The Tough Choices (Part II: Concerning Dwarf Detectives and Swashbuckling Pirates)

Last week, you got the behind-the-scenes look at how a lot of work can go into books and how a publisher can change their minds without telling you. We also got a look at how I’ve been making some rookie flub-up’s and probably need to go back and listen to my own podcast on writing and what not to do. This week, Part II of “The Tough Choices” goes into the characters people know me for and the questions people have been asking me since 2005…

The Billibub Baddings Mysteries

“So, are you ever going to podcast Pitcher’s Pendant?”

Two of the best things a writer can ever hear about their work is:

  • I read it again, and it gets better every time.
  • Where’s the next book?

While my podcasting and Twitter books are the bigger financial successes, it is my print and podcast novels that people ask me about the most. In particular, when is the next one coming? I suppose that would make the novels from Dragon Moon Press artistic successes.

The Case of the Singing Sword, both in print and in podcast, stands out as my most acclaimed work, winning an Honorable Mention from ForeWord Magazine for Best Fiction of 2005 and Best Audio Drama (Long Form) from the 2008 Parsec Awards. As much hard work as the podcast was, I had a blast doing it. The podcast also made an impression on me as I heard many of the voices from Singing Sword while writing Pitcher’s Pendant. In my head, I had the novel cast by its completion and was seriously considering a podcast of it either late 2009 or early 2010.

Life, and my professional relationship with Dragon Moon Press, had other plans; and I was finding myself at odds with both.

So it went in the Spring of 2010 that Dragon Moon and I, after eight years of epic adventure, supernatural sleuthing, and columns on writing and being a writer, parted company. We agreed that for anthologies and Complete Guide to Writing installments, I would contribute when time allowed. It was time I moved forward in my career, something that I promised myself I would do during my live Survival Guide at Balticon in 2009.

This means that in April of this year, the Billibub Baddings Mysteries will no longer be available from Dragon Moon. The rights will revert back to me and, once that happens, I will work with my agent to find them a home. Once I do find a home for my wise-cracking dwarf, I will gladly forge ahead with him, Mick, Alphonse, Gertie, and the rest of the colorful characters residing in my alternative Gangland Chicago. I will probably not podcast Pitcher’s Pendant until I have a home and a bankable future for the series.

This doesn’t mean I’ll be pulling down the podcast. It will still be available on Podiobooks.com, and there it will stay unless someone makes an offer;but for now, Billi’s leaving the axe on the wall and Beatrice locked away in his top desk drawer.

The Morevi Saga

If people haven’t asked me about Billi, they have asked about the fate of Rafe, Askana, and those loyal to House Moldarin and the Defiant.

Where do I begin?

Much like with Billi, MOREVI: Remastered was a joy. I was exhausted when I was done, but quite pleased with the end result. It was an experiment, and some chapters worked better than others In the end I was very happy with the voice talent and the production quality.

But what of the series?

Legacy of Morevi, for those of you who have read it, know it ended on a killer cliffhanger. I was more than ready, on announcing MOREVI: Remastered, to return to the lands of Naruihm and podcast Legacy while working on the third title, Exodus from Morevi. Again, as with the Twitter books, I announced the next book in the series, a podcast anthology, and plans for the Legacy podcast. All of these grand plans hit the sea floor on realizing that the year was not going the way I had planned.

Poor planning, sadly, isn’t the reason why Rafe, Askana, and cast are facing futures unknown. The main reason is Morevi’s original co-author: Lisa Lee.

I have remained tight-lipped about Lisa for years, but here is the story few have heard. When we wrote Morevi together, it was incredible fun. Our story captured the attention of media. We appeared together on The Dragon Page in 2004, marking the only time Lisa and I were both present for an audio interview. We were having a great time. For the most part.

When she announced (after I had asked her not to…) we were working on Morevi’s sequel, we agreed this was our next step as a writing team. It was time to get cracking on a sequel. Lisa would start (as I had written the opening chapter last time), and this would begin new directions for our characters. It was all very exciting…

…until within two months, all communication abruptly stopped.

I never found out why Lisa shut me out, and still have no definitive answer; but I did find myself alone at the writers’ desk with a Prologue and an opening to Chapter One. I also had a deadline and a delivery date set.

So, during Legacy’s development, I had a lot of things to deal with…except for my writing partner.

After repeat email and even legal documents went ignored, I forged on ahead without Lisa. The original Prologue was scrapped. Chapter One’s opening was completely re-written. This new adventure now took twists and turns that were my own. Even with its open ending, Legacy of Morevi was received with praise from the fans of the first book, and was a finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s Best Fantasy of 2005. Not bad for picking up the reins unexpectedly.

Fast forward to 2010…

Six years of silence finally broke when I found Lisa online. I reached out to her, asking for written permission to Morevi’s rights, seeing as she had no interest to continue writing in this universe. After all, it had been six years, right?

Here was Lisa’s reply:

“I am not sure about relinquishing all rights to Morevi – I will have to think about it. This is not so much about any monetary value but more about how I feel about something so personal.”

She also added:

“I appreciate that you’ve put a disproportional amount of work into Morevi compared to what I have contributed. All I can say is that for me, the overwhelming feeling I had when I first leafed through the printed copy was embarrassment. I guess that’s the only way I can go towards explaining why I felt I had to drop it.

But even so, it’s my first and maybe only ever published work. So before I can say here you go take it I want to know what you mean by find another home for it.”

What I find so bizarre about this exchange is how she refuses to say “yes” or “no” about relinquishing the rights to Morevi as it is “so personal” of a work, even after she had turned a blind eye when I wrote Legacy and produced both the 2005 and Remastered podcasts.

And this exchange happened at the end of August. I followed up with her in October. As it went six years ago, Lisa has apparently closed off communication. Again.

What exactly does all this mean? On a personal perspective I have formulated my own opinions; and I’ll admit—it would be real easy for me to dish.

I don’t dish. I rant. There’s a difference.

Without a definitive answer, I am left with an “Okay, what can I do?” So, once I am caught up with my Ministry commitments, I may return to Morevi’s universe and completely—to use the new, hip term in Hollywood—reboot the series.

As I discussed on my Facebook Group, I am considering a steampunk makeover for the swashbuckling series. A new era. A queen on England’s throne. A whole new attitude on some familiar friends. I believe Rafe could make the jump without a problem. It only becomes tricky as to how the reboot would change the plot, the environment, and the dynamics of the original.

I can promise you one thing: the Morevi reboot would be, without question, Elf-free.

This means Legacy would disappear into the aether. I would attempt to salvage as much as I could from it; but in giving my first novel a completely new angle with far less Fae, a lot will change.

All this would happen, though, after I meet my commitments with the Ministry.

(NEXT WEEK: Great Expectations)

16 thoughts on “The Tough Choices (Part II: Concerning Dwarf Detectives and Swashbuckling Pirates)

  1. As a fan I’m a wee, tiniest bit disappointed. As a writer I totally understand. You need to find a home for Billi and Rafe and the rest where you can earn some doubloons for your hard work. I, as I’m sure many of your fans, will wait with bated breath for the next installements.

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  3. It’s a shame to hear about the problems with Morevi. I’d so enjoyed the first book as a podcast, and was anxiously awaiting the next. The proposed re-boot of the series sounds ambitious, but if any mind is up to the task, it’s yours.

    I am relieved to hear, though, that the head may be beaten and bloodied, but not bowed. Your determination gives those of us also struggling with ‘Real Life’ hope that we too can persevere. For that, I thank you…and wait patiently like all your other fans for your next move.

  4. I love Billi. Because of Billi I discovered podiofiction. I am glad that all hope is not lost and that Billi will be being shopped around. I’m sure he’ll find a new home where he’ll fit right in and bring a little class to the joint.

    Rafe and Askana. Oh my how I so sorely miss Rafe and Askana. Knowing I’ll never read book 3 after having loved Legacy so much. (Seriously everyone, if you stopped at the original Morevi, you haven’t read the best part.) Someday, I will somehow induce you to tell me where this was originally going to take us. Reboot though it might be, without elves (again, you have to read Legacy) it WILL be a different story.

    I’m sorry to hear of your continuing struggles when dealing with a former friend. It is hard to work with someone when they don’t care to work with you. I hope Ms. Lee will come around and either sell/give you the rights or at least let you know what she needs.

    Thanks for the stories. I have definitely enjoyed the ride.

  5. Frankly, I ADORE Billi and friends, and hope to see him soon. Wish you luck on it; I think it’s a viable property and will do well. They’re among my favorites in the podosphere and I’m looking forward to more when you (ha ha) have time.

    I am sorry that you’re having creative collaboration problems with Morevi, but I think that the elfless reboot might be a shot in the arm, making it a livelier story. It’s hard to deal with a former friend in that manner (or even an old friend one has moved away from); but with your creativity and never-say-die outlook, I’d think that the oncoming story would be a better one, if only because you’ve become a better story-teller and you’re widening the world to admit new possibilities. Go Eagle Go!

  6. As always I await impatiently my next fix of Billi or Rafe fiction from you Captain… But even though I’m an impatient ass, I will wait… I totally understand all I can say is I hope the wait isn’t too long and the next deal works better for ya.

  7. I haz a sad. If Morevi never happens, I can’t say I’d like to see it steampunk’d. It would probably be good, though.

    I don’t know, what do you think about some Morevi fan fiction…?

  8. The worst part about the situation is the phenomenal lack of communication. You would think she’d want to get the situation resolved. At least either say no, or ask for a co-creator credit or something. ANYTHING to say something one way or the other. If she’s not interested in writing, she could at least get some sort of residual out of the deal (small though it may end up being).

    I just can’t resolve “something so personal” with “the overwhelming feeling I had when I first leafed through the printed copy was embarrassment.” That makes zero sense.

  9. Tee, this post is so true that it makes my old scars hurt. It’s a great insight into what so often happens on the back end of the creative process – when relationships sour, and when you build something together that not everyone can sustain.

    I have been there. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who has gone through this – maybe this is part of a right of passage with the creative process, with collaboration, with creation. We come out the other end with better partners and wisdom.

  10. Well, that could have been worse, I guess. I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed that your agent can find a publisher with an interest in dwarf detectives! I have no strong feelings about Morevi. I didn’t dislike it, but I never felt compelled to track down the sequel.
    Based on what you have teased us with so far, I suspect that the Ministry book will be more to my taste, so I’m looking forward to part three of your announcements where I suspect you may have more to say about that!

  11. I am glad the time finally came where these things could be told. Even though you don’t have any plans to continue with Billi or Rafe right this minute, it is good to have confirmation that you DO want to continue with them, and to have an idea what is holding things up. Just knowing this really makes the wait a bit more tolerable for me. And I really want to hear more Billi stories!

    But I am also very much looking forward to reading Ministry stories. Heck, I’d like to try my hand at telling stories from other parts of the ministry, but I don’t know enough background to try. Yet.

    As much as I’d like to see you re-visit the old familiar characters, I’m glad you have new projects that continue to fire your imagination. At the very least, you shouldn’t be pigeonholed as a single-genre author.

    Looking forward to the next installment…

    Doc

  12. Well, it’s a tricky situation, for sure, but the one good thing that has come out of it is your thoughts for rebooting Morevi. I can sense the excitement there, and the world of possibilities it opens up. This is good!

    I think your story does provide one particular lesson – whenever doing a collaboration, get a rock-solid writing agreement in place at the beginning, which includes clauses about future exploitation and republishing of the work. It may seem over the top and feel strange, but even for the closest of writing teams I think it’s essential. Who knows what might happen in 5, 10, 15 years from now.

    In the UK, there used to be this actor’s union rule that whenever something was repeated on television or released on VHS, DVD, whatever, they had to get the permission of every actor in it, and if one member of the cast wanted to block it, they could. This was recently amended so one person couldn’t block it, as that would have a detrimental impact on the earnings of the rest of the cast. Something like that for a collaborative book sounds like a good idea.

    Anyway, keep trucking!

  13. Thanks for sharing Tee, I can only imagine how personal all of this is to you and I know that it isn’t easy sometimes.

    As I said last week, if I, as a fan and reader, have to wait on Billi and other works I will. It’s better to do these things right then to get all bungled up. I’m looking forward to the Ministry stuff and when you do get back to my favorite dwarf I’ll be ready with my dollars to buy that next book.

    To those of you that only listened to the Case of the Singing sword and never bought The Pitcher’s Pendant you need to go grab yourself a copy before there are none left. It is in my opinion even better then the singing sword. Plus, there’s more Billi, and who doesn’t like that?

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