I want to start this week's article by saying THANK YOU for the continued interest in my writing career and support for my debut novel, ANOM: Awakening. I launched this website just over a month ago, and the positive responses I've received have been nothing short of overwhelming. With each new week that passes, when I read your comments and questions, I become more and more excited to finally share my book with all of you!
Speaking of questions, I received a lot of good ones leading up to today's post. So, if I don't respond to your question today, take heart -- in a couple of months we'll have a "Questions and Answers Part 2". In the meantime . . .
Q: When will your book be available for purchase?
A: When I started writing ANOM: Awakening over two years ago, I had no idea how much work (beyond the actual writing) would go into "creating" a novel. I finished writing in November. Since then, I've shared the book with a small and trusted cabal of "Beta" readers. I used their feedback to edit and revise my original manuscript. Then, on February 11th, I sent the book to professional editors at Invisible Ink Editing. It should still be several weeks before they complete their read-through. Then it's another round of re-writes. In addition to all the writing, I still need to format the book for publication through Amazon.com, find a cover artist to design the cover, and send out advanced reader copies to solicit reviews and endorsements for the novel. All of that takes time. My best GUESS is that ANOM: Awakening will finally be available for purchase in late June 2016 . . . but that's just a guess.
Q: How will I be able to purchase your novel, ANOM: Awakening?
A: My novel will be available for purchase through Amazon.com. The electronic version for Kindles will be available exclusively through Amazon, offered through a program called KDP Select. A paperback version of the book will also be available for purchase on Amazon. Once the book is released, you will be able to search Amazon and find my book's title, ANOM: Awakening. I will also provide (many) links through my website to take you directly to my book on Amazon.
Q: Did you consider "traditional" publishing (as opposed to self-publishing on Amazon)?
A: Not too long ago, traditional publishing -- signing with a literary agent and selling your book to one of the big publishing houses -- was viewed as the only legitimate way to bring your book to the market. However, with the advent of Amazon and e-books, this is simply no longer the case (one report in October 2015 claims Amazon might enjoy up to 74% of the units sold in the e-book market).
From a more philosophical standpoint, I appreciate the freedom offered by self-publishing through Amazon. When I started my novel two years ago, I was consciously writing for my own enjoyment. Now that it's finished, I refuse to present it as a tribute to some literary "gatekeeper" who gets to decide if it's "good enough" to share with the public. I love my book, and my sincere hope is that others will love it too. For more information on Kindle Direct Publishing, you can check out this link.
Q: What is your book, ANOM: Awakening, about anyway?
A: This is a tough one to answer because I don't want to give anything away. You can find the best description of the book here, but from a broader perspective, ANOM: Awakening is an action/adventure superhero novel. I've often described it as a graphic novel without the pictures.
Q: Can you give us insight into your main character? Who is he and what makes him special?
A: Like the previous question, this one is difficult for me to answer. I think so much of my novel is devoted to "discovering" who these characters truly are. I can tell you that my main character is a young man named Jeremy Cross. Jeremy is an ANOM -- a genetic anomaly -- who possesses a tremendous amount of power. This new-found power throws Jeremy into a world that's very different from the one he's known. At the same time, Jeremy is not really special at all. What he experiences in the novel -- his struggles and fears, and the choices he's forced to make regarding identity -- will all resonate with the reader.
It was an unseasonably warm day for February, so Vanessa and I decided to take the kids into Philadelphia. We went to see the Liberty Bell, and then we took a tour of Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. We had never done either one with the kids, and Vanessa, in spite of growing up in South Jersey, had never seen the inside of Independence Hall. It was an afternoon filled with fun and history. It was also something more. For me, the experience was almost surreal.
Two and a half years ago (almost two months before I began writing ANOM: Awakening) Vanessa and I spent our anniversary weekend in Philadelphia. It was a perfect day in late June, and we were eating lunch outside at a restaurant across from Independence Hall. I remember sitting at our table that day absorbing the details of the city -- the way the crowds looked, the sounds of people and traffic, the feel of the hot Summer air -- they all became part of that experience.
Then I started ANOM: Awakening, and the very first scene of the novel takes place in Philly across from Independence Hall.
As I wrote that scene, the details from the summer lunch found their way onto my page. The two events, one real and one fictional, became inseparable. In fact, so much of our experience from that day made it into the book that when Vanessa read the first chapter for the first time, she commented, "This is our anniversary."
Then today happened. For the first time since writing my book, I was back in front of Independence Hall, and standing there, I could "see" the opening scene of my novel. The events in the book may have been pure imagination, but the details of that scene -- all the sights and sounds that create the atmosphere of Old City, Philadelphia -- are all real. And in that moment, Independence Hall was both the historic birthplace of our nation, and, at the exact same time, it was the fictional setting of my novel.
Like I said, it was surreal.
It made me realize, again, just how much my book has become a part of my life. It felt like when you accidentally find yourself thinking about your job on the weekend. You can't really help it because your job has become a part of your identity. It's who you are.
The same is true for my book. The story of ANOM: Awakening has been part of my identity for over two years now, and I'm excited to finally share it with my friends and family.
If nothing else, the next time we're in Philly, we can all feel surreal together.
Today is my birthday!
Tomorrow, I'll celebrate at my parent's house with dinner and cake and presents and it will all be very nice -- but tonight I'm celebrating with my wife and my friends, and to be honest, it's been a long time since I've been so excited about a birthday party. Why, you ask? Because tonight, for my birthday, we're going to see Deadpool!
If you're unfamiliar with the movie, you can check out the trailer here.
I started thinking about the connections between Deadpool and my own story, ANOM: Awakening. On the surface, there may not be a lot in common between the two, but I think there's an important lesson in Deadpool that I've certainly tried to emulate in my own writing.
There are people who will hate the movie Deadpool. There are countless others who will refuse to watch the movie for fear it will offend (for the record, from everything I've read about the movie, those fears are correct. This movie will be offensive). And while I don't believe there's any merit in being offensive simply for the sake of offense, I admire the courage it takes for a movie like Deadpool to stay true to itself. And there are plenty of people who will LOVE Deadpool because of that courage.
In my own writing, there's the constant temptation towards self-censorship -- making changes in the story to meet the approval of some imagined audience -- but that road NEVER works. You always lose your story, you always lose your voice, and ultimately, you lose everything that gave the writing value in the first place.
It's like painting in shades of beige -- no one hates beige, but no one really loves it, either.
So instead, I forced myself to write ANOM: Awakening just for me. I wrote the kind of book that I would want to read, and when I was done . . . I loved it. Maybe other people will love it too. Or maybe they'll hate it. Either way, that's gotta be better than beige.
In August of 2013, I went on a trip to Walt Disney World with my family, my parents, and my brother, Michael, and my sister-in-law, Nan. At this point, it had been years since I had done any serious writing (you can find out why, here).
Even so, I had lots of ideas bouncing around in my head, and one of those ideas was the premise for ANOM: Awakening. Of course at this time, it was nowhere close to being a "story" at all. In fact, it was barely an idea.
It was more like the start of a story -- a single thread that you could pull and follow and, if you really wanted to, you might find a story at the end. The problem was I had no motivation to follow any of these threads. My writing career, as far as I was concerned, was dead in the water.
I remember flying home from Florida, sitting on the plane next to my brother. I don't know how it came up, but I remember talking to him about this idea for a story . . . and he was excited about it. His reaction to my idea was genuine and sincere. He wanted to know more. We talked through an opening set-piece together, and by the time the plane landed in Philly, I was excited about the story too. I got home and started my novel the next day.
Standing on the precipice of any achievement, it's impossible not to look back and acknowledge all those who have contributed to your success. There are countless people I need to thank for supporting me in my writing, but no one is more responsible for ANOM: Awakening than my brother. It was his encouragement on that plane ride home that got me writing again.
There are so many people in life who, for whatever reason, take great joy in discouraging others. I am thankful for the people in my life, especially my brother, who choose to offer encouragement instead. It may not seem like much at the time, but in the end, it makes all the difference.