The Independence of an Indie Author
by T.T. Thomas
As we approach the 4th of July holidays, I am reminded of my first conscious taste and comprehension of freedom. I was 5 years old. A family friend joining us for a picnic and fireworks later, gave me a silver dollar for a present. I had no conscious understanding of the symbolism of the holiday, but I early on recognized the value of a dollar. Why? Because I had a sweet tooth. I knew the most amount of candy that could be had for a penny, a nickel, a dime. A silver dollar was instantaneous millionaire to my youthful mind. It could buy bags of candy. It could buy certain candies I had heretofore only drooled over. It could buy several pieces of candy every day for 20 days at a nickel a day.
And then my father said: You should save this; it's a silver dollar.
What? Hmmm. I walked the sidewalk in front of our house. I clearly recall saying, "It's Independence Day and I'm independent.” No really, I said that! I was pre-precocious. And somehow, I knew what it meant. It meant: my silver dollar, my candy. Who didn't understand that?
But I paced: Should I sneak down to the store, real quick like, to get the candy I dearly wanted? Or not? Finally I went to my dad and explained my dilemma. I wanted to save, but I wanted just a couple pieces of candy. So, why not give me a quarter for the candy, and I'll save the silver dollar? It was win/win as far as I could see. He objected to the concept and the quarter.
"If you want it that badly, spend your own money—you've got it. Or don't, and save it."
I went to my mother. She explained the wisdom of saving in weather terms. "Save it for a rainy day," she said.
I went to my auntie. She asked to borrow it. I left her somewhere in the kitchen. Finally I hovered around the man who gave it to me.
"What are you going to do with your silver dollar?" he asked.
"Well," I said shyly, "I'd prefer to save it for a rainy day, or if someone needs to borrow it, sometime down the road, but then I wouldn't be able to get 15 cents worth of candy, which I'd like to have to celebrate my independence." I had dropped the notion of asking for a quarter, figuring, rightly, that it was going against the grain of the prevailing market conditions.
He looked at me. "No freaking way did you just say that!" he exclaimed.
It's true I didn't say that, and he didn't say that either. But I did say something very cute and ingenuous, because he handed me a dime and a nickel.
Now I had it all: Money for candy and savings. This time I skipped, then ran, down to the corner for the candy. I proudly showed the man at the counter my silver dollar, bought a dime's worth of candy and had a nickel to spare. Now, you might want to sit down for the next part because the story gets...well, the "ewww" factor goes up a bit.
The next day, the landlord came around to visit my parents. He was on his way to the stockyards. I didn't know what they were, but I heard "animals" and wanted to go. I don't know what possessed my mother to let me go with him, and I have even less insight into why she put me in a dress. Have you ever been to the stockyards? This was cows and pigs. All fenced in. Malodorous.
The man lifted me up so I could see into the pens. I stood on one of the fence railings, and he kept his arm around me to make sure I didn't fall in. I had my one nickel in the pocket of the dress, and for some reason, I took it out and held it in my fist. I cannot say with any certain memory what happened next—not much but enough to frighten me.
The man's arm slipped down my body and his hand now rested on my upper thigh, and he began to rub my leg. Frightened but not really sure why, I suppose, I started gnawing on my my closed fist, and somehow, I swallowed the nickel. I suddenly began to cough and spit and cry and throw a terrible fit. A crowd of other men formed, drawn by my bleating and weeping. Unnerved, (by the "witnesses" no doubt) he hoisted me up off that fence, took me to his truck and drove me right home.
He told my mom that I had swallowed a coin and maybe she should take me to the doctor. I must have looked frightened because I saw something begin to dawn on my mother's face. She said goodbye to him and called the doctor who told her how to get that nickel back. To watch for it. To not stop watching for it until she saw that it had exited my body. I could tell she did not look forward to the ordeal, but she had something bigger on her mind.
She sat me at the table and asked me about the day. We got around to talking about Mr. Icky, and she asked me if he was nice to me. I didn't answer at first. Finally I simply said, "I don't like him." Somehow she knew. She gave that Irish mother all-knowing nod, and left me at the table with milk and cookies while she called my father. I never saw the creepy man again, and we moved from that house not long after.
Oh and I did get my nicely cleaned nickel back. And my mother never took her eyes off me and my sisters from that day on.
So, being independent has given me tremendous happiness and a few close calls. And I find as I pursue the life of a published writer, a self-published or “Indie” writer, the same sense of survival, passion for a good story, and a basic sense of good and evil, and right and wrong, are represented by the heroes and heroines in my own and other writer's books.
My favorite characters are people, especially women, who venture into uncharted territories with little more than their own optimism and a will to be who they authentically are. I'm still thrilled to be able to recreate the joy, the spirit and the challenge of trying to balance all that being an Indie means.
I like that it take a village to put it all together, but it's a village with inhabitants of my choosing. The village might change a bit from book to book, but the theme is the same: I will pay you to give me your best edit, your best cover, your ISBN number, your formatting skills, and all the rest of it. And I will pay for the review copies, eBook or print, the advertising, the promotional giveaways, the contest fees, the conference fees, the membership fees, and the contributions to other writers, some I know, some I don't.
Throughout the entire process, I have to tell you: I am excited, I'm thrilled to be able to do it, and a whole lot of love and dedication to a good tale well told goes into the process, not just from me but from all members of my village. And I belong to other writers' villages, usually as a Beta reader, certainly as a reviewer, always as a cheerleader, an encourager and a good-natured competitor for the next reader!
And when it's all done and my book goes live, I, still an independent and an Indie, come out with the same familiar $1.15 for every book that sells—a dollar for savings, a dime for candy, a nickel for emergencies! No, it's not a lot of money, is it? But I love it. Oh, okay, sure, times about five hundred thousand would be nice! LOL.
I'm thrilled to premiere the cover for my latest offering, A Delicate Refusal, which will be on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all the usual places over the holiday weekend. The print version will be available within a couple weeks.
And here's a small taste of A Delicate Refusal
As World War I begins, England tries to maintain its “splendid isolation” policy, but the British people are quietly enduring their own misgivings, facing their own fears and wondering how long they can bear witness to carnage without a response.
Into this milieu of intrigue and uncertainty, two women begin a most unusual love affair. Theirs is a love sustained by hope and encouraged by letters, but threatened by their own private fears and the worldwide anxieties covering the earth like a dark shroud. As all of Europe drives itself to the brink of destruction, can an uncommon love survive the concussive blasts of doubt and deceit, of estrangement and misunderstanding? Who lives to love? Who lurks in the background watching the affair from the distance of déjà vu? And who presents “a delicate refusal” to become a tragic hero?
It's fitting that I do the world premiere of my cover on the blog belonging to my cover artist—the Gothic Queen herself, Patty G. Henderson. Thank you Patty—for my cover, for inviting me here and for our friendship.
Visit my web site: www.ttthomas.com