Online Course: Rights and Contracts in the Digital Age

I’ve decided to offer a workshop I’ve presented in the past, this time as an online course that you’ll be able to take right here on my site. I believe very strongly that writers should be fully informed about how rights and copyright work, and be able to read a publishing contract and have a idea what it all means. Particularly when there are red flags the writer should see. Our work is important to us, and ownership and control of our work should be equally important. The best way to protect your investment in your work is to be informed.

Enter this course. I’ve offered it twice before; the full version as a full-day in-person workshop, and an abridged version as an evening seminar for the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia. Now I’m turning it into an online presentation, that I’ll administer through a private forum here on my website. Feedback on both previous sessions was very positive, so I feel good about the content.

Why am I qualified to teach this course? Well, I did practice law in the crazy days of my youth, and I’ve made sure to stay informed on contract matters as they affect me both as an author and a publisher. To be clear, I am NOT offering legal advice in this course–I’m sharing information I think you need.

The course will break down into nine or ten lessons. I’ll put up a lesson on Mondays and Thursdays, and each lesson will have a dedicated discussion thread for participants to interact, ask questions and talk about the lesson. There will be some downloadable materials, including sample contracts.

I know, by now you’re wondering how much is this going to cost?

Because I think all writers need this information, I’m keeping the registration cost low, at just $30 (CAD). If you need to break this down into a couple of payments, we can do that.

I’m also going to cap the number of registrants at a number I think will allow for good discussion in the forum. I haven’t quite decided what that number will be, yet. But I want to make sure that everyone has a voice.

How to Register

1. You can register using one of the PayPal buttons below. Just be sure to add your name and email address in the “Notes to Seller” section when you see it, or send me a message through this site’s contact form and include your PayPal transaction ID to let me know you’ve registered. If you need to break the payment up into two segments but want to reserve your space, use the $15 button. Just be sure to send the balance before the course actually starts (make sure you remind me who you are when you send the second payment!). Once you’ve clicked an Add button, your shopping cart purchase will appear in the right sidebar and you can proceed from there.

2. If you don’t like/use PayPal, you can send me an e-transfer. Message me through the site’s contact form and I’ll provide you with the details.

$30 CAD

$15 CAD

(Pay in two installments)

Once you’re registered, I’ll add you to the student’s user group and send you all the information you need to log in to the course area.

Questions about the course? Anything I’ve forgotten? Send me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

I hope you’ll consider joining me for this course!

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a…Brand?

So. I’m taking a publishing and marketing course this month, and a recent lesson was about building a brand. I haven’t given branding a whole lot of attention in the past, preferring to think of myself as my “brand” and that it’s fairly evident what that means if you read my work or follow me here or on social media. However, some advice in the course was to consider how “branding” can help convey information about one’s work in a quick and concise way, which can be useful to potential readers. Discussion included logos and slogans or tag lines as part of a brand, among other things.

I was a little surprised to discover that many participants in the course already had logos and tag lines in place.

Hmm. That seemed to put me behind the curve. But I felt a little stumped. I write science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk…I could go on, but you get the idea. I write a broad range of stories under the speculative fiction umbrella. Encapsulating that seemed a daunting task. Thinking thematically didn’t help me out much, either; I don’t know if there are particular themes that run through all or most of my work. So this was me most of the weekend:

via GIPHY

But…I think I did it. I’m going to take a day or two to let it cool and do some tweaking, and then I’ll share it here.

Friday Desk Report – February 2, 2018

I was going to start this post with a pithy quotation about selling books, but all the ones I read were starting to make me depressed, so I changed my mind. Yes, this week I’ve been largely focusing on marketing, promotion, and how to help readers find my books (and want to read them). While I did make many pretty pictures, and learned many new things, I also came to realize that I need to get all of this stuff organized on my computer, in one easily-accessible place. Everything probably took me twice as long as it should have as I searched for cover images, blurbs, links…it’s definitely time for some computer housecleaning. *gulp*

On a brighter note, I worked on the next Nearspace novel (started in November, currently in the process of getting it back on track), and some editing on another, older project. Wrote some new words on the current Olympia Investigations story I have underway, but the brain was not really in a word-writing place this week. Considering the time of year it is, I’m in a remarkably good head space (much of which I attribute to my new daily yoga practice), but it’s still best to work with what my brain tells me it can handle. I think next week the words will be inclined to flow better, since I took a bit of a break this week.

I’ve also switched up the newsletter signup freebie, which has been the same for a while. As of today it’s a newly-compiled and packaged collection of five of my short stories, all about alien encounters. They’re a nice mix of serious, funny, heartwarming and thought-provoking. If you haven’t signed up before, or haven’t read these stories, click over and take a look! The cover image is a beauty by by Joel Filipe on Unsplash, where you can find some really amazing images the artists have made freely available for whatever use you wish. Thanks, Joel and Unsplash!

January Stats!

Okay, so I didn’t really get back at the treadmill desk until almost the middle of the month, but even then, I was a little spotty on it. 419 minutes for the month, which translated to 5.14 miles walked. I can do better!

Word metrics for the month worked out to 5633 written, and 12,509 revised. I’d like to keep up this revision pace for February, but really up the writing. Guess we’ll see how it goes.

Finally, both my Olympia Investigations stories are in bundles right now! The Immortals bundle and Weird Fantastic Detective Stories are both available at BundleRabbit, so hop over and take a look if you love getting great reads for reasonable prices. And really, who doesn’t love that?

 

More on the Immortals Bundle

The Immortals Bundle from BundleRabbit has now gone live on all platforms, so here’s a little more about it:

Gods, nymphs, vampires, deathless clones, cursed mages and those who serve them face perils where immortality acts as either curse or blessing or…both. Souls and selves lie at stake in this eclectic bundle.

 

Immortals includes 14 ebooks from short stories to novels, including my novelette, “The Goddess Problem.” This is the second installment in the Olympia Investigations series, featuring Acacia Sheridan, a private detective with a special gift – she can communicate and interact with supernatural creatures of all sorts. In “The Goddess Problem,” a heartbroken Greek goddess comes asking for her help. Acacia’s investigation takes her from an isolated cavern on Earth to the Olympian heights…but can a mortal sleuth wring the truth from a phalanx of dysfunctional deities?

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning:

The moment she walked into my office, limned in a faint silver sheen, with that grinning, lupine dog at her heel, I knew she was no ordinary client. She didn’t proffer a hand, just sat down in the blue leather chair opposite my desk, and said, “Hello, Ms. Sheridan. My name is Selene. Do you find missing persons?” Her eyes were very serious, very blue, and very fixed on mine. They shimmered a little with unshed tears.

She’d made it past the reception desk and Oliver, my often-annoying assistant and cousin, so he must think I should hear her story. Despite our frequent personality clashes, Oliver had developed a keen proficiency at weeding out the cases I’d absolutely hate. I gave Selene my most professional and sympathetic smile, and met those unnerving, if lovely, blue eyes. They were hard as sapphires; old as the sky.

“I do my best for every client, but I won’t make any promises beyond that,” I told her. “I’ve had some success with missing persons cases in the past.”

The dog, rangy and shaggy as a wolf—maybe it was a wolf?—settled on its haunches beside her and panted lightly, tongue lolling. Selene stroked the creature’s head with gentle fingers, never breaking our eye contact. “This will be a difficult case, Ms. Sheridan, and I may prove to be a difficult client. I will tell you some things that you may find challenging to accept.”

I leaned back in my chair, which protested with a squeak. I was suddenly intensely aware of the dust in the corners of the room, the scratched and scabbed surface of my desk, the faint layer of windswept grime on the window behind me, and the lingering scent of tuna sandwich from my lunch. Oliver had been pestering me to repaint the place and freshen it up, but I’d resisted. Maybe he had a point.

“I’ll try to keep an open mind,” I said. “Challenging clients are a bit of a specialty here at Olympia Investigations, which is probably why you chose me.”

She smiled a little, and didn’t deny it. I’m the person to see when a non-human client needs help, and I rely on a lot of supernatural word-of-mouth.

“So, will you be explaining why your skin seems to glow? And I don’t mean the kind of glow they promise in tv commercials.”

She lowered her head in a slow nod. “I will. What you make of that explanation will be up to you.”

I was intrigued, and business had been—let’s face it, boring—the past two weeks. Too many mundane insurance investigations and spousal surveillances, and I start to wonder why I wanted to be a private investigator in the first place. A faintly glowing woman with a half-wolf for a pet promised to be, at the very least, not boring.

“Fair enough,” I told her. “Two hundred a day plus expenses, I report to you at least twice a week, stop when you’re satisfied with the results or don’t want to pursue it any further. If that’s agreeable?”

She shrugged elegantly, nodded, and held out a hand. I shook it, her skin pale and cool and luminescent against mine.

And that’s how I first met Selene, Greek goddess of the moon.

~*~

The missing person in question, she told me, was her…hmmm. Not husband, because they’d never married, although according to legend he had fathered some fifty daughters for her. Consort, perhaps? I put him down on my information sheet as “significant other.” Endymion, the man who, either at Selene’s request or his own (reports varied), and by the acquiescence of Zeus himself, slept eternally in order to avoid growing old and dying.

I didn’t know that it was much of a trade-off, but there were those fifty daughters to consider.

We’d made it only that far when Oliver knocked on the door and bustled in without waiting for me to answer, even though he knows I hate it when he does that. He was the picture of the efficient assistant—ebony hair slicked to one side, not a strand out of place, lint-free black turtleneck with the sleeves pushed up just so, and charcoal grey trousers pressed with a crease sharp enough to cut paper. And a mild, disinterested smile, camouflaging his raging curiosity.

Oliver carried a tray bearing two steaming mugs; sweet black coffee for me, and something pale and floral-smelling for Selene. She accepted it with a smile so I assumed he’d asked her in the waiting room what she’d like. He looked a question at me with raised eyebrows—anything else? want me to stay?—and when I shook my head minutely he left us again. To listen at the door, I had no doubt. Oliver could play the detached professional but it was all an act.

Anyway, Selene’s story went something like this: after hundreds of years of peaceful slumber in a secret cavern, where Selene joined him every night, Endymion had somehow disappeared. A week ago, Selene arrived at the cave on a Tuesday night and found it inexplicably empty. Although she’d searched for him herself and questioned her fellow divine and semi-divine colleagues, she’d found no sign of him and uncovered no clues to his whereabouts. That’s when she decided to hire me.

 

In addition to “The Goddess Problem,” The Immortals bundle features:

Glamour of the God-Touched by Ron Collins
A Man and His God by Janet Morris
Unnatural Immortal by Russ Crossley
First Chosen by M. Todd Gallowglas
Walking Gods by Leah Cutter
Rainbow’s Lodestone by J.M. Ney-Grimm
Brainjob by David Sloma
Silver Dust by Leslie Claire Walker
Vale of Semūin by Eric Kent Edstrom
Fate’s Door by J.M. Ney-Grimm
Kaylyn the Sister-in-Darkness by Barbara G. Tarn
The Legend of Oeliana by A. L. Butcher
Jamal & the Skeleton’s Heart by Ezekiel James Boston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can pay a minimum of $4.99 USD and receive all 14 ebooks. Find it at any of these links:

Universal Link https://books2read.com/Immortalsbundle

Bundle Rabbit https://bundlerabbit.com/b/immortals

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-immortals-bundle

Amazon.com

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-immortals-bundle-a-l-butcher/1127826108

I Tunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1335201648

Bundles are great fun and an excellent deal! I hope you check this one out.

Friday Desk Report – January 26, 2018

Whew! It’s not hard to tell it’s the beginning of the year. I got some writing done, worked on promotional stuff, made a new short story available on a bundling site, set up a new bundle I’d like to curate, and poked around on Patreon for a while.

I’ve been thinking about Patreon for some time now…is it something that could work for me as a writer? I’m leaning toward giving it a try, but no firm decisions yet. I’ll keep you posted here on any developments. I do have some fun things I could do on the platform, I think.

The big news this week is that my copies of Beyond the Sentinel Stars arrived! I think it wasn’t really real until I held a copy in my hands. Which also meant I was able to take this picture…full trilogy!

This has also been my second week of doing a yoga practice every day and–wow! I am really feeling the effects (in a very good way). Of course I’m still at my treadmill desk, too, but the yoga is bringing something entirely new and welcome to my physical state. I discovered this wonderful channel on YouTube–Yoga with Adriene–and if you’re thinking you might like to try it, I can’t recommend her strongly enough. No pressure, no stress, no demands to do things perfectly or quickly. Adriene’s laid-back and restful style of instruction is exactly what I needed. Check out her beginners’ videos if you’re curious. Every day I can’t wait to get to the mat for my practice.

Just for fun, this year I’m tracking what I research for various stories. Things I looked up on the Internetz this week for writing: old general store images, row houses, and words in the Mi’kmaq language.