The Beardly Writer

Some write from the heart. I write from the beard.

Month: October, 2013

And So It Begins…

Standing on the edge of a precipice, ready to take the dive. The wind is low and at my back. I feel unusually calm in the face of the unknown. I can’t see what lies below, and neither do I know the steepness of the slope. I have no parachute, no rope. My eyes are closed, my hands are open, my arms outstretched. My feet are bear, my toes curl over the rim. I lean forward, giving myself to what waits beneath. How long will I fall? How will I land? I’ll let you know when I know. For now, I’ll enjoy the free fall. 

Thanks everyone for hanging in with me. Next week I’ll be posting a new selection from Isolation. 


I’m Not Exempt

I used to believe I was exempt from ever becoming a “starving artist.” I’ve had a good career going for more than six years, and although I wanted to change employers, I didn’t see any bumps in my career path. I figured I’d work my day job until I’d published enough to cut back, and eventually support myself solely through writing. But ain’t life a kick in the head?

A serious bump is only days away. A bump so large, I can’t see the other side. I can make all the plans I like, and do everything in my power to overcome that bump, but there’s no avoiding it. I feel like I’m on the long, slow ascent of a roller coaster. The feeling of a black hole in my stomach is growing, like it’s going to swallow me up from the inside. I can see the precipice just ahead, and I really don’t want to go over. I’ve never liked roller coasters.

From the few business books I’ve read, one concept sticks in my mind lately: to turn obstacles into opportunities. How can I exploit the bump and turn it to my advantage? As a writer, what is most important to me? Ample time to write should certainly be near the top of the list, and I’m about to have no shortage of that. What’s eating compared to writing? I’d rather not have to decide one over another. But if the choice isn’t mine, I’ll take the opportunity to write.

I wanted to post another chapter of the book here today, but it’s just not there yet. I’ve made good headway over the weekend, but it’s at least another 2000 words short. The scope of the book is becoming grander, I’m allowing myself more freedom. It’s such a different experience than screenwriting. I hope I can go back to scripts when the book is done.

It may be I’m entering a new phase in my life as a writer: the starving artist phase. If that’s so, then I’ll do what I can to embrace it and make the best of it. Cheers!

The Times They Are A-Changing

If there’s one thing time does well, it’s get away from me. I’m sure time does other things well, too, but that’s the one skill it seems to enjoy performing for me. One moment I believe I have all the time in the wide world, and the next thing I know, the world is the size of a key lime and all the time has soured and I’m left with a puckered face wondering what just happened. This last week went by in a blur. I’m still in transition; deadlines are fast approaching and increasingly difficult decisions must be made. At this point in my life I imagined I’d be more settled down than this. Conversely, I’m not sure how settled down I want to be. I’m young enough that there should be sufficient elasticity in my will and attitude to handle big change, but old enough to realize this is probably the last time it should be relatively easy. But it is not proving to be easy. Not as easy as I’m accustomed to. Money is of course near the heart of the matter. It is more than trying to sustain an acquired means of living: it is paying bills and getting out of debt. Society told my generation that we could do anything, be anything: that we could all go to college, no matter the cost, walk across the platform to be handed our diploma and off the stage into a high paying job. And that just isn’t proving to be the case.

So I’m one among millions who are having trouble finding a job in the current economy. So what? I don’t really mean to complain. I’ve been unemployed before, and it afforded me ample time to write. And I’d sort of welcome it again, if not for the bills I’ve accrued that must be paid. After more than four months looking for work, I’ve come up with a plan. It’s risky, and it’s frightening. It includes major changes, some of which I’m not sure I’m prepared for. Six years ago, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the adventure. That’s how I’m trying to look at it, as an adventure. If the plan becomes a reality and everything comes into alignment, I’m not sure it will actually give me any additional time to write, but it will certainly give me more to write about.

Until then, I will continue to plug away and write as I have the time. Isolation continues. I think I will revisit my last script. It has been six months since I last looked at it, it may be time for further revisions. Maybe I will even find the courage to try and sell it, That would solve several problems in one. A man can dream.

Isolation: Chapter 4 (continued)

He waited. A bead of sweat traced along his eyebrow. It tickled. He twitched his cheek and blinked, trying to get the droplet to fall. He wanted badly to reach up and wipe his face, but he dared not take a hand off the gun. Despite the pleasant October temperature, his body was overheating from the tension of the moment. How long was he supposed to wait before the coast was clear? It’s not a coast, it’s a cabin, a voice in his head chimed in. It’s a figure of speech, he parried. Bolstered by the annoyance of his inner dialogue, he removed his left hand from the gun and reached for the key in his right pocket. It was a slight struggle to reach the envelope and he had to twist his hip left and up, at one point leaning the barrel of the rifle against the door to balance himself. Finally he was able to pinch the edge of the envelope between two of his fingers and gingerly lift it from his pocket. He tore it open with his teeth and the key slid out into his palm. The gun was getting very heavy at this point, so once again leaning the barrel against the door he reached out for the padlock. There’s nobody inside.

Brady’s sudden outburst was so loud and so unexpected that Richard’s body reacted before his mind had a chance to chime in. Adrenaline hit him like a punch to the gut and in a fraction of a second spread out in a wave across his body. His eyes bulged and his muscles flexed involuntarily from the added stimulus. Just as his brain was about to tell him to calm down, it was just Brady, it had an entirely new, and much louder noise to decipher. An experienced gun owner will tell you to keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire. He may have told you, but apparently he hadn’t bothered to tell Richard. The deafening noise that erupted from the muzzle two feet in front of his face, and probably the recoil as well, sent Richard flying backward off the porch. He landed flat on his back, his limbs splayed out in four different directions, the gun knocked from his hands.

The echo of the gunshot seemed to go on forever, but long after it ended, the ringing in Richard’s ears still sang. He closed his eyes. The grass was warm and tickled his bear arms and neck. He usually avoided lying in the grass; too many insects. He always imagined ants crawling into his clothes and through his hair. Once as a child while playing outside with his siblings he sat up after a tumble through the grass and felt something crunchy at the back of his mouth. He spit it into his hand and saw the masticated remains of a ladybug. He rose to his elbows and looked ahead at the cabin door and the bullet hole it now displayed. That will have to be fixed. How would he explain it to Kevin? He probably wouldn’t have to, he never came up here, would probably never know. But for his own sake he’d better fix. It wouldn’t do to have a gaping hole in the door letting insects in at night. Duct tape would block the whole for now; he’d worry about a more permanent replacement later. He did remember to pack duct tape, right? Yes. Bottom of the pack, next to the-

The cabin. Intruders. The gun. The fall must have knocked the sense out of him. He scrambled for the gun and swung around to face the cabin. No one had come out since he fired. He hadn’t heard anything either. Where was Brady? He looked around for the dog. Probably hiding. That was one hell of a noise. He rose to one knee. His shoulder ached from the rifle’s kick. That will take some getting used to. On his feet again he approached the cabin, more quickly this time.

“Anyone in there?”

The question came out a hoarse croak. He tried to clear his throat and realized how thirsty he was. He took the porch and reached into his pocket for the key. Setting the gun down against the doorframe he undid the lock. He was no longer thinking about squatters, he was trying to do as little thinking as possible. He was keeping embarrassment at bay as long as he could. When that stopped working, he’d start rationalizing his actions. He had every right to be cautious, he told himself. Everyone knew animals had a sixth sense about things. He picked up the rifle and cracked open the door. Seeing nothing, he pushed it open a little further. It was pitch black inside. The sun was coming from behind the house. He looked to his left and saw the window was shuttered. They all must be. He looked again into the interior darkness of the dwelling and decided to remove all the shutters first. Good decision. But first he would get a drink of water. Maybe find Brady. Another good decision.

He reached into the Jeep for his water bottle and upended it, relishing the cool liquid as it wet his dry mouth and throat. He finished the rest of the water and dropped the bottle onto the front seat.

“Brady! Brady, here boy!”

Richard paused to listen and was taken off-guard when a slobbery tongue attacked his face. He turned to see Brady’s saggy face staring at him. The dog must have retreated to the backseat of the car when the gun went off. Richard scratched Brady’s head reassuringly and the dog relaxed.

Careful to take the gun with him under his arm, Richard approached the front of the cabin to inspect the window. Nailed shut. That could be a problem; he hadn’t packed a hammer. Maybe he’d have better luck with the other windows. He rounded the cabin to the left and proceeded to check the only window on that side, finding it in much the same condition as the first one. He sighed. It was going to be a dark week. The two windows on the back of the cabin where also nailed shut. He pulled at one of them: it didn’t budge. Fully expecting the remaining windows to complete a matching set, he was surprised to find no windows at all on the right side. Instead he found a wall of ancient tools. Chains, traps, saws, picks… Richard set the rifle down and traded it for an axe. Most of the tools were rusted from years of weather and disuse, but the axe, while certainly not new, at least looked as though it had been kept indoors. He ran is thumb along the blade and discovered it was still sharp. A stack of wood sat under a small lean-to at the side of the cabin, and a chopping block a few feet away, but there were no signs the axe had been used recently. He set the axe back in its place on the wall and spied a crowbar. Just what the doctor ordered.

Snatching it off the wall, and nearly forgetting to grab the rifle in his excitement, he took the crowbar to the first window and got to work pulling nails. They gave surprisingly easy and the shutters were pulled back in two moment’s time. He dropped the nails into his pocket and moved around to the second window, making quick time of its shutters, too. Richard allowed a smile to creep across his face. The embarrassment of his fearful display just moments earlier was being ebbed aside by the small satisfaction he received from triumphing over the windows, because this put him back on equal footing with the cabin. Cabin one, Richard one. To Richard, this was the turn of the tide. The cabin had him at a disadvantage upon his arrival. He was out of his element, the cabin definitely in its. But as the last nail squeaked in frictional resistance before giving up its hold of the last shutter, Richard was confident he would prevail over anything the cabin, or the mighty forest in which it stood, had in store for him.

The shutters open, ambient light poured into the rustic cabin, giving Richard his first revealing look at the interior. Not much to write home about. But he wasn’t here to write about the cabin itself. Stepping across the threshold he found himself in a modest foreroom. Must have been the original hunting shack. It was furnished with a wood burning stove against the right wall, a wooden rocking chair, a simple, hand-made four-legged table, matching chair, and an oil lamp. Against the wall to his left was a hutch, out of place in the cabin with its intricate wood carving and elegant design. To his right was the kitchen, but to call it that was a serious exaggeration: a sink, another wood burning stove replete with oven and range, a small piece of butcher’s block for a counter, another lamp, and empty pantry shelves. A door in the upper right corner of the foreroom sat slightly ajar. Richard stepped in and put his hand to the door, opening it slowly. A brass bed-frame supported an ancient, naked box springs and a mattress that’d seen better days decades ago. Next to the bed was an end-table with wash basin and pitcher, and across the small room was a chest-of-drawers, a lamp and vanity mirror. Out from under the bed poked a chamber pot. God almighty, I hope that’s empty. Richard patted the mattress and a cloud of dust billowed up around him. He sat gingerly on the edge of the bed and the springs groaned and creaked loudly beneath him. At least I’ll get a good night’s sleep. He looked out the window and saw the sun sinking low on the horizon. Better unpack before dark.

Richard returned to the Jeep, threw his pack on his back, and grabbed the duffel in one hand and the suitcase in the other. While packing for his trip he felt no small amount of pride at being able to carry everything he needed for a week away on his person at once. Minus the sack of apples and sack of potatoes, but he wasn’t counting those. He set the bags down in the foreroom and entered the bedroom. There he flipped the mattress over and unrolled his sleeping bag on top. In the kitchen he filled the empty shelves with the canned and dry goods from his pack. From the Jeep he then brought in the perishable apples and potatoes and set them high on the shelf. He looked at the layout of the foreroom. This won’t do. With great difficulty, he dragged the hutch to the same wall as the front door. The sun was setting behind the cabin, making that the west wall, and the left wall the south wall. His home office was set up so that his writing desk faced the south window, preventing any glare from hitting his computer screen. Ignoring the fact that he had no computer or electricity at the cabin, Richard determined it was still the best arrangement for writing. He placed the table and chair in front of the window on the south wall, and the rocker against the west wall. He stood back to admire his work. It wouldn’t win him any design awards, but it suited his needs.

Finally he picked up the suitcase and laid it carefully on top of the table. He unlatched it and raised the lid as if opening a treasure chest long hidden. Richard sat and marveled at what lay before him: a portable typewriter. His fingers ran over the keys, up from which stuck the purchase receipt. He plucked the receipt up and placed it into his wallet. He bought the typewriter months earlier on a whim, before the idea of his forest retreat had occurred to him. Looking back on it he believed it to have been prophetic. A sign that he was meant to be here, to do this. That his plan would succeed. He found it quite by accident. On a day like any other he found himself with a sudden urge for adventure and so paid a visit to a thrift store he had driven by hundreds of times but never stopped. Thrift stores were not Richard’s style, but that was the point – adventure! As much as he felt comfortable with. He took his time, perusing the aisles, picking up and looking over many of the items. He spent a solid twenty minutes practice swinging the discount golf clubs. He was fascinated by the number and diversity of things for sale. While in the house wares department he came upon what he thought was a suitcase. Assuming it had either been placed there by mistake, or more likely, by some teenage punk who thought he was being funny, he decided to play Good Samaritan and take it back to the luggage department where it belonged. But when he tried to hoist it up he found it much heavier than expected. That punk’s gone and filled it with something. Frustrated, he knelt down to open the suitcase. His frustration was quickly replaced with awe. He snapped the lid shut and hauled it to the register and purchased it without a second thought. He was not an impulsive person, and so it is no wonder that without a plan for its use, he placed the hastily bought treasure in a closet and soon forgot about it until Kevin’s words “no electricity” caused the synapses in his brain to pull the memory of the typewriter to his conscious mind.

Richard pulled a stack of paper from the duffel and rolled one blank sheet into the machine. He sat with his fingers at the ready on the keys. And he continued to sit, motionless. I need a drink of water. Richard sat up and walked out to the Jeep to grab his water bottle. Empty. Taking the bottle to the kitchen faucet, he turned the tap on, and nothing happened. Not even a drip escaped. Kevin said there was running water. He knelt down and looked under the sink, but the only pipe was the drain. He stood up and realized the water pipe was coming from the ceiling. Rain catch. He hadn’t taken notice of it earlier, but he did see a large barrel or drum at the back corner of the cabin. Richard walked outside and around to the back. Sure enough, the roof gutters all fed into a fifty-gallon drum, raised up on a scaffold. It occurred to him that ten years of debris probably chocked the gutters and that whatever water was in the drum was stagnant and undrinkable. It also occurred to him that he failed to bring any water of his own, save what he filled his water bottle with at the house. And that water was long since drunk. Cabin two, Richard one. He worried more for Brady’s sake than his own. The dog hadn’t had a drink of water since they left the house. He decided to get to bed early to get an early start on the day. First thing’s first – clean water supply.

As he stepped onto the porch to enter the cabin, he heard Brady bark yet again. Maybe bringing the dog was a mistake after all. It came from behind the cabin, where he’d just come from. Richard rather perturbedly rounded the cabin to bring Brady inside. Brady was acting as before when they first arrived, hunched over and growling, this time not at the cabin, but at the outhouse behind it. He realized he had failed to inspect the outhouse yet. Not about to repeat his embarrassing display from earlier, he was about to tell Brady to knock it off when he heard scratching come from inside the outhouse. He froze. His mind immediately searched for his gun. It was propped next to his bed. He looked to his left, toward the wall of tools. Toward the axe. As quietly as he could he side-stepped toward the cabin and lifted the axe from its perch. Brady barked again, and again the scratches from inside the outhouse. Mustering every ounce of courage he had and taking out a loan for the remainder, he found enough to approach the tiny structure, axe in hand. Brady watched his master tread stealthily forward. Richard reached out for the door but snatched it back when he heard more scratching and saw the door move slightly. He swallowed hard and reached out again with his left hand, the axe held high in his right. Counting down from three to himself, he threw open the door with a yuppie-Viking cry – which turned immediately into a shriek as a raccoon burst forth from the outhouse and scrambled for the cover of woods. Brady took off like a shot after it, his blood-hound instincts taking over.


Richard called out after him, but all he heard were the diminishing sounds of the chase. He faltered for just a second before running into the woods after Brady, knowing full-well there was no way he’d be able to keep up, and that it was possible to get lost in these woods. But reason yielded to his attachment to Brady. He paused to listen for any sounds of his dog, heard scurrying ahead, and took off in that direction. Every few moments he paused to listen and chased after the noises he hoped were Brady. There was maybe a half-hour of daylight left before the forest was plunged into darkness. If he didn’t find Brady soon, he’d have to backtrack to the cabin alone. The forest seemed ominous and foreign in the orange/purple light of dusk. Shadows stretched into unnatural and sinister shapes. Crickets and other nocturnal creatures began to stir and fill the air with clicks and song. He paused again to listen and heard something not far off. He jogged toward the sound and to his great relief found Brady sniffing at the ground. Richard exhaled an enormous sigh of relief and knelt down next to the dog. He scratched Brady’s back and haunches. Brady meanwhile was engrossed with something on the ground in front of him.

“What have you got there, boy?”

Richard leaned forward to inspect what held the dog’s attention. The smell hit his nostrils at the same moment his eyes fell upon what made the smell. Richard reeled back and stood up, coughing. He looked again, from a safe distance, at the remains of… a small animal was the best he could tell. A bloody skull stared up at him from empty eye sockets, and fur was scattered everywhere. It was a kill site, for sure. His first thought was what kind of predator would leave only fur and a skull. His next thought, and slightly more urgently, was to wonder if it was still nearby.

“Let’s get out of here, Brady.”

Having sufficiently sniffed the area, Brady was content to follow Richard away. The two of them turned their backs on the remains to retrace their steps back to the cabin. Unseen by either of them, behind a tree opposite the kill site, sat a neat pile of the dead animal’s internal organs.

The Passion Behind the Pen Name

[Edit] Occasionally, I think OCD would come in handy. For example, if I had OCD, I might have double checked that I actually hit “Publish” on Monday before shutting my laptop. But as you can plainly see, I didn’t. And so yet another post comes late. But read on, dear readers. This one’s a doozy.

I’m moving this weekend. Actually, by the time you read this, I’ll have moved. Mostly. Temporarily. It’s complicated.

Because I’m busy but don’t want to rob the blogosphere of my weekly post, I’ve asked my friend and fellow writer to guest blog for me this week. I hope you enjoy her words as much as I do. And please, check out her book ShadowShifter (support Indie Authors!)

The Passion Behind the Pen Name

When my bearded friend first asked me to take the reins this week on his blog, I was deeply honored. The only other time I had ever guest blogged was on a very short-lived webzine about “real women”. I suppose that makes me a woman…and real. They asked me to write about the life of a cougar. Yes, yes… I know. Disgraceful. However, in my defense, I was a very lame “puma” (cougar is a title for women over 40, I’m still in my 30’s). I just happened to be dating (now married to) a man ten years my junior. The girls of that webzine must have been desperate that month. Maybe that’s why the webzine was short-lived…or one of the contributors wasn’t a “real woman”.

So what insight can I bring to the table on this magnificent blog? Should I mention my first published book, “ShadowShifter”? Should I promote the second book, “Lycanthrope”, of that series that’s due out on October 29th? (Shameless, plugs there. Sorry.)

The more I have been dwelling on the content I would write about, the more my confidence in my writing has faltered. My writing is much like a Simpson’s episode. It starts in one area and ends up in a completely different zone, like Timbuktu! But if people really hated that kind of story-telling, then The Simpsons wouldn’t still be on after 24 seasons. Just the same, what could I possible know that other writers don’t? I’ve only written two full books and about a dozen blog posts since 2008 when I first discovered my passion for writing. What can I say? I was a late bloomer.

I feel like I should be the one asking questions! For instance, how is it that other indie authors can put out about two to three books a year? Am I just that slow, uncreative, or unmotivated or are they really producing crap on paper? Where is everyone finding all this time to write anyway!? Sure, it was a struggle to pump out a few chapters a month as I worked full time as a musician, but what’s my excuse now? I’m a full-time stay at home mom…to two boys who are in school all day! Still, writing an ample amount of material is somewhat of a chore sometimes. Where am I going wrong? I’ve come to the conclusion that the issue isn’t my lack of motivation or time. It’s because I’m a perfectionist and I don’t want to be pitted in with the majority of other Young Adult and New Adult indie published writers who come up with half-assed dialogue and uninspired storylines.

I don’t write to make money. I do it because I have a story to tell — even if it is a paranormal romance for New Adults. (No, it is not like “Twilight”.) I write because it’s an amazing form of therapy. It’s fun to slip out of reality and enter in a created world that I, for the most part, have some control in! My first book was written in the midst of a divorce. My second book was prompted by the unexpected loss of a dear friend. No one really ever wants to stick around those realities 24/7.

I don’t write to have my name out there, either… Wait a minute! I use a pen name! Why you may ask? Now there is something to blog on.

First off — a short summarization — I’m a Jesus freak. I work in church as a counselor/temperament therapist, but my writing is greatly inspired by horror and the paranormal. Quite the conundrum. This tends to be frowned upon in the Christian communities. I use a pen name to avoid lengthy debates, trying to defend myself. A little entertainment never hurt anybody in my opinion. We choose our brand of excitement, don’t we? While some enjoy roller coasters, I enjoy snuggling up to a good Stephen King or Anne Rice novel…maybe even watch a John Carpenter flick. It’s all good.

Secondly, there are a lot of creepers out there. You don’t have to be famous, you just have to be appealing to that one lucky creeper out there before your life become a Lifetime movie. I have a family; I have kids. They don’t deserve to go through that kind of stalking-drama until they date that “one crazy girlfriend”. (Oh, come on. We all know that girl exists.)

But the bulk of the reason for my pen name…

Like I’ve already slipped, I’m an indie author. We get a bad rap because of all the crap most other indie authors produce…abundantly. It’s much like today’s music. You have to sort through all the trash to find the real treasures. Anyway, my sister found out about my first manuscript by accident then held it over my head for nearly four months until I finally confessed about it to my family over Thanksgiving dinner in 2009. Reluctantly, I allowed my mom and sisters to read it. My dad is still “waiting for the movie”. I begged these avid reading females to be unbiased and honest with me about it and they encouraged me to get it published. I was clueless about the whole publishing thing and thanks to my lack of confidence, I chose to self-publish and learn the ropes myself. But that sucker actually sold! And people left reviews – good reviews! So, while I continued to pocket a bit of money and “make fans”, I began sending out my manuscript. Number fourteen was my lucky number when a small independent publisher (not disclosing the name) offered me a contract on my “baby”. Naturally — and ignorantly — I jumped on it and by request of the contract, took my “baby” off the market while they polished her up and made her all professional-looking.

The excitement of having a legit editor for my carefully chosen words and a graphic designer to jazz up my self-made cover was overwhelming! Plus, they were going to market it, promote it! That’s something I wasn’t savvy at anyway. They were paying for my tables and booths at over 15 book fairs and conventions in the Southeastern region of the states. My life was perfect! I was a valid “published author”! I had editing deadlines and learned a lot from suggestions that were given by my editor(s). The build of anticipation of my release date was beyond exhilarating! I promoted that date like crazy!

And then the date passed. The cover art wasn’t even ready.

Ooookaaaay… I can be patient. This cover is gonna rock! …Uh, no.

*This is where the rant begins* Never had I seen such a shoddy job of cover art in my life. My original work was done by me; I have absolutely no talent in graphics and I used that ghetto GIMP program that I really didn’t even know how to operate. Still don’t know how to. These “professionals” put my book cover through Photoshop-hell. My ten year old could have done a better job using Face in the Hole scenarios on the internet. The woman on the cover had platinum blonde hair, and my character actually has red hair. This is not some minor detail, it’s a pretty important fact. The design team’s response to my concern? “No one’s really going to care what color her hair is once they read the book.”

But I cared! And who in the world would read a book that had a cover looking like it was cut and pasted together anyway?

With mouth agape (but tongue bitten), I moved forward to the next released date, just a week before my first convention in North Carolina. Again, no book. I had to cancel my traveling arrangements. This happened six more time before my book finally was released. Then came the debacle of even gaining possession of my own book for the other conventions. Being a small publisher, I had to purchase my books at a discounted rate. My first batch, ordered in September at a grand total of $350, didn’t arrive till February. Needless to say, I had to withdrawal from attending a few other conventions due to lack of product during that time. My name was quickly becoming mud to the masses. With every encouraging question about my books, my career, and my writing endeavors I had to respond with a pasted on smile and through gritted teeth about how I am finally a published author. The books I received in February were gone in a week’s time — a good sign — and my tax return made it possible for me to order $500 worth of product this time.

Here we are on the doorstep of October and not one of my books has ever made it to my doorstep. I never went to one book fair or convention. July was “payday” and I assure you, I didn’t get a dime from my publisher’s sales. Come to think about it, not once did I see a banner or ad to promote my book in the last two years of my contract.

I still have another year left of my contract, but I no longer even receive responses to my concerned emails from this publisher. So, I kidnapped my baby back. Gave her a fresh new cover — it may not be phenomenal, but it’s definitely an improvement from what it was. She’s even been written by another author. Olivia K. Wilder. My real name had become synonymous with broken obligations and instability within the writing community. I have rejoined the indie ranks.

The grass is not greener on the other side, especially the side you didn’t scope out before you signed your name on the dotted line. Not all small publishers are like this. Some actually care about their authors and work hard at promoting and building their material. That’s not to say that this sort of thing isn’t uncommon either though. I’ve heard several similar horror stories from other authors. This is why some choose to self-publish. It’s so much more important to feel confident and proud of your work — to know in some way that it’s making a difference in the world — than to tote around the superficiality of a title like “published author”. I hope that someday, I’ll be able to step out of the safety of self-publishing and trust another publisher again. Until then, I’ll continue to hone my craft in writing, learn the industry, and be content with the small growing popularity my novels gain at a slow pace.

Slowly, but surely.