Uncommon Love

Uncommon Love

My latest blog post is part of series by Curiosity Quills Press on Romance (for February). I talked about love, but how genre fiction provides a unique medium for exploring non-standard relationships. Also, it includes an excerpt from Exacting Essence.

Go check it out!

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The Road So Far

All Covers 2017

Five years.

The Last Key came out  five years after my first book and short story in print.

The full score is 6 Novels, 1 Novella, 3 Anthologies I edited, 1 RPG manual with 2 short stories in it), short stories in 18 Anthologies edited by other people (including 3 reprints), and comics in 2 episodes of 1 magazine.

I have 2 Novels ready to go whenever I decide to buckle down and send them in, and 4 short stories going into Anthologies coming out in the future (including 1 reprint). I’m currently working on a new novel, which I paused to experiment with a serial story.

I hope this doesn’t come off as bragging. I’m just taking stock of where I’ve been, as a way of deciding where I want to go next. It’s been a rough year, and I think I need a little direction and motivation before I start to build up momentum again. Seeing this block of covers really makes me happy.

A writer’s only real success is the readers, of course. I’m immensely grateful to my readers, fans, friends, and family. So much that I want to give you a thank-you gift. So how about a bunch of free collections by some famous authors to fill up your kindle?

Just follow the links!

Franz Kafka

H. P. Lovecraft

O. Henry

Saki

Rudyard Kipling

James Joyce

Oscar Wilde

Herman Melville

Lewis Carroll

Plato

Joseph Conrad

Okay, technically I didn’t make those gifts. But there are plenty of free ones on my Short Stories Page. Plus, I’ll leave you with some eye candy from the first test version of The Last Key by cover artist Eugene Teplitsky.

Here’s to the next five years!

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The Last Paperback

The Last Key Wrap Cover

At long last, the last paperback (The Last Key) in the Actuator Series is out! If you read electronically, as the majority of people seem to do these days, then you probably already have it. For those who are holding out because they want the paper in their hands and the smell of a new press, your time has finally come.

For me, the ultimate moment will be placing this book on my shelf next to the others. Then it will finally feel complete. My copies are in the mail, so the time is coming soon.

It’s been an amazing journey. Thank you all for sticking with me through it!

Actuator Series Wallpaper

The Duel

The Duel 2

My first published story of 2018– The Duel!

Listen to it now read by Jon Grundvig on the Flash Fiction Friday podcast hosted by Immortal Works Press.

Or you can read it here on my page.

This one is super short, and the title also serves as the summary. I did this to see how short I could write an interesting tale. And it turns out 250 words is about the minimum… unless you count my biography in 6 words:

Backwards everything got I think I.

There’s a method to my madness. (Or is it the other way around?) I’m currently experimenting with a serial story, released in small bites. So I’m trying out shorter and shorter forms as I look for a good formula. Unlike this one, that one is set in space in the future. If it starts to work, I’ll tell you more about it. If you never hear about it again, you can assume it was a dismal failure.

Failure is the stairway to success, right?

🙂

Book Piracy

I love a good pirate story.Remembering Emily

I’ve been enjoying the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series a lot. I even included pirates in my Actuator series. There’s something appealing about bucking unjust authority, although it requires some pretty advanced mental gymnastics to justify the heinous things done by real pirates.

These days pirates tend to be the type who steal media. Most of them do it because they want to see movies for free or before the release date. There are also plenty of people looking to get free music or books. Consequently, most or all of my books have been pirated. perf6.000x9.000.indd In fact, one of my books, Exacting Essence, has been pirated so extensively that it hasn’t even sold many legitimate copies. I’ve even found discussion boards where people were recommending it to each other… which struck a whole range of conflicting emotions. At the very least, they could have reviewed it!

I can’t help thinking back to my teens when I pirated music. First of all, I should say that I also bought a lot of music. However, my humble means and the exceptional importance of music to my social group and our generation added a lot of pressure. Plus, I had this neat boom box that had a double cassette deck with high speed dubbing that made it sooo easy… So I copied music from and for friends. Later, I mended my ways and now I get my music legitimately. Movies and books, too. I later bought most of that music legitimately, but I’m probably getting my just desserts.

Cyber CowboySo what can an author do? The Internet makes it so easy to share files now, I suspect there’s not much we can do. Technically, one can pay a lawyer and try to sue people for it. But most of the “sharing” on the Internet is done by anonymous people who try not to leave any detectable trace. I have one publisher who sends “cease and desist” orders to anybody they find posting their books illegally, but it’s a never-ending game. The truth is, if somebody decides they are going to pirate something, the effort it takes to stop them is usually a lot more time and money than it took them to do it. They even program bots to do it, leaving almost no trail. So it’s a game that can’t be easily won. (Maybe a super-corporation like Disney can make some headway, but not an independent author.)

Oscar Wilde is an example of an amazing writer whose life turned tragic because of an emotionally charged law suit. Imagine how many more great works he could have written if he spent his efforts differently.

So I think the only healthy attitude is to not burn energy getting angry and trying to fight it. Pirates gonna steal. But since they aren’t likely to have ever bought my book in the first place, it doesn’t really matter. I just chalk it up to “exposure” and hope over time it will contribute to a general increase in name recognition. Maybe they’ll recommend it to somebody who’ll buy the book in the future. It’s not all that different from libraries lending books to many patrons… except nobody bought the first book. Honestly, I’ll just give my books to anybody willing to review them. So if you ever stole one of my books, please leave a review and we’ll call it good.

What’s Wrong with Movie Rights

the ocracide art*THIS IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT FOR FIRST-TIME AUTHORS SIGNING A BOOK CONTRACT*

I love movies. I have defended Peter Jackson against Tolkien purists in front of hundreds of people as a panelist and presenter. I even like the Percy Jackson movies and The Seeker (adaptation of The Dark is Rising). Although my art is writing books and short stories, I am a rabid fan of cinema.

So I get it.

After years writing books and sending queries into the abyss, somebody finally sends you a contract for your novel. Once the butterflies settle, and after you call your mom and go out to celebrate with your friends, you sit down and actually read the thing. It’s nine pages long and most of it is in passive voice using sentence structure your English teacher would punish you for. You make an appointment to have somebody go over the confusing stuff with you. But the one thing you know, is that it has a clause claiming all the movie rights for the publisher. And even though you don’t personally know anybody who had a movie made out of a book, you vaguely remember a fear-inducing tale about an author who didn’t get a dime when they made her story into a blockbuster and she couldn’t stop them from changing the ending so the noble unicorn heroine actually turned out to be a robot-zombie.

You raise your emotions against such indignities and tell the publisher you want to keep your movie rights. And for good measure you throw in TV, live stage play, and merchandising.

The publisher says no.

Now you have a tough choice to make. Before you do something you’ll regret, give me a chance to talk you off the edge. Or, if you happen to read this before it happens, maybe I can save you some stress.

Movie deals almost never happen. By almost never, I mean you have a better chance of winning the lottery. If you don’t have an agent actively pursuing a movie deal, the odds effectively approach zero. At a book signing, I heard Terry Brooks (yes, that super famous guy) explain how movie rights for his Shannara series had been sold many times. People even started making plans for a movie a few times, but it fell apart over and over. They did finally make a TV series, but that was decades later. What went wrong?

[Disclaimer: I’m not an expert on the moving making process, or even an expert on publishing. This is just my own perspective on information I gathered along my journey as an author and editor.]

As I understand it, there are many hurdles along the road to making a movie. Somebody (usually an agent) will contract to represent the author or publisher and take a large number of books and try to find one in which a movie maker will be interested. Movie making people (companies, directors, who knows?) buy a “movie option” from the publisher and/or author. It’s basically reserving the right to make that movie if they want. It has a time limit and usually it’s for little or no money. If a director or producer really likes one of the options they might pursue it further, but among so many optioned properties, they tend to only seriously consider a few. A small percentage of those get started, and even fewer ever get all the way to filming. Some movies even fall apart after they start shooting. Obviously, a NY Times bestseller has a better chance of becoming a movie than a first-time author’s debut book.

Even if the miraculous comes true and your book gets made into a movie, there will definitely have to be a new contract, and you as the author are guaranteed to get some of that money. Who controls what and how much will have to be ironed out. If the publisher does all that, you’ll get the percentage your contract promised.

If you or your agent makes the golden contact and bring that deal to the table, you can renegotiate with the publisher for higher percentages. They will love you for it. Or, if you really don’t want the publisher involved (which is probably unethical since they are partly responsible for making the book so popular in the first place) you can either buy back all your rights from them before making the movie deal or let the time run out and end the contract.

If you feel that way about the publisher, though, maybe you should question why you would sign a contract with them at all. In my own modest experience, publishers earn their share of the royalties. I make more even though I share the profits with them because they generate more than twice as many sales than I would alone. And since I don’t know anybody making movies, if one of my publishers landed a movie deal, it would all be free money for me since it wasn’t anything I did to make it happen.

So why, if the odds are so remote, would a publisher care about retaining those movie rights? First, the publisher is taking a risk on your book. Most of the time, they lose money on books. A small number of books make enough money to keep them in business despite the losses on the majority of what they publish. If your book isn’t one of the stars, a movie deal isn’t going to happen anyway. If you do make the money, shouldn’t the publisher share in the profits for taking a risk on your work?

Second, you should remember that the story is still yours. You own it. Your contract only “loans” that property to the publisher for the duration of the contract so they can use it to make money. And if they are good, you’ll make more money, too. They can’t do their job effectively if you are able to sell the same story to other companies. That’s why they retain foreign language rights and such. Even if they aren’t planning to translate it into Japanese, their investment in the book is damaged by other companies selling the same story. So, for the duration of the contract, they need to be part of all such negotiations. It doesn’t mean you or your agent can’t make such a deal. Any extra deal would always come with another contract where you can negotiate for more if you feel you deserve it. Working with a publisher is a partnership. It’s only fair that both partners work together to make as much as possible out of your book, regardless of who brings the deals and how much each partner deserves.

If you have any real contacts that might lead to a movie deal, it’s reasonable to ask for that consideration to be in the contract. If you don’t, I recommend NOT hanging up a publishing contract because of unfounded fears that you might be taken advantage of. The publisher is taking a risk investing time and money in your book. It’s only fair that you share the benefits of any fruit such an investment yields.

For the record, if anybody reading this really does want to make one of my stories into a movie, I’ll probably let you do it for free, just to see it happen. 😊

Call for Submissions: Press Forward, Saints

CotS CoverD. J. Butler is the leading, if not only, author in “Mormon Steampunk.” His four book series, City of the Saints, is now an omnibus that reaches a very wide and eclectic audience. Since its publication, a large number of readers have asked for more and a good group of authors have expressed interest in writing something similar. In 2018 he decided to collect short stories in the same genre and put together an anthology. I’m thrilled to be working with him as co-editor on this project.

PRESS FORWARD, SAINTS Call for Submissions

Immortal Works (editors James Wymore and D.J. Butler) hereby call for submissions for an anthology of MORMON STEAMPUNK to be called PRESS FORWARD, SAINTS.

Here is the deal:

1. The writer’s religious affiliation is completely irrelevant. We don’t care; we don’t even want to know.

2. The story does not have to be set in any particular world. The story must be in some sense “Mormon” and in some sense “Steampunk.” We’ll try to interpret those categories both broadly.

3. If your story is faith-promoting (Mormonism is “true” in the story), we’ll stop reading it. If it is mean-spirited (Mormons are all idiots), we’ll also stop reading it.

4. Stories should be at least 2,000 words long and generally no more than 8,000 words.

5. The deadline for submissions is April 1, 2018.

6. Authors will not receive up-front payments. Authors will share in the revenues from sales of the book over time and will receive one (1) complimentary author copy.

7. Send submissions to david.john.butler (at) hotmail.com. Include the words “PRESS FORWARD SAINTS SUBMISSION” in the subject line.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at jameswymore (at) gmail.com as well. If you aren’t sure what Steampunk is, check some of these references…

schism-e-book-cover   Under a Brass Moon Coveractuator-1-e-book-cover