I’m not a new author—far from it. I’ve written over a dozen books and contributed chapters to a handful of others. I’ve written more magazine and Internet articles than Justin Bieber’s hair stylists, and I’m not counting the documentation I pumped out for Microsoft. Except for my two novels, these were all ‘technical fiction’. You know, books written about Microsoft software for developers. One has to be pretty imaginative to write an easy-to-read book on the data access interfaces SQL Server and still keep the reader awake.
Apparently, none of this experience helps get one recognized as a competent writer in the young adult world. That’s understandable—very few teens read Hitchhiker’s Guide to Visual Studio and SQL Server (7th Edition), and they wouldn’t get the jokes anyway. That’s fine. I know how to restart my career on a new path. I’ve had to do it many, many times over the last forty years. Anyone who’s worked in the personal computer industry also knows how to file for unemployment.
So I had an idea for a novel. I wanted to tell a story about our turbulent times. I saw political corruption, corporations buying their own laws and media spigots to dump their propaganda on the public. I saw many social problems ignored or glossed over by the books impressionable teens were reading. I was convinced that our future leaders needed another 1984, Animal Farm or Alice In Wonderland. Ambitious? Of course. I expect that Don Quixote and I are cut from the same cloth.
I spent about three years and a bunch of money on classes, books, editors and illustrators to create The Owl Wrangler. On the surface, it’s a young adult story about tiny forest elves. No taller than a pinecone, they live in the forests around the Northwest. They have parents, teachers and village elders that expect and demand quite a bit from them. They’re faced with many of the same hormonal and social pressures that my own kids faced when they were in their teens. But these elven teens are special. Many of them have fledgling magical powers that they’re just learning to wield.
The result? Tepid sales but 99% 5-star reviews—but only 9 of them. I thought it was time to start marketing in earnest. I found a publisher that was “very interested”, but communicating with them is like standing in the back of a busy bar trying to get a drink on a Friday night. I’m still looking for a sincerely interested publisher. Sure, I’ve been racking up rejection letters, but my ego can only take so much rejection. I’m not as frail as George McFly, no experienced author is, but given the state of the publishing industry, does it make sense to keep prodding publishers that only want best sellers? One of the blog articles that clog up my browser like malware pop-ups, suggested that the only key to success for a new author was to write—and keep writing. So I did.
The story continued with Guardians of the Sacred Seven. This took another couple of years, more classes, editors, copyeditors, conference fees and thousands of hours on Facebook, Twitter and countless blogs and reading similar fantasies. Two years later, volume two of The Owl Wrangler trilogy is done. I’m happy with it. Taking my own advice, I’m writing the third. Frankly, the characters are calling me now to come back and listen to their stories.
Sure, I keep getting the occasional request to consult on SQL Server or Reporting Services projects, but I’m having too much fun. I’ll keep writing and until my arthritis locks up my hands entirely, I’ll keep doing so.
Follow me on @vaughnwilliam or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/OwlWrangler.