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Alpena attorney publishes two books

December 30, 2011
By DIANE SPEER - News Lifestyles Editor , The Alpena News

As a published author, David S. Elder of Alpena possesses a certain amount of stick-to-itiveness.

Last year he self-published his first book, "Tashtego." Earlier this year, he used the same approach to publish his second novel, "The Gingerbread Man."

But getting from point A (writing) to point B (publishing) took Elder a lot longer than he ever envisioned. He started writing "Tashtego" in the early 1980s. Back then, the tools of the trade included a manual typewriter.

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"I always thought, I can do this," said Elder, a voracious reader.

"Tashtego" took him about a year to research and another year to write. Then he began shopping his finished work around to publishers.

"I sent out dozens of letters to publishers and agents. The agent says he can't represent me because I'm not published and the publisher says he can't publish my book because I don't have an agent," said Elder, who has hung onto his first rejection letter.

Discouraged by all the rejections he received, Elder set aside his writing for a number of years. He ultimately headed off to law school at age 39 and began practicing law at age 41. Meanwhile, as Internet technology opened up new possibilities for publishing, Elder became interested again in trying to get "Tashtego" into a book format.

"I thought wow, this is a wonderful opportunity to finally get my book out there," he said.

Even so, he still had a hurdle to cross. His book originally was typed on 700 pages of paper that needed input into a computer to make it downloadable to the Internet. He ended up hiring a typist in Wyoming who was willing to retype the entire book into the necessary format for getting it published.

Elder calls "Tashtego" a "guy's action tale." Based loosely on "Moby Dick" and "The Heart of Darkness," the story is about a divorced muscle car engineer, Royal St. Vincent, who starts a new life in Florida by buying a 60-foot sports fishing boat for chartering purposes.

St. Vincent is soon approached by a beautiful girl wanting to charter a trip from him. Against his better judgment he consents and soon finds himself embroiled in drug cartels and life-threatening situations. In the clutches of a mysterious drug lord, St. Vincent must find out who Tashtego is and then free himself from Tashtego's grasp.

The book currently is available only in digital format at and nook.come, where it can be loaded onto a Kindle or Nook reader. "Tashtego" sells for $9.99 and "The Gingerbread Man" for $7.99.

While working out the process for getting "Tashtego" up online, which involved a number of revisions, Elder also began writing a book called "The Gingerbread Man." He initially wrote that one as a short story, but then opted to flush it out into a novel.

"The Gingerbread Man" centers around Eric Davis, a young man just out of high school who ends up serving eight years in prison for an accidental death. He then ships out in the Merchant Marine, where he sails the oceans and learns the love of the sea and literature.

Upon becoming a successful writer and also failing at marriage, Davis ends up moving to a small secluded island in the Caribbean. It is there that he encounters emotional and spiritual growth while living life among the island and its people.

"The first book is a man's action novel, while the second is a spiritual tale," said Elder of "The Gingerbread Man."

Elder said people are starting to buy his books and he now receives small but monthly checks based on the sales. Going the indie publishing route allowed him to finally get his book into the hands of readers, he said, even though it does come with its own set of challenges.

"Indie writers put their books out on the Internet," Elder said. "There are literally thousands of them out there, and the catch is to be able to rise above the rest."

Even so, he already has the seeds for another booking swirling around in his head.

Elder graduated from Brecksville High School in Cleveland, Ohio, and from Ohio University in 1971. He is a graduate of Cooley Law School in Lansing and currently practices law in Alpena. For more information about the author, go to



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