As of the 30th, I officially have The Four-Year-Old Guardian available at Amazon and Smashwords. FYOG (as I’ll affectionately refer to it from now on) has a special place in my heart. If Ascension was a bit a of a happy accident, FYOG and its sister books were planned.
I remember the details behind coming up with the series quite clearly. It was March 2006 when I first started kicking around the idea. I recall the date because Norma and I were in the hospital, waiting to meet our new niece, Mia. Norma was eight months pregnant and I had all the time in the world, having been unceremoniously laid off from my job out in the area just a few weeks before. Norma spent nearly every day of her pregnancy sick (sorry, honey) and stayed home from work. With both of us home all day, we had nothing better to do than watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathons. Within a few weeks, we watched all seven seasons and moved onto Angel, the spin-off series. I even got desperate enough to watch Charmed, which I consider to be Buffy’s not-so-cute, smells-kinda-weird cousin.
We were in the hospital reading a Goosebumps book and I told Norma someone should do a horror series for kids, but make it serialized. I love a good on-going storyline.
By the middle of that day, I had written down some ideas on a napkin. I kicked around the idea for the next year and a half, jotting down ideas and fleshing out the story. At some point, I had to decide how old the kids were going to be. I had to choose between 12 and 16. I already knew some of the content in later books was going to be a little on the violent side (nothing too out there, though), so I settled on the older age bracket. That really opened it up, as it went from a kid’s book to YA. Suddenly, romance bloomed between the characters and the fights became a little more intense. It also shifted away from horror to more of a paranormal action series, inspired in no small part, by my Buffy obsession.
I wrote a rough version of the first chapter (I’d like to emphasize the word *rough* here), with young Nicholas Stravinski (winces) meeting his portly neighbor, Milton (bows head in shame). In it, Nick was rather dour (even moreso than he appears in the final version), lacking the sense of humor that I think balances him out. Milton eventually became Myles, and rather than make him fat, I went with the other cliche and made him a scrawny little geek.
In September of 2007, I bought a notebook with the intent of filling it up with ideas. By this point, I had a good idea of what it was and where it was going. I had just finished up on my backlog of books I was reading at the time and as I put pen to paper, I figured, why not just start handwriting the book instead of making more notes? Two months later, I was writing The End and moving onto book two.
When I first started, I didn’t have everything hammered into place. I didn’t know what Wendy’s name would be (I was leaning toward Amanda), until I wrote it down. And in the scene where Nick meets her, I thought it’d be odd she was by herself, so I created Melody on the spot. When I mentioned to Norma the fight against the Snake Demon, she mentioned it would be better if it were a student. That thought led to him being Jeff’s younger brother. The name Jake was put in as a joke I intended to change later (Jake the Snake Roberts, for you wrasslin’ fans). Jake took on a life of his own, becoming a much more prominent figure in the sequels.
I plugged away at the series, finishing the first three in short order. I got a good way into the fourth book when I started running into trouble. By then, I had a number of characters and plot-lines I was juggling and my somewhat reckless plowing through the books up to that point was starting to catch up with me. At the same time, some external obstacles popped up; I started working in the office part-time as a dispatcher. Previously, I’d done the bulk of my writing on my lunches and breaks out on the road. In the office, I often had less breaks and there were more distractions, not the least of which was Facebook. I started goofing off on the networking site, playing games and basically losing all focus on my writing. I also joined Authonomy and posted Ascension and FYOG, the only one of the books in the series I had typed up. I received some tremendous feed-back and went into edit mode for the next few years, adding a prologue when some complained about thinking it was supposed to be a murder mystery. I reworked and retooled FYOG so much, I lost sight of the rest of the series. Eventually, I realized I was spending all of my time either messing around on FB or fraternizing on Authonomy.
In 2009, I signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Monthly) and started a brand new book, a superhero series called AdaptNation. I fell well short of my 50,000 word mark, but it put me back on the path of writing. I abandoned that project part-way through, unhappy with the direction it was taking (to be finished at a later point, I swear!). I started and ended a few other stories until November of 2010, where I once again stepped up for NaNoWriMo, this time working on yet another new series called Unseen Things. I finished that book and went onto the second, which I’m currently still working on. My plan is to finish it by this November, when I hope to start and finish the final book in that series. In the meantime, I sent out my two finished books to some editors, none of which I heard from. When I found out about the possibility of self-publishing, it sounded right up my alley. I focused on fixing Ascension and FYOG, adding in a few scenes that had plagued me over the years and generally cleaning them up and as of July, they’ve been released into the wild. I still have yet to finish typing/editing the second book in the series, Bravado/Dramatique and the fourth book remains unfinished. I know how it ends, as well as the major beats of the fifth book and the spin-off series I have planned, I just haven’t gotten back to it. My hope is to finish the series off once I’m done with the third Unseen Things.
And that, in a nutshell, is how The Four-Year-Old Guardian came to be and what I hope it shall become.