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That just about sums up how I feel right now…wasted and without a clue what to write about.  I think I may have done some serious damage to my muse with my latest writing binge–two novellas in two months!–and I don’t know whether to get down on my knees and beg her forgiveness or just leave her to sulk in a dark corner of my mind until she gets over it.  Probably better to leave her alone and let her cool off a bit, she’s liable to kick my ass if I don’t.

So, I’ve been writing, and like I said, I’ve completed two novellas, one a cougar story which needs some serious polishing before I do anything with it, the other a…I’m not sure what to call it.  I submitted it as a paranormal romantic suspense, but now that I’ve had time to think about it, I think it’s more of an urban fantasy, with elements of romantic suspense.  It’s not paranormal–I don’t think–and I hope the publisher doesn’t throw it in the trash because I sent it under the wrong genre.  Just another thing to chew on my fingernails about while I wait to hear from them.  Nineteen days and counting…

I do have something to keep me busy while I wait; the first round of edits on Snow Shadows, my paranormal romance that’s coming out later this year with L&L Dreamspell.  But since I haven’t written anything on this blog since shortly after Christmas, I decided I needed to get in at least one or two entries for January before I sink into the mire of rewrites and revisions.

Plus, a couple of things are weighing heavy on my mind right now.

First the owner of the now defunct e-publisher, Twilight Fantasies Publications, which shall not be named, did something I find truly despicable and repugnant, she’s self published a fifty page novella she once offered as a free read on her publishing site.  When I heard this, I had a true WTF moment?  Not the first this publisher’s given me and probably not the last.  Anyway, not only was the book once offered as a free read, it’s now up for sale for over sixteen dollars (hardback) and just under seven dollars (paperback).  I mean, come on, who’s going to pay that kind of money for a book that size, much less one that’s already been released for free?  It is offered in ebook format for under four dollars, but still…

The thing is…this author, who put this book out originally under her pen name, is now offering the same book under her real name.  I guess that’s a case of changing the names to protect the innocent, huh?  Not that she’s innocent in any way or form in my mind.  She’s slapped a new cover on it, listed the publisher as Twilight Fantasies (I assume to make it look like the book was good enough to get accepted by a real publisher), put the original editor’s name on it (who I understand was never paid for her work), and is asking an unbelievable amount of money for it.  Can we all say scam?

I have no idea what this particular vanity press charges to publish something, or if they even charge, could be they take it out in royalties, or something, but if they do, my question to this scurrilous woman is; did the money you owed your authors, editors, and cover artists pay for this?  And if so, when can we expect our percentage of the royalties?  Will you pay them or will you slink off into hiding like you did before, complaining all the way about people being mean to you?

Beyond that, I feel sorry for any reader who purchases your exhorbitantly priced book, they could’ve gotten your fifty pages of nothing (totally my opinion of course) for…well, nothing!  Kind of makes me wish I was vindictive enough to prove your point about how mean people are by posting a message to any readers out there who want to buy your book and offering to send it to them for free.  But alas, woe is me, one of the first things I did when I severed ties with you was delete my copy of the free download.  Oh well.  And, knowing you and your pompous jerk of a husband, you’d probably sue me for copyright violation or something.

Which brings me to the next thing on my mind–Cassie Edwards and her “alleged” plagiarism of various authors.  This one really pisses me off, for a number of reasons, all of which I’ll comment on tomorrow–I hope!

Right now, I’ve got to see if I can coax my muse out of hiding.  I may need her when I work on  those edits!  Hmm…maybe an imaginary trail of white chocolate macadamia nut cookie crumbs will do the trick. 

Oh, and before I forget, Go Pats!  And, sorry Peyton!  You didn’t make it this year, but I’ll be rooting for your brother in the play-offs.  Eli’s coming…

Do you ever have one of those days when your mind can’t seem to settle on any one thing but is constantly jumping around like a jackrabbit on drugs?  Well, I’ve been going through a string of days like that.  Haven’t gotten any writing done to speak of and for the first time in years, I didn’t put up my Christmas tree on the day after Thanksgiving.  Just wasn’t in the mood.  What’s up with that?  Usually Christmas is my favorite time of year.  I count down the days for months, waiting for Thanksgiving when I can put up my tree and then dive headlong into the season.

Not happening this year and I’m not sure why, but I think perhaps it’s because I submitted my paranormal romance, Unwiling Angel, to another publisher even though I have no idea how things with the first publisher, Twilight Fantasies, are going to turn out.  I just don’t know if it was the right thing to do, but I was sick of biding my time while the owners of TFP decide what they’re going to do, so I submitted.  I didn’t try to hide anything from the new publisher and I have to tell you, I was blown away when they wrote back saying they’d like to offer me a contract.

That’s when the doubts started to set in.  I hesitated, worried that I was going to drag them into this mess with TFP and okay, I’ll admit it, also worried that my writing career would be hurt in some way if I signed the contract.  I talked to my lawyer and he advised me not to sign, but to wait a few more months until we know a little bit more about what Twilight’s going to do.  So, I wrote the new publisher and explained why I wouldn’t be signing the contract and…

the owner called me at home!  That one really knocked me for a loop.  I mean, it’s extremely flattering that they were willing to take a chance on the manuscript in the first place, but to call me at home and give me the reasons she thought it was okay for me to sign with her company?  That was, to say the least, over the top pleasing and gratifying!  It also warmed my heart because of all the books and stories I’ve written, this one is my favorite.  I really want to see it published.   Perhaps I was blinded by that, but this morning I followed my heart, signed the contract and sent it back to them.

The thing is…my mind is still worried.  Why?  Well, I’ve narrowed it down to three things:

1)  I had been thinking of putting in some extra work on the manuscript; adding about thirty-five thousand words, taking it from novella to novel length; fleshing out the love story between the heroine and the hero; and while I was at it, spicing it up a little bit.

2)  This is another new e-publisher and I’ve been burned twice–well, actually I was only singed on the first one, but the second one was a full-out, writhing-in-agony, burning-at-the-stake conflagration–and I swore I’d never take that chance again.

3)  I know several authors who will, like my lawyer, think I’ve done the wrong thing.  I’m not looking forward to sharing this news with them.

Okay, I think I hit the nail on the head with that last one–selling a book should be a happy occasion.  Right?  Oh hell, it should be a screaming-from-the-rooftop, champagne-corks-popping, day-long-happy-dance!  That’s how I felt with every book and short story I’ve sold, and the fact that this publisher is interested enough to take a chance on my novella, knowing that if TFP files for bankruptcy, the rights could be held up for unknown amounts of time in a court case, should at least edge that celebration up to a week-long event…but I’m just not feeling it right now.

Hopefully, once I announce it, my friends and fellow authors will surprise me.  I’m pretty sure my lawyer won’t, but hey, he’s a lawyer.  What can you expect?  This was a decision made from the heart and everybody knows lawyers don’t have hearts–oops!  Sorry Paul, couldn’t resist that one! 

All kidding aside, I’m hoping some day I might be able to look back on this and know following my heart was the right thing to do.

**I’m not sure, but I have a feeling that this post may turn into a “Friday Folly”–hence  the asterisks and question mark.  Oh well, we’ll see.

Twilight Fantasies Publications has closed its doors and the authors–of which I am one–have no idea what’s going to happen next.  Will they file for bankruptcy, thereby leaving the future of our books in the hands of the court?  Or will they just fade into oblivion, thereby leaving all their authors to wait and wonder if it’s safe yet to re-submit their work?  Who knows?  I can give you my opinion–I think they’ve packed up their toys and gone home and we probably won’t hear another word out of them–but that certainly isn’t etched in stone and fair warning, it’s based more on my own personal hopes than facts.

So, I’ve been reading a few of the blogs and watchdog sites which have seen fit to comment on the closing and I’m very dismayed by some of the posts by other authors.  Particularly those made by authors who are more experienced and thus in a much cushier position than authors who are just starting out–like me.  Normally, I enjoy reading the thoughts and remarks of people who know more than I do about a given situation, but this time around, I’m a little…um, sickened by their smugness.

The thing is…these authors who are speaking from their loftier perches on the ladder of success, seem to be well, I think blaming is too strong a word here, so let’s just say implying that when an author gets caught up in the death throes of a dying epublisher, said author has no one to blame but herself.  I’m sorry, but I don’t get that.  Haven’t these people ever heard of compassion?

Apparently not.  A few of them have even gone so far as to say we–meaning the authors who are caught up in the <insert name of epublisher who’s gone belly up here> debacle–were so “desperate” to get published, we would have handed our rights over to just any old Tom, Dick, or Harry on the cyber-space highway as long as they offered us a chance to get our work out there.

Now that just flat-out pisses me off, and I’m here to tell you it isn’t so.  Not in my case and not in the case of countless others who have–or will in the future–go through this.  I’ve been privileged to read the work of some of those authors and I can tell you, these are not fly-by-night, anything-for-a-quick-buck, looking for glory, desperate authors.  These are writers who have poured their hearts and souls into their work, who have taken the time to learn how to write a book, and who, in some cases, are turning out better work than some of the crap written by several of those best-selling authors published by the big New York houses–and trust me, you don’t even want to get me started on the unoriginal junk that’s being churned out by those people.

Okay, so there are authors out there who think it’s our fault we’re going through all this heart ache.  Where do they get that?  Perhaps–and I’m quoting a fellow author here–it’s their “Diva Attitude” that makes them say things like this.

…and even as I write this and worry that some of those “Diva Authors” are going to take a very big, very vicious bite out of my ass for it, an email just came through my inbox warning of yet another epublisher–one that’s been in business for a while and by all accounts was one of the more stable ones–that is closing its doors.  If it’s true, several of those “Diva Authors” are going to be caught up in this one and we’ll be able to see how they handle it.

Poetic justice?  Maybe, but I prefer to think of it as sweet revenge.  Which probably makes me sound like a spiteful bitch, but I can’t help being glad they’re going to get a taste of their own medicine, because I know for a fact it won’t kill them…but it is a bitter pill to swallow.

Got sugar?         

Okay, I wasn’t going to write about this, but the fact is, I’m still mad about it and I can’t think of any other way to get it off my mind.  So, I’m going to get it all down, and I apologize if it’s all a little garbled and incoherent, but hopefully once I get through with this blog entry, that’ll be the end of it.

A little background first, I’ve been locked in a battle with an epublisher for the rights to my book, Unwilling Angel, which won first place in their Zuzu’s Petals writing contest and was published by them.  After various breaches of contract, I wrote them and told them I wanted my rights back.  They, in turn, wrote me back and tried to blame me–and a few other authors who were asking for their rights back–for the whole mess. 

Now, while I have written a little about this fight, I’ve managed to avoid coming right out and saying the publisher’s name.  Not that it would’ve taken a genius to figure it out, but I at least tried to keep my mouth shut and not spread vicious rumors.  As of this past weekend, that’s over with.  Last Monday, Twilight Fantasies Publications shut down their web site and on Saturday, they shut down the author’s loop, the reader’s group, and their blog site–all without having the courage to come out and warn the authors who had remained loyal to them.  No word, no explanation, not even a “go jump in the lake,” even though the authors who were still with them were practically begging them to post something on the author’s loop and explain what was going on.  They didn’t see fit to do that and the lack of explanation has taken me to a whole new level of fury.  Not for myself–well, okay, a little for myself–but more for all the authors they left hanging.

Okay, so Twilight Fantasies Publications is owned by a husband and wife team.  I know the wife is a teacher and it’s my understanding the husband is too.  The wife is also an author who writes erotic romance under a pseudonym, and the husband seems to be very protective of her.  To a point.  When all of this started happening, he was quick to cite her illness as the reason behind the lack of communication and their failure to honor their contracts.  But he, as co-owner, never stepped up to the plate to do anything to help her run the business, just made excuses and quite arrogantly suggested that it was the fault of the authors because they weren’t doing what needed to be done to keep the business afloat.  WTF?  It’s his business, and while most authors are happy to do whatever is needed to sell their books, most aren’t willing–or able–to step in and run a publishing company.

So, in my eyes, he’s no more than a spoiled brat who knows he’s in trouble and is doing everything he can to point the finger of blame at someone else.  Sure, he took up for her, but if he really was fully behind her, he would have stopped issuing excuses and done whatever he could to save the business.

He didn’t, he was way too busy trying to find someone to share the guilt and in so doing, he shoved the guilt firmly back in her corner.  She will be the one to suffer for all of this–if, that is, she has even a smidge of conscious–and the suffering isn’t likely to end with the demise of her business.

As a teacher, in a state which I’m told frowns on anything that even approaches pornography, I have to wonder what will happen to their careers if all this gets out.  She writes erotic romance–something a lot of people say is nothing more than dressed-up porn–and beyond that, she and her husband were running a business that dealt in erotic books.  Doesn’t matter that they also published books which were “sweet romance,” most of the books they were selling were erotic.  And I think that’s the only thing the condemners will see.  As a teacher, I don’t think I’d want to be in her shoes–or his either, for that matter–if that ever comes out.

Now, as to her being an author, what I want to know is how could she do what she did?  She’s an author, for Pete’s sake, how could she treat other authors that way and live with herself?  Didn’t she think about how she would feel if she were the one on the receiving end of that type of misbehavior by a publisher, or is she, like her husband, so childishly arrogant that she thought she could get away with it by pointing her finger at everybody else?

The thing is…what effect this whole ugly mess will have on either or both of her careers is yet to be seen.  I have a feeling it isn’t going to be pretty when it all comes out.  I mean, I’ve lived in the south for most of my life and I can’t see the residents of the Bible Belt letting her–or him–off easy.

So, one career down, one to go.  I can’t imagine some other publisher, especially one who knows what she did, accepting anything she writes for publication.  One thing I’ve learned, cyber-space is a small world.  Now maybe there are some out there who might take a chance and publish something by her, and I have to say it’s my wish that she finds them.  But, I also have to be honest and tell you, if she does find someone who will publish something she writes, I hope they’re as unscrupulous and uncaring of their authors’ feelings as she and her husband were.

Because, well, payback’s a bitch.

That’s a quote from Mark Twain.  I included it as the title of this post because not only is it appropriate to today’s post, it’s the world I’ve been living in lately.

I’ve spent the last couple of days with my head immersed in ancient Cherokee legends as I added some details to my book, Snow Shadows, which the publisher asked for before it goes into editing.  I’ve also been working–sporadically!–on the next book in the series and my sister and I are collaborating on a book based on the life of our great aunt and on the stories my dad tells about his childhood.  Yep, after the cancer scare, we both realized if we didn’t get some of his stories down, they’d be lost forever.  Neither of us are willing to let that happen.

So, we decided to quit talking about it and git ‘er done.  In preparation for the actual writing, we’ve been researching old Southern sayings and life in western North Carolina in the early to mid 1900’s.  And frankly, I’m amazed at all the sites we’ve come across for the sayings.  I do declare, I never knew Southern-speak was so popular, but it seems it is so, there you goAin’t that the berries?  The sayings, as you may have guessed by now, are many and varied, and a few of the sites include an explanation of what they mean–for all those who don’t speak “Southern.” 

Anyway, it’s fascinating stuff and a hoot for me as I grew up hearing quite a few of them.  It’s also turned into an enjoyable way to take a break from writing and I am chugged full and happy as a dead pig in the sunshine!

I am also grinning like a mule eating briars (I used to hear this all the time, and though I haven’t found it verbatim on any of the sites, I have found variations of it) because today, October 25, 2007, my rights for my book officially revert to me.  It’s been a long, frustrating battle with a publisher who at times could make a preacher cuss or hell, [they] could even depress the devil, but now that it’s over, I feel a huge sense of relief and a lovely sense of accomplishment–hence, my mile-wide grin.

The thing is, this publisher isn’t showing any evidence of mending fences with its authors.   I suspect the only reason I finally got a professional rights reversion letter from them is because I threatened to go public with their very unprofessional behavior to various author watchdog sites.  When I did that, I also gave them a 24 hour deadline to respond to me, and lo and behold, I received the reversion letter yesterday.  As of today I am free and clear

…but they’re still stonewalling other authors.  I can’t figure out if that’s good or bad.  Oh sure, it’s bad for the authors they’re not responding to, but could it also be a good sign?  Does it mean they’re willing to fight to keep their business going–which could be very good for the authors who get their rights back because those rights won’t be yanked away from us again by a bankruptcy court if they do go under–or does it mean they’re just being spiteful?

I don’t really know, but I do know they need to step up and address all of their issues instead of popping out of hiding every other week or so to toss another round of excuses in our faces.  I’m sick of that and I just want them to know:

Excuses are like back sides, everybody’s got one and they all stink.  Now, maybe I’m letting my mouth overload my tail but fish or cut bait!  If you don’t, I’m gonna knock you in the head and tell God you died!

You think that’ll get their attention?  Probably not, but giving them down the country sure did make me feel better!

…He opens a window.  Sure, we’ve all heard that old saying or a variation of it at some point in our life, and most of us probably smile knowingly or roll our eyes at the banality of it.  I used to be an eye-roller, but as of today, I’ve joined the ranks of those who wear an enlightened smile.

What changed my attitude?  Well, first, I’ll offer up my horoscope for the day:

The good news is that your career is about to take a very exciting turn — the bad news is that it might also take up a lot more of your personal time, at least for a while. Your past problems at work are all water under the bridge, and you have learned some very valuable lessons. 

I usually don’t pay much attention to my horoscope, just read it and move on, but today it couldn’t be more right.  Take the first sentence, “The good news is your career is about to take a very exciting turn…”  Okay, yesterday I was offered a contract from a print publisher on my sensual paranormal romance, Snow Shadows.  I signed the contract this morning and put it in the mail.  “Exciting turn” is an understatement, and the next part about it taking up a lot more of my personal time is yet to be proven, but it’s probably spot-on…and I don’t mind a bit!  

Now, the second sentence.  It starts with, “Your past problems at work are all water under the bridge…”  Well, my ongoing battle with my other publisher is just that, ongoing, but it does seem to be coming to an end.   Then it goes on to say, “and you have learned some very valuable lessons.”  I certainly have.  And for that I’d like to take a moment here to offer my thanks to the other authors and editors who are going through this battle with me.  They’ve been incredibly supportive, unbelievably generous with their knowledge, and an unflagging source of comfort when I needed it most.

The thing is…with all that’s been happening in my life lately, my faith in God has been on a bit of a down-swing.  I hated that, but I couldn’t seem to stop it from happening.  Then yesterday, when I received the contract offer, I’ll be honest and tell you God was the furthest thing from my mind.  Perhaps I was too excited or maybe I was so high up in the clouds that the thin air was clouding my thinking.  Who knows?  But when I read my horoscope this morning and that old saying popped into my brain, I couldn’t roll my eyes…because I suddently realized I was now living proof of its validity.

“When God closes a door, He opens a window.”  Oh, indeed.  The closed door for me was having to fight to get the rights to my book back from a publisher who wasn’t honoring the terms of their contract.  The open window–and in my case I got not just one, but two–is the group of friends who have been so wonderful in a time of need, and the new contract with a print publisher.

God may have closed the door, but he most certainly opened a window…or two.

I have a lot of things going on in my mind right now, so this may get a little…um, shall we say disconnected?  Arbitrary?  Jumbled?  Disorganized?  Rambling?  Garbled?

Okay, I like to look words up in the dictionary and/or thesaurus.  So sue me, a fascination with words is a part of who I am and part of being a writer.

So, first order of the day; the Colorado Rockies.  Do you believe in miracles?–indeed.  Major kudos to the team, the coaching staff, and to their ownership for having the foresight and conviction to build a team from the ground up, so to speak, and give them a chance to show the world what they could do.  These guys know and believe that old adage about there being no “I” in team, and I don’t care what anybody says, it takes a team to win the World Series.  And I do believe they have a very good chance of doing exactly that, all you have to do is look in their eyes and you can see it.

Which brings me to the second thing on my mind today; the Cleveland Indians.  Yes, I’m a Red Sox fan, and I’m still rooting for them, but I have to say, I think the Indians are going to win the ALCS.  They seem to have the same drive and determination that has carried the Rockies so far.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the Red Sox have it too, but it doesn’t look to be as strong in them as it is in the Indians.  That being said, if the Indians do go to the Series, I’ll be pulling for the Rockies all the way.  Not just because the Indians will have beaten my team, but because it’s thrilling to see a team that most people–including myself–wrote off at the beginning of the season as no more than a bump on the radar, pulling themselves up and going all the way to the championship. 

However, it would be even more thrilling to see my boys pull out of this little slump they seem to have fallen into and win it all.

A little side note here, if Terry Francona even makes a move toward Eric Gagne for however many games we have left this year, I’m taking a road trip up to Boston, hunting Gagne down, and stuffing him down Francona’s throat.

Okay, so the third thing that’s on my mind today is, of course, all these problems I’m having with my publisher.  Some of the authors who’ve pulled their rights have gotten together and started a private group where we can voice our concerns and complaints without fear of being labeled “problem authors”–something that was implied in one of the emails I received from the publisher.

In short, we’ve started a “bitch and moan” group.  I’ve posted there several times about things that bother me with this publisher.  This morning I posted about the fact that neither of the owners has bothered to address the problem with the web site being down this weekend.  No apology, no explanation, just dead silence.  One of the authors, who also happens to be an editor, followed my post with a message that wondered if any of us who’d pulled our rights had thought about the fact that when we did, whoever edited our book would not get paid for their work.  I hadn’t realized that, and okay, I admit it, hadn’t even thought about it.  I mean, I knew editors were paid a royalty–have no idea if that’s the correct term here, maybe I should say a percentage–for each time a book they edited is sold, but I had no idea they didn’t at least get paid…something for the time they put in during the editing process.  So, the editor who worked on my book will not get paid.  That sucks.  Then again, I won’t get paid either.  Still, it isn’t fair and I’m sorry her hard work will earn her nothing because she definitely improved on my work.

The thing is…(you knew it was coming, didn’t you?) the fact that she won’t ever get paid isn’t my fault, just as it isn’t hers.  As I told her when I responded to her post, the fault rests squarely on the shoulders of the publisher.  And since the publisher has gone into hiding again and isn’t responding to their authors, there’s not a whole lot any of us can do about it.  We can only hope we’ll hear something sooner rather than later and when we do, it will satisfy all of us.  Meanwhile, I’d hate to see this whole thing turn into a finger-pointing contest, or to borrow the words of this editor, an “us” versus “them” scenario.  The authors did what they felt they had to do in light of the publishers breach of contract and we’re sorry if the editors or cover artists are not being paid.  Beyond that, there’s nothing we can do.

It’s all in the publisher’s hands now.    

This whole situation with my publisher just keeps getting messier and uglier with each passing day.  I’m outraged!  So to keep myself from going ballistic and doing something stupid like driving out of state and performing an act that might make me feel better but would also see me spending time behind bars, I’m going to rant on this blog.  

Saturday morning, shortly after I posted my Friday Folly blog (a day late), the publisher’s site was suspended by their host.  The author’s loop, which I’m still a member of though I’m blocked from posting, erupted in a low rumble which quickly turned into a roar.  My inbox was flooded with messages, ranging from questions to pleas and finally, to demands.

There were a few rumors tucked in there too, but not many.  Mostly, it was authors who felt they’d been wronged, asking for clarification and reaching out for a comforting hand.  They’d adopted a sort of “circling the wagons” mentality to hold off the threat from an outside force, which I think is a good, healthy reaction to this type of situation.  It’s a scary thing for the authors involved when an epublisher goes down–and don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this one is going down.  At this point, we just don’t know.  This particular blog entry isn’t about that anyway, it’s about honesty and integrity.  

The thing is, one of the owners of this publishing company is an author herself.  On top of that, she does the same thing in her day job as I do.  And that’s what’s really making me mad.  I mean, I can’t imagine doing the things she’s doing as an author to other authors and being able to hold my head up in public, much less in private, but as a teacher…I’m sorry, but that just blows my mind.

To be fair, it was her partner who wrote the scathing email in reply to mine asking for my rights back, and from all reports, has responded in the same tone to other authors who wrote him asking for their rights to be released.  But as far as I know, other than ignoring emails and posts on the author’s loop, I’d have to say she’s been professional…but she’s skating on very thin ice. 

I certainly wouldn’t want her teaching my child.  Especially if I ever caught wind of how she’d behaved in her business–and in today’s world, nothing is ever private.  So I’m afraid I would turn into one of those ravenous, overbearing parents and demand my child be taken out of her class.

You see, her partner’s actions–and the fact that she is his partner, makes her guilty by association in my mind–has pushed one of my buttons.   Well, okay, he hasn’t just pushed that button, he’s jumping all over it.  His behavior is one of my pet peeves and goes against something  I always tried very hard to teach my students; take responsibility for your actions and never blame someone else for your wrongdoings.

So I’m telling this publisher and her partner what I would tell one of my students; admit you’re wrong, take full responsibility for what you did, and don’t try to blame it on the authors who are only trying to protect their hard work.  

As a teacher, you should have known that.  And something else for you to keep in mind; you can try to cast the blame aside, but the shame will always be yours.  I hope you can live with that.

 Update:  the web site is back up and I’ve received another rights reversion letter from the publisher.  Professional, yes, but she ignored the fact that I’d asked for my rights to be returned effective immediately and said they would be released on October 24, 2007.  She also does not state in the email what rights she’s giving back to me. 

The thing is, if they do go under and file for bankruptcy, that rights reversion is about as valuable as a used tissue–no matter what date she gives me.

I have a bad feeling about this.  I think these people are playing games and stalling while they figure out what they’re going to do.

Arrgh!  Gotta go call my lawyer.

  

Well, it’s Friday–or it was yesterday when I started writing this!–and this time I only have to go back about six months to find the topic of today’s Friday Folly.

I remember it clearly, even know the date, and could probably recount every second leading up my foolish action.  I’d been debating with myself whether or not to submit my novella to a contest.  I would’ve done it in a heartbeat, except the publisher holding the contest was new.  I’d just started having doubts about my other publisher, who was also new when I signed with them, and I kept thinking; you’ve been down that road before and what if the same thing happens again?  Finally, I decided to take a chance because the story fit the contest so perfectly.  So, I hit the ‘Send Now’ button. 

A month later, I was notified that my book had won and they wanted to offer me a contract.  I was thrilled.  I signed the contract without thinking twice about it and sent it back.  Over the course of the next month, I worked with an editor–who was wonderful–and the month after that, the cover artist–who was awesome.  Everything went downhill from there.

And now I find myself caught up in a battle with the publisher for my rights and it’s beginning to look like I’m going to have to fight for them.  Their breach of contract is clear–trust me on this, I’ve consulted a lawyer–so I wrote them yesterday and told them I was taking my rights back.  Given their history of not responding to emails from their authors, I really didn’t expect to hear back from them…

…except I did.  Their quick response was nice, and I was elated to read the opening line which went something like this: “As you requested, your rights will be returned to you.”  Oh, happy day, right?

Wrong.  By the time I finished reading their response, I was not just angry, but thoroughly pissed off to the point I was ready to go postal on these people.  The rest of their email was surly and about as far from professional as you can get.  I was, in turn, reprimanded, insulted, blamed for their problems, and threatened.  All that from a publisher who not only failed to live up to their contract, but has spent the last month making excuses and blaming their mistakes on everybody but themselves.  I don’t know why I was surprised, but I was.  

The only thing that saved me from publicly spewing venom about them on every group and blog I could find is the fact that they gave me my rights back.

That was good, right?  Well, no.

The thing is, they may have given my rights back to me, but they did it in an email that I refuse to send out to other publishers when I submit my book elsewhere.  So I promptly wrote them back and told them I expected to have a rights reversion letter in my hands on or before October 25 (the deadline I gave them in the original email), and I expected the letter to be written in a professional manner, or they would be hearing from my attorney.

Will they do it?  Who knows?  I think all bets are off with this publisher.  From everything I’ve heard, they aren’t paying their staff, much less their authors, they’re picking and choosing which parts of the contract they’ll honor, and they treat their authors–this isn’t hearsay, but fact based on my own experience–as if they’re idiots and/or children who are mentally challenged.

My problem now is how do I handle this?  I could take his email and delete out all the derogatory comments and use it as my rights reversion letter–or maybe I can’t, that’s something I’ve never needed to do, so I’ve never tried it.  Or I can continue sending them emails and certified letters until I get a professional rights reversion letter.  Or I can just turn it over to my lawyer and let him handle it.

I’m not sure what I’ll do, but one thing I am sure of, this has the potential to be the worst folly of my life, because I’m not trying to kid myself that this will turn out all right in the end.   

  

Yes, I have another song lodged in my brain.  Difference is, this song I actually like–who doesn’t like John Fogerty?  I’m one of his biggest fans, and “Deja Vu” is one of my favorite songs.  Like they used to say on “American Bandstand,” it has a good beat and you can dance to it.  That’s true, but what makes it one of my favorites are the words.  Fogerty took a Yogi-ism, something that most people would chuckle over, and built a powerful anti-war song around it…and it works.  You have to admire a man who can do that. 

So, why am I singing that particular song?  No, I’m not at war…well, maybe I am.  I just spent all day composing an email to my publisher telling them I was taking back the rights to my book.  It was a very hard thing to do and my hands are still shaking, but I know in my heart it was the right thing.  Now, if I can only convince my head and my nerves of that.  

The thing is, this publisher is in breach of contract in not just one, but several ways.  I blogged about this a few weeks ago, back when I first started thinking about asking for my rights back.  I decided at that time to give them the two weeks they asked for to straighten this whole thing out.  I was hoping for the best, but deep down I expected the worse–or maybe I was just burying my head in the sand.  Who knows?  

In the end, I got what I expected, the worse.  And now, I’ve been advised by another author who’s already filed suit against them and pulled her rights that I shouldn’t ask for my rights back, I should demand them–which is what I did–in a long email complete with an attached file which detailed all my reasons.  I’m pretty sure that’s what has my hands doing the jitterbug, I hate confrontations, even when they happen in cyber-space!

Okay, so the email’s been sent and truthfully, I’ll be very surprised if they respond.  God knows a lot of their authors have been trying to get a response out of them recently, but they seem to be ignoring all of us.  So, I’m following up the email with a certified letter and then I’m going to keep sending the email every day until I get a response.

Wish me luck.  Who knows, maybe I’ll be the writer that finally makes them sit up and take notice.  And hopefully, do what they have to do to fix this godawful mess before more authors get hurt. 

On the plus side in my life while all this has been going on, the Red Sox swept the Angels and  moved one step closer to the World Series!  Now all they have to do is win the ALCS against the Indians–whoops!  Strike that, you know how superstitious I am!  Instead, I’ll just offer my deepest gratitude to the Cleveland Indians for taking out New York.  Now I can sit back and relax while I watch Boston and Cleveland battle it out for the prize.  I won’t go so far as to say I’ll be rooting for the Indians, but if they beat us and move on to the World Series, I don’t think I’ll mind as much simply because it wasn’t the Yankees.

Also, I submitted a query to a print publisher for my paranormal romance, Snow Shadows, and they asked to see the entire manuscript–okay, strike that one too.  Arrgh!  I really need to work on ridding myself of these stupid superstitions.

Maybe that would be a good self-improvement project for taking my mind off this war I’m fighting with my publisher.   

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Winds of Fate

Storm Shadows

Snow Shadows

PMS Anthology

Romance of My Dreams