Gonzales native Dustin Carter can call himself a published author now, after recently releasing his novel titled Cortez: A Texas Tale. But the path to becoming an author wasn’t always clear for him. The self-described “screw up” grew up, changed his life and eventually found his way to becoming a published writer.
Born in San Antonio, Carter moved to Gonzales at a young age, attending Gonzales ISD from first grade through graduation, with a brief stint at Shiner St. Paul Catholic in sixth grade. The Apache graduate spent a few years after high school trying to figure things out, admittedly calling himself “a loser with nowhere to go.”
“I tried going to tech schools and junior college, but would always drop out after a few months,” he said. “One day, my older brother sat down and told me I was a screw up. Right after that, I cleaned up my act and signed up for the military.”
The time spent in the military proved to be invaluable.
“I came home with a new plan for my life,” Carter added.
After a few years of college, the Gonzales native graduated from Texas A&M Corpus Christi. He then began work on an MBA, which sparked his interest in becoming a writer. Prior to his latest experience with college, Carter never saw himself as a writer.
“I tried to write, but would get a page in and stop,” he said. “It wasn’t until I got my MBA when I started to take it seriously. I would always finish my term papers before I finished most of my other work. They would be finished with weeks or even months to go in class. I actually liked the research and writing them.”
As he finished up his MBA, Carter wrote out the outline to his book and later began to fill up his notebook with the story.
“A few days later I started to type it out,” he recalled. “I got through the first 50 or 60 pages in a few days. Then four or five nights a week I would put the kids to sleep and turn on my computer and type for a few hours. I always type a thousand words a night.”
The whole process took five years, from brainstorming up until holding on to a physical copy of the book.
“When I finished it, I felt relieved but in all actuality I haven’t finished it yet,” he explained. “I will probably never finish it. Writing it is only half the battle. You write, edit, copyright, find a cover, find a person to format it, then try to sell and promote it. That's where I am now, and it’s been a long road but I’ll keep going.”
“It felt good,” Carter added. “Back in 2005 while I was in Iraq, I made a list of accomplishments I wanted to achieve in life and writing a book was one of them. I’d rank it up there with graduating college.”
The novel itself is a fictional story about a high school kid who has a good life, but things go wrong for him.
“He goes through a lot of issues that normal high school kids go through,” Carter explains. “He has issues with drugs, alcohol, girls, family, cops and the list goes on. He knows he is doing wrong and wants to change but every time he tries to do the right things the world he lives in pulls him back in. He finally tries to do the right thing. But is it the right thing?”
Carter warns that the book has explicit language.
“I’d have to stay, the story is Rated R, not for young kids,” he said.
When asked for advice, Carter believes what worked for him was going on a long drive by yourself, to clear your mind.
“In Gonzales, you take some back roads and make the trip around town in less than four hours,” he said. “There are tons of stuff to see out there and you can get plenty of ideas just from what you see. When you get back home don’t even turn on the TV. Sit down in a quiet place and put your ideas down on paper. I write my best stuff when I am depressed or mad. On those days the words flow like the water did out of the lake in Gonzales.”
To support Carter, you can purchase his book on Amazon.com, where you can buy a paperback copy or a digital copy.
“I’m working on trying to get it in bookstores, or anywhere else that is willing to sell it,” he said.
Look out for Carter’s second book sometime next year.
“ I have already finished my second book in that time as well,” he said, “and am looking at having it ready to go out sometime next year or maybe by the holidays.”