Writers Beware! And a Bit of Cloak and Dagger


I am honoured to welcome Lena Pate today – she describes herself in her blog as a transplanted Yankee living in Texas because winter depresses her. But there is nothing depressing about Lena, who despite falling into a trap all writers would wish to avoid, has come out smiling more doggedly than ever.

Lena M. Pate large

If the ability to write was suddenly taken from me, I would be crushed.  As far as my memory goes back, I remember reading and writing.  Not a line or two or one book once in a while.  My favorite time of day was library time.  I couldn’t get enough and would always check out the maximum allowed.  Writing was an escape for me as much as reading.  Whatever adventure I went on that day, whatever treasure I dug up, whatever bug or animal I befriended, became a story.

Then I grew up and life interfered.   Between babies, a farm and full-time jobs there wasn’t time for the luxury of reading let alone writing.  I remember making up stories for my kids when they were tiny or reading stories to them just to be able to read.

When empty nest syndrome hit, I sat down with my husband and explained that I wanted to write.  I told him of all the stories clamoring around in my head.  Being an avid reader himself, he gave me the support I needed to be able to have the time to write.  Poetry, short stories and eventually manuscripts took life on my computer.  Characters developed, taking on an existence of their own.  I started attending writing conferences and building my blog and joining writing sites.  I found my niche around friends that understood the voices insistent to declare their individuality.  They understood keeping a pad and pencil close by, everywhere I went and even beside me when I slept.

Even though I have another career, I wanted to take my place in the world of authors.  I was published in magazines, and in an anthology, but never picked up as an individual.  It didn’t stop me from writing.  In fact I was encouraged to write more. Then one day it happened.  A publishing house wanted my book.  I signed a contract for three years and suddenly there I was on Amazon!  I was ecstatic and stepped immediately in marketing mode, as well as, beginning to write the second book.  The company said all the right things, including that my book was scheduled to go to print.  I couldn’t wait to share my good fortune with the world.  So I wrote about it everywhere.  I announced it on my blog, Twitter, author pages, Facebook, and on my writing sites.  I called family and friends to tell them the great news.   I couldn’t be happier.

But weeks went to months and no books.  I’d write them and was told that they were working on the marketing angles.  Then they were changing company names. Then they disappeared. Poof, like a fog after sunrise they evaporated. No printed books, no royalties and no copyright to start over with in my name.  A hard lesson learned.  In my happiness of being discovered, I didn’t investigate as well as I should have.  I should have never signed for three years and certainly should not have given away my copyrights.  Now I will have to shelve my second and third books for two more years until I get my rights back on book one of the series.

It was disappointing but not discouraging.  I’m still writing, two short stories of mine are going to be published in more anthologies, and I am reworking a book I wrote a few years ago. I still tweet, and keep up my marketing even though I won’t ever see a dime.  I am building my writers platform.

But most important, I write because I can’t not write.  Even if tomorrow, the internet vanished into cyberspace and no one could read my words, I would still write.  That is what it means to be a writer.

Lena – my heart goes out to you, but all is not lost…..  surely because those publishers have broken their side of the contract, you are no longer obligated to them? 

Lena is also a poet –

Cloak and Dagger
Skulking in, it caught me unaware
In the dead of night, where dreams slither
With stealth it creeps like smoky vapor
My spirit cries out in apprehension.
It wore a cloak and dagger,
Which dripped words undeclared
Empty parchment waiting
To be soaked with poignant imagery.
The cloak, but a shroud to hide behind
The dagger, a trusty friend
An extension of unconscious contemplation
Oozing thoughts, torn from heart to pen.
I am but a victim of resourceful temperament
Lost souls with untold stories clamoring for release
Mysteries yet unraveled, murders to be solved
Lingering shadows, bound by cloak and dagger.
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5 Responses to Writers Beware! And a Bit of Cloak and Dagger

  1. John Holt says:

    A very interesting post. when I completed my first novel “The Kammersee Affair” I had visions of being snapped up instantly and making a great deal of money. Dorrance Publishing in New York said that the book was excellent, they couldn’t wait to work with me, and all I had to do was send them $10000 (£6000) (I kid you not). Needlesstosay, that deal did not progress. Eventually it was published by Raider (also in New York) this time the charge was only £400. There was no marketing, no promoting. The book never sold. Three years later my contract was over. I went down the self publisher route in August 2012.

    • jbwye says:

      I guess there are many similar stories, John! One just has to hang on in there, and learn from experience. By the way, I still think your “Kammersee Affair” is your best!!

  2. marethabotha2013 says:

    Reblogged this on marethabothablog and commented:
    I was so shocked to hear what happened to Lena’s first book. Please read about it here. No writer should EVER have to be side-tracked by dealing with such negatives as Lena M. Pate is dealing with at this moment. All the best with any future endeavours you may have. I’m a firm believer that good always comes from any bad situation – even though at the time it’s difficult to see.

  3. marethabotha2013 says:

    I’ve a younger daughter who acts like a real life sleuth every now and then. Both of the publishing houses mentioned by John Holt, initially bugged me all the time. Fortunately, I didn’t go that route – firstly because I didn’t think it should cost me that much to publish and secondly, thanks to the sleuth, I started checking “Preditors&Editors” – which wasn’t all encouraging in the sense that I started feeling, ‘Oh what’s the use? I’m NEVER going to get this story published at this rate! Is there anyone trust-worthy out there?’ Now I look at myself (at this stage) as a kind of ‘hybrid’ not quite a self-published author,paying for editing, proof-reading and illustrations, but actively involved in the publishing and marketing(which probably will yet break my bank) aspects of my stories. Hopefully they’ll start to appear soon.
    But I felt very sad this morning when I read Lena’s personal message to me on Facebook. After such an experience it must be VERY difficult to remain focussed.

  4. Never pay to be published – Rule number one.

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