Since the sale of my first book I’ve been in some fantasy that this is the meek beginning of what will turn out to be a fulfilling rollercoaster ride. I believe all artists must go through this personal make-believe about their respective projects. I went through it when I was fronting concerts in any one of my bands before every single show. I sometimes went through it before each rehearsal, or while walking through a public place, or while just getting ready for the day, meticulously dressing how I thought a rock star should dress. But I think it’s healthy to indulge in such things because it means that one truly believes in their creation to the degree that they project it as the greatest thing in the world! -And to us artists our projects are the greatest things in our lives and we want to share them with you.
It was a long journey for me to publish this book. 7 years. I wrote the first draft of this novel while I was in prison. I’d been serving a 5 year term for shooting a home invader before the law permitted such an arrogant defense of self in Cleveland. I didn’t belong there. Emotionally speaking, every single day in those places felt like 5 of the worst days of your life. Inmates often engage in inmatey things. But I wanted no part of it. I just lost myself in my typewriter.
Some guards and some of the coolest of offenders were very kind to me because I didn’t cause trouble, I wasn’t a snitch and I mostly kept to my typewriter or art projects unless I was cooking at the microwave. (I rarely ate prison food) It’s no secret that I was definitely the best microwave chef in the entirety of the 3 penitentiaries I’d been transferred to during my duration. Many people would buy the food and wash the dishes if I cooked for us all. At the second to last place I was transferred to, since I was always lowering my security levels by being a good little goth, there was a guard who got a kick out of reading the stories I’d write. He was good to all of us really. He encouraged our gifts and never condescended; if it was bad he’d tell you it was bad by suggesting another direction. He made a tough place tolerable.
One day this saint of a guard handed me some printed papers. He was a former Marine (He’d say there’s nothing ‘former’ about being a Marine. Once a Marine, always a Marine). And he had an interest in Prepping. On the pages were some of the Prepper Pulp he enjoyed, mostly by Jerry D. Young. I’d mentioned going to the library to get something to read. Without hesitation he handed me his pages and told me I could read them if I wanted. So I did. I enjoyed them, found many things educational and asked to read more. He brought more.
So there it began! He knew I was a writer because I’d been working on a two part sequel to the Crow for myself and Florence Welch (who I had a massive crush on) to star in, complete with a cast list and illustrations. Some of my fellow inmates would have me write letters home for them or type legal work. Some of the letters they’d request came with ghetto-porn, others with poetry. Some wanted me to draw comics for them featuring their significant other and their children. Doing these things brought me food and kept me out of the cafeteria; they also spread good will around a bad place, so I poured everything into them. The guard read them all and thought I was a good writer. He dared me to write what would become my first published novel: PRESENTING: The Aftermath.
When I got out I spent more time, about a year, consulting with medical and military personnel to fully flesh out this fantasy I was spinning and having it proofread so I could see if anyone would be able to engage with the story the way I had. When I thought it was good enough I spent the $140+ to get physical copies made and sent it out to copyright and to literary agents. One literary absent company accepted me and I thought I was off and running way back back then. But after taking my money, $600+, they just sat on my manuscript for 4 years. So it collected dust for a while.
When I initially wrote it we were at the beginning of the Obama era. Much has changed in the world since. After so much time has passed, and when opportunity finally presented itself, I decided to give my story another read. I still cared deeply for this alternate reality I’d created. I found myself wanting to get cracking on the two sequels this was meant to have in order to complete the “hero’s journey” for my protagonist. You see, he’s very sure of himself in the first novel. He has to be, at least on the surface. But at the end, in the Vlog entries section of the book, we start to see the cracks beneath the veneer of calm. My main character, Shannon Kelly, is meant to have a complete arc. The first story is the emergence of the unlikely hero. The second novel is meant to explore his faults, to totally break and deconstruct the character. The third novel is meant to be his rebirth. After re-reading my book I realized I can’t not finish his story.
I’m family man now. I’d gotten so caught up in life, raising kids, working bad paying jobs and bouncing from eviction to eviction-that I’d let my novel sit and rot. My wife, the the most caring person ever, Camilla Perez, and myself had THEE WORST luck with employers for a time. Lost wages, lawsuits, low pay, etc… It was a mess. We were so lucky to be invited with our 3 girls, Angelique, Violette and Aurora, to live with Camilla’s parents, Joe and Patricia French. We stayed there about a year until our lives leveled out. Once we moved out and unpacked our new place I found my novel. I fell in love with my characters again but the story needed updating.
So after my dear friends Tom and Manda Kunz fixed my computer I started making changes, freshening up the book. I changed nothing about the main characters or events. I just decided not to ground the book in present day. Instead I opted for for an alternate but similar reality with a fictional president. This is not a slight against President Trump, but his actual character doesn’t gel with the president I needed for this story. It would be a disservice to misrepresent Mr Trump, and a disaster to my story to rewrite the U.S. President as he’s portrayed therein. So a bunch of work needed to happen in order to bring this novel out in the open.
One of my daughters, our youngest, is autistic, so she requires constant attention. This means that ignoring my dear little Aurora for hours while my wife works in favor of working on my novel is completely out of the question. It just isn’t happening. I worked while the girls, Violette and Aurora, were at daycare. I tended to them when they got home. Very little time was left for me to make these changes that I passionately knew needed to happen.
My wife wholeheartedly believes in my project. Since I was working a very low paying job, and since the hours turned to absolute crap anyway, she encouraged me to quit and work on my creative endeavors. So I dedicated 8 hours a day to my novel and the custom tables I do as a side business. 6 hours to the tables and 2 hours to the book. Once my sander broke the entirety of my daily 8 hours went into finishing my novel. And just like before I poured myself into this story with everything I have.
I’m so excited, even 7 years later, to be able to share my story, PRESENTING: The Aftermath, with the public. I know I’ve only sold a handful of books, I realize quitting my job may have been an insane move, and I know I’ll soon seek another crap job just to keep us from being evicted, but the sense of accomplishment in actually finishing, promoting and getting this book self-published after so long cannot be measured. I truly hope my book is well received enough for my creative writing to turn into a living. If that happens the sequels will happen. If not, they simply won’t. No use beating a dead horse if it’s a failure right?
I’ve written and I’m working on so much that I’d like to see hit the mainstream. I’ve written and illustrated 3 children’s stories. Besides the Ready Rocker Series, I’m actively working on a Vampire/Supernatural trilogy and an Action/Horror series. I honestly love writing. Posing impossible questions then answering them as only Fiction allows is one of my greatest joys. I’ve been repeatedly told that it’s impossible to make it to mainstream media or to even turn a profit from self publishing. But as an artist who hasn’t been published and has years of material just sitting around I’m truly thankful for such a way to get my creations out of my house and into the hands of the strangers I hope to entertain. It is my privilege to think I can help someone I’ll never know enjoyably while away their down time with one of my books. Thank you for reading!
My name is Lord Veil and I’ll do my best to Blog here at least twice a week.
Remember this: Life’s job is to beat you, but your purpose is to find ways to enjoy existence anyway until it does.
By Lord Veil