To say this book is a long time coming would be an understatement. From the time I started writing this story to the time that it has been released under the title Grave Legends, eighteen years has passed. Eighteen years!! To be sure, this book has a story behind it and it isn’t a pretty one.
For starters, this book was inspired by one of the most spectacular places. In 2000 I took a job in Cincinnati, far away from where I am now nestled in the mountains of Virginia. I moved there for two reasons. The first was because I wanted to watch a few baseball games. Since I’m a Reds fan there wasn’t much other option. Second, I needed a job and got an offer from a firm in the brokerage industry and off I went. Before I moved to Cincinnati I had this strong desire to write a book. I was already a voracious reader and thought writing a book would be a new challenge. A new job, a new challenge…all kinds of new beginnings for me. A friend of mine named Jennifer (I graduated high school with her) lived in Cincinnati and decided one Saturday afternoon that it was time to give me a proper tour of the city and its surroundings. One of the places we ventured off to that afternoon was a place called Spring Grove Cemetery on the outskirts of the city off of I-75. The wonder and mystery of that place stole my breath that day.
When I got home that night my mind couldn’t get away from the awe I felt in that place. It was beautiful and peaceful, it was dark and macabre. It would take a poet to properly describe the place. I began to come up with the idea for a book I later titled Legends and Landmarks, Volume I: The Night Walker. As I stood in the cemetery in awe that day the Legends series was born. When I first started writing I only intended on writing one book. This story became a four part series. I wrote the first book, did a spell check in Microsoft Word, and uploaded the document to vanity publisher and released the damn thing. Yeah! I was officially a writer.
Well, until one of my readers contacted me and told me I needed an editor. Badly!! For a guy who prides himself on his work, this was terribly embarrassing. I read that book a dozen times and found a few errors. Surely I must have caught all of my mistakes. So, round two. I publish the next version of the book. And still…the feedback was at least cordial. “Great story, horrible editor!” I didn’t have the guts to tell the critic that I was the editor. I accepted a brutal truth after the third time publishing this book. The truth was that I was a very creative writer. I was also possibly the worst editor on the planet.
Another truth came to me years later. Writing a book is hard work. But rewriting and editing, then rewriting and editing again is a miserable and necessary task. I have one of the worst flaws a writer can possibly have. I’m impatient as hell. Once I finish the rough draft of a book I want YOU to read it immediately. It’s true. But that’s not the way things work. I still have the patience of a stubborn mule, but I forced myself to do something about a year ago. I forgot that I had the books still available online. I haven’t promoted them in years (the series). I pulled the books offline and decided that I’d be done with them forever. Damnit, I had no business having those out there.
But the story still stuck out in my head after all these years. A few months ago I dug up the old document on my computer and started to read it again. Holy shit was it bad! After eighteen years of writing I’ve learned a lot. My style has changed and improved over the years. If I was going to put this book back out it needed some changes, and I don’t mean minor ones! I read the first paragraph and realized that there is no way I’d write something this bad today. I couldn’t write it that badly if I was half drunk and trying to write badly. Well, maybe that’s a stretch.
I found myself rewriting almost every other paragraph in this book. I wanted to have it finished by June of 2018 but that was impossible. I forced myself to have patience. I didn’t even like the flat ending (flat in my opinion). I made a lot of changes to this book, trying to keep the original style in which it was written. There is no way I could write something like this today. As a writer (an artist) I’m in a much different place mentally and emotionally. However, the story is really good. I read this book again and realized that it still held up well after eighteen years. The entire series does. So, I’m off to the rewriting of the second book in the series, Grave Legends, Freedom’s Path.
I’m sure the process of rewriting the second book will be just as miserable as the first. I’ll keep you posted as to the ups and downs on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to follow me there. In the meantime, I’m working on some new material between rewrites that I think my readers are going to love! Stay tuned.
Photos from Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, OH August 24, 2018