So we did it after all. We got a book published.

A first mystery novel isn't much in the whole scheme of things. But for someone who has dreamed of having a book in print for most of his life it's a pretty big deal.

When I was growing up, I knew I'd have a book out someday. At sixteen I gave myself five years to do it. That's a deadline I missed by only about 28 years. Sometime during my twenties my writing expectations turned to hopes and in my thirties those hopes became wistful dreams.

If it weren't for Mary's encouragement -- not to mention the fact that she did half the writing! -- those dreams probably would've decayed by now into their final, inert state of bitter regret.

I guess I wanted to write from the moment I first encountered written words, before I could decipher them myself -- I was no more precocious as a reader than a writer -- when my grandmother would sit and read to me from the Thornton W. Burgess books and The Wind in the Willows. Those words conjuring exciting stories, unfamiliar worlds, remarkable characters from the common lamplight beside my grandmother's rocking chair, struck me as the most wonderful magic imaginable. Could there be any accomplishment greater than to master such magic?

Of course magic isn't as easy as it looks, at least not for some of us. Not even as easy as making a living or raising a family which are hard enough. So it has taken me a long time and the past few years have been the most difficult part of the journey.

Losing my job in a corporate merger five years ago provided me with the incentive to team with Mary to finally finish a novel. That experience made me understand that the only meaningful goals are the ones we have chosen ourselves and not those foisted off on us by others. But losing my job had other, disastrous effects.

My kids luckily were unaffected. They had long since left home, with their mother from whom I had been divorced, to live in an upper middle class suburb outside Philadelphia. Unfortunately for Mary and me, and her son who was living with us at the time, my temporarily reduced income, while I made the necessary and unsought transition from comfortably ensconced salaried writer to precariously balanced freelancer, brought after us the relentless Javerts of the child enforcement industry to whom every divorced dad is a criminal and the inability to pay out in support more than one actually earns sheer irresponsibility.

We don't speak much about this because the issue is politically charged and the media has caved in to false government propaganda about "deadbeat" dads. But I need to say this now -- we have persevered and succeeded in spite of everything.

We wrote the book while the support enforcement personnel of Monroe County New York harassed us and even lied about us to the elected official to whom we turned, futilely, for assistance. Mary continued her efforts to sell the finished manuscript even while they destroyed our freelance business by threatening our main contractor and forcing us away from where our work was located. After they denied us even our day in court and robbed us of our home, we managed to sell ONE FOR SORROW. We completed the revision with the threat of prison hanging over my head. Prison -- simply for not making enough money!

But we did it anyway. For no reason whatsoever these soulless tools of a legal system run amuck robbed us of every single thing we ever worked for, even our ability to make a living.

But they couldn't steal our dream.

And if our book accomplishes nothing more than to divert a few readers for a few hours, at the end of the day I'll be satisfied knowing that Mary and I at least followed the way of the light (which is something our hero John might say, being a Mithran) and brought something positive to this dark world.

We were able to work a little magic after all.