Surreal. That's how I'd describe my writing journey. With the receipt of my last royalty statement, I've reached a milestone that blows my mind: To date, I've sold over a quarter of a million books. That would be 250,000+ books. Eight books published. Number 9 and 10 on the way. Six of these reached various spots on CBA and ECPA Bestseller lists. Several awards including: Mom's Choice, Silver Moonbeam, The Lamplighter, etc. I'm not boasting, or, if I am, it's boasting in God who made it all happen. But it just smacks me upside the head. Surreal.
Fifth Grade. I think my writing journey began in 5th grade. There was a Halloween Story writing contest in my school: Catherine T. Reed Elementary. I liked scary stories. But the prizes motivated me more. lol. First place was a big chocolate black cat. And, they would read my story to the whole school. On top of that, this girl I had a crush on was entering. There was to be a girl winner and a boy winner. The wheels turned, and I entered. I remember working on the story at home and letting my mom and dad read it. Believe it or not, I have a visual memory of them reading this one scene where the main character fell down a trapdoor in the haunted house that led to a sliding board down, down, down into some other creepy setting. And I remember my parents telling me, "Wayne, that is really creative." That meant the world to me, esp. because it came from my parents. I ended up winning the contest. So did the girl. They read our stories over the loudspeaker to the whole school. People I never knew came up to me afterward and told me how cool the story was. So I formed an equation:
Good Stories = more friends, cute girls, and chocolate
High School. Fast forward to my teenage years. I didn't write too many stories in high school. I got heavily into poetry. It was kind of adolescent therapy for me. Those are tough years, and I wrote my way through them. I ended up in a heavy metal band with some of my best friends. I wrote a ton of song lyrics. In my high school yearbook, I wrote that I wanted to someday become an author.
Teaching. I started teaching middle school reading/English in the fall of 1991. It wasn't too many years in that I began to realize, I didn't like most of what the county gave us to teach the kids. Not the skills really, but the literature. So I started writing my own stories for my lesson plans. My students responded big time. They really seemed to like my fiction. In 1993, my students challenged me to do the assignment I had give them: write a first person narrative short story. So I did. The story was called The Faith of a Child. It was written in green ink on 17 pages of loose paper. My students LOVED it. They kept asking me to read it again...and again. They encouraged me to write more. And over the years, it became about a 50 page novelette. Then it grew some more. During that time, God was very patient with me. I fell into kind of a rut where I was becoming content with mediocrity. I had this thing where I could tell people, "Yeah, I'm working on a book." I enjoyed being able to say that and all the kudos people threw at me for even attempting such a thing. But I was either too afraid or too lazy or both to do something more. But God kept sending little reminders of the gift He'd given me. People would come out of nowhere and tell me something positive about my stories. It kept me going.
Bill and Gregg. One of my best friends in the world, Bill Russell, got tired of me sitting on my book, then called The Door Without Hinges--yes, based on that little 17 page short story from 1993. Bill was attending Dallas Theological Seminary and befriended a guy named Gregg Wooding who part timed as a Publicist for Josh McDowell, Deion Sanders, etc. Gregg was thinking of expanding his operations to include literary work. So Bill suggested that I get my book to him. Gregg loved it. He said he wanted to be my agent. I went back to work on the manuscript, and it became The Door Within.
Atlanta ICRS. Gregg called and told me to book a flight to Atlanta in the summer of 2004. He wanted me to come to the big International Christian Retailer Show so that we could meet some publishers and pitch The Door Within. Interestingly, I sat down with the late Dan Penwell of AMG. He loved The Door Within concept and told me he felt we might be able to do business. I was STOKED. I remember calling my wife Mary Lu and my parents to tell them the news. And then, we sat down with Dee Ann Grand, the acquisitions editor for Thomas Nelson, and pitched The Door Within to them. She loved it. If anything, she was more enthusiastic than I was about the book. Thank you, God, for Dee Ann Grand. She really pushed my trilogy through some battles in Thomas Nelson. But that fall, I had a contract. I was going to be a published author. My wife cried. I stood there just numb over it all. Surreal.
Full Circle. This summer I'll be headed back to Atlanta for this year's International Christian Retailer's Show. But this time, I'll be with AMG publishers promoting The Sword in the Stars and The Errant King. Kind of cool, the way God works things.
New Frontiers. The publishing world has changed forever. And we're just on the doorstep. eBooks are becoming the modern Gutenberg Printing Press explosion. Kindle, Nook, Cruise, eReader, iPad, etc. etc. --these eReaders are appearing everywhere. eBook sales are exploding. And I don't think we're even close to the tipping point. So I'm working on Ghost, my first selfpublished novel. And I'm going to publish it as an eBook, though I will use print on demand through Create Space for those who want a hard copy. If I can get enough reader interest, I may also publish Ghost in a special Hardcover edition with all kinds of special tip ins and extras. We'll see. But you might be wondering, why self publish. Sure, eBooks are exploding, but couldn't you publish Ghost through a print publisher and have them do the eBook? I could, sure. And my other 9 books through Thomas Nelson and AMG are all available in eBook format. But, as much as I hate to admit it, I need to selfpublish. Really, it comes down to dollars and sense. Print Publishing's dirty little secret is that they don't pay their authors very well. In those 250,000 books I've sold, I've averaged 42 cents a book. I am dearly grateful for the income, but it isn't even close to enough to support a family, not over 6 years. So I've been a full time teacher and a full time writer. Add those to a full family life and you get a challenging juggle. So I need to selfpublish. Amazon is offering 70% royalties for eBooks. I just can't afford to miss out on that.
A Request. If you're still reading this, you're probably a pretty dedicated reader of my work. So, I'd like to throw a request out there. Tell me your story. How'd you find my books? Which books have you read? Which books are you hoping to read soon? What would you tell other people (who haven't read) about my books? Post a comment. I'd love to hear from you.
The Books: And, if you are in the market for a new book or an audiobook even, click the links below and check out these tales of adventure and fantasy!
Isle of Fire Audio