Cedar Sanderson

LibertyCon 26 AAR

I wrote this late last night, after a 6 hour drive, after a morning spent conversing and saying good-bye… what I’m saying is, it may be slightly incoherent, and I will doubtless want to add more later to it.

Cedar Sanderson, John Ringo
Getting to sit and chat with favorite authors is always a highlight of LibertyCon, John Ringo was fun to listen to as he spun outrageous stories.

Home from LibertyCon 26, in Chattanooga TN. We put a thousand miles on the little car this weekend, stayed away from home for four days in a sub-standard hotel, but it was worth it. For us, Liberty is as much family reunion get-together as it is SFF convention, as there is almost a con within a con as the Baen Barflies gather to party and talk until the wee hours.

LibertyCon, which took it’s name from being held over Independence Day weekend when it was first started, happens at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel in Tennessee. Limited to 550 participants, but with big-name guests, it is an intimate convention with an emphasis on writers and books. There are game rooms, some steampunk themed panels and workshops, but my interests lay with the writing and authors. It is a family convention, with all ages welcome, comfortably mixing by the pool outside the consuite, or wandering through the Art Show.

We arrived midafternoon on Thursday, even though the convention registration would not open until Friday afternoon, for a couple of reasons. One, the year before I had committed to volunteer in the consuite prep for a few hours, and two, Friday morning is the Barfly range trip. We walked into Penn Station where the consuite is set up, and pitched in for a while, then went for dinner with friends to round out a pleasant evening after our travels.

Friday morning the Barflies gathered in the lobby about nine am, with many yawns, stragglers, and hugs of greeting as for most of us, it had been at least a year since we’d met. A long caravan of vehicles was soon headed up to Prentice Cooper Park for the shooting range. Someone said the count at the range that morning was 54 people, which may be the largest crowd at the Barfly Shoot yet. Catherine Asaro was the guest of honor, as she learned to shoot in a special private session before the group range trip.

I chose to explore the local flora and fauna, joined by Cathe Smith, who is even more interested than I am in bugs. It’s always a pleasure to met someone who shares your interests. She’s one of my favorite mad scientists. With the range rules not allowing more than a few people in each range shed, I’d decided not to shoot this year.

Back at the con after lunch, we got in line for registration, made simpler as we had pre-registered months ago. We had looked at the android app program for the con the night before, so we knew even before we got our program book with it’s steampunk Lady Liberty on the front that we would not be going to a panel until six, and the first destination for us was to go to a signing by the Writing Hoyts, Sarah A. Hoyt, Dan, and Robert. Sarah is my mentor, and friend, and it is always a pleasure to see her.

Sarah A Hoyt
From left to right: Robert A. Hoyt, Dan Hoyt, and Sarah A. Hoyt, all authors, and a devoted family.

I wound up missing the six o’clock panel at six on Friday: Where’s my Flying Car, Dammit! but my partner attended. He didn’t get into it, but told me most of the rest of the audience enjoyed the discussion between Catherine Asaro, Chuck Gannon, Sarah Hoyt, Tedd Roberts, and others. I did get into the 7 o’clock panel on World Building for Writing and Gaming, with Melissa Gay, Sarah Hoyt, Stephen Simmons, and others. It was an interesting discussion on how to create plausible worlds that readers can immerse themselves in, with the two cardinal rules shared being to keep it consistent, and to reduce details to the minimum, allowing readers to fill in the blanks on their own, which also reduces the amount of errors an author might make.

We wandered back to the consuite and had a lovely barbecue dinner prepared by the Barflies to feed their own, chatting with friends as they came in and out. Poolside, it was warm, muggy, and full of animated conversations by those who needed to smoke or spread out more than the consuite allowed.

Friday evening we cut it short, knowing that we had an early morning Saturday, as I volunteered to help with the Barfly Breakfast in the morning and would be there at 7:30 am. I went alone in the morning, joining the generous Barflies Quilly Mammoth and Christine, his bride. Every year they do this charity meal to raise funds, this year making $200 for the Baen Bulk fund and Wendi Bragg’s needs. Operation Baen Bulk provides needed goods and services to the armed forces, this year working toward giving troops invalided home kindles loaded with ebooks from Baen and other generous authors.

After breakfast I returned to the convention again for an eleven o’clock panel on Hybrid Authors: Insight from Traditional Authors Who Also Self-Publish. On the panel were Dan and Sarah Hoyt, who both were traditionally published, and now indie-publish as well, Holly McClure, a former agent who has self-published, Rebecca Moesta, the wife of Kevin Anderson, who runs a small press with him, and the Morris husband and wife pair who run a small press and were once traditionally published. There was some excellent advice from Rebecca and Sarah about caution on signing contracts. I was surprised to hear confirmation that some contracts now contain language essentially barring an author from ever publishing anything, ever, without the publisher’s permission.

To add to this appalling development, Janet Morris informed the audience at length that she favors a contract modelled on the brutally unfair music contracts dating back to the 1970’s, announcing that she has gone as far as to lift entire sections from those contracts, which were known for their restrictions and punitive non-compete clauses for musicians. The idea of moving backwards to a system that would certainly not favor authors in any way surprised and upset many on the panel and in the audience. I would certainly urge any young author to not only read a contract carefully, but to find a lawyer before signing away rights to a publisher with no recourse and stipulations that might leave you unable to publish again.

LibertyCon 26
Some of us gathered at the range during Barfly Shoot: Sanford, Cedar, Richard Evans, Robert A. Hoyt, Dan Hoyt, and David Pacheco (KilteDave).

At noon the one sour note to our convention experience was the luncheon banquet. For the price I had paid for tickets, I had expected a dinner, not a lunch, and I had certainly not expected buffet style serving that took almost an hour to complete, with food that was disgusting. I knew the Choo-Choo’s restaurant was mediocre at best, with very high prices, I had expected more from the banquet meal based on my previous experiences at other locations. We certainly will not repeat that experience. The speech we had time to hear was pleasant, with Kevin J Anderson relating how he began writing at the tender age of 5 ½, but we had to leave before the others began, as we had another commitment and after having waited so long to even get everyone served, the speeches began so late we were forced to leave.

The guests of honor were Kevin J. Anderson, Catherine Asaro, Michael and Paul Bielaczyc, Larry Correia, and Vincent Di Fate. Larry is always witty, smart, and a pleasure to hear when he was in his role of Master of Ceremonies. I ran into Kevin J. Anderson poolside during the Saturday evening party, and had the pleasure of being part of a conversation about the future of publishing, and the bright hope of indie-publishing.

Our Saturday afternoon was pleasantly passed listening to Sarah A. Hoyt read the short story she wrote for the Raygun Chronicles anthology, set in the Darkship Thieves Universe. After that reading, Dan Hoyt read a short story about a small child, sharks with chainsaws, and what boogeymen are afraid of. Following him, Robert Hoyt read a selection from his RatsKiller, a prequel to his excellent Cat’s Paw. I was delighted to hear more from Tom, his alcoholic feline anti-hero. I will be looking for more from this young writer.

Saturday evening after a delightful dinner with Peter Gray, author of Take the Star Road, and his wife Dorothy, we returned to the consuite, where the party was already happening. I circulated, taking photos, as I am the unofficial Barfly photographer, and there were authors, fans, and some very interesting people all talking and drinking inside and outside. The highlight of the convention, the party went on until the morning, but we left at midnight after a brief time spent listening in on the Mad Scientist’s Panel that began at 11:00 pm. I did get to hear someone warble Bacteria are Sexy! into the microphone there, which tells you the level of humor in that room of distinguished scientists, moderated by the inestimable Les Johnson.

Sunday morning we joined a very special group for breakfast, Hoyt’s Huns and the Dinerzens. Six conversations swirled around the tables at once, ranging from politics to motherhood to history and medicine. After the breakfast we made a brief return to the convention to see if we had won our bids in the Art Show, and we brought home an adorable print of Magnus and Loki for my daughter, and a chemistry fairy print for our kitchen (well, where do YOU do chemistry experiments?) A flurry of goodbyes, last minute-tracking down for hugs, and we were on the road home, already missing our friends but happy to look forward to a night in our own bed.

Cedar Sanderson
One of the fun things about Liberty is becoming the Lady Sanderson. Peggey Rowland looks lovely here with me.


91 responses to “LibertyCon 26 AAR”

  1. I’ve read a contract based upon the Morris contract — and recommended without hesitation that the author not agree to it. If he had, he’d never have been able to write anything using the same characters, even minor characters, setting, milieu, or anything else that could even remotely have been connected to the short story in question. And this wasn’t for a common universe antho. The editor’s explanation and justification was that it was based on the contract the Morrises use for their Hell books and no one had ever had any problem with it before.

    Knowing Sarah as I do, I can just imagine how many colors she turned as she tried not to flay Morris alive. What saddens me is the number of folks, including those who should know better, who accept such contracts without second thought.

    1. Sarah said she thought she was hiding her reaction, but we weren’t the only ones who caught it. Rebecca Moesta, who seems like a sweet woman, protested but Janet just steamrolled on and on about it. Sarah held her tongue, and I understand why, but I was half-hoping she would take her apart. I do think the majority of the audience realized that what the Morris’s were advocating was a BAD thing, though. I really hope the con doesn’t have them back in such a prominent way.

      1. Cedar, I don’t want to go into details here, but the contract is a very bad thing. Like I said, I’ve seen it. I know folks who are in the Hell series of books — you do too, btw — and who don’t seem to understand what they are giving up. It is more than never getting the rights to their stories back. If you want more info, we’ll talk off-list about it.

        1. I may, but yes, I know a few people who write for it, and worry about them. On the other hand, maybe this public admission will open a few eyes. I didn’t include anything she didn’t say (at length) in the panel!

  2. We can only hope.

  3. I am guessing, from talking to her later, that she was trying not to start an argument. I was in shock, and in the audience, so I didn’t speak up. Wish I had…

  4. Toni W. Avatar
    Toni W.

    RE: the banquet–my table was drawn first (not rigged, I swear!), and I thought the food was very good, the beef especially. it may be that the longer it sat there, the worse it was.

    1. That might be – I chose the chicken, and the stir-fried veg looked like it was something that had not aged well… But if that’s the worst I can say about the con it is easy to avoid next year.

  5. Uncle Lar Avatar
    Uncle Lar

    Dan later confessed to me that he intentionally sat between Janet and Sarah because he anticipated how things would play out. Sarah was actively controlling her temper and acting the lady she truly is while Ms. Morris came across as an ego centric control freak who constantly stepped on other folks remarks and repeatedly attempted to seize total control of the panel. Sad, I’ve read a lot of JM’s work and enjoyed it, but I doubt I’ll ever be able to pick up another book of hers again.
    I do swear that several times I thought I saw small puffs of steam spew from Sarah’s ears, and Dan did keep having to pry the microphone out of her hands and move it to a safe distance.
    My own personal gripe from this year’s liberty was having the con suite located in an adjoining state. That’s a minor hyperbole, but the con suite was about as far from the event venues as possible while staying on the very extensive property. I’m sure younger folks with good knees and legs didn’t mind the stroll near as much.

    1. I have good knees and legs (hush, in the peanut gallery, we all know you guys appreciated them this year!) and a predilection for heels… so yes, it hurts. I keep telling myself it was good exercise… sigh. The Choo-Choo is evidently the only suitable venue for the convention, so we will have to learn to put up with all the little quirks.

      Yes, I saw the steam as well. 😉 The more I think about it, the more irate I get about the other thing, which was the other person showing up uninvited to that panel, and setting up calmly, with everyone afraid to say no to him, which is why Sarah had no microphone of her own.

    2. As bad as as LC’s Consuite location is, it’s nothing to Chattacon’s which is held in January. Their Consuite is all the way at the back of the property. I wish Segway concessions were available; I’d clean up.

      1. I’ve always wanted to ride a segway, they look like fun! I always think of LibertyCon and all the walking as a great way to get more exercise. How cold is TN in January? I’m accustomed to Northern Winters, and that much walking without proper gear could be uncomfortable.

    3. EvilPenguin Avatar

      Every time Janet Morris was on a panel or even talked it seemed she was trying to take over all of the time and condescend to everyone present. She just about ruined the Technological Future of War panel despite everyone else on it. I know she drove at least 5 people out that I saw because of the tripe she was spouting.

  6. Wayne Blackburn Avatar
    Wayne Blackburn

    The only thing that would have kept me from speaking up, had I been in the audience, is that when I get angry, I become inarticulate…

    1. I was in shock… I was thinking of snarky things to say from the time it ended and will be for days, I suspect. Obviously I need more practice so I am faster on the draw!

  7. Charles Prael Avatar
    Charles Prael

    Janet gets away with a contract like that because (a) it’s her universe, and (b) she’s mostly trying to work with relative unknowns.

    So she’s peddling that contract to ignorant individuals who are mostly in it for the ego strokes. It’s a variation on vanity publishing.

    Is it exploitative? Hell yes. Will I buy her books or support her business model? Hell no.

    As to “the con suite was too far away”… I guess I’m used to a fair bit of walking during cons. Hell, we had a 6 block walk each direction to our hotel room. For a con this size… yeah, it might seem a bit much. Given the site, and it’s layout? Entirely reasonable. The only other option I could see would be fitting out a couple of the rail cars as a con suite. Smaller, MUCH more cramped, and you’d be going up and down those stairs every time. It’s a tradeoff.

    1. Yes, I know that’s what is happening, it’s similar to the stockholming of the entire industry until very recently (I think Kate Paulk blogged about this not too long ago on Madgeniusclub, I will have to look for a link) and the only way to kill the fungus is to expose it to sunlight. Mixed metaphors, there. I’m too hard-headed to have put up with any of it, which is why it took me ten years to try and get published.

      The consuite is interesting, but as I said, we must accept the layout, there aren’t options. I love LibertyCon too much to give it up!

    2. Uncle Lar Avatar
      Uncle Lar

      Spot on. The point was made, when someone finally got a word in edgewise, that bad contracts typically get signed by new authors who are so dumbfounded to actually be getting published that they will sign most anything which was the entire point of the cautionary tale.
      The con suite thing was personal to me. Had surgery a few years back that makes it difficult to walk more than a few steps without a rest. Nice thing was that there was no lack of chairs and benches inside and out to take a break. In general, especially as compared to the last two motels Liberty was in, the venue is quite suitable. I was simply invoking my old retired fart bitching license for the only thing about the facility I could find to gripe about.
      I did do the hotel’s lunch buffet on Saturday and found it quite tasty and filling. Very much a feast, and the one real meal I had that day though I did give in to bisquits and gravy in the con suite at breakfast time. I’ve always found it interesting how cons have matured from the old days of chips and dip to a good faith attempt at real somewhat healthy food for attendees. I suspect it goes hand in glove with the aging of the fen.

      1. Charles Prael Avatar
        Charles Prael

        Janet’s been around the block long enough to know that what she’s doing is exploitative. Well, if that’s the business model she wants to run… ok. Let’s just say that there’s not a lot of interaction I’d bother having with her.

        Kelly and I did the hotel’s lunch buffet as well. Nice people. That being said… the hotel is trying to act like it’s a high-end location. TBQH, I expect better cooking from Denny’s. If they’re going to be a destination hotel, if they’re going to charge like one, then they damn well need to up their game in the kitchen.

        1. This is what I found both this year and last. Very high prices, very low quality. In both the rooms and the kitchens.

    3. I must have gotten a different contract than anyone else, because the only thing I wasn’t happy about was that she owns the combination of my characters and Hell but, after thinking about it, prevents a lot of lawsuits and backstabbing down the road (see Thieve’s World).

      *shrug* A lot of the other Perseid writers only publish through her, which I do feel is a bad idea. Not because of any sort of maliciousness, but because I’ve always felt that new authors should try and branch out to various different houses. Let’s you figure out what’s good, what’s bad, and who you really like to work with. Or, in my case, who you really _want_ to work with (ahemBaenahem).

      1. Yes, Baen is the only house I’d court… wonder if Toni like flowers, or chocolate? LOL

        1. Scotch works really well I hear.

  8. Uncle Lar Avatar
    Uncle Lar

    Typically, LibertyCon panels are very interactive and tolerate if not encourage audience participation. Not this one. IMHO JM projected an obvious attitude that she was there to tell everyone “How It Really Is!!!” and was quite annoyed to have to share the stage with the other panelists. I firmly believe that the authors and other professional guests at cons deserve a modicum of respect due to their superior knowledge and expertise. Far as I’m concerned JM blew through her allotment of respect in the first five minutes. Had I but had a basket of rotten fruit in my possession I would have gladly given her what she most assuredly deserved.
    I had mostly forgotten about the uninvited panelist. He really didn’t add all that much to the whole event, so I had blocked him out. The lady on the end is who I felt sympathy for as her whole demeanor lead me to think she had been contractually abused in the past and still suffered from the effects.

    1. The lady on the end was Rebecca Moesta, who is also Kevin J Anderson’s wife, and I’d agree with you. She was also ignored by JM. I am really hoping the two M’s don’t have much if any presence at next year’s LibertyCon.

    2. Speaker Avatar

      I have been on panels with JM before. Every single time I have had to use the phrase “No, that is not correct. That is not how it works.” Usually because of JM quoting information that is 20-30 years out of date. Using contract terms from 40 years ago does not surprise me.

      1. My First Reader, in talking about some other thing (coughSFWAcough) referred to an appropriate concept: “they have a mind like a steel trap. One that has been welded shut.”

      2. Dorothy Grant Avatar
        Dorothy Grant

        I think J.M. did an excellent job of informing the audience on her worldview, and persuading them that it was not to their benefit. Why, we couldn’t have asked for a better caricature of The Publishing Industry mindset if we’d set out to have a Random Penguin exec on the panel.

    3. This was pretty much how she came across anytime she was on a panel that I saw. To be honest, this is how she came across anytime I saw her open her mouth. That we rabble should be so lucky to hear her words of wisdom. It was very off putting.

  9. I might point out, here, that the con has a feedback form for attendees, and it can be submitted anonymously. As I’ve said privately to one person already today, we can’t complain about something if we don’t do something to change it.

  10. Alan L Avatar
    Alan L

    I’ve enjoyed your coverage of the con, and so wish I had been able to be there. My guess is we’ll see Sarah’s opinion of that contract in her blog entries soon.

    1. I am certainly hoping so!

  11. Cedar, with all due respect, you are so far off the mark with your comments it is mind-boggling. There IS a HUGE difference between “theme anthologies” and “Shared-World Anthologies.” They are NOT the same.

    A shared-world anthology can now be looked at like a standard Television Series. Long running TV shows have writers, but NEVER in a million years would any of the writers for, let’s say, the various Star Trek shows ever try to take one of their produced/filmed scripts, and spin it off into a movie or other TV show or series of short stories, or video games, etc. And they never will. And the WGA (Screen Writers Guild of America) will never ever go on any insane strike demanding that this reality be overturned or changed… because there is no reason it should be!

    The network and show-runners OWN all the main rights to everything created in said scripts (regardless of what Harlan Ellison may say otherwise).

    THIS is the business model that Creators of Shared-World Series now use. And why? Well, one of the many good reasons is because of the chaos of the “behind-the-scenes” legal wrangling that is now going on over a possible resurrection of the THIEVES WORLD series, a quagmire that will probably never get resolved, but certainly would have, if, say, the current “Heroes in Hell” contract/model had been used back in the 1980’s (a model very similar to Mr. Baen’s original contract).

    Your embracing of some kind of all-encompassing socialist author fantasy world of writers’ rights may seem noble to the uninitiated, but it is naive at best.

    People like Janet who have invested years and thousands of dollars into developing a “Shared-World” series, are no different than networks investing millions into their TV shows. They DO have a right to protect their property, and to NOT have it be decimated by a shared-world’s constituent authors arbitrarily deciding to take everything created under the umbrella of the Shared-World and develop it as they want, because in that path DOES lay chaos.

    You’ve garnered a lot of back-slapping with your ridiculous “working-class-hero” rant throughout this thread, but frankly, you’ve displayed very little logical insight into the complex nature of the actual subject.

    Yes, my little rant is admittedly an oversimplification, but, as the “Creator” and “Copyright Owner” of The Sha’Daa shared-world series, I use an author contract that is not dissimilar to Janet Morris’s, one which protects MY rights, and protects MY shared-world series from being decimated, ransacked, and stolen from in the near or distant future. I treat SHA’DAA the same way that Gene Roddenbury treated STAR TREK, Rod Serling treated THE TWILIGHT ZONE, and Joss Whedon treats BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. They CREATED those properties, they had the right to protect them, just as the Creators of Shared-Worlds have the right to protect THEIR creations.

    And no, my authors are not “bought off” and “left by the wayside” after an initial payment. They are all “share-holders” in perpetuity, and if my humble little series ever developed into anything beyond what it is, my authors WILL get a cut of the action. That is guaranteed, in what you denigrate as a so-called slave contract!

    No, this is not a workable model for standard anthologies, or novels, but for those few of us who invest what we do into making a “Shared-World series” a reality, and keep it up and running, hell yes we are justified and RIGHT in having such a contract!

    Sorry to rain on your fantasy parade, but it is time to wake up.

    1. I’m not entirely sure what it is you are objecting to, unless it is that you know more about her contract than I do. I never said that I objected to her protecting her “world” simply that the idea of lifting sections of contract from a 1977 RCA contract, (a notoriously bad contract for the musicians, but a great one for the record companies) was surprising, and yes, in this publishing climate, frightening. I research contracts, because I do not want to be like many authors, who are so excited when they recieve one (saolid appreciation for their writing, yay!) they sign it unthinkingly.

      I certainly never said that authors were “bought off” or “left by the wayside” and I am uncertain where you read that – it certainly was not in my post, or comments. As a creator of your world, you are entitled to it. Does this mean you should block that author from writing again, EVER? No, and yes, there are contracts out there (I would hope not yours) that hold those kinds of rights away from the authors, to the publisher’s discretion.

      As for my fantasy parade, this was a con report, and the people commenting in the thread are, by and large, people that were listening to the, er, monologue in question. As for working-class author, why, THANK YOU! I would far rather be the guy working at it, than not!

    2. Since Cedar said nothing to which you reference, simply saying that she feared contracts based on a bad model. And since you were attempting to post this twice under different names, I assume you haven’t actually read the blog. That, combined with the spurious attacks about her being some sort of socialist, make me wonder if you don’t fear people discovering that your contracts are exactly as bad as you deny. Of course you are friends with Morris, Someone who somehow got good authors to contribute to a horrible anthology.

    3. You, sir, are the one living in a fantasy world. Not all editors/creators of shared world anthologies use the kind of restrictive contracts you are advocating. In fact, there is at least one New York Times best selling author who has created a universe and has anthologies based in that universe who not only doesn’t tie the hands of the contributors by snagging all rights for all time to the characters and story but who also reverts the rights to the stories back to the authors after a set period of time.

      While I have not seen the Morris contract, I have seen contracts based on the Morris contract that not only includes no reversion clause but also ties up the story and the characters for all times, but also the setting, milieu and more. To turn down this sort of contract is not living in some socialist fantasy. It is protecting my right to create my own characters and settings and use them as I wish, within certain limited guidelines.

      So you, sir, are the one who needs to wake up. Authors don’t have to give up their rights to characters — or character names — forever. Nor do they have to give up all rights forever just to get into an antho that they may never see a penny from. Perhaps if you actually spoke with an IP attorney about the onerous provisions of such contracts and their impact on future work, you wouldn’t be trying to take Cedar to task. Unless, of course, you are a publisher who uses such provisions to tie all rights to yourself and to hamstring your authors.

      1. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter Avatar
        Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

        Contracts are contracts. I’ve probably read more of them, and for far larger amounts than anyone here. Hell, I wrote some of them while I was in Sales.

        Most writer’s contracts are for tiny amounts of money compared to what I used to seeing. Most writer’s contracts are also relatively simple, compared to the sort of contract major companies use.

        Signing a contract is a choice. While I tend to agree with you that there are damned bad contracts out there, the one used for the Hell series, and the similar one used for Sha’Daa are not bad contracts in my opinion. They do not lock a writer into only writing for those universes.

        They do lock up characters, but that isn’t really an issue. If you design a character for use in someone else’s series, that’s what you have to expect. TV contracts are the same (and yes, I’ve seen and signed TV contracts).

        If you are a writer, you should have dozens of characters crawling around in your head, fighting to get out. If you don’t, you aren’t a writer in my opinion.

        It all comes down to choice. This is a business. You make decisions based on what is best for your bottom line.


        1. Indeed, contracts are contracts. So why would someone try to make theirs unnecessarily complicated, but lifting sections from a contract not even in the same industry? Most writer’s contracts ARE for a small amount of money. Most publisher’s are more concerned with protecting their rights and keeping the money flowing to them, than they are about the author. So it is the author’s job, as a business person, to READ THE CONTRACT. Which is what I said in the first place, and I’ll keep saying it until I am blue in the face.

          As for the Hell contracts, I’ve never read one, so I can’t say if it’s bad. I will never read one, as I will never submit to such a shared-world anthology. I’ve been writing for over a decade, and I don’t need training wheels. I expressed my concerns with what was said, based on my research into the current state of publishing. I’ve now written a long post on, simply, contracts, that will be appearing tomorrow.

          You are quite right, it is a business, and I’ve been a businesswoman for a long time. I’m not, nor did I ever, advocate that an author try to get out of a contract restricting them from re-using unique world identifiers, or character names belonging only to that world. That is something you and Michael Hanson brought up, which I found curious, indeed. My concerns are over broad settings (Australia, to name one mentioned during the panel in question) and general names. The other concern is over reversion of rights, and authors who sign away the rights to their stories in perpetuity.

    4. Had Janet Morris signed a Janet Morris type contract with Jody and Bob she wouldn’t have had the ability to make as much…actually any…money on her Tempus novels published post Thieves World. According to a Janet Morris contract the Stepsons belong to Jody and Bob’s estate.

      What’s mind boggling is the hypocrisy of the Morris’ and if you really want to know why an entire new set up had to be constructed for the new Thieves World look no further then those very same people.

      And I belong to a shared universe that is being optioned by the BBC for a television production. We don’t have a Morris type contract and everyone is very happy, thank you very much.

    5. Charles Prael Avatar
      Charles Prael

      [shakes head]
      The level of factual ignorance on display. Amazing.

      Good luck with that, Michael.

  12. Replying to Wayne Borean:

    Wayne, locking in characters that are, in many cases, historical, is bad for the writer whether it is a shared universe of not. What everyone seems to overlook is that means that someone using Abraham Lincoln in a shared universe with such a stringent contract could never use Lincoln, even as a minor character, in anything else, including historical fiction. Some of these shared universe contracts include locking in the location — such as Victorian England — and other aspects such as the mythos the universe is based upon. Add in clauses that tie up all rights in the publisher and gives the author no hope of ever getting their work back and it is a very bad thing, especially if the author never sees any money for it.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, there are other shared universe anthos where the stories do eventually revert back to the author. That is a good thing and only builds good will for the originating author and editor. I have problems with any author or editor or publisher who wants all rights to a work and doesn’t just come out and say they are buying your story outright. Of course, to do that, they’d have to pay upfront for the work instead of dangling the hope of royalties out to you.

  13. Cedar, I do know Janet Morris’s contract because I have signed it. I have stories in the last three Heroes in Hell volumes. I also have stories in a variety of anthologies put out by other publishers not affiliated with Perseid Press that do not use Janet’s contract. Also, I use a contract similar in many ways to Janet’s for my my own copyrighted and trademarked Sha’Daa Series, for al the reasons I gave (comparing a “Shared-World Series” to a TV Show, something you and your sycophants conveniently ignore in your emotional replies), and THAT is why I am objecting. Your attack on Janet’s contract is an attack on mine, and it is an uninformed and illogical one. And yes, an insulting one. How can I not take it personally? The diatribes I’m reading here more than fringe on “Slander.” And you’re right, you never did say “bought off” or “left by the wayside.” I was getting defensive and felt that the overall gist of your comments and those of your “buddies” here was IMPLYING that, and I admittedly jumped the gun with said retort. I apologize for that.

    Sanford, I thought I had to create an account from scratch, and tried to do so under my name, “Michael H. Hanson,” and in the process of doing so, realized I had already created an account months ago under the name shadaa1. THAT is why I accidentally tried to post twice. Please spare me and everyone else from your paranoid delusions. Oh, and your petty insults about the quality of the Heroes in Hell series are uncalled for and better placed in a forum run by high school students, and not professional writers. Shame on YOU, sir. You do realize your comments reflect not only on yourself, but on Cedar who started this series of postings? Food for thought.

    Amanada, I never said “all” Editors/Creators of Shared World Anthologies use the contract that I do. And in the years to come, I think it is VERY obvious they will regret those decisions. Just take ONE MOMENT at look at my larger argument, and the comparison of a shared-world to a TV show. In that light it is obvious to anyone capable of critical thinking that without the protections mentioned, there can be nothing but chaos in allowing the writers within such a series the unrestrained right to run off and develop anything and everything they originally created in said Shared-World as they see fit. And, once again, I’m ONLY talking about Shared-Worlds, and nothing else. Shared-Worlds ARE a different animal, and all the pig-headedness and willful ignorance in the world won’t change that.

    Quilly, the reason negotiations are ongoing with THIEVES WORLD has nothing whatsoever to do with Janet Morris. They have to do with the original creator of said series, and her new partner, literally trying to erase the former contract, and offer fewer royalties to the original writers under threat of rewriting and/or erasing their characters but keeping their stories… something that would NEVER occur in Janet’s Hell series or my Sha’Daa series!!! As for your optioned Shared-World series being optioned by the BBC. Congratulations! The actual BBC contracts, though, I’m sure are a bit more restrictive than you are currently aware of…. A belief I’d most likely wager on. Once again, best of luck with your series. I look forward to seeing it air.

    1. Um – not sure who compared your shared world to a TV show. It wasn’t me. Are you sure you’re in the right place?

      As for attacks, there have been none. We are concerned about contracts as there are many out there which are unnecessarily restrictive of an author’s rights to their own work. Again, as I stated in a comment earlier which I’m certain you didn’t read, given the tone of your reply, I have no problem with a creator guarding the UNIQUE characteristics of that world. I simply believe that rights to a story ought to be fairly purchased, or allowed to revert to the author after an agreed-upon time. As I will keep saying, the author needs to read the contract. That’s all I have been saying, not that the publisher needs to change the contract.

    2. I ave an opinion about that series. Since I don’t have a contract stating I cannot have one I do. Or should we all bow down before your greatness and that of your idol?

    3. Oh my, I see I am pig-headed and ignorant. Wow, I’ve been called a lot of things, but never that. There is no reason for shared world stories not to revert back to the author, especially if there is no money exchanged up front. Too often, authors in anthos never see a dime of money from royalties because the earnings don’t come to enough per author to reach the minimum payment in contracts. Add to that those contracts — and I’m not saying yours are this way but some claiming to be based on the Morris contracts are — which preclude an author from using historical characters or settings in future works just because they were used in the “shared universe” can cut into the potential earnings of that author. If someone wants to tie up all rights to a shared universe story, they should buy the story outright from the author instead of giving the promise of some vague royalty that might never appear — but that is just my own pig-headed and ignorant view.

      1. Re-posted from farther down the thread:

        Amanda, no, you are not pig-headed nor ignorant. It was inappropriate of me to imply so, based on me taking your comments as personally as I did, and everybody else’s also, and I apologize for that.

        As I’ve stated in some of my most recent posts, these comments I’m reading here strike to the very core of what I have created and developed over the past eleven years, my Sha’Daa series. You know, in a perfect world, if I was wealthy, or affiliated with a large publisher like Baen, I “would” offer up a large “kill fee.” But I’m not, and cannot do so.

        And your complaint about the POD model is a valid one, as I’ve submitted to, and been published in, a few dozen anthologies over the years that use it, less than half of them even giving the authors a free paperback copy after said books/anthologies were published (something which I do, at my own personal cost, for all the authors in my Sha’Daa series).

        As for the fair use of “Historical” characters in fiction, I honestly don’t know what the case law is on that (most of the characters in my Sha’Daa series are purely fictional).

  14. Cedar, are you saying you would approve of a Shared-World writers contract that offered up the provision, “after said amount of time, author’s story rights revert back to them, with the exception of any and all references to the trademarked shared world it was set it, including characters and settings originally created by said shared-world’s Creator/Owner?”

  15. Sanford, an informed opinion is one thing, a childish petty insult is another… and you know that, as you’re obviously not a child. I wouldn’t say Janet Morris is my Idol, but I do respect her writing accomplishments. As for my “greatness,” I don’t even qualify for full membership in either the SFWA or HWA, so frankly, if you really want to know, no, I don’t hold myself in very high regard in comparison to experienced and successful, well-known authors like Cedar. Is my above rant more of a knee-jerk reaction than a well reasoned response? Perhaps… but considering that I use a contract not unlike Janet’s, for my own relatively new Sha’Daa Series, is my defensiveness really so outrageous or inexplicable? How could I not take offense?

    1. Michael, my concern with your reactions is that you are doing more harm than good for yourself. By coming in guns ablazin’, rather than with a question about what it was I was objecting to (which was not the shared-world thing, but the idea of forming a contract based on the music industry) you have now made it look like you do have something to be defensive about, which I am sure was not your intention.

  16. Also, I want to change my name from shadaa1 to “Michael H. Hanson” and my Gravatar to an actual photo of me (I’m honestly not trying to hide from anyone). It just doesn’t seem to work for me! I’ve tried twice in the account settings. Help!

    1. I will see if I can figure it out, Michael.

    2. Michael, I think this is something you will have to fix, it’s beyond my control. WordPress is a pain, but I suspect you will have to log out of your current account, and re-create one with your real name. If you do so, and comment again, I wil be watching to approve it, so we can continue the discussion if you wish. And please, if anyone is being petty and childish here… it is not me, but I will not allow the insults to continue with no repercussions forever.

    3. You figured it out! I see you now. 🙂

  17. I am a reader, if something is crap I can recognize it. You may not agree with me but, you are not enabled to prevent me from holding that opinion, nor stating it. As I said, she got top quality authors, and the work was crap.

    1. Re-posted from below:

      Sanford, I’ve been reviewing my responses to folks. I apologize if my comments came off as condescending. That is not my perception of anyone on this board. My intent was to state my opinion using the admittedly arguable premise that Shared-Worlds can be perceived (legally) as TV Shows in an attempt to defend my Sha’Daa series, because it currently uses a contract similar to what is being criticized in many postings here. It is difficult for me to not take said criticisms personally… I hold my Sha’Daa series very close to the heart. I’ve been working on it, promoting it, selling it, and inviting authors on board to it for a full decade now. I am admittedly over-protective of it…

      1. TV shows are different from what you are proposing. In TV shows the writers are hired by the show and therefore anything they write for the show is considered work product. They are getting paid to write, they are not having what they wrote independently purchased.

        Writing for TV shows is more like when I write documentation for my employer. Sure, my name is on it, I wrote it, but my company paid me to write it as their product. I don’t have any rights to it and can’t try to get them to pay me for it again later.

  18. Sanford, I’ve been reviewing my responses to folks. I apologize if my comments came off as condescending. That is not my perception of anyone on this board. My intent was to state my opinion using the admittedly arguable premise that Shared-Worlds can be perceived (legally) as TV Shows in an attempt to defend my Sha’Daa series, because it currently uses a contract similar to what is being criticized in many postings here. It is difficult for me to not take said criticisms personally… I hold my Sha’Daa series very close to the heart. I’ve been working on it, promoting it, selling it, and inviting authors on board to it for a full decade now. I am admittedly over-protective of it, and I feel, rightfully so…

    1. It’s your baby. We are sympathetic to that, most if not all of those who have commented here are writers.

      The contract she mentioned in the panel was not for TV shows, but Music. There’s no reason for you to defend your contract, I have no issue with you, nor have I criticized you or yours. I will always say “read the contract” to anyone, no matter who the publisher is. I will recommend that new writers research who they submit to, and when they get a contract, if they can afford an IP lawyer, have it looked at. It’s important. It could be their career at stake. None of that has anything to do with you, if you are the ethical, upstanding guy you want to be.

      Also, since I finally clued in on your name, how are the cats?

  19. Hey, I got the photo to work. Hmmm.. but it doesn’t seem to want to change my display name. Will keep trying…

    Oh, no, “Sha’Daa” is not taken from the “Nar-Shadaa” game (Star Wars), nor the town in the middle-east, nor an episode of Dr. Who. So, no cats affiliated with me, LOL, though both my sisters own small tribes of cats. I thought when I conceived the term “Sha’Daa” eleven years ago it was an original made-up word for the purposes of my fiction (naive me). 🙂

    1. Which just goes to show there is nothing original under the sun. I find that rather deflating at times, when I come up witha brilliant new idea… only to find it’s been done.

      1. I once read a short piece by Philip Jose Farmer where he basically comes right out and says a story idea he submitted to Rod Serling was outright stolen and used in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Farmer went on to say many of his writer friends complained to him, off the record of course, for the same treatment (not being recognized and/or reimbursed for story ideas they submitted to Serling). Farmer got his revenge, though, as he created a very Serling-like villain in one of his published short stories. 🙂

    2. Hey I found a REALLY old story that not only was called Stargate but pretty much WAS stargate (without a mil component.) I wrote it before the tv series. (Shrug.)

      1. I wrote a story back in my teens (that will never see the light of day thankyouverymuch) and was startled to find out recently that a TV show had been running which used some of the major premises in my story (living starship, even called it what I did). Life is stranger than fiction.

      2. When I was in 8th grade, this would be 1995-1996, I wrote a short story about a boy who went to a school for magic. In 1997, J.K. Rowling published Harry Potter. Life is indeed stranger than fiction.

    3. And don’t forget the episode “Tin Man,” from Star Trek The Next Generation, Cedar.

      1. I never watched Star Trek: The Next Generation. I have seen most (perhaps all) or the original series, but because I grew up without TV, and even now don’t have cable (haven’t had for years) I’m much more a book geek than a film geek.

  20. Amanda, no, you are not pig-headed nor ignorant. It was inappropriate of me to imply so, based on me taking your comments as personally as I did, and everybody else’s also, and I apologize for that.

    As I’ve stated in some of my most recent posts, these comments I’m reading here strike to the very core of what I have created and developed over the past eleven years, my Sha’Daa series. You know, in a perfect world, if I was wealthy, or affiliated with a large publisher like Baen, I “would” offer up a large “kill fee.” But I’m not, and cannot do so.

    And your complaint about the POD model is a valid one, as I’ve submitted to, and been published in, a few dozen anthologies over the years that use it, less than half of them even giving the authors a free paperback copy after said books/anthologies were published (something which I do, at my own personal cost, for all the authors in my Sha’Daa series).

    As for the fair use of “Historical” characters in fiction, I honestly don’t know what the case law is on that (most of the characters in my Sha’Daa series are purely fictional).

    1. (wry smile) Speaking as the guy who has several honorary Doctorates in the fine art of charging in and making a Jackass of myself, I’m glad you’re learning some of the lessons I did. Tips for those furious reaction posts… (and this is general advice which I try to take myself, not just aimed at Michael here) always google the person. Nothing makes the rest of your argument look sillier than getting something really basic wrong. Always read their post again carefully – even if it makes your blood boil. Cues like Liberty Con (not Wiscon) and chatting to John Ringo are something that should make you back away from the word ‘socialist’ ;-), thirdly, copy it, sin bin it for an hour while you go and do something nasty and mind-occupying. With any luck you’ll come back and make it more tactful, and less likely to get everyone jumping on your case, and maybe some other silly beggar will have done it for you. Fourthly, if you’re an author or editor – consider whether the fallout will be worthwhile. Yeah, so-and-so is wrong in your opinion. But is that point worth starting a shit-fight about? If it is, do so. Speaking as an author who has been part of a number of shared universes, and written a couple of stories in someone else’s universe, I have never been asked to sign a restrictive contract.

  21. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter Avatar
    Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter


    Yes, Lexx is a lot of fun.

    For another living starship check Groff Conklin’s anthology “Great Stories of Space Travel (1963)” which contains Damon Knight’s short story Cabin Boy. It was my first introduction to Adult Science Fiction, as compared to Tom Swift and Tom Corbett.

    I’ve talked to Janet. She swears she didn’t say she borrowed contract terms from the record companies.

    Does anyone have a recording of the panel?


    1. I don’t know if there was a recording. She was very specific about it, and I’m not the only one who heard it. She was dominating the panel, and I am guessing she said more than she had intended to. She told us that she had lifted sections from a contract her husband had signed with RCA in the 1970’s.

    2. Odd the living starship from a TV series that I was thinking of was in the series Farscape. the Ship was named Moira. Only tv series with a living ship as a main part of the story I can think of is Farscape. Unless you count the living ships of the Vorlon in Babylon 5 Or with Lexx were you referring to from a novel? also there was Nell from the movie Battle Beyond the Stars…which I recently found on DVD. *grin*

      1. let me rephrase that…the only living ship from a tv series I can think of ‘at the moment’

      2. Farscape is the one I was thinking of. My story had a sentient creature who could make themselves into a ship for a human at need (to rescue a little girl, in mine) and I called them leviathan. Which makes sense, coming in my case froma girl raised on Bible study. I have no idea what Lexx is. I don’t watch SF TV shows.

      3. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter Avatar
        Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

        Lexx was a Canadian-German co-production which aired on CBC in Canada. It would not have been legal to air in the United States on broadcast TV, because of the shower scene, where Eva Habermann (who played Xev Bellringer in Season One) was quite naked – she was seventeen when the episode was shot, though eighteen when it aired.

        Fun show in a lot of ways, I high recommend it, if just to see the way they explain having a second actor play Xev in Seasons Two through Four.

        Never seen Farscape. Will have to look it up.

        FYI, when working with American TV, they are paranoid about “teeny titty scenes” as they call them. Canadian and German standards are far more liberal.


      4. Wayne now that you describe it, it sounds vaguely familiar. I might have heard of it in passing but as you say…since it was BBC..never seen it/

    3. Wayne, I’ve heard from several who were there that she did say what Cedar reported. If you doubt it, why don’t you ask Sarah Hoyt, Larry Correia or Rebecca Moesta? They were on the panel with her or in the audience. (At least it is my understanding Larry was there. I know he’s heard about it.)

      1. Sarah, Rebecca, and someone named Holly McClure were on the panel. Dan was moderating, and Chris Morris was there as well. Not sure if Larry was in the audience.

      2. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter Avatar
        Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter


        I’ve heard both sides. I just posted what Janet said, so you’d know her position.

        I was there. I was getting ready for the Bikers Reunion. Sadly my bike is off the road right now, so I didn’t get to take part, though I videoed the parade for YouTube. Damn, there was some fine machinery on the road.


  22. Cedar, I am sorry that you misunderstood me. As a professional writer, editor, and publisher, my reputation can suffer when people make false statements about my work. I would encourage you to review your statements more carefully so as to avoid potential legal consequences. — Janet Morris

    1. I am not certain where I misunderstood you, I simply reported what was said on the panel. As for potential legal consequences, I fail to see why you feel the need to threaten me. In discussing contracts, we have ranged far afield. I have stated repeatedly that my concern is with authors reading contracts, not with trying to get publishers to change their contracts. If an author reads your contract and decides not to sign it, that is not my fault.

    2. It is conduct like this at the con that made me change my mind from considering trying some of the books from the first time to choosing to actively avoid anything from this publisher.

  23. Martin L. Shoemaker Avatar
    Martin L. Shoemaker

    Usually when someone misunderstands me, I try to explain where the misunderstanding was and to clarify my meaning. I don’t usually threaten legal action. I would worry about the effect that would have on my reputation.

  24. Charles Prael Avatar
    Charles Prael

    Janet, I’ve been a fan of Thieves World and it’s spin off’s since… well, since the beginning. I’ve got the first two “…in Hell” books, too.

    I’ve been a professional writer since the late 80s. Over a dozen books out, as books, and that’s just counting the stuff you can find on Amazon. So I know how to read a contract. I know a good contract. I know a bad contract.

    Congratulations. You’ve permanently lost me as a reader, as a referral source, as… many things. Once I dig out the “…in Hell” books, they either go to the local used book store (you don’t get paid on second-buyer sales), or in for recycling.

  25. Regretfully, I must close the comments on this post. What was intended as a light-hearted commentary on a fun event, with some clear-eyed reporting on what I saw and heard at the con, has led to a complete over-reaction. Being threatened with legal action for simply writing down what I heard was unneccessary and had the person chosen to take the time to read through the interesting and varied discussion giong on in comments, I would hope they would have found it an unneeded threat.

    Frankly, it leaves me, and every other reader, wondering whether there is indeed fire under all that smoke, something I had not worried about with the initial irrational response. I’m certain this is not the effect the threats were meant to have, but this is the internet, and what you say in a very public blog will never go away.

    1. Dorothy Grant Avatar
      Dorothy Grant

      Um, I was in the audience for that panel, Janet. In fact, I was trying hard to remember where I knew your name, until I heard “Merovingen Nights”, at which point I lit up and scribbled a note to my husband saying “I remember reading her as a kid!”

      And when you mentioned lifting sections of your contract whole from a music industry contract, I remember scribbling “Wait, what?” … because, having worked with bands, I know the pre-90’s contracts are spoken of with horror, of the “You have to tour to make a living, because you’ll never see a dime of your platinum record” variety. I don’t know what sections you lifted, as you didn’t say, but you kept on about “Protecting the IP” from authors doing anything with it, while everyone else wanted to talk about being very careful of contract language and terms, and watch what you sign no matter who it’s with.

      Still like Angel with a Sword anyway.

      Cedar, it was lovely to meet you, and I hope to see you again sometime!

  26. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter Avatar
    Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter


    It appears WordPress is acting up, and that comments aren’t really shut down.


    1. Thanks, Wayne, I will go wiggle the gears in WordPress again and see if I can unstick ’em.

  27. correia45 Avatar

    I don’t know if these are still open or not. I was not in the audience for this one, so didn’t hear what was said. But I’ve got to comment on this:
    “Cedar, I am sorry that you misunderstood me. As a professional writer, editor, and publisher, my reputation can suffer when people make false statements about my work. I would encourage you to review your statements more carefully so as to avoid potential legal consequences.” – Janet Morris.

    Did I read that right, Janet? Did you just threaten LEGAL ACTION against a blogger for her opinion of what you said at a convention?

    Because that’s chickenshit.

    If you didn’t say that you based your writing contracts on old record label contracts, then it was certainly taken that way by several corroborating witnesses who were in the audience, now posting in these comments, and it was also taken that way by at least one other panelist who told me about it in shocked disbelief in the consuite that night. So I would say the burden of clear communicaton is upon you, the communicator, and not the listener. Threatening legal action against somebody for REPEATING WHAT YOU SAID (as backed up by a whole lot of other folks who were in that room during LibertyCON) makes you look guilty.

    So maybe rather than threatening legal action against somebody sharing their opinion on a blog, the smart thing to do would be to explain what you actually meant. But hey, why do that when you can simply threaten somebody? Because I’m sure word of that won’t get around…

  28. correia45 Avatar

    You talk about damaging your reputation… Let’s see… What would be more damaging?
    1. This publisher might or might not have said something disagreable on a panel.
    2. This publisher pops into a blog, doesn’t explain what she actually said, but rather threatens legal action against a blogger for repeating something she heard the publisher say at a convention.

    Here’s a hint. Nobody likes a bully. And if you start throwing around lawyers, especially at somebody who is a Barfly with a whole bunch of author friends with popular blogs, then I’m pretty sure word will travel VERY fast. I wonder what that would do to your reputation that you’re willing to sue people over?

    1. Thank you. Also, the threat was repeated on Sarah Hoyt’s blog as well, despite Sarah having been very restrained about the whole matter.