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Novels

My first commercially distributed ebook, Bokur, published on Oct. 31, 2013.

I wrote my first novel, The Key to Darbas, between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2002, while working more than 60 hours a week as the city editor of the newspaper in Charleston, SC. On the advice of a friend with a bunch of best-sellers to his name, I sent it off to a particular editor at his publishing house.

This was back in the “Don’t send us emails, don’t send us Word files” dark era. Which means I printed the thing out, put it in a box, walked my ass down to the post office and mailed to it to this person in New York. The advice I got with the name was, “Don’t bother her. She’s busy, but she’ll get back to you.”

She never did.

I found out, years later, that my friend had decided that we weren’t friends anymore, thanks to a humorous story I wrote about good-old-boy aliens visiting the George Dubya Bush White House.

So I sent the manuscript to a guy who had handled the publication of one of my short stories in a small-press anthology. “If you ever write a novel,” he’d told me, “send it my way.”

But I never heard back from him, either. I sent emails, left voice messages. Nothing.

About a year later, I was talking with my editor at the same publishing house, while preparing another story for a new anthology. “What’s up with (your colleague) not writing me back?” I asked.

“That guy? He left two years ago,” my editor said. So I sent him the manuscript.

Some time later, he called with good news.

“I love the book,” he said. “I’m recommending it to the board for publication.” Considering the night I’d spent drinking with the board president after a publication party in Manhattan, I figured I was in.

Two weeks later, my editor called with bad news: “The board met, fired the president and most of the staff, and decided they’re going to publish nothing but Star Trek and Star Wars novels.”

The company’s bold new approach proved monumentally successful — if by “monumentally successful” you mean that the company shut down entirely about three months later.

So that was that.

In 2009, after taking the buy-out at the local metro, I decided to give that novel another shot — only this time, I’d break The Key to Darbas into two novels, A Madness and Siobeth, and go hunting for agents. Two asked to see the manuscript for A Madness. One held on to it for more than a year before turning me down.

So that was that.

A couple years later I decided to take six weeks off and write another novel — only this time I was going to keep it short, pulpy, dark and easier to pitch: A voodoo trickster in a Caribbean resort paradise develops the ability to transfer people’s minds from one body to another. Sex, magic and murder ensue. But I had even less luck finding an agent for novel No. 3, Bokur.

So in 2013, with my bank account temporarily flush from a lucrative consulting contract, I sat down to write Novel No. 4, which I wound up calling Another Goddamn Novel About the Collapsing Quantum Multiverse. It was about all sorts of things, absolutely none of them viable for a commercial work of fiction. If it had any theme whatsoever, it was breaking every rule anyone had ever given me about novels, fiction, story structure, marketing and publication. I knew better than to look for an agent for that one, and in November 2013, I published all four of my novels on Amazon.

Dozens of readers were mildly entertained.

In the spring of 2016 I found myself out of work again after a psychopath bought the company that employed me and promptly ran it directly into the ground. After a few weeks of looking around for a new job, my wife Janet suggested we move to her family’s unused farm in the Appalachian foothills and get serious about writing.

We decided that there was value in the world-building I’d done for Darbas, and that we weren’t ready to give up it just yet. So I began writing a prequel trilogy to the events in A Madness.

In 2017, I completed the first volume: Chene. I finished the next two books, Llyr and Gwynyr, in 2018, and got a solid edit on the entire series with the help of Janet and our friend Mina Familar-Ragsdale, by the end of March 2019. It’s my best work so far, a testimony to the value of giving yourself time to write, start over, rewrite and revise.

On April 1, 2019, I sent out my first query for the Chene trilogy.