia is this type of story, and is accomplished masterfully. (He also wrote a philosophical set of novels titled ‘The Space trilogy’. Very good stuff, but also dense reading needing time to think about.)
So to sum up: Yes, most times when a writer says, ‘The curtains were blue’….that is all that was meant…until it isn’t.
I sincerely hope you enjoy my tale, and always treat your teacher well!