As a fiction writer, I strive to involve the reader in an interesting and compelling experience. Some people belittle this (and perhaps themselves) by merely calling it entertainment. It also involves giving readers something to think about, and reminding them of things they already know but may not have considered in a while.
I’ve been writing stories for a long time. I started out writing science fiction. First, there were short stories that I submitted to science fiction and fantasy magazines with no success. I wasn’t surprised, because I always felt they were part of a bigger story. Taking the plunge, I wrote my first novel.
You know at least somebody in the publishing business thought I had something going, because I’ve had five agents represent my novels. My most successful short story won honorable mention in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest. Whatever one might think of L. Ron Hubbard, it was some form of recognition at least.
Sample chapters of my novels, Past Addresses, and, Talking to Crayfish were entered in the prose category in The Writer’s Network fiction contest in 2006, and both made the quarterfinals.
For several years, I edited the local newsletter of the Sports Car Club of America, Racecomm. My event coverage was published in a national autocrossing newspaper, North American Pylon. During that time, construction began on Pikes Peak International Raceway, and I was invited to attend press conferences and promotional dinners and such. That was an interesting and exciting time when I was able to compete in autocrosses and to work roadraces. It shouldn’t surprise anyone, though, that ultimately I enjoyed writing about what I did more than actually doing it!
I also have written technical articles, process manuals, and advertising copy for some of my employers.
After a hiatus of a few years (when I actually thought I would be happy as a manufacturing engineer and satisfied writing about sports car racing – though the racing was pretty cool), my science fiction novels had become dated and my reading interest had expanded. (In all honesty, I was getting tired of what was being passed off as Science-Fiction, too.) I re-thought what I wanted (and needed) to write about. I care more about my characters than exotic times and places, and though I loved science fiction in my younger days, I tried to tell stories that only I can write (about friendships, families, dealing with bad jobs and being draft age during Vietnam…) and still give readers things to think about. My stories are character-driven in the times and places I have seen with my own peculiar perspective, with the questions, “What if?” and, “Why not?” and, “What might have been?” firmly in mind. The qualities I saw in people I knew, respected and, yes, in some cases, loved inspire many of my characters. Aside from the three already mentioned, I have four other projects either started or in research, and will be written assuming I live long enough.
Why self-publish? Frankly, I was tired of following the accepted route to publishing, waiting for agents to do what they were supposed to do, and getting frustrated with the state of publishing and the increasing tendency of agents to take on new authors only if recommended by someone in the publishing business. For years, it was write, submit, wait, write some more, submit, wait… Basically, it seems to me that you almost need to have an agent to get an agent. I have a day job (most of the time) and I don’t have the time and money to socialize with literary-type people at conferences and such.
A former co-worker showed me something he bought on-line. It looked to be one of these alarmist, supremacist, ego-boosting essays, and I told him, “This is crap!” I meant that on more than one level, but he didn’t get it. He enthusiastically told me that this was what people were buying, and the internet was opening up publishing to everyone. The thought occurred to me that if everyone else is putting their crap on the internet, why not me? He wanted me to pay him to take care of this for me, but I quickly was advised by others that he wouldn’t be doing anything I couldn’t do myself.
Some of the jobs I’ve had (in no particular order): manufacturing process engineer, sailboat sales and rentals, design drafter, engineering technician, insurance adjuster, caddie, motel maintenance, resume writer, advertising copy writer, planner, and sheet metal inspector.