I have mixed feelings about this, and maybe I ought to keep it to myself, but I can't anymore. I've tried to keep a secret for months, and those of you who know me in person know how lousy I am at keeping my own secrets. The truth is this: Back on April 25, about a month after I returned from the Oklahoma tour, I got an email from a fellow Fear Nought writer who said the office was closed. Did any of us authors know why? I was pretty sure I did. My publisher opened as a web design business, and that business was suffering from the economic slump. As for the publishing wing, my fellow authors and I were selling fine locally, but that's not saying a whole lot. We'd only recently picked up a distributor, and without liquid capital to invest in promotion to book sellers and readers, our titles were dying on the vine. I'm choosing my words carefully here, because I don't want to point fingers in public. I definitely don't want you, Gentle Reader, to get the idea I'm dismissive of your support. Lightfall has received glowing reviews from readers and not a single negative review. That's something I'm deeply proud of. I knew the book was controversial, and I wondered how Oklahoma Christians would receive it. So far, it's all been thumbs up.
Trouble is, unless readers know where to look, they won't find a copy of Lightfall most places outside Puget Sound or southeast Oklahoma. It's still available on Amazon, and as far as I know, the "buy buttons" to the right of this blog work. The publisher is still selling books, though the office and web design wing have shut down and two of the three partners moved out of state. So yeah, I won't make you read between the lines: They're all but out of business. I found out secondhand. Sales have dipped to a handful of copies per month. I'm pretty sure the Lightfall roller coaster has come to an end, barring a miracle; and as for the hoped-for financial windfall, well, putting this mildly, it never came to pass.
Meanwhile, practical necessities in the Olympic College math/science division eliminated my teaching job, though I still write for the Weekly Volcano. My car was totaled in a wreck a couple of months ago, so I've been obliged to spring for a new vehicle just as my credit card interest rate leaps and my income dwindles. It's been a rough couple of months. But I'm focusing on the positive: I'm happily in love with Amanda, my résumé looks fantastic, and people are reading and enjoying my book. I have more friends than I know what to do with, and my family is well. Given my spinal syndrome (long story for those who don't know it), I'm in much better health than doctors predicted I'd be in at age 42. Say what you will, I'm a published author. Am I proud of that? Yes. Do I deserve to be? Hell, yes.
Please keep recommending Lightfall if you're inclined to do so, and I'd be delighted to correspond with future readers. If you're in a book club, I'll even conference-call the group. I'm easy that way. But as for the busy schedule of signings and book promotions, I'm pretty sure it's done...done...on to the next one? Ay, there's the rub.
See, I've had this book idea cooking in my skull for two years. I knew I wanted to write about religion, sex, and politics, the three taboo subjects in American conversation. I knew what "the sex book" would look like. I drew maps of the setting. I compiled notes about the characters. I even had a killer title. I wrote one short chapter...and stopped. I was waiting to see what would happen with the publisher. Contractually, they get first look at any future novels I write. The contract's kind of a joke at this point, frankly, but I still feel a certain loyalty. So why write something they couldn't sell?
Well, y'know what? That has nothing to do with it. Why'd I write a novel (then called Salvation) about the end of the world in small-town Oklahoma? I wrote it because I was the only guy who could. Not that other folks can't write, of course, but I was the only guy I knew who could and would write that particular story that particular way. My voice and worldview are all over Lightfall. And while there are millions of sexy novels, and thousands of novels about sexuality, there's only one novel I want to write about it. Maybe only my closest friends will ever read it. There are zero guarantees at this point. I may never get paid for any of this. But I'm not going to feel free of this story until I get it on paper. It's as simple as that.
I wrote Chapter 2 this week, and I'm well into Chapter 3. Turns out unemployment has its advantages. Self-esteem may not be one of them. Free time is.