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Copyright 2004 Tara K. Harper.  All rights reserved.

Tara K. Harper, Author FAQ:
On Being an Author

1.  What is it like to be an author?
2.  What is it like for your husband, being married to an author?
3.  What is the best part of being an author?
4.  What is the worst part about being an author?

5.  Have any other authors helped you?  -- updated!

6.  When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
7.  How did you go about becoming a writer?

8.  Do you spend a lot of time in the wilderness?
9.  Why do things keep happening to you?
 -- new info added!
10.  How do you pronounce your name?
 11.  How much money do you really make?
 -- updated!
12.  Do you believe in the things you write about?

Science and Technical References for writers
Additional resources for writers

1.  What Is It Like to Be an Author?

Isolating.  Exhilarating.  Absorbing.  Depressing.  Isolating.  Urgent and pressured and stressful.  Exciting.  Terrifying.  Profoundly saddening.  Challenging.  Isolating.  Humbling.  Amazing.

"There is the tiger that lurks in motor cars, crouches in sealed envelopes and
prowls between the doorbell and the phone, ready to pounce upon the dreamer by day,
the reveler by night, or any man at any hour; but I am concerned with the beast inside,
the beast that haunts the moonlit marges of the mind, never clearly seen, never wholly
lost to view, never leaving, in its wanderings, pawprints sharp enough to follow,
or strange and promising enough, it well may be, to lure the wary hunter from the
surer spoor of bigger game."

        -- From The Tenant of the Room,
                  by Douglas Bryce

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2.  What Is It Like for Your Husband, Being Married to an Author?

[ I'd better let Richard answer this one. ]

From Richard Jarvis:  Regarding living with a writer:

"It would be interesting living with her, regardless of her career, because of the type of person she is:  frustrating, personally demanding, emotional and intellectual; the nonsequitor conversations...  (His wife's response: "They're not nonsequitor; they're just spread out over the course of days or weeks or months.")  Her willingness to explore all or any ideas keeps me on my toes.  It forces me to take into consideration other perspectives, and also requires me to consider new ideas, new thoughts, new concepts.  Gets me out of the 9-to-5-job world, and reminds me that there are other things than simply existing.  Sometimes, it is exhilarating--you get the moments where everything clicks together, and it's magic.  I guess I would say that I live with her more than I've lived with anyone else.

"Living with her as an author, I'd say that the biggest difficulty is that I'm structured in day-to-day life, and she is not.  The irregularity and odd hours of her working and sleeping schedule have been difficult for me to adjust to, and it's probable that I never will adjust.  The benefits?  It's fun to see her books form.  I'm also learning how to edit, which is very different from just reading fiction.  Probably the best, but most frustrating part is the constant--and often startling--discourse on concepts,  where she has everything--worlds, ideas, visions--in her head, and I have to try to understand them.  It's like trying to describe Minnesota to somebody who has never seen Earth.  But it's great once I figure out what the heck she's talking about."

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3.  What Is the Best Part about Being a Fiction Author?

That's a tough one, and there is no simple answer.  Simply being able to write--that's probably the best part.  Finishing a book--that's next best.   Starting a new book that I've wanted to do ever since I dreamed that next story--that's best too.  And being able to study any discipline I want, to follow any technological advance, to have time to discuss issues and ethics and philosophy with others--that's also best.  They're all close "bests."

Some of those "bests" are the same, whether I write fiction or science materials.  But as a fiction writer, I sometimes feel that I can more completely explore an idea from germination to final form.

I do feel a great deal of excitement every time I see the cover flat for a new book for the first time.  That is always the first time the book is "real" to me as far as being published is concerned.  Too, I have to admit that there is something wonderful about seeing a whole line of Tara K. Harper novels on a bookshelf.  And although I never expect a novel to be a best-seller, it is wonderful to find out that another one of my books has hit the best-seller lists.  I hope it means that what I've written, what I've tried to share has, perhaps, touched my readers enough that they want me to share more with them.

There are also other benefits important to me, which don't really have to do with writing, but rather with the lifestyle of being self-employed.  One of those benefits is having the flexibility to do things that need to be done, such as care for my mother while she was dying.  Or take a friend's child to the doctor in an emergency.  Or be able to man the bilge pumps every hour to keep the house from flooding during disasters, and still work inbetween the flooding.  Or help my brother haul tons of dirt for his nursery...

Another benefit, which can't be overrated in my life, is being able to work on a computer system that doesn't further cripple my hands.  Yet another is being able to think, without interruption or distractions.  And finally, something which has made the isolation of writing bearable, is being able to take off to the mountains in the middle of the week (when there are fewer idiots on the trails) for adventure; and then come back and work on the weekends.

So to me, there are many benefits to being a fiction author, only some of which have to do with writing.  Is being a full-time fiction author a lifestyle I would have chosen for myself?  No.  Is it a lifestyle can live with?  Now, yes.

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4.  What Is the Worst Part about Being a Fiction Author?

The isolation. It has been difficult for me to make the transition from an intellectually stimulating R&D environment to the social vacuum of my back-room office.  Where I used to talk with a dozen people every day, now I speak with one or two, and sometimes none in a day.  Where the push and challenge of newness, learning, technology, and philosophy was provided by my previous work environment and peers, I must now provide that push and challenge for myself. I had no problem with the self-discipline required to write the books themselves.  However, once I became a full-time fiction author, I had to design my lifestyle to incorporate the discipline of self-learning in technology, philosophy, and current events.  In some cases, it has taken years to develop a network of contacts with whom I can discuss different disciplines.  Even now, I miss the intellectual stimulation of daily working with researchers and engineers.

For me, there is also a second, "worst" part, which really shouldn't be that bad, but it simply hits me wrong when it happens.  That is the element of being accosted at family weddings and funerals by people who are not socially aware enough to realize that there really are some times when all they should do is take the business card and let me contact them later, when it is more appropriate.  I appreciate my readers greatly, and I am always flattered when someone thinks enough of my work to let me know how he or she feels about it.  I know that, although to me, there is plenty of time in life to sign books and talk to readers; to some readers, those things must be done that moment, when the opportunity arises.  Still, it is sometimes difficult.  There are times--such as at funerals--when, to me, the business card ought to be enough.  I'll get back to people when I've settled my own affairs.

Other things that are difficult are simply a factor of working at home, and many telecommuters and self-employed people face the same problems.  One of which is that friends--and family members--often think that if you work at home, you're not really working; you must be available for everything from shopping and hanging out, to car-swapping.  Another is dealing with the myriad of soliciters, religious and cult representatives, and other door-to-door irritants that seem to congregate in neighborhoods in the daytime.

For me, the worst thing financially is not an issue of income, but an issue of the lack of benefits.  Making a commitment to becoming a full-time fiction writer meant that both my husband and myself had to agree on where he would work and what kind of benefits package he could accept as an employee.  Whereas I used to have my own health-care package, matching retirement benefits, education subsidies, etc.; I now get only health-care benefits, and that only through my husband's employer.  So the greatest financial difference between having a "regular job" and being self-employed, whether as a writer or anything else, comes as a result of the lesser (and sometimes lack of) benefits.

Most people, I think, would say that the worst part about being a fiction author is the actual money--or lack of it, compared to a "regular job."  I do know some writers who have difficulty with the self-discipline required to work consistently and to meet deadlines.  For others, it's dealing with the continuing rejections--something that many consider to be simply part of the industry as a whole.  And for still other writers, it is the Midlist Morass--the problem of being perennially stuck in the midlist without hope of breaking out either in sales or popularity.  I think you'll find that the answer to what is difficult or "worst" about being a fiction writer varies significantly depending on the career of each author you ask.

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5.  Have Any Other Authors Helped You?

Yes.  When my first manuscript was ready to be published, it was sent it to two prominent authors for reading.  One of them, Anne McCaffrey, enjoyed my work enough to give my publisher a wonderful quote for my first book's cover.  Anne McCaffrey has also been both generous and gracious in her willingness to continue reading proofs and giving cover quotes and encouragement to me.  Terry Brooks too, was not only encouraging, but also gave me invaluable advice about contracts while I was getting started.

In other matters, Steve Perry and Dean Wesley Smith have been extremely helpful with advice and in sharing their perspectives on specific issues.  A few years ago, Steve and Dean, as well as Ellen Kushner, Nancy Kress (although Nancy and I discussed knife wounds more than agents), Michael Stackpole, and Chris Bunch gave me excellent advice and insights so that I could solve an agenting problem.

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6.  When Did You Know You Wanted to Be a Writer?

By the time I was eleven.  I knew then that I wanted to be an astronaut, a stuntperson, or a science writer.

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7.  How Did You Go about Becoming a Writer?

First off, I wanted to be a science writer, not a fiction writer.  And, since I loved writing, I knew I'd want all three types of writing classes (technical, journalism, and creative), while I was getting my science degree.

So, while I was in high school, I took night classes at the university.  Like others, I entered writing contests and won places.  I was awarded a journalism honor and also a communications scholarship, which paid for my first year at the university.  My last year in high-school, I stopped by at Tektronix (a local, high-tech company) and asked managers what they looked for in a technical writer.   Later, when I got to the university as a full-time student, I made sure I graduated with a background that would help me get into science writing.

I ended up with a B.S. (ain't that appropriate) in Journalism with the emphasis in physics and mathematics.  I immediately received a job offer from Tektronix, and began work as a professional technical editor.  I moved up to senior editor within a year, and shifted to technical writing a year after that.  At the minimum, I probably spent 6 hours a day writing; on a few weekends, I spent as much as 20 hours a day writing.  By 1990, when Wolfwalker was published, I had over a decade of experience as a professional writer.

If you really want to be a writer...  

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8.  Do You Spend a Lot of Time in the Wilderness?

Hmm.  I'd say not, but my husband would say the opposite.  Of course, that's probably because he's the one who has to live with me when I get cabin fever.  There are times when he simply pushes me and my backpack out the door and says, "Go away, and don't come back for a week."  It's not that he doesn't love me; it's just that he understands me, and thank gawd, I say, for that.

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9.  Why Do Things Keep Happening to You?

I don't know, but it has to be because of where I lived, the way I was raised, my family and friends, and only to some extent, because of me.  I don't mind it either way.  It's given me a lot of background to put into my books.

You must pray that
the way be long,
full of adventures
and experiences

         Constantine Cavafy

I grew up and still live in Oregon.  My family camped constantly from the coast to the mountains.  My parents allowed me to explore my world pretty much as I wanted, as long as I didn't kill myself doing something really stupid--or get my brother and myself into so much trouble adventuring that we were confined to "known land."  Not everthing that's happened to me was all my fault, although I'll admit to being one of the primary instigators of many of the, er, situations.  Really, more often, it was just the way the world decided to be that day.

Looking back, I think much of my willingness to explore came from knowing that my brother would save me if I got into too much trouble, and that God would step in if he couldn't.  My brother and I were always getting into trouble.  Thank heavens our parents didn't know the half of it, or we'd have been chained to the house for all our growing-up years.  It's just that trouble was so difficult to avoid.  There were these tidal waves and these really big logs, and this very intriguing lava tube...   At least my parents made sure we knew how to swim, build a fire, do first-aid, and judge the undertow.  Otherwise I, at least, wouldn't be here in this world today.

It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another
that we live at all. and often enough our faith beforehand in an uncertified result
is the only thing that makes the result come true.

- William James

Frankly, I shouldn't be alive at all anyway.  There was this one time in a tsunami--now that was a God-was-watching-over-us day.  Oh, and there was this other time when I was nearly killed by a sea lion with a broken tusk.  Kev saved me that time.  There was this other time, when I walked off a cliff and barely made it back before the salal fully shredded and dropped me down a ravine.  There was another time I accidentally started a log pile rolling down into an alpine lake -- I was on the bottom of the pile --and my brother saved my life that time too.  

There was this time, with Fred the Fisherman, when we were tracking elk, and took a short cut back across a soggy meadow bound by a creek on one side.  It turned out it was a lake completely overgrown with a layer of thick grass.  We were three-quarters of the way across it when we started to punch through the brash.  Since we'd shredded the grass mat with our weight on the way across, getting back was, well, an interesting experience.  Oh, and there was a fantastic day in which we went canoeing in a winter storm with 85-mph winds and gusts to 105 mph.  Now, that was incredible!  The wind actually flipped the docks right over the pilings like pancakes over stakes.  We went up on the cliff, and the firs were bending down in this slow-motion dance, their crowns almost touching the ground.

There was this one time, when I stepped in quicksand--that was one of the more frightening experiences, since I couldn't see where it was after I threw myself back -- it had smoothed itself perfectly over.  I stayed where I lay and threw little balls of sand around till I outlined the area and could get around it.  There was this other time when I was dived by a furious mother eagle when I climbed too close to her cliff nest.  I managed not to fall off the cliff, and even got a few shots with the wrong lens.  (Ever tried to change lenses while avoiding an eagle's talons?  It's not exactly easy.)  

There was a surreal experience with a wild dog pack, too, up in the Cascade Mountains.  The posse hunting them was on the wrong side of the ridge, and I was on the dog side.  Good thing I had a stick.  And there was the time I got sucked down and trapped in a hole in the rocks on the bottom of a river and nearly drowned.  I'd lost my inner tube going down the rapids and ended up swimming the stretch on my own.  Got a bit bashed up on the rocks, but actually, I didn't even notice that until much later.  What I was worried about was, after I ended up at the base of this small, three-foot waterfall, it took forever to steel myself to swim out of the eddy where I could rest, and cross the fast current back to the shore.  Drowning is an exhausting sport.  I really ought to know that by now.

But I'm getting way, way off-topic.

Basically, the answer to the question is, I/ve been lucky.  I've been lucky in where I grew up, in the time I grew up, and in my family.  My parents rarely limited me to (what were generally termed at that time) the "feminine" pursuits.  Yes, I learned the sewing and needlework and cooking and canning and crafting, et all; but between my mother and father, I also learned equestrian skills, shooting, archery, animal husbandry, music, astronomy, and more.

My father worked in nuclear science analyzing the radioactive isotopes from Russian test blasts, then he worked in electronics, and finally in standards and metrology.  My first electronic toy was an oscilloscope he brought home for us to play with.  He built much of our furniture, built two-story forts and playhouses and tree houses long before today's prefabbed kits appeared in the markets; and started in on a modified-V hull boat.  He supervised the boy scouts' riflery and advised the school team (I was allowed to shoot with both).  He took us camping all the time back when camping meant getting bear-bashed every other trip.  I was a dawn-riser like him, and I remember chilly dawns when I was six, standing in a circle of wet, dark, green-black trees, the air all gray around us with drizzle and fog, with my little hands on this huge wooden ax handle and his big, calloused hands over mine as we swung, so I could learn how to chop wood to build the fire and make breakfast over the flames.

My father is an amazingly capable, jack-of-all-trades, sharp-brained man.  He seems to know everything, remember everything.  He can cut to the heart of the matter with a single, well-aimed question.  If he needs to learn something, he simply looks into it for a little while, then teaches himself.  I begged him for two years for a dulcimer, so he taught himself to steam and bend wood to make one.  Then he researched woods and bracings, and calculated the perfect fret positions for the string lengths of his fingerboard.  We went to a wooden instruments festival, and the luthiers asked me to play again and again because of the tone and resonance he achieved by using a unique method of bracing that didn't deaden the soundboard as much as traditional methods did.  He's now got so many offers to do nothing but build dulcimers that he could make that a full-time job.  Unfortunately, he's retired, so he works 50-hour weeks as Head of Delegation and other positions for national and international standards.  He keeps saying he'll quit soon, but we think it's a hoax.

I have not been afraid of excess:  excess on occasion is exhilarating.
It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.

                         -The Summing Up,  W. Sommerset Maugham

He and my mother met because of the nuclear science--she was a uranium buyer at the time.  She was also a horsewoman, seamstress (she dressed us in scraps from making her own clothes, and although that might sound odd, we looked good!), costumer, crafter, and singer--we still have the record cut by the Lutheran Chorale she sang in.  She didn't know anything about camping, though.  I remember one time, on a typical Oregon rain-storm weekend, when Dad was going to meet us up on Mt. Hood the next day.  We were young--I think I was five, and Mom had to choose the spot for the tent and set camp.  It was dark by the time we pitched that old, two-ton army canvas tent, and spread out our one-ton cotton army sleeping bags.  At least she'd found a smooth spot that didn't have too many rocks.  She didn't even build a fire, just crawled in the tent with us and went to sleep.

It was pitch black when I woke up with my brother bumping my cot.  I remember laying for a moment, listening, but the forest sounded all wrong.  My brother bumped my cot again, so I pushed back and he floated away.  The edge of his sleeping bag dipped into the water, and then we all woke up.  It was then that we realized she'd parked us in the middle of a dry riverbed in a rainstorm on a mountain.  By the time we woke up, the water was a foot and a half deep.  Luckly, both Mom and Kev were on air mattresses.  My father found us the next day by following a trail of wet clothes and gear, strewn along the brush up the mountain.

In spite of never really getting into camping, my mother was always active.  She was instrumental in starting Loaves and Fishes (a food-distribution program for the needy); was on the board for the county action organization that oversees the food bank, clothing drive, senior volunteers, etc. for the county.  She did the March of Dimes; edited and published the Church newsletter back in the dark days of the mimeograph; did silk-screening, gardening, preserving, and so on.  As her daughter, I was part of all that too.  In fact, I'm still a member of a youth-services board because of my late mother's contacts, and even though I'm involved in other organizations, I still agree to do projects for those that were her favorites.

When we were growing up, she was also was a guide at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.  Later, she gave me her mad scientist charm for my charm bracelet.  I sometimes think I spent more time there, handling the animals and learning from the displays, than I did at school or home.  When I was in jr. high and high school, our family helped sponsor two Cambodian families, and she ended up on the committee that advised the President of the United States on the Issue of Refugee Resettlement.  At the same time, she was earning her Doctorate in Psychology.  Eventually, she went into criminology.  Basically, she was always active, always useful, always showing us how to make use of what's around us.  When she died, the county put up a memorial to her, and the paper published an article that honored her many contributions.

What's brave, what's noble,
Let's do it after the high Roman fashion,
And make death proud to take us.

                         -Antony and Cleopatra,  Shakespeare

My parents have always encouraged exploration, creativity and practicality.  They didn't stint with their time, and weren't afraid to experiment or learn with us, or teach us their skills.  My first instrument, piano, was taught to me by my mother.  My second instrument was violin, then guitar and several others.  Primarily, I'm a violinist. I joke about it, but I really did go to school with my violin in one hand and a rifle in the other (yes, this was in the dark ages, when schools still had rifle teams and taught the responsible use of firearms).

Why do things keep happening to me?   I don't know, but I'm sure it's because of my parents.  They taught me to be involved, to be curious, to do.  My husband says my sense of curiosity outweighs my sense of mortality.  I believe that you earn your opportunities and you make your own luck, but I don't think that's all of it.  It may simply be a willingness to ask the question, lean a little closer to get the answer, or challenge something more powerful to understand what one sees or thinks or feels.

I've also been lucky to have had good friends (Russ My Waterpolo Buddy, Mike the Amazing Medler, Fred the Fisherman, Ben the Musician...) who were active in river sports, climbing, hiking, fencing, martial arts, and other activites, and who were happy to take me on outdoor adventures or let me take them on the same.   Between my friends and family, I was able to develop the Harper scientific method to new heights.  This is the method that always begins with that all-important question:  "I wonder what would happen if..."

Why do things keep happening to me?  I believe it is because the people around me have opened worlds to me that I might otherwise not have thought of exploring.   Now, seeking out new things to do, new ideas to think about, and new experiences is just part of the way I go about life.  It is also probably one of the reasons I write science-fiction and fantasy, and not fiction of other genres.  I don't want to write what is or what was--I've already seen both of those.  I want to write about what could be.  I want the next adventure.

Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them
to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are;
nay they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of
that living intellect that bred them.

-Areopagitica,  John Milton  (better known for Paradise Lost)

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10.  How Do You Pronounce Your Name?

Tara = "Tar'-uh."  Not "terra", not "tora".  Think "Tarazan."  That was even one of my nicknames.  By the way, do you know how difficult it really is to jump from tree to tree?  Believe me, you can lose a lot of skin that way.  Or--I hate to say this--think, "Tar-rah-rah-boomp-dee-ay."  Please, think anything but Gone with the Wind.

All my Southern relatives carefully mispronounce my name, and it ends up sounding like dirt:  "terra."  I have had telephone operators try everything from "Ta-da" and "Ta-ta" to "Tammy" and "Terry."  Some of my friends--actually, quite a few--simply call me, "T" or "TKO" (that's a different story for some other time).  At one national conference, to a standing-room-only audience of over 400 librarians, the conference director was so concerned about pronouncing my first name right that she actually fumbled my last name and introduced me as "Tara Hooper, er, Herper, er, I'd better stop now."  Even granting that Hooper was yet another of my nicknames, it goes to show that you just can't win.

My name is the home of the gods.  It is the meeting place of kings.  In Tibet, it is one of the Eastern goddesses--the Goddess of Mercy.  In Nepal, it is the most popular name for both men and women.  In Hindi and Pakistani and Cambodian (in at least 2 of the 29 dialects), it means "star."

Of course, in Greek, it means "now."   And in Japanese, "tara" is a type of codfish, but we don't really need to go into that here.

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11.  How Much Money Do You Really Make?

Enough to go riding whenever I want, but not enough to own all the horses.

The Author's Guild conducted a survey recently on author income.  If I recall correctly, and including the stats from those incredibly high multi-multi-million dollar contracts, the average author earns about 10,000 a year.

However, because author incomes vary so wildly, you'll get a better picture if you look at averages within categories.  From the various stats I've seen, a beginning, low-end, or one-off (one or two books only) author makes $4k to $10k a year--before taxes, before agent commissions, and before the costs of doing business.  Experienced, well-established midlist authors who write a book only once every year or two seem to fall into the $20k to $40k a year range--again, before taxes, agent commissions, and the costs of doing business.  For prolific authors who publish several books a year, and who have been publishing for 15 years or more, the gross income is closer to $60k to $100k.  The most popular authors working regularly in media fiction (Star Trek, Star Wars, Aliens, etc.) seem to earn in a higher range from $80k to $250k a year--note that I said the most popular.  The authors who blow the curve -- the Big Five -- are, of course, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, John Grisham, Tom Clancy, and Danielle Steele.  YA author J.K. Rowling doesn't count.  She's richer than the queen.

However, remember that most authors do not make writing a career, but a sideline.  Most authors also have only one or two books published in their lifetime.  That doesn't usually make a career.  Most authors have a "real" or day job, a spouse who supports them partially or wholly, a retirement income, or some other income to support them while they write.  Most authors have a spouse whose "real" job give them health benefits and retirement benefits--things that can add up to thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars in costs every year.  

Also, many big-name authors do not make all their money from writing, but also make a significant potion of their income from honorariums, from teaching, and so on.  Finally, its a unique person who can write commercially viable books every couple of months--which is what most of the $60k to $100k a year authors seem to do.

Yes, there are at least three thousand authors in the U.S. who make a living at fiction writing.  Yes, tens of thousands of authors have sold at least one book.  However, the reality is that there are only five authors in the Big Five category, and there is only one J.K. Rowling.  Most professional authors struggle to pay bills, and most live modest lifestyles.  The old advice about not quitting your day job is good advice.

For some reason, fiction authors are not supposed to tell each other exactly how much they make.  Egos, I suppose.  It would be hurtful to appear to be bragging about a $60k or $80k year or $500k year (most of us wish!) to an author whose work is not popular enough to make $5 or 10k a year.  I often hear authors dancing around the numbers at parties, conventions, social events.  You can see them feeling each other out for terms and money.  If they find they are on a fairly even footing, you can almost see them relax with relief.  It is "safe" now to talk about their careers.  Neither one will be putting down the other or putting on airs, and they can now exchange notes on agents, editors, and contracts.

So, how much do I make a year?  Depends on the year.  My first royalty check for my first novel, was $272, and oh, yes, I was excited.  The next check, if I remember correctly, was $358.  A year later, the check was around $16k.  Some years, I get advances as well as royalties, because I've signed a new contract.  In some years, I make equal amounts in royalties as in foreign rights.  In some years, foreign rights earn more.  Basically, the money goes up and down and can't be counted on till the check clears at the bank.

Suffice it to say that I usually make a living comfortable enough to pay the bills and luckily, support my habits, which include a $6k/year book addiction for references, plus countless dollars for fiction reading, far too much music, a moderate amount of travel, lots of expensive classes in obscure sciences, and a weakness for painting, china and crystal.

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12.  Do You Believe in the Things You Write About--Telepathy, Internal Healing, Intelligent Wolves, etc?

Folks, my stories are fiction--it says so right on the cover.  But, okay, for the record, as far as I'm concerned, crystal healing, healing the broken legs of horses by chanting and the laying on of hands, pyramid power, psychic hotlines, and new-age shamanism are all scams.  As for alien abductions, sure, it might be happening to humans, but if it is, I don't understand why the aliens are bringing the specimens back.  We don't return frogs to their ponds after we're done dissecting them in the lab, so...?

From what I've seen, anyone who tries to sell you self-esteem, psychology for your dogs and cats, a ten-dollar Rolex, a guarantee of life-hereafter, or a clear path to nirvana, is a thief.  Anyone who hits you up with the latest self-help idiocies, when simple common sense, courtesy, and a little self-honesty would do the job, is a scam-artist who's making money off your uncertainties and pain.  Anyone who sidetracks you with a trendy, new-age, believe-in-me, faith-type healing technique, when what you really needed was treatment for what didn't have to be a fatal health problem, is a murderer.

Solutions come from reality.  They don't come from scams, cults, infomercials, or media hype.

"Life is pain, Highness.  Anyone who says differently is selling something."

     - The Dread Pirate Roberts*

I do believe there are things we don't understand or can't explain about our world, life, death, the afterlife--if one or more exist, and all sorts of other concepts (I'm not going to get into God-concepts here).  I believe in the power of the mind; in the power of belief, in integrity, in hope, compassion, drive, and determination.  I believe in the world.  I believe in the universe.  I believe in God.  I don't believe in Creationism.  I dream that someday, I'll see and touch an alien lifeform--bacterial, bipedal--I don't care.

My stories of wolfwalkers, guides, interstellar travel, and aliens are merely vehicles to express the things I need to say.  If no one ever read my stories, I would still need to write them down.  I wrote long before I ever thought of being published and, if my professional career ever ends, I will probably write long after that.  The things I really write about--hope, dreams, drive, life--those, not the published books, are what really is important.

"I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections,
and the truth of imagination."

- John Keats

* [ The quote, as written in William Goldman's book, The Princess Bride, rather than in the movie, is spoken by Fezzik's mother:
"Life is pain.  Anybody that says different is selling something." ]

Copyright 2004 Tara K. Harper

All rights reserved.  It is illegal to reproduce or transmit in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, any part of this copyrighted file without permission in writing from Tara K. Harper.  Permission to download this file for personal use only is hereby granted by Tara K. Harper.

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