I started writing poetry in the early 2000s. Actually, I've dabbled in poetry from time to time since I was a young teenager. But in the 2000s, I started producing in earnest. A desire to capture thoughts and memories overtook me, and I wanted to create work that poetically expressed those desires.
After joining poets.com and seeing how others on the site were getting their works published, I decided to follow suit. When I had enough poems compiled, I submitted the manuscript to PublishAmerica and they accepted it. Voila! I had a book titled From Here to Never, Time Travels from Maine.
I never expected my book to be a best seller. There are, quite frankly, some pretty bad pieces in it. There are also a few poems of which I'm quite proud. However, I don't think more than 20 sold and that includes friends and family who bought one as a show of support.
When I created enough material for a second book, I contacted PublishAmerica again. They told me in no uncertain terms that they would not publish my second book as there had been no sales from the first. So this was the impetus I needed to find a different way to publish.
And I did.
I created and published thirteen more, two through Lulu and the rest using CreateSpace. These are all my books.
First published in 2006 through PublishAmerica, redesigned and republished through CreateSpace in December 2013.
From Here to Never is my first book. Originally just a poetry book, I reformatted it to include more prose work when I re-released it in 2013. The re-release also included some new poetry and omitted poems from the original which were pretty bad.
Falling from a Cloud
I experimented with the layout in this second book, Falling from a Cloud. I put all rhyming poetry in the first section and all non-rhyming in the third. The second section was a hybridization of my short story, The Concourse, into a prose-poetry piece.
The title comes from a poetry website to which I once belonged. That website had a "cloud" which reflected the activity levels of its members. The more active the member, the higher their ranking, the larger their name in the cloud. The activity here refers to reviewing other people's poetry and posting your own. I had worked my way up fairly high in the cloud and then eased off the activity. Little by little, as others passed me by, I watched my name grow smaller, my ranking diminish. Eventually, I fell from the cloud.
I haven't seen those sort of clouds lately on websites, and I think they were just a fad. In fact, the cloud is still an internet term, but it refers to something totally different now.
March of the Turtles
As I was writing poetry pretty regularly in the 2000s, it was fairly simple to compile enough to create a book-length manuscript. I had almost enough for a third book but no real feel of a theme for it. Then my father-in-law died. Through the trip to North Carolina for his funeral and burial, I wrote several more pieces reflecting my thoughts at the time and came up with the title poem which is about his passing. Then I knew I had a finished book and published it.
Of Trains and Other Things
Up to this point, I had a notion that poetry books might sell. Probably not as best sellers, but there would be something of a side income from them. Unfortunately, most of the books I sold were to other people writing poetry on the sites where I was a member or to family and friends. So, I thought about short stories. Surely they would sell better than poetry.
Of Trains and Other Things has ten short stories. The first, The Concourse, was based on a dream I'd had years before and built the story around it at that time. The second, The Train, was my submission to a program Amazon had called Amazon Shorts. As I seemed to be trending in a train direction, I wrote a third titled, The Tracks.
The remaining stories have nothing to do with trains.
Hence, the book's title.
Stop the Scrambled Eggs
I was still personally dealing with some fallout from my father-in-law's death eight months prior to this book. One could probably say that anger drove my writing. I talk about it in the introduction a bit. This was never a book I wanted to sell. My fears of that have settled down, though, because no one ever bought it.
Look One Last
Of all the poetry books I've done, Look One Last is probably my favorite. It's laid out in the manner of four seasons though no seasons are mentioned. And the poems themselves were chosen to go in the sections based upon their reflections of the seasons of life: childhood, teen to young adult, middle age, elder adult. There are a lot of poems in it of which I am particularly fond. Among those are the world of ever shine, Thunder Bay, The Shenadoah Valley, My Love is a Spring Breeze, Coming Down, Silverlight, Dunescape, the Esoteric Vagabond series, and the four at the beginning which I call The Quadrennium, though you won't find that title anywhere in the book.
Just Drop Me Off at the Moon
Just Drop Me Off at the Moon was written under a pen name: J.T. Deeman. I did this because in the introduction to Look One Last, I said it was my last poetry book. And I didn't want to let on to my imaginery audience that I can be wishy-washy at times. There are a few poems in Just Drop that I like, but I don't care much for most of them. I think the cover rocks, though.
Bullets for Life
I did Bullets for Life under the same pen name as Just Drop Me Off at the Moon. It is composed of a series of bullet points of life that I wanted to pass on to my sons. It's a quick read.
The publication date for this reads as 2012 on Amazon. I actually published it earlier than that. Not sure why the 2012 date. It is the start of expanded poetry books. By this I mean that I have not only poems, but essays and short stories. The essays come from my blog where, once upon a time, I used to be pretty prolific. After several hundred blog entries, I thought it would be a good idea to back them up into a hard copy somewhere. So I cherry picked the ones I liked and included them in this book.
The title, Hallucination of Majestic Elephants, is an acrostic. The title portion of the book spends its time in talking about the yearly trips we used to make to North Carolina to visit my wife's family. Given that her dad and mom passed away in 2008 and 2009, respectively, it was a way to explore and express meanings of home.
Echoes from the Antechamber
The title, Echoes from the Antechamber, refers to reflections upon my much younger days. It has stories, poems and essays as well. Even though the title implies childhood, the stories themselves deal more with the aged. My first epic poem, The Downfall of Ilium, is in this book. It is modeled somewhat after The Waste Land but incorporates elements of Whitman, Cummings and Sandburg as well. There is also one of my favorite essays, Everything Looks Worse in Black and White, which takes on a different, sort of meandering writing style than I typically use.
Of all my books, Echoes from the Antechamber is my favorite.
Patterns at the Periphery
Patterns at the Periphery follows the same style as the previous two books. But where I felt Hallucinations and Echoes established a strong sense of purpose, Patterns doesn't seem to. It has several essays I consider good, and I think those are its strength. It also has the short story, The Tattoo, of which I am rather proud. Additionally, I have included (with their permission) a poem each by Mike Walsh, Carol Brandt and Sarah True, wonderful people I've had to opportunity to befriend through the internet.
Spindale from a Mainer's Perspective
This book was the first of two "targeted" books Instead of generalized poetry and story books, I wanted to put together something with a clear theme to see if it would capture any buyers. I pulled out all the pieces I had written about Spindale, North Carolina from previous books, added a few more and built Spindale from a Mainer's Perspective. On our final trip to Spindale last year, I presented the library with a copy of the book. They seemed interested in the concept. It hasn't generated any sales.
BDUDays is like Spindale, a targeted book. A few of them have sold, all to people who served in the Army with me. It is available in both book and Kindle version.
From the Sea She Spoke
Even though by date BDUDays was published after From the Sea She Spoke, I consider this to be my last book. It is a poetry book, unabashedly so, with two essays at the end. In fact, the last essay is titled The End. I don't know if that essay was an omen for things to come, but I haven't done much writing since this book.
The whole book making experience has been a satisfying process. Even though their commercial viability turned out to be less than what may have been hoped for, it has been worth the effort. There may be more books to come, who can really say at this point? But the gnawing need to record things in words has quieted for now and causes me to wonder in what direction I'll go next.
Maybe I should look into writing songs.