(Continued from Part 1)
After I had finished the manuscript for Escaping Innocence: A Story of Awakening, and been roundly rejected by numerous agents and publishers, I realized I needed to move on. I was sick to death of examining and re-examining the early years of my life, and I knew that I needed to write something completely different, or I’d probably never write again. So, I sat down to write a murder mystery. Armed with nothing other than the famous—and oft quoted—line, “It was a dark and stormy night,” rattling around in my mind, I wrote a scene about a man traveling home to New York City, after a business trip to California, on an airliner that was caught in a tremendous thunderstorm. At the same time he was on the plane, praying not to die, his wife was at home, being systematically raped and tortured, and praying that she would die.
When I had finished writing the scene, I printed it and brought the copy to my wife (she is a huge fan of murder mysteries). She read it, and handed the paper back to me. “Well?” I asked, “what do you think?” She shrugged her shoulders and replied, ” It’s okay, but—” (The “but” referred to the fact that she didn’t think it was violent enough.) I went back and rewrote the scene, printed it out (again), and brought the new copy back to my wife. After reading the revised scene, my wife smiled broadly and said, “Now that’s more like it.” Over the next year or so, I went on to finish the book, which I titled As the Twig is Bent. But more about that later.
Now, here is where it gets kind of crazy. I emailed attachments of both the coming-of-age novel and the mystery to my wife’s uncle, Vahan Gregory, who was still alive at the time, for his opinion (he’s since passed away). Vahan was a multi-talented man, living just outside Hollywood, who, at one time had written a best-selling book, Oh Boy, Here Comes Walt!, which was similar to my own coming-of-age novel, Escaping Innocence: A Story of Awakening. In addition to being a fine writer, he was also a sculptor, painter, playwright, and general all around “artsie-fartsie” kind of a guy, who had rubbed elbows with the likes of Sean Connery and William Saroyan. He was also the proprietor of the first espresso café in Los Angeles, back in the ’50s. The two of us had originally met in 1986, when my wife, Becky, her two children, and I were vacationing in California.
Within a few days, I received a phone call from Vahan, during which he raved about my writing (there’s no accounting for taste), suggesting rather offhandedly “You should publish them with Lulu.” I had no idea what he was talking about, and said “What the hell is a Lulu?” He explained that Lulu was a Print-on-Demand publishing house, and that I could publish my books there—which I did. It was a disaster! The cost was prohibitively high, and the website’s tools were primitive and difficult to work with. But . . . I was finally published. I gave copies of the two books to my children and other family members. I gave copies to my local library, and sold a dozen or two on Amazon.com. That was it! I was at a dead-end. I was finished. To quote Madelyn Kahn’s character, Lili Von Shtupp, in Blazing Saddles, I was “Fertig! Verfallen! Verlumpt! Verblunget! Verkackt!” Or, at least, that’s how it appeared. But I am a dogged individual, and I don’t know the meaning of the word “can’t.” So, I started searching the Internet for a better way to self-publish. After much Googling, exploring, and Facebooking (is that a word?), I finally found Createspace, which led to . . .
(To be continued)