So I wrote this book, Man with No Yesterdays. It’s about a young Green Beret who is injured in Vietnam. Jake Cameron suffers a head injury and is left with severe retrograde amnesia, and when he can’t remember who he is … other than a few glimpses of his early childhood … he sets out on a journey to see if there’s some way he can find himself. He’s been advised by a psychologist that sometimes being in places and with people from his past might “trigger” memories, and Jake gets more than he bargained for.
Not a bad plot, right? I thought so. And since Jake made his first appearance in a preceding novel, I felt he was almost insisting I let him tell his own story. So I wrote this book in the first person. Or rather, I’m fairly convinced it was Jake who did the writing, since I am a great-grandmother weeks away from observing her (gulp) eightieth birthday (please notice I said observing, not celebrating. When you get this close to eighty you’ll completely understand).
It was definitely a challenge. I had seven pre-publication readers who all seemed to find it worth reading and thought I had captured Jake’s voice. A few were very enthusiastic, saying they thought it was the best novel I’d written yet (this is novel number six, actually, since May 2013). Because the Vietnam War figures heavily in Jake’s experiences I decided to release the book on Veteran’s Day (we indie authors can make those choices).
I was really, really, really apprehensive about releasing this book. For all the reasons listed above. But I put it out there, and it’s live on Amazon, and I’ve even sold a few copies on line.
Here’s what’s keeping me awake at night. It’s been over a week, and I haven’t received even ONE review. Those of us who publish our own work really need reviews (I know I’m overusing the word “really,” but I’m doing it quite deliberately). They validate us and make us feel we aren’t totally lost in the vast Amazon book jungle (which grows by ACRES daily!) … a reader liked what we did enough to leave a comment on the book page.
Releasing a book is similar to sending your youngest, favorite, most beloved child off to kindergarten. You want to be right there with him at least through the first day, but you aren’t allowed inside. And I pushed Jake out the door with a great deal of trepidation (for those reasons listed above). Jake’s journey is full of diverse people and experiences. I debated subtitling it “an odyssey” but settled on “a journey.” Right at this moment I wish I’d decided to keep Jake home until at least next spring. Or maybe even for a year. I can understand why Anthony Doerr took ten years to complete his great book, All the Light We Cannot See. At the age of ten, his baby would do great in kindergarten.
I keep telling myself it’s the holidays, people are busy, even if they bought the book they probably aren’t reading it/haven’t read it. On the flip side, I wonder if they’ve read it and they hate it. I’ve had nice readers who have written some wonderful reviews for my novels. But Jake’s story is very different (or maybe I should say really, really different).
I write because I need to write, I love to write; I couldn’t stop writing because it’s become a necessity. But I hate this part. I’ll probably still keep writing, regardless. But right now I’m not so sure. One encouraging review would definitely be nice! Here's the link to the book if you're curious. (Good reviews only, though ... )
Portrait painted by Ashleigh Evans
Cover design by Tristan Flanagan
Or visit my website for links to order all my books: www.susanmoorejordan.com