In Carrie’s Footprints: Free At Last
As you probably don’t know, Sykesville Online’s little publishing arm, Ashleigh-Reid, Publishers, recently published my book, In Carrie’s Footprints, which tells the story of Warren Dorsey, the grandson of a slave, who grew up in Sykesville, attended the little schoolhouse here, and managed to overcome great poverty and prejudice to become a microbiologist and then a successful educator.
We published the book in a very modern, high-tech sort of way that would have been impossible just a couple years ago. But now we’re going to do something really old-fashioned.
A long time ago some authors, Charles Dickens, for instance, serialized their works in magazines. So sort of how you have to wait a long week for the next Doctor Who or Walking Dead, you had to wait with great expectations for the next release of David Copperfield or A Tale of Two Cities. It must have been unbearable, and a great way to sell magazines. In fact it was so successful that according to The Star Tribune, “In 1841, Charles Dickens’ fans stormed New York’s harbor, waiting for a British ship to dock with the latest chapter of ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’ and word of whether the orphaned Nell had died in poverty or yet survived.”
Spoiler alert. Nell didn’t make it.
This sort of story-writing, building suspense and leaving people hanging may have started with One Thousand and One Nights, which is the story of Scheherazade, who kept herself alive by marrying a sultan, telling him a different story every night, and leaving him dying for more so he wouldn’t cut her head off in the morning.
Apparently the sultan’s first wife had cheated on him, and he hadn’t taken it well. In fact, he’d taken it so unwell that he’d taken to sleeping with a new virgin every night, chopping her head off in the morning, and then lining up another virgin. This had been going on for three years, causing great consternation among the populace and severely depleting his kingdom of virgins, when Scheherazade came up with her plan to put a stop to it.
So not only did Scheherazade tell a good story, but she did so under great pressure, using the art of the cliffhanger to keep her head attached to her neck so that she could breathe another day and tell another tale.
But I did not write One Thousand and One Nights, and I certainly didn’t set out to entertain a sultan. (By the way, do you know what happened on the one thousand and second night?)
But leaving Dickens and Scheherazade behind, and getting back to me and Sykesville Online, we’ve decided to serialize my book. Needless to say, this means we’re giving it away.
Authors have a proud tradition of making very little money on their books, and I’ve upheld that tradition well. So I’ve decided it makes sense to continue not making money if it will help attract readers, because to Warren Dorsey, this story is important. He wants a lot of people to hear it. And although I probably did a pretty good job writing it, I didn’t do a good job of getting lots of people to hear it. So why not give it away in an attempt to get more readers?
There will be 10 or 11 installments released between now and Warren’s 95th birthday on November 17. Hopefully by then, Warren will be a legend, and people will be storming docks, or at least frantically opening their iPads, for the final installment.
I could tell you more about the book, but why not just start reading?