Authors Beware!!! by Dan Peyton

Hello everyone. My name is Daniel Peyton and I am the author of several books, including The Crystal Needle series. I want to share something with you. This is the story and results of how I got abused by a publisher.

To everyone reading who is not an author, you may not realize how special and important a moment it is to be accepted. Not just accepted by a publishing house or a literary agent, but accepted by the literary community. To be accepted by a single reader who likes your work. To be accepted by other authors who delve into the same genre as you. We writers are solitary folk and as such contact with the real world is limited. But, that does not mean that we don’t want friends and family. We want fellowship, we want companionship, and we want to know that we are not alone.

The most anticipated and longed for acceptance is that of a publisher. For, being accepted by a publisher gives you a feel of legitimacy. All of your work has not been in vain, and you may just achieve a modicum of success that you have worked so diligently for. Not only general success, but specific success. You have worked for a long time, through many different levels, to create your masterpiece. It is your child, your baby, your product. No one else created it, no one else gave birth to it, it is as much a part of you as your own personality. When a publisher accepts that work and says they will produce it, you have achieved a great thing.

That all said, this is my story:

A number of years ago I began writing. Well, okay, I started writing in 4th grade but this is much later. I love to write Star Trek stories and other specific things that cannot be published without consent of the owners of the original storylines. I just liked to write. Then my mother asked me why I didn’t write something completely mine and independent. I was afraid of branching out, but I had to try. So, I sat down on the deck of my house and just started typing. I wrote notes and crafted a story. I didn’t know how it was going to turn out, but all I could do was fail. I had little to loose other than time. So I did it. With the help and constant encouragement of my mother I wrote, edited, and re-edited a fantasy novel. It took me a total of three months to write it, and another three to edit it. When the six months were done I had mom edit it through, as I couldn’t afford a traditional editor and mom is pretty good. Come a year or so later I had a final product. I wrote The Jalan Chronicles: The Eyes of Amaterasu.

I knew it was still rough and could probably use some work, but I felt that a publisher would do that for me. So, I began to search the internet for a publisher. Understand that by this point in my life I had little to no understanding of the publishing world and was alone in this venture. I didn’t know the pitfalls, and I certainly didn’t know the wolves out there seeking to take advantage of new authors. I got turned down a half dozen times until I sent that letter to a publisher in Maryland.

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PublishAmerica seemed so legit, so real, I sent that letter and my manuscript and they did something that I didn’t think I would ever have done for me. They accepted and offered a contract. Knowing what I have written above about the need of acceptance, you might understand the thrill and blind happiness I had in my heart at that acceptance letter. I had done it.

At first it was going smoothly. They sent me an email telling me the process by which they work. I agreed and they sent the book to their editors. They read it and miraculously sent me another email telling me that my work was good enough to publish directly. WOW, I was thrilled beyond thrilled, especially considering how long they first told me editing would take if it wasn’t good enough. I agreed to them speeding up the process, having faith that they knew the book was good and fit. Then the cover artist came to me and gave me some examples of what they were going to go with. I liked their cover, but I didn’t like that they put a little kitten in the center of it. I asked to change that and they did, to a dragon. Let me state right here that the cover is still one of my favorite parts of this, I have never had a problem with it and still love it.

Then publication came. In less than two months, my book went from submission to being on the market. I was happy, I was in heaven. They told me the pretty stories of how they were the number one publisher selling to Barns and Noble, and that Amazon sold millions of their books. I had made it, the world would know my work. When was Hollywood going to call me?

Then reality sunk in. They had priced my book, a simple new author fantasy, at $25 which I knew no one would buy. Then I got my first email about the book from PA. Were they going to tell me about how well it was selling? No. Were they going to inform me of their desire for a sequel? No. The email was an ad……to me. They were selling me my own book, telling me that it was my job to market it and sell it. They would have nothing to do with that. When I asked them about that, wondering why a publisher wouldn’t want to market their own products, they gave me a cock-and-bull story about how in the publishing world it is ENTIRELY on the heads of the authors to sell the books, that selling it to friends and family is the best route to go. Seriously?! I am responsible for every detail about marketing? The stink of this company was beginning to seep into my nose and I smelled a rotten skunk. I went to Barns and Noble to ask them about putting my book on their shelves and they gave me the funniest look. They informed me that my book was too expensive and they never, get this NEVER, put PublishAmerica on their shelves. I have been lied to, or really deliberately misled.

Not only that, but when my book was read by a few friends and family, they informed me of the glaring flaws in the grammar and sentences. The book needs serious work with a real editor. Again, they misled me so they could get to selling me my own book quicker. And to rub salt in the wound, a few months later, they sent out blanket emails to their authors offering their editing services for an enormous fee.

Over time I  got emails about buying my own book, about paying them to edit it, about paying them to send copies to celebrities randomly (as if that would make it a Hollywood smash), about paying them to promote the book at book fairs around the world. They were in it to take me for every last dime. I felt like I was being held up by my ankles and someone was shaking for pennies.

When I looked at the contract I blindly signed, I saw that they have my book for six years. It is firm. When I asked about backing out because I refuse to sell the book and their non-existent marketing techniques are certainly not selling any books, they agreed and then told me I can certainly end the contract right then and there by taking advantage of one of their many offers. This is actually one of their “deals”. This is a company that has a high dollar special service designed to end contracts with their producers….really?!

Note: PublishAmerica is currently being sued by other authors who discovered that this company actually puts mistakes into manuscripts they publish so they can offer editing services. After hearing about this and looking at the books they sent me and my original files I have discovered this is a truth.

So, if you have wondered why my book The Jalan Chronicles is attached to my name on Amazon and Goodreads and other places, yet I have not even been talking about it. There is a reason. I refuse to make PublishAmerica on red cent. They are crooks and currently are facing a class action suit started by some other authors they gypped. When my contract ends and I finally get my book back, I am going to put it through an editor, rework it to better standards, and make it worth reading. Then, I will publish it so that readers can finally see what I wanted them to see, not the crud that PA has left me with.

As a side note: To really rub acid in the wound, during this time I had an individual that began to bully me on the internet and followed me everywhere I went. They tried to get me kicked out of a CCG game I love to play, and he used this book to go all out to hurt me. He even tried to get other companies to sue me for plagiarism making false claims about me. He attacked my mother, he attacked my friends, it was an all out assault that left me scared to do anything. When I decided to move forward and write again, I finished a book and then spent a year fighting with myself about publishing it for fear of him finding me and starting it up again. I still have a deep seated fear in my belly each time I see a review pop up for one of my books, sure that he has found me. So, if you find The Jalan Chronicles and look at the reviews, know that most of them are him under different guises, bent on my destruction. Even writing this here has me sick to my stomach, but I really want you to know.

Thank you for reading. You continued support through comments and being friendly has helped me so much.

If you would like more information about PublishAmericas record and tactics, please read this article on the website Preditors and Editors or P&E.

The Pigeonhole Effect – Dellani Oakes

Dellani Oakes with glasses smallerLike the makers of movies, authors play to an audience. Our action is on a page, not a screen, but it boils down to the same thing – audience appeal. As authors, we are only successful if our work appeals to a wide range of readers. Unfortunately, our business suffers from the pigeonhole effect.

The pigeonhole effect is the tendency to park a book in a category and leave it there. If that category has a wide range of appeal, the book does well. If not, it sits there gathering dust until it’s pulled from the shelf, or the end of time (whichever comes first). The pigeonhole effect is necessary for the purpose of marketing (at least that’s what I’m told). I’m more of a mind that it’s for the purpose of setting up a bookstore into nice, neat, orderly sections.

All that aside, we’re still stuck with the problem and have to find ways around it. My suggestion is cross-marketing. Like cross-training in sports, in cross-marketing the book is presented on a variety of levels, in different categories, seeing which audience it appeals to most and go from there.

For example, my book, “Indian Summer”. It is pigeonholed into the category of historical romance. I get a wide variety of reactions to that label – most of them negative. However, if I say it’s an historical adventure, more people perk up. Historical novel gets a better reaction too. It seems that if you tack “romance” on the end, you get a lot of negativism. People who don’t read romance novels have their own idea about what they are. Grant you, some authors fall into the typical romance category, but not all of us do. I get angry now if someone makes a salacious comment about romance novel or the authors of them.

There is much more adventure in my novel than there is romance. It’s a story of spies, intrigue, love and war. Given the nature of the story, it is fit for young adult (14+) and adult readers – both male and female. The heroine, Gabriella, is nobody’s fool. She is 15, embroiled in a situation she cannot control, but rises to the occasion, outsmarting the bad guy more than once. With her help, the spy is caught and brought to justice. Not sounding quite as much like a smarmy romance novel now, is it?

Authors aren’t always given an option of how the book is marketed, but if you are, choose a variety of labels to give your work wider appeal. I write a smattering of different sub-genres. By far my favorite is romantic suspense, blending my two favorite genres – romance and mystery. Some blended categories go too far, like urban paranormal romantic suspense. I hardly know what I’m going to read. Maybe a tad less specific would work better?

What every author needs to make themselves successful is knowledge of what our fans want. How do you search for a book in a store? What appeals to you? What kinds of books do you want to see more of? What do you wish to see less of? Are there too many of one “type” of book on the market? Has it been saturated with sub-genres you don’t like or can’t understand? If you walk into your favorite bookstore, which section to you automatically head for? Why? Are there sections you avoid? If so, why? I would appreciate your feedback to my questions, or pose those of your own. Everyone has an opinion, let’s discuss them.

Dellani Oakes is an author with Second Wind Publishing and Tirgearr Publishing. Her historical novel, “Indian Summer”, is available at http://www.secondwindpublishing.com or at Amazon.com. She also has two sci-fi (futuristic romance) novels Lone Wolf and Shakazhan, as well as two romantic suspense novels from Tirgearr – The Ninja Tattoo and Under the Western Sky.

To purchase Dellani’s Books.

INSIDE THE AUTHORS CAVE-KAREN H. VAUGHAN

What does your writers spot look like? Do have a well organized office, a garrett or is your center of creative activity smack dab in the middle of the household chaos?

I do my best work at the dining room table amongst the detritus of every day life. There is TV on in the background or my favorite radio station playing. 

I cannot work in silence and I have said this before in an earlier blog. My work space looks like ARMAGEDDON has hit or an attack of THE ZOMBIE HORDE.  I don’t plot my books so why does my space need to be organized?  I love chaos so it goes to reason that my cave is chaotic.  I am in the middle of it all steps away from the food supply and a stones throw from the little girls room. Paradise if you ask me.Image

 

The Art of Dialogue by Karen Vaughan

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Dialogue shows the reader what is going on in the story.

I use dialogue a lot in my books and I have heard great things about it. This is something that works for me in writing and to quote Dr. Phil “do what works” I tried narration and writing in third person all the time. That didn’t work. My own stories were putting me to sleep. I switched over to first person and the stories just took off from there. Adding snappy dialogue came next. I love dialogue as the readers get the gist of the story through what the characters are saying rather than having a narrator telling them what is going on. I can also show emotion better whether it’s anger or sadness. Recently I wrote a scene where the main characters were arguing, the dialogue showed that my heroine was defending her position in getting involved with the murders. Here’s a sample of that:

I slammed a cup down on the counter and he jumped.

“What the hell?”
“Gerry what crawled up your ass and died.”
“It’s the damn sleuthing!”
“You said it was okay.”
“I said going back to school to be a Crime scene investigator was fine. It’s out of the line of fire behind the scenes work that won’t get your ass shot off.”
Gerry I found a dead body behind our building. We are the managers and we are up to our eyeballs in this whether we like it or not. I am not trying to solve the crime that’s Gibbons job. He is asking for our help as Missy and Weldon are tenants and so was Denny. May I remind you it was me who found Denny in the dumpster. That’s not something I go looking for.” I was finished my diatribe but was tempted to remind him that I had already been peed on by a lion.
“Cookie you are a corpse magnet, they find you.”
We stopped, looked at each other and laughed at how ridiculous the fight sounded. I spoke up.
“Well if you’re jealous honey, I’ll let you find the next body.

The dialogue shows the frustration of each character but also shows that the argument was solved with a touch of humor but Laura had stood her ground in the discussion.

Good dialogue tells a story and can be very entertaining. I use a lot of humor in my stories and I am told that it really packs a good punch.

Support Your Family Author

books by dellani oakes 2 redI just had a short conversation with a lady who is so excited that her cousin wrote a book. She can’t wait to read it and wants to give her some positive feedback and support. I wanted to cry when I heard that. For one thing, what a beautiful impulse she had – supporting the author in her family. For another thing – why isn’t my family that supportive?

This makes it abundantly clear to me that no one in my family understands (or possibly cares) what I do – with the exception of one cousin who cheers me along from time to time. She’s bought my books – which if I’d known she was paying for them, I would have sent them to her for free, because I’m so grateful to her for that small token of love and support.

My daughter has beta read a couple of my books. She’s an angel and I appreciate that. I honestly don’t know what my sons think. None of them particularly like to read and they certainly aren’t going to be interested in my books. Romance is not their thing.

My in-laws think of my writing as some sort of phase or hobby. I’m sure they don’t take it seriously. Considering how badly it’s paid so far, maybe they have a point. They don’t have a clue how hard I work for those pennies.

My husband, God bless him, has been wonderful about letting me have the time to write. He believes in me. We haven’t made a lot of money off it, but at least he doesn’t fuss at me.

I think a lot of the problem is that people think writing is easy. They assume that anyone can write. They’re sure that somehow words miraculously appear on the page for them to read and no one has to do anything to put them there. Imagination—meh. What’s that?

Anyone can write. Writing isn’t that hard. There’s no convincing them unless I force them to sit down and write a term paper or short story. I used to write my term papers the night before they were due and got A’s on all of them. None of my classmates could do that.

One year, I did the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and finished my book of 74,748 words before Thanksgiving. That afternoon, I sat down and started a new book. FOUR DAYS LATER I had another 54,067 words and a second finished novel. Grand total: 128,815 and that doesn’t include the nearly 15,000 words I cut from the first one. That would bring my total close to 143,815 words in less than 30 days.

So, when people say to me, “Anyone can write”, I tell them that. How ya like me now, hm? Think you can do that? Bet not.

I’m making a point with my rant – promise! Be like my friend who loves and supports her cousin because she wrote a book. Cheer your author friend/ family member. Buy a copy. Talk it up. Ask a book group to read it. Share their marketing posts on Facebook, Twitter, anywhere. When they get discouraged, cheer them up. When they need a lift, buy them a cup of coffee. When they lock themselves away from friends and family so they can work – give them space. If they don’t answer the phone, call back much, much later. If they talk crazy about how their characters are running amok, let them. For them, that’s real. It doesn’t mean they’re crazy, they’re just authors.

Finally, and ultimately important, realize that you’ll never fully understand, but love them.

Dellani Oakes is a slightly crazy, but mostly harmless author. She’s published five books, but her author’s brain has created many more. To purchase Dellani’s books:

Indian Summer – historical romance

Lone Wolf – futuristic romance (sci-fi)

Shakazhan – Lone Wolf book 2

The Ninja Tattoo – romantic suspense

Under the Western Sky – romantic suspense

There are also some freebies you can download by clicking here. 

AN INTERVIEW WITH DAVE MEECHAM

CHAT WITH DAVE MEECHAM

The cub reporter  for The Daytona Beach News journal Callie Springford sits down with convicted police officer to get the straight skinny on what went down during the Killer T. Ford Roadkill rampage.

 

WHY ARE YOU IN JAIL? 

I let my brother in-law Killer T. Ford talk me into being his eyes and ears at the police station. I was privy to a lot of info that I should have told my supervisors about with regards to his involvement in the identity theft ring and the hit and runs.

WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO COME CLEAN?

My wife Annabelle made me see that her brother Duane aka Killer T. was nothing but trouble and he could very easily drag me down the same dark path to hell that he was going on. I decided my life with her was more important than keeping that spoiled little prima donna happy. I had tremendous guilt over the whole break in thing at the Fitz hotel room, getting Rueben to nail Cronk, and getting the kid killed by that bastard.  I might be doing time here but I can stand a bit taller having down the right thing.

WHAT WAS YOUR CAREER BEFORE THAT? I was a desk clerk at the local police station as I had been demoted from my job in Forensics up in Dade County.

ARE YOU EASILY INFLUENCED BY OTHERS?

Unfortunately I would have to say yes. Killer T kind of bullied me into doing a lot of dirty things including trashing that nice couples room.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING IN YOUR LIFE WHAT WOULD IT BE? Not be such a wuss.

COUNTRY MUSIC OR ROCK?  Depends on my mood I like either

DO YOU HAVE A NICK NAME? At work they called me Barney Fife now the guys in here call me Dead Meat

FAVORITE COLOUR? Definitely not orange.   Hey do you think this jumpsuit makes me look fat?

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WHEN YOU GET OUT?  I am taking computer courses so maybe I can get a job at Best Buy when I get out.

DO YOU HAVE REGRETS?  Yes definitely and if I could I would undo all the things I did to hurt innocent people I would do it in a minute.

IF YOU COULD GIVE A ROOKIE COP ONE PIECE OF ADVICE WHAT WOULD IT BE? Stick with your principles and don’t let the lure of easy money make you do stupid things.Image

A Sense of Mystery – by Dellani Oakes

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00022]I started my own writing group a few months ago. We meet every other Friday at a local library. I frequently give out a writing prompt that we can use to inspire us. This week’s was A Sense of Mystery. This is what I wrote last night — after the power went out.

Light came from the flickering candles, their combined glow was barely enough light to see. Ellyann lit another, hoping to power would come back on before bedtime. She could have taken herself to bed right away, but she hated to admit to herself that she was scared. No power meant no alarm. It also meant no phone – except for her cell – which had been charging up from 13% when the lights went out. She’d had enough charge to call the power company to report the outage, and use the flashlight to find matches and candles.

Now, she sat in the semi-dark trying to keep the monsters at bay. Singing every hymn she knew, Ellyann rocked back and forth in time to the beat. Rock of Ages followed Nearer My God to Thee, which was followed by How Great Thou Art and dozens of others. Using the meager light from the candle, she found her grandmother’s Bible and opened it to Psalms. They always gave her comfort. Unfortunately, tonight, that comfort was short lived.

Less than an hour into the power outage, Ellyann heard a noise outside. She’d seen too many horror movies – she knew not to go looking for trouble. Instead, she took her candles, cellphone and a package of Oreos and locked herself in the bathroom. With that door, as well as the bedroom door, locked she felt better. Her Bible still clutched in one hand, she sat in the tub, shivering.

Another noise, louder and closer, made her jump. She listened closely trying to decode the sound. If she knew what it was, she wouldn’t be so afraid.

“Keep telling yourself that, Ellyann,” she muttered. “Be sure to tell the serial killer you identified him by the sound he made.”

KaTHUNK Ellyann jumped again, screaming.

Clank. Rattle. Tweet. Thump.

What was going on? Had an army of zombies attacked? Even now, had they gathered outside her home, waiting for the chance to eat her brain?

Rrrr Rrr Brrr Bdddddd That was a sound she knew. A chainsaw. Any second, Freddy Kruger or Jason – or was it someone else? Was gonna come through the wall.

The side of her house vibrated, the rumbling transmitted itself to her nerves. Holding her ears, she whimpered, terrified.

The rumbling stopped abruptly. More thumps, grunts and snarls scared her beyond all reason. She was sure now that some unseen menace awaited her. She huddled in the tub. The strange sounds continued, interspersed with the rumbling grunt of the chainsaw.

In agony, Ellyann decided that a menace seen was less frightening than the unknown. She cralwed to the low window, biting her lips. She peered through the curtains. Giant, insect-like creatures lined the foggy street. One crept onto her front lawn. Bright lights illuminated her yard and the street, bathing everything in a blue tinged glare.

Forget serial killers, it was an alien attack! Surely, these were their machines that captured people, carrying them off to the mysterious unknown. A monster grunted and rumbled. Ellyann screamed as it lumbered toward her. Scrambling away from the window, she whimpered helplessly.

Banging sounded on the front door. Ellyann could hardly make herself get up. Wobbling unsteadily, she walked to the door. Zombies wouldn’t knock that regularly. A crazed killer was more likely to cut down the door. The knocking repeated.

“Hello? Anyone inside?”

Ellyann peeped out the side window. A man stood on her porch. He wore a uniform.

“Hello? Anyone there? Power company. We need permission to come on your property and cut down a tree. Hello?”

Relieved, Ellyann laughed as she opened the door. A friendly man wearing a power company uniform and name tag, stood well away from the door.

“Hi, Grant Sevier, FPL. You’ve got a downed tree. It’s severed the power lines. We need to cut it up, but we have to have permission to cut down your tree.”

Ellyann started laughing. “I’ve been imaging such awful things! You go right ahead and do what needs doing.” She continued laughing as she shut the door. “Nothing sinister – just the power company.”

A short time later, the power came back on. Ellyann got ready for bed, checked her alarm and carried her Bible back to the bedside table.

“Nothing to be scared of,” she said as she lay down.

And that’s when the zombies attacked.