Saturday, December 17, 2011

Aspen Mountain Press Breach of Contract and Suspension of Operations

Sandra Hicks
Aspen Mountain Press
18121-C East Hampden Ave., Ste. 221
Aurora, CO 80013

Dear Sandra:

My initial letter to you dated August 8, 2011, requesting my copy of the
signature page of my contract was signed for by an agent at the above address,
sent via certified US mail, article number 7011 1150 0001 7181 1739, was never
answered. My email sent to your account on August 17, 2011, requesting copies
of royalty statements was never answered. Finally, my second request for the
signature page and royalty statements sent to you via certified US mail, article
number 7011 1150 0001 7181 9339, in a letter dated September 20, 2011, signed
for by an agent at the above address, was never answered.

Therefore, I consider Aspen Mountain Press in breach of contract according to
Section XVI.A of my contract: “If either party breaches this Agreement,
the non-breaching party shall provide written notice by certified mail to the
breaching party of the alleged breach. Upon receipt of such notice, the
breaching party shall have ninety (90) days to cure. At the expiration of such
ninety (90) day period, upon failure to cure this Agreement shall terminate,
except as otherwise provided herein or otherwise agreed in writing by both
parties hereto.” I am exercising my right to early termination according
to Section XVI.E: “Author is granted the right of early termination if
the Publisher had breached this agreement”, and Section XVIII:
“Author and Publisher agree to use best efforts to fulfill their
respective obligations under this Agreement. In the event that situation arises
not covered by this Agreement or in the event of an alleged breach by either
party, Author and Publisher agree to use a common-sense construction of this
Agreement and negotiate in good faith to resolve such issues prior to resorting
to legal action.”

Also, as stated by Section XIX of my contract, "If Publisher suspends operations
for more than sixty (60) continuous days, other than for technical difficulties
such as a loss of Web Server, all rights hereunder shall immediately revert to
Author". As of today, December 17, 2011, Aspen Mountain Press has not been
operating for sixty days.

Since I have on several occasions made efforts in good faith to resolve the
situation, but because my requests for the materials have been ignored and
unanswered, I find that all attempts to negotiate have broken down. As such,
all rights to the work originally contracted to Aspen Mountain Press to publish,
promote, and distribute, "But I Never Said I Didn’t Love You", have
reverted back to me per Sections XVI.A and XIX of my contract. I am currently
under no legal obligation and give public notice that I am reclaiming these
rights immediately.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I shaved my legs for THIS?!

As with many writing projects, my 2007 NaNoWriMo effort The Gay Man's Guide to Love, Cats, and Other Mysteries of Life (shortened to The Gay Man's Guide to Love, Cats, and Other Mysteries for the CreateSpace offer of a free copy of the finished product) evolved into Fault Applications of Earth Logic, based on one of the characters trying to apply logic to his current situation. Well, all that was well and good but something about the story wasn't quite right. I couldn't quite get my head around one of the character's motivations for doing what he did; none of the explanations I came up with sounded...logical.

For some crazy reason, I got the idea to mash up Faulty Applications of Earth Logic with a trunked novel I hadn't touched in years but never really forgot. It was an urban fantasy about magic users and something about a coming unpleasantness or another and blah blah the blah. Lots of great characters and situations but, jeez, the actual story sucked. This is one of the shining examples I always look back upon when I'm talking about how I learned how to write conflict correctly. Because there really wasn't any conflict, I quickly ran out of story and interest.

The main elements I carried over were the urban fantasy and magic users. Most of the story from Faulty Applications of Earth Logic remained, however; oddly enough, the magic element gave me a clearer picture on the motivation of the character that had vexed me so.

Oh, yeah, it's still a m/m romance. I don't think I can give that up.

Now. I thought I'd given myself enough time to work on this mash-up/rewrite so that it would be finished in time for NaNo, but i really hadn't. I was working on Kitchen Witch, the new title, during the first half of November. I was in a bit of a crunch because Musa Publishing was closing to new submissions for the holiday season on November 15. I finally holed up in a Barnes & Noble cafe on the 13th and forced myself to finish the query. Oh, God, that query. Two hours to write it, and I agonized for over 45 MINUTES on one word. But I got it out and settled back for The Wait.

Around Thanksgiving, my 90-day wait for Aspen Mountain expired. I had sent a final letter asking for the contract breaches to be rectified, which gave the publisher 90 days to fix according to my contract. Nothing had changed in that time, so I sent a letter invoking my contract and letting the publisher know my rights had reverted back to me. When I got the return receipt card in the mail, I felt incredibly relieved that it was finally over. I mentioned this a couple days later in a forum post to the editorial director at Musa, who was the editor of my first novel But I Never Said I Didn't Love You, and her response was "Well, we'd better get this puppy fired up".

A few hours later, I saw her recent post in the same forum thread, which was the first thing I saw when I logged on: "Oh, by the way. We're contracting Kitchen Witch, as well. Congratulations!"

I made some noises that were a cross between a gasp, a gag, a laugh, and a choke, scaring the cat and making Peter what the hell was wrong with me. I'd gotten TWO OFFERS for publication in one evening.

The e-contracts arrived a few hours later, and I got them signed and sent off. No sense waiting around for it to happen by itself. So begins the next round of The Wait: release dates.