I can hardly wrap my head around it myself, but I’m proud to say that I can now officially call myself a “Bestselling Author”. Necromancer Awakening has been out for two weeks, and it has climbed the charts on three different Amazon Bestseller lists:
- #4 on “Metaphysical and Visionary Fantasy”
- #7 on “Dark Fantasy”
- #60 on “Horror”
On top of that, it’s making its mark on several “Hot New Releases” charts:
- #1 on “Metaphysical and Visionary Fantasy”
- #3 on “Dark Fantasy”
…and several others, including #40 in “Science Fiction and Fantasy”.
The short version is this is all a little surreal. Rather than re-write my “About Me” page, I’m going to leave the original in place for now. What follows is the original text, just as I wrote it on the day I started this blog. Thank you all for hopping on the crazy train with me!
What’s the deal with this “Journey” this and “Craft” that?
You have to admit that “A Journey with the Craft” sounds a lot better than “Random Dude Tries to be a Fantasy Writer”, right? This is a place we can all gather to talk about writing. As I said, Fantasy is my genre of choice, but I’m a fan of all speculative fiction. I hope to give everyone a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the process of writing a novel, and perhaps the life of a writer. I hope it will spark discussion about not only the craft, but perhaps the subject matter of the novels I write as well.
Who the heck am I and why should anyone care?
That you’ve gotten this far means you’re interested, or at least curious. You spent valuable energy—and at least a nanosecond of time—clicking the link, right? That says something about you. It says you like to read, for starters. Well you came to the right place, because I like to write. Seems like we’re a match!
I’m Natalo A. Russo. Yikes, that sounds pretentious enough, doesn’t it? Don’t get scared just yet. Look at my picture! Does that look like the clothing of a pretentious person? No, that’s pure Walmart chic. But I digress…. The “A” stands for Anthony, and no one calls me Natalo. Just Nat. Small personal details, I know, but personal details are what you’re looking for, right? I’m a 43-year old man-boy. Father of a bright 13-year old son who, by all measures, is far smarter than I am, and will probably turn out to be a much better writer. I’m husband to my beautiful wife, Casi. And when you think about it, that’s a good thing. It would be terribly inappropriate of me to be husband to someone else’s beautiful wife Casi. I’m also “daddy” to a tenacious and entertaining beagle, named Toby…who, by all measures, is far smarter than I am, and will probably turn out to be a much better writer.
I’m a software engineer living in…
Hold on, now. What kind of bait and switch is this, Nat? You said you were a writer! What’s with this “software engineer” malarkey?
You have any idea what writers make? A man has to pay the bills! Especially with a 13-year old son who eats us out of house and home, and a beagle who does the same.
I’ll back up. In my early twenties, after several years of soul-searching, I had the brilliant idea that I would make a great priest. If you’re raised Catholic, and you’re thinking about being a priest, there’s only one place to go: the seminary (cue choir of angels). So that’s where I went. I spent three memorable years in the seminary, one with the Legionaries of Christ, and two at St. Meinrad Archabbey, under the tutelage of the Benedictine Monks (cue Gregorian Chant music…and yes, there was plenty of chanting). I have mostly fond memories of those times. The not-so-fond memories creep up in my writing, from time to time, or in characters and settings that recreate the emotion from those days. It’s no coincidence that the theme of “abuse of authority” runs through much of what I write. To clarify, the monks were great…a true blessing to the world. The Legionaries…now they were real pieces of work. Google them and pop some popcorn.
When I left the seminary, I pursued my “fall back” career: Law Enforcement. I spent two years as a police officer in central Arizona (cue Cops theme…”Bad Boys, Bad Boys…whatcha gonna do?”). You’d be surprised how similar the jobs of Police Officer and Priest are. I learned many valuable lessons as a cop. One of the big ones is that abuse of authority is not reserved to the clergy. I loved being on the police force, but in central Arizona in the mid ’90’s the pay was horrible. It wasn’t close to compensating me for the danger I was in every day. And besides, I had met my fiance—the “beautiful Casi” mentioned above—and there was no way I could support a family on $9 an hour. So I followed Casi up to Flagstaff, where we both finished our degrees at Northern Arizona University. She in Criminal Justice, and me in Philosophy. After graduation we made our way to Texas, where her family was from, during the “high tech boom”. Technology was booming—if you hadn’t gathered that from the phrase “high tech boom”—so I landed an entry-level job in I.T. and worked my way up to Software Engineering. My friends in I.T. would say I worked my way over to Software Engineering, and I can agree with that, but in my particular case it was a step up.
I’ve been a software engineer for 15 years. It pays a little better than the $9 an hour I made as a cop, and there are fewer bullets involved…on most days.
And yes, I write. I write as often as I possibly can. And when I’m not physically writing, I’m thinking about writing. I hope this blog will be a place we can all share a glimpse into the process of writing a novel. Particularly a fantasy novel, which is my chosen genre…the genre which turned me into an avid reader when I was a boy of twelve.
So please read the little tidbits I post, and maybe, if you find them worthy, share them with the world so other people can see just how insane I really am. I can already tell you’re smarter than I am…and like my son and my beagle, you’ll probably turn out to be a better writer.
Very engaging and entertaining introduction! I might have missed it, but when did you first start your website/novel? I am also a budding writer, working on my first novel, blogging about the process of writing. I’ve found your website both entertaining and useful, keep up the good work! If you have a bit of time, I’d be honored if you visited my website lydiasherrer.com
Thank you, Lydia!
I wrote the first draft of Necromancer Awakening back in 2011 and published it this year. The website began back in 2012, I believe, but it was originally hosted by Blogger. I moved it to a WordPress solution a few months ago.
Nice! You seem to have been able to get the book written and website up and running pretty quickly :). Do you have a publishing team helping you or did you publish completely on your own? How long did it take you to write your book in all? If only I could spend 8 hours a day on mine (the longing of every writer with a day job). But the most important thing is to not give up. Short or long, just keep taking the next step on your journey!
I wrote the first draft in 90 days, but it took two and a half years to revise it. I worked with a team of beta readers to get everything “just right” before publishing. I published it myself earlier this year. After a lot of research, I just didn’t see a traditional publisher bringing much to the table for me. It just didn’t make sense to relinquish all control and do all my own marketing for less money.
I can say with several months behind me now that it was a good decision.
Very few of us have 8 hours a day to devote to writing, so don’t let that slow you down! Only the outliers earn enough from their writing to quit their day jobs. The rest of us have to train ourselves to make excellent use of the little spare time we have, and most of us write under adverse conditions (noisy environments, constant interruptions).
Hey, Nat, fascinating stuff, but you only gave us hints about the whole abuse of authority trope. What was the abuse you suffered? How did it affect you personally?
Also, I hope you’ll forgive my picking nits: you use the word “queue” twice in situations where the homonym “cue” makes more sense. Think about it: if you “queue the choir of angels,” you’re putting them in a line. If you “cue the choir” you’re signaling them to start.
I go into a little more detail in a blog tour article I wrote on my writing process: https://www.erindorpress.com/2014/05/my-writing-process-a-blog-tour/
Great catch on “cue”, by the way! 🙂