Most Anticipated Books Of 2020

I am one of those people who not only writes but also can often be found searching the net for the most anticipated books of the coming year. Everyone makes their list of such books. From The New York Times to The Guardian to Entertainment Weekly, the lists go on and on and on, and they can get very specific.

-Best Sci-fi

-Best Romance

-Best YA

-Best books to read while eating popcorn in a movie theater.

Okay, so that last one… probably not. But the others I’ve seen for sure.

As an author with a book coming soon, I dream of my book one day appearing on such lists. I believe What Death Taught Terrence is more than worthy of the notice. Sure, I’m biassed, but I also know books.

I’ve read books critically for years, in hopes of helping to find the best ones for and with an extremely kind and very talented literary agent. I’ve edited those same books and others for years, too. Worked with authors who knew my value and appreciated my takes on their work.

Some of these authors have even been kind enough to read What Death Taught Terrence and then to offer me their honest and constructive thoughts. From these conversations, and several others I’ve had with other literary agents, I know my book is worth the time of many a reader, and that if a reader picked up my book, they would certainly not be disappointed.

The thing about being what nowadays is called an “Indie-author: the toughest thing to do is to get the word out about your book. There are so many books being published each day that a book is more likely to drown under the deluge of other literary hopefuls than it is to ever be noticed. So sometimes one has to be creative. Sometimes one has to advise all the readers out there that:

-The Most Anticipated Novel of 2020 is:

What Death Taught Terrence, by Derek McFadden and available 2/11/20 from Kenboski & Seidenverg Books!!!

Pre-order your copy today! And please share your thoughts via Goodreads!

 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48256568-what-death-taught-terrence

 

 

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/what-death-taught-terrence-derek-mcfadden/1133788175?ean=9781733396318

 

 

A New York Times Bestseller? Maybe!

What Death Taught Terrence, the best book you’ll read next year (Sure, I’m biassed, but it’s true.) is four months from release. As that date nears, my mind likes to work through and recall all the writing that led to this book. From the first time I dictated a Berenstain Bears fan-fic at seven years old (Yes, that did happen.) to a teacher’s aid who wrote it with a smile to the last edit of Terrence thirty years later.

I don’t remember everyone who loved my writing in that time. Which is unfortunate. But I remember each and every person who ever said to me, in not so many words, You’re not gonna make any money writing, and the like. I recall how angry this sentiment made me at first, before something my grandfather said to me when I was young resurfaced in my crowded mind: “If you write something, and you love it, and you do the best you can, that’s all you can do.”

As much as I’d like to make certain What Death Taught Terrence will be a New York Times Bestseller, there’s no way to do this.

All I can do is hope you, Dear Reader, will give me one chance to tell you a story that matters to me deeply.

What Death Taught Terrence is available February 11th, 2020. It is now available for pre-order on Kindle and in hardcover. You will not be disappointed!

 

 

 

 

 

Terrence Is On His Way!!!!

Hi, everybody:

For the last little bit, I’ve been semi-regularly crowing to anyone who’ll listen about my upcoming book, What  Death Taught Terrence. Twelve years of work spent creating the truest piece of fiction I could manage.  (A lifetime of research before that.)

As an author of fiction, I want to dabble in truth. Hopefully I manage to do more than simply dabble. Doing this makes stories more real. Makes them easier for readers to fall into and to fall in love with.

Well, after twelve years, I have something now with which I genuinely hope you’ll fall in love.

What Death Taught Terrence is available for pre-order on Kindle now! (It will also be available for pre-order in a handsome hardcover edition soon.) But if you read via kindle, and you want a book you’ll never forget, you can pre-order Terrence now. You’ll meet him on February 11th, 2020! Here’s the link!

Happy reading!

The Book Is Coming!

An author knows more about their characters than he or she ever provides. Whether we realize it at the time of composition, or much later when we’re revising, we have at our disposal tons of background knowledge that helps to inform us–and our readers–as to the lives of those we create.

A beta-reader said of Terrence McDonald, the main character for my upcoming novel, What Death Taught Terrence:

“To me, Terrence felt real, and I truly came to love Terrence as a person, not just as a character.”

An author could not hope for a better assessment, and this one spurred me on. This book I love so much, filled with these characters I love so much… this book for which I spent my whole life researching and the better part of eleven years writing and editing… it is coming!

In the book, though no date is ever specifically put forth, it is inferred that our main character, Terrence, celebrates his birthday in the waning winters of February. Therefor, it is my intent to publish What Death Taught Terrence first as a kindle e-book, followed by a paperback edition, in February of 2020, with the big day tentatively set to arrive February 11th. An audio-book edition will follow months later. The book should be available for pre-order on Kindle within months, and I will update you when the ability to pre-order this edition goes live on Amazon.

If you love It’s A Wonderful Life, if you’re taken to someplace fantastic every time you watch Field Of Dreams, then What Death Taught Terrence is for you. If you think it’s time that handicapped characters in literature accurately reflect the lives of the handicapped, rather than being used by authors as saintly devices whose only purpose in a story is to teach able-bodied characters how to live, then What Death Taught Terrence is for you. If you read books like The Five People You Meet In Heaven and, while you enjoy the story, you think there could–and maybe should–be more substance in such books, I agree with you, and I aim to provide both good story and substance you can discuss later in Terrence. If you’re part of a book club, Terrence  is for you. In fact, he’s eager to meet you!

When I began writing my novel, I did so at the urging of friends and family. You’re such a good writer, they said, either in not so many words, or sometimes in those exact words. Which always made me feel a little bit abashed. I appreciated the sentiment, but I was never really sure how I should respond. Thank you just didn’t seem like enough. You should write a memoir, these kind folks would tell me.

Twenty-six-year-old me scoffed at this memoir idea. What did I have to say at twenty-six? I sat with the idea for a couple days and decided my story wouldn’t be a memoir; it would be a novel.

“I think I can do this quick,” I remember saying. “I’ll make sure it’s done well, but I should have a book in two years.” That, my friends, is a writer unfamiliar with the process of writing for publication. I have since become intimately familiar with it.

Two years produced not a book but the first of many, many drafts. Only then did it become clear to me that seventy-five percent of writing is in the editing process.

More than eleven years will have passed between the first keystrokes of my novel and its worldly date of birth when I bring it to you beginning February 11th, 2020. In between the lines, so much hard work rests. I would be honored with your readership and humbled by your spending time with Terrence and his family.

Mark it on your calendars, folks. February 11th, 2020 you will meet Terrence and find out just what death taught him!

 

 

My Front Cover Is HERE!

You guys…. You GUYS….

I am so proud to announce that the front cover for my upcoming novel, What Death Taught Terrence, is HERE… and I happen to think it’s beautiful. I’d love to hear your thoughts, readers! We’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but everyone does it. Does this coer say buy and read me???

Please like the book’s page at http://www.facebook.com/whatdeathtaught

You will receive updates about the book and be THE FIRST to know of its upcoming release, likely in 2020. Terrence CAN’T WAIT to meet all of you!

For now… here it is… THE COVER!!!

 

The Next Great Novel You Haven’t Heard Of Yet…

Have you ever wondered where that great novel came from?

You know the one I mean. You weren’t planning to read it, it wasn’t even on your radar, in fact, until someone from your book club said, “I’ve heard good things about this one.”

You weren’t planning to read it, until your mother said, “Check out this book. It’s a life-changer.” Mom’s a little hyperbolic when it comes to books sometimes, so you put that recommendation in the back of your mind and thought, Maybe.

Meanwhile, this novel you never saw coming keeps climbing the best-seller charts, and eventually, maybe even months later, you give in and crack the book open. What will you find as you journey through it?

By nature, you are a skeptical reader. You want to love everything you read, but you know you won’t. That’s not how books work. There are different books for different moods. Different books for different times in your life. Sometimes, when you read a book has as much say over whether you’ll connect with it as its characters or the prose do.

And, let’s be honest, big-seller or not, some books are just plain bad. You know which ones I’m talking about here.

With that tiny preamble, let me tell you a little something about me.

I’m a writer.

The words come slow and through much effort, thanks to my cerebral palsy and my not-so-great eyesight. But I am a writer.

The first thing one must also be if they’re a writer: they must also be a reader. They must understand what’s being written, who it’s being written for, and why it sells… or, sometimes, why not. We all know that great book we love that almost no one else has ever heard about.

Anyway, years ago, I did this. I looked around at the books I loved (Mitch Albom, Richard Paul Evans, Erin Morgenstern, Audrey Niffenegger, to name just a few), and what I found was this. Every one of those authors told stories that were both personal to them and universally recognizable. This gave me an idea.

Write a book for everyone, a book that will show anyone who’s interested what it’s like to live differently abled in an able society.

Write a book for everyone, a book that will show anyone who’s interested the importance of relationships. The way love can change the world one life at a time.

Write a book at once beautiful and truthful.

Write a book that will make someone in a book club say, “I’ve heard good things about this one.”

That will make the mother of someone you’ve never met exclaim, “Check out this book. It’s a life-changer.”

It took twelve years and so many late nights when I wasn’t sure I’d see the other side of a deep and dark tunnel. But I have, at last, written the book that was written in my bones–in their marrow–long before it surfaced as a task I needed to complete.

The next great novel you haven’t heard of yet is called What Death Taught Terrence.

It is no spoiler to tell you the main character dies. This happens on page one (I hope that first page hooks you!). It is no spoiler to tell you this novel owes much of its DNA to properties like Field Of Dreams and It’s A Wonderful Life. What if George Bailey lived in the present-day and what if he was handicapped? Would his life still be wonderful? Could he find the meaning in it?

Why I’m writing this blog post on this dark night: simply put, I need a platform.

It used to be, as an author, the books one composed spoke for their creator. When there were less people publishing, when publishing’s  profit-margins weren’t razor-thin, the work spoke for the one who worked to produce it.

Now we can instantly connect with millions. I could instantly publish a book I know has the potential to change lives. At the same time, you might not know I’ve written a word. You might not know there is such a book out there to be read, even though you’re a reader.

I work with an agent. I spend my days reading and making good books great for other authors. Despite my palsy and my not-so-good eyesight, my skills as an editor are something in which I have much faith. As do those with whom I work. I know what I’m doing.

By the same token, you might not have heard of me yet. It is likely you haven’t. You might not have heard of my dear friend Terrence or of what death taught him and how the lessons he learns can benefit you and those you hold dear.

Someone said to me today that I needed to begin building a platform. This is someone I trust and respect. If she says it, it’s probably true. “Before your book comes out, let people know who you are.”

And so here we are. You’re reading these words and you’re thinking, Maybe I should read that book!

I would be deeply honored if you would. As both an author and a reader, I do not take for granted the time readers invest in stories. As a differently abled person in  an able society, I know my story might seem, on its face, different to you. A little out there. I promise you it is a universal yarn. If it doesn’t change your life, I respect that, and I respect you for giving my friend Terrence a chance.

But it might just change your life. It might. In small but profound ways, just as it changed mine while I wrote it.

To me, any novel with the potential to change lives might just deserve the moniker of  The Next Great Novel You Haven’t Heard Of Yet.

Does What Death Taught Terrence rise to this level?

I know what my answer is. What’s yours?

 

Stay informed on all things What Death Taught Terrence and be the first to know when the book comes out by liking Terrence at http://www.facebook.com/whatdeathtaught

 

 

 

The Talents I Got Didn’t Come With Fine-Motor Skills

I was always the kid with the limp.

I loved sports. I knew I’d never play them. What I would have given in my true youth for one day in an athlete’s body. To move like that. To run like that. To leave all challengers in the dust.

In high school, I was jealous–though never publicly–of the kids who could dunk, or pitch, or hit. Sure, those talents would fade with time and age, but they were so free, those kids. Not only that, they took their abilities so for granted. And they had cars. I’d never have a car. I didn’t  want to dunk as much as I wanted to drive down the road and buy a burger and a shake with a cute girl on my arm and then drive home, after a drive-in movie, late for  a curfew I knew I’d missed.

The talents I got didn’t come with fine-motor skills or hand-eye coordination. In fact, my talents’ Lyft left those things far behind. (I think it forgot to pick them up on the way to the airport or something.) My talent–singular, in a way, but amazing–was words. I could write and I could talk.

Talking gave me the ability to ask for help when I needed it. I often needed it (I often need it), though I never liked asking for it. Asking for help is weakness, I thought. Talking gave me the ability to show people who weren’t like me that I was like them enough to matter. That I should matter.

It was writing that showed me I did matter.

When a teacher would single out one of my stories and say, “Do you see, ladies and gentlemen? Do you see what Derek did there? Can you see why that’s good writing?” I beamed. Sure, the praise brought forth more than a few groans from my fellow students who couldn’t do what I did. Ironically, though, usually the groans came from the ones who could dunk or pitch or hit. But such praise also made some people re-evaluate how they saw me, and it was these people with whom I would want to communicate, anyway.

Writing, as a job, is more than difficult. I still want the praise from a teacher who’s no longer there to give it. The praise my brain is trained to expect, the praise for which it hungers. There’s no way to get it outside of reviews, and I may not get a review, or if I do it might not be the kindest thing ever written about me.

I am coming to terms with something tonight.

I write. There is a manuscript floating around out there that is the embodiment of my heart. Though fictional, it’s truer than anything that’s happened in my non-fiction life. I know people who, when one book doesn’t sell, they’ll simply write another. Have as many books ready as you can. Stuff them in drawers all around your house. When an agent finally comes calling, show them all. They will realize they’ve hit upon a treasure trove in you. I know people who can do that. I admire those people in much the same way as I used to admire the kids who could dunk and pitch and hit. But it needs to be okay–with me and for me–that I’m not one of them. My relationship with writing is analogous to my relationship with God. I have mine. You have yours (or not). And however we muddle through this existence, whatever we use our skill for, however we communicate with a higher power, or find our writer’s voices, that’s okay. No one way is better than another. They simply are, and they work for who they work for.

It’s interesting that I finally came to a point tonight where I could put that down for others to read. I’ve been trying to say it–if I’m honest with myself–for years.

 

 

 

I’m Not Gonna Tell Another Story About…

I’m not gonna tell another story about a girl on a train who is also gone and has also fallen from the sky and gotten a dragon tattoo, only to become the woman in the window in her agoraphobic middle-age.  It’s not that those stories aren’t interesting.  They’ve been told, though, and they’re not mine to tell. I definitely don’t want to tell tired rehashings of them. People will do exactly this, however, and the books will sell until the reading public realizes they’re being fed the same exact story for the tenth straight year.

What I want to tell is my story. Because in telling my story in a fictionalized form, I let my story live and become my story that is also your story, and the story of your neighbor, and so on. If I don’t tell my story, my life experience is lost to everyone but me, and what can be learned in such a loss other than sadness and regret? So tell your stories. Read original stories. Write the story or act the character or paint the painting you need to see in the world.

 

I Edit For Authors. I Write For Readers.

I’m a writer who loves to write. Yet writing can also be so frustrating as to cause one to stop writing for long periods.

How so? you ask.

If a writer is not clear on why they wrote a certain piece, why they let a certain sentiment float from their pen into an inky, judgmental world, this will come through in their writing and they–and their sentiment–are likely to be lost in this world, lost in the drone of so many voices saying so little, so many pages telling us not much.

There are so many stories I began writing whose main thesis never congealed into a cohesive narrative, and so they will never see the light of day, nor the dark of night. They will forever be known only to me, the writer who, in frustration, called a halt to them.

As I edit books and work with authors to fashion the best books we can, my chief thought is always, Does this sentence or that sentence serve the story? If it doesn’t, I recommend the sentence be excised. The most beautiful writing can’t save a sentence that, while beautiful in style, says essentially nothing of substance. All such sentences do say:  Look at me and the big words I know! Praise be to big-word knowers!

As well as being clear on what they’re writing, authors should be clear as to who they’re writing for.

Some authors write to be lauded by reviewers. They don’t want readers so much as to be talked about in the same breath as David Foster Wallace, Michael Cunningham, or the great F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The great irony of this fact is how Fitzgerald hungered for readers for his Gatsby. Readers he could not find until he’d left the world for good.

Other authors write for readers. They still want good reviews, don’t get me wrong, but they hope their good reviews come from the readers who take time out of their busy days and nights–their hectic lives–to carve out a place for their book. And hopefully said book will lodge forever in the reader’s memory, to be thought on and reread again and again.

I know I am firmly in the latter group. I edit for authors. I write for readers.

 

 

 

 

What Offends This “Disabled” Man

Watching The Great American Read on PBS, and seeing so many of my favorite books profiled, I am reminded why I love to read, and why I love to write.

I have cerebral palsy. And I am legally blind. Fun times! Truly, I choose to see these traits as two factors that add to my life, and not two obstacles that detract from it. You may choose to agree with me… or not. I don’t care. It’s my life, and I’ve learned over many years that, as the great Ricky Nelson once crooned, “You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”

At a young age, this is the mentality I took into writing. I had two people to please: My elementary school teacher, whoever it happened to be that year, and my Papa Dick. (The identity of the latter never changed.) Beyond that, as long as I was happy with it, any story I wrote was good and useful to teach me more about the mechanics and the craft of writing.

Years passed apace. Much quicker than they appeared to go by as they were unfolding. Those years that seemed to go by me as might a lumbering truck on a logging road–I look back on them now and see race cars in the rear-view. Through these years, I began to write seriously, and with the hope–the faraway wish–that other people might read my words.

I never thought I’d finish a novel. Short stories were easy. You conceived the piece, wrote it, and it was there for you to gaze upon and marvel at within a few days or weeks.

Novels, on the other hand, were an undertaking. What did I have to say that merited such room, such expansion of word counts, such varied language as must be used in a novel to avoid too much repetition? A lack of variety?

I always enjoyed novels. But I could never escape into them as so many of my peers claimed to be able to do. There was something in my head that told me: As much as you want to be a baseball player, you can’t be. You’re Derek. Your legs and your eyes don’t work. Sorry. No fun in the athletic realm for you.

As much as you want to be a super hero, you can barely walk. And you’re reading a book where people fly? Sorry, kid. Not happening.

Mysteries are fun to read, sure. But do you really think you could write one? Mysteries require clues and red herrings and compelling evidence and twists thought up well before they find the page. Your eyes will barely let you watch television. And you would presume to be able to write a mystery on par with the greats? With Doyle and Christie? Not gonna happen.

There was one subject I was steeped in and had researched my whole life. Being a guy with palsy and bad eyes, and wondering why. What if I could write a story about that? Then I could turn my deficits, the things society sees as lacking in me, and make them character traits as opposed to character flaws.

But would anyone care to read such a book?

“You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”

I’m just gonna write the thing, and we’ll see what happens, I told myself.

Ten years later, my manuscript was ready. I was ready. Time to find an agent who’ll love my book the way I love it; completely and without reservation.

Every writer knows rejection. They know it hurts and it sometimes scars, but it is also an important part of the business of books. When any writer is first writing, as a kid, what matters is the storyMake the story good. By the time they’re an adult writing books for public consumption, what matters is, Will the thing sell?

I remain haunted, after many years, by one particular rejection note concerning my book, What Death Taught Terrence. It is the book I was always meant to write. The main character has palsy and bad eyes, as do I, and he wonders after the purpose of his life. He wonders why.

Rather than a generic form rejection, the kind all writers are used to (“We regret to inform you that we will not be looking to represent your novel. Our opinion is, of course, subjective. Keep searching to find your book’s perfect home. Good luck to you!”) what I got in this particular rejection note was an agent (or an agent’s assistant) who actually sat down and wrote to me, “Clearly, you’ve written this book for people with cerebral palsy.”

You will never find a surer way to offend this disabled man. I don’t remember the name of the person who wrote that note, but I definitely remember the sentiment it carried.

Would anyone ever say to Lee Child, for example, “Jack Reacher is white. Clearly you’ve written this book for white people”? Would they say to the great Mr. King, “You’ve written Misery to scare writers exclusively”? No. But somehow it’s okay to marginalize a book written by a disabled man simply because the person marginalizing it failed to understand it?  That’s how I took that particular incident, anyway.

I would hope our world is better than that.

The world in which I wish to be a published author whose words affect the people who read them–that world is better. And, if it isn’t yet, it will be.

I don’t want to please everyone with my words. But, while pleasing myself with them, Dear Reader, I sincerely hope they will get to you one day and make you question the world we inhabit. And maybe, just maybe, they will make you feel a little bit better and make this life a little bit easier to live.