Monday, April 2, 2012

A heartfelt plea to my readers and my author friends.

In as much as I hate having to bring things to the public arena, there are times when I must. This is not personal on many levels; it is a matter of principle and ethical behavior.

With Decadent Publishing, it appears to be a lack of both from their side of it.

This publisher treats what they deem as a problematic authors, namely me, as if I was born stupid and won't fight for my rights. I can only say, "Wrong. Very, very wrong."

In December 2010 I entered into a contract with Decadent Publishing for my story, The Highlander's Time. The contract was a fairly standard "Royalty Paying" contract ie. a "For Sale" contract—3 years, 40% direct download/35% third party. It was the normal verbiage: Return of edits as specified by the editors (though they have it slightly oddly worded with an 'if they deem it needs edits' clause they will assign an editor), they'll provide cover art and an ISBN – blah, blah, blah.

This is nothing unusual for me. I've read this contract about a hundred times, and signed each in good faith. Done deal.

It even includes the normal – that the Publisher can reduce the price to stimulate sales… Their contract states this will not happen before six months of the release.

Got it—no problem.

I've had this happen before. You know—50% off and all that. No big deal. It is backlist at that point, and I'm moving forward.

Not all that unusual, especially if you've only got a story or three at a publisher, and they are trying to actually STIMULATE your sales.

Okay, we're all on board.

Well, as with some new publishers—I can't and won't say it's all of them because I've only ever seen this happen with Decadent Publishing—we got into a row over a review. Yes, this is about a review. Sorry, I wish it was something so much more salacious than that.

Ms. Olmstead released my name and that of another person to her authors who decided to all jump on the trash-them bandwagon. Note, and I hope all those who jumped on that snark-fest hear this, the other author didn't have any part of it. Shame on you. Shame. Shame. Shame. Must be nice to be judges on high.

We both kept our peace during this incident. We did not comment in the threads. It was a matter of, "Why fight when the court of public opinion has already tried and convicted you?"

There is no good reason to do that.

So, we remained quiet. She wrote. I wrote. We moved forward. A simple and quite logical step to take.

All the while I waited for The Highlander's Time to either be published or not.

Lo and behold, it was published. I don't have an exact date on the publication because it just appeared out of the blue on their site. I never received a notice from Decadent that it was coming out. I actually found out when it showed up in a bulletin from All Romance e-Books saying 'Hooray, your book is out'. (Okay, it doesn't exactly say that, but I still have the bulletin for purposes of knowing when the contract might end—ballparking this one).

Fabulous—it's out. Okay. Promote it. Do what I normally do. Sell some. Get some money for it.
Good deal. Water is under the bridge and headed for the sea—all those lovely little euphemisms allowed.

Truthfully, I was somewhat surprised that they even published it. Ah, but their contract states that if they don't pub a work in 12 months then the contract is void. Now, the whole, let's publish it, get some money out of it, makes sense.

Here's the kicker. My book is now free if you buy another from their catalogue. Seriously. That's the price. And, you can't actually buy it even if you wanted it alone. You have to buy from the other stories in the catalog. Take a little .99 story and get a story originally priced at 4.99 for free.
Talk about putting me in a really sick situation. If I complain about it on the web, I take money from other authors. If I shut up, I suffer through two more years under contract letting them give my book away left and right.

If I didn't laugh at this point, I would cry.

Still, the point is this—I never signed a "For Promotion" contract. I never gave them the right or the liberty to give my book away for free. They chose to do this on their own and without my consent.
I signed a "For Sale" contract. That is a royalty paying contract.

They've reduced the price on Amazon to .99, and I humbly ask if you are going to purchase The Highlander's Time you do so there. They've removed it from All Romance e-Books, and have it 'for free with purchase' on their website.

What's an author to do?

I know there is a great incentive to purchase another of their stories and get this one for free, but it comes down to ethics and a matter of principles.

Will I earn any royalty from books downloaded for free from Decadent Publishing's site? It's pretty obvious that the answer is no.

Will they do this to other authors? There are already five other books that are free with purchase, but I don't know these authors circumstances or if they allowed them to be used for promotion so I refrain from speaking for them.

What I can say is I didn't give them this right to put my story at 0.00 and never would have. This doesn't do anything to STIMULATE my sales or my brand. This STIMULATES Decadent Publishing's sales.

Truthfully, I would never, even if I thought I could get a contract with them, go back to this company.
You'd think at this point that Ms. Olmstead would merely give my rights back and stop dealing with me. Truthfully, who wants to deal with an author who has lost all faith in a publisher and really has made very little stink about them?

She has, on one point of that argument, given up. She never answers an e-mail I send to her. And, even when I've thanked her in the past for such things as loading the book on ARe or Kindle there is no response. When I asked questions regarding this incident about how I would make any royalty or how long the story will be for free--it has been nothing but crickets.

This is my experience with Decadent Publishing. I will openly admit that I am probably the exception rather than the norm, and this is not meant in any way to minimize the relationships other authors have with Ms. Olmstead and Decadent Publishing.

If you like her-hey, giggle about my sorrow and what's happened to me. No skin off my teeth, but don't cry when it happens to you.

I've got twenty-four months of her giving my book away for free and I'll never see a red cent except if you buy it through Amazon. I'm almost certain she'll pull it down sooner rather than later on Kindle because this is now a case of holding a story hostage. I mean, she already took it down from All Romance e-Books.

Does this sound like she's trying to get some profit from The Highlander's Time?

To me it sounds like punishment.

And the truth will always remain: I did not enter into a "For Promotion" contract. I entered into a "For Sale" contract.

I'm not disgruntled at this point. I'm just stunned and really sad she's like this.

Until the next story comes out…best!


Footnote: I received a response from Decadent through their customer service (of course there was no direct response from Ms. Olmstead)--we will only talk through lawyers. Fine. That's how it will shake out then.

Footnote to the footnote: it is now removed from the Decadent Publishing website. Can you say--breach of contract and then some?

Friday, March 16, 2012

A mountain of new releases from Belladonna

A mountain of new releases for 2012

If you hadn't noticed from my last post, it's been a little crazy around here. If you missed any of my recent releases—I'll give you the rundown:

The Perfect Gift – available from Cobblestone Press
Holiday Exchange – available from Eirelander Publishing
Cry Mercy - *hot off the cyber-presses* available from Cobblestone Press
Protégé – available from Liquid Silver Books

Also: Collaborating with Ashley Blade: The On Location Series.

Safe Harbor – available from Cobblestone Press
Layover – available from Cobblestone Press

Wow, I'm tired just reading down that list.

On top of that, (the craziness continues) – I just had my first audio book released.
Holiday Exchange – available from Bahn Sidhe audioBooks

Well, to say the least, right now I'm taking a little bit of a break.

I hope you stop by my wonderful publishers and check out my recent releases.

Until next time—Best!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Velveeta? Just Gotta Say!


A peek inside how my brain works.

Lately, I've been working on a series of collaborative stories with the incomparable, and my dear friend, Ashley Blade. She's great and she's an extraordinarily lovely lady.

I love these stories probably a little more than some of the others I've started lately. It might be why the other stories still remain unfinished on my hard drive.

And, this might be why I've gained several pounds lately. I'm a munchy writer. This is not the exception this go round either.

Last night I was working on the story and bam--hunger gnawed at me as I pondered the next story in the series. Finally, after about two minutes of struggling to get my head back in the story, I decided, food was a lot easier to be had than the elusive transition that was giving me fits.

Which brings me to my blog post. Don't ask me what happened as I was rifling through my cabinets and cupboards for a snack or maybe a half-plate of deliciousness. It's dark in my cabinet so I normally just grab whatever my hand comes to first.

First thing out – Manhatten Clam Chowder. Nope, not in the mood for that.

Second thing – Rice a Roni. Maybe, but it was butter and herb flavor and I simply put had a taste for something else.

There was much exasperated sighing at this point. I couldn't find the transition for my story and now food was eluding me. It wasn't as if I was going to make myself a five-course meal but just something to nibble on.

Okay, so the story is still rolling around in my head and truthfully, sometimes, I don't understand how my brain works – Course Correction (working title for the story) equates to cheese dip. I smacked my lips and went – yes, that's what I want.

Really? Okay, that was what I was thinking as I grabbed out the can of Rotelle. This spicy tomatoey yummyness is a whole other blog post. Then I headed to the fridge for my favorite of ingredients in cheese dip.

Seriously, by this point I was thinking I might need real therapy. A story about a very logical character meeting her mate equates to cheese dip? Uh. Anybody know a good therapist.

I digress and back to my blog post. I am a great lover of food especially snack foods. Munchy, crunchy chips, crisps are like my fav. Add cheese, well – we have a winner.

My brain went, well, wacky as I grabbed some melba toast I had bought while I was at work the other day. Luckily, the box was not crumbs at the bottom.

Cheese dip. Say it with me—cheese dip.

I had all the appropriate ingredients. Cheese- check. Salsa—yep.

Truthfully, what more could be in cheese dip?

Okay, my rendition of cheese isn't surprisingly not really cheese. It's Velveeta. That long, yellow rectangle that vaguely resembles something like an oddly shaded mozzarella (sans the mozzarella taste) and an under-aged sharp cheddar cheese that's a little too squishy.

The fact is-which shouldn't surprise anybody- Velveeta isn't really cheese. Well maybe it is. I think it might not be. Being that hungry, I personally didn't care by that point. Still, story in mind, and being about to go insane with hunger pangs, I chopped pseudo-cheesy wonderfulness and dropped it into a pot and added the whole can of rotelle.

Stir. Stir. Stir. Box is staring at me. Stir. Stir. Stir. I finally give up and read the box, because stirring cheese dip while it melts is about as mentally stimulating as making instant mashed potatoes.

The label isn't really all that helpful.

It is a pasteurized prepared cheese product. I think this is the manufacturer's way of saying it was a science project gone wrong with stunningly serendipitous results.

Looking at the ingredients label almost proves this point. After going through the list of nonmilk and milkfat stuff we are shown the obvious chemical additives to this wonderfully melty stuff that is a staple of tail-gate parties and chippy-dippy stuff the country over. Calcium Phosphate. Sorbic Acid (this is a preservative). Sodium Citrate. Sodium Alginate. Citric Acid. Enzymes. Apocaratenal (or whatever that word is). And, Annatto (which gives it color). Granted, the manufacturer is nice enough to tell the consumer it contains less than 2% of these ingredients. That's a relief. I don't think Kraft Foods would like to inadvertently turn consumers of this product into nearly embalmed zombies who glow orange beneath the full moon.

Finally, I found something that says cheese. It isn't actually cheese either. It's a cheese culture which is used to start the culture process in all cheeses. It is also all the way at the end of the list—which if I understand the way this is supposed to work—cheese culture is the least amount of an ingredient Velveeta contains. I already know it is less than 2% thanks to the manufacturer putting it after 'contains less than 2% of' line in the ingredients list.

So, in actuality, what is Velveeta, because let's be honest—it doesn't really sound like a cheese. Cheese should have great names like Gouda or Feta or Riccota. I think the only thing they got right was the 'ta' at the end.

Spring forward to me indulging in pumpernickel melba toast and cheese dip. A quick internet search gave me the basic history. According to the Kraft website—Velveeta was first produced in 1918. So this is a pre-World War Two creation—and was most likely found in many a soldier's meal kits during the 'War to End All Wars' and its sequel because, and knowing my own habit for slicing into a block and placing the remnants into a zippie bag only to use the remainder a month later, it has a half-life of about a thousand years. It's spun off into a spread, shells and cheese and several other convenience packaged, prepare it because your kids won't eat anything else save Velveeta staples that take up space on many a mom or dad's pantry shelf.

And I can attest to the fact it was more than a little yummy.

This is a wonderful enigma of not cheese but is close to cheese and has been a part of my life since I was very young. By the time I put the leftover dip away, I really didn't care what it was made of, but I had accepted it into a very exclusive list.

Drum roll please.

Velveeta wins a slot in my rarely seen, because it is truly terrifying to imagine what it is like to be in my imagination, foods that I would take into space with me.

It is also one of those foodstuffs I firmly believe will be around in the year 2100 and beyond along with SPAM, Rice-a-Roni and Campbell's Baked Beans. Why? Well, because all of them are also a part of my lackluster culinary arsenal. Yes, I love Spam—particularly Spam with Cheese – yummy. (But that too is another blog post).

So, hat's off to Velveeta. It makes my list of something one of my characters will indulge in at some point in an upcoming story.

I do ask you to shed a few tears for the manufacturer because you never know what I might do with it or to it. Velveeta glue—maybe? My character ran out of photon torpedoes and substituted Velveeta—you never know.

What about you? What common foods do you think will survive and become a part of an intergalactic pantry?

Leave a comment for a chance to win a prize.

Until the next time – Best -- Bella