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.
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 –