My comrades and colleagues in Information Technology, if they are of a certain age, may remember the salad days of the Worldwide Web. .In 1997, when the Web was still fairly new, I got myself a GeoCities website and a dial-up account with local Internet Service Provider PDQ.net. Through my recently acquired job teaching end-user applications for a training firm, I learned as much HTML as I would need to create and maintain the site. PDQ had its own interface for uploading web pages and graphics, but the techs there also recommended using a product called CuteFTP.
The main purpose for the website was to host an online novel, Eastern Daylight, which I started in 1994. That year was my tenth and last as a public school teacher (high school Latin, plus whatever subject my employer needed me to teach). Between June and October, I got in the best physical shape of my life, loading and unloading passengers' luggage, US Mail, and other items on and off jets at Houston Intercontinental Airport. The gaps between planes allowed me time for scribbling bits of a novel, among other activities. The benefit of flying anywhere in the US for $20 round-trip allowed me to make quick visits to the places that wound up as settings for this story.
By November, I moved into selling recorded music for a record chain that was expanding into Houston. The pay was not great, but it was the most enjoyable job I have ever had: The staff was excellent, and a few dozen local celebrities shopped there regularly. About the middle of my year and a half there, I began to notice that major-label recordings began displaying these peculiar combinations of characters beginning with http:// on the back-covers of the CDs. Ah, so this is for that Internet thing we keep hearing about! I stocked and maintained the Jazz and World Music sections, and also covered in the Classical room when the specialists weren't available. I also wrote résumés for a few months and depended on my then-wife's steadier income, before moving into IT training in 1996.
Eastern Daylight gets its title from spanning the Daylight Savings Time months, April through October, of 1992; all the settings lie in the Eastern Time Zone of the United States. The "April" chapter introduces the reader to the four subplots that gradually intertwine through the course of the novel, until they converge in "October." The writing is a little unpolished, to put it generously; It may indulge in too much "head-hopping"—i.e., point of view from more than one character in the same scene, which editors advise authors to avoid. Elements of the story are a tad derivative of my younger self's favorite novelists. Nonetheless, I like it even now. Too often, when I look at something I wrote 20 years ago, I turn multiple shades of embarrassed, even with nobody else in the room. This work I still find a rewarding read.
From the beginning, the idea was to make this novel free to anybody who cared to read it. Knowing how difficult it was for a first novel to get published the traditional way, I looked upon the WWW as the most convenient way for an author to self-publish and build a following. iUniverse and eBooks came into existence a bit later; I never imagined then that a person might use a mobile phone to read it. I also took advantage of HTML to add hyperlinks for explanations of certain references to politics, geography, and '90s pop culture that some readers might need explained. Those hyperlinks and explanatory notes have been removed for this edition.