Gaining Extra Credit with Author Gerald Stanek by Casey Bell

Beaver Falls, NY is where Gerald Stanek was born and raised. He knew since elementary school that writing was his talent and used it to score extra in class. Deciding to do more with his writings than receive extra credit, Gerald published his first book, “The Eighth House,” in 2012. I asked the author a few questions about his journey through the world of writing and publishing and he kindly gave the following answers.

1. What is your earliest memory of writing?

School assignments. I got “extra credit” — a rather meaningless phrase — in 5th grade for writing more stories than required.

2. What inspired you to publish your first book?

I wrote my first book out of boredom. I was thrilled at how easy it was. It didn’t get the reaction I expected from friends. I reread it with fresh eyes and realized it was not well written. I tried to rewrite it for a few years, but decided it wasn’t fixable, and tossed it in a dumpster. This was before everyone had a computer, there was only one copy. Unfortunately, I was still bored, so I wrote another. Once they’re written, it’s hard not to want to publish them.

3. Did you have any fears of publishing before you started?

When I first published, desktop publishing was relatively new. Amazon didn’t exist. I had some copies printed at a copy store and bound them myself. I wasn’t intending to sell them, so there really wasn’t anything to fear. Of course, rejection is a constant fear, even if you’re just giving your books away.

4. What were three things you learned about the publishing process?

Self-publishing is easy to do; earning money by it is difficult. I learned not to stock hundreds of copies of your own books. eBooks do not display the same way on every device. The process is always changing, there are always new service providers, new ways to distribute, and new interfaces to learn.

5. What was the most surprising thing you learned in the process?

Everyone and their uncle are doing it, or thinking about doing it, or have already done it.

6. Have you done any unique marketing that other authors can borrow?

I loathe marketing. Over the course of 30 years and 12 books, I have only made a small attempt at it, with my latest book.

7. What is the title of your latest book?

Rosa Mundi

8. What is a brief summary/synopsis of the book?

As a hospice worker, Tanika is accustomed to the unsettling poignancy of death, but when she finds herself at the bedside of visionary self-help guru Orina Baladin, she is changed forever. Tanika gets that “falling up” feeling, and starts seeing things that others don’t see: auras, glowing orbs, the net of light underpinning all things.

Orina’s followers feel like their whole world is dying. Her grandson, biosystem engineer Bennett is taking it especially hard. Some say he’s just grieving, but even his beautiful childhood friend Willow Acharya worries his depression is so severe he is losing touch with reality.

Tanika sees something more in Bennett’s quiet manner, and he seems to see something in her.

Before she passes Orina gives Bennett a centuries-old journal and whispers something in his ear about “the crossing” and “the river.” Despite his father’s protests, he sets off on a mountain road trip to fulfill her dying wish. Tanika goes along, to keep him grounded.

Then a shaman appears from beyond the veil. The journal gives up its secrets. Tanika sees things she could never have imagined and finds herself in possession of an ancient navigational instrument, and a plan to populate a new world with a new species, Homo Spiritus.

Will Willow and the others keep them from finding the place of conjunction in time?

Rosa Mundi is a hopeful meditation on the nature of reality, consciousness, and existence.

9. What inspired/encouraged you to write and publish the book?

Even though I started writing out of boredom, by the time I got to Rosa Mundi, I felt an obligation to impart what little wisdom I have gained in this life.

10. What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Incorporating multiple time periods, something I had not attempted before.

11. What part of the writing/publishing process did you enjoy the least?

Marketing. Rosa Mundi is a book worthy of promotion, but I find it very difficult to discuss my work, or distill a novel down to a 30-second ‘elevator pitch’.

12. Are you working on another book at the moment?

Not at the moment.

13. Where can your future fans follow you on social media?

14. Do you have a website?

15. With the knowledge you have now as a published writer, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Try to figure out what you’re trying to say before you start writing. Become more conscious of both your own intentions, and the needs of the reader. Take some classes, get more feedback. Maybe take up knitting instead.

16. What advice would you give a novice writer looking to publish their first book?

Read it aloud to a friend. Hire an editor. If you can’t afford an editor, let it sit for at least 6 months and read it fresh before releasing it. Print it out, don’t just read it on screen. Don’t be afraid to make changes.

17. Which author would you like to take a plane ride with and to what location?

Iris Murdoch. Maybe to Japan, to walk the Shikoku temple pilgrimage.

Hopefully, you were able to get a glimpse of the Author Gerald Stanek journey. If you are a reader, I hope you take the time to take a ride on one of his journeys (books). And if you are an unpublished writer, I hope his story and advice encourages you to take your own writing and publishing journey. And if you are neither, understand, “everyone is a reader, not everyone has found their favorite book yet (unknown).” To those who say they are not a reader, I hope, by faith, you get Rosa Mundi, to see if maybe you found your favorite.

Casey Bell