What do you remember about high school literature class? We were force-fed the usual required material. I hated it! All I learned was that reading sucked.
Decades passed, then a few more. One night I had a dream. I was walking through the fall-colored foothills of New England celebrating the publication of my second novel. It was inspiring, a message from my subconscious. When I awoke, I took up the other side of the reading equation, writing.
Family helped with editing and feedback as I experimented with lots of different genres to see what worked for me, mystery, action, adventure, satire, science fiction. My buddy was a non-fiction guy. That type often does not like fiction. I had never realized this. It’s similar to the notion that people who drink scotch, don’t like bourbon and vice versa. He threw my story down on the table.
“This will never be a best-seller!” he shouted.
“That’s fine,” I humbly responded. “If I can get just a hundred readers, I’ll be delighted!”
His elderly mother was the opposite. Every Saturday night I would visit them for burgers on the grill, taking along a printout of my newest work for her to peruse. My mind was still creating dialogue on the weekly drive over, at times nearly causing a few collisions along the way. When you write, your mind enters an alternate universe. Your imaginary characters become real, the relationships intimate. Each story took on a life of its own. I never knew where it was taking me. It was like driving into a fog. I had to write more to find out what would happen next. I recall his mom working her way across the room with her walker, her cane hanging on its side as she hobbled in my direction to speak.
“You write so well. I hope you continue with it,” she announced, handing me back the material she had just reviewed. Wow, awesome!
Thank you digital age. I learned how to upload my creations to the Kindle. Suddenly I was published around the world! In addition to the USA, people in the UK, throughout Europe, much of Asia, Australia, Central and South America, Canada and many other places could all read what I had written and they did. So cool. Amazon reported the number of downloads to me daily. The count soared into five figures. Wow, truly cool. They added a photo gallery; I no longer had to create my own covers. They bought a paperback company; I could also publish hard copies.
Change is the only constant. My friend’s mom has now passed, him too. My tales have undergone rewrites. Story tweaking is so easy in the digital age. I felt they were too bland. If I was getting bored writing them, how much could the readers like them? I made them more disturbing, more erotic.
Three teenage girls are out and about when one gets abducted and abused. The little old ladies jumped on “That Old House on Delaney Street” with bad reviews. Okay, so lets do an expanded rewrite with all three abducted. I wrote “Beacon Boarding and Bordello.” Hey this is fun, let’s add in newlywed victims and make one of the villains a serial killer. Cool. I proudly uploaded it. Time for part II. The girls get rescued and one goes on a cross-country sexual killing spree of her own. I now had a novel and called it “Serial Predators.”
I got more readers. There was domination, submission, humiliation. I had to let myself go more. I created a pen-name. Characters became more deranged, even sadomasochistic. I’m still a relative unknown, but my most popular tales are under that new persona.
More change. Amazon recently announced that Amazon Prime readers can read eBooks for free. We authors used to get paid by the download, but now it’s by how much of the download actually gets read by a Prime customer. I can’t tell who you are, but I can tell how much of my story you read. Sometimes it can be discouraging, other times I feel elated when I can see that an entire book is being enjoyed. It’s updated throughout the day and excellent feedback. I’m learning how to scratch your literary itch. Evolution, ain’t it great!