Sunday, January 28, 2018

Indie author since 1965.

Before Seized... before SwanSong... even before The Maidens' War... there was Susie and the Talking Doll.

I included the story of this little book in my author bio on Amazon, but I've never shared it here on the blog. Earlier today, someone in a Facebook authors' group shared a photo of the first book he ever wrote as a kid, and it reminded me of my own first book. What's more, I knew exactly where it was. Or rather, I thought I knew; it turned out to be in a box on the bottom of a stack of boxes in the farthest recesses of my most inaccessible closet. It's no longer in pristine condition -- the bottom part of the cover has been lost over the years -- but I think it looks pretty good for having been written on a cheap, unlined tablet of paper more than 50 years ago.


I got the idea from Kenneth Barnes, who sat in front of me in second grade. One day he brought in a book he'd written. I have no idea what it was about -- robots or something, I suppose. But I remember looking at his book and thinking, "I could do that." So I did.

If I were to write a blurb for Susie and the Talking Doll, it would go something like this: "Six-year-old Susie tells everyone she is going to get a talking doll for Christmas -- and she does! Patty has a ponytail and a dress just like Susie's, and not only does this doll talk, she has a mind of her own. Together, Susie and Patty go on amazing adventures, many of which involve doing the jerk to Beatles records."

I'm not kidding about them doing the jerk -- the '60s version, obviously, not the hip-hop one. If you're unfamiliar with the dance, here's a video from "American Bandstand" that shows how it's done. (I found a video on YouTube from just a couple of years ago in which some guy tried to teach it, but he misses the point. It's not just about waving your arms up and down. If you do it right, your back gets a little hitch in it on the downswing.)

Anyway, what's interesting to me now about this book is how well I did with the mechanics of it. I used quotation marks and other punctuation correctly, and nearly all the words are spelled right. We hadn't learned about paragraphs yet, however, so each chapter is one long paragraph.

I'm fascinated by my prescience about certain things. I put the table of contents in the back of the book. That's something indie authors sometimes do these days so that the downloadable sample isn't taken up by front matter, although the reason I did it here is because I forgot to leave a blank page for it between the cover and the first page of the story. Also, as you can see in the photo, I priced this book at $1.00 -- just a penny more than several of my, uh, newer titles.

I will not be republishing Susie and the Talking Doll. The story needs heavy editing -- for one thing, there's not much of a plot -- and I'd have to find an illustrator, as the original pictures just aren't up to professional standards. (Interestingly, my drawing style hasn't improved much over the intervening decades.)

But there you go -- my very first foray into publishing. It's almost like I was meant to be an indie author from the start. Thanks, Ken Barnes, wherever you are.

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On a sad note: For the past several years, I've been involved with an anthology group under the auspices of Five59 Publishing and its founder, Alan Seeger. I'm sorry to report that Alan died last week at the age of 58.

Alan had significant health challenges -- he was a paraplegic due to an auto accident -- but he was always upbeat whenever I talked with him online. He was tireless in encouraging new writers, and our anthologies were the better for it.

The last book Alan published before his death was the paperback version of 13 Bites Vol. V. He also wrote a sci-fi trilogy, the first book of which is called Pinball and which I enjoyed quite a bit. In addition, he co-authored several other novels and published a collection of essays. You can find all his books, as well as the Five59 anthologies, on his Amazon author page.

With Alan's death, indie publishing has lost a loyal and eminently capable friend. R.I.P., Alan. We'll miss you.

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These moments of bloggy reflection have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.
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