“what a long, strange trip it’s been” – Grateful Dead
My Journey as a Children’s Advocate and Debut Novelist
by Robert EggletonI’m a retired children’s psychotherapist and have worked in the field of children’s advocacy for over forty years. Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel. Although I’ve dreamed of becoming a famous author since early adolescence, most of my writing has been nonfiction within my field. In 2002, I accepted a job as a children’s psychotherapist for an intensive day treatment program at our local mental health center. Many of the kids in the program had been abused, some sexually. Part of my job was to facilitate group therapy sessions.
One day in 2006, during a group therapy session, I was sitting around a table used for written therapeutic exercises, and a little girl with stringy, brown hair sat a few feet away. Instead of just disclosing the horrors of her abuse at the hands of the meanest daddy on Earth, she also spoke of her hopes and dreams for the future: finding a permanent and loving family that would protect her. This girl – her resiliency and determination -- was inspiring. I began to write fiction in the evenings and sometimes went to work the next day without enough sleep. I balanced my two compelling interests, writing fiction and child welfare, by deciding to donate half of author proceeds to the prevention of child maltreatment.
Looking back, I got lucky. Two or three query letters to publishers and six months of editing later, the original edition of Rarity from the Hollow was published by a traditional eBook publisher in 2006. My luck didn’t hold. A month after its release, Fatcat Press went defunct. Dozens of queries to publishers later, my debut novel was out-of-print until the project was picked up in late 2012 by a traditional small press, and a month of more editing later, Rarity from the Hollow was released as an eBook and paperback.
That’s when the real work began – self-promotion. I had no idea what I was doing. The original edition of my novel had received a few glowing reviews, including one by The Missouri Review, a few blurbs by prominent authors, and, I guess that I thought that the book would be somehow “discovered.” I soon realized that Dog Horn Publishing, while it had paid for all costs associated with release of my novel, had next to no advertising budget. In hindsight, I made one mistake after another for the next several months without much progress. I self-promoted on blogs that didn’t have a specific thread for that purpose, wasted time submitting review requests to abandoned blogs using an outdated list of book reviewers….
Next, my project hit a major glitch. Although I was learning from my mistakes – my pitch for a book review continued to improve, and I began to also request that book bloggers consider other options to promote my project if they were too busy to review: spotlights, author interviews, guest posts and articles, and on May 29, 2015, Rarity from the Hollow received the first of a long string of glowing reviews by independent book blog reviewers. http://www.errantdreams.com/2015/05/review-rarity-from-the-hollow-robert-eggleton/ But, this review also noted “confusion” and head hopping. I was confused by the reviewer’s finding. Upon investigation, I discovered that, due to a formatting error, the italics for the internal dialogue in my story had been omitted. The Dog Horn editor commented on Amazon about it. He took full responsibility for the error and publicly committed to correction of the problem.
On June 13, 2015, another glowing review of Rarity from the Hollow was published but with a similar finding about attribution of head thoughts. https://ghbooks.wordpress.com/2015/06/13/rarity-from-the-hollow-is-rare-indeed/ And, on July 19, 2015, another high praise review was published in the last issue of the print-only Tales of the Talisman Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 4. This time, the editor of Dog Horn Publishing emailed the editor of the magazine to explain the situation – that what had been reviewed was an Advance Review Copy (ARC). It didn’t make a difference. The last issue of the magazine was already at the printer. From that point on, I modified my already too long pitch for a book review to include that my novel was an ARC and why.
Despite the formatting problem, the ARC of Rarity from the Hollow was awarded two Gold Medals by major book review organizations, was named one of the best releases of 2015 by a Bulgaria book critic, was a Top Pick for 2016 on a book blog, and received twenty-six five star reviews and forty-three four star reviews by independent book review bloggers on Amazon. After a decade of trials and tribulations and another round of editing, the final edition paperback version of Rarity from the Hollow was released on November 3, 2016. The eBook was released on December 5, 2016.
During my long journey as a debut novelist, I’ve decided to give up more times than I could count. Each time, I’ve remembered the determination of the real-life Lacy Dawn, the girl that I met in the group therapy session who inspired the creation of my protagonist. Then, the 2016 U.S. Presidential Primaries heated up and I realized that Rarity from the Hollow was the first, perhaps the only, science fiction adventure to specifically predict the rise of Donald Trump to political power -- parody with no political advocacy one side or any other. I knew that its readers find out how Lacy Dawn convinced Mr. Rump (Bernie Sanders) to help talk Mr. Prump (Donald Trump) into saving the universe. My story felt too important to just walk away from. It includes pressing issues that are still being debated today, including illegal immigration and the refuge crisis, an issue that several European commentators have compared to cockroach infestation; extreme capitalism / consumerism vs. domestic spending for social supports; sexual harassment….
Mr. Prump in my story was a projection of Donald Trump based on the TV show, The Apprentice. The counterpart, Mr. Rump, was based on my understanding of positions held by Bernie Sanders as I wrote it. Part of the negotiations in the story occur in the only high rise on planet Shptiludrp (Shop Until You Drop), a giant shopping mall and the center of economic governance, now easily identifiable as Trump Tower. The allegory was not addressed by ARC reviewers of the novel because so few people worldwide considered Donald Trump to be a serious political contender until the primary elections in the U.S. The parody is obvious now that Donald Trump has become a household name.
While I included no political advocacy in Rarity from the Hollow, both the 2017 House and Senate versions of the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act have caused me to feel great personal concern. Given the deep cuts in Medicaid that have been proposed and which will, if implemented, further victimize child victims, the nonprofit agency to which half of author proceeds are donated for the prevention of child maltreatment – this agency needs all the help that it can get, especially now. How could I give up without feeling very guilty?
Last, of all the wonderful contributors to this project over the years, the great reviews – two book reviews touched my soul. No, I didn’t mean that these two reviews most touched my heart, or that they were my favorite reviews of Rarity from the Hollow.
On January 6, 2017, the first review of the final edition of Rarity from the Hollow was published, five stars. The closing lines were: "…Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s 'Animal Farm.' I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list." A couple of months later: “…It feels timeless, classic and mature in way that would ensure its longevity if more people knew about it… a distinctive approach to the adult-fairytale/modern-retelling sub-genre…I would even say it could be read in a college setting both for the craft itself and its unique brand of storytelling. The premise is brilliant." https://taylaroi.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/rarity-from-the-hollow-by-robert-eggleton-a-revised-book-review/
The ending of one long, strange trip represents the beginning of another. Rarity from the Hollow now has 102 reviews on Amazon, none of which were posted by friends or family – all by book bloggers.
For a limited time, the eBook version of Rarity from the Hollow is on sale for $2.99 and the Paperback is on sale for $16.99.
Author's proceeds contribute to the prevention of child maltreatment:
Author's proceeds contribute to the prevention of child maltreatment:
Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage -- an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It's up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.
Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. A Children’s Story. For Adults.
“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.”
—Temple Emmet Williams, Author, former editor for Reader’s Digest
“Quirky, profane, disturbing… In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.”
— Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review
. "…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse…tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…profound…a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy." -- Awesome Indies (Gold Medal)
“…sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…a brilliant writer.” --Readers’ Favorite (Gold Medal)
“Rarity from the Hollow is an original and interesting story of a backwoods girl who saves the Universe in her fashion. Not for the prudish.” —Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author
“…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” -- The Baryon Review
"…Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s 'Animal Farm.' I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list." -- Marcha’s Two-Cents Worth
"…I know this all sounds pretty whack, and it is, but it's also quite moving. Lacy Dawn and her supporting cast - even Brownie, the dog - are some of the most engaging characters I've run across in a novel in some time…." -- Danehy-Oakes, Critic whose book reviews often appear in the New York Review of Science Fiction
"… The author gives us much pause for thought as we read this uniquely crafted story about some real life situations handled in very unorthodox ways filled with humor, sarcasm, heartfelt situations and fun." -- Fran Lewis: Just Reviews/MJ Magazine
Half of author's proceeds are donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia for the prevention of child maltreatment
About the author:
Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. Locally, he is best known for his nonfiction about children’s programs and issues, much of which was published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from1982 through 1997. Today, he is a retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome maltreatment and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel. Its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines. Author's proceeds support the prevention of child maltreatment.