Archive for June, 2007

Disclaimer. I am a lawyer under my real name, but I don’t practice bankruptcy (although I did practice creditor’s rights at one time and thus have a general understanding of the BK process and rights to assets) and I probably don’t practice in your state. By reading this, there is no attorney client relationship created and take anything you get for free with a grain of salt. I am tackling this subject in the interest of informing authors of something to be aware of… but this is not the definitive answer on the subject. If you find yourself in this situation, seek the advice of a competent Bankruptcy attorney.

Triskelion Publishing has gone Bankrupt… formally, having filed Chapter 7 in their home state of Arizona. Now, that’s not a big blip outside the romance industry. Triskelion was predominately a romance e-publisher. However, they did take books to print and had them shelved at various nationwide booksellers. They were Romance Writers of America Certified . While RWA’s standards merely indicate that the publisher pays royalties, is not a subsidy or vanity press, has been in business a minimum of 1 year and has sold at least 1500 hardcover or trade paperback or 5,000 in any other format of a single title, it is not a guarantee of the publisher. What it does tend to show is Triskelion was not a fly-by-night operation. They had a decent showing of authors. Their authors had decent sales numbers.

Why are we here? Because it brings to light something that authors rarely think about… what happens if your publisher goes bankrupt?

Most publishers have a clause in their contract that deals with what happens if a publisher becomes insolvent and files for bankruptcy. Usually, they state something along the line of if the publisher becomes insolvent and files for bankruptcy protection all rights revert to the author. Now neither of the publishers I deal with have this clause in their contracts. Know why?

Because it damn near meaningless.

That type of clause is known as an Ipso Facto clause and generally held to be invalid by 11 U.S.C. §541(c)(1)(B) and §351(e) . In limited situations these clauses can be upheld. However, as illustrated in In re Southern Pacific Funding Corp., 268 F.3d 712, 716 (9th Cir. 2001) these clauses are ineffectual at protecting authors’ rights.

In re Avalon Software, Inc., 209 B.R. 517 (Bankr. D. Ariz. 1997) is illustrative. The Author of the Software program lost all their rights to the program in the bankruptcy court because their copyright was not protected. The bankruptcy clause in the contract was considered null and void and the bankruptcy trustee was allowed to seize control of the asset in order to create the biggest “pool” of assets for the secured creditors. And while software is not books, it is instructive of how much control and deference the Trustee has.

The BK trustee can accept, reject or modify any agreement effectively causing one creditor – and an author owed royalties is a creditor – to bear a heavier burden. This is where I have dealt with the bankruptcy courts. I used to have to petition, routinely, for my clients to be allowed to retrieve the property they had leased (rented) to a bankrupt company. By extrapolation an author is, in effect, leasing the right to use their work for the publisher’s and author’s benefit. There were several hurdles that had to be jumped in order for property to be returned. One of them was: if the property was material to the continued operation of the debtor in possession (the bankrupt entity) the bankruptcy court with the advice of the trustee had the discretion to not allow the property to revert to the owner. Basically, the bankrupt entity could continue to use the property most times rent free (or at a reduced rent at the trustee’s calculation) until such time as the company either came out of BK or was dissolved by the bankruptcy court, not necessarily the term of the contract. Now, I dealt with tangibles (like simi-trucks) but the way the law reads, it applies both to tangible and intangible assets. The intangible right to sell your books (or the back-stock of printed material) are pretty much the only assets held by a publisher.

What advice can you take away from this? Maybe that you’re not as protected as you think. Even the best publishers can fail, locking your work up in court.

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I’ve long been fascinated by psychology and what it has to say about the possible variations in human behavior. I considered a double-major in psychology while I was in college but eventually decided to pursue other interests instead. Still, I explored many texts on the subject, and I would often consult those texts when writing short stories and coming up with character ideas. Unlike psychiatry, which seems to use medication to subdue not only seemingly irreversible mental conditions but some types of temporary problems as well, psychology appears to attempt to get at the root of issues through analysis of the human condition.

I used my own observations and personal beliefs regarding human nature when writing some of the stories included in Portraits in the Dark, and I also researched and read texts by various types of psychologists. At times while creating some of these characters, I needed to step outside of of what I thought was a normal course of action in order to figure out what the characters would or would not do. Some were easy–who hasn’t been annoyed at some perceived negative behavior or slight? Who hasn’t thought “what if…”?

But when it came to the decision-making process, I needed to be able to study how far certain decisions can go. Everyone has to make decisions and everyone makes mistakes, but some are more extreme than others.

For instance, in “Fine Print,” the character wavers between accepting an offer that he knows has dire consequences and living a life that he finds difficult to stomach. On the surface it is an easy enough decision but when other factors are included, the “correct” path isn’t the most desirable. Throughout the story there are clues to what type of man he is and why he would do the things he does–his decision is not just based upon a whim or upon what would be my own personal choice in such a situation.

Every day we are confronted with making decisions, how to approach this or that situation. And every day, in the news or in our personal lives, we find unanswered questions. Why did he or she do this, why did something turn out the way it did? How will this turn out, what should be done here? Without the aid of some fortune telling device, it is impossible to know how something will turn out with 100% accuracy. In “Darkened Sky,” the main character is confronted by the decisions that others have made, with deciding if those choices are options for her, or if she should take another route in life. She can’t forsee her future, but she gains some insight by the choices others have made and how she reacts to them. How she chooses is of particular importance being that she is a teenager and the situations in her life contain much danger for someone her age.

There are decisions that need to be made behind everything that goes on in life. Of course, in Portraits in the Dark, the characters and situations are taken to the extreme–bloody deaths, dealing with the supernatural, horrible creatures, surrealism. But there are also the real life quiet horrors of knowing that one decision can possibly have a huge and lasting impact on one’s life and the lives of others, of dealing with situations that one has little control over but must still learn how to navigate.

One reader commented to me that a story he read in Portraits in the Dark, “Fine Print,” changed his outlook on where his life was headed and made him question whether or not he was going in the right direction. I was glad that what I decided to include in the story had such an impact on him, even though he didn’t go into detail about his situation. That is one type of reaction that I think as writers some of us hope for–that our work will connect on some level.

How we view the world, our experiences, how we deal with things, even our genetic make-up can give us some clues as to what we, and others, will do when confronted with such questions. By exploring psychology, we as writers can use our natural abilities to make the characters real. Of course, there is a balance between enhancing the story with psychology and basically creating characters that are straight out of a text-book. Psychology, while helpful, doesn’t cover all of what a human being is capable of; nor does it cover writing style and storytelling ability.

But creating that written world can sometimes allow us to do what we can’t always do in real life–see why others truly act how they act, do what they do. And sometimes what our fictional characters do can leave a lasting, lingering impression on the mind of the reader.


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The outrageous case of the Judge suing Soo Chung, Jin Nam Chung, and Ki Y over a pair of supposedly lost pants has come to an end. For once, a person in the wrong manipulating the law has gotten just what is deserved. Pearson will not receive a penny of the $54 million for which he was suing the small business owners over a pair of pants to a suit that cost him around $1000, and he is ordered to pay court costs.

This case was a sad, sorry example and as many have said, that “judge” should be ashamed of his actions. When they tried to pay him for his loss, that should have been the end of it; if their service was truly so poor, it would be easy enough to go to another cleaner and warn others of the possible bad service. If this case hadn’t received worldwide attention, I hope that the results would have been the same. For someone to abuse their knowledge and post in such a way is terrible.

The Chung family is having a fundraiser soon because this case, which has been going on years, has left them in financial trouble, aside from the emotional turmoil they have been put through. Maybe they should consider a lawsuit against Pearson.

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Last Tuesday I was googling, yahooing, hakiing and dogpiling websites and blogs of other writers. I realize there is a sea of writers and I wanted to find a way to set myself apart. To be an apple in a sea of oranges so to speak.

I ran across a very well-known author’s site and perused his accomplishments: He’s written over 30 books, he’s a ghostwriter as well as a published author, lecturer, been a guest on all the big news programs such as CNN, MSNBC and so forth. I continued reading and stared at his distinguished picture on his site and thought to myself, What the hell? might as well go for it.

So, I typed a short and concise email asking for pointers and advice. If he responds, I’ll be shocked but it’s worth a try, I thought to myself. I sent the email and continued prowling for leads on jobs without another thought.

About 2 hours later, my phone rang and I answered expecting to hear from a client or one of my writer friends. You can imagine my shock when I hear a man’s voice on the other end telling me he just recieved my email and thought he would give me a call.

ME. Give ME a call. I was dumbfounded and began scrambling for a pen and paper because I wanted to get every last nugget of advice he had to offer me. I smiled to myself as he said, “It’s funny you should write at this time as I am looking for a writer to help with my overflow work.”

Next thing I know, he’s asking me to send 25-30 pages of my best writing to him. I’ve already scrutinized my work this past weekend and have it ready to send out. I thanked him profusely for calling me and marveled at my luck. I thought it would be just another Tuesday.

Who is the author? I’m not tellin- it’s your turn to take a chance.

I love Tuesdays.
Taryn Simpson is a published ghostwriter dutifully following her bliss. She is currently working on her next novel, “Invisible Fences” and can be found blogging on her websites: http://www.Simpson-EPublishing.blogspot.com and Musings-From-A-Writer.blogspot.com . Come by and leave a comment, won’t you?

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by Clary Lopez, author of Simplicity – Richness of Life

You’ve probably worked months or years on your manuscript. Writing a book is not just a matter of getting your thoughts on paper, it is the urgency to communicate your message to the world. But once you’ve finished the work of writing comes the revising time before you hand it over to your editor and then it is back to the keyboard to fine tune according to his suggestions.

The ideal time to start promoting your book is six months before its release, but how do you know when is the right time to release your book? I’ve written a few books but published only two. The right time to release my book is the time in which I have all the marketing in order for it. In addition to the marketing (website, post cards, posters, etc.) it is important that you are prepared mentally and emotionally to promote the book. It takes time and dedication to promote a book and once the book has been released you work non-stop for a few months and sometimes one or two years. That is what I have done with my first book as I build my audience and continue to expand it. It was two years ago when I released it and now I’m thinking about the second edition of the book and a Spanish version of it.

As you publish more books you learn the sequence in which certain details need to be done. One very usufel book, self-published or not, is The Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter. It has valuable information for any writer. The book helps you organize your work from start to finish.

We learn as we go along and usually our first book release taught us enough to help us the second time around. Just make sure that everything is in place before you release it and that will increase the books sales on the first few weeks or months which will determine its success.

Clary’s Website
Clary’s Blog

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I’ve been toying with several ideas and themes for my next book and think I have finally found it. Sometimes I have to be alone and thinking about what I like to read, what holds my attention and moves me. But for some reason, lately it has been taking me longer to do this.

So, in true “Sex and the City” mode, I wondered as I typed out a very loose synopsis of my book of where other writers find their subject matter for the next book. Some authors can regurgitate books at a lightening speed chase although I suspect some ghostwriters are involved in that process. But still, where do you find it? Do you continue writing about the same subject matter that has proven successful? or move to completely something different?

I usually write about thrillers and suspense and now I am thinking of writing about more philosophical topics. I suppose it is inspired by books I am ghostwriting at the moment. Is this my pattern? I don’t know.

Toni Morrison was quoted as saying If you haven’t found a book you love to read, WRITE IT. I think she’s right.

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The Thief Maker A Novel by D.H. Schleicher (iUniverse Press)

Review by Kent Manthie for Reviewer Magazine

It’s been said that the events of September 11, 2001 forever altered America in profound ways as well as the individual psyches of its people. Most Americans, but especially those who were directly affected, can chart their lives as “before 9/11” and “after 9/11”, using it as an ugly milestone to put other, tangential things in perspective.

Some people had their lives turned upside down and were forever altered by 9/11 and others who were thousands of miles away were also affected, those images having been seared onto the consciousness of millions of TV viewers.

Now that we’re a ‘safe’ distance from the actual event, six years on, there have been a couple movies, lots of non-fiction books, websites, tons of commemorative this and special issues of that as well as that horrible made-for-TV travesty last year, not to mention the legions of conspiracy buffs who’ve made their neuroses a cottage industry.

If anything positive emerged out of the mountain of dreck that 9/11 spawned it was the third novel by one D.H. Schleicher, entitled “The Thief Maker”, an inventive, stylistically nihilistic novel that uses the events of September 11, 2001 as a backdrop and even then in the latter half of the book. It’s only on the peripheries that the realities of that day interpolate, making bad situations worse or complicating matters further, but nonetheless it’s an essential element of the novel.

“The Thief Maker” jumps back and forth, from the mid-1980s to the 1990s, up to the present and even into the future – as far forward as 2008. It may sound confusing but when one is immersed in the novel it actually works quite well as a literary device.

Seemingly disparate sets of highly complex people are introduced and their character traits are developed in front of our eyes only to slowly morph into something unexpected; there’s a thread that connects these people, they all seem to be intertwined in this intricate web of humanity. The characters in the novel are all so vividly portrayed and developed so well that you come to not only visualize them in your head while reading the book but you begin to feel like you know them.

There is William Donovan, the con man whose past is never far behind him; Felice Morrison, the cold as ice lesbian psychiatrist who grows up to hate humanity and for whom love and hate are interchangeable, Frank Morrison’s a man with a secret past and a dark future. Looming above it all, haunting everyone in the story is the recently deceased Marie Gail, a hopeless young junkie with AIDS whose hate was so strong that it contaminated those around her. She died in a lonely, dark rage from the pneumonia not uncommon to those with AIDS. Marie left behind Rex, a young son who was initially taken away from Marie in her days of heroin addiction and general bad craziness, which leads us to the foster parents that take care of Rex for a few years until shortly before her death, Catherine and Rodames Fowler, two psychologists who are doing a long-term experiment with their deaf children in psycholinguistics and into which Rex had been enveloped. Marie had gotten clean and with Felice, her lover, won back custody of the boy and together they lived as much like a normal family as they could for the short time they had before Marie succumbed to her disease. Just before she died, Marie had asked Felice to take care of Rex, to raise him as if he was her own. Felice willingly accepts this responsibility and agrees to adopt him as a final act of love for Marie before she dies. This is all so complicated and I’m afraid there’s much more but instead, you’d better just read the book.

Towards the end all bets are off and suddenly the “post-9/11 world” has turned into Bedlam and realities are getting destroyed left and right; things aren’t as they seem, they never are. The climactic buildup is a shrieking anxious ride that gets thick with complexity and before you know it you’re being hit in the head with a dynamite denouement. I won’t spoil things by describing it any further, but let me just say that you’re in for some rollercoaster-style twists and turns.

You know, originally, I wasn’t really in the mood for having to read another book – I’m already juggling three books as it is and so, when they gave me “The Thief Maker” to review I didn’t look forward to reading it. I went into the book with an unenthusiastic drudgery and I wanted to hate the thing just for being made to read it. Nevertheless, I kept on and while I never thought Schleicher’s writing was without great style or that the clarity and precision wasn’t there I was just – oh, I don’t know…I mean, at first the book wasn’t what I’d call a “page-turner” but when I got to the midway point the excitement was turned up a couple notches and pretty soon I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. I can’t tell you exactly what sort of action makes it pick up because that would spoil much of the plot – I probably shouldn’t have even said that; therefore, you’d better just go buy the book to find out.

I thought D.H. Schleicher wonderfully captured a lot of nuances surrounding modern-day American living spot-on. He brings these characters to life; I found myself really identifying with characters; I really felt emotional about them, amazed by some and hating others, empathizing with some of them too and disgusted by others. Schleicher draws the reader into this smartly crafted parallel universe – one that is remarkably like our own world. The action takes place between Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey and even [banjo music playing] takes a detour down to North Carolina for a spell.

It was hard to tell at first where the story was going to go; whether it’d be to a boring, clichéd neighborhood from which you’d want to exit ASAP or a fabulous world where you want to stay around as long as you can. The latter was the case for “The Thief Maker”; in fact, I purposely took my time reading this novel. I didn’t want to flip through this too quickly; it’s only 214 pages, easy to read, not at all verbally confusing or convoluted in its prose. Mystery man, Dave Schleicher, who graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in psychology in 2002, seems to have found his voice, developed a style of his own; it’s not an ostentatious one, though; the book reads quite easily, smoothly, not too rough or stilted, making the storyline roll along with no bumps or obstacles, no extraneous riff-raff built up throughout the paragraphs either, making the basic story stick out that much more. Schleicher’s currently living in Voorhees, New Jersey, where he takes time out to smell the roses between writing binges. He also keeps a pretty regular web log at http://davethenovelist.wordpress.com – check it out, there are plenty of things to read: reviews, opinion pieces and so on.

What with the hot season coming up, “The Thief Maker” would be a great addition to your summer reading list. Check out the publisher’s website:. http://www.iuniverse.com – KM.


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Welcome to the June 12, 2007 edition of writers from across the blogosphere.

Neela Menon presents Well Done, Director! posted at One Hundred Years of Solitude, saying, “This is a collection of intensely personal notes from the diary of an artist, meant for the flames in her winter home. But so much water has flown under the bridge since then, and I dont care now!”

Bob Jones presents Writers Block, How I Deal With It posted at Bob Meets World, saying, “How I deal with writers block.”


Josh presents Stop the Junk Mail posted at My Credit Scores, saying, “Find out why you get so much junk mail, junk email, and phone calls from telemarketers. Then stop it in its tracks.”

Divya presents Plagiarism in freelancing : the ABCs posted at inkpenny, saying, “All you need to know about plagiarism…”


polliwog presents Guest Frogger – Meg Cabot posted at Polliwog’s Pond.


http://forgottenblueline.blogspot.com presents Can’t take it anymore, Good Bye posted at The Forgotten Blue Line, saying, “I write stories from my work place. I am a security and safety officer for a major East Coast hospital”

book reviews

Numina presents Book Review: Contact by Carl Sagan posted at Numina Reviews the World, saying, “Not complimentary towards the novel, but not a bashing either. Or at least I tried not to bash.”

Meredith Mathews presents I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids. posted at Lemonade Stand, saying, “Both the cover art and the confessionary title caught my eye. But the writing tone is what I respect most; the authors speak candidly about being a mom and their feelings on it.”


Damien presents Que? – A Funny Experience I Had as a First-Year | Riley Central posted at First Edition: Doing What They Love.

politics/current events

Steven Silvers presents Rankles over U.S. News best colleges list hint at bigger issue with media rankings. posted at Scatterbox at stevensilvers.com, saying, “Information-age transparency turns what used to be slam-dunk annual marketing promotions into ongoing controversies about news media methods.”


Ashok presents Notes on Dickinson’s “There’s a certain slant of light” posted at Rethink., saying, “I’m not sure what category this may go under, if anyone cares to read it. One of Dickinson’s most famous poems is posted and then discussed in this post.”


Elvis D presents Looks Like Rain posted at 365fiction.

Elvis D presents Crippled posted at 365fiction.

Elvis D presents Impulse posted at 365fiction.

Jade Blackwater presents Show and Tell Friday – Poetry Selections posted at Brainripples, saying, “Greetings. The Brainripples blog is a place to discuss writing, art, and creativity. Show and Tell Friday is a new feature at Brainripples, and I launched it last week with a selection of my poetry called “Singing of the Spheres.” Thank you for considering my work, and enjoy!

Jade Blackwater

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For those living outside the Tennessee area, a story ran on the news last night where a woman was in tears because she wanted to donate a kidney to a family member who will die without the donation.

It appears that she is a perfect match according to her cousin’s doctors and she began taking the steps to prepare. One of those steps is stepping inside that almighty Human Resources office at work to apply for short term disability. The HR executive flatly refused her request and likened her need for leave to that of “getting a breast augmentation”. What the HR person failed or fails to realize is that this is not cosmetic surgery, and it is medically necessary in order to save another life. So, the company is refusing to hold her position for her once she is able to return to work.

The woman offering her kidney has 2 children and cannot risk her job coupled with the fact that she works in a rural area where the employment opportunities are limited at best. As the news reporter showed the arm of the man needing the kidney, his mangled veins in his arm caused the viewers to squirm.

The company stood behind the HR decision but my questions are the following: Does this company meet the criteria for FMLA? Does the company have written policy regarding acceptable leaves of absences?

Maybe if that company hired this writer to compose current, well thought out policy and procedures, this situation wouldn’t be on the news.

But then again, HR People are Mean.
Taryn Simpson is a freelance writer specializing in Corporate and Business communications. Hire her.

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I just finished Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices by Jodi Picoult. Miss Snark praised her, I’ve seen her name everywhere, she writes both young-adult and adult fiction, so I grabbed this one. It was good, interesting for me from a craft sense, but somehow unsatisfying. Is this women’s fiction? I think so, or some region on the border of women’s and literary fiction. It’s the account of a marriage breakup and reassemblage told from five different first-person viewpoints with the chronology all shuffled up. So technically that was interesting but I had a strong sense that the choice was not inevitable. That it was less “it has to be this way” than “let’s try this.” And the other thing I found disappointing in such an acclaimed writer is that the voices of the five different narrators all sounded curiously the same. There were a few overtones of individuality, but the way they looked at the world, their literary voice, was at foundation the same. So, interesting yet unsatisfying. I didn’t learn anything here except maybe what to watch out for in my own work.

I know, hideous hubris for me to be dissing a well-loved and recognized novelist while I–a self-pubbed author–am still languishing  in the slush, but I pound my chest and declare it’s my right to be a critic if I want. (blows raspberry)

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