Okay, so here’s what happened the other day with going to court: I’ve never faced a jail sentence in my life, so I was a bit nervous. I don’t even really believe in posting TRULY personal things here, though I suppose people do, and before court I felt if anything negatively happened there I’d probably be wishing I’d posted something first, and I did.
I’ve been running Black Bed Sheet Books for three and a half years, and when I started I knew exactly what I was doing, set everything in motion, and launched it with my feet on the ground and my back to the wind and the full support of those close to me in my personal life. I made a commitment to myself that this venture wouldn’t be a “let’s see what happens” kind of thing, I committed to it long-term and cemented my soul into it, almost like I married myself to it. Only several months later, my personal life imploded. That is to say, my wee son, his mother, and I ceased to no longer be a family and split into three quite the same way Zod, Non, and Ursa did when a nuclear warhead burst them from their square flying glass vanity mirror in Superman II, only picture that with Zod and Ursa hating each other because they’ve been incased within that vanity mirror for thousands of years, and upon their abrupt release found themselves fighting over who gets to lord over Non, who has no say or real understanding of what’s going on. And Zod, still on his quest for the domination of an entire planet, finds himself suddenly only capable of seeing Non every other weekend, having to compensate Ursa on a monthly basis for baring the burden of seeing after Non more than Zod himself was allowed to.
It was a turbulent Spring 2009, and as a result of that separation I lost almost all my possessions and my home and basically found myself running Black Bed Sheet off my laptop on my parent’s front porch chain smoking and chugging cheap lager, and juggling a tight schedule meeting with Father’s Rights people and making the Placer County Courthouse my second home and pouring what money I had that was supposed to go towards my new publishing company into my defense and survival instead. The thing is, despite all that overwhelming personal hullabaloo, I managed to keep it separate from my business obligations to the extent that I somehow found myself able to pay for, edit, design, package, market, design covers and promotional materials for 8 print titles and release them all on August 1st, the date I had set before all that personal bullshit happened. Not only that, but I coordinated a huge Horrorfind event where I escaped across the country and Black Bed Sheet had vendor’s tables, and those August 1st authors I labored hard to publish the prior month who were present sold out and made a tremendous splash, gained media interviews, comic book deals, connections. And from that event I gained future authors who are now with me as well, and most of the original August 1st authors back in 2009 I still have, too. On another proud note, it was that Summer I published the legendary Forrest J Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, so it was more than the 8 authors that summer, there was that anthology too, which included the last introduction the great genre god ever wrote before his passing. That same year, Black Bed Sheet Books was voted one of the top ten publishers of that year on the Predators & Editors poll, as was the Antho of the Living Dead for top ten best anthology.
Between then and now, the publishing venture I designed and devote my daily life to receives over 200 submissions a year, and even owners of other genre presses come to me to publish their own works, which I have. We’ve developed partners such as Shot in the Dark Comics, Hacker’s Source Magazine, and sponsor a popular horror web channel (Black Hamster) and I found a lifetime love and partner in Francy Weatherman who hosts just about the most popular internet radio show out there (to which even Obama listened to at one point), of whom I myself was first a special guest before Ursa and I split up.
The point to all of this is that my personal life is a side issue, and although I may go through personal life issues my commitment to Black Bed Sheet Books is the same as it was when I made that commitment. This past holiday season, Francy and I moved to a better apartment and restructured our lives. I had just wasted two months pouring myself into editing an author’s book who decided a month before its release to pull it, and I got served for being twelve months behind on my child support and actually faced twelve counts of contempt (one for each month late) and two months in jail. On top of all that, Francy’s mother got an infection which put her in intensive care for a couple of weeks, and she nearly died. Now we’re a couple of months into the New Year, I managed to catch up from the busy holidays with somehow managing yet again to pull off some progress such as solid Christmas releases, launching Black Bed Sheet Ebooks, made a deal with Shot in the Dark to publish & distribute ebook version of all their titles, and we had good sales. And Francy’s mother is pulling through.
So, here’s the result of the court thing I posted about right before I went: my public defender (who asked me to bring a book of mine & sign it for her) and I made a deal with the Placer County courthouse that I plead guilty to six of the twelve counts, and rather than serve time I’d be placed on probation for a year and starting February I simply resume my payments and put six bucks in towards arrears. That was a great victory. The thing that vexes me is, out of all the papers I had to prepare and photocopy to prove my income with BBS, with royalties and bank records and tax statements, even our Winter catalog and book samples, Placer County Family Support Services insists I’m unemployed. A lot of this battle revolved around that. In fact, even Ursa and everyone on her side insists the same thing. That was a big part of the split in the first place, I refused to do anything else but Black Bed Sheet (and occasionally my own writing) after I determined to put my all into it. Quitting has never been an alternative. I make enough to get by, and to make more I work harder. There’s no reason for me to think for a second that I’ll succeed in anything in life, including Black Bed Sheet, if I don’t stick to the plan. The alternative is to work a real job, like Burger King, where half of my minimum wage will be taken anyway and I wouldn’t even make enough to pay to stay on the internet long enough to tell the few hundred people I obligated myself to that I let them down.
Just the other day I saw a story on the news about a guy just like me who worked out of home in front of a mess of computers, publishing books. The news people certainly treated him like he was working a real job. In fact, they went on to say his was the job of the future. To me, it’s the job of the now. And as for my son, who’s seven….he just wrote his first story:
“CALLED & KILLED”
Andrew called his friend Agore. And he killed mean friends. Not Agore. Andrew ate the mean friends into his tummy! Mucha and Tomato are the mean guys’ names. Andrew ate some other people into his tummy. And Andrew ate a mistake into his tummy and then the people and the mistakes went into his butt and then he poo pooed all of everything then flushed the mean guys down the toilet, into the sewer, and the mean guys said “Aaaaaahhhhhh!!!”
Just like his ol’ man.
So with that, I’m moving forward, have many special plans for this year and outstanding releases, and I should be all caught up this week with my seemingly legions of emails which clogged up the pipes since December. So those of you who have been waiting seemingly forever for me to reply to anything, you will in the next couple of days, and thanks for your patience.