A few years ago I stood at a crossroads in my life. It is at this point that I began writing (at the urging of a friend) as a way of dealing with a life suddenly gone belly up. My first novel was born, The Telling, the story of a soldier, returning home to deal with PTSD and the realization that he is gay and wants a partner—something he feels he can’t have in his small Alabama town.
The Telling was too personal to sell. I offered it free to readers on many sites, then wrapped it up as a novel, again free of charge. I’ve met so many wonderful people through the book, readers who wrote to me and are now friends, reviewers who loved the story, and other aspiring authors.
I wanted to put the book on Amazon, but they don’t allow free books. What you must do is add a price, then send them the link to a free site, asking that they price match. I expected the price to go to zero in a matter of hours. It didn’t. This was a gift to readers, and it was unfair that some people paid for their copies and others did not, even at Amazon’s minimum price of .99. As an active member of my local PFLAG chapter, I elected to give all the Amazon earnings for this novel to PFLAG.
Then something happened beyond my worst nightmares. Someone told me that an earlier version of my book, with identical blurb, was being offered on Amazon. Only the author’s name was different. I’m not a well-known author, so if this person hadn’t plagiarized some very notable authors, chances were he’d have gone undiscovered. Not only did he take my free book clear down to the slightly altered dedication with the intent to make money from it, a person claiming to be his editor turned the tables and suggested it was me who did the stealing.
I’ve never had my heart cut out with a dull knife, but it has to feel something like that moment did for me. To make matters worse, while Amazon quickly took down the other plagiarized books, they left mine up for what seemed like an eternity. Each day that I checked and found it still there twisted the knife a bit deeper.
Out of bad rose good. People began to rally around me, some who’d actually witnessed The Telling being created online. Even though they knew they could get the book for free elsewhere, they shelled out their .99 cents to Amazon, to benefit PFLAG.
The other author’s offerings have been taken down, as has mine, and as international law comes into play I’m not sure anything can be done. But, through all the agony of having my work stolen, then being accused of being the thief, a miracle happened. Even at so low a price, PFLAG made a tidy sum. We’re not sure how to spend it yet, but we’re looking at renting a billboard, spreading the word about PFLAG and the good work we’re doing in the community.
In the spirit of Monte Python’s “Wink, wink, nudge, nudge,” the stolen version had a particular error in the copyright that I’m notorious for: using “and” for “any”. The warning reads, “And resemblance to persons living or dead…” This wording is also present in some of my other stories. Yep, that story’s Eden’s all right!
While this is a “Back List Bump” post, and I have many novels I’d love to see spotlighted, I’d like to take this opportunity to promote The Telling. You have two choices: All Romance Ebooks for free, or Amazon for .99 cents, all proceeds benefitting PFLAG. The wonderful P.D. Singer even donated the lovely cover.
Time in Iraq cost Michael Ritter some of his hearing and a friend whose death he feels responsible for. He’d left Alabama hoping to escape a dull, small-town life, only to return four years later, lugging a duffle full of personal demons.
Cookesville, Alabama isn’t the most welcoming place on earth, particularly for a gay, Hispanic student wanting nothing more than to earn his degree and get back home to Texas. An image of a somber young man that he knows only by name and the stories told by an adoring sister comes to life when Michael returns home, just as Jay is already half-way to losing his heart.
Michael’s biggest battle lies ahead, and he’ll need all the help he can get to find his way in a world where he no longer fits in. Jay’s not sure where he fits either, but it could be next to the war-torn soldier who needs his strength.