“Wolves Will Eat” was released in July of 2019, just a year after Blood and Oak, Bettencourt’s first book, which came out in May of 2018.

Just over a year after publishing his first book, Yreka High School graduate Garrett Bettencourt published his second novel. His newest book, titled “Blood and Oak: Wolves Will Eat,” is the second in what Bettencourt plans to be a long series. The fictional stories are set against the backdrop of real events, beginning with the Barbary Wars and eventually going through the War of 1812.

“Wolves Will Eat” follows American sailor John Sullivan as he tries to find a way to save his shipmates, his family, and the woman he loves from a grisly fate, the book’s description reads. “His only path to freedom leads through imperial soldiers, bloodthirsty pirates, and the most relentless enforcer in the Ottoman Empire. As the old saying goes on the Barbary Coast, ‘He who acts like sheep, the wolves will eat.’

Bettencourt said his second book took about a year to write – significantly less than the three years he spent on the first installment. It helped that he’d already done a lot of the “world building” this time around, he noted, referring to the process of creating an imaginary world for his characters to inhabit.

“Wolves Will Eat” was released in July of 2019, just a year after Blood and Oak, Bettencourt’s first book, which came out in May of 2018.

Though he does have a full time “day job” as a manager for a network marketing company in Arizona, Bettencourt said he views writing as his second job, or like attending night school. Thinking of writing in those terms helps him stay committed to writing and publishing regularly.

He’s planning to switch up his publishing strategy a bit going forward by breaking the next Blood and Oak books into smaller chunks, thereby allowing him to release new material more often. As a self-published author, he explained, it’s important to publish new material regularly “to stay on people’s radar.”

Not only will shorter books allow him to publish more often, Bettencourt said, but each book will cost less for readers. When he was interviewed by the Siskiyou Daily News in June of 2018 about his first book, Bettencourt said he thought the Blood and Oak series would eventually be seven books. With smaller installments though, he said that number will likely be significantly higher.

Bettencourt hadn’t always intended to self-publish his work. He had originally envisioned going the “traditional route” to get picked up by a publishing house, but after doing some research, he changed his mind. “It’s kind of a myth that if you’re picked up by a major publisher they’re going to do a lot for you,” he remarked.

First time authors typically have to do a lot of self-promotion whether they’re represented by a publisher or not, he said.

And with more and more bookstores closing their doors, the competition for space on store shelves is much higher, Bettencourt posited. As a self-published author, he didn’t have to wait for a publisher to take a chance on him, and he has more creative control over his work.

Of course, choosing that course is not without its challenges. “There’s a lot of DIY nightmares in self-publishing,” Bettencourt observed, specifically referencing spelling errors and “wonky formatting.” He shared, “I want someone who comes across my book to not be able to tell it’s self-published.”

To that end, he hired an artist to create the cover art. And he paid for a second artist to handle the title and logo art. Bettencourt also paid for someone to design the book’s cover. The result is a high-quality, eye-catching book that would not look out-of-place on display in a bookstore.

He hired Jenny Jensen, who edited his first book, to edit “Wolves Will Eat” for style and narrative. Jensen’s help was invaluable, Bettencourt said. “She caught a few things I’m glad she did because it strengthened the book a lot,” he said.

Jensen also told Bettencourt about some passages where she felt the novel’s pace was lagging, or where “the prose was too flowery,” he said. While such feedback isn’t always easy to hear, he conceded, he compared Jensen’s editing to “a surgeon identifying what’s wrong and telling you how to fix it.”

Even with an editor, Bettencourt said he relies on a writers’ group for feedback. He’s been involved with the Scottsdale Desert Scribes and was a part of the Redondo Beach Writer’s Group prior to that. “You have to be a little cautious about the feedback you get from other writers because sometimes they’re too generous,” he detailed. But he’s also had fellow writers critique his work particularly harshly. “I take it with a grain of salt,” he said, adding that “sometimes you have to stick to your guns.”

Going to a writers’ group was “scary at first,” Bettencourt said, “but over the years it’s become really valuable. Writing is a lonely thing but it’s also about sharing and connecting with people.” He also credited his aunt, Siskiyou County resident and avid reader Michelle O’Gorman for being “a great sounding board.”

Bettencourt said one of his favorite parts of being a published author is that he was able to have his first book recorded as an audio book. “Hearing my work read back to me is awesome,” he described, noting that the audio book’s narrator “does different voices and accents and brings the characters to life ... That was the most rewarding thing.”

Readers will be eligible to receive a free “Blood and Oak” audio book or a signed paperback copy when they join Bettencourt’s email list at GarrettBettencourt.com/emailupdates

Both books are available for sale now on Amazon by searching “Garrett Bettencourt.”