Friday, February 4, 2011

Full Circle

Perhaps I should issue some sort of apology for not blogging since October 14th, but since my mom died on October 5th, neither the need or desire has compelled me to come here and pitter-patter away on my keyboard.

I can't promise how often this blog will be active, perhaps more than usual or less, but today, I wanted to reflect on the state of my publishing and my writing and how I believe I have come full circle in both. This will not be a short and pithy blog entry (I don't think I'm made up of short and pithy, anyway).

I've been writing since the 60s and published since the late 60s, early 70s. When I say published, I  don't mean novels or books. No, that didn't come until 2001. In 1969, I began to bask in the limelight of publication in fanzines. PARAGON ILLUSTRATED was a semi-professional fanzine published by Bill Black, artist and writer. I got my first big break with him writing under a pen name. I wrote "Dark Zodiac" entries, short fictional illuminations of the dark side of each zodiac sign. Bill Black did the illustrations. Unfortunately, I only did two or three zodiac signs and then devoted the rest of my writing to short stories. I was so very fortunate to come across Dale Donaldson, a pioneer in horror fiction during the 1970s. He was just launching his MOONBROTH fanzine. It was a unique publishing endeavor and one that appealed to my bohemian publishing leanings. You see, Dale Donaldson's idea for MOONBROTH was that of issuing stories and artwork as loose leaf, photocopied colored pages with holes pre-punched so you could make your own magazine binder. I liked what he was doing and the fiction he was accepting. Jessica Amanda Salmonson and Janet Fox both started out in MOONBROTH. Salmonson went on to publish the excellent "Tomoe Gozen" female samurai series. If you can find the mass market paperbacks, buy them and enjoy. I was writing then because I loved to write. For me, it was a drug I didn't want to be weened off of. I found inspiration everywhere. I never expected to be famous or even entertained the desire. Dale Donaldson was very supportive of my writing and assured me I would make it to the "pros" one day. I had my doubts. Dale published three or four of my dark, horror short stories, I think. When Dale got sick......very sick, MOONBROTH folded. And Dale Donaldson passed away. There has been a Dale Donaldson Memorial Award created in his name. The void that his death and the death of MOONBROTH left in my writing life got filled with my own little petty attempts at home-spun fanzines. These were basically done at home on my typewriter....yes, typewriter, and distributed to friends and some who wanted copies. Remember, this was 1971 or 1972. I  never submitted another short story to a fanzine again.

Life interfered shortly thereafter and I basically gave up writing. Since this is not a reflection on my personal life, we'll skip that and jump ahead to 1997. The writing Muse apparently decided I deserved another chance at penning dark fiction and I became quite obsessed with a tale of vampirism unlike others I'd read and were being published. I had officially "come out of the closet" and thought that vampire fiction always seemed to focus on male vampires and their helpless female conquests. Enamored of the film "The Hunger," where chic vampire Catherine Deneuve seduces Susan Sarandon into the vampire life in a really sexual yet exquisite scene, I was determined to write a female, lesbian vampire book that used all the trappings of traditional vampire lore, yet infusing it with more innovative ideas. The book, SO DEAD, MY LOVE, was published in 2001. I have since published a new edition, SO DEAD, MY  LOVE, Author's Choice edition.

Leaving vampires behind, I decided it was my turn to write my "haunted house" story. But I didn't want it to be just another haunted house story. Besides horror and supernatural fiction, I also enjoy mysteries. I wanted to blend mystery and my love for the supernatural together. And I had a private investigator in mind. But she wouldn't be just any regular private investigator. She has psychic powers. The "X-Files"  was very big in television in 2000 when I started writing the first Brenda Strange book, THE BURNING OF HER SIN, and could be positively compared to the cases Brenda Strange sometimes gets involved with. Brenda Strange and her supernatural adventures came about from my love of the supernatural and the mystery. It seemed a perfect blend. Her name came from my passion for the Marvel comic book hero, Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts and Sorcerer Supreme, and my fascination with an old comic strip, Brenda Starr, Reporter. She was an adventurous female reporter. So far, there are four Brenda Strange novels published, THE BURNING OF HER SIN, TANGLED AND DARK, THE MISSING PAGE, and XIMORA, with more to come.

But publication didn't come easy. I have my own horror stories forever branded in my memory of the road to publication. To keep this blog within a reasonable length, I neither became famous or rich from my writing. Having signed and resigned from four publishers, I am now my own publisher, making quarters from my writings and once again, doing it on my own, with my own publishing imprint, Black Car Publishing. This time, I'm using digital, Print On Demand and eBook publishing and not a typewriter. Independent publishing has empowered many an author to keep and retain their rights and their royalties. I will never sign a contract with a publisher again. Yes, I remain still, a publishing bohemian.

The question remains, do I still have enough passion to write only because I love to write? At 60, the pixie dust and stars of fame and fortune in publishing have long disappeared from my eyes. I'm back to writing and publishing not for big publishing contracts or publicity, but because I still have stories to tell and the passion to write them. It no longer matters if only one or two enjoy the stories or buy my books. I enjoy writing them and sharing them. The same way I did back when typewriter ribbons came in either black or two-tone black and red. Full circle.