Towards the end of last year, I made a wrong turn onto a path that was a rough and bumpy uphill trail to the edge of a steep cliff. And it was dark. And slick with ice. Since I was driving, so there was nobody else to blame. I was even warned! A small voice whispered not to do it, but I didn’t listen. Every time I ignore that voice a tough lesson follows.
It didn’t take long to realize I had put my books into the hands of an unethical publisher. They held my novel, “The Reluctant Cowboy,” hostage for several months. She (the boss of the outfit) stole money from me on the pretext of sending books. She held my royalties and still has them. I’ll never see them unless she has an attack of conscience. When I complained, she threatened to publish the third Deputy Ricos tale, even though I had already withdrawn it from her so-called publishing house.
There are times you have to stand up and fight. This woman had to be beaten back with a gigantic metaphorical stick. It was a terrible time for me. Fighting is not my style, but I will defend myself. I got through several awful months by writing, continuing to believe in myself, and with the help of my family, friends, readers, and readers who have become friends. I also made therapeutic trips to South Brewster County and into the Davis Mountains.
I tried to stay positive, but everything made me cry: people being nice, people being jerks, my daughter calling, my daughter not calling, watching the sun set in the West, having no sunset to watch, thinking about the past, and thinking about the future. I was slipping off the cliff.
People who have never met me in person offered to help in any way they could, including sending me money to pursue a lawsuit. I was stunned by the outpouring of support and passionate feelings, and so grateful. It felt as though I had an army backing me. In a manner of speaking, I did and still do. The Beatles had it right: “I get by with a little help from my friends.”
Once I was released by the pretend publisher, good things started happening so quickly it was like magic. I republished “The Reluctant Cowboy” and sales took off as though they had never been interrupted. I released “Darker than Black” and boom!
I won an award from the Texas Association of Authors for “One Bloody Shirt at a Time.” Who would have thought? Sales increased for all my novels. A dear friend hosted a well-attended book signing for me in the Terlingua Ghost Town where I sold novels and watched the Chisos Mountains: bliss.
I was invited to be the featured author at a fundraiser for the Alpine Public Library and I was even interviewed on Marfa Public Radio. I was invited to participate in a book signing on June 22nd at a bookstore in Austin and to woman the Texas Association of Authors’ table at the Texas Book Fair in October to talk about and sell my novels.
That’s incredible, right? Here’s the best thing. Three weeks ago I was signed by a longtime, respected Texas publisher who will help, not hinder me. They’ll work with me to further my writing career, not try to cripple me. Writer + a real publisher = great things coming! I couldn’t be more happy and excited for the future.
Above my writing desk, I have these words pinned to a bulletin board: “I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart.” The quote is by Vincent Van Gogh, and he expressed in an eloquent way how I feel about writing. When we’re in anything with our whole hearts, we’re bound to make mistakes. Van Gogh made plenty, but have you seen his legacy?