This is really a weird time for me. In a couple of days my first book will be released. On one hand, it's a day that I've been dreaming about since I began writing stories as a teenager. I've often thought about what that day would be like. I have imagined sitting at a table in a book store, signing copies and carrying on conversations with folks who wanted a personalized copy of my book. For so long those images have been nothing more than a fantasy -- an escape from the real world to a place I'd like to be. Now it's almost here.
The past few weeks have been a blur. I have promotional blogs and interviews (which I still have yet to complete). Then there is the scheduling for the first two book signings. I've been working with the publishing house in coordinating all those events. There has also been the promotion for the pre-orders of the book and this week, Nook, Amazon and Kindle launched advanced sales for the e-edition on their respective sites. It was a surreal experience when I opened the Amazon link and saw my book available for purchase from the largest bookseller in the world. While thrilled, I realized that folks still have to want to buy it.
While all of this is going on (plus by day job that pays the bills, which keeps me busy about 80 hours a week), I'm actively working on the second novel in the series, entitled "Wind Speaker." I truly love this book. Earlier this week I had a meeting with one of the partners at the publishing house. I had asked for some guidance on how to handle one of the chapters. Wind Speaker is a fictional character. In the chapter, I wanted Wind Speaker to tell the story of an actual event that I spent two years covering as a reporter. In the chapter, Wind Speaker tells Bobby (from Crosswinds) and DeWayne (one of the main characters in Wind Speaker) the legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman and the prophesy that foretold her return to mark the beginning of what the Lakota Sioux call the "cleansing," which will proceed the reunification of the four tribes of man beneath the tree of life -- who will then restore the balance and harmony of Mother Earth. It's a key element of the story line and helps set up the third and final book of the series, "Wind Shear." As we were talking, I filled her in on the ending of the book, which has Bobby trying to get in touch with Jack to enlist his help. So I'm explaining the ending, with Willie telling Bobby where Jack has been the past four years and my publisher literally shouts, "Neal, SPOILER ALERT! Why did you do that! That's such a great ending but I can't believe you told me! Now I won't have the chance to be knocked off my feet when I read it because I know what's coming." Bottom line, she loved it, although she's a little peeved that I spoiled the surprise by telling her in advance.
The thing is, I'm really getting into the writing process for Wind Speaker. I don't know if any other authors have experienced this, but it is certainly weird for me. I'm very proud of Crosswinds and as I mentioned earlier, I've been waiting my entire adult life for this moment to become reality. At the same time, I'm moving full speed ahead on the next book, yet I feel like I have to stop and move backwards before I can advance because the success of Crosswinds will play a key role in whether or not Wind Speaker sees publication. It's a business. A very, very tough business. As I'm learning, there's a lot more to becoming a published author than just creative writing.
Without question, I want Crosswinds to do well. I suppose I'm like most (if not all) authors who receive a contract and imagine their book becoming a best-seller. I know I have. And then reality hits and I remember the publisher telling me their "best case" expectation for a first-time, unknown author was selling 10,000 copies for their first book. It didn't sound like very many copies to me, but using a baseball analogy to help me understand, said for a first-time author, 10,000 copies is like hitting a walk-off grand slam homerun in the seventh game of the World Series. While I would truly love for the book to sell well enough that I could get of debt, being realistic, my primary goal is for Crosswinds to do well enough that it will guarantee the publication of Wind Speaker. This is a story that I feel with all my being will be well received with readers from all walks of life. It's also a story that needs to be told.
So if it takes me a little longer to finish Wind Speaker than I had anticipated, it's because I'm doing everything I can to ensure the success of Crosswinds. So far the reviews for Crosswinds have all been glowing tributes. I have been corresponding with Carol Toberny, the owner of the book store where I will hold my first book signing on Sept. 6. In all of the correspondences, she stated how much she was looking forward to reading Crosswinds. Because she was so gracious to host the book signing, earlier this week I sent her the galley for the book that had been sent to the printer. This is the email she sent yesterday morning:
"Neal - I finished the book last night! I LOVED it!!! Wish I could have read it in one sitting - it was that captivating - but I had to do it over several nights which may have been better, now that I think about it, because it gave me a chance to reflect on it between readings. I just loved it. It resonated with me on many levels. And on the areas I'm not as familiar with, it really opened my mind so that I want to learn more. Great job! I can't wait for Wind Speaker!!!
"Thank you so much for sending me the galley. I was excited before, but I'm over-the-top excited now!!! Neal - I'm having a hard time selecting just one favorite part. I loved how you jumped feet first into the story with Jack asking Bobby "Do you believe in God?" And Jack's explanation of crosswinds to Bobby and his experiences with Marco on the Baja Peninsula and with Willie in the Navy and beyond. And Bobby's gleaning from Jack the story of his lost love. And, of course, the ending. . .
"If I had to narrow it down further (on my favorite part of the book), I guess I was particularly moved by the lessons Jack learned from Marco's happiness with his simple life.
"But it's really tough to choose. As I said, it resonated with me in so many areas. And I'm dying to know what happened when Bobby called Donna."
I was tempted to respond and let her know what happens between Bobby and Donna, but I remembered the publisher's reaction about SPOILER ALERT, so all I can say is that you can find out in the second chapter of Wind Speaker.
I'm proud of Crosswinds, but the story really starts taking shape in Wind Speaker. Based on the feedback from the 50 or so Advance Copies for Review that were sent out, I know there is a large audience for Crosswinds. I just hope it is able to rise about the sea of titles that it is competing against for recognition. For those who have, or plan to purchase Crosswinds, thank you. If you enjoy it, please tell your family and friends about it and help me be able to earn the opportunity to have Wind Speaker published. It has the same flow as Crosswinds, with about ten times the goosebumps -- and lots of twists you didn't see coming.
Although it won't be released until Aug. 29, pre-orders for the book version of Crosswinds is currently being sold by The Next Chapter Publishing
Pre-orders for the e-book version are also being sold on Amazon
My mom also sent me a text this week letting me know it was also being sold on the Nook book store website.
From 12-2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 6, I will hold my first book reading during a book signing event at Ginger Bread Station Books, 4450 FM 1387 in Midlothian, Texas.
I will also be holding a book signing event from 3-5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 6 at Hastings Entertainment on Highway 77 in Waxahachie.
I look forward to visiting with everyone and sharing more about the Crosswinds series -- although I've been told I'm not allowed to divulge any key information about what's happening to the characters in Wind Speaker and the final book, Wind Shear. That's going to be really difficult for me because I love talking about it.
In the meantime, I love hearing from readers. Please feel free to drop me a line, ask me a question or just visit. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.