Most likely you’ve already seen the bio in my book, or you will, I hope. So no need to recapitulate the same details here.
What else can I tell you about sixty-one years of life? Enough to fill several volumes, possibly, though it will be highly fictionalized. I follow in the footsteps of my mother, who never lived a story that couldn’t be embellished. My uncle calls that lying. I call it writing.
If you’ve tumbled to this page after reading Book of Moon, however, you might be curious how this novel came to be. I could enlighten you on that, for a start.
During the economic downturn of 2008, I was working for LAUSD as a math coach. I’d been doing that for several years, but the pickings for coaches were getting slimmer and slimmer. Math coaches were particularly on the chopping block, since numeracy justifiably takes a backseat to literacy in elementary school. I was in danger of being bumped back to the classroom—not of losing my employment with the district, but a sea change for my daily life, nevertheless, that I didn’t look forward to. I decided I needed an exit strategy, and foolish me, writing a novel in a genre no one cares about seemed like a reasonable approach.
Thus began a series of spring evenings spent in the little writer’s cubby we have set-up behind our garage, churning out a chapter a night—which is part of why my chapters tend to be short. By nine o’clock or so, I’d make my way into the house—disturbing the urban wildlife that had come out to play in our backyard—to pluck pages from the printer and present them to my wife, Liz. Her response was positive enough to send me out night after night, and eventually the nocturnal creatures came to embrace me as one of their own.
By the time I got word, just before summer, that my job had been preserved, I’d written about a hundred pages—though I wasn’t sure what came next. In writer circles, a hot topic is whether it’s better to be an “outliner,” who figures out ahead of time where a story’s going—or a “pantser,” who figures a book’s trajectory by the seat-of-the-pants approach. For better or worse, I’m pretty much a pantser. I’d written myself into a pants pocket, and didn’t know how to get out of it. I set the book aside for the moment, since, after all, I still had a job I enjoyed.
Returning to the project a few years later, I just thought the pages I’d completed were too good to be abandoned. Long summer days spent in the writer’s shed provided the missing pieces to the puzzle, and the book was completed in the fall of 2012. With typical impetuousness, I started shooting out query letters to agents, certain that this effort would find a more positive response than had all my spec screenplays from years before.
Imagine my surprise to find that the book world was, if anything, more unwelcoming than Hollywood had been! Out of more than thirty agents queried, only one requested pages beyond the first couple of chapters I’d included with the query. And that agent never wrote back.
So I contracted for a consultation with a highly-respected children’s and YA editor. She believed that the quality of the content was high enough that I should have gotten some response, and theorized that my problem was that I had broken a number of the unwritten rules of the YA genre, which would certainly have been obvious to any agent I’d contacted. That alone would be plenty to turn them off on the whole project. She suggested I either massively rewrite the book—really gutting most of what I liked about it—or else try contacting adult agents. I chose the latter approach, but had no greater success than I’d had with YA agents.
It seems that I’d written a book not for young adults, specifically, nor for adults. I’d written a book for myself, hoping that it would appeal to other people as well. But it didn’t fit neatly into a genre, which is problematic to the industry as a whole. So I set it aside and started another novel, which you’ll be hearing about before too long.
Flash forward to spring of 2016. Not living completely in a bubble, I’d of course heard of self-publishing. But it wasn’t until the receptionist at my chiropractor’s office shared her own experience in the marketplace that I began to consider it as a viable path for The Book of Moon. And I still considered it a vanity project, until my millennial-aged guitar teacher gave me a lecture on the realities of the business. He assured me there were a lot of less-worthwhile efforts out there, yet their creators weren’t troubled by any debilitating self-doubts. If I believed in the book’s merit, it was my responsibility to allow other readers to make their own determination about its value.
With that, I embarked on a learning curve that’s lasted all year, and I’m sure will continue well-beyond. There are abundant resources available on the web to help aspiring independent authors approach the business in a professional way, and I availed myself of many of them.
Step one was to create a book that is in every way the equal, or superior, or a conventionally-published work. By employing a host of professionals, I’ve certainly endeavored to do that. Beta readers who compare the published version to what they read several years ago will be in the best position to judge the upgrades, but I think the novel is far superior to what I had back in 2012. In my view, the improved product was worth the wait—though I doubt I’d have said that four years ago.
I think I’ll close there, because this is getting pretty long. If you have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me, and I welcome you to friend me on Facebook. Unless you’re selling pornographic services, I’ll confirm the request!