Now that the 10’s have ended, it seems everyone is doing a retrospective and I figured, hey, why not me? So here’s my attempt at it.
At the beginning of the decade I was still teaching high school English at a small charter school here in Tucson. I’d been there for a few years already. I chose to work there because my sons went there and it was grades K-12, which meant that I could be around them a lot more. (Prior to that I had my own electronics business in Colorado, which I shut down largely because the stress of it was eating me up. I wasn’t spending time with my sons. I was fighting with my wife. I could see that it would all end badly if I didn’t make some changes.)
Though I took a huge pay cut to work there, teaching at that school was the greatest thing for me. First and foremost, I got to see my boys. We biked there together in the morning and home again afterwards. I was done when they were done and we had all the same holidays. Along with that, I really enjoyed my students, a number of whom I still keep in contact with.
But by the beginning of the decade I was getting restless. We moved and put our sons in the regular public school. I was looking for something to do.
Around 2009 or so, thoroughly dejected by two decades of rejections, I’d finally given up on writing. (Which really worried friends and family who knew how much it meant to me.) I’d hung in there for a long time, but you know, when you get rejected for long enough, it’s hard to keep the faith.
The turning point came around 2011, my last year at the school. I’d halfheartedly put Wreckers Gate up on Amazon with a homemade cover. I must have told someone about it because one day a co-worker told me his wife had read it and she loved it. She told him to tell me I was wasting my time doing anything else but writing.
That lit my fire again. I had most of book two done and I went back to work on the series. A few of the other teachers read the work and liked it too. Maybe I wasn’t terrible after all.
But I still didn’t have any faith in my ability to make a living as a writer. I left teaching and enrolled in grad school for Social Work. Right before school started I floated the idea of writing full time instead to a couple of people, but I didn’t get a great response and so I shelved it.
I got out of grad school and worked part time stuff for a year or two, trying to find the niche that appealed to me. But I couldn’t find the place I fit and eventually my thoughts turned back to writing. One day I pitched the idea to my wife. God bless her, instead of shouting at me for all the wasted time and money spent in grad school, she was encouraging.
The first year and a half or so was basically a dud, except that I did get a lot of writing done. I wasted money on promos that went nowhere. I didn’t learn from the other indie authors what do to and not do. Big mistake there. But every time I dipped my toe in, there was such an overwhelming flood of Do This and Don’t Do That that I’d freak and run away.
It all changed when I fell in with a group of other epic fantasy authors. The group was created by a strange guy who was either crazy or a genius (still not sure on this. lol) But he got us working together and we followed his formula and it worked.
We relaunched my first series in February of 2018 with new covers and maps and it took off! Now, here I am, two years later. My books are still selling. I don’t have a day job. My wife doesn’t work full time anymore. We get to take vacations.
I’m still kind of in shock. I went from practically begging people to read my books, to hundreds of thousands of page reads a week. In the decade, I sold over 83,000 books and accumulated over 50 millions pages read in Kindle Unlimited. Even with two years to get used to it, it still doesn’t seem real to me. I feel grateful, really grateful. (I hope I don’t lose this feeling. I don’t ever want to become jaded.)
So there’s my decade. A lifelong dream I’d given up on came true. I’m so, so grateful to all of you who read my books. I will do my best to keep turning out stories you enjoy.
What about you? How did your decade go? I’d love to hear from you.