I found this article on a great site: Writing and Random Thoughts and it really struck a cord with me. For weeks I have been trying to decide what I should do about the money Dorchester Publishing owes to me and the two books I wrote for them, which are basically lost to me…I can’t even get copies for future events, but after reading this it sounds like there is nothing I can do. Authors are just “above pond scum” when it comes to the legal issues of a publisher going bankrupt. Wow, I really feel special now!
There’s a room painted pale blue in my house that we refer to as the Titanic room. Actually, it’s the guest bedroom, but it’s filled with antique furniture from the latter part of the 1800’s and the turn of the century. The room proudly displays the few Titanic mementos I have collected. I love hanging out in this cozy area. It transports me back to a time I have fantasized about on many occasions; a time of innocence, chivalry, grandeur and elegance.
You might have guessed by now that I’m a total history nut. Maybe that’s why I’ve written eleven Historical Romances. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve daydreamed about cowboys, Indians, pirates, sea captains and knights in shining amour, and romanticized the time periods of the past. I’m sure that’s why the idealistic and catastrophic story of the Titanic has always fascinated me so much.
Although, I have to admit I did not become a complete Titanic fanatic until I saw the movie with Leonardo and Kate for the first time in January 1998. Every Saturday afternoon, and an occasional evening, from January to April 1998, I would sit in my local theater (with a co-worker and friend who was as obsessed as I was) filled with anticipation to see the doomed love story of Jack and Rose, and the tragic tale of the condemned luxury liner, Titanic, over and over again. I would tear up the minute the word Titanic appeared on the black screen. My tally for seeing this movie at that time was twenty-five times in the movie theater and would have been more if the movie had been at my theater longer. Never before— or since— have had I gone to the theater that many times to see a movie. Obsessed? Yes!
Even though I adore the fictitious love story and am in awe of the epic way the disastrous sinking is depicted in the movie, I am equally as fascinated by the exquisite costumes worn by the actresses. The movie did an excellent job of accurately portraying the clothes of the time. In the darkened theater I would study the number of buttons running down the back of the gowns, memorize the sophisticated hairstyles, or watch closely to catch glimpses of their feet to see what types of shoes the women wore with each dress.
To me, the fashions of the Gilded Era, or Golden Age, are styles that embody ultimate romance and refined elegance. They were not the heavy cumbersome gowns worn in medieval days, the modest calico garments worn by women in the Old West, or the flashy scandalous dresses that would come later in the roaring twenties. They were designed to accentuate the feminine body with low necklines, fitted waistbands, and long flowing, intricately detailed creations of silk, and satin, adorned by delicate lace and pearl buttons.
The jewelry was elaborate and flamboyant, and the shoes and boots were baby soft leather with high heels and dainty laces.
And the hats…oh those gaudy magnificent hats of the era! The hats were created to accent the beautiful dresses, and the magnificence of these hats outshined even the most gorgeous Parisian gowns. Everything from long plumes of feathers to masses of flowers decorated these splendid creations. The brims were enormous or curled up at odd angles, and the hats were designed to set anywhere on the head they could perch; over the forehead, off to the side, tipped to the back, anywhere a hat pin could be secured. My neck starts to ache just thinking of how the women had to hold their heads to keep those gigantic hats from tumbling to the ground. But, it would be so worth it.
Aside from my fascination with the fashion of the Titanic era, is my never-ending interest in learning about the real passengers who were on board during that fateful trip a century ago, including Captain Smith and his crew. I want to know where they were headed and why, who went down with the ship, which ones were saved, and anything else I can discover about all of them.
The idea of that glorious ship rotting away at the bottom of the dark deep sea breaks my heart, and I watch every documentary I find about expeditions to the ship and the artifacts being recovered from the ruins of the Titanic and the debris field surrounding it. One of my goals was to see a traveling exhibit of the artifacts. In Las Vegas a few years ago, I fulfilled this goal. Words cannot express what it meant to me to actually see the fragments of the great ship, fragile white dishes with the White Star emblem, articles of clothing, jewelry and even a wallet with paper documents that had miraculously survived decades in the water. Priceless remnants of shattered dreams and lost lives rescued from the murky depths of the devouring ocean.
Once I joined the Titanic Historical Society, my addiction to all things Titanic grew. The quarterly newsletters and magazines have even more information in them than I can find in books or online. I have an entire bookshelf dedicated to books about the Titanic and I read anything and everything I can find in regards to the ship and its passengers. For years I planned to be on one of the hundred year anniversary cruises, which are happening right now. However, my entire life I have been terrified of water and could not overcome that paralyzing fear enough to consider boarding any ship, even one as special as those commemorating the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s departure.
Now, I anxiously scour the Internet daily, reading everything I can about the cruise, and savoring the pictures of the people lucky enough to be aboard this amazing journey. But, I don’t have any desire to be there with them.
Remember my friend and co-worker whom I mentioned earlier? She loved the movie as much as I did, but was not interested in the true historical facts. However, she found my fear of water an interesting aspect in light of my overwhelming obsession with the ‘real’ Titanic. During a visit she had with a fortune teller a few years ago, she decided to find out if there was a link between my water phobia and the sinking of the great ship. This is the conversation as she relayed it to me.
“In a former life did my friend, Veronica, drown on the Titanic and is that why she is so terrified of water?”
After a long silence, the fortune teller looked intently at my friend and answered, “Her former self said it’s none of your business.”
When it came to joining Facebook, I was a bit of a late bloomer. My daughter kept trying to get me to join and she was always telling me how much fun it was to connect with old friends, but yet, I resisted. Truthfully, I was a little scared. What if no one wanted to be my friend? What if I wrote something stupid on my page? What if my profile picture made me look too fat? After months of resistance, a co-worker commented that Facebook would be a good place to promote my upcoming book release. This got my attention. It had been years since I had written and sold a manuscript, and I was anxious to learn how to promote my new book using the endless resources on the Internet. Facebook seemed like the perfect place to start. Within weeks all my fears were forgotten. I was having a blast finding old friends I had lost touch with through the years, classmates and teachers, past co-workers, as well as making scores of new friends. Before long, I had not one, but two pages! One page was for my writing information and updates and one was for my personal life, where I shared every little detail about my day-to-day life and the happenings in the lives of my family. That’s what one does on Facebook, isn’t it?
As the years passed, I added another page for my Twilight obsession to my list of pages on Facebook. The friends I made on the fan page crossed over to my personal page and my friend count kept climbing upward. I began to talk on the phone, Skype, and had the opportunity to meet some of my new online friends in person. I even went on vacations with a couple of them. Several of these new friends, whom I was meeting in person for the first time, came to visit me and stayed at my house. That they would use their vacation time to come and meet me meant more than I can tell you. I truly cherish the new friends I have made through Facebook, as well as the old friends I am in touch with again. Still, the majority of my Facebook friends are complete strangers who live in every corner of the world and all places in-between. Yet, they are usually the first to comment on my status updates, notes or photos whenever I add something new. They have offered encouragement when I needed it, sympathy when I was grieving, and shown me more kindness, consideration and understanding than many of the people I have known for years. I never want to lose the closeness I have felt with these so-called strangers.
As my comfort level on Facebook and my circle of friends grew, I shared everything from what I was having for breakfast to how long we would be gone on vacation, along with every tiny or major event in my life, or that of my family. Facebook is for socializing, right? Well, I was a ‘virtual’ social butterfly!
It didn’t seem like a big deal to me when a family friend made the comment that if anyone wanted to know what was happening in my town or with anyone we knew they only needed to go to my Facebook page. But, that comment made my live-in boyfriend nervous. He told me I was not to write anything about him, and especially about the times when we would be away from home on my Facebook page. Okay, I get the part about not announcing when our house would be empty. Hello house burglar? I tried to limit my posts to just the major things like how proud I was of my children and grandchildren. Then, my youngest son got mad because he didn’t want me telling strangers personal things about his son. But, I want everyone to know that I have amazing grandsons. What is wrong with that?
When both of my parents had health problems, of course, I shared this on Facebook. And, apparently friends and relatives on Facebook told other friends and relatives who weren’t on Facebook. Everyone started calling my parents to ask about their conditions. So then, the parents are not happy with me for sharing too much information.
I was starting to notice a pattern now. But, I was still a little clueless until I start reading posts from another person I had befriended on Facebook (and never met) that were even more personal than my own posts were. This person was losing a parent and they were sharing all the intimate details of the illness, and posting last pictures of their loved one in the hospital. In the past I have always given sincere condolences on many friend’s pages when someone I was friends with had lost someone (or even a beloved pet), but it was always after the fact. This time I felt like I was intruding on a very personal tragedy that was still evolving. I was heartbroken for them, and yet, it felt awkward to even try to express my deep sympathy to this person I knew only through a few casual comments on different posts. This was my wake-up call. How much of our personal lives should we share on social networks?
I believe everyone has different standards when it comes to how much or how little you post on Facebook or any other site, and I respect that completely. Although I will always want to share the big events in my families’ lives, I finally realize there is a fine line between being ‘social’ on social websites, and spilling your family secrets to the world, which is basically what all of us are doing once we post anything on the Internet. All the security measures on Facebook mean absolutely nothing if your personal account gets hacked.
In the future, I will respect the privacy of my loved ones before I share any details about their lives. As for me, I will still post all the dirt about myself…I can’t help it…I’m an open book. No pun intended. So, please forgive me if I must share the big events and the little pleasures with everyone. I mean, who doesn’t want to know that I’m sitting on my deck watching the sun go down, while sipping a cold one?
Why am I just reading about this? Only because I just Googled Dorchester Publishing to see if there was anything new about the royalty payments owed to their authors (like me), and instead, this is what I find. Shouldn’t I–as a Dorchester author– been informed of what was happening? I feel like someone just took the wind right out of my sails!
Publishers Weekly has a news item announcing that Dorchester Publishing has closed its doors and most, if not all, of its magazine and book titles will be sold in foreclosure.
Agent Kristin Nelson reports:
Last year when my lawyer and I sat in on the phone calls where Dorchester disclosed their financially precarious position, the list of creditors was part of that conversation. There are at least 6 companies that might find it worthwhile to force Dorchester into Bankruptcy to recover monies owed.
And I hope they do.
Passive Guy doesn’t have any inside knowledge of this matter or of publishing contracts for the Dorchester Books being sold.
However, as a general proposition, if an author has signed a publishing agreement with a publisher, the publisher is free to pledge its interest in that agreement and the underlying book(s) as security for its debts.
If the publisher then fails to pay those debts, the lender/secured party can seize that publishing agreement and sell it to the highest bidder, whoever that may be. The author effectively has no control over who his/her publisher may be at that point.
While the purchaser of the contract has an obligation to honor its terms, it’s not difficult to imagine that some purchasers might be more inclined to honor contract terms and others might be more inclined to collect sales revenues without appropriate royalty payments.
When we talk about publishers failing, this is part of the story of what happens.