The Word “No”
Remember that first person that told you “No”, that you couldn’t do what you wanted because the route you were taking was not the traditional one?
There’s one glaring “NO” that stands out in my life, and of all people, it was from a high school teacher. I always thought they were supposed to be the ones encouraging you, rooting you on, making you believe you could do anything in this life.
Well, not this guy. He was a relatively new teacher when I was in grade 12 and OAC (basically 5th year that Ontario abolished the year after I left). It was almost common knowledge amongst my peers that if you wanted to find me on spare, I’d be in the library, working on ‘my book’.
In high school, I was always writing, but as I gained more free time with spare periods, I became insane with the writing fever. My friends probably went insane, too, because I never shut up about Dallas. Yes, that’s Dallas from the original Exposing Dallas.
So, one day, sitting in the library, I had to go to the printer to pick up some papers. Not sure if it was book or school related, but it didn’t matter. I found this teacher I speak of (who didn’t really like me because I had been a smart-ass to him before—totally uncharacteristic of me around authority figures, but this guy had always just really rubbed me the wrong way) waiting for his own papers to eject from the printer.
He was probably in his fifties and seemed to have the ‘world owes me’ attitude. Maybe he doesn’t. That was just my opinion. He saw me, actually recognized me as his student (despite that he hadn’t taught me in a year—by the way, he was a Math teacher) and deciding to make chit-chat while we were waiting, asking what I was going to do after high school.
By then I’d already sent in my papers for a Travel and Tourism program at Fanshawe College. I thought about being an English Teacher or Art Teacher, and I’d always grown up thinking I was going to be a veterinarian, but people change and while I was told I was talented in the ‘creative’ department, I knew a teaching lifestyle was not for me. I’m too impatient. Plus, I like to go to work and leave it there when it’s time to come home.
I told said math teacher my college plans, and said, “but one day, I want to be a published author”. You know what he said to me? “Not if you don’t go to university for English, you won’t be.” I could have smacked him right in the face. Yes, many authors have taken the route of University English, getting Bachelors in English and Arts and all that, but that was not for me.
I had a better grasp on grammar than probably 95% of the students in my school (sorry, but after having ‘group short-story shares’, I quickly realized this). In fact, I had better grammar than 95% of my fellow college students and was constantly having to edit their work during group projects. I hate to be so brass about this, but bad spelling and grammar is one of those things that irritates me the most in literature. I took English classes in college (mandatory) that were a complete waste of time. It seems they were designed to remind 6-year-olds what verbs and nouns were. By the way, I’m not saying I’m perfect. I’m always finding things I have to fix. If I wanted to, I could rewrite a lot of my stuff because I’m a perfectionist, but that would be counter-productive in the long-run.
Okay, getting off topic. Back then, this big world of self-publishing was unknown to me, but I was damned and determined that this teacher of mine would eat my dust. One way or another, I was going to sell my books, whether in two years, five, or ten. And it’s been more like ten. But I’m glad for that because over the years I’ve not only honed my skills, but I’ve also grown and learned a lot.
The biggest thing I’ve learned? You can’t let people squash your dreams because they have none of their own. And you know what? I’ve sold books. More than I ever dreamed I would. Though my dreams are modest, still in their infancy, they’re growing every day.
The Rebirth of Dallas
Dallas was my most beloved character that I had ever written. I’d written a novella and one novel prior to the original Exposing Dallas, but back then, my writing was crap. Whose isn’t when they’re just ‘starting out’ (I say it in quotations because I’d actually been writing long stories and novellas since I was twelve years old)?
I still go back now and then (when I find it) and read a chapter of the old Exposing Dallas, and not only do I laugh, but I want to pull my hair out! It’s so aggravating! I hate seeing the new Dallas I’ve created in this old book not only behaving the way he does, but dealing with what he does. I hate how immature the book was, how little knowledge I had about anything, really—even about stupid things like which brand belonged in which class of hotel. One thing it does make me realize is how much more I love the new Exposing Dallas.
So, you’re wondering, what’s with this old and new thing? Well, the old book sucked, plain and simple (and when I told my friends to be honest with me, they were, brutally), but I loved the character and the ‘things’ that happen to him (not events, but an actual physical affliction) so much that I just couldn’t leave him alone. After writing Stolen Prey and The Lothgoliar, and publishing them, I decided to re-write Exposing Dallas. It was an itch that needed scratching for years, and having a newborn and needing an outlet for whatever it was I was feeling, that was what I did.
But when authors think ‘re-write’, they usually think of taking the same story, fixing some mistakes or holes, editing big-time, etc. But this was far from that even. I gleaned four things from my old book:
1) Four characters (the band) – one of which was the main character, three supporting: Dallas, Jeff, Sean, and Mike. Even kept their names.
2) Character shells (I knew I needed a woman, and I needed a kid) – I hated the old characters. The kid creeped me out (Jacob). The woman was a cold-hearted bitch (Liz). I needed the total opposite. I came up with Riley and Ellie.
3) The physical condition that Dallas suffers – albeit, changed a bit for the sake of the storyline.
4) A bit of backstory that drives the motivations of the characters.
But now you’re thinking, “Uh, you forgot the plot”. Yeah, no I didn’t. The plot sucked in the old book. Maybe this new one does, too, and I won’t know until the book is released, but my beta readers seem to like it, so I’m going by that.
The plot is completely, totally, categorically different from the old one. I tried to explain this to a beta reader who had read the original. Not sure what she expected, but then I got the “Oh, this book is totally different from the original.” Yup, that was the point.
So, with Exposing Dallas’s release coming in just over three weeks, I’m so damned excited and nervous at the same time. I’ve been in love with these characters (especially Dallas—remember how I said I never shut up about him? And he’s fictional…) for about twelve or thirteen years. That’s longer than I’ve known my husband. I worry no one will like the book, or these ‘people’ that I myself love so much. Maybe it’s like bringing home this boy or girl you’re so in love with, want to spend the rest of your life with, make babies with, and having your parents disapprove. It’s a major hurdle to cross when you know that you’re going to have to battle the negative opinions.
I just hope my hurdles are nice and short, because I’m barely pushing 5’1”…
Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be releasing the first so many chapters of Exposing Dallas as teasers. My goal is to make you want to read the book, and buy it, plain and simple. Until I get these little previews put together, here is the Exposing Dallas book trailer for your viewing pleasure.
Dallas has developed a mysterious condition…
one that has given him knowledge of a deadly secret.