Welcome to my Self Publishing Spotlight!
This month I'm very pleased to say my spotlight has landed on author Scott Whitaker and his gripping survival thriller Seven Days on the Mountain.
Seven Days on the Mountain is a gritty survival thriller, a modern re-telling of The Odyssey, and you can read my full review of the book here.
For now, Scott has kindly written me a guest post about Seven Days on the Mountain and his experiences in self publishing, with a few wise words to boot!
I liberally adapted the the trials of Odysseus. The cyclops is a gross toad of a man who has taken residency in a watchtower. Circe and Calypso are merged into the life of an eternal fallen woman who lives in a mysterious ruined orchard, the Scylla and Charybdis are an insane bear and a haunted cabin.
This was my first self published work. I had a brief flirtation with landing a top agent. She was interested in Seven Days, but ultimately passed on my manuscript, encouraging me to look elsewhere because it was marketable. My first and only rejection by an agent and I remained encouraged. I knew what the business was like, a by product of Emerson College2 and Boston University's writing programs, I had worked with literary rising stars and veterans alike; I'd heard it all.
Business is business. When Kindle and Nook exploded I decided to try self-publishing. On my terms. I didn't want to pay for my book to see the light of day, even though I continue to seek mainstream publication for all my projects3. I get paid more often than not these days, and that's fine by me4. But most of all I love playing with language, and the music of words. Sure I'd love a fat contract and a chance to indulge my talent.
Maybe I'll land one.
To do it on your own adds to the thrill. An experiment of its own. My voice is what matters. And how I explore it.
Persistence. Go on your nerve. Write against your grain. Be mindful of the craft, the collective sound of syllables as they play under your typing fingers.
I published my first chapbook of poetry in 2005. The Barleyhouse Letters is a narrative lyrical half tale of two sisters whose life is full of mysteries. I left holes in the story so the reader would make their own deductions. The North Street Playhouse performed a reading of it that following winter, and it was thrilling to hear other people read my words.
My latest chapbook of poems, News From the Front, was published by The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. It's a collection of war themed poetry. Many of the poems discovered life elsewhere: The Delaware Poetry Review, Anderbo, Xanadu, & Winning Writers: War Poetry.
Currently I'm working on a free verse YA novel about juvenile delinquents, a YA magical realism epic7, and short stories that all take place in various end of the world scenarios.
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1 There's a redneck drug dealer magical realism 890 page whopper in my attic, a ghost story about a haunted house and marsh that's almost done - once I realized I was re-writing The Shining I didn't complete it, and a YA flood dystopian end of the world magical realism steampunk adventure that I'm putting the final touches on.
2 It was a chilly September afternoon when I sat in on my first creative writing workshops, led by poet Martin Espada, at Emerson College in the fall of 1992. We were on Tremont St. in Boston, and Andre Dubus held a graduate workshop across from the narrow office where our class met. I don't remember what we discussed in that first workshop, but Espada captured my imagination and I was hooked. At first came structured assignments and then... a free for all. Everyone brought their slice of the lit pie to class each week and I discovered new authors, rediscovered classics, picked up remainders out of the trash on Charles Street. Each new author was like a door into another room. Every new reading experience gave me permission to try similar techniques, content, style, or theme. This is true for film, theater, and television, observations on the 57 bus, or the Green line, or at the grocery store. People are everywhere. And they all have stories.
3 Persistence. Patience.
4 Currently I'm an associate editor and reviewer for The Broadkill Review. I've had the pleasure of reviewing large publishing house books, indie books, and self-published books.
5 Between college and grad school I met my love, Michele, whose own voice of poet and playwright influenced my own. Her influences became my influences and vice-versa. We both published occasionally back in those days, poor, living in the city. Then as many stories go, we moved to the country, to rural Virginia, and had a family.
6 The prize includes a giant check, two cases of Dogfish Head Beer, and a reading in the beautiful small town of Milton, DE. It's worth the B&B if you go in for that sort of thing. The beer is particularly tasty.
7 See footnote 1
So there you have it! A huge thanks to Scott for participating in the Self Publishing Spotlight, his book Seven Days on the Mountain is available now - and I highly recommend it - from:
To find out more about the Self Publishing Spotlight feature or to submit a book, click here. I'm especially interested to hear from authors planning to publish in the new year.