A warm welcome to our next guest on the Love Bytes GRL Blog Tour. Miss Carol Lynne!
Carol joins us to talk about her writing career , she also answers Felice Stevens Question and she brought with her a giveaway for one lucky reader!
Welcome Carol 🙂
A Cautionary Tale
By Carol Lynne
Let me preface this post by telling you that I’m not a whiner. The purpose of this blog is to help authors so they do not make the same mistakes I have made in my writing career.
My life as a published author happened very quickly, and just as quickly, I became a financially successful writer. At the time, I didn’t realize how rare this happens for people in this field, and I’m ashamed to admit it, but I didn’t appreciate what I had until it was gone.
In June 2006, I was drowning in a horrible marriage with no way out. I was a stay-at-home mom with no job and no real skills that could earn me enough money to support myself and two children. The only escape I had was books. I devoured romance books each day, praying they would take my pain away. Ménage books were my favorite, but, at the time, ménage stories seemed to only be M/F/M. That didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t understand why three people would go to bed together if they didn’t all love each other. (Yeah, I’m from a small Kansas town. I still have never had sex with someone I didn’t love first. LOL) Anyway, back to my story. I searched in the library for a book where the two men in the ménage loved each other, but I couldn’t find one. (Yes, I am/was also naïve in thinking my local small-town library would have M/M/F books.) When I couldn’t find one, I decided to write one. You also have to realize that I’d never attempted to write a damn thing, but for some reason I needed those two men to love and make love to each other. I wrote the ménage of my dreams and decided to send it off to Ellora’s Cave because I had purchased a few of their books in Borders, so I knew they would let me submit online. I received my acceptance letter on my 41st birthday. I can’t begin to describe how it felt to get that email. I printed it to show my husband because I was so damn proud of myself. He took one glance, threw it to the floor and asked me what I’d made for dinner. (Keep in mind, this was my birthday, yet I was still expected to make dinner.) That moment was truly the beginning of the end of my marriage.
My first story was published February 21, 2007. I’m not sure why or how it happened, but that book did very, very well for me. My first royalty check was over five thousand dollars. My husband, who used to remind me daily that I worked for him because he paid for everything, asked me how much my stupid writing check was. I told him the amount before informing him, “I don’t work for you anymore.” (I left less than a year later because he said I had to choose between him and writing. Not much of a choice.)
At the time of my divorce, I was making well over one hundred thousand dollars a year writing. I bought a house, a nice car, and I was finally able to give my girls all the things I couldn’t when I “worked” for my husband. I left everything behind except my clothes and my children, which meant every single thing that went into my new house had to be purchased by me. Easy. I had the money. My mother, being the wise woman she is, told me that I needed to put away most of my royalties for a rainy day, but I didn’t listen. Huge mistake. I thought that as long as I continued to write and publish, my royalties would only increase. I WAS WRONG.
Fast forward to 2011. This was the beginning of the end of my financial freedom. The Kindle was starting to become really popular, so most readers purchased their ebooks directly from Amazon. As an author, I thought it was an awesome thing. What I didn’t count on was the fact that Amazon would take a huge chunk of my royalty pie. Suddenly my royalties were down. I think they dropped around thirty thousand dollars in one year. It didn’t seem to matter that I still wrote the same amount of books. My royalties continued to slide as more and more authors were drawn into the world of gay erotic romance. I didn’t begrudge these authors at all. Publishing saved my life. It gave me a sense of worth that I hadn’t possessed in a very long time. I helped authors in every way I could, most notably by organizing the GRL Retreat.
Soon my royalties were so low that I couldn’t make payments on everything I’d acquired while living the high-life. (Hey, when you spend years earning zero dollars and start making at least ten thousand a month, you tend to go a little nuts, and I sooooo went nuts.) Life became harder and harder.
Finally, in 2014, I realized that I was going to lose everything if I didn’t reach out for help. At the time, I was making less than half of what I’d made for the first five years of my career. I went to my attorney and we went through all my bills versus what I was bringing in each month, and she advised me to file bankruptcy. It took me almost six months to come to terms with the fact that I had failed myself and my girls, and I seriously felt that way. I cried daily. Bill collectors started calling, making me feel even worse about myself. I finally filed Chapter 7. On the first day I met with the court trustee, he asked me what kind of books I wrote. I was honest. He didn’t appreciate my genre of choice and made it known. He said that in order for me to file Chapter 7, he intended to take all my books from me and sell them off as intellectual property. (Yep, like they did to Toni Braxton.) I tried to explain that without my books, I wouldn’t be able to make a living because they were my only income. He said he didn’t care.
I changed course and filed Chapter 13 instead. The entire process took me almost two years, but I was finally approved for Chapter 13. Now, by this time, my royalties were down even further. I was ordered to pay the court $1300/month, which doesn’t include my house or the house I co-own with my sisters. Giving up the co-owned lake house wasn’t an option for me because I couldn’t do that to my sisters. In the end, I sold my house and moved myself and my two girls in with my youngest sister. I sold nearly everything I’d purchased to make my house a home and what I have left fits in a small storage unit. I’ve lived with my sister for almost a year now and royalties continue to drop.
Not to whine, but it’s hard to write an uplifting romance when you feel like a failure, so my releases have dropped off as well. Last month I did what I never thought I’d have to do, and I conceded. I’ve been applying for jobs like crazy, but haven’t received a single interview. I cried for two days before applying for the first job because I knew what it meant. I’d lost my dream.
I’m still searching for employment, but I have to keep that court payment in mind. I haven’t worked outside the home in sixteen years, so making enough to pay the court while still trying to make enough to move out of my sister’s house isn’t easy.
So, the reason I spilled my guts to you all is to warn you. Grab that dream of publishing and hold on tight. Never, under any circumstances, let yourself believe the money will continue to flow. In this business, each month, each release is a gamble. Love what you do. Enjoy the extra money writing provides, but save, save, save. Build up your savings during times of grace.
Now that I’ve thoroughly scared the crap out of you, I’d like to tell you a little something about one of my releases. Spring is the first story in the Seasons of Love series. This four-part series follows the lives of Sidney and Nash through thirty years together. I love happy endings, but I wanted to know what happened next. What happens when love isn’t new and shiny? This series follows the ups and downs of life with the same couple.
Spring is now available in ebook, and is now on the shelves at WHSmith, a UK bookstore chain.
Seasons of Love Series Blurb
Just as the seasons change, so do people. Seasons of Love follows forty years in the lives of two men, Sidney Wilks and Grady Nash, from the Spring of their relationship when love is new and shiny through the Winter of their partnership when thirty years of being a couple has begun to lose its sheen.
On the day of his mother’s funeral, ten-year old Sidney Wilks is silently comforted by the presence of one man, ranch hand Grady Nash. Little did Sidney know that Nash would become the only stable figure in his life for the next forty years.
Years later, after an evening of typical college fun, Sidney is involved in a serious car wreck. It’s Nash who once again steps in to rescue Sidney and nurse him back to health.
While trying to get close enough to Sidney to help him heal, Nash’s feelings begin to change towards the twenty-one year old. For him, loving Sidney was nothing new, but when his body begins to desire the small man, Nash is forced to re-evaluate his protective instincts.
What kind of future could the two men possibly have? Nash’s life is centred on horses and cattle, while Sidney has dreams of escaping the small-town Kansas life to build skyscrapers. How can two men who want opposite lifestyles come to a compromise, or will Nash be forced to allow Sidney to spread his wings without him?
**My GRL question came from Felice Stevens: “How has GRL evolved over the years in your opinion?”
Good question. In the beginning, GRL was purely meant to be a weekend where authors could meet and thank the readers who supported them. It actually started in my home town when I invited readers from my yahoo group to make the trek to Kansas. I paid for most of that weekend, and I wanted to do more, so I asked Ethan Day if he’d be interested in helping me to sponsor the weekend the following year. Ethan said he was in, but suggested we ask other authors if they would be interested as well. That’s how our first official GRL Retreat was born.
We’ve learned quite a bit over the years, and we try each year to listen to suggestions from attendees on ways to make it better. If I really think about the biggest change, I’d honestly have to say it’s the attitude of authors. In the beginning, as I’ve said, GRL was a way for authors to meet and thank the people who read their books. I understand that authors are asked to pay more to attend the Retreat in an official capacity, but without their help, we would have to price the weekend much higher for readers. Also, authors can write the weekend off on their taxes, so I think it’s only fair that they be asked to pay a bit more. Readers come to the Retreat because they love the intimate atmosphere where they can sit and have a beer with their favorite authors. They also get a chance to meet each other and many have formed close bonds. GRL is about recognizing and thanking the readers who have supported us. Author promo is awesome, but that was never the primary goal of GRL. I now think of GRL as a big family reunion.
Carol’s question for our next GRL guest Ally Blue:
“How often do you use your vocation skills in your writing?”
Carol brought with her a pdf copy of any book of her backlist (winner’s choice)
a Rafflecopter giveaway