Lanterns: The Journey to Becoming a Self-Published Writer Part 1


The Journey to Becoming a Self-Published Writer Part 1

Andy Warhol once said, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes."

Now with the internet and computers, everyone can have that 15 minutes. As a photographer with skill has the competition of a cell phone, anyone can avoid publishing houses that once ruled the world of printed material.

This series is about my journey going from a person who copied dust jackets for book reports in grammar school and failed English class all four years of high school to being a self- published author.

This all started in 1994 when I wrote a children's story about two boys, their dad, and their trip to ride the Sleepyland Slide. This was a fictional piece that I uploaded to Amazon in 2009. I really didn't do much with it from that point on. Life was busy and it just wasn't important.

In 2016, I was playing around writing a short opinion column on Facebook called “What Frosts My Nuts." Usually, it was about a certain group of people that expected the rest of the country to bend, support, or look the other way on their way of life.

Crystal McCann noticed me and we started to chat online. She tried for months to get me to consider writing for, and now, Lanterns.Buzz. I tried, in vain, to tell her I never wrote anything longer than a couple paragraphs, that I knew nothing about “Conjunction Junction, what's your function?” I knew about as much as a thimble can hold of verbs, adverbs, proper and not so proper nouns and their uses.

She wouldn't give up on me.  Crystal said I was a great storyteller and that there were editors to fix up my errors and all I needed to do is write a mere 300 plus words about something. Oh...and this was a respectable site, so I would have to change the title of my column. 

My first article in January of 2016 was about my time as a Cadet/Volunteer Fireman. I had fond memories of that period of time in my life. It took me one afternoon to write it. I thought, “Hey, this is easy.”

I submitted a second article not too much later than that about another thing I know about— having ADHD. Again, I thought this isn’t too bad.

The third and fourth articles were not so easy to write because I was angry at the fact my father was murdered by a drunk driver and the way the guilty party was surrounded by lawyers for protection. I was trying to put together a piece based on facts and not solely on emotion. I guess I was learning how to be a writer.

Over the next 11 months, I wrote from my heart, gut, and from my eccentric mind about various topics that I enjoyed, even if I knew nothing about them. It was fun now to do research and talk to people to get their thoughts on a subject or notice lifestyles and their behavior. I did have one rule from the time I avoid writing about politics.

I may have slipped a couple of times, but I think they were sarcastic pieces. There are plenty of people to cover that subject. I wanted to do more emotional articles that were humorous and thought-provoking articles. I hit the 50 mark a few stories ago, which was a huge accomplishment.

This past summer, I decided to write about when I was a massage therapist. It was a great career with ups and downs as expected with any job. But this job was different. I was not just a “massage guy” (that was one of my nicknames) but also a sounding board for the client. People told me things that were so deep and personal, that I owe it to them for trusting me not to talk about that in detail. In the book, the names have been changed to protect the innocent, and, of course, the not so innocent. Some stuff I cannot write about that will remain in the vault and take to my grave. (I might write about it and put it in a time capsule to be opened at a time to be decided later.)

The title of the book is quite appropriate, "Hands from God Massage Stories."  I picked that name for I heard many times from a client I had hands from God. The book is a compilation of short stories about some of the most memorable clients I had. Some may make a reader laugh, and others will definitely make readers cry.

When I first started writing this book, I remembered something called an outline. I think I did it right. I made a list of what I call “Sessions,” not chapters. I easily put together fifteen sessions and wrote them out over a couple of month's time.

After I wrote them, I needed to have them edited. I was searching different avenues for someone to do that. I found a lady in a neighboring city who read two of my first chapters. She did a great job, and when I got my bill from her I was kind of in shock. We didn't set a price for service before she did that work and being an honest person, I paid her fee. I didn't use her for the next thirteen chapters though.

I was talking to a friend I met out here in this new city I moved to, and it turned out to be he is a retired Pastor/Professor and his wife is a retired grammar teacher. Boy, was I lucky to have met them! Or, was it the work of the Big Guy? How appropriate— a pastor editing a book about a man who has hands from God.

For people who do not know how to edit a book, there are options.

Facebook has all sorts of groups for just about anything you're looking for pertaining to being self-published. I joined a bunch of them and weeded them out one by one.  One group I joined was made up of people who were willing to beta-read a book. They offer to look at what's been written and give advice. (NOTE: Do not send the whole books to one reader.  There are many piranhas out there ready to steal your work.)

Many times, the beta-readers in those groups are people who are writing their own book and need people to read their stuff. So, trading time is usually the norm. Part of the issue with people offering their services for free is that you get what you pay for. I had, for instance, six people willing to read what I wrote. ANOTHER NOTE: Send out the same chapter to all the people who offer to read it. Out of those six, only ONE has shown a genuine effort to help me, and I, in turn, am reading her book which actually is pretty well done.

Another issue with the free beta-readers is that many of them have no experience in editing. They respond with comments like, "That looks nice," or "Write in the present tense." So, how do you write a book that is about the past, using past tenses, and rewrite fifteen chapters to be in the present? I didn't listen to that one.

Another option is It's a service website where people offer their abilities for a fee. The fee starts at $5 and goes up from there. I was lucky and found a woman who designed my first cover and did a great job for $38. As I evolve as a writer, I am learning not to title something before it’s done, because my first cover is now useless.

One problem with Fivver, however, is when you post your request for someone to hire, you get a slew of people that can't spell, use incorrect wording (not that I don't), promise to make your work perfect, and all sorts of other promises. If you decide to use that site, when you write your job request, start it out with some sort of comment that they have to answer specific concerns. 

There are two software programs on the internet that are helpful. One is called Hemingway and the other is Grammarly. Both have free offerings, though it is worth the small investment, especially if you are serious about being a writer. 

I am very lucky or blessed to have found my editor.  He looked over my sessions and said that I needed to have more because they were so fascinating. I had to really think deep and I came up with another twelve sessions to write about.

My beta-reader also is awesome. She is a very knowledgeable person. Her input is making my 800-words become 2,000- 3,000-word sessions of words with value. People can stretch a story out using filler words which is a waste. She challenges me to use my gift to tell a story, to be more genuine and colorful, as if I am in the moment.

I am in the process now of revising 27 sessions. I've spent the last two weeks revising four sessions. At this pace, the book should be ready by May or June of 2018. While I am in the revision stage there is still other work that needs to be done.

Part 2: The Book is Started, Now What?

In this part, I will enlighten you to various options to having your book created.

Written by David Lasaine

Imaginative, reflective, try to be humorous and attempt to be deep in my writing to invoke feeling.

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