A long time computer professional specializing in software development and project management, Talee has always been an avid reader. His love for science fiction and fantasy books began when he read books by some of the great authors of the early 1970s. Authors like Andre Norton, Poul Anderson, C.J. Cherryh, Katheryn Kurtz and Frank Herbert were, and still are, among his favorites.
Now a father and grandfather, Talee lives in Colorado where he can enjoy the beauty and majesty of the Rocky Mountains, fishing in clear mountain ponds and driving through colorful forests provide a counterpoint to the high tech world he works in.
So how did Talee decided to start writing instead of just reading? Here is his story…
The Development of an Old Author
Every author is different and develops their own style, which changes over time. I do not think my story is significantly different from those of many other authors of fiction. But for the new or aspiring author just starting out it may provide some comfort to know that we all struggle early on. So here is my story…
I grew up dreaming of someday being a great author weaving yarns of great adventure with meaningful lessons for all to learn. In my dreams, everyone would clamor for copies of the great masterpieces that flowed effortlessly from my pen (this was of course long before computers existed in every household). I even sat and wrote poems and short stories tucking them away for future publication. As I grew older the dream of writing was replaced gradually by the experience of reading a seemingly endless array of stories written by some of the great science fiction authors of the day. Books by authors like Andre Norton, Frank Herbert, Kathrine Kurtz, and Poul Anderson filled my dormitory room as I went off to serve 12 years in the Air Force. Then I got reassigned to a base in Texas and met a beautiful woman that captured my heart and filled my free time as we were married and started a family.
Years past and eventually, I came full circle and began dreaming once again of writing a literary masterpiece. Then one day as I was reshuffling things in the storage room to make a place for the computer I had just assembled, I came across a folder filled with poorly written poems and short stories. The folder was entitled “My Works” and contained much of what I had written as a child when dreaming of becoming an author. While the writing was clearly not great, and the stories lacked depth and detail, it revitalized the dream and I determined to make a concerted effort to write a real novel. I spoke to my wife about it and she encouraged me to dedicate some time every day to the effort.
I eventually decided to dedicate two hours every day after the children went to bed to attempt to write a book and see if I really could become an author.
The first couple of weeks were a struggle as I would go down to the storage room and sit in front of the computer finding all kinds of other things I needed to do which would prevent me from beginning to write. Then one evening, I could think of nothing to delay me any longer and started thinking about what I would name the key figure in my great novel. I had this idea that I should somehow make this character have traits from the people who were most important to me (my wife and two children). After playing with many different ways to combine the names I finally settled on the first initials of the three combined with our last name, so Tim (my son), Olga (my wife) and Rhonda (my daughter) joined forces and became Torl. And the journey began….
For the next several months, I went to the basement on schedule each evening and wrote. I was surprised at how easily the story flowed, and became excited each day to see what would happen in the book next. It was like reading a novel by one of the great authors, as I sat in front of the computer words flowed and Torl experienced new things. Some evenings I would read what I had written the previous evening and would polish it or expand on it. Other evenings I would rip out whole chapters and toss them away, but each evening before I went to bed, I would write something new. Eventually, I decided that I should establish a goal for the size for this book so that I would know when it was finished. I spent several evenings looking at the books I loved reading and found that most of them were between 200 and 300 pages long, so I set my goal at 250 pages. I went back to work and soon reached the 200 page mark….and panicked. I had 200 pages of story line and no idea how the novel should end. All the great novels had a great ending, and I really had no idea what that should be.
Days past, then weeks. I kept struggling with what I could write that would make this book special. What would the Great ending be? I had a series of minor plots that had played out well and the character was developed and prepped for the great final plot, but try as I might I could not come up with that great ending. Eventually, after months of struggle an idea hit for a slightly bigger version of the same types of plots Torl had worked his way through in the rest of the book. And suddenly I had purpose once more. In a few days, the novel was finished. I spent a couple of weeks proofing and rewriting then packaged it up and sent copies of it to the publishers who had published the books I loved.
Days went by, then weeks. Eventually the letters started coming back one at a time. “Dear sir, thank you for considering us, but we are not currently accepting submissions from new authors.” “Thank you for your interest in our publishing firm, we are currently working with several agents and have filled our quota for new books for this year. Please try again in the future.” “We have reviewed your book and do not believe it fits with our current market. Thank you for your submission.”
I was determined, and bought a book on how to get publishers to take notice. Then I bought a couple more on who to submit books to for publication. Sent out another wave of submissions and received another wave of rejections. Eventually, I gave up and put the book aside refocusing on my career and family.
Nearly 20 years later, I dusted off the book and re-read it seeing what the publishers had seen. The book needed some work and some plot expansion to be viable. So, I went to work and cleaned it up, in the process I also came up with a better ending and integrated the overall plot into the whole novel. As I finished the writing I began to feel the fear of rejection that is normal after all the rejection I had gotten when submitting it for publication before. I started looking for alternatives and found self-publishing. eBooks were just coming into their own, and Amazon had opened their doors to self-published eBooks. I polished the novel once more and pushed it up to Amazon. And, a few weeks later, a couple copies sold. Then a few more and someone posted a very positive review. I was not going to get rich on the royalties, but the feedback encouraged me and I went back to writing. This time though I used the lessons of the first book and decided upon a plot before beginning the novel. I have now written and published 8 full length novels and two compilations of short stories and all have sold at least a few copies. I love the fact that others enjoy reading my books, but I have come to the conclusion that being a great author is not necessarily about commercial success (although that certainly helps), it is about the love of writing. I never get over that excitement I had when I wrote the first book, going to the computer excited to see what new adventures my characters will experience today. For me, writing is just like reading, I may know how the story is going to eventually end, but the joy is in the journey that unfolds day by day as I work the characters toward that final goal.