I wrote a book!
This is a shameless attempt at self-promotion which I generally loathe. It’s very difficult to know how to weave into everyday conversations, “So, I wrote this book and you should, maybe, if you think you have time, possibly, maybe, check it out?”
Also, I don’t know what to say because…I could tell you that the book is fun and fast-paced and has fun characters and a unique style…but I wrote it and what else am I going to say? Instead of trying to convince you why you should read it, I’m just going to tell you about why I wrote it and then you can decide from there.
I teach. I’m a high school English, creative writing, and journalism teacher. Four years ago, I taught a reading intervention class for kids who were at-risk for not passing their state reading exams. The class was fun and I loved it and I got to convince non-readers that reading is awesome and then I helped them find books. As a matter of fact, I credit that class with me being able to meet my 80 books goal since 3 days a week we did nothing BUT read and I had to model that behavior.
During that class, I had a student named Kevin who refused to read anything I gave him. I tried. I really tried. He told me he liked post-apocalyptic books and so I tried to introduce him to a few, but found zero success. After one particular epic failure, Kevin said to me, “I bet even YOU could write a better book than this.” I’m certain that the comment was intended to be an insult, but I took it as a challenge. I had Kevin write me a list of what his ideal book included. Then I tried to write that book.
He wanted death, destruction, “complicated” evil people, gross decaying bodies, zombies, action, cliffhangers, no romance.
My new book Virulent: The Release, which is book one in a three-part series, tries to meet those criteria. As the creator of this book and the people in it, I chose to deviate from Kevin’s original plan, but he’ll just have to deal with it. Spoiler alert: There are no zombies. There might be romance.
The book took two Nanowrimos to complete and then several more months of revisions and editing. It’s been nearly four years in the making and I can’t believe that the book is finally out there for people to check out. I’ve learned a lot about writing a book from start to finish, including, but not limited to, the idea that you have a plot outlined when you start: My plot was pretty organic. Things happened and I would write myself in a corner and then say, “I don’t know how to get my characters out of this. Let’s. Try. Again.” I set out to write a book Kevin would read and ended up writing a book that I would want to read, which isn’t so bad.
Who knows what will happen next? Early praise has been positive…and I’m too fragile to deal with crushing rejection, so I might just stop looking at reviews and pretend that it stays that way forever. I do know that I have a small following of students who adore Lucy King and Grant Trotter and the rest of the characters in Virulent and can’t wait to see how their story ends. Today at school, I read the prologue of Book Two to my group of students who finished Book One and they squealed with excitement…which made me feel like a famous author at a book reading (that’s what I pretended in my head anyway).
If YA post-apocalyptic literature is your genre or if you just want to check it out, you can find it here:
The Kindle ebook is only 99cents (but only for a little while longer! I’m rolling it out at this price and then bumping it to 2.99, so get it now for the discount).
The paperback will be out by the end of the month. And you will be able to grab it anywhere books are sold!
I do have to add: I used writing this book as an exercise in my creative writing classes to model revision; I used it in my English classes to model writing fictional narratives; and I used it in all my classes to get reluctant readers excited about reading a book FIRST. If you’re an English teacher who loves to write, I can think of no better way to combine the craft of teaching and the craft of writing than to start a book. There were many moments that a scene or a character or a plot hole became a class collaboration. People keep saying, “How did you find the time?” I never found time, I made time; and I made it part of the things I was going to do anyway! Want to get kids excited about reading and writing? Then BE excited about reading and writing. My students feel like they can also own the excitement that comes with publication and that is the best part of this entire process.