From The North Rim 44

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I did it. I finished my last read-through of my science fiction novel ‘Flatlanders’. At least until the next one. But I feel I’m ready to approach an agent. First I must prepare.

My first step is to produce a new outline. This outline covers every event of the 116,764 words. It runs 17 single-spaced pages. To give you an idea, here is the first page:

Flatlanders (116,764 words)

Part One:  From A Distant World Close By (1-56)

1. (1-3)                    Mickey is at work at his blackboard in his apartment on mathematical calculations when he hears someone call his name (Mick). He wakens his roommate George, who is a mechanical engineer, to see if it was him, but it wasn’t.

2. (4-5)                        Mickey ventures outside and enters the alley next to his building to give a homeless man, Ralph, a McDonalds gift card. He proceeds to a nearby park and sits at a bench he has marked to work on his laptop. He hears someone call his name again (Mickey), and this time he determines it is a female voice. He reveals he is suffering headaches and bad nightmares.

3. (6-7)                        Mickey is at work in a classroom at Northwestern University in Evanston, just north of Chicago, when he hears a female voice call his name (Mickey Hi). This time there is a woman present, a cleaning lady. She denies calling his name, and leaves. He suffers another headache.

4. (8-12)          Mickey is at work late one night at his blackboard in the living room of his apartment when the female voice says, “42”. After realizing the number works in his calculations, he awakens George and rousts him out of bed to come check his math. George fails to see what the fuss is about. He flees back to bed, but Mickey pursues him claiming the event is momentous.

5. (13-18)        Mickey is at work on his laptop on his bench in the park when a young woman jogger, Priscilla, a Teachers Assistant to Mitchell, the head of the Physics Department at Northwestern, greets him. He explains who the woman depicted on the sticker on the lid of his laptop, Hypatia, is. He then jogs alongside Priscilla while trying to explain his breakthrough. They end up at her grandparents’ empty house, which is several blocks off campus. She invites him in, and he follows her upstairs. Mickey finds her room and wardrobe heavily influenced by Disney princesses. They continue discussing his work while she showers. After, Priscilla asks him to hand a gown into her, Mickey sees a nightgown with Ariel on it, but chooses a skimpy pink robe for her instead.

6. (19-22)        Priscilla joins Mickey and George at their apartment to go over Mickey’s work. Ramanujan, Douglas Adams, and the easy chairs are discussed. Priscilla takes a picture of Mickey by his blackboard, which she suggests he share with his coffee group.

7. (23-27)        Mickey meets with the Phun With Physics group – Lucy, Miriam, Albert, Stan & Laurie – in a coffee shop across the street from the city park where his tagged bench is. Mickey reveals he is trying to establish contact with a higher dimension. Lucy and Miriam are jealous of each other. Laurie flirts with Mickey, while her husband Stan doesn’t seem to mind. Mickey hears the female voice call his name, but this time also sees a faint form across the street in a downpour. He rushes out in the rain to her, but she is gone. He returns to the coffee shop drenched and disturbed. The meeting breaks up, and Mickey leaves with Lucy.

As you see, I work backwards at this. I begin with the largest document, the outline, then whittle it down into smaller documents. After the outline comes the long synopsis, which runs 4 single-spaced pages. Here is the first page:

Mickey Haiku, a young theoretical physicist graduate student at Northwestern University, is determined to contact the higher dimensions postulated by string theory. He shares a tiny off-campus apartment with a huge blackboard and mechanical engineer intern George. Their mathematician friend Priscilla, teacher assistant to physics department head Mitchell, checks his work. To escape from the grind, Mickey hosts a Phun With Physics group at a nearby coffee shop with five ordinary people interested in science – elderly Lucy, elderly Miriam, middle-age married Army vets Stan and Laurie, and 98-year old Albert. His only other companions are old homeless guy Ralph living in the alley outside his apartment and a laptop loaded with mathematical haiku, Tricep electronica music, and a full-color sticker of Ancient Greek mathematician Hypatia.

            Mickey already suffers obliterating headaches and wild nightmares, which he assumes are a result of the intensity of his work. His condition worsens when he begins hearing a voice call his name. Which clarifies to become a female voice. Then a ghostly female form. Then an attractive scantily-clad female body. Who begins helping him with his work. He persists in doubting her reality, thinking his subconscious might be providing this aid, until she hits him with a piece of chalk.

            On the fateful day their work is completed, the image of Eden disappears, leaving Mickey alone in his apartment. Or is it really Mickey? What has transpired is Mickey’s consciousness has been drawn into Eden’s body in her dimension, while Eden’s consciousness has slipped into Mickey’s body in his dimension. This was Eden’s plan all along. Her dimension is crushingly overpopulated. She intends to open a portal from Mickey’s dimension into hers so her people can flood in and overwhelm Mickey’s world with their vast numbers and superior technology. But the weak breach between dimensions, which could only be forced open from the lower dimension, Mickey’s dimension, would not allow anything physical to pass through. Yet something has happened to Mickey’s laptop, which contains all their work vital to forcing the breach wide open. While searching for the laptop, Eden becomes distracted when she encounters Edie, her twin in Mickey’s dimension.

            Meanwhile in Eden’s dimension, Mickey awakens in her body with no idea of what is going on. To make matters much worse, Mickey comes to learn Eden is pregnant. Eden(Mickey), who is Eden’s body with Mickey’s soul, encounters twins of people from his dimension in an insane world of way too many people fighting a war with a race of sub-humans living beneath them. He is contacted by beings from an even higher dimension, twins of George and Priscilla, who want to help Mickey foil Eden’s plans. They believe Eden breaching Mickey’s dimension will wreak havoc in all the dimensions, so are determined to prevent it happening. They were able to slip the laptop through to Mickey, and have loaded it with files and programs needed to stop Eden. So the battle is on for Mickey(Eden), who is Mickey’s body with Eden’s soul, to complete her strategy in Mickey’s world, while Mickey strives in Eden’s body in Eden’s world to stop her, all the while encountering twins of people they know from their own worlds who are living in the other dimension – familiar people in unfamiliar circumstances. What Eden doesn’t know is she is being used by Ralph, the ruler of her dimension. She believes she is saving her world, while Ralph plans for only the top one per cent to escape into Mickey’s dimension, leaving their world in ruins.

Next comes the single page synopsis:

This science fiction novel of 116,700 words is a light-hearted romp through the extra dimensions we share our planet with.                                                                      

Mickey Haiku is a theoretical physicist graduate student at Northwestern University. While attempting to reach extra dimensions that string theory predicts exist, he comes into contact with Eden, a scientist from another dimension attempting the same thing from her side. They manage to open a small portal just big enough for their consciousness to pass through. Which means Mickey goes into Eden’s body in her dimension and Eden goes into Mickey’s body in his dimension. Mickey has no idea how this has happened and is totally lost, while this was planned by Eden. Her dimension is crushingly overpopulated, and from this lower dimension she will be able to blast open the barriers between the dimensions that will allow her people to pour into Mickeys dimension and overwhelm it with their superior tech and numbers. Only there are people from higher dimensions who want to stop her, so they help Mickey thwart her. They succeed, but it doesn’t go as planned. Beings from an even higher dimension have their own strategies. They send Mickey and Eden off on a wild odyssey through many higher dimensions. Such as one in the subatomic world of quantum mechanics. One on a world far in the future where people have migrated into the seas. A spiritual realm of monsters and ghouls. A world run by robots where people are their pets. A world ruled by plants. A spaceship carrying the surviving remnant of the human race to a new planet. A world decimated by a pandemic where an intelligent virus has evolved. And what they believe to be the highest dimension in the Himalayan mountains. Of course, there are other hidden dimensions they become aware of.                                     

At the beginning Mickey is easily duped by Eden. This turns to intense competition as each tries to stop the other in order to protect their own dimension. They are then forced into an antagonistic alliance as they try to get back home. After going through many adventures together, they are attracted to each other, and their relationship is finally consummated. By the end they realize they each must return to their own dimension, so they try to set each other up with who they believe will be their best match. Yet Mickey has a trick left up his sleeve that might allow them to stay together.

The people in Mickey’s dimension all have doubles in the other dimensions. Mickey’s twin in Eden’s dimension is her ex-husband Mick, while Eden’s twin in Mickey’s dimension is a cleaning woman at Northwestern, Edie. Mickey’s roommate George is Eden’s brother, Priscilla is a good friend in both dimensions, and so on. Also, Eden is pregnant at the time Mickey possesses her, and he has to deal with that. Mickey’s laptop, which he calls Hypatia, is a major player in the story. Also, he enjoys the electronica music of Tricep, and mathematical haiku.

Now comes the most difficult. Distill all this to 1 paragraph:

Theoretical physicist Mickey Haiku has realized his life-long dream of contacting another dimension. And traveling there. Only he didn’t count on doing it as a female. Eden, a brilliant scientist from a higher dimension, has tricked him not only into switching dimensions but also bodies. Her dimension is crushingly overcrowded, and she plans to break down the barrier between dimensions so her people can overrun Mickey’s world, which they would take over with their superior tech and numbers. But she can only accomplish this from Mickey’s dimension, and the weak portal she managed to open  would only let her consciousness slip through into Mickey’s body, displacing his into her body. But there are other players in this game, beings from even higher dimensions intent on manipulating Mickey and Eden for their own gain. So the two are stuck in each others’ bodies on an odyssey through many weird dimensions as they fight to get back home. Actually, there are three of them. Eden is pregnant, and Mickey undergoes a crash course in caring for the fetus he is carrying.

With these tools completed, I am ready to pitch to agents.

From The Bookshelf of goodread’s Indie Authors At The Round Table

Adventure by Chicken Bus: An Unschooling Odyssey through Central America: LoSole, Janet: 9781532684869: Books

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From The North Rim 43

If any of the new readers want to catch up, the newsletter is archived on the Shadytown site:  Shadytown – Middle Grade paranormal adventure novel (

I signed a contract with VitalTek to publish my suspense novella ‘Clans’ on their Readict platform.

At first they responded that they liked my novella, but it was too short for them, and could I make it longer. It was approximately 23,000 words and they required at least 30,000. But while I was mulling this over they came back with a change of heart and wanted to publish it as is. So I signed on.

It will be digital only. They have a business model where readers can download their free app and use it to download books a chapter at a time for free. They can continue downloading chapters to their phones or other devices by watching ads, or doing other things. It’s all free, the company apparently makes their money from ad sales. They claim to already have 300,000 subscribers, with their audience steadily growing. This is something new, so I’m anxious to see how it plays out.

I just got back from a short camping trip to Grand Lake St. Mary State Park in northwest Ohio.

We had the park practically to ourselves. It was cold and windy, but still worth getting out of the house for. We drove around the lake twice, hiked around a nature preserve. While there I worked on the second installment to my Shadytown series, ‘Time Tripper’. That is my next project after finishing with ‘Flatlanders’.

Also, I read a novel, ‘Stone Angels’, by Paula R. C. Readman. She is a member of a Facebook group I belong to, For Writers Only Clubhouse. I am always reading and reviewing books from the several writers groups I belong to. It’s not trading reviews, which is unethical, but I do theirs now in the hopes someone from the group will review my ‘Flatlanders’ novel when I get it published. I posted this review in my several groups on Facebook, goodreads, and an abbreviated version on Twitter.

Stone Angels, by Paula R. C. Readman

A fascinating concept. Stylized paintings of murder victims. Not portraits, but staged posings of dying women meant to appear as angels carved in stone suspended in the air above a gothic world they are agonizing over. A cruel diabolical story, as these women suffer slow agonizing deaths. Each victim is richly drawn, distinct from all the others. And each kidnapping is richly planned and carried out, each cruel treatment of each model is richly detailed, at least in the beginning. But as one innocent woman bleeds into the next, as one successful kidnapping after another is carried out, as one angel after another slowly, tortuously, dies, the details grow more and more indistinct, and the inner turmoil of the artist is more finely drawn. At some point the focus shifts from the canvas the angels are painted on to the canvas not only the artist himself is depicted upon but also his mother. This turns out by the author’s clever slight of hand to be the crucial relationship of the book – the artist and his mother. While the artist grows sloppier in his kidnappings and the police circle in closer and closer, it is a foregone conclusion that he will be caught. That hardly matters. What matters is how the relationship with his famous mother plays out. She becomes the ultimate stone angel. This novel is a dark brooding tale of a famous artist and her artist son desperately trying to live up to her icy standards. I was enthralled by it. 

Also, I never post a review without providing a link to where the book can be purchased:

 Stone Angels – Kindle edition by Readman, Paula R. C.. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @

 With the trip over, it’s back to work. I hope to finish a final read-through (but you know how that goes) and begin searching for an agent.

 From The Bookshelf of goodread’s Indie Authors At The Round Table Zombie Walkabout (9781707289219): Murrell, Phillip: Books

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From The North Rim 42

If any of the new readers want to catch up, the newsletter is archived on the Shadytown site:  Shadytown – Middle Grade paranormal adventure novel (

First some personal news. Prospective Press sent me an edited version of my novelette ‘Estate Sale’ which they are publishing in Off The Beaten Path 4, coming out in April. The editor made only minor changes, all acceptable to me. What’s worrisome is a major blunder I had made, which I corrected myself. No matter how many times I go over and over a story it seems there is always something I miss.

Now to what I intended to write about. VitalTek contacted me about publishing my novella, ‘Clans’, on their Readict digital platform. No contract has been signed yet, but they explained their business proposal:

About Readict and the Publishing Platform

Readict is an innovative e-reading app with about 300K daily active users and is constantly growing. Current features include:

  • The app is free for readers to download
  • Readers are provided between 3-7 chapters to read at a time, and then can unlock additional chapters for further reading
  • Unlocking chapters can be earned by things like daily check-ins to accumulate coins for redemption, watch ads, etc.
  • Users can click to watch 1 ad to earn 15 minutes of ad-free reading

Business model

  • Readict licenses content from both publishers and authors with renewable agreements for both exclusive and non-exclusive novel-length, fiction.
  • License fees are determined by how well a title does in a closed testing environment with their users.
  • The data from the test results get applied to a 3-Tiered Reading Retention* table (Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3), in addition to a second tiered table based on the author’s social media presence and reach. Books that test in Tier 1 are paid a higher licensing fee per title than the lower tiers.
  • Readict selects a number of titles, applies the license fee to each title, and pays the author/publisher accordingly. These are flat rate license fees, not royalties.
  • Before the agreement renews for the next year, each party reviews the data to determine the current retention rate for each title, and license fees can be modified if we choose to renew.
  • Authors are given sign-on bonuses for first books, as well as returning perks.
  • We offer referral bonuses for anyone referring a writer who signs on as a Readict Author.
  • We do offer higher license payments for books that are exclusive to Readict and are open to spec books. Please contact an Acquisitions Editor prior to writing for more direction.

*Reading Retention is determined by how many users read a minimum of 6,000 words of a book during the testing period.

Readict Programs for Authors and Publishers

Our Team is currently working on creating several new programs that will be available to our signed authors to help promote their current works as well as grow their skills and knowledge as writers. All of the programs are voluntary, and are offered to help nurture lasting relationships between the authors and Readict and grow their readership on our platform and social media.

  • A weekly newsletter
    • Our newsletter includes articles on writing and marketing, featured writers and stories, interviews with authors, and upcoming events and cross-promotional posts
    • Sign up now to receive updates:
  • Readict’s Star Writer Series
    • This program features a new writer every two weeks. Their books are promoted across multiple platforms as well as our newsletter
  • The Author Training Program
    • This program consists of a combination of online articles distributed through our newsletter and training videos to help increase participant knowledge of the writing and publishing process, creating a social media presence, and building a brand as an author
  • Cross-promotional opportunities for authors across social media
  • Hosting monthly live zoom conferences between authors and editors
    • Allowing “face” time with the acquisition and editing team to answer questions, hold live training sessions, and create an author community through interaction with other writers and readers

The point I want to make is people are coming up with new business models all the time. Just because something is different doesn’t mean it’s a scam. I have studied this proposal, and it seems to me to be on the level. At this point it’s only a proposal, I haven’t signed a contract yet. It is intriguing, so if they come through with a contract I will most likely sign it. My novella ‘Clans’ has been gathering dust for years, so it would be great to get it out there. So don’t assume something that you aren’t familiar with is necessarily a scam.

From The Bookshelf of Breaking Rules Publishing

FRAGMENTS OF OBLIVION: SELECTED WORKS 1977-2020: Foley, Robert M: 9798576068746: Books


Shadytown – Middle Grade paranormal adventure novel (

From The North Rim 41

From The North Rim 41

If any of the new readers want to catch up, the newsletter is archived on the Shadytown site:  Shadytown – Middle Grade paranormal adventure novel (

I received this email concerning a novella I had submitted to a site listed on Duotrope:

Thank you SO much for submitting to Violet & the Bird! We would love to publish your work as an ebook on our Etsy website. Authors get 50% of the profits paid monthly.

Please let us know if this works for you,

Warm wishes,


            Here is an image of issue 1 of their publication I found on goodreads.

The reason this is an image from goodreads is that was the only site I could find the publication listed. Neither Amazon, B & N, nor any other e-book retailer listed it. After I posted in my writers groups about having a story accepted for publication by Violet and the Bird, I got numerous responses that Violet and the Bird was a scam, and that they would soon be asking me for money. I have never paid anyone to publish anything of mine, so they would not have been successful if they had requested a donation. But the people who had replied to my post informed me they had pressured Amazon to remove their publication from their site, and apparently all the other e-book retailers had followed suit. That was the reason I could find an image of their publication only on goodreads, where they still have a presence. Another reason to join online writers groups, for the current information they are willing to share.

            Another scam I came across was Calumet Publications.

This scam was easy to spot because they were too eager. I submitted the first chapter of a novella, and they responded by sending me a contract. No one has ever offered me a contract on a first chapter, I know I’m not that good. They didn’t even want to read the rest of the story. The contract was some kind of ‘new business model’ for publishing, where the author paid for every service they performed. Even after I declined, they continued to spam me with offers. Too eager and too persistent.

            Although technically not a scam, I was turned off by AutoCrit’s persistence, also.

This looked like some kind of book editing software. It turned out to be a pricey subscription service, so I decided not to pursue it. They certainly pursued me. I was spammed for months with offers. But they did give me a free PDF download.

It looks interesting. Now that I am completing ‘Flatlanders’ I’ll probably get around to reading it.

            There are a lot of scams out there. Beware.

From The Bookshelf of Breaking Rules Publishing

AutoCrit Tales From The Deep End – 2 – Kindle edition by Wirth, Dean. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @

Souls of Nod

Shadytown – Middle Grade paranormal adventure novel (

From The North Rim 40

If any of the new readers want to catch up, the newsletter is archived on the Shadytown site:  Shadytown – Middle Grade paranormal adventure novel (

In the previous newsletter I announced that my short story ‘Poison Sink’ was accepted for publication. Here is a kindly-worded rejection letter I received from this publication prior to them accepting the piece:

Hi Mike,

Thank you so much for submitting your work to Stanchion! I remain humbled and grateful that you thought of my zine as a potential home for it. Unfortunately, the hard reality of running a print publication is, of course, the sparsity of physical space. This means that I end up saying no far more than yes, and far more than I’d like. And you guessed it, this is another of those ‘no’ emails.

I have to be honest with you, Mike, I’m transfixed by “Poison Sink” but I simply didn’t have the room in issue 4. I’d love to move the piece forward into consideration for issue 5 (August 2021) but don’t want to interfere with you attempting to place it elsewhere this year. Totally understand if you’d rather not keep it in my pile, although I’d be sad to miss out on it. Let me know what you think and thank you again for sharing your talent with me.

Thank you again,


At the time, I thought it the nicest rejection letter I’d ever gotten. So I told them to keep the story in their pile and publish it when they could, that I would not submit it any place else. I had plenty else to do in the meantime, like finish the seemingly endless task of editing my science fiction novel ‘Flatlanders’, and then finding an agent or publisher, and then marketing it. So waiting until August is no problem. Then they replied by formally accepting the story for publication. So even a rejection letter can lead to good things. Never give up.

I’ve had worse things happen, such as publishers back out on publishing material of mine. Once I even signed a contract to have a horror short story published, but they never did. The story was ‘But Who Are You’, contracted to Dark House Books.

They even designed a cover for the anthology it was to appear in.

But they never published it. The rights have reverted back to me. Publishers can only possess your material for a certain amount of time without doing something with it. So now I’ve begun submitting it other places.

This isn’t the worst that can happen to unsuspecting writers. I’ll cover some scams I’ve come across in the next newsletter.

From the bookshelf of Breaking Rules Publishing

Reflection – Kindle edition by McCarthy, P.. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @

Shadytown – Middle Grade paranormal adventure novel (

From The North Rim 39

If any of the new readers want to catch up, the newsletter is archived on the Shadytown site:  Shadytown – Middle Grade paranormal adventure novel (

First off, some good news. My science fiction short story ‘Poison Sink’ has been accepted for publication by Stanchion.

Home | Stanchion Zine

It is slated for issue 5, which is scheduled to come out this summer.

Last newsletter I mentioned that I read the first 10 pages of my very-nearly-honest-to-God-almost done science fiction novel, ‘Flatlanders’, on a podcast hosted by Breaking Rules Publishing. Since they already premiered online, I thought I’d present them here. Any feedback, pro or con, would be appreciated.


Part One

From a Distant World Close By


No manuscript is as impressive as a chalkboard smothered in mathematical calculations. This chalkboard was massive, at least a rectangular meter by a meter and a half. Its black surface was covered in scribblings done in white chalk that to an untrained eye appeared to be a foreign language, or one long forgotten. Here and there a familiar numeral emerged from the entanglement of exotic symbols. A faint white blur of erased previous inscriptions existed beneath the bold white markings, much the way evidence of previous civilizations underlie present-day society. On the tray at the bottom of the board were several well-used erasers and an array of white chalk nubs.

            The small room, a little over two by three meters, contained little else. There were two worn torn easy chairs, a coffee table, and several folding chairs folded up against a wall. The bare wooden floor sported no rugs, the bare pale walls no paintings or pictures or posters or banners. There was one window, but it was so securely blindered and heavily curtained that the time of day, or night, was indeterminable. Also, the room was poorly-lit. There was a spotlight clipped to the chalkboard illuminating the work. The rest of the dim room was clean, in a sense. There were no food wrappers or drink cans or other detritus about; but then no janitorial effort had been squandered, either. A layer of dust, mostly white chalk, was thick enough on the floor and coffee table top so that the same calculations done on the chalkboard could have been done there, too. Orderliness is revered by mathematicians; cleanliness, not so much.

            About the easy chairs. They both were adorned with stickers. On one were images of cartoon mice, such as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Mighty Mouse, Jerry mouse (of Tom and Jerry fame), and Fievel Mousekovitz. On the other easy chair was a quote:  ‘George is in the engineering department. He is not the engineering department. He is merely in it.’

            In the middle of the coffee table sat a laptop. Affixed to and nearly covering its lid was a sticker of a woman clad in a classical robe of antiquity. Although the laptop itself was nicked and coffee-stained, the glossy brightly-colored image appeared new. The laptop was open and music emanated. Electronica tunes blended seamlessly one into another and echoed about the hollow space.

            Before the chalkboard stood Mickey Haiku. Late twenties, short (a little more than one and half meters) and skinny, brown hair of no discernable cut, wearing too-long pants rolled up at the cuffs and cinched tight with a too long belt, a once-white coffee-stained short sleeve button up shirt, and paper-thin double-knotted tennis shoes. As for his face, there was a hint of whiskers upon the lower half of a round pale pasty glob. Weak eyes squinted behind heavy industrial-strength glasses.

Mickey stood before the chalkboard studying the computations. There was a footstool for him to reach the uppermost regions of the board. At the moment he was squatted down examining the bottom.


Mickey froze. Raised his head and looked around. No one else was present. He unsquatted and paused the electronica on his laptop. Total silence. He backed the track up and replayed it then listened closely. There was nothing in the music that sounded like someone saying his name. He paused the music once again and walked to a closed door and listened. No sounds from the other side. Mickey opened the door. In the small dark room a form could be seen bundled up in a short bed. “George?”


“Are you talking in your sleep?”

“Not now.”

“I thought I heard something.”

“Are you having another nightmare?”

“I could be.”

“Then wake up and leave me alone.”

Mickey backed out, closing the door. He looked around the room. Shrugged. Then returned to the chalkboard to squat where he had previously squatted.


That afternoon Mickey walked out the door of his brownstone apartment building onto a city sidewalk. It was an overcast chilly day. He had donned a faded Chicago Bulls cap and pulled on a torn and stained light jacket that retained a faded ‘Pi’ logo from Aranofsky’s movie. His laptop was clutched at his side.

Turning the corner of his building, Mickey walked down a narrow alley. A human form was huddled on the pavement beneath cardboard and sheets of plastic up against the side of his building. Mickey stooped down before it. “You doing okay, Ralph?”

A well-weathered badly-aged stub of a head poked out from the plastic. “What happened to Gauss?”

Mickey glanced at the laptop he carried. “I had a dream about Hypatia.”

“Dreams can be tricky, Haiku. You never know where they come from.”

Mickey fished a McDonalds gift card from his pocket and handed it to Ralph. “Go  buy something hot to eat. Get indoors for a while.”

Ralph pulled the gift card inside his sheltering plastic. “Thanks, Haiku.”

Mickey walked back out of the alley then continued several blocks to a small park. Passing a number of empty benches, he came to the one he had tagged. It was emblazoned with a famous formula – 6.626068×10^-34m^2 kg/s. Mickey sat and opened his laptop. The faces of the most-tapped keys were worn off, and the entire keyboard was dusted in chalk. His Mathematica program was open, and the exotic symbols on the screen matched the symbols that had been on his chalkboard. Joggers passed by, elders limped by, kids ran by, mothers pushed strollers by, scooters and skates and skateboards and bicycles rolled by. Mickey ignored all, squinting at screen after screen of computations.


Mickey jerked up to look all around. No one was near him, or paying any heed to his form slouched down into the bench. But it had been louder than last time, and this time he discerned a feminine lilt. Only there were no women nearby.

Mickey rubbed his furrowed forehead to push back on an emerging headache. He clenched eyes and lips, massaging with one hand while keeping a firm grip on the laptop with the other. Did the boulders banging together inside his skull cause him to hear a woman call his name, Mickey wondered? Or did a woman calling his name bring on the boulders? These headaches were a recent development. They had begun about the same time as his wild nightmares. And both were getting worse.


Mickey sat at a desk in an empty classroom on the Northwestern University campus in Evanston, thirty-two kilometers north of Chicago. His laptop was open, and he was poring over his work. He had changed clothes at this point, but you couldn’t tell it. His thin hair remained as tangled. With the usual grimace on his countenance it was difficult to tell if he was suffering a headache or not.

“Mickey Hi.”

“Who are you?!” Mickey bellowed, looking all about the empty room.

Only it was no longer empty. A female form stood before him. Mickey jumped to his feet, yet kept a protective hand on his open laptop. Was this form real? A fiction from his worsening nightmares? Or the phantasm that had been calling his name?

The female form spoke. “I’m sorry.”

She didn’t disappear, so she was probably real. As he focused on her, he saw a janitorial cart behind a young woman dressed in jeans and tee shirt, with her hair tied up in a bright red scarf. Which caught his eye. He stepped up for a closer look at it.

The woman backed away, keeping the cart between them. “I thought this room was empty.”

The bright red scarf was emblazoned with stark black numbers and math symbols. He motioned to the faded symbol on his jacket hanging on the back of his chair. “Pi.”

She touched the scarf, smiled.

“How many places is it solved to?” Mickey asked.

The woman shrugged. “It was a present from my mother.”

“Did you call my name?”

“I don’t know your name.”

“Did you say hi to me?”

The woman backed toward the door, pulling her cart along behind. “I can come back later.” She backed out.

Mickey searched all the corners of the room. No one else was there. He collapsed into his chair, propping elbows on knees to grasp his lowered throbbing head. Why did the voice coincide with such headaches? Or did the headaches bring on the voice? Chicken or egg? Stupid question; the egg preceded the chicken by hundreds of millions of years.


Mickey stood in the living room of his apartment looking from his open laptop on the coffee table to the crammed-full chalkboard. On the screen of his laptop was mathematical haiku – Base Eight In The Spring, by Dor Abrahamson:  ‘I wrote a poem with/Seventeen syllables/Did I count right?’. Tricep played an electronica mix behind the poetry. Mickey shuffled from foot to foot to the soft beat of the music as he repeated the last line of haiku over and over. “Did I count right? Did I count right? Did I count right?”


Growing accustomed to immaterial voices, Mickey forced himself not to overreact. He continued shuffling from foot to foot and repeating his mantra, “Did I count right?”, while looking around the room. As always, no one was present. But the headache was. He stopped shuffling to rub his temples. Yet even this didn’t immobilize him. This he was getting used to, also.

Finally, he focused through blurry headachey eyes on the chalkboard. Locked onto an equation. He carefully approached the board. Chalk marks could be squiggly, they were shape-shifters, could change their meaning in the blink of a sleep-starved eye. He zeroed in on the equation. Was that an empty spot? Black not scribbled over in white? Was there enough space? To inscribe? Two numbers? His nose was nearly touching the board. His trembling fingers picked up a sliver of chalk, barely a trace of chalk, and slowly, cautiously, scrunched the two numbers upon the little bit of bare black, forcing them to fit. Four. Two.

Mickey withdrew his nose. Mouthed the number. Forty-two. Studied the equation. He stepped back, scanning the section of computation the equation was a part of. He stepped back further to scan the entire chalkboard. Mickey began shuffling again, only more so than just from foot to foot; this could almost be recognized as dancing. He began chanting. “Forty-two. Forty-two. Forty-two.”

Mickey danced across the room to a closed door. “George! George!” Mickey flung the door wide.


“Forty-two!” Mickey danced into the dark room.

“Shut up.”

“Forty-two!” Mickey danced up to the bed.

“Get out.”

“Forty-two!” Mickey danced around the bed.

The bundled covers stirred. “I’ll kill you.”

“Forty-two!” Mickey stopped dancing. “Get up.”

A fuzzy head emerged. “What time is it?”

“I have no idea.” Mickey leaned in close. “I’ve got something to show you.”


“Forty-two. Arise and prepare to be astounded.”

“Forty-two what?”

“I don’t know. But the answer is forty-two.”

“The answer to life, the universe, and everything?”

“Could be. Come check my math.”

Fifteen minutes later, George, wearing only undershorts, sat in the easy chair with the quotation affixed to it. Even in an irritable daze, he appeared exceptional. Early thirties, ruggedly handsome, his large muscular frame thickly-matted with dark hair, while thick wild hair and full beard adorned his head. But there were conflicts. His eyes squinted, like Mickey’s. His skin was sickly pale, like Mickey’s.

Electronica still played on Mickey’s laptop. Mickey restrained himself from dancing, yet he seemed to quiver like Jell-o. “It’s forty-two? Right?”

George turned from the chalkboard to glare at his roommate. “You pulled me out of bed in the middle of the night…”

“It’s not the middle of the night.”

“Beyond the middle of the night…”

“It’s almost morning.”

“For this bad joke?”

“It’s not a joke.” Mickey pointed to the chalkboard. “Do the math.”

“You’re an idiot.” George stomped back into his bedroom.

Mickey followed George into the dark room and flipped on a light. This cell of a room was about half the size of the living room. A narrow single bed, a chest of drawers, and a nightstand were the only furnishings crammed into it. No ornamentation whatsoever. Only books and journals and magazines and folders and binders and notebooks and loose-leaf computer printout scattered everywhere. George moaned as he collapsed into the narrow single bed.

Mickey pursued him. “I didn’t do an inverse operation. I didn’t start with forty-two and work backwards.” George yanked up the covers and turned away. Mickey hurried around to kneel at his side. “My equations just spit the number out.” George rolled over. Mickey hurried around the foot of the bed to kneel before him again. “I’ve been working on this for years.”

“For decades, centuries, millennia, millions of years.”

“If you examined my work you wouldn’t mock.”

“The only thing I’m examining are the backs of my eyelids.” George closed his eyes. “Cut the light off as you leave.”

“This changes everything.”

George opened his eyes, glancing at the table lamp next to him. “Or I smash the lamp.”

“The higher dimensions are within reach now.”

“Over your head.”

“Mickey Haiku triumphant!” He resumed dancing, and recited a mathematical haiku poem (‘Monstrous Moonshine’, by Francesca Arici) – “ ‘unexpected connections/symmetries and monstrous representations/are one under the moonshine’.”

George reached for the lamp.

“That lamp is only a hologram. Like everything else.”

“Want to test that theory?”

Mickey danced toward the door.

“Didn’t think so. You’re a theoretical physicist. You don’t bother to test.”

Mickey turned back at the open door. “I’ve rocked the world. And George Hammerstein sleeps.” Mickey cut the light off and walked out.

A deep sigh of disgust issued from the darkness.

Mickey closed the door, as demanded. He touched his forehead, and smiled at the realization there was no headache. Must be the adrenaline. To continue his celebration, he  resumed dancing and recited another mathematical haiku (‘Heisenberg’s Relations’, by Francesca Arici): “position and momentum/possess a non trivial commutator/uncertainty relations.”


I am nearly done with it. Honest. Before the end of March, if no further disasters strike.

From the bookshelf of Breaking Rules Publishing

Lives And Loves At Cafe Dolce Vita By Richard Randall (

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I recently appeared on Andrew Sweet’s ‘Meet the Authors’ podcast. It was a pleasant hour spent with him, an associate, and two other authors. I talked mostly about my science fiction novel ‘Flatlanders’. I’ve done several other podcasts, and dozens of Zoom meetings. One notable Zoom was called ‘Author’s Readouts’, hosted by Breaking Rules Publishing, where each author in attendance, there were a half-dozen of us, read something each had written. I read the first 10 pages of ‘Flatlanders’. Since I am nearing completion of this novel, I am trying to get information about it out there.

Meanwhile, back to the ‘Meet the Authors’ podcast. Andrew Sweet recorded it, so I got to see what I looked and sounded like. It wasn’t pretty. This is the first time I’ve seen a recording of myself. One problem was I sat too close to my laptop screen. My face filled it. I need to back off in the future. Also, I moved around too much. On the screen I was jerking all over the place. I need to sit still. Also, I didn’t maintain eye contact. It was obvious I was referring to notes, but I should strive to memorize more and use notes less. I am glad I got to see this. It was instructional on what not to do on Zoom.

Here is a link to the recorded Zoom session. It runs an hour, so watch as much or as little of it as you want, or just skim through it, so you can see how not to appear on Zoom. The recording is under Previously…on MtA:  Meet the Authors – 2/27/21. 

Meet the Authors — andrew sweet books

From the bookshelf of Breaking Rules Publishing

The Letting Spell – Kindle edition by Schaef, Erica. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @

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The book review I presented in the last newsletter was a long one. They don’t have to be that long. Here is one I wrote for ‘Metal Mouth’, a middle grade fiction novel by Jamie Engle.

Metal Mouth: Lightning Can Strike Twice – Kindle edition by Engle, Jaimie, Menendez, Joshua. Children Kindle eBooks @

Exciting teen romantic adventure with a good twist at the end. A teenage girl goes on a wild adventure trying to track down the source of the voice in her head. The action is fast-paced, the feelings seem authentic, and the mystery is compelling. An enjoyable read with an unexpected reveal at the end.

This is to the other extreme, shorter than usual. Here is a review a bit longer for ‘Beautiful, Frightening, and Silent’, by Jennifer Anne Gordon. Beautiful, Frightening, and Silent eBook: Gordon, Jennifer Anne: Kindle Store

One of the best ghost stories I have ever read. The haunter and the two men she haunts are rich well-drawn characters. At one point one of them speaks of this being a ménage a trios of guilt. The author blurs the line between living and dead so that at times you don’t know for sure which side of it each character is on. Most times the ghost seems more real than the living. I have never read such a vital undead character. She rules this remote Maine boarding house with an icy grip. Manipulative and revenge-seeking, she twists each man’s guilt into knots. The way the 82-year old ‘slips’ into death rather than ‘fall’ dead shows the border between life and death to be vaporous. A beautiful, frightening, and anything-but-silent haunting book.

My review for ‘No Place’, by Sam Swigood, was a bit longer yet. No Place eBook: Swicegood, Sam: Books

Gail, Crow, and Nick make this story rock. These are such rich characters that the story flies past your eyes. Forget about the elements of Wizard of Oz that are in the story. Forget about the Irish mythology of an ancient alien invasion (although that is fascinating). It is when Gail and Crow and Nick share the pages that the story crackles. Such rich characters are rare in dystopian fiction. Most of the time the emphasis in such stories is on the destruction of the planet and the degradation of the surviving humans. The author throws a whacky curveball with this. The conquering aliens sincerely believe they are SAVING the Earth from the humans who are wrecking it. These aliens, the Mori, are one of the most unusual alien races to populate a science fiction tome, unlike any I’ve read before. They possesses advanced tech, sure, all conquering alien races do, BUT the Mori can’t comprehend their tech any more than the humans can. That is a fascinating twist. Not wanting to give away any more of the many twists and turns in this end of the world whopper, I’ll quit. But you should get to know Gail and Crow and Nick. You’ll love them.    

I review non-fiction also, such as ‘Factfulness’, by Hans Rosling.

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, Rosling, Hans, Rönnlund, Anna Rosling, Rosling, Ola –

It’s demoralizing to realize I’m not as intelligent as your average chimpanzee. But it’s a relief to realize the world is not collapsing around me. Better yet, the world is inexorably getting better. At a snail’s pace, maybe, but things are definitely on the upswing. Don’t believe me? Read this book. The author’s logic, a Swedish doctor who has traveled the world practicing his craft im some extremely dangerous places, is irrefutably solid. His numbers are beautiful. This book is so reassuring to read. Believe it or not, but I have felt the same way, that the world is slowly getting better for most everybody, but I never had the numbers to back this feeling up. Hans Rosling does, numbers tumbling over numbers, adding up to a wonderful future for mankind. Read this book and rejoice.

There are certain rules I go by when reviewing books. One, never give a bad review. I can usually find something positive to say about any book. If I can’t, I don’t review it. Second, I always supply a link to where the book can be purchased, which is usually on Amazon, where anyone interested can check the book out and read other reviews of it. Third, if I really like a book, I’ll rave about it.

So please take the time to review the books you read. The reviews can be merely a couple sentences. The length and depth of the review doesn’t matter. What matters is your opinion.

From The Bookshelf of INtense Publications Mrs. P., Who Stole My Keys? (9781947796300): Cline, Thorton, Carpenter, Lacie, Jackson, Lily Grace: Books

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I just finished reading the most incredible book and I want to share it with you. First, how I came across it. As you know, my novel ‘Souls of Nod’ was recently published, so I have been promoting it various ways. One way besides Voracious Readers is Sandra Lopez’ site Sandra’s Book Club.

Sandra’s Book Club

How this site works is you agree to read and write a review of a novel listed on her site, then once you post the review on Amazon you can submit your own novel for review. There is a large selection of novels to choose from, in all genres, so you are bound to find a book to interest you. Me being a history buff, I was intrigued by ‘The Tsarina’s Lost Treasure’, by Gerald Easter and Mara Vorhees.

The Tsarina’s Lost Treasure – Kindle edition by Vorhees, Mara, Easter, Gerald. Arts & Photography Kindle eBooks @

Here is the 5-star review I wrote:

It took me a long time to read this book. I slowed down to savor every intricate detail. This book is rich with fascinating historical details. I am a history buff, yet there is so much delightful information in this volume I had never encountered before. I would love to see the History Channel do a mini-series on this book.

  The book opens with a shipwreck that took place in the Baltic Sea in the 17th century. From there it goes into the life and times of a Dutch Master artist of that time, Dou. He was a pupil of Rembrandt and a contemporary of Vermeer and Hals. Although I had never heard of him, at the time he was highly esteemed, and his paintings were valued more highly than Rembrandt’s. While describing the Dutch city Leiden in the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century, it went into such details as what it was like to study under Rembrandt, even into how they mixed their paints (something I had never even considered before).

  Next, it described the Russian court in the 17th century, and how even though Peter the Great had Westernized his country the rest of Europe considered Russia to be a barbaric land. The book went on to relate how Catherine the Great came to power, and what her reign was like. Power at that time was centered in Petersburg (Petrograd), so this locale and time was well described.

            Also, the authors wrote about how fine art was used as symbols of power by the courts of Europe. Whoever could assemble the greatest collection of art had the most imminent court on the continent. At the time this competition was going on, the paintings of the Dutch Masters were the crème of the crème. Catherine the Great was determined to win this competition, and amassed a huge treasure trove of Dutch masterpieces. Dou’s masterpiece was a triptych called ‘The Nursery’. Catherine acquired it, and it, along with a vast collection of other art she had purchased, was shipped by boat from the Netherlands to Russia via the Baltic Sea. Where it was lost when the boat sank in a storm off the coast of Finland. Although the boat was never located, the authors described if it had been found what the salvage techniques of the time would have been employed to bring it to the surface, another of the many interesting little side trips this book takes you on.

            From there the book details the ups and downs of Dou’s reputation through the centuries. Apparently, this painter (which I have never heard of) was spurned not long after his death, but recently he has had a resurgence, and his works are once again highly esteemed. The book also describes the ups and downs or the royal art collections of Europe. Following the French Revolution, most European monarchies went into decline. Their vast art collections were either sold to private collectors or taken over by the state to put in museums.

            The book then jumps to the mid-1950’s and details the many attempts to locate the ship. This lost art treasure trove drew wreck hunters like a magnet. In the 17th century, when paintings were shipped overseas great care was taken to remove them from their frames and store them securely in watertight containers. There was a good chance they could have survived being underwater for centuries (this is also because the Baltic Sea is much less salty than most seas, another fact I now have in my possession from reading this book). But no one could find the sunken ship.

            Until Saure arrived on the scene near the end of the 20th century. Another short detour is taken in describing Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union, and the relations between it and its neighbor Finland. The book describes how Saure located the sunken ship, but was unable to salvage it. Not only that, but the ship was in water so deep and cold that divers could not retrieve the crates containing the art treasures. In order to retrieve them, the ship would have to be raised. The government of Finland stepped in to save what it considered a cultural treasure from glorified treasure hunters. While doing this, the authors also describe modern-day Finland.

            The book then relates the bureaucratic and legal nightmare that took place over the first two decades of the 21st century. Not only did Saure have a claim (as the salvager he should have taken possession of the ship and its contents from the ancient maritime law of finders keepers), and Finland, since the wreck was in its territorial waters, but Sweden also had a claim, since at the time of the wreck Finland had been a part of Sweden, and the Netherlands, as the ship was carrying art treasures of Dutch Masters, and Russia, as Catherine had purchased the paintings. I won’t go into how all these claims were resolved since that would be like giving away the ending of a book.

            If you enjoy history, if you enjoy art (the Dutch Masters in particular) and art history, if you enjoy reading about life in Europe in the 17th century (with life in the Netherlands at that time in particular), if you enjoy the royal court intrigues of that time, if you enjoy reading about treasure hunting on the sea floor (apparently the Baltic Sea is lined with wrecks, from Viking times up to World War 2), if you enjoy reading about power struggles between modern states over possession of what could be an art treasure worth hundreds of millions (if they have survived), you will enjoy reading this book. This is the most astounding history book I have read in a while.

I post reviews of books I greatly enjoy, so I would have posted this no matter what. I hope you take the time to post reviews of books you like. They don’t have to be as lengthy as this, they can be only two or three sentences, but an honest review is appreciated by all authors.

From the Bookshelf of INtense Publications

The Black Cup: Lavictoire, Alec: 9781947796515: Books

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Now where was I? Oh, yeah. I want to thank Diana Wenlock for her kind review of ‘Souls of Nod’. Vey much appreciated.

I’ve got more good news to share this week. I just signed a contract for publication of my horror novelette ‘Estate Sale’ by Prospective Press.

Home (

 It is to be included in their anthology Off The Beaten Path 4, with a release planned for April. The cover of Off The Beaten Path 3 looks pretty cool (especially if they put my name on the cover).

I’ll post the cover for 4 whenever they come up with it, and a link to 4 as soon as they publish it.

In the meantime, I thought this a good opportunity to go over contracts. I hope you are familiar with them, at least literary contracts, because that would mean you have been published. First off, you have to sign them and get them back to the publisher. That part is easy. The publisher sends the contract as an attachment to an email. I then print it, sign it (initializing every page of it that I don’t sign), scan it into my computer, then attach it to a reply to the publisher.

The difficult part is understanding them. This contract was short and sweet, only 2 pages. Some of them can get lengthy.

Here’s the header:


Original Works

Prospective Press LLC

 (hereinafter called the “Publisher”) and its assigns and successors


Mike Sherer (writing as self)

(hereinafter called the “Author,” which term shall be deemed to include the Author’s executor, devisees, heirs, and literary assigns and successors)

sign to

THIS AGREEMENT (hereinafter called the “Agreement”) on this

Twenty-ninth (29th) day of December, 2020

NOW THEREFORE in consideration of the promises and valuable considerations hereinafter set forth, the parties agree as follows:

This above pretty much self-explanatory. Here comes the legalese:

1. The Work

A. This Agreement pertains solely to the Author’s textual work titled Estate Sale (hereinafter called the Work.) The Work is approximately 10,000 words in length and an original work.

B. Publication of The Work in a single anthology on the theme of Gothic Horror tentatively to be titled Off the Beaten Path 4, (the Anthology), for planned publication on or before April, 2021.

This merely describes the story and their plans on publishing it.

2. Grant of Rights

A. Copyright

i.  This Agreement is not a transfer of the copyright to the Work, and the Author retains all copyrights in and to the Work.

ii. This Agreement does not permit the Publisher to publish the Work except as part of the Anthology as a whole or in any other anthology unless explicitly granted by this Agreement or a separate written agreement.

B. All rights not expressly granted by the Author in this agreement, including but

not limited to dramatic adaptation (movie, TV, live theatrical, and other performance), radio, multimedia, game, interactive, commercial and merchandising, graphic novel and comic book, translation, first serial, and second serial rights, reside exclusively with the Author. Any rights that may be developed after the date of this Agreement shall reside exclusively with the Author.

C. Print Book, Electronic Book, and Audio Book Rights for ORIGINAL WORK: The Author grants Worldwide First English Language Anthology print, electronic book, and audio book rights in the Work to the Publisher for inclusion in the Anthology, for publication in the English language.

D. The period of exclusive grant of rights shall encompass the pre-publication period and the six (6) months following publication. Subsequent to this six (6) month period, the period of exclusive use shall end and Author may further dispose of the previously granted rights; however, Publisher may continue to publish the Work non-exclusively in the stated anthology for an additional nine and one half (9.5) years, after which all rights in the Work shall exclusively revert to the Author. At the end of this ten (10) year period (the Expiration Date) the Publisher may not print new copies of the Work in the Anthology, either via Print-on-Demand (POD) or in a traditional reprint of the anthology in a new print run. Copies of the Anthology printed before the Expiration Date may be sold after the Expiration Date. The Expiration Date may only be extended by the written approval of the Author.

The above section declares that the publisher has exclusive rights to the story for 6 months following publication. Now the non-exclusive rights extending for an additional 9 and a half years seems extreme, but that has never been an issue before so I see no problem with it. This also declares that the publisher is only securing first time print rights as part of a specific anthology, and all other rights, including the copyright, remain with me. If someone wanted to use this story as part of an episodic TV show, for example, like Twilight Zone, that would strictly be up to me.

3. Exclusive Use

As Author has granted first rights and/or exclusive rights for a limited period of time, Author agrees to not publish or to enter into any agreement giving any other the right to publish the Work prior to its initial publication in the Anthology and throughout the exclusivity period granted to the Publisher thereafter, without the prior written permission of the Publisher. If the Work is selected for a “best of the year” or an awards anthology, the Publisher agrees to waive this clause, provided the Author gives the Publisher prior written notice of the selection by such an anthology.

The above section reaffirms exclusive right for the story to the publisher, with the exception of the story being included in some ‘best of the year’ honor.

4. Payment

A. For the rights granted to the Publisher in this Agreement, the Publisher shall pay the Author the sum of $56.70 as payment in full no later than January 30th, 2021, conditional upon successful crowdsource funding of the Anthology. Prior to payment, Author shall provide the Publisher a copy of this contract signed by the Author. If payment is not received as required by this paragraph, all rights granted by this Agreement shall immediately revert to the Author. 

This states how much and when I’ll get paid. The crowdsourcing is a new twist, but the publisher previously contacted me to make sure I’d be okay with this stipulation. I’m good with it. If the crowdsourcing falls through and the anthology is never published, then the rights to the story revert to me after 6 months, not an unreasonable amount of time. Besides, these people have a track record – they’ve already published 3 volumes of their anthologies, so the crowdsourcing thing must work for them.

5. Author Copies

A. The Author shall receive two (2) free copies of the first print edition of the Anthology.

B. Additional copies will be made available at an authors’ discount of 50% off list price.

C. The Publisher shall notify Author of all subsequent editions before their

publication, and whenever possible, send the Author one copy of all subsequent editions or versions of the Anthology.

I get 2 free and additional copies 50% off.

6. Non Publication

A. If the Anthology is not published within twelve (12) months of the date of this

agreement, all rights hereunder shall immediately revert to the Author. In such event, the Author shall retain any and all payments made under this agreement prior to such reversion.

B. Should the Publisher wish to extend the publishing deadline, Publisher shall pay Author an additional fee equal to fifty (50) percent of the initial fee, unless explicitly waived by Author. Any extension of the deadline, and any changes to this clause, must be in writing.

The publisher has a year to publish the anthology; 6 months prior to publication and 6 months following publication. Rights after publication hasn’t ever been an issue with me. I have only ever had 1 published story reprinted. Most publishers want only new unpublished works.

7. Advertising and Promotion

Arising under and terminating with the grant of rights to the Work in this Agreement, the Author grants Publisher the right to use the Author’s name, image, likeness, and biographical material for all advertising, promotion, and other use of the Work. Upon request, the Author shall provide the Publisher with a photograph of the Author and appropriate biographical material for such use. The Publisher shall use only the Author’s name, image, likeness, and biographical material provided and approved by the Author.

Merely states I will assist the publisher in promoting the anthology.

8. Author’s Warranties and Indemnity

A. The Author warrants that, as of the date of executing this agreement, he or she is sole author of the Work; that he or she is the owner of all the rights granted to the Publisher hereunder and has full power to enter into this agreement and to make the grants herein contained; that the Work is original and any prior publication of the Work in whole or in part has been fully disclosed to the Publisher and that to the best of the Author’s knowledge the Work does not infringe upon any copyright or upon any other proprietary or personal right of any person, firm, or corporation.

B. The Author will indemnify the Publisher against any loss, injury, or damage finally sustained in a court of law (including any legal costs or expenses and any compensation costs and disbursements paid by the Publisher) incurred by the Publisher in connection with or in consequence of an intentional breach of one or more the foregoing warranties, for which the Publisher has no coverage under its insurance policies. The Publisher will add the Author to any insurance policy it may have which representation and the decision to settle will be made in consultation between the Author and Publisher, and neither may proceed without the approval of the other, not to be unreasonably withheld.

States that this is my short story and it contains no copyrighted or libelous material. If you are going to write you need to learn copyright and licensing law. It’s not complicated. Don’t use real people and don’t quote from any published material without permission.

9. Alterations

The Publisher will make no alterations to the Work’s text or title without the Author’s written approval in e-mail or hardcopy. Author will be provided with the Publisher’s proposed version of the work prior to publication and given ten days to review text and return any corrections. The Publisher reserves the right to make minor copyediting changes to conform the style of the text to the Publisher’s customary form and usage.

I like this part. The publisher will make no changes without my okay. I’ve had publishers edit my story on their own. I don’t like it. If it’s on the page, it’s there because I want it there.

10. Acknowledgment

A. The volume as a compilation shall be copyrighted in the name of the Publisher. Acknowledgment of the Author’s copyright shall appear in all editions of the Anthology in the Author’s name or designated pseudonym, unless otherwise specified here.

B. The Author will be credited on the table of contents page and at the beginning of Date: 12-29-2020 the story by the Author’s name or designated pseudonym, unless otherwise specified here.

I get credited for the story.

12. Care of Work

A. The Publisher shall not make the Work available to any distributor, catalogue, service, or computer program which alters the text of the work or the display of work, beyond typographic or formatting changes that do not affect the meaning of the work, or facilitate such changes—including but not limited to removing or changing profanity—without written permission of the Author. Should the Work be so listed without the permission of the Author, the Publisher shall ensure its removal.

B. Unless the Author specifies otherwise, Publisher will take reasonable care to ensure that the Work is not archived on the bright net by the Internet Archive or similar archiving web site and is not displayed in its entirety by any other bright net web site, including Google,, or the like.

The publisher won’t allow anyone else to make changes to the story. If I choose to cuss, damn it, then I think it’s important to the story to cuss.

13. Successors and Assigns

This Agreement will be binding upon and inure to the benefit of the executors, administrators, and assigns of the Author and upon and to the successors and assigns of the Publisher.

If I should die and never wake…

14. Gender and Plurality

For the purposes of this Agreement, the masculine will be held and construed to include the feminine and neuter genders, and vice versa, both for individuals and for corporate entities. Likewise, the singular will be held to include the plural, unless otherwise required by context.

This is a new one for me. I guess it means if it turns out I’m really a she and not a he, all the clauses still apply?

15. Waivers

The failure of either party to exercise any of its rights under this Agreement for a breach thereof will not be deemed to be a waiver of such rights, and no waiver by either party, whether written or oral, express or implied, of any rights under or arising from this Agreement will be binding on any subsequent occasion; and no concession by either party will be treated as an implied modification of the Agreement unless specifically agreed to and reduced to writing.

If I choose not to use my story in any way after the agreed upon period it belongs to the publisher has expired does not mean I am waiving the right to do so. Legalese.

16. Amendments

No amendment of, addition to, or modification of this Agreement will be effective unless reduced to writing and signed by the parties hereto.

More legalese. Necessary, I guess. Stuff like this keeps lawyers gainfully employed.

17. Laws Applicable

This Agreement will be interpreted according to the laws and statutes of the United States of America and of the State of North Carolina, except that its conflicts of law provisions will not apply. Any litigation relating to this Agreement will be pursued in the Superior Court, State of North Carolina.

The contract cannot supersede any laws.

18. Severability

In the event one or more clauses of this Agreement are declared invalid, void, unenforceable, or illegal, that will not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this Agreement.


19. Entire Agreement

This Agreement sets forth the entire agreement of the parties, and replaces and supersedes any previous agreement between the parties on the subject, whether oral or written, express or implied.

What language is this?

All that’s left is to sign and date it. Believe me, this contract is short compared to some I have on file. I hope this has given you an inkling of what you’ll have to sign if you want to have anyone publish something you have written.

From The Bookshelf of INtense Publications

The Dragon’s Song: Pham, Binh, Clark, R M: 9781947796867: Books

Shadytown – Middle Grade paranormal adventure novel (

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