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…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.

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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.

  

I spent a great deal of time this past weekend on MySpace, updating my seriously outdated page.  Through sheer determination and a lot of uh-ohs,  I learned a bunch of things–how to change my background, how to add a fancy cursor, how to upload–download?–images and post them on my homepage–but the thing that stuck with me the most after all my time on there is how popular surveys seem to be on MySpace.

I don’t get that.  I mean sure, I read them, but I never fill them out  Besides, if I was going to take the time to fill out a survey, I’d probably choose one of those that promises something in return.  You know, like those that pop up on the Internet at times, offering free laptops or a gift certificate to some restaurant or even money if you’ll just take a small survey–yeah, right!

So, I’m a survey voyeur.  I read them, even think about how I would answer some of the questions, but you won’t ever see me filling one out.  It’s not that I don’t have the time…well, maybe that is the reason.  You see, I know how my brain works, and one suvey might take me hours to fill out.  I’d agonize over every question and once I posted it, the chances are very good that I’d read back over what I wrote, cringe at some of the answers and think what a boring person I really am.

I don’t need a survey to point that out to me.  I know I’m boring and I’m actually okay with that.  I’m a homebody, one who’s uncomfortable being in the spotlight–unless it’s in front of a bunch of elementary students, that never bothered me at all–and one who could very easily become a hermit.  Yes, that’s right, if I had my druthers, as my grandpa used to say, I’d cut myself off from the rest of the world without blinking an eye.

The thing is…if you’re an author, you just can’t do that.  You have to put yourself out there, you have to promote yourself and your books, and you have to be a participating member of society, even if it is just in cyberspace.

And thank God for cyberspace.  I don’t mind promoting myself or my books on the Internet, but I have a feeling next year when the two print anthologies which will include a story from me are released, I’m going to be wishing I’d stuck with ebooks.  I know I’m already dreading it, but I’m going to have to suck it up and do what needs to be done…

…I’m going to have to put on something besides jeans and a sweatshirt, go out in public and talk to real, live people–and I’m going to have to be nice to them.

Oh, horror of horrors!

I now have three blogs, one on LJ, one on WordPress, and a new one I just set up on Blogger. In addition to that, I have a page on Author’s Den (which I really need to do more with), a page on MySpace (which I can’t figure out and don’t like to use because my Internet security program keeps popping up and flashing little warning signs at me about it being a “dangerous” site), and a page on Gather (also which I really need to pay more attention to). Plus, I’m signed up to post on the 20th of every month on the Twilight Fantasies Blog (one of my publishers), which shouldn’t be too much of a chore since I can probably use one of my posts from one of my many blogs. I also have a page on several Yahoo romance sites which I rarely, if ever, do anything with. Last, but not least, I’m trying to re-vamp my web site and learn the ins and outs of creating and maintaining a successful small business on the Internet–and don’t let anyone tell you that being an author isn’t a business. I think any author you talk to, will back me up on that one!

I don’t plan on keeping all the blogs, I’m just trying them out and when I find the one I’m most comfortable with, that’s the one I’ll keep. MySpace is out for me, because I get a serious case of the heebie-jeebies every time I log on to that one. AD, Gather, and the various romance sites on Yahoo, I’ll keep because I think they’ll be valuable–at some point–for promoting my books.

Which brings me to my point in all this; with my second book coming out in less than a week, I know I need to be promoting, but I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. All this is taking a major chunk of my time and I haven’t written more than a couple hundred words all week. So, where do you draw the line between promotion and writing? I don’t have a clue, but I think it’s something every author must figure out for herself.

Since this is only my second book, I’m telling myself not to agonize over it too much, just do what you can and hopefully, as I gain more experience, it will get easier. Maybe, some day in the far-off, distant future, I’ll get the hang of all this and then I’ll not only be a multi-published author, but I’ll also be an efficient and productive promoter!

Only time will tell.

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Winds of Fate

Storm Shadows

Snow Shadows

PMS Anthology

Romance of My Dreams

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