My debut novel is now available.
For all you who have said to me along the way that I should write a book, I've heeded the call.
I've written a book!
It's actually an e-novel--no paper or pages involved--but that fact doesn't lessen my pride one ounce.
The title is Intrepid, eponymously named for a dog who shares a very tight bond with her owner, and he with her. She eventually takes him for a walk on the wild side with some very unusual results.
Intrepid first existed on paper as a short story, written around 2001 or 2002. It was the convergence of a few threads of my life at that point. First was our black Labrador Retriever, who has since gone to the Rainbow Bridge. Second was his constant need for vigorous exercise, which caused me to walk him extensively twice every day, a task that Intrepid's owner shares. Third was one of the rather unorthodox routes I occasionally took with Wesley, through a nearby cemetery, although thankfully, it has never been vandalized..
Caveat, please: By neither my actions nor my words do I condone disturbing the restful slumber inherent in a cemetery. Please, find a better place to walk your dog.
I remember the thought that lit the fuse and got me to actually sit down and write. It was post-911. And for some reason, while traipsing through the cemetery, I had this odd notion:
In the aftermath of the disaster at the World Trade Center, what if those policemen and policewomen, those heroes who had pledged their souls to the daily calling to protect and serve, what if they honored that promise even after death?
So yes, what blossomed was a sort-of ghost story, but in this case, the ghosts were't malevolent spirits intent on creating havoc and terror but, rather, watchful spirits who step in when needed. Their deaths do not dampen their commitment to helping others, in fact, in an odd way, their spiritual beings enhance their ability to respond.
One thing I've found over 15 years of dog ownership: The solitary activity of walking a dog--you, him, leash--is extremely conducive to thought. It's early morning; it's early evening; you're trotting along with little else to do but enjoy the scenery and mull. For a writer, that means ideas and words and finding the best way to link the two.
I my corporate life, I was often turning projects, articles, reports, speeches, and other assignments over in my head while walking the dog. Away from my corporate life, I remember formulating the eulogies for both my parents' funerals while walking a dog. Now, it was an opportunity to reexamine my little work of fiction.
The story turned out okay; I shared it with a few friends, both physical and virtual, and that pretty much was the end of it. It was little more than a fun October story, appropriate for when shadows lengthened and chilling tales were told around autumn fires.
Until last spring, when a friend--a fellow Lab owner--put out a call on behalf of her e-publishing unit, looking for new authors.
I was immediately intrigued. Not only did I have my short story sitting fallow, but I also had a slice of time available to work it into novella length, thanks to my abrupt and unexpected separation from full-time work.
I sent her the manuscript of the story, forcing her to promise to be blunt: If she didn't think it was worth fleshing out lengthwise, no harm/no foul, I would return it to its place of rest and move on, grateful for the feedback.
If, however, she believed there was potential, I was willing to roll up my sleeves, dust it off, and prep it for e-publication.
Via e-mail, she gave me her opinion: She loved the story and encouraged me to press on.
So amid the summer of resumes, letters, online applications, and rejections, I chipped away at it, expanding a chapter here, an episode there. New characters emerged, thematic elements, back-story.
When I finished, I solicited opinions from friends and family and incorporated their feedback as appropriate.
My little story had legs.
I re-submitted the revised manuscript. My e-publisher was overjoyed. She recommended some changes--nothing major--and targeted a year-end release date.
And here we are.
It's no Gone with the Wind. It's not even Harry Potter. What it is, I hope, is an enjoyable tale with some memorable characters and a satisfying ending.
The exact requirements for my own assessment of a good read.
It's here, if you're interested: Intrepid: By Daniel Weckerly
And if you happen to like my little ghost story, there may be some good news for you. Thanks to the encouragement of my middle-daughter, who happened to ask me what my plans were for telling the stories of Intrepid's brothers and sisters, I've already done considerable work on a sequel.