(This post is dated June 22, 2012, and is from my old blog. I repost it here because it is an important part of the ongoing story of the making of The Zombie Bible.)
In fall 2011, a whole lot happened in my life and the lives of my family, and it happened very fast. In November, my wife and I had our second daughter arrive, beautiful as a spring morning. She gave us a little bit of a scare at birth, but then she was fine and gazing up at her mother with those deep hematite eyes of hers. Then, right after Thanksgiving, she began having seizures. At first they were intermittent and quick; by the winter, they were regular and severe. They began as partial complex seizures – one half of her body jerking and her breath getting shallow enough to scare her father – but one seizure would trigger another and that would trigger yet another, until she was having generalized seizures, loss of control of every muscle in her small body – even down to her eyebrows and her tongue. One time her skin color turned as gray as ash.
It was scary for a while. Real scary. Her mother had epilepsy as a child (a mild form) so she liked to let on that she knew what to expect and wasn’t frightened, but I could see it in her face. My wife was worried sick, and she still hasn’t entirely recovered from that.
Neither have I.
It took a couple of months for the doctors to find the right cocktail of medicines to give our little Inara Cahira a stable babyhood. I suspect the trouble was partly that every week or so she added a good ten percent to her body weight, wreaking havoc with her dosages. There were a few evenings when she would have ten or even fifteen seizures. I will never forget the nights I spent sitting by her at the hospital, watching her fitful sleep. I probably prayed more in those weeks than I have at any other time in my life, and slept less. I think Inara’s older sister thought the hospital was where the new baby lives.
She’s well now, for the time being. After a grand total of six ambulances and five hospitalizations (the longest lasting nearly a week), she has been two months without a neurological seizure. Her last EEG came back normal; for the moment, this is under control. She is an astonishingly cheerful baby; she giggles at everything. She even giggled at her doctors and nurses—once they got the IV in, at least. She isn’t the kind of girl that lets anything get her down, and her mother and I are fiercely proud of her.
The other half of this story is one of gratitude. Bad things and good things come at the same time, and they walk hand in hand. In December, at the same time that I was getting increasingly worried about my little girl, my first book, a horror novella that I had self-published through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), got picked up by Kindle Singles – which is a very exclusive and eclectic Amazon storefront specializing in shorter work. Between December 12 and Christmas, the book sold about 6,000 copies and reaped a windstorm harvest of acclaim and positive reviews. Shortly before Santa arrived on our rooftop, Alex Carr over at Amazon Publishing called me up and offered to acquire my series. Now Amazon’s 47North is coming out with new editions of the first two books in August 2012 and with my third novel in October 2012. Their people have treated me well, and I’m excited to work with them.
You’ve probably heard from a lot of indie writers about the freedom that self-publishing in general or KDP in particular has afforded them. That’s all true for me, too. But what I will always remember most about my publishing experience in the winter of 2011-2012 was the surreal experience of receiving—on the same day—a packet of medical bills that scared me half to death and a royalty check that erased them.
Since then, I’ve used the money I’ve made as a writer through KDP to fund ongoing treatment and testing for little Inara, as well as treatment for my wife’s chronic pain syndrome. Without the doors that KDP opened for me, I don’t know how I would have afforded any of it, or how I would have taken care of my little girl and kept food on the table, too. I thank God for it and I celebrate the technology and the people who have made this possible. Many emerging writers (whether traditionally or independently published) release their work and see it vanish for a while into an empty chasm. I got to see the return on my investment in a tangible, immediate, and deeply personal way.
This letter is meant as a thank you. With Inara doing better and the days getting warmer and longer, this is the first time I’ve felt relaxed enough to start thanking people. Not that Amazon’s team are the only ones to thank; my boss, my friends, and my church community each stepped in to help in very welcome and unexpected ways, and we couldn’t have made it through the winter without them. But the success of my books through KDP and Kindle Singles was perhaps the most unexpected of the blessings we received.To my church community: your meals, prayers, support, and babysitting for our toddler helped more than I can possibly say. To my boss: thank you for the beautiful health insurance package, your visits and words of strength and support, and for not even blinking when I needed to spend long hours at the hospital. To my friends: thank you for your worry, your hope, your companionship, and for all the soda pop with real sugar.
To my wife: thank you for being you, and for loving our girl so fiercely.
To the team at Amazon and KDP: your independent publishing platform was there for me and my family in a dark hour of our lives and it opened up future opportunities for me that I could hardly have dreamed of. And most of all, your platform helped me get my daughter the medical care she needed—and still needs—without my family going hungry. I am fiercely proud of my books that paid for that and I am fiercely thankful for having had the opportunity through KDP and Kindle Singles to get them out there.
Yours in truth and fiction,