Writing Crossroads and Publishing Options

I’m at a crossroads, of sorts, with my writing. I have two currently published series with books still due out, and two more under consideration. Over the past three decades I’ve been writing, and especially over the past decade I’ve been published, I’ve undergone a lot of changes and growth as an author, and now I find myself at a crossroads I can honestly say I never really considered hitting.

 

For most of my writing career, one of my major points of focus was to get published. It was a dream that kept me going, and writing, through some very difficult straits in my life. My drive was always to be published by an actual publishing house – whether small or big press didn’t matter to me.

 

In 2004, that dream became a reality. While my first attempt to publish had fallen flat before it even got a running start, in 2004 I started with a publishing house that was also in start-up. I have to admit, I was leery at first, but eventually was won over, and so began my journey as a published author. I was doing well enough, but I was also becoming disillusioned, and quickly. The publisher wasn’t a good fit (as I feared from the beginning), and the changes that were being made to my books and my vision for my career were disheartening. Then, in 2007, that publishing house closed its doors and I (and the other authors there) had a fight on our hands, getting our rights to our work back. That scarred me, made me even more wary than before. But I still had a dream to pursue.

 

The next publishing house to come along and request my work had a difficult time getting me to agree, but promises were made, and I eventually agreed to give them a chance. I should have known better, but when that also disintegrated, my growth was spiraling the wrong way. I was starting to question if it was even worth writing, anymore. Yet, I couldn’t give it up, either. Writing was part of my identity, now, and I knew I needed to keep going.

 

I found two wonderful publishers, who treat me and my writing with respect and dignity. Under The Moon currently publishes my Underground (Science Fiction) series, and Desert Breeze Publishing is running my Legends of Tirum (Fantasy) series, with optioning currently out on my Section Psi (Science Fiction) and Project Prometheus (Paranormal/Military) series.

 

However, I’m at a crossroads on the rest of my writing. I’m not sure what I want to do. I have series that I’ve spent a lot of time and effort developing, and having to completely re-edit because the first publisher to have them twisted them beyond recognition. I’m asking myself if I want to take a chance with a publisher, for these books, or if I want to just publish them, myself. The crossroad I’m at is a “maybe traditional publishing wasn’t the way to go” one. Would I be better off, and truer to my craft, to publish the books myself, under my own imprint, than to let someone else get to call the shots?

 

I just don’t know, yet. But, in the meantime, I’m keeping my options open. If a publisher can promise me not to alter my books beyond recognition, and leave me an open-ended clause that says if I don’t like the edits suggested I either don’t have to accept them, or I can yank the book, I’m willing to entertain letting them have an option at my Guardians, Inc. and High Stakes series. But I’m going to be stubborn about the changes I allow to these series… I think they have a lot of sales potential as they are, and I’m still kicking myself for my early allowance of the twisting they underwent.

 

So, let the bargaining begin… You can reach me via e-mail. If I don’t have any option requests by the time the first book is finished, I’ll take that as a sign I’m doing this myself.

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The Underground insignia.

The Underground insignia.

“Walking Ghosts” – Excerpt from TAMIA (Underground)

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“Walking Ghosts” – Excerpt from TAMIA (Underground, Book 1) :

As he and Jen moved through the trees on the south side of the complex, a bullet ricocheted off a tree next to Watchdog’s head, barely missing his ear.

“Shit!”  He swore as he dropped down behind the cover of the bushes.  Then, in a whisper, he said, “We’ve been made, Cat!  Some motherfucker’s shooting at us.”

She didn’t respond, and he turned to see why.  His blood congealed as he saw her, lying half-propped against a tree. Dark blood soaked her sleeve, and her hand was clamped to her shoulder.

“Cat!”

She reached to touch her ‘link as he crawled to her.  “Damn bullet winged me, Watchdog.  Wasn’t fast enough.I’ll be all right in a minute…”

“Like Hell you will!”  Savage fear launched through him, and his words emerged more growl and speech as he tapped his hand to the group COMlink on his belt.”  Angel, this is the Hornet’s Nest.  We’re down one.  Meet you at the front gate.  Watch out, the ghost is walking.  Repeat, the ghost is walking.”

“I am on the way.”

 

To find out more about Underground, and other titles, please visit my website

 

As always, please leave a comment! :)

“Sins of the Past” – Excerpt from HERO’S HOPE (Underground)

The Underground insignia.

This excerpt comes from one of my most controversial and critically acclaimed series to date - Underground.

HERO’S HOPE is one of the most difficult books I’ve ever had to write.  There’s a whole lot of me — emotionally speaking — in this book. Underground is the only series where I’ve allowed myself to interject my own emotion into one of the character’s responses. Mostly because Tamia’s emotional characterization is built off of my own emotions.  And yet, Tamia also has facets to her character that are completely her own, and are reactions I only wish I could muster, at times. Still, writing this book was heart-wrenching for me, which is why it took so long to get this close to being released. I’m almost finished with the final “clean-up” edits — minor word choice edits — and then it will go to the Publisher.

HERO’S HOPE asks one thematic question that can’t be avoided:  What do you do when the choices you make are ones you can’t take back?

“Sins of the Past” — excerpted from HERO’S HOPE (Underground, Book #4)

He stopped in the shadows of a snow-draped oak in the cemetery, his gaze fixed on the empty hole into which an empty casket would soon be lowered.  There was irony in this, somewhere.  At the moment, with the memory of her tear-streaked face fresh in his mind, he couldn’t say where that was.  The guilt settled like a rock in his gut.

“It’s not too late, you know.”

He whipped around at the sound of a voice, and faced sad green eyes.  “How—?”

“I knew you’d be here.  You always took penance a little too far.”  She took a step closer, and her eyes held his as she repeated, “It’s not too late to end this.”

He turned away, to look back out over the snow-crusted cemetery.  His stomach burned, and the image in his head refused to be banished.  Was she right?  He wasn’t so sure.  She didn’t know what he knew.  Besides, he still had a job to do.  “I can’t go back.  Not yet.”

He heard her booted feet shuffle in the snow, and then the warm pressure of one dark-gloved hand squeezed his forearm.  “Then when?”

“Maybe never.”  He faced that bitter truth like the barrel of a gun pointed straight at his heart.  He made the woman he loved cry.  He promised never to hurt her, never to be like the men who used her, and then he caused her more pain than those twisted bastards ever could have.  Who was the bastard, now?  “She’s better off without me.”

“You don’t believe that.”  The severity of her tone was familiar.  She turned that same tone on him more than once in his misspent youth, determined that he not end up in the same hole as so many of his friends.  Now, he stared at the empty hole before him, and knew it was a little too late, this time.

You can purchase the first three books of Underground (TAMIA, MIND KILLER and TERMINAL HUNTER) at Amazon and the first two books (TAMIA and MIND KILLER) at Barnes & Noble.

“Cutting” – Excerpt from HERO’S HOPE (Underground)

The Underground insignia.

 

This piece comes from HERO’S HOPE, the fourth book in my Underground series… As always, please leave comments!

 

This scene contains graphic imagery and adult language not suitable for younger readers.  Reader discretion is advised.

 

“Cutting” – Excerpted from HERO’S HOPE (Underground, Book # 4)

“You just can’t help yourself, can you?”  The sour tone behind his back stopped Matt Clipper in his tracks.  He really didn’t want to have this conversation, right now.  Especially not with her.  He was too pissed, and his chest squeezed with pain no medication on the planet could ease.  Hell, he had no idea what he might say, in this state.  Words tangled in his head, and he didn’t know how, or if, they’d come out.  However, words never seemed to be a problem for Jen.  Even the wrong ones.

“Go away, Jen.  You got what you wanted.”

He heard her gasp, and winced at the pain in that sound, but kept walking.  He didn’t want to think he was capable of hurting her; he already knew he could do it.  And he really didn’t want to go there.  All he wanted, right now, was to get as far away from her, and the searing agony of what she’d done, as he could.  He wanted to lock himself in his quarters and bleed out the pain of her betrayal.  Damn it, couldn’t she just leave well enough alone?

Her footfalls behind him echoed off the titanium-steel walls, and he gritted his teeth against the urge to turn, yank her off her feet, and burn out his fury in a way he was sure would destroy everything between them.  Didn’t she get it?  He was on the edge, here.

“Talk to me.”

Like hell, he would.  He was done talking.  It never solved anything; he learned that as a kid.  “Quit following me.”

“No, dammit.  I want to know why the hell you can’t tell me what you’re doing out there.”

A sharp bark of laughter forced its way from him.  Not that there was anything funny about what she said.  He was ready to fly apart at the seams, here, and she wanted to talk about his job.  Fat chance, honey.  “Screw you.”

Relief twisted his brain as he entered his quarters.  When the obstruction tone sounded, letting him know the door couldn’t close, he groaned and turned, to find Jen with her foot wedged against the door.

“Go away,” he growled at her, desperation clawing through him.  Damn it, he needed to get her out of here, where she’d be safe, before he went into total meltdown.

“Look at me.”

“No.  Goddammit, Doc, go away!”

“I didn’t ask for this, you know.”

He gritted his teeth.  She wasn’t asking for the rage that built inside of him, either.  Only, she couldn’t see that.  She wouldn’t know the storm was brewing until it exploded.  And he’d live just long enough to regret every second of it.  He wanted to scream at her to get away, for her own safety, but he couldn’t.  He didn’t dare.  He had to keep control for just a moment longer, he promised himself.  Just until he could get rid of her.  And just as long as he didn’t touch her, he could do this.

“Jen,” he was begging now, and he didn’t care.  “Just leave me alone.”

She edged forward a step.  “You think I want to be your shadow?  You think I want to learn about what you do out there in little bits, or from a third party?  Damn it, Matt, I want you to talk to me, for once in your degenerate life!  I don’t want to fix you…”

He almost lost it, at that.  A twisted, desperate laugh burst from him as he practically dashed for the cabinet where he kept his switch blade locked up when he wasn’t on the street.  “Sure sounded like it to me, Doc.  Go the fuck away.  Go play head games with someone else.”

She looked shocked, and worried.  “Matt?”

“Go.  Please, just go.”

“This isn’t a head game, and… and…What are you doing?”

His head lifted sharply from his task as he worked the lock on the cabinet in desperation.  The crazed lunatic urges prowling in his head grew loud, and the glare he fixed on her was deadly with intent.  His hand slapped the cabinet door shut, even as the last vestige of his sanity screamed No! He stalked her, pain writhing in his gut as her eyes widened in fear of him for the first time since they met, and she backed away a step, into the corridor.  He told himself that was good enough.  It was what he wanted, after all.  His fist hit the door, and he trembled as he sank to his knees, his forehead pressed to the cool metal door.  He was so fucked.

He was on his feet again in a surge of motion, desperate to kill the beast before he went after Jen.  He threw himself at the cabinet like the maniac he really was, grabbing up his switch blade and flicking the catch open as he yanked off his shirt.  His hand trembled, and he knew that no pansy-ass nicks were going to make a damned bit of difference, this time.  It was all or nothing.

The pain as he pulled the blade down across his arm was sharp, burning up into his shoulder and chest, but only for a moment.  Then, endorphins crashed over him, and muted out the clawing madman, and Matt sank against the back of the sofa, dropping the knife as he closed his eyes and breathed deep, feeling sanity return.

As he straightened, however, queasiness assaulted him, and his head felt detached from his shoulders.  He swayed, tried to catch himself on a low bookcase, and toppled the whole thing as he stumbled.  Oh, fuck.  He stared at the blood running down his arm in morbid fascination, and a hoarse laugh bubbled up.  He didn’t need to worry about hurting Jen, anymore.  Hell, he didn’t need to worry about anything, now.

Find out more about the Underground series at www.esthermitchell.com

“Hell on Earth” – Excerpt from TAMIA (Underground)

TamiaCoverThis excerpt comes from a current release, TAMIA, the  of my Underground series.  This is a Futuristic/SF … enjoy!  And, as always, leave comments!! :)

“Hell on Earth” – Excerpt from  TAMIA (Underground, Book #1)

copyright 1992 by Esther Mitchell

In the shadows near the main building, Rick swore under his breath as Matt’s voice crackled through his earpiece.Damn, what was going on?He glanced again at the outside duct’s grate.What was taking so long?Tamia should have called in by now.The COMlink didn’t bear good news, either.The ghost is walking.Code – meant there was a sniper.Damn place probably crawled with them.Who was hit?Why didn’t Walter release the internal energy pickets and open the grates?Where the Hell was Tamia?Then, suddenly, his earpiece came alive again.

“Blind Man is at the window,” Tamia said.“When’re we gonna pull up the blinds?”

“Thank God,” Rick breathed to himself.

He heard her soft chuckle, and realized that his mouthpiece was on.

“Thought I’d ran away, huh?”

He couldn’t respond.He didn’t want to think about losing her.The force of how much he loved her was only just beginning to sink in.In the next moment, Walter’s voice cleared his mind.“Healing Hand here.Can the Blind Man see?”

“Oh, yeah,” Tamia’s answered.“Sun’s nice and bright, too.Good view.”

The COMlink went silent, and Rick tensed.The next few moments would make or break their entire mission.Tamia had only one bullet in her sniper rifle – a highly lethal, illegal Kriomite bullet.The kind of thing only a terrorist would use.Just the cover their undercover operation needed.

Time stretched, and Rick held his breath.What was taking so long?Then, suddenly, Tamia’s voice came to him, concerned.“I can’t do it, Ace.I can’t draw a bead on him.”

God, was she cracking?

“Try,” he murmured into his mouthpiece.“Just try.”

“I am trying.”She sounded frustrated, rather than indecisive.“The motherfucker’s playing hide’n’seek.Every time I get my sights on him, he moves out of the kill box.”

She wasn’t frozen.She had a worse problem than that.He swore under his breath.“Blade, listen to me.There should be a port in the duct, a little ways to your left.Can you see it?”

He heard her intake of breath.“Yeah, I see it.”

“Can you make it there?”

A pause.“Yeah, I think so.”

“Good.Listen carefully.That port will give you access to the panels above the room.There’s a gap there, in the center panel.Go slowly, and don’t touch the glowing ones.They’re pressure-sensitive glass.You’ll be in his lap if you do.”

“Right.”

Rick held his breath for a long moment as he listened to the sounds of movement from the COMlink.Then, Tamia’s voice again.“Hey, not bad!I’ve got a clear window here.”

A hiss-pop sound relayed the discharge of her silenced weapon, followed by a sudden wail of an alarm.Tamia’s voice came then.“Shit!What the Hell’s that?”

Rick’s blood congealed.The room was pressurized!That was why there were no exterior openings.Now, the whole damned building was getting ready to blow.In that instant, he forgot protocol completely.All that mattered was her life.

“Tamia, get the Hell out of there!”He ordered.“That place is going to—!”

A loud explosion cut him off, and his heart lurched into his throat.No!

“The Christmas Mission”: Excerpt from MIND KILLER (Underground)

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When MIND KILLER was first published (in 2005, by a different publisher than it currently has), this scene was dramatically shortened “for length” — the book was deemed too long, and at the time, my editor didn’t see the significance of this scene, even though I assured her it would be important, later on. The version of this scene you find here is how it reads today, from Under The Moon.

Pay special attention to the phone call at the end of the scene. Who is this mystery man who was cut from the original publication of MIND KILLER, and what is the major, significant role he plays to the Commandos?  Ah… but you’ll just have to wait and see! ;)

 

“The Christmas Mission” : Excerpt from MIND KILLER (Underground #2) –

Rick Carinson let his eyes scan the snowy storefronts as he went, and watched the people bustle in and out with armloads of packages.  Two weeks until Christmas.  The stores along Park and Forty-ninth were done up like whores in heavy make-up, flaunting their merchandise in bold red-and-green signs and lights, and in bright, festive displays.  Rick sighed heavily.  He didn’t feel like Christmas.  The hard, heavy lump in his jacket hung over him like Scrooge over Cratchett, blocking out all thoughts of celebration or festivity.

“Merry Christmas,” he muttered in wry, bitter humor.  Christmas would probably find the team on a stakeout, crouched in some godforsaken place, waiting tensely to see who would get hurt next.  Who might die.

Damn.

Why was he still doing this?  He could disband the entire team, settle down, and have a family.  But something in him was crying out for justice, for vengeance.  They were the voices of his own Christmases past; friends who died in his fucked-up Christmas raids.  They were the reason why he rescued Matt from Cabrini; the reason he kept such a tight rein on the brash black man.  He saw in Matt Clipper the man he was himself, once, and hoped to save another from repeating his mistakes.  And, speaking of mistakes…

Rick winced as he recalled his argument with Tamia from last night.  He was a selfish bastard.  What right did he have to ask her to marry him?  What had she done to deserve that kind of life?  What in her past was so horrible to deserve him as a husband?  She should be happily married, with the children she wanted so badly.

Instead, she was stuck in a “might-as-well-be-military” unit, deprived of children, or even the assurance that her lover would always be there.  He worried for her if he would ever die.  He wondered, for an instant, if proposing to her was smart, after all.  But he couldn’t live with anything less, now.  He had to offer her what security he could.

Security…Damn.  His mind went to the disc in his pocket, again.  He still couldn’t believe he’d accepted the damned assignment.  What the hell was he thinking?

Not that he would have ever questioned the mission, before.  Orders were orders.  But now, he couldn’t help wondering if they’d all bitten off more than they could handle.  He wasn’t satisfied with the information Tolson gave him.  There wasn’t much – just a list of names and numbers that probably wouldn’t amount to squat in the end.

Rick’s cell phone rang, pulling his attention away from the uneasy roiling in his gut.  Withdrawing the phone from his pocket, he answered, “Carinson.”

“You’re a hard man to get a hold of, young man.”

Rick grinned at the subtle chiding in that mild, Boston-accented voice.   “I’m a busy man.  You have all the numbers.  If you want to reach me, you know how.”

“Testy.  God, you sound more like your mother every day.”  This statement was followed by a wistful chuckle.  “So, I saw there’s been some trouble in New York.  Anything we need to discuss?”

Rick’s first reaction was to deny it.  He wasn’t so great at outside chains of command – even when they were need-to-know.  But if there was one person out there who could be counted on to keep his mouth shut, it was this man.

copyright 1994 by Esther Mitchell

The Web Woven: Excerpt from VENGEFUL HEART (Underground)

The Underground insignia.

The Underground insignia.

 

 

This scene was especially painful to write, because it brought together both confusing feelings I’ve never really wanted to face, and a kind of self-tormenting wish. It definitely proved that “be careful what you wish for” does not apply to fiction.

 

 

Excerpt from VENGEFUL HEART (Underground, Book 5):

“Tamia?”

Her head jerked up, startled by even that soft query, and the fear and wariness in her eyes punched him hard in the solar plexus. God, how had he managed to screw up the single best thing in his life?

“Tamia, babe, we need to talk.”

She turned her gaze away again, and helpless fear clutched him to know she might just shut him out for good. Torn by the guilt, pain, and love coiled inside him, he started to turn back to the living room. She needed space. He would give her whatever she needed. He would give her the universe.

“I don’t even know you.” Those five quiet words sent a tremor of pain through him, nearly dropping him to his knees. He had to grasp the door jamb it stay upright, until his balance restored itself, and he turned back to find sad, angry mahogany eyes glaring at him. “Who are you?”

“Tamia, please don’t…”

“You lied to me. No. Worse. You killed me.” She rose to her feet, the pain clearly too great for her to stay still. “I gave you my heart and soul, and trusted you to be as good as your word. You promised to never hurt me. You promised you weren’t going anywhere. I believed you.”

He winced, the pain in his chest so intense it robbed him of breath. He’d hurt her in ways he couldn’t soothe away.

Restless Ghosts: Excerpt from VENGEFUL HEART (Underground)

The Underground insignia.

The Underground insignia.

There are scenes, for every author, that rip your heart out and leave it bleeding and raw. For me, the worst of those scenes center around Underground’s darkest moments, in HERO’S HOPE and VENGEFUL HEART.

 

Excerpt from VENGEFUL HEART (Underground, Book 5):

Nothing changed, except for the thin layer of dust even the Underground’s air purifiers couldn’t prevent. Tamia hugged Michael’s squirming body to her, sure her heart was about to beat its way free of her chest, as she stood frozen in the open doorway of her quarters.  Rick’s quarters.

The breath she dragged in tore her lungs like nails, and memory crashed down around her at the faint scent of Rick’s soap  lingering in this air, even after two years.  Amazing what the body could remember long after the mind forgot. Hers recalled Rick’s touch, his smile, and the breath-stealing effect of those cobalt eyes.

Tamia’s knees trembled and gave out as memory assaulted her, and she slid to the floor, pounded down by waves of grief she hadn’t felt so keenly in years.  She was barely aware of Michael as he wriggled loose from her arms, and his babbling little voice was miles away as pain drowned out everything except memories she desperately wishes were more.

“Rick.”  His name pulled from her lips on a hoarse whisper, a prayer this place could bring him back to her when nothing succeeded in erasing him from her heart or mind.  For the first time in over a decade, she craved the oblivion of being high more than she wanted to breathe.

Ah-ma.”  Small hands patted her face, before a little frown marred the perfect face before her.  Michael patted her face again, perplexed, and his blue eyes grew fearful.  “Ah-ma?”

“Oh, baby.”  How had she forgotten her promise?  She gathered Michael into her arms as the craving subsided, driven away by the knowledge she could do him harm, high.  She made Rick a promise that those days were forever behind her.  No matter what happened, she wouldn’t go back to drugs.

Her resolve steeled by that reminder, Tamia rose from the floor and grabbed up the single rucksack containing all of hers and Michael’s worldly possessions since leaving the Underground two years ago.  With the rucksack over her left shoulder, and Michael on her right hip, she forced her feet to move forward, into the darkness that was more than just physical.

Turning lights on as she went, to chase away the ghosts of memory, Tamia entered the bedroom.  Her gaze latched onto the bed she once shared with her husband, and her lungs froze for one terrible moment.  It took almost more effort than she had, but she tore her eyes away.  They landed instead on the crib sitting, forgotten, in the far corner.  They picked it out together, she and Rick, and smuggled it into the Underground when her pregnancy was still a violation of the now-abolished Fertility Code.  The memory of hours spent laughing and teasing as they assembled the baby bed stung her eyes with fresh tears, even as she sat Michael on the center of her own bed and turned to unpack and shake out the crib sheets she packed away after her release from prison, when she and Michael left for Tibet, two years ago.

With a few quick motions, she made up the crib and turned back to her bed.  A small laugh broke her lips as her gaze landed on Michael, fast asleep in the center of the bed, his thumb hanging on his lower lip.

Poor thing was probably exhausted, after the commuter trip, and then the unfamiliar hustle and bustle of a city that never sleeps.  She didn’t have the heart to disturb him.  So, as carefully as she could, she stretched out beside him, still fully-clothed, and laid back against the pillows.  A sigh broke her lips as she shifted to her side, ever mindful of her son’s sleeping warmth, and gathered the pillow beside hers close to her face.

She drew in a deep breath, and the scent that still clung to the cloth embraced her senses and pulled a tender smile to her lips as a familiar, beloved face filled her mind’s eye.

“I love you,” she whispered to the darkness of a memory, as much as to the breathing warmth of her child.  And, with that affirmation, she slipped into the first true sleep she’d had in two years.

You can find the first three books of this series, TAMIA, MIND KILLER, and TERMINAL HUNTER, at Amazon.com, in either electronic or paperback format, or in autographed paperback through me directly via e-mail.

Immortal Beloved: Writing Love After Death

Authors are a strange breed.

We live both in the outside world, and inside our heads.

Being an author is one of the few careers where hanging onto your past works to your advantage, rather than against it. Our past experiences, the people we meet, and the places we go, all come together in our work. There’s an old expression in the publishing industry that you should never annoy an author, because you might just find yourself killed off in print. *laughs* This is true, in many cases. A number of my friends who are also authors can attest to this – we deal best with annoyance through imaginary violence.

However, it’s not just those things/people we’re annoyed by that end up in our work. More often, the people we care most about become immortalized in our work. Their personalities color our favorite characters, and we become as attached to the character as we are to the person, because we know who that is. After all, we took the very best (and sometimes the not so great) aspects of someone we care about and wove them into a whole new world.

I’ve done it, myself. Most notably, I immortalized the man I loved deeply, and lost tragically, in my Underground books. Some of the details have been changed. I changed the name (obviously), but kept his Callsign as Rick’s codename. Many of the physical characteristics are the same, while some are different. His occupation is different – Rick is a Commando and formerly a Navy SEAL. The man he’s based was an Air Force pilot. But the personality is the most important part – the man you see in Rick is the man I knew and loved, in almost every personality particular.

I lost the man I loved in a tragic accident that still scars me, today. I originally started writing the first Underground book,  TAMIA, while he was alive. In fact, he was a large part of not just the inspiration, but the story itself. He urged me to write our future in those opening books of the series, and he was immensely proud of my ability as an author, always encouraging and supportive of my craft. His death came as a blow I never saw coming, and which left me emotionally flattened and broken for a long time. In the wake of his death, and my inability to properly grieve (due to our situation, which I won’t discuss), I started work on the book that would become HERO’S HOPE… and soon learned that there are some scenes, some situations, and some events, which you can’t recreate on paper, no matter how good an author you are. There are some things too deeply painful and personal to immortalize. I lost the man I loved. I couldn’t kill the only connection I’ve always felt I had left to him – I couldn’t follow through, so Rick couldn’t die. That would have been like watching my beloved die all over again.

There are some wrenching impacts in HERO’S HOPE – but there remains one thing: hope. There remain secrets that leave the heroine (whose personality, if not her physical appearance and back story, is based on my own) emotionally broken and bleeding. But I left her with the hope I don’t have, a story not yet completed, and a chance of redemption from her pain.

From writing HERO’S HOPE and the follow-up, VENGEFUL HEART, I learned I’m stronger than I thought. I learned I can and will endure, and that the love I still carry in my heart is a precious thing, and made of tougher stuff than anyone in this world can destroy. I might not get my happy ending, but being an author allows me to create a future for myself I can immortalize on paper, even if I have to do it through characters who are not completely fiction.

Join the Fight: Tell Congress That Being an Artist/Author IS a Business!

Like most people, I barely understand most of the legalese involved in tax law.  In fact, until recently, I blindly believed that, as an Author, since I considered myself engaged in business, and everything I read told me I had to file a Schedule C as a sole proprietorship, when I had royalty income, I was engaged in a For-Profit business.  Well, imagine my surprise when the State of Arizona tried to tell me, just before Christmas, last year (Thanks a lot Arizona Scrooge!), that because I couldn’t prove a profit (ie, more income than expenses) in three out of five years as an author, I was not, in fact, engaged in a For-Profit Business.

Apparently, being an Artist/Author is one of those areas for which you are supposed to be punished, in the good ol’ US of A (or, at least, in Arizona), thanks to one of a set of “tests” to determine whether or not a business meets the criteria for “For Profit.”  Unfortunately, one of those tests requires a showing of profit — something few authors or artists are familiar with, when it comes to their art.  And, equally apparent is the ridiculous notion that an author or artist should ONLY be engaged in writing/art in order to be classed as pursuing that For-Profit status without proof of said profit margin.  Apparently, we really ARE supposed to starve and end up in the poor-house/bankrupt in order to be taken seriously by the tax laws.

Well, if you’re an author/artist, or family or friends of such, you know how driven a profession this is.  We dedicate every spare moment we can squeeze out of our day for the creation of our creative minds.  And there’s not a one of us who doesn’t intend to someday be able to do nothing but write, paint, etc, etc  full-time.  But we’re also realistic enough to realize that with millions of books printed every day, and hundreds of thousands of artists out there, most of us aren’t likely to ever see our names on or far enough up the bestsellers list or on gallery listing, etc, to make that kind of money.  We hold down other jobs, to pay the bills, and our families suffer as much as we do, for our art.

It’s time to take a stand… So if you’re an artist or author, a friend or family of one, or a fan who wants to see your favorite author/artist/etc continue to create, we need your help.  Follow the link below, sign the petition, and let’s tell the US Congress that being an artist/author IS a business, and we deserve protection and fair regard, as such, under the tax laws.

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/arts-irc-186-amendment/ (yes, I know the link has a mistake… I hit a “6″ instead of a “3″ when typing in the title, and can’t figure out how to change it).