I’m going to be completely honest here. I know it’s been four years since Truth and Consequences was released, the third book in the Sixth Sense series. I know I left things on a bit of a cliffhanger, something I didn’t foresee being a problem because I was working on the final installment, Deal with the Devil. I had every intention of finishing that book and the series in 2017. But several things happened all at the same time, all of which impacted my ability to write.
I had multiple deaths and losses in the family. They began in 2017 and continued well into 2018. Communities I relied on for support closed. Our current administration here in the US seems hell-bent (and I don’t use that term lightly) on destroying or reversing all gains made in civil rights, healthcare, and environmental protections in the last fifty years, threatening everything I believe in and those I love. The planet is on fire and our long-term prognosis is grim. My health took a beating and I fell into a well of chronic pain and depression.
It all seemed so pointless, you know?
But there was one other factor I haven’t mentioned, and that was the fact my spidey senses were tingling over the situation at Dreamspinner Press. Royalty statements, and then payments themselves started coming later and later, always with plausible excuses until you started compiling them all. How could so many things conspire to prevent a business from, well, doing business? Hurricanes, software issues, bank problems, delays getting checks in the mail, delays in the server making the switch to direct deposits, difficulties in the transition from quarterly to monthly payments… I confess, I was mired in my own issues and chose to ignore the elephant in the room, especially since I wasn’t actively writing for them. But I heard whisperings and rumblings behind the scenes. Someone I knew who is a brilliant author subbed to DSP, and was treated–in my opinion–very shabbily in a manner that seemed intended to put her off publishing altogether. (Shortly after that, DSP closed to open submissions, instead concentrating only on specific lines within their press) I’d had my own battle royale when assigned a new editor with my last DSP book, who seemed to have merely run my manuscript through an editing program demanding changes both arbitrary and without adding meaning or clarity to the story. I ended up requesting assignment to another editor.
And subconsciously at first, these events added to my feeling I couldn’t finish the Sixth Sense series. Later, when I began thinking about writing and publishing Deal with the Devil on my own, I realized Dreamspinner had first right of refusal to the characters, and so again, my motivation to complete the series withered on the vine.
Then the payments ceased to come altogether. I’ve received one payment from DSP in all of 2019. In October, I made the difficult decision to pull my titles from Dreamspinner Press and take back the rights to my stories. Dreamspinner gave me my first shot at being a published author. I owed them a lot. But they are also a business, and they violated their end of the contract with me. And the last thing I wanted was for them to declare bankruptcy holding the rights to my titles, which would then become assets in settling their debts.
It’s not just me. You should read this Publisher’s Weekly article.
I’ll be blunt: I didn’t have the spoons to repackage and self-publish my backlist. I’d done a little self-publishing before, but these books needed re-editing and to have the specialized formatting stripped out. Some needed new covers. I didn’t have the funds or the juice to do all this, and yet I hated the thought of all those years of work just lying on my hard drive with nothing to show for it. So I did the work, got the titles back up, fought with the third party vendors still hosting my stories to TAKE THEM DOWN, and got them into Kindle Unlimited for the first time ever.
And now, am discovering they are selling. Better than they had in DSP’s hands for the last few years.
Slowly my mood toward these stories–and my writing in general–has begun to change. I’m no longer sad over my personal losses, and terrified of the direction this country is going in. I’m no longer sad that Dreamspinner is having trouble and looks to be in danger of closing.
I’m mad. Pissed off. Livid.
And you know what? I’m not going to let depression, or DSP, or anything else thwart me from finishing this series. It may not be the best thing I ever write, and I can’t promise when it will be released but by God, I will finish Deal with the Devil and give closure to the Sixth Sense series.
I will not go down without a fight.