Dec 13th, 2019, The Shadow Within is set loose on an unsuspecting world of readers. Hopefully, they enjoy reading it as much as I had writing it. But it wasn't always that way. This book is a labor of love, a mashup of ideas, and a collection of realizations and there were times when it simply wasn't going to be.
I have always been a writer and a reader. As I grew older I moved more to the reader side but I never lost my love for storytelling. I would write stories for my wife, or jot down ideas so when I had the time to write I could explore them. But I never seemed to have time, what with family and work obligations there wasn't a lot of downtime. So I would have small runs of creative energy and produce 2000 words here or 1200 words there, share with a select few and put it away for another burst to hit.
One of these bursts hit around 10 years ago, and in a creative fury quickly got 20000 words produced but slammed into a wall. I was stuck and didn't know where to push the story. The burst subsided and I put it away. But in those words, you will find the main players in The Shadow Within. They look a little different, and a couple have different names but they are there. More importantly, they are good solid characters, with substance and I thought about them often.
Years passed and during that time, my wife spoke often of her desire to see me write a book. She encouraged me without pressure, and feed my underinflated ego engine with positivity.
But to no avail...until one night I thought, "I'm going to write a book and give it to her on Christmas." It would be something she's asked for but wouldn't expect and it would be a real surprise...something hard to do after 15+ years of marriage. The problem was I made this decision in October, so less than two months to produce a book. I did some research and I was looking at 50000 words at the low end to 90000 at the very longest. It was then that I discovered that no one in the industry does anything by page count; they only care about the word volume. How was I going to get that many words done in my new time frame?
I pulled out Panic, the original title of The Shadow Within, and immediately realized what I needed to do to get out of the plot trap I originally got stuck in. It was so easy, I thought as I began to correct what was there and then spring forward with my new story ideas. And every night after my wife went to bed I went to my computer and typed. Even on days when I wanted to work on it while she was awake, I waited so it would be a total surprise. And on those days I didn't want to write, when I was exhausted from working a 14 hour day in a job that required a lot of manual and mental energy, I wrote. And the book moved from 18000 words to 15000 to 30000 to 60000 and then finally to around 70000 words. However, Christmas was almost here, the in-laws had arrived, and I didn't have an ending. I had less time than ever to write and keep it a secret.
And so with time running out, I hammered out an ending. Got the book printed on regular 8.5x11 paper and into a binder...On Dec 24th. Just in the nick of time! I wrapped it and slipped it under the tree and it went over even better than I thought. It was the perfect surprise. And so I was like, "I wrote a book"... but not really. I wrote a draft. A rather bad one if I'm being honest. And most, if not all writers, will tell you the first draft of their first novel is terrible. And Panic was just that...terrible.
Now I've discovered that there are people in the world who don't care to fix their mistakes and just puts them out there for everyone to read. The market is flooded with poorly written, and worst yet poorly edited books. It's not that hard to do really. Luckily I let some people read the book, and I knew it needed editing so I request help from those that enjoy doing that (I am not one of those people) and the book stayed in a binder for my wife. I started going to classes after hours at TCU and taking classes online to improve my writing, and to figure out how to get my book into people's hands the right way. And I started editing. I mean real editing; the heart wrenching, gut-twisting actions needed to tighten up the story and fix the obvious and not so obvious flaws.
Now all this wasn't an overnight process, not even a 2 month one. I was still working of course, and the hours were getting longer and I was always tired. It took almost 2.5 years of hard work, soul searching, and determination to produce something that I could be proud my name was on.
In the front, I have 3 dedications. I wish I could just list all the people who have helped me through the years and with this book but I decided I will just have to produce more books until I can thank them all. But like I said there are 3.
The first to my mother, Dorothy, who has always been my biggest fan. She is the reason I love books.
The second is to my wife, Dawn, the best thing that happened to me and the only person who would put up with my nonsense this long.
The third is to my friend's wife, Lisa. She is the reason I figured out the book wasn't ready. She was the reason I worked so hard to fix the issues before printing the book. We've never actually met and unfortunately, we won't be able to as she passed earlier this year. She was a Facebook friend who I enjoyed interacting; she liked horror, I just wrote a horror novel so I sent her a copy. She started it and then nothing. And it was within that silence, I realized the book was not up to snuff. Thank God for that.
I hope you get and enjoy the book. If it was rated it would be a hard R ( if I could get it rated at all) so you've been warned. You can get it on kindle and as a paperback. And if you read it and want to take the time to let me know what you think, I'd love to hear from you on here or on the review page on Amazon or Goodreads.com