So, in an effort to inspire and encourage awesomeness, I have been keen to interview other writers, specifically first-time novelists, in order to probe their process from page to publication. For me, the sticking-with-it-ness is always a challenge, so I’m amazed when one of my peers has the tenacity to sit down and write a few hundred pages. I, for one, can’t get through composing a mere blog post without checking Facebook 28 times. How in the world will I ever finish a novel? But that’s the struggle up for dissection within these pages, hence, I bring you a glance into the life of someone who has actually done said deed. – TT
La Jolla, CA. Dominic Carrillo saunters into the brew house, fresh from a seminar on publishing which he was hoping would give him some new marketing tricks. You see, he has a dilemma: He is trying to figure out how to promote his self-published bow into the world of fiction successfully in the few weeks he has left stateside before taking up a year-long teaching position in Bulgaria. I mean, doesn’t everyone have these issues? Ahem.
He orders something dark and smiles easily, his neatly trimmed beard announcing his Jack Kerouac tendencies, his polite eyes signaling that he finds the stories of others much more interesting than his own. No wonder his blog gets so much action. And now with his first book, To Be Frank Diego, hitting the virtual shelves via Amazon, the fact that he can write just as adeptly about his hometown of San Diego as he can about sitting at the head table in a Nigerian village almost doesn’t seem fair.
Carrillo began his blog, Americano Abroad, about ten months ago, during a teaching assignment in Italia after receiving encouragement from a blogger friend who thrived on writing about travel. Also encouraging: an incident involving some travel buddies and a sudden lack of reading material. When Carrillo’s journal, freely shared, became an intriguing enough substitute for a “real book,” he began to see his writing as perhaps not only interesting for others to read, but also full of stories that were actually meant to be shared.
Thus began his foray into the blogosphere, where he has cast himself as a newbie explorer immersed in foreign culture, astutely chronicling his experiences with a wry sense of self-deprecation that quickly endears a reader to his words.
But soon, the seed of another story began to emerge, one that had been marinating for a while in the back of his mind. Finally, during a long bout of illness in Guatemala that left him pretty much house-bound, he began to write it down – mostly to distract himself from all he was missing outdoors. 80 pages later, he thought that maybe he was onto something. To Be Frank Diego emerged.
A bit about the book: Frank Diego is a San Diego native who is forced to navigate the city’s public transportation system – a rare feat for most locals. On his day-long journey, he meets a variety of characters, faces challenging issues about his own ethnic identity, contemplates a recent relationship, and pulls no punches when offering his opinions about “America’s Finest City.”
Publishing the novel, once completed, was a daunting task. After tapping as many connections as he could, Carrillo soon discovered that the traditional publishing route would require time and patience. With his next itinerary looming, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Createspace was happy to provide the means. Fast forward six months and a few hundred people are gathered at the Starlite Lounge in Little Italy for his first book signing.
He admits he has received enormous support from friends and family. The challenge, he says, universal among self-published novelists, is to reach a larger audience. He is exploring social media, bumping up the Frank Diego website, and looking for reviews and exposure on local San Diego media. The fact that the novel explores a particular city is a definite plus, even if the impressions offered by the main character can be slightly scathing at times. He has just a few weeks to make it all work before the next adventure sets in.
Will the continual online promotion of Frank Diego be on his mind as he settles into life in Bulgaria later this month? Perhaps. But Americano Abroad will be up and running again as well, and therefore his attention will be more focused where he prefers it – on the stories of others and, like Frank Diego, what new ruminations on this crazy world lie around the next corner.