Ahwatukee author Judy Lokits got more than she bargained for when she signed with a publisher allegedly gone crooked.

Writing a book is difficult enough, but when the work of many months ends up in the hands of a publisher allegedly gone crooked, the agony can be almost unbearable.

Ahwatukee author Judy Lokits learned that painful lesson while publishing her book “Deep Calls Unto Deep in the Song of Solomon.”

An Ahwatukee resident since 2012, Lokits already had authored one other book, “Bouquets from My Beloved.”

Lokits – a Bible study teacher, motivational speaker, painter and painting teacher – focused on King Solomon’s “Song of Songs,” which she believes “reveals the mystery of the bridal love (spiritual) of Christ for His bride which will culminate in the Wedding Supper of the Lamb spoken of in the book of Revelation...the first event to occur after the second coming of Christ and the catching up of all Christian believers to Heaven.”

She wanted to show readers that God’s “secure and passionate love is what changes us into givers of love, doers of mighty deeds and completely fulfilled women and men who serve Him with great passion. It is my passion.”

But her passion turned to frustration shortly after she had contracted with Tate Publishing, a longtime Christian book publishing house in Oklahoma that charged authors to defray printing and marketing costs.

In August, Richard Tate, the firm’s founder, and his son Ryan Tate, its CEO, were arrested on eight felony charges and one misdemeanor charge filed by Oklahoma’s attorney general accusing them of embezzlement, extortion and racketeering.

In a case still pending in the courts, authorities charged they took authors’ money and pocketed it.

The charges came as no surprise to Lokits, who spent more than six months trapped in a series of frustrating dealings with Tate.

“This process began in the summer of 2015, and by the spring of 2016, I began to be very frustrated,” she said. “Each process involving a different department seemed to be taking longer and longer. Also, it was apparent that the editing services were outsourced to Indonesia.

“As I talked to them about complicated formatting, proper theological grammar, capitalization and other details of an interesting display of my Bible study, I was concerned that the language barrier and even English grammar requirements were lacking. I was re-editing and submitting corrections over and over.”

She complained to the publishing house and “was assured that all would be all right and the book would soon be finished and released.”

Then she was told the book would be out by October 2016.

“This was very important to me since I had already scheduled the Bible study for the spring of 2017 at my church, and was booked as a speaker at the February Women’s Conference there,” she said. “I needed those books.”

The books never arrived, and by then, Lokits learned the Tates were facing multiple lawsuits for thousands of dollars that were filed by other authors and creditors.

“When they didn’t come, emails and calls only admitted to a delay due to their leased printer problems with Xerox, which would soon be resolved,” Lokits recalled. “The truth of this mess and my losses began to register even while Tate continued to offer ‘great deals’ on books and said nothing on their website.”

Tate pondered filing her own suit but worried about throwing good money after bad.

She already had spent more than $2,300 with Tate.

Worse, she only had one digital copy of the final book and “these files are still not suitable for the best print jobs.”

Tate quit answering her emails for “print-ready” files, and in January, it announced it was discarding the whole notion of books for some vague online publishing approach.

Lockits believes God led her to a happy ending.

Athena Holtz, owner of Redemption Press, contacted her and “her own personal story involving many years of experience in the publishing business, as well as her walk of faith through devastating losses, began to interest me.”

Eventually they struck a deal and now Redemption Press has published Lokits’ book.

“I now have a new cover for the latest book using one of my watercolor paintings and colored illustrations from a set of watercolors that are part of the book, ‘Deep Calls Unto Deep in the Song of Solomon,’” said Lokits.

Both books are available on her website, judylokits.com, as well as redemption-press.com,  Amazon and other retail sites.

Lokits’ faith in the Tates may have been shredded, but her experience with them has only deepened her faith.

She is working on a third book.

“Of course, as an author, I always have another book on my mind,” she said. “There’s so much to say about God’s passionate and powerful love for us and how it changes us when we begin to ‘seek Him.’”

“The real work begins for me right now and that is marketing the book and getting it to church Bible study groups and individuals across the nation and hopefully even farther abroad.”

At the same time, she said, “I hope to warn other new writers as well as encourage them that there are honest publishers who care.”

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