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Sunday, January 12, 2014

It's a New World in Publishing

I realized today that I haven't posted on my blog in quite a while.

I've decided to return with a post on, what is to me, one of the most interesting developments in the publishing industry since I last posted--Kensington's recent acquisition of Lyrical. This is something that I predicted three years ago, no, not Kensington's acquisition of Lyrical, but print publishers' acquisitions of e-publishers. Have a look at this old post and the comments thereto:

Madeline Smyth on June 20, 2010

During the past couple of weeks, several of my aspiring author friends have been all a twitter (that is, "a twitter" as in old-fashioned chirping away with one another rather than as in modern tweeting on Twitter) about a new e-publisher on the scene (I'll call it "Happy New Publisher"). I researched this start-up on EREC and elsewhere, learning that the two principals have no editorial experience between them. As an attorney, I shivered at the inherent dangers of getting caught up as an author in such a scenario.

Then, as it would happen, an aspiring author (I'll call her "Happy New Author") mentioned that she had just submitted a story to Happy New Publisher. A few days later, Happy New Author said that she had a contract in hand from Happy New Publisher and was off to choose a book cover. I wish her the best, as I always enjoy vicariously when someone else succeeds at something.

But would I go this way? No, this isn't the right scenario for me. When it comes to writing, I want one thing more than anything—an editor. Oh yes, I want an editor, one who has experience, one who'll see my promise, one who'll send me revision requests, one who'll demand more and more of me. When this happens, and I know it won't happen within a few days, I'll be a happy new author, but probably one with an established publisher, whether print or electronic.

Happy Writing...and Revising!

Founder, Editor and E-Publisher on October 3, 2010

I share your cringes about authors happily marching off with the first publisher to offer them a contract...often with little or no research into the company. However, I believe the assumption that lack of editing only happens at e-pubs is misleading.

As the founder, publisher, editor at Black Velvet Seductions I can tell you that I am very much focused on looking for the promise in authors and books. Sadly, a lot of authors who have promising books don't themselves have much promise for the simple reason they don't have the work ethic to stretch a little more, work a little harder, revise a bit more to strengthen the work.
 
They see "Happy New Publisher" who offers them a contract in a week...who asks them to do very few if any revisions...and they think that that is a better deal than publishing with a publisher who is more established, who has more sales channels, but who requires more work to attain the contract.
There are essentially two kinds of publishers--those that make their money on quantity who will publish almost anything vaguely readable and those who publish far fewer titles but who take more care in what they publish.

Black Velvet Seductions definitely falls into the latter category. I spend hundreds of hours editing the manuscripts I accept for publication and the authors of them spend hundreds of hours or revising them.
I think it's a little flawed to think that all e-pubs are scrimping on the editing, the revisions, and so on while the print publishers are the only ones who focus on quality. I often read books published by bigger companies than ours and think to myself...I wouldn't have published this without serious revision.
I just think it is unfair to judge e-pubs as a category and paper publishers as a category. I expect that in the future we will see the two camps much closer together. Paper books lose market share. Ebooks have already overtaken hardback sales by a margin of almost 2-1 at Amazon which sells only one format of ebook. The business model of the major print publishers only works as long as people continue to buy paperbacks in large numbers. As more people buy in ebook form and the numbers of paperback buyers decline those publishers are going to be forced to adapt -- likely away from huge print runs (an industry standard of 30% of which are destroyed when they aren't sold.)

I don't see it as a long term sustainable business model. Large print run publishers see the light. They already have ebook divisions in place and many of them are converting back lists to ebook format. I've been surprised recently the number of older romance titles that are available in ebook format.
There is a lot to consider. And it isn't really just whether a publisher is an ebook publisher or a paper publisher. It's more of a matter of what the publisher does within the industry...it's whether they value quantity over quality and what they do as a result of that judgment.

Madeline Smyth on October 3, 2010

HI, LAURIE-

THANKS FOR STOPPING BY MY BLOG.

I share your cringes about authors happily marching off with the first publisher to offer them a contract...often with little or no research into the company. I REPORTED ON AN AUTHOR WHO MARCHED OFF WITH A NEW PUBLISHER WHO OFFERED A CONTRACT, EVEN AFTER INFORMED THAT THE TWO PRINCIPALS OF THE NEW PUBLISHER HAD NO EDITORIAL EXPERIENCE BETWEEN THEM. However, I believe the assumption that lack of editing only happens at e-pubs is misleading. I DIDN’T ASSUME THAT A LACK OF EDITORIAL HAPPENS ONLY AT E-PUBLISHING HOUSES. I DID A POST ON EDITORIAL VERSUS NON-EDITORIAL PUBLICATION, NOT ON E-PUBLISHING VERSUS PRINT PUBLISHING. YOU ASSUMED THAT I MADE THIS ASSUMPTION, PERHAPS BECAUSE YOU ARE FIGHTING A BATTLE AGAINST THIS PERCEPTION WITHIN THE INDUSTRY.

As the founder, publisher, editor at Black Velvet Seductions I can tell you that I am very much focused on looking for the promise in authors and books. BUT, OF COURSE. Sadly, a lot of authors who have promising books don't themselves have much promise for the simple reason they don't have the work ethic to stretch a little more, work a little harder, revise a bit more to strengthen the work. I FIND THIS SURPRISING, AS I KNOW AUTHORS WHO WILL REVISE UNTIL THE COWS COME HOME, ALL WITH THE HOPE OF SATISFYING EDITORS.

They see "Happy New Publisher" who offers them a contract in a week...who asks them to do very few if any revisions...and they think that that is a better deal than publishing with a publisher who is more established, who has more sales channels, but who requires more work to attain the contract. NO, I SUSPECT THAT THE AUTHOR TO WHOM I REFERRED IN THE POST WENT WITH HAPPY NEW PUBLISHER BECAUSE ESTABLISHED PUBLISHERS, WHETHER ELECTRONIC OR PRINT, HAD REJECTED HER SUBMISSIONS, NOT BECAUSE SHE WANTED AN EDITOR WHO ASKED FOR FEW OR NO REVISIONS.

There are essentially two kinds of publishers--those that make their money on quantity who will publish almost anything vaguely readable and those who publish far fewer titles but who take more care in what they publish. I DON’T NECESSARILY AGREE WITH THIS, THOUGH I AM NO EXPERT. I HAVE SEEN SOME E-PUBLISHERS WHO PUBLISH QUANTITY WITH QUALITY. I HAVE SEEN SOME PRINT PUBLISHERS WHO PUBLISH QUALITY IN QUANTITY.

SEE NEXT COMMENT FOR CONTINUATION OF DISCUSSION.

Madeline Smyth on October 3, 2010

HERE IS THE CONTINUATION OF THE DISCUSSION FROM THE PRIOR COMMENT.
Black Velvet Seductions definitely falls into the latter category. I spend hundreds of hours editing the manuscripts I accept for publication and the authors of them spend hundreds of hours or revising them. THIS IS AS IT SHOULD BE WITHIN PUBLISHING, WHETHER PRINT OR ELECTRONIC.

I think it's a little flawed to think that all e-pubs are scrimping on the editing, the revisions, and so on while the print publishers are the only ones who focus on quality. I FINISHED MY POST WITH THESE WORDS: “WHEN IT COMES TO WRITING, I WANT ONE THING MORE THAN ANYTHING—AN EDITOR. OH YES, I WANT AN EDITOR, ONE WHO HAS EXPERIENCE, ONE WHO'LL SEE MY PROMISE, ONE WHO'LL SEND ME REVISION REQUESTS, ONE WHO'LL DEMAND MORE AND MORE OF ME. WHEN THIS HAPPENS, AND I KNOW IT WON'T HAPPEN WITHIN A FEW DAYS, I'LL BE A HAPPY NEW AUTHOR, BUT PROBABLY ONE WITH AN ESTABLISHED PUBLISHER, WHETHER PRINT OR ELECTRONIC.” ONCE AGAIN, I DIDN’T WRITE A POST ON E-PUBLISHING VERSUS PRINT PUBLISHING. I WROTE A POST ON THE NEW PUBLISHER’S LACK OF EDITORIAL EXPERIENCE, WHICH HAPPENED TO HAVE OCCURRED IN THE CONTEXT OF A NEW E-PUBLISHER. OF COURSE, THEN THE QUESTION BECOMES: IS A PRINT PUBLISHER OR E-PUBLISHER MORE LIKELY TO LACK IN EDITORIAL EXPERIENCE UPON OPENING ITS DOORS? I often read books published by bigger companies than ours and think to myself...I wouldn't have published this without serious revision.

I just think it is unfair to judge e-pubs as a category and paper publishers as a category. I expect that in the future we will see the two camps much closer together. Paper books lose market share. Ebooks have already overtaken hardback sales by a margin of almost 2-1 at Amazon which sells only one format of ebook. The business model of the major print publishers only works as long as people continue to buy paperbacks in large numbers. As more people buy in ebook form and the numbers of paperback buyers decline those publishers are going to be forced to adapt -- likely away from huge print runs (an industry standard of 30% of which are destroyed when they aren't sold.)
I don't see it as a long term sustainable business model. Large print run publishers see the light. They already have ebook divisions in place and many of them are converting back lists to ebook format. I've been surprised recently the number of older romance titles that are available in ebook format. AS A CORPORATE LAWYER, ONE WHO HAS WORKED IN THE MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS ARENA, I PREDICT THAT ESTABLISHED PRINT PUBLISHERS WILL MAKE EVER INCREASING INROADS INTO E-PUBLISHING, BECOMING THE DOMINANT FORCE OF THE E-PUBLISHING WORLD, AND ALONG THE WAY, BUYING OUT ALL COMPETITIVE SMALL E-PUBLISHERS AND DRIVING THE OTHERS INTO OBLIVION.

There is a lot to consider. And it isn't really just whether a publisher is an ebook publisher or a paper publisher. It's more of a matter of what the publisher does within the industry...it's whether they value quantity over quality and what they do as a result of that judgment. AGAIN, I DON’T NECESSARILY AGREE WITH THIS, AS I DON’T BELIEVE QUALITY AND QUANTITY ARE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.

SUCCESS FOR A PUBLISHING HOUSE, AND CONCOMITANT SUCCESS FOR ITS STABLE OF AUTHORS, TURNS ON THE EXPERIENCE AND SKILL OF THE EDITORS AT THAT PUBLISHING HOUSE, WHETHER PRINT OR ELECTRONIC.

AND THAT WAS THE POINT OF MY POST.

REGARDS, MADELINE

So, what was my prediction?

"AS A CORPORATE LAWYER, ONE WHO HAS WORKED IN THE MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS ARENA, I PREDICT THAT ESTABLISHED PRINT PUBLISHERS WILL MAKE EVER INCREASING INROADS INTO E-PUBLISHING, BECOMING THE DOMINANT FORCE OF THE E-PUBLISHING WORLD, AND ALONG THE WAY, BUYING OUT ALL COMPETITVE SMALL E-PUBLISHERS AND DRIVING THE OTHERS INTO OBLIVION."

Has this happened?

Yes.

Is this happening?

Yes.

So, what is my next prediction?

Editors will hop around, not as a result of the print versus e-publishing industry shift, but as a result of the employer salary versus royalty percentage model.

Agents beware.

It's a new world in publishing.    

Thursday, April 18, 2013

National Anthem by Boston Strong

Photo in Public Domain
The Bedford flag is the oldest known surviving intact flag in the United States. It is celebrated for having been the first U.S. flag flown during the American Revolutionary War, as it is believed to have been carried by Nathaniel Page's outfit of Minutemen to the Old North Bridge in Concord for the Battle of Concord on April 19, 1775.
The Latin motto on the flag, "Vince Aut Morire," means "Conquer or Die."

I went to law school and practiced law in Boston.

The day I was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar, I stood in the Great Meeting Hall at Faneuil Hall. Faneuil Hall is known as the Cradle of Liberty. There is a saying that Massachusetts lawyers take their first breath as lawyers in the Cradle of Liberty. After pledging my oath, I signed my name in the leather ledger of members of the Massachusetts Bar, and as I did so, I thought of some of the great men who had signed their names in the leather ledger and taken their first breath as lawyers in the Great Meeting Hall: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Timothy Pickering, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Louis D. Brandeis, and Charles Francis Adams III.

During my years in Boston, I would often drive through Weymouth and Quincy, or ride the red line between Boston and Braintree, passing the houses of the Adams family. I would think of John Adams who had fought for American independence from Great Britain. I would think of his son, John Quincy Adams, who had seen his mother melt pewter to make bullets for the militia and who had stood with his mother and watched the Battle of Bunker Hill. I would think of all the Americans who had given their lives, their limbs, their bodies and souls for our nation's freedom.

I am a Long Islander by birth and rearing, but a Bostonian by education and training. From my Boston experience, I can say this of the Boston spirit:

No rugged, damp, inhospitable land could starve or freeze the Pilgrims to death. No British king and his redcoats could crush the colonists in revolution. No terrorist bombers can stop the Bostonians from celebrating Patriot's Day. Boston has been, is, and shall forever be the Cradle of Liberty. Bostonians have fought and died, and shall forever fight and die, to preserve the fundamental principles upon which our great nation was founded. It is in their history. It is in their souls. It is in their vision. The rest of us Americans need only look to Bostonians to find our strength in their resolve as they rise from the blood of terror to stand strong against the evil of terrorism.

I once heard our president say that "one of the prettiest sounds on earth" is that of the muezzin calling Muslims to prayer, but I think that one of the prettiest sounds on earth is that of my country's national anthem being sung by Bostonians in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Click here to hear Bostonians singing the national anthem in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings

Monday, February 25, 2013

Old Equipment...Old Data

 By Leif K-Brooks from Brattleboro, Vermont, United States of America (Old computers) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Do you have old computer equipment and floppy disks?

I have several computers, monitors, keyboards, mice, and printers, all of which I don't use except for one. I have a box of computer cords and cables, many of which I have no idea from where they came or to what they belong. Last, but not least, I have hundreds of 3.5 floppy disks filled with data, all of which I value.

Last summer, I said to DH, "We should throw out all that computer equipment that's stored in the basement. Every time you go down, could you bring up something?" He said, "Sure, Reni (that's his name for me)." To this day, he has never brought up one piece for the trash.

It's not that DH is lazy. No, it's that DH is all about holding on to the past. He was a History major at Columbia College. He has (and still fits into!) his hip-hugging, bell-bottom Levi jeans from those days. He has his '79 Camaro stored in his father's garage. He has a pair of round, gold eyeglasses that his father wore during the 1940s. He has more than 30 Brooks Brothers suits and 50 Brooks Brothers shirts (I counted them once in fury because he takes up more than half of our closet) from the 1980s, all of which he still wears and will do so until he dies.

During the past few years, he has often said (when he's getting dressed), "Look at my underwear. It's Brooks Brothers and only three months old, but it's falling apart." On the back of this, I always hear, "But look at this Brooks Brothers suit. It's almost 30 years old and still perfect."

He marvels over the 1950s refrigerator in his father's basement, which he acknowledges is an energy guzzler while pointing out that it frosts up everything like a refrigerator should.

He laments the current administration, which he believes has no understanding of the history or fundamental principles of our nation.

As I am a collector of antique furniture, paintings, lamps, and Persian rugs, you can appreciate our mutual attraction.

So, when DH called me from his office a couple of days before Christmas and said, "My computer won't turn on," I knew we'd been swept up in a maelstrom of calamity.

DH got his office desktop in 2001. Yes, it was almost twelve years old! It was a Dell Dimension 4100 with the Millennium Operating System. Yes, the Millennium Operating System! Three years ago, I told him, "You'd better back up all your data because one day your computer might just not turn on." He replied, "I still have the letters on all the keys on my old cream-colored keyboard. That's more than you can say of your new black one."

Had he backed up the data (now, twelve years of data)? No, probably because he didn't know how to do so.

I told him to bring the tower home with him. He thought an IT friend could fix it. I knew he had lost his computer for good and I had to get the data off.

I took it to the friend who confirmed the sad news. He couldn't install the hard drive in his computer to get the data off. I went home with the tower in my arms. DH was so overwhelmed with the news (not so much with the grave issue of the possibly lost data, but merely with the loss of his beloved computer) that he went up to bed. I said to my eldest son, "Go down to the basement and bring up the two old towers and a power cord from the box of cords."

I removed the hard drive from DH's tower. Before that moment, I had never opened up a tower. I tried to install it in the old cream-colored tower first, but discovered that the cable wasn't compatible with DH's hard drive. Then I turned to the old black tower. I installed the hard drive, but had to restart the tower several times before the processor recognized the installation. I connected a dual USB connector to the single USB port on the back. It took several hours, but I copied all the data from DH's hard drive onto an external drive, then copied it from the external drive onto my desktop.

Needless to say, I was glad DH hadn't carried any of the old computer equipment up from the basement last summer.

This incident with DH's data got me thinking about my data.

I have those hundreds of floppy disks filled with data. When I bought my desktop a few years ago, I had Dell install a floppy drive for a few bucks because I had those floppies in mind. However, two years ago, my sons crashed my desktop, which required the wiping of the hard drive. A year later, the desktop developed a power source problem, which led to the disconnection of the floppy drive as a simple solution.

I turned to the old towers, both of which have floppy drives. However, while I can open the floppies on the cream-colored tower, I can't copy the documents onto the external drive because there are no USB ports, I can't burn them because the DVD burner isn't operational, and I can't e-mail them because there is no ethernet or wireless connection. More, while the black tower has a floppy, DVD burner, and USB ports, I can't open the documents because the XP Operating System says that it requires the insertion of a disk that I don't have.

I tried my local library, but the the floppy drives and DVD burners have been disabled on all the towers.

I could buy an external floppy drive from Amazon (though I've read reviews that many are secondary market that don't work properly). Or I could see if the power source problem can be fixed and the floppy drive reconnected in my desktop.

Whatever I have to do, I will do.

I will find a way to copy all the data on those hundreds of floppies. I will secure all the data on my desktop and laptop. I will stay on top of securing DH's data. I will never again risk the loss of any data.

Do you have lots of old floppies? Do you have lots of CDs/DVDs? Is all your data secure? Have you brought it along with you from one computer to the next? Do you have a backup?

You mightn't want to let go of all that old computer equipment until you're sure you won't need it ever again!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

"Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true."

                    ~Alfred Lord Tennyson

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We Remember Them

By Denise Gould [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

"We Remember Them"
 
In the rising of the sun and its going down,
We Remember Them.
In the bowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
We Remember Them.
In the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring,
We Remember Them.
In the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer,
We Remember Them.
In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
We Remember Them.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
We Remember Them.
When we are weary and in need of strength,
We Remember Them.
When we are lost and sick of heart,
We Remember Them.
When we have joys and special celebrations we yearn to share,
We Remember Them.
So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are part of us,
We Remember Them.

~From the Jewish Book of Prayer~
 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

New Release: Luscious by Amanda Usen

One of my author friends (who just happens to live only a few miles away from me) has a new release.

LUSCIOUS 

BY AMANDA USEN

Newly divorced chef Olivia Marconi is balanced on the knife-edge of a major meltdown. A week in Italy with Sean, her hot divorce attorney—not to mention the fantastic food and wine—sounds like the perfect getaway. If only she wasn’t there to break her parents’ hearts by quitting the family business. Sean’s attention makes her feel brave, desirable, and adventurous again. But Sean is hiding something, and Olivia is short on trust these days. Can a romantic interlude in Italy turn into something more, or will it all go up in smoke?

Check out these fabulous reviews:

"Readers will really empathize with Usen's heroine, who is on the verge of letting her past ruin her future. The emotion in the novel is palpable and will draw readers in. 4 Stars" - RT Book Reviews

"The travelogue and delectable descriptions of food are satisfying, and sweetheart Sean will appeal to fans of genuinely nice guys. " - Publishers Weekly

"Usen expertly blends engaging characters with a swoon-worthy Italian setting right out of Under the Tuscan Sun (1996) and an abundance of delectably described Italian dishes to create an irresistible literary treat for fans of sizzling hot contemporary romances." - Booklist

"Luscious is a hot and spicy kind of read. It's seductive, with pinches of witty dialogue that leave you wanting just a taste more and not just in the kitchen." - Book Loons

"I can't wait to read what Amanda Usen comes up with next and I will definitely reread this one and savor every moment of Olivia and Sean's love story." - Night Owl Reviews

"All in all, I enjoyed this story! I can't get enough of fun contemporary romps that have "a chance at being happy again" kind of feel. If you love stories full of heart, romance, and a little fun in Italy, Luscious awaits you." - Long and Short Reviews

"Grab yourself a glass of wine and kick back, but be prepared for Luscious to leave you hungry – for both good food and more Usen books" - Booktrib

"What a great second installment in this series by Amanda Usen. Not only has she made this characters unbelievably realistic, but she has made them both so broken that you can't help but love them." - Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews

To get your copy, click HERE.

Congratulations to Amanda Usen!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kelly Fitzpatrick's Pleasant Lake P.D. Coming September 2012!

It's almost here--Pleasant Lake P.D!

I've followed this novel almost since the beginning when I happened to judge Chapter One for a RWA chapter contest. I gave the entry a near perfect score, but it didn't final in the contest (presumably because one or both of the other judges didn't see its promise). However, a couple of months later, a partial did final in the Golden Heart Contest, and subsequently, Medallion Press picked it up for publication.

Pleasant Lake P.D.

By Kelly Fitzpatrick

Alexandria Moreno, parking enforcement officer for the serene town of Pleasant Lake, has signed on with the FBI to nail a gorgeous suspected criminal, Miguel Diaz, who’s passing himself off as a legitimate businessman. Alex’s assignment is to use her feminine wiles, of which she has few, to infiltrate Diaz’s world and find some evidence for a conviction.

To complicate matters, she’s teamed up with Detective Roman Plow, who is her ex-boyfriend, though the FBI doesn’t know it. As they focus on retaliating for past wrongs, real and imagined, their smoldering love/hate relationship brews. They’re not exactly an ideal team.

With her bumbling nature, a steamer trunk full of emotional baggage, and no investigating skills, Alex spends most of her time reminding herself that the tall, dark, and handsome Miguel Diaz is not her real boyfriend and struggling to keep from falling into his bed. As she tries to dig up dirt on her undercover lover, the steamy investigation leads to a fight for her life. But who is behind the attacks?

For more info on the release, click HERE.

Best of luck to Kelly Fitzpatrick!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

It Ain't About How Hard You Can Hit

When I was a teenager, I saw Rocky in the movie theatre. Over the years, I didn't catch the sequels, and to an extent, Rocky slipped away from my consciousness. Then, one day recently, I happened to see an interview of Sylvester Stallone. I discovered that he had not only stared in Rocky, but also written the screenplay. As an author, I perked up. He spoke of all those things of which authors speak: characterization, motivation, etc.

During the interview, Mr. Stallone discussed his disappointment with Rocky V (the final Rocky sequel), and his determination to create a new final sequel that would satisfy fans. Out of his determination came Rocky Balboa. He stirred my curiosity. I had to see what he'd done with Rocky thirty years later. I watched Rocky Balboa, and I so loved it that I went back and watched Rocky for the first time in years, then Rocky Balboa for a second time.

In Rocky Balboa, Rocky, who is now 59, decides to fight the current world heavyweight champion in an exhibition bout to rid himself of his inner beast (his grief over the loss of his wife). Robert, Rocky’s son, tries to dissuade him from returning to the ring, not because he fears for his father’s safety, but because he blames his own failings on his father's success. Rocky replies that, to succeed in life, "it ain't about how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward."

I think the scene between Rocky and Robert is profound, but whether because Rocky’s words are so true to his character, or whether because they reflect my own personal philosophy, I couldn't say.

Click HERE to watch the scene.

After the ten-round bout, when Robert embraces a bloody and battered, but still standing, Rocky, he says, "That was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen, Pop." Rocky's lines are deeply moving, whereas Robert's line is emotionally satisfying. Moments later, fans are asked to say goodbye to Rocky...forever.

Rocky Balboa takes us full circle to Rocky.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Royal Princess Art Collection

© 2011 S. Prysant

Isn't this a spectacular photo?

My best friend, S. Prysant, took this photo (which she named "Nimb") at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark. She entered it into the 1,000 Memories at Sea Contest. The contest received 57,000 entries. Today, she heard that her photo is one of the 1,000 photos selected to be part of the new Royal Princess Art Collection.

Congratulations, BF!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Have You Supported the Arts Today?

This past Saturday, I visited with members of the Western New York Romance Writers, a local chapter of Romance Writers of America. I chatted with several members, some of whom made me think of the inherent difficulty of building a brand as a published author. In this virtual age, the golden days of publisher promotion are long gone (except perhaps for the big names), and the changing landscape of publishing requires authors to put their shoulders to the promotion wheel (in addition to turning out numerous titles every year). With this in mind, I'd like to introduce you to some authors:

 COLLISION by Cassandra Carr

Olympic medal winning figure skater Leah Fitzpatrick, dubbed “The Ice Queen,” is on the downslope of her career when she finds herself roped into a joint promo gig on the professional bull riders’ tour. She’s paired with “The King of Rodeo,” Brady Parrish, and although his looks could stop traffic, she’s got a future to worry about that doesn’t leave room for knocking boots with the sexy rider. No matter how hot he is.

Brady is at the top of his profession. He’s living the good life, and has no idea anything is missing until the cool Leah comes along. He sees something in her that hints at an underlying fire, and sets out to prove her nickname wrong. In the midst of their steamy affair, he falls hard. Blindsided by the potent combination of Leah’s beauty and vulnerability, Brady is determined to melt “The Ice Queen’s” heart.

To buy Collision, click HERE.

To learn more about Cassandra Carr, click HERE.


SCRUMPTIOUS by Amanda Usen

Joe Rafferty is just as mouthwatering as the food he cooks. But if he thinks he’s going to waltz in and take over her kitchen, he’s denser than a thick slice of chocolate-ripple cheesecake. Marly has invested too much of her life in Chameleon to hand off the restaurant to someone else—especially a cocky-as-all-get-out superstar chef.  But there’s no denying the man knows how to light her fire. Question is: Can she have the sizzle without feeling the burn?

To buy Scrumptious, click HERE.

To learn more about Amanda Usen, click HERE.


DEADLY REFLECTION by Nancy Kay

Philly Detective Nick McGraw's much needed vacation comes to a halt following his encounter with upscale spa proprietress Cassi Burke. Instincts tell the seasoned homicide cop Cassi didn’t kill the dead man at her feet. But Nick’s duty bound to deliver her to local police, never suspecting Cassi's brief moment of fame will make her the target of a psychotic stalker. Though intrigued by Cassi, Nick is not looking for forever, and he senses Cassi is a forever kind of girl. Attraction escalates, putting their feelings for one another, the silent threat to Cassi's life, and Nick's involvement in the unsolved murder case on a collision course.

To buy Deadly Reflection, click HERE.

To learn more about Nancy Kay, click HERE


WINDSWEPT by Cynthia Racette

When husband David is unfaithful and commits the ultimate betrayal by bringing his mistress onboard Windswept, Caroline’s world is shattered. He leaves her, and she is forced to rely solely on herself for the first time in her life. She has to be a single parent to her daughter, Lily, and must decide if she can forgive David for tearing her family apart.

As David and Caroline work to put their marriage back together, events and other people conspire against them. As their relationship begins to heal, the couple is caught in a horrific storm on the Chesapeake Bay. They want a chance to love again, but Mother Nature might have other ideas.

To buy Windswept, click HERE.

To learn more about Cynthia Racette, click HERE


THE WITCH OF THE WESTERN GATE: DRAGON'S GIFT by P.K. Brent

Life is complicated enough when you're a teenage witch and working for you family's "Buggyman Pest Exterminator" business, going after paranormal pests in attics, walls, and barns. Then the Head Broom on the Paranormal Council tries to fix you up with her creepy vampire nephew. Your gorgeous cousin moves into town and is after your werewolf boyfriend. Plus you're ordered by the Paranormal Council to exterminate an infestation of cute little water dragons. As if that's not enough, demons are trying to take over the Western Gate!

To buy The Witch of the Western Gate: Dragon's Gift, click HERE.

To learn more about P.K. Brent, click HERE.

 
 RANDOM ACTS by Allison Stone

Second chances can have a terrible sense of timing. 

As a child, watching her mother always pick the wrong man left Danielle Carson wary of opening her heart to anyone—except Patrick Kingsley. But circumstances came between them and left Danielle with a broken heart. Now she buries the pain of what might have been by channeling all her energy into her career. When a family crisis brings her back to her hometown, she is forced to face the past—and the disturbing fact that her sister’s car accident was staged to mask a brutal beating.

A police officer and widower, Patrick guards his heart as fiercely as he guards his beloved daughter. Seeing Danielle again unexpectedly reignites their old flame, but no way will he introduce a woman into his daughter’s life. Certainly not one whose values on faith and family are so different from his own.
 
To buy Random Acts, click HERE.

To learn more about Allison Stone, click HERE.


RISK IT by Natasha Moore

On the outside, Amy has the American dream. Two busy kids, a job she loves, a big house thanks to her husband’s climb up the corporate ladder. What she hasn’t had in a long time…is sex. Sure, she’s too exhausted at night to think about it, but maybe Will’s long hours at work aren’t the real reason he rarely touches her anymore.

Feeling her marriage teetering on the edge, she rents the voyeur room at Paolo’s Playhouse. Maybe bringing back the memory of the one wicked thing they used to do together will relight the sparks. Will loves his wife, but she’s never been one to take chance—except for the time before kids, when they’d camp out in a club’s back booth, getting all worked up watching the dirty dancers. Their careers have seriously cut into their “us” time, and if she’s booked them a sexual playroom, it sounds like she’s serious about solving the problem.

When Will shows up way, way late, Amy wonders why she bothered, and if her plan to relight the flame has only made it painfully clear that it’s too late to try.

To buy Risk It, click HERE.

To learn more about Natasha Moore, click HERE.

***
 
We have such a treasure of artists in Western New York.

For those who don't know much about WNY, it has always been a haven for artists. Among many others, architects E.B. Greene, Louise Blanchard Bethune, and Frank Lloyd Wright, authors F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain, Leslie Fieldler, and Joyce Carol Oates, musicians Rick James, the Goo Goo Dolls, and Spyro Gryo, and actors/actresses James Whitmore, Katharine Cornell, and Lucille Ball had/have a WNY connection. Indeed, at the age of seventeen, I came to WNY to study with American poets Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley, and Joel Oppenheimer who'd found their own haven in WNY.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Long Gone, But Not Forgotten



Photograph by Popperfoto/Getty Images

One hundred years ago tonight at 11:40 pm, the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg during its maiden voyage to New York City, and by 2:20 am the following morning, she sank in the North Atlantic Ocean about 450 miles southeast of Halifax, Canada.

A distant cousin, Mr. J. Smyth of Rostrevor, County Down, Ireland was a crew member. He boarded the RMS Titanic at Belfast on March 29, 1912, but disembarked at Southampton on April 10, 1912.

Another distant cousin, Miss J. Smyth of Kilcoghy, County Cavan, Ireland was a passenger. She boarded the RMS Titanic at Queenstown on April 11, 1912, made it into Lifeboat Number 13, was rescued at sea by the RMS Carpathia, and disembarked the RMS Carpathia in New York City on April 18, 1912.

And a third distant cousin, Mr. T. Smyth of Caltra, County Galway, Ireland was a passenger. He boarded the RMS Titanic at Queenstown on April 11, 1912 and died in the sinking on April 15, 1912. His body was never recovered.

The RMS Titanic was built by Harland and Wolff Shipbuilders of Belfast, Ireland, the birthplace of my paternal grandfather, Mr. R. Smyth. The Irish sacrificed some of their best blood in the building, and on the sinking, of the RMS Titanic.

In all, 1,517 passengers and crew of the RMS Titanic perished on April 15, 1912. May they rest in peace. And may those who have disturbed their watery grave for profit answer to God on Judgment Day.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Double Finalist in the 2011 Wallflower Contest!


The results are in for the preliminary round of the 2011 Wallflower Contest. I am a double finalist again this year. Here are my titles and categories:

The Loving of Lord Loxley ~ Finalist, The Rose Division (prior first place manuscripts only)

Royal Prince, Reluctant Princess ~ Finalist, Genres Division: Series Category

Congratulations to all finalists!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Interview of Author Lorraine Nelson

I'm thrilled to post an interview of author Lorraine Nelson following the recent release of her newest book, Covert Mission: Undercover Cop, Book Two in her Thunder Creek Ranch series. I met Lorraine a few years ago, and since then, I've discovered beyond all other things her kindness toward others and her passion for writing. Here is what she has to say about her life and writing:

Hi, Lorraine, please tell us about your background.

I’m a Cancer sign and therefore, pretty much a homebody. I have three terrific sons, four wonderful grandsons and a precious granddaughter, with another grandbaby due next month. When my children were younger, I wrote for their age group, now I write for adults.

Did you always want to be an author?

Yes, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing stories or poetry.

Which authors did you read while growing up?

My babysitting money always went toward Hardy Boys books. I was a great fan. I also read all of the Anne of Green Gables books. At age 14 or so, I discovered Mary Higgins-Clark and Harlequin.

Why Hardy Boys, not Nancy Drew?

 LOL, I was very much a tomboy and Nancy Drew was too tame for me.

Which Harlequin lines captured your interest?

All of them! I read everything I could get my hands on…still do. :) They used to have a line called Shadows, Intrigue now, I think, and Temptation. Those were my favorites back then.

What authors have influenced your writing?

I’d have to say Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel and Mary Higgins-Clark. Love their books.

When did you begin to write romance novels? Why? What is it about the genre that appeals to you?

I had stopped writing for several years. As a single parent, the kids and the full-time job had to come first. I began writing seriously in 2009 after having my left thumb amputated. Typing helped regain the flexibility in that hand. Even though I’m a two-time divorcee, I believe in the possibilities of love and a happy ever after. I enjoy reading a good mystery and romance, so putting them both together to craft stories of romantic suspense seems natural.

Do you consider yourself a contemporary western romantic suspense author?

Mostly, yes, although I have written novels in other genres. This is my only series featuring cowboys, though. I’ve also written and self-published two Christmas stories, His Christmas Wish, a sweet novella, and Mistletoe & Mr. Hoe, a full-length involving some suspense. In addition to these, I’ve written seven other novels in the past 2 ½ years.

What was your first sale?

My first sale was Zakia and the Cowboy, Book 1 in my Thunder Creek Ranch series. It was released by Evernight Publishing on October 5th, 2011.

How did your first sale come about?

I’d heard about Evernight through Facebook friends and loved their covers, so I submitted.

How has being a published author changed your life so far?

It’s very rewarding. I’ve received some excellent reader reviews and it’s thrilling to know my work entertains other people besides my family and friends, who may or may not be prejudiced in my favor. The fact that quite a number of them have been asking for the sequel, makes my heart thump with delight

I’m busier than I used to be, for sure. Editing and promoting take up a lot of time, but I’m loving it. Writing and promo is something I can do from home, which is a real bonus, given our cold Canadian winters.

Tell us about your newest release.

While writing Zakia’s story, Sam and Blake became such memorable characters that I knew I’d have to tell their story. That’s when the idea of a series came to me. Covert Mission: Undercover Cop became Book Two in the Thunder Creek Ranch series.

Sam is ex-military, released on a medical discharge after losing her right arm. She’s feisty, independent and adorable, has overcome her physical disabilities, but past memories haunt her. Blake is a perfect match for Sam. He’s a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and owns a horse ranch. He’s strong, caring, patient and protective, although the latter irks Sam to no end.

The following is the basis for their story:

Two cops have been murdered, two convicts escape. Samantha Muldoon and Blake Northrup pair up to protect their friends. Will their attraction to each other hinder their effectiveness or distract them from their job? Can it grow into something lasting, or will previous hurt keep them apart?

Can you give us an excerpt of Covert Mission: Undercover Cop?

Sure! This is the beginning of Chapter One:

“What on Earth have you packed in this one?” Blake said as he hefted a box to go to the truck.

“If I can pack it and stack it, you’ve got nothing worth complaining about,” said Samantha in that brusque “don’t mess with me” tone she used around most people. Since losing her arm and receiving a medical discharge from the army, Sam fought harder than ever to prove her self-sufficiency, especially around men.

“I’m not, but a word of warning wouldn’t come amiss.”

“So sorry, Blake. I’ll be sure to label the heavy ones as ‘women weight only’ from now on.”

“Huh! I don’t believe you could lift it yourself, let alone carry it all the way to the truck.”

That did it! “What’s your wager?” She thrived on their little wagers. Blake was so much fun to tease and a good loser to boot.

“Dinner, Friday night. Loser pays.”

“Throw in a movie and you’ve got a deal.” This was a sure bet. She’d enjoy his company and not have to spend Friday night alone.

“Dinner and a movie it is,” he smirked, handing the box off to Sam.

“Great! I’ll look forward to a relaxing evening since it seems I have to handle all the heavy work around here.” Smiling, she waltzed out through the kitchen door and met Luke, Blake’s friend, on his way back in. She’d been introduced to both men through her friend, Zakia. Luke and Zakia had recently remarried after an estrangement of several years and she and Blake had offered to help her move.

“Here, Sam. I can take that for you.”

“Not on your life, cowboy. This box in the truck gets me dinner and a movie.”

“You and Blake at it again?”

“Of course!” She chuckled.

“Why don’t you cut him a little slack? He’s only trying to be a gentleman.”

“That may well be, but I get a rise out of him so easy I can’t resist.”

“What would you do if he asked you out on a real date?”

“What?” she shrieked. “He wouldn’t. Blake knows I don’t date.”

“Uh, huh. Ain’t that the truth.”

“Well, he does.”

“I know, Sam. Far be it from me to thwart your ‘no dating’ scene.”

“What do you mean by that?” she called back as she set the box down on the tailgate of Luke’s truck.

“Nothing much, but for two people who aren’t dating, you sure seem to go out a lot.” He chuckled, walking inside and letting the door swing shut behind him.

Sam stood and stared after him for a moment, thinking about what he’d said. He was right. She did accompany Blake on a lot of outings, but they were friends. Why shouldn’t they attend functions and things together? It beat going alone. And he was good company.

Still, if people were starting to talk—classifying them as a couple—she shuddered, maybe it was time to back off. She didn’t want him to get the wrong idea. Didn’t want to have to explain…nope! Not going there. The past was right where it belonged, in the past. She’d dealt with it and made her choice. There was no turning back but still, she couldn’t ward off a niggling doubt.

Blake came out of the house then carrying another carton of Zakia’s things. Her gaze tracked his movements. He sure was a handsome devil.

He greeted her with a disarming grin. “So you made it to the truck, I see.”

“Yes, I did, but then, you knew I would,” she said, suddenly realizing it as the truth when Blake’s face turned red.

“How could I know? That box was damned heavy.” He turned to load his box on the truck. “I do like the way you rise to a challenge though.”

“Is that so?”

He straightened to face her, his smile bordering on a smirk. “Yep, so we’re on for Friday night?”

“Nope. At least, not this Friday. I’m busy.”

Blake scowled, his expression stating that he was not pleased with her reply. “Doing what?”

She thought fast. “The shop needs painting, so when I close for the weekend, I’ll need to get at it.”

“I can help.”

“If I needed your help, I’d ask for it. Haven’t you figured that out by now?”

“Well, excuse me if I’m trying to be neighborly.”

“That’s another thing.” His eyes flared—with anger? Something else? She softened her tone, not wanting to appear ungrateful. “We’re not exactly neighbors. For someone who lives an hour away, you seem to be in Calgary a lot these days. What gives?”

“You know I’m collaborating on Grayson’s case. Why do you ask?”

“Every Friday?” she asked, a skeptical tone in her voice.

“Yeah, it gets me out of the office. Why all the questions?”

Could that really be all there was to it? “Just that I don’t want you going out of your way to help me. I don’t like owing anybody anything.”

He walked closer, close enough to touch, but he didn’t. She waited, knowing he had something to say and wished he’d just get it over with.

“You don’t owe me anything. Is it so hard for you to accept that I enjoy spending time with you?”

Yes! No! She schooled her features into a polite mask. “I don’t know.”

“I thought we were friends.”

“We are, but people are starting to talk.”

“About us? Is that so bad?” he asked in that low, sexy voice of his.

“Blake, you know I don’t date. I don’t do relationships and commitment. Friendship is all I can handle. All I’ll ever have to offer.” She fought to keep her eyes from tearing up. No way would she cry in front of this man or anyone else for that matter. Zakia wasn’t even privy to her darkest secrets. She was a rough, tough, independent woman and intended to keep it that way.

“I think you’re cutting yourself short, Sam. Life is for living.”

“And I’m living it my way. I thought you understood.” She started to walk away then turned and looked back, catching his concerned yet puzzled expression. “Come on. Get your ass in gear, Northrup. We have more boxes to pack and lug.”

“Yes, ma’am!” He saluted her then caught up in time to open the door for her.

She accepted the gesture gracefully for once, knowing she’d already spouted off enough for one day.

What are you working on now?

Book 3, Trouble at Thunder Creek, my NaNo project, is almost complete. From there, I’ll be diving straight into Book 4, Leah’s Child. Then edit and sub in December, after NaNo.

When you begin writing a book, do you have the story all outlined in your mind or do you wait and see where the characters take you?

The characters definitely lead the story. I do up character sheets with all the specifics, then a brief outline covering the GMC and location, and start writing. Quite often the characters veer off, but that’s the fun of writing. I never fully know where they’re going to take me or how the book will end.

What would you like readers to know about you?

I’m a romantic at heart! I love baking and gardening. My favorite movies of all time are Gone With the Wind and Dirty Dancing. Favorite book, The Proud Breed, a three generational saga written by Celeste De Blasis.

How can readers get in touch with you?

I love hearing from my readers! It’s important to know what works and doesn’t work for them as I continue to craft stories of love and mystery.

http://www.lorrainenelson.weebly.com/
http://www.lorrainenelson.weebly.com/
http://www.facebook.com/LorraineNelson.Author
http://twitter.com/#!/lornelca
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5254629.Lorraine_Nelson
http://www.amazon.com/Lorraine-Nelson/e/B005XMAYFQ/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Thank you for having me here today, Madeline. It’s been fun.

One commenter will receive a free download, their choice, Thunder Creek Ranch Book 1, Zakia and the Cowboy, or Book 2, Covert Mission: Undercover Cop (releasing Nov 28th). The winner will be announced on December 3rd. You must be a follower of both blogs, Madeline’s and mine. So leave your comments and/or questions. I’ll do my best to answer. :)

Lorraine, thanks for stopping by my blog, and best of luck with your newest release!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Winner of the 2011 Golden Gateway Contest!



The results are in for the final round of the 2011 Golden Gateway Contest. Here are my title, category, and placement:

Beneath the Veil ~ First Place, Single Title Romance Category (FULL MANUSCRIPT REQUESTED BY GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING)

You might think I'd be used to all the excitement of contest finals by now, especially as this was my 28th contest final during the past three years, but in truth, I find each one more precious than the last.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Finalist for the 2010 Contest Diva Tiara Award, Author with the Most Contest Finals Category and Author with the Most Titles Category


I was a finalist for the 2010 Contest Diva Tiara Award, Author with the Most Contest Finals Category and Author with the Most Titles Category. This was for Aliya Arabesque, The Loving of Lord Loxley, Deus ex Nosferatu, and Royal Prince, Relucant Princess having been finalists in 17 writing contests during 2010. I didn't win the tiara for either category (the author who won for the most contest finals had 18). Yet, for the second year in a row, I was named an official contest diva. Wow!

Photo: By Siroos777 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Finalist in the 2011 Golden Gateway Contest!


The results are in for the preliminary round of the 2011 Golden Gateway Contest. I have an entry that is a finalist. Here are the title and category:

Beyond the Veil ~ Finalist, Single Title Romance Category

Congratulations to all finalists!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Writing and the Law, Part III: Pen Names, Copyrights, and Business Entities


I belong to several writing loops. During my travels, from time to time, I see statements of the law that are inaccurate. The other day, I came across a discussion about pen names, copyright notices, and business entities on one of my loops. My primary area of expertise is business law (corporate and securities), and my secondary area is intellectual property (copyright and trademark). So these posts couldn’t help but catch my attention.

While I was glad to see that some of the statements were accurate, I was troubled to see that some weren’t. For example, I read statements to this effect: (1) an author’s legal name has to be used in the copyright notice; (2) a corporation or LLC is no big deal to form; (3) an author can use a DBA to establish a pen name; (4) a corporation or LLC can use a pen name without consequence; (5) a LLC provides better protection from personal liability than a corporation; (6) a business entity can protect an author’s privacy; and (7) an agent can advise an author on legal matters.

The above seven statements are all false.

Let’s take a twirl around some of the concepts.

A. COPYRIGHT, COPYRIGHT NOTICE, AND COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION

An author's work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form.


When an author uses a copyright notice on her ms, or includes one at the bottom of a post on her blog, she gives notice to the readers that she claims a copyright for that writing. Here’s some general information about the copyright notice on the U.S. Copyright Office's website:

"Use of the notice may be important because it informs the public that the work is protected by copyright, identifies the copyright owner, and shows the year of first publication. Furthermore, in the event that a work is infringed, if a proper notice of copyright appears on the published copy or copies to which a defendant in a copyright infringement suit had access, then no weight shall be given to such a defendant’s interposition of a defense based on innocent infringement in mitigation of actual or statutory damages, except as provided in section 504(c)(2) of the copyright law. Innocent infringement occurs when the infringer did not realize that the work was protected. The use of the copyright notice is the responsibility of the copyright owner and does not require advance permission from, or registration with, the Copyright Office."

For more general info on copyrights, see http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.pdf


However, print publishers register (in the name of the author) every work they'll publish in the U.S. by filing an application with the U.S. Copyright Office. In fact, those same publishers will take advantage of the protections of the law afforded by every country in which they'll publish the work (think Harlequin). But let's focus on U.S. law.

The U.S. Copyright Office has some wonderful circulars about copyright. Here is a statement from the above-referenced circular on the advantages of registration of a work:

"Even though registration is not a requirement for protection, the copyright law provides several inducements or advantages to encourage copyright owners to make registration.

Among these advantages are the following:

• Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.

• Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U. S. origin.

• If made before or within five years of publication, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.

• If registration is made within three months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney's fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.

• Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the U. S. Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies."

So, no, a publisher doesn't just include a copyright notice on a page inside the book. If they're a print publisher, they'll have put their dollars behind the editing, production, distribution and perhaps even promotion of a book. They'll want to afford themselves, or place the author in a position to afford herself/himself, of the maximum protection under the law.

I wonder, though, how many e-publishers are filing copyright applications on behalf of their authors. This isn't to say that an e-published author doesn't have the same reason for wanting her work registered as a print published author, just that an e-publisher mightn't have the same incentive to expend the time and money to register a work as a print publisher has. [Note: See postscript below for follow-up information on this question.]


Moving on, contrary to what someone said, an author isn't required to use her/his legal name in a copyright notice. Likewise, an author isn’t required to register a work with the U.S. Copyright Office in her/his legal name. Here’s part of the instructions for filling in the author's name on Form TX (literary copyright application):

“If the work is “pseudonymous” you may: (1) leave the line blank; or (2) give the pseudonym and identify it as such (for example: “Huntley Haverstock, pseudonym”); or (3) reveal the author’s name, making clear which is the real name and which is the pseudonym (for example, “Judith Barton, whose pseudonym is Madeline Elster”).”

For more on Form TX, see http://www.copyright.gov/forms/formtx.pdf

The best example I can give you off the top of my head is Penny Jordan. Penny writes for Harlequin Presents. Her copyright notice is in the name of Penny Jordan, but her legal name is Penny Halsall. Penny uses the third choice on the application—“Penny Jordan, pseud. of Penny Halsall.” To see the info on one of her recent copyright applications, click on http://cocatalog.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?Search_Arg=Penny+Jordan&Search_Code=NALL&PID=faRvBkjY-QB2061NOY5seZwQlD&SEQ=20110531065603&CNT=25&HIST=1 

B. THE OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD DBA

A DBA isn’t a form of business entity. The primary purpose of a DBA is to provide the public with the names of the owners behind a fictitious name being used by a business. In New York, any sole proprietor, corporation, LLC, or other business entity that uses a fictitious name in connection with a business must file, or cause to be filed, via the Secretary of State, a certificate of assumed name in the clerk's office of every county in which they do business. There are 63 counties in New York.

Someone suggested that an author could form a corporation or LLC, then use a pen name (which would be the "product" of the corporation or LLC) on the cover of books so that the author's real name would show up nowhere. The pen name wouldn’t be the “product” of the corporation or LLC. The pen name would be a fictitious name used by the corporation or LLC. So, the corporation or LLC would have to file a certificate of assumed name to use the pen name, once again in every county in which it does business.

And that’s the most important point of this section. A corporation and LLC (as well as a sole proprietor) must file, or cause to be filed, a certificate of assumed name in every county in which it does business under a fictitious name. More, as you'll see in the next section, an author's legal name will always show up somewhere.

C. SOME TYPES OF BUSINESS ENTITIES

The formation and use of corporations and LLCs by authors isn't all that common. There are certain requirements for, and inherent costs to, the formation and continuing operation of business entities as well as limitations to their possible benefit to an author.

Let’s take a cursory look at some of them (and I do mean cursory because I could write/talk at length about each of them). My comments will be skewed toward New York because, although I’m admitted to practice in three jurisdictions, I currently practice in New York. However, I’d be surprised to discover that most, if not all, other states don’t have similar provisions.

1. Business Corporation

For this section, let’s assume we’re talking a Subchapter S corporation, not a C corporation such as IBM.

The formation of a corporation isn’t that costly (in terms of filing fee payable to the secretary of state), but there are many post-formation requirements. Someone suggested that an author could just use an incorporation service, and someone else suggested that an author shouldn't do this. There are on-line companies that charge as little as $99 for the filing of a certificate of incorporation. The bottom line on this is that you get what you pay for because this filing is only the birth of a legal entity. Think of what comes after the birth of a child. A service company doesn't even give you a diaper and blanket in which to bring the baby home.

The filing of a certificate of incorporation is just the first in a lifetime of documents for a corporation. Following the incorporation, the corporation must adopt initial authorizing resolutions (the ratification of all actions by the incorporator, the election of the first board of directors, the election of officers, the authorization of the treasurer to open a bank account and apply with the IRS for a taxpayer identification number, the authorization of the president and secretary to issue stock, the adoption of by-laws, the procurement of checks and other items, etc.). After the adoption of the authorizing resolutions, the appropriate individual(s) must carry out the acts authorized.

In addition, after the initial resolutions, anytime a corporation is to undertake certain actions, the director(s) and/or officer(s) must adopt a resolution. So, for example, if the corporation is going to enter into a significant contract, the director(s) will have to authorize the president to execute that contract. These formalities are required even if only one person is involved in the corporation.

Moving on, there are external filings as well as internal actions.

New York corporations have to file annual franchise tax reports and pay franchise taxes even if the corporation doesn’t do business or loses money that year.

A corporation has to file a biennial statement.

A corporation has to file a federal and state corporate tax return. The corporation files a corporate tax return on Form 1120S, then each shareholder's share of the profit or loss of the corporation is recorded on a Schedule K-1, then the K-1 information for each shareholder is reported on Line 17 of the shareholder's Form 1040. This applies even to a corporation with just one shareholder. Of course, the state has a similar set up. So, are you willing to file a subchapter S federal and state tax return as well as a federal and state individual tax return every year?

Keep in mind that the primary reason for incorporation (i.e. protection from personal liability) requires that a corporation comply with all legal requirements in order to have this shield of protection.

Lastly, an author who incorporates might think they’ve shielded their true identity from their readers. But consider this scenario: Romance Reader happens to notice Riante, Inc. (a company formed by an author) in the copyright notice in a novel, and curious about the author, does a quick on-line search. To see what Romance Reader can discover in about a minute, click on http://www.sos.arkansas.gov/corps/search_all.php, type Riante, Inc. into the name box, and once the next pages opens, click on Riante, Inc. Sorry I can't give you a direct link, but as the Arkansas Secretary of State adds corporations, the links change.

By the way, I see that Riante, Inc. has no fictitious name filings in its state. So Riante, Inc. may use only its legal name in connection with all matters.

And just by typing the words “in its state,” I’ve thought of yet something else. If a corporation does business in any state other than its state of incorporation (and the definition of “doing business” is often loosely construed), it must file an application for a certificate of authority to do business as a foreign corporation in those other states.

And what if you don't want to have the corporation any longer? Well, you have to dissolve it in accordance with the requirements of the law. Yes, think of the effort and cost of a funeral and burial.

2. Limited Liability Company (LLC)

To form an LLC in New York, there's a publication requirement (i.e. the notice of formation) in addition to a filing requirement, which can add substantially to the cost of formation. In New York, the county clerk(s) must designate the two newspapers in which the notice must run. If she/he/they choose a larger newspaper, an author could be looking at several hundred dollars and up just to fulfill the notice requirement.

After the filing of the formation papers, the LLC must adopt an operating agreement (just to give you an idea, the operating agreement for most of my clients has ranged 35 to 40 pages), apply for a TIN (taxpayer ID number), open a bank account, order checks, issue member certificates, etc. It isn’t unlike the initial work for a corporation.

Unlike the corporation, the LLC is a little looser in terms of internal operation.

As with a corporation, though, there are external filings. For tax purposes, a single member LLC (SMLLC) can be treated as either a corporation or a single member “disregarded entity.” To be treated under federal law as a corporation, the SMLLC has to file Form 8832 and elect to be classified as a corporation. An SMLLC that does not elect to be a corporation will be classified by the existing federal guidance as a “disregarded entity” which is taxed as a sole proprietor for income tax purposes. If the LLC is a sole proprietor for federal tax purposes, the entity will most likely have to file Form 1040 Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business (Sole Proprietorship). If the business has net income over $400, it may be required to file Schedule SE, Self-Employment Tax.

Contrary to what someone said, the LLC doesn’t afford better protection from personal liability than a corporation. As with corporations, a LLC must follow all legal requirements to afford its member(s) protection from personal liability. By the way, in my experience, accountants tend to push their clients toward forming a LLC...and not necessarily because it's a better form of business entity.

As with a corporation, if you don't want to have an LLC any longer, you'll have to trudge down a similar path to the graveyard.

3. General Partnership

By law, a partnership requires two or more partners. Contrary to what someone said, it isn’t that a person “can’t easily form” a partnership with one person...but rather that a person can’t form a partnership at all without a second person. Based on my experience, the use of partnerships started to fall out of favor in the late 1980s. Today, investors prefer a corporation or LLC. Doctors often use a PC (a professional services corporation) or a PLLC (a professional services limited liability company). Lawyers are about the only ones who still use the partnership model, but even so, they now form LLPs (limited liability partnerships).

4. Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

Someone asked me to cover the LLP as a possible entity for authors.

First, two or more persons must form a partnership under state partnership law.

Second, in some states, only certain partnerships may register to become limited liability partnerships. For example, in New York, LLPs can be formed only by law, accounting, engineering, and architectural firms. In fact, under the law, each of the partners of the partnership must be a professional authorized by law to render the professional service, such as a lawyer licensed to practice by the New York State Bar.

So now you know why I didn’t cover LLPs in my first post.

However, for those still interested, I’ll give a little more basic information.

Again, I'll skewer this toward New York, but other states (those that have enacted LLP statutes) may have a similar set-up.

In New York, the formation of an LLP is accomplished by the filing of a certificate of registration with the Division of Corporations. As with the LLC, there is a publication requirement, which can add to the costs of the creation of this type of business entity. Upon completion of the publication requirement, the LLP must file affidavits of publication with the Division of Corporations.

In addition, an LLP must make additional periodic filings with the Division of Corporations. For example, an LLP must file an LLP Statement within sixty days prior to the fifth anniversary of the effective date of their registration or notice of registration, and every five years thereafter as required by New York Partnership Law.

As to tax filings, just as with a corporation and LLC, an LLP has to file an annual federal and state tax return. The LLP files a partnership tax return on Form 1065, then each partner’s share of the profit or loss of the partnership is recorded on a Schedule K-1, then the K-1 information for each partner is reported on the partner’s individual Form 1040. The state has a similar set-up.

Of course, as with any business entity, an LLP may need to make other tax-related filings which depend on a host of factors.

So, why do partners of a law, accounting, engineering, or architectural firm in New York elect to register as a LLP?

In the old days, if one partner was sued for malpractice and the plaintiff got a judgment, the other partners were personally liable for the satisfaction of that judgment. But the partners of an LLP aren’t personally liable for the actions or omissions of their partners if they are sued. For example, if one partner has a malpractice lawsuit brought against him, the other partners won’t be personally liable for any judgment made against that partner. This is what makes the LLP so attractive to professionals.

Of course, all partners are responsible for the general obligations of the partnership, such as bills and expenses.

5. Overall

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen single member LLCs and single shareholder corporations run afoul of the legal requirements, probably because the single member/shareholder thought all she/he had to do was file a certificate of incorporation (corporation) or articles of organization (LLC). No, there's more to it than that...and more to it than an author might want or need.

So, if you comply with all legal requirements, what do you get for incorporation or formation? Yes, you get protection from personal liability (provided you comply with all requirements), but ask yourselves whether you're running the kind of business where the need for protection from personal liability outweighs the costs inherent in formation and operation (for this question, think company that puts products into play such as Gerber or Graco, or company that invites the public onto its premises such as a department store, or company that has employees, trucks, and planes in motion such as Federal Express). On the other hand, for an author who'll generate money from film merchandising, etc. (think J.K. Rowling), I could definitely see the benefit of forming a corporation or LLC.

D. DURATION OF COPYRIGHT TERM

Now, let’s move away from corporate and tax law and back over to copyright law. As a final thought, I’d like to point out that an author’s choice of name vis-à-vis legal or pseudonymous, and an author’s choice of business entity, can have an impact on the duration of the copyright. Here’s the actual law on duration:

"§ 302. Duration of copyright: Works created on or after January 1, 1978

(a) In General. — Copyright in a work created on or after January 1, 1978, subsists from its creation and, except as provided by the following subsections, endures for a term consisting of the life of the author and 70 years after the author's death.

(b) Joint Works. — In the case of a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire, the copyright endures for a term consisting of the life of the last surviving author and 70 years after such last surviving author's death.

(c) Anonymous Works, Pseudonymous Works, and Works Made for Hire. — In the case of an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication, or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. If, before the end of such term, the identity of one or more of the authors of an anonymous or pseudonymous work is revealed in the records of a registration made for that work under subsections (a) or (d) of section 408, or in the records provided by this subsection, the copyright in the work endures for the term specified by subsection (a) or (b), based on the life of the author or authors whose identity has been revealed. Any person having an interest in the copyright in an anonymous or pseudonymous work may at any time record, in records to be maintained by the Copyright Office for that purpose, a statement identifying one or more authors of the work; the statement shall also identify the person filing it, the nature of that person's interest, the source of the information recorded, and the particular work affected, and shall comply in form and content with requirements that the Register of Copyrights shall prescribe by regulation."

Let’s consider an example:

Annie Author was born in 1970, wrote the great American novel in 1999, had that novel published in 2000, and will die at the age of 85 in 2055.

If she took the copyright in her legal name, her estate will hold that copyright until 2125.

If she took the copyright in a pseudonymous name, her estate will hold that copyright until 2095, unless the author/estate reveals her identity before the end of the term, in which event the estate will hold the copyright until 2125.

If her corporation took the copyright, the corporation will hold the copyright until 2095. With these set of facts, the author has denied her/his heirs 30 years of potential royalties.

I think the point I'd like to make is that, if you're going to make a legal decision, you should consult with an attorney (one versed in intellectual property law for copyright issues, and one versed in business law for corporate and LLC matters, not Uncle Johnny who handles divorce cases or Aunt Millie who tries criminal cases).

***

Let me say that I think non-lawyers should be very careful with what they say about legal concepts because other non-lawyers might assume their words are an accurate statement of the law. I don’t mean to quiet discussion, which is always a positive thing. However, I think non-lawyers need to start or end their posts with a statement that they’re not lawyers and that others should seek legal advice (from a lawyer, of course). Some members of loops do that...but some don't.

Please note that, among other things, the law changes rapidly, differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and is subject to the on-going interpretation of federal and state courts. More, legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each matter. So, nothing that you read in this post (or in any self-help book or on any on-line site) should be used as a substitute for the advice of legal counsel.

Happy Writing!

P.S. I've done a search of copyright applications for books filed with the U.S. Copyright Office during 2010 (I used 2010 instead of 2011 because it takes a few months for registrations to show up) by several publishers (ones that came to me off the top of my head). Here are the results:

Ellora's Cave 0
Grand Central 1,405
Harlequin 932
Liquid Silver Books 0
Little, Brown 1,340
Loose Id 0
Penguin 1,599
Samhain 0

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All Other Content © 2011 Madeline Smyth