From the Pen of Jonathan Moeller

A short description all new authors should read of the work and days of the quest for a book to find its audience, and poet to find his dream.

Since my lovely and talented wife is seriously debating adopting this business model, it has a particular interest for my household.

It has taken me just about ten years to write this post.

In 2002, I took a class on the History of Rome. One part that stuck keenly in my mind was the account of the Roman Civil War. Of course, ancient Rome went through any number of civil wars, but this was THE Roman Civil War, the big one that turned Rome from a decaying Republic to an Empire ruled by the Caesar Augustus who issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. It is a fascinating and dramatic historical period, and so it is not hard to see why so many works of fiction are set in the period – William Shakespeare’s plays about Julius Caesar and Antony & Cleopatra, HBO’s graphic ROME series, and innumerable historical novels.

Inspired by that class, I bought a book by Stephen Dando-Collins called CAESAR’S LEGION, about Caesar’s elite 10th Legion. I was reading it when I came home to my parents for the summer, and I had gotten to the chapter on the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, specifically the part when Caesar’s army almost starved to death due to want of supplies before facing Pompey’s legions.

While I had been gone, the local town’s Wal-Mart had been upgraded to a Super Wal-Mart, the kind that carries groceries and food in additional to the usual dry goods. I remember, very distinctly, walking into that Super Wal-Mart for the first time and being stunned at the sheer quantity of food available. What would Caesar have done, I wondered, if he had had access to that kind of food? Or to canned food – he needn’t have worried about spoilage on the march, and he could have fed all his men.

Then I wandered past the sporting goods section, and wondered half-jokingly what Caesar would have done with a shotgun. Or with fifty shotguns. Or AK-47s. With fifty AK-47s, his men could have mowed down all of Pompey’s army.

The idea percolated.

That weekend one of my brothers had a graduation party, and as the festivities wound down, I slipped away to my computer and wrote a story about the idea. In the story, a Chicago politician running for Congress makes a pact with a renegade from another world, a world with a medieval level of technology. The politician will provide guns the renegade can use to take over his world. And what would the politician get in return? Well, I like fantasy novels, so the medieval world had magic, and the renegade was actually an evil wizard. And in exchange for the guns, the wizard taught the politician magic he could use to win his Congressional race, and maybe use to reach even higher office.

So Lord Marugon, the last of the Warlocks, and Thomas Wycliffe, Congressman from Illinois, were born.

At the time, I belonged to an online writers’ group, and they really liked the story. So I began to write more short stories using the setting and the characters, and by the end of 2002, I had a chain of them coming to about 30,000 words or so.

I decided I would turn those short stories into a novel. I realized it would be a really, really big novel. But that it was okay – it would be a huge epic story, and wouldn’t that be easier to sell? I started writing it on January 1st, 2003, confident I would finish by early summer or so. I typed the final sentence on September 1, 2003, finishing this huge monster book of 339,000 words.

Mr Moeller tells about the soft, silent snowfall of indifference from the publishers what buried his vast project.

Time passed. From time to time I emailed the publisher, wondering when I should plan to do edits.

Soon, they said.

More time passed. … I quit graduate school, moved to a different state, and got a different job. I kept writing novels, but none of them sold. Eventually I realized I could make more money blogging about computers than by writing fiction, so I started to do that.

Then, out of the blue in May of 2008, a galley proof arrived for WORLDS TO CONQUER. Sweet! I dutifully filled out the proofs and sent them in, and the book appeared for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in August of 2008. I did my best to promote it. I gave away review copies and babbled about it incessantly on my blog for weeks.

And it sold…well, let’s just say it sold well enough that I could afford a Whopper and fries. Specifically, one Whopper. With cheese.

It was delicious.

And after I ate it, that was that. That was all the money I saw from WORLDS TO CONQUER. The book faded away, and I moved on.

Read the post to read how this tale, thanks to new technology and Mr Moeller’s gumption, has a happy ending.

You, of course, dear reader, can make it happier by trying his wares.


TOWER OF ENDLESS WORLDS is free on Smashwords.

N.B.: I haven’t read the books myself, so I am not speaking for them. Nor has Mr Moeller or anyone approached me and asked me to hawk his wares. I am simply so impressed with his sticktoitiveness, that I want to draw your attention to it — and also I thought the idea for the book of the Faustian bargain between the Chicago Politician and the Warlock from a Iron Age world was darn way cool.