The characters and overall plot of Hyperactive where initially conceived in the fall of 1991. I was working as an assistant manager at a children's clothing store and found myself with a lot of time on my hands during the slow hours. Laptops weren't common back then so I did all of my writing in a spiral notebook then retyped it once I got home.
The original title was The F.A.T.E.S. which was an acronym for The Furtive Anti-Terraform Enforcement Squad. I was heavy into comics back then and the idea of writing about a super powered covert operations team was an idea that had originally taken root when I was still in high school. I was always a good writer, and had even managed to test out of my first year of college English so I had pretty good grasp on how to develop a story (at least I thought I did).
Over the next several months I worked religiously on The FATES, hammering out scenes and character dialogue whenever I could. Smith-Corona had recently released a laptop-styled word processor so writing and editing became much simpler. I remember trudging that clunky thing around everywhere I went. It was a pain but I was determined to follow in the footsteps of Anne McCaffrey, my favorite sci-fi author at the time.
The story-line went something like this: Lieutenant Tavian Stone, a member of the Coalition’s Law Enforcement Division gets recruited into a specialized Covert Ops squad to control the flow of the physical-enhancing drug, Terraform throughout the Coalition, and stop Tavian's criminally minded twin brother, Tizian from initiating the genocide of the alien civilization responsible for the death of he and Tavian's parents some twenty years earlier.
Like hundreds of other writers I was greatly influenced by the works of George Lucas and Gene Rodenberry so the plot was a roller-coaster ride of intense training sequences, daring raids, uncovered secrets and journeys to various planets. The novel was completed in the summer of 1992 and I quickly went through the copyright process and fired off the first few chapters to several publishing houses (11).
Over the next several weeks I anxiously awaited a response to my work. I knew that I had crafted a masterpiece of literary perfection and was sure that I was on my way to becoming a Sci-fi legend.
So there I was anxiously awaiting the rave reviews and book deals that I knew would be pouring in once the various publishing houses got a glimpse of my amazing Novel. What I got was a steady stream of rejection letters which forced me to realize the obvious: My book sucked! Needless to say this sent my lofty dreams of making a living as a best-selling author rapidly crashing to the ground. I carefully shredded each letter, packed my manuscript in a box, and tucked my dream away in a dark corner of my mind.
The next few years passed without me doing any serious writing; an occasional short story here and there but nothing to get excited about. It wasn't until shortly after the birth of my first son that things began to change. I was introduced to Herbert Boyd and his wife, Elza Dimwiddie-Boyd, both successful authors. It turns out they were friends of my wife's family and when Mrs. Boyd heard about my book she asked to read it. Not thinking much of it, I grabbed my manuscript from the box, dusted it off, and gave it to her. The next day, she and her husband flew back to their home in
About a month later I received a call from Mrs. Boyd and she told me that she LOVED my book, and had passed it on to her publisher who sent me a letter several days later. My book still wasn't going to be published but he was nice enough to give me a well written, constructive, and extremely helpful critique. He also suggested that I take a few creative courses to further hone my chosen craft.
I took his advice to heart, spent a couple of semesters doing the "college" thing, took a long, honest look at The F.A.T.E.S and decided to rewrite the whole thing! With a fresh perspective, new direction, and renewed determination I began crafting the saga that would eventually be titled, The Shadow Affairs!
Once I committed myself to my new story-line the writing came pretty easy. I wrote, tweaked, deleted, and wrote again for about eight months until I was satisfied with my novel. At the time I was working 60+ hrs a week at the plant, and my wife and I were dealing with the joys and trials of being first time parents but I didn't let any of this stop me.
When the Shadow Affairs was finally completed I found myself faced with another dilemma: What to do with it? The visions of all those rejection letters were still fresh in my head and I wasn't ready to deal with that kind of rejection again. Unable to decide, the novel just sat on my computer for several weeks. Fortunately my wife (who's had and continues to have the challenging experience of living with a man whose creative mind never shuts off) gave me the encouragement I needed to take the next step and start submitting.
Around this time several "publish-yourself" companies began springing up around the country and after reading the literature on a few I decided that this could be my way to go. I submitted my novel to a company called Dorrance Publishing and they loved it! As I read the response letter they sent me I was ecstatic...until I got to the part where I had to PAY to have my book published. I won't bore you with the details of what that entailed but I will say that had I gone that route I would've locked myself into a $15,000 debt. Needless to say that letter quickly went to the shredder!
As I pondered where to submit to next I ran across an article in the Chrysler newsletter about a couple at the plant who had just published a children's book through a company called Publish
After briefly riding the emotional high of having my novel published I came back down to Earth and began to get serious. The first thing I noticed was that Publish America had divided my book into three separate novels but was only offering to publish the first two. After inquiring about this I learned that the complete novel exceeded the word limit set for first-time authors but by dividing it into parts based on the internal section structure they would be able to get my work out there. Thus the transformation of The Shadow Affairs from single novel to trilogy began.
I was a bit disappointed at first but quickly got over it when I realized I would now have 2 books on the market with the third installment to be printed depending on the success of the first two. Knowing that my story was a top-notch, genre-defining masterpiece I was doubly excited. I had the contracts reviewed, signed away, and happily dived into the publishing process.
I had very little control over covers, formatting and such but I was cool with that. My book was being published! When the first installment hit the market and I received my complimentary copies I was stoked! Then I noticed the price of my book and my heart skipped a beat. $19.99 for a novel that I felt should have been priced at $9.99 to allow me to compete with similar books on the market. I also discovered that any and all marketing for my novels would have to be done by me unless I wanted to shell out large sums of money for Publish
At the time I had zero experience in that department but I did my best, posting flyers at work and around town, and emailing friends and family. I even approached a couple of local bookstores to see if they would be interested in stocking my novel. I sold a few here and there but not enough to warrant early retirement from the plant or the release of the third installment. In short: my books were a flop.
I spent the next few years trying to drum up sells and such but I had pretty much given up on the whole thing. It wasn't until my wife became pregnant with our twins that my flagging faith got another jolt. Having been confined to bed-rest by the fifth month of her pregnancy my wife spent a lot of time reading, and one of the books she read was the first book of the Shadow Affairs Trilogy titled, appropriately enough, First Steps.
As my primary sounding board she of course new the story but had never actually read the entire book. Her comments on the novel would once again set me on the path of reinvention. And what, you might ask, was her impression? She HATED it!!! It was overly technical, overly analytical, and the plot just didn't make sense! She did like the characters and dialogue in spots but overall it just wasn't a good book.
It had been a couple of years sense I had actually read the books myself so, taking her critique to heart, I did just that and quickly discovered that she was right! No wonder the books weren't selling. The question now was: How do I once again turn defeat into triumph? The answer was simple: Go back to page one and start writing which is exactly what I did.
Realizing that I didn't want to repeat the same creative mistakes with the rewrite, I took my time and analyzed my story then broke it down into two categories: What worked for me and what didn't. With my list of ideas, revisions, and deletions in hand (and it was a l-o-o-o-n-g list) I began typing away. This time, instead of writing something that I thought and hoped would sell I wrote a story that I would want to read. The results: The Hyperactive Trilogy!
Now that I had my new Scifi saga in hand I farmed it out to a couple of close friends whom I knew would give me an HONEST opinion (my wife being #1 on that list). After receiving their critiques, all which turned out to be extremely favorable, I put into place a couple of their suggested revisions, tuned the whole thing up then went back to Publish
As before I had very little control but I wanted my book out there so I went with them. I was very pleased with the final product but not so much so with the price. $40.00! Granted the entire trilogy was now combined into a single 636 page novel but I felt the price was still to high. Luckily they had a promotional program going at the time so I reluctantly shelled out the $70.00 fee and got Hyperactive's price reduced to $7.95. As before, I sold a few here and there but nothing to write home about.
Shortly after that I discovered Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing program. Luckily I had the foresight to retain the digital rights and I promptly converted Hyperactive to Kindle format and unleashed it on the digital market. I also released it on the Barnes & Nobles Nook platform and Smashwords.
So there you have it: The origin of Hyperactive. I wish I could say my books were flying off the digital shelves but that's just not happening. I am selling more than I've ever sold but I've still got a ways to go before I can say goodbye to the plant. Fortunately I've learned a lot in terms of self-marketing and promotion and with the help of the internet I am seeing an increase in sales. Plus the reviews I've received from readers have been very positive! It truly is a wonderful thing when others enjoy your work!
Will Hyperactive or any of my future novels ever make it into the pantheon of Scifidom? I can't say but I'm going to keep on plugging away it. There are a lot of stories rolling between my ears and I'm finally enjoying the process of getting them out!