Writer Beware

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By Tracy Morgan

I counted the days until Christmas break by placing bright red numbered index cards on my bulletin board in my study. In five days, I would be free of all my teaching responsibilities. My mind focused on one mission of finishing my book.

I planned the two weeks with charts of writing schedules and what day to email the agent I found online. I felt my plan would catapult me into a new career. My romance story titled, Casey’s Way, would soon be on its way to finding a place on bookshelves, libraries, and bookstores.

If things went according to my detailed scheduled, this would be my last year teaching and my world of being a published author would begin.

I polished off the ending. I corrected my errors. Then clutching the large manila envelope, I marched off to the post office. I paid extra to have a receipt of delivery. I left no room for error.

A woman from a publishing agency contacted me with accolades for my story and dialogue. Next step, I mailed her a check for her reading fees and waited for her to reply with a publishing release date. She phoned with high praise for promptness, following directions, and being advanced in my skills for a beginning writer. My chest swelled.

I received a contract. I signed it, after selecting just the right black ball point pen. My family even held a signing party. I dressed in my most elegant outfit which seemed fitting of a soon-to-be-published author.

I staged my desk with books, pens, a floral arrangement, and the contract just in the ideal position. The photo-op was perfect, and even better because it fell on my mother’s birthday.

Three months later, an email arrived. This time from the sheriff’s office in San Angelo, Texas. My story had been confiscated as part of the property of the agency being charged for fraudulent dealings.

My heart shattered. What happened? The image of my sweet, romantic story being boxed as evidence in a crime held no place in my imagination of what an author’s life entailed.

Lesson learned: “Guard your heart.” In my eagerness for change, I ignored the warnings. And most of all, I forgot the time-used cliché, yet true, “If it sounds too good to be true, it is.”

In my journeys since the Texas debacle, I know an author’s world parallels with my world in education. You must study. You must continue the training. You must attend conferences. And you must seek mentors with impeccable integrity and a reliable reputation. My plan to be published failed because it had been formed on a foundation of sinking sand due to my naïve mindset. I laugh now at the thought I could be published in two weeks.

I have several regrets about my connection with the woman from Texas. My research for an agent failed in time and effort. I focused more on my calendar and my deadlines. The focus should have included more background checking on the integrity of the business. Like most lessons in life, it taught me truth through a tough road.

So, my writing friends, beware. Wolves continue to be among us writers seeking grandma’s house of publishing. Proceed with caution. Do your research.

The Lone Wolf. @tracyomorgan #ACFWBlogs #writetip #critiques #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet

Tracy O. Morgan lives in Upstate South Carolina with her husband and their rescue puppy, Missy. She is a retired educator who serves on an education scholarship board. Family, college football, and event planning keep her engaged in the community. Her current writing project is her romance Bicycle Point Series.


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