August 13th, 2018 will always be a special day in my heart. It was the day that I finally worked up the courage to push "Publish" on Amazon, and bring "The Stairs in the Woods" to you all. The original version was hardly a perfect work. But in fairness, I had no idea what I was doing. I just sat down one day and started to write. The next thing I knew, I had a novel.
The story of how this book came to being is a strange one, and it's sometimes hard to put into words. But I'll do my best.
It was March of 2016, just a couple of months after my ex-wife and I started having serious trouble. Luckily we both got along very well, but it was clear that our time together was coming to an end. Regardless, I was home one day on my day off, and I just sat down at the computer and started typing. I didn't have a plan, or even a story in my head. I just had words that I needed to get out about a woman taking care of her dying father.
I wrote the first seven or eight-thousand words in just a couple of days. But then I didn't know where to go with it. So it sat in a file on my PC for months, silently collecting the equivalent of dust within the Matrix.
Then in late July, my son and I went home to Connecticut to visit my parents. One day, my mother and I were taking my son to the Norwalk Aquarium. As we were driving down Rt. 7 in the Ridgefield area, I saw a set of stairs on the side of the road going up into the woods beyond. And that got me thinking, "Where does that go?"
Now in Connecticut, there are a number of trails in the woods in the various state parks that dot the dense forests that still cover much of the state. One of my favorite places in the world is Kent Falls, which we also happened to visit on that trip. The water comes down a gradual wooded hill in a series of one cascading fall after another. And along the side of the waterfall, there is a long and winding wooden staircase that leads up to the top of the hill. At the top, there's a clearing in the trees with tall grass that sways in the wind. The trickle of the water drifting by can be heard over the slight breeze, as it makes it's way toward the rapid descent of the falls.
All of these things from that trip home got the wheels in my head turning again. I let the thoughts simmer for a couple of months. And in September, I sat down and started writing again. The first draft of "The Stairs in the Woods" was done before the end of November.
So why did it take until August a year and a half later to finally publish?
Nerves. The manuscript was as ready as it was ever going to be by May of 2017. But I kept sitting on it. For one, I didn't understand how easy it would be to upload it all to Amazon and put it out into the world. But if I had to truly think about it, I was scared to put it out there. There's a certain strength required to allow yourself to be that vulnerable, and I wasn't there yet. There was a good amount of healing and growing that I still needed to do.
So one night as I sat at my computer, I decided to try out Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing just to see how hard the process would be. I had no intent to actually publish that night, I was just researching the process. So I uploaded my manuscript, figured out the formatting, re-uploaded it again, created my first cover (which I didn't love, but it was free), and set pricing info. All of a sudden, it was asking me if I wanted to publish my book.
I probably paced back and forth for a good half an hour, trying to decide what to do. Finally, I worked up the courage to hit "Publish," and the following day, my novel was out in the world. Hardly anyone knew I was working on a project like this, so it came as a surprise to a number of friends and loved ones when I started announcing on social media that I had a book out. I didn't sell a ton of copies, but each copy I sold was a piece of me in someone else's hands.
A lot has happened in the last year. I had a new cover made (which I absolutely adore), and I started working on a new series of books, the first of which I'm excited to be bringing you very soon! I also have met a number of other independent authors, and discovered that my journey is not all that different from a number of theirs. It's been an enlightening experience overall, and I wouldn't give any moment of it up for the world.
So as we leave "The Stairs in the Woods" behind to search for "The Forbidden Scrolls," I'd like to say that I'm eternally grateful for all the support I've gotten so far. This journey that I embarked on back in 2016 without so much as a road map has been life changing and self affirming to say the least. In promoting "Stairs," I like to say that "Adults need fairy tales too." Well this entire experience has been like a fairy tale for me. I'm so happy that you've decided to come along for the ride.
I'll be trying this whole blog thing out a bit more in the future. I have ideas for a couple of other posts already, so keep checking back for more of these slightly incoherent ramblings. In the meantime, below are both the original and new cover, as well as a picture of Kent Fall State Park in Connecticut. Enjoy!