I’m very happy to welcome Lloyd Lofthouse, author of My Splendid Concubine to Peeking Between the Pages today. I had the pleasure of reading his novel for the Pump Up Your Book Promotion and you can see my review here. So, without further delay, here is Lloyd’s guest post. Enjoy. Make sure to check in at the end of the post for the giveaway!
I’ve been writing and struggling to get published for four decades. I’ve heard it said that ‘close’ only counts in the game of horse shoes. I don’t agree. Close also counts in the writing game. What do I mean by that?
More than a hundred thousand new books are published each year. There are millions of books in print. On top of that, the average book sells only five hundred copies. Some sell more and many sell less. Also, most brick and mortar bookstores stock twenty to fifty thousand titles. There is a lot of competition for shelf space.
With those odds, most writers can’t make a living. That ‘want-to-be a published author’ has to have a paying job to survive. Even after getting published, most have to keep working. In my case, I was an English/journalism teacher for thirty years. I’d get up at two or three in the morning after a few hours of sleep and write before driving to work in the sluggish morning traffic.
So, what is it that keeps someone like me writing? I believe the answer is knowing your work has entertained or touched someone that isn’t a member of your family or a close friend. Since I’ve attended writing workshops at Fresno State, Cal Poly Pomona, UCLA, etc, for me that was usually a creative writing teacher or another workshop writer. Marjorie Miller, the teacher out of UCLA, helped me find a major West coast agent to represent my Vietnam story, Better a Dead Hero—a novel I spent six years writing. No publisher bought Better a Dead Hero. However, one editor from a small traditional publishing house wrote that everyone in the editorial office read the manuscript and loved it. They just weren’t publishing Vietnam any more. As a matter of fact, they had stopped publishing fiction. That’s what I call ‘getting close’. Another word for getting close is encouragement—proof that you can write and tell a story—that someone out there you’ve never met will enjoy what you write.
Even with the occasional encouragement, it wasn’t always easy. Depression and doubt are viruses that plagued me as a writer. After reading a hundred rejections for something I sweated years to write, there were times I didn’t write for months, but I always returned to the keyboard and those early morning writing sessions.
Now that I’ve published My Splendid Concubine, a novel I spent a decade writing, the encouragement has reached a higher level. Powerful reviews like those from City Weekend Magazine; the Midwest Book Review, or the written comment from a Writer’s Digest judge along with winning an honorable mention in fiction from the 2008 London Book Festival helps build confidence. Also, bookstore owners and readers attending author events that read My Splendid Concubine said they enjoyed the novel.
Recently, I drove to Orinda Books to pick up a check from the owner for books placed on consignment. Orinda Books sold thirteen copies at full price—five remain. The local Barnes & Noble sold twenty. Bay Books sold all sixteen in stock. Last time I was at Clayton Books, fifteen had sold and a book club expressed interest in the rest. As I’ve discovered over the years, every little bit helped keep this writer on the path toward publishing. In a few months Our Hart, the sequel to My Splendid Concubine, will be ready. After that, a memoir, and I’m already half-way through the rough draft.
About the Author:
As a field radio operator, Lloyd Lofthouse was a walking target in Vietnam in 1966. He has skied in blizzards at forty below zero and climbed mountains in hip deep snow.
Lloyd earned a BA in journalism after fighting in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine. Later, while working days as an English teacher at a high school in California, he earned an MFA in writing. He enjoyed a job as a maitre d’ in a multimillion-dollar nightclub and tried his hand successfully at counting cards in Las Vegas for a few years. He now lives near San Francisco with his wife, with a second home in Shanghai, China. Lloyd says that snapshots of his life appear like multicolored ribbons flowing through many of his poems.
This link takes you to Lloyd’s ‘Vietnam Experience’ page filled with photos. He took many of them. Since Lloyd still has to edit the photos so they load faster, this page may load slow for older computers.
This link will take you to a media piece from a Southern California newspaper that Lloyd copied and posted on his Website that will give you an idea about his teaching years.
If you are interesting in learning more about Lloyd’s teaching experience, you are welcome to read about it at AuthorsDen. ‘Word Dancer’ is a memoir of the 1994-1995 school year. He kept a daily journal that year. He is using that journal to write ‘Word Dancer’. Everyday, when he arrived home, Lloyd wrote an entry in that journal. It sat on a shelf in his garage for fourteen years gathering dust. Spiders moved into the binder and built a nest. After all those years, Lloyd forgot he’d written it. When he was cleaning the garage, he found it again. Lloyd started reading, remembering and writing. Everything he writes in ‘Word Dancer’ happened. He’s using a primary source as his guide. Memory may be faulty, but a daily journal written the day an event took place is as accurate as it can get from the author’s point-of-view.
Accomplishments: Lloyd’s short story “A Night at the Well of Purity” was named a finalist for the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.
As a teacher, Lloyd found satisfaction in the number of students that published nationally and internationally while attending his English and journalism classes.
Please visit Lloyd Lofthouse’s website here.
Thank you so much for joining us here at Peeking Between the Pages today Lloyd. It’s been a pleasure both reading your novel and having you guest post on my blog.
Let’s move on to the giveaway now. I’m giving away my gently read, signed copy of My Splendid Concubine by Lloyd Lofthouse to one lucky winner. The rules are simple:
- Leave me a comment here telling me you’d like to enter. Be sure to leave me an email address to contact you.
- Read my review, leave me a comment on it and get yourself another entry.
This giveaway will be open worldwide. I will draw for a winner on Monday, February 2. Good luck everyone!