A (Tarnished) Silver Lining?

This week, a lot of whispers, rumors and suspicion were finally put to rest.  After months and months of speculation and gossip going around the building at my day job, we learned that my particular department is splitting. More specifically, some of our product lines are going to be handled under another division, in California. Which means the remaining product line will roll up to another division as well. Which means just about all of us are out of jobs.
I have to say, until now, I’ve been lucky. I’ve always worked in a profitable group, or been in a position where I was truly needed to be able for my group to operate at a profit. For several years, this particular group was an amazing performer – we were one of the smallest staffed groups around, and we blew our numbers away and put profit on the bottom line year after year, usually in larger numbers than a lot of groups with bigger budgets and staffs did. We won all sorts of awards for our profitability, innovative ways to run the business and the way we closed big deals. It’s nice to be part of a group in that position.
Things have turned a bit in last couple of years – for lots of factors that everyone has faced in some respect. The economy brought a general slowdown in business. Since we’re a Japanese company, the natural disasters in 2011 in Japan and Thailand affected us adversely in several huge ways. There were other factors as well. But we were turning it around. Slowly, perhaps, but we definitely showed signs of improvement. And now they’re giving it all to another part of the company.
I’ll admit to being unhappy about this – after all, I’ve spent 24 years with this company, the last 16 with this particular group, so it is like my home and family in a lot of ways. I have the best boss ever, she, like me, is a working mom with kids of similar ages, and we get along in so many ways. The funny thing is her husband’s family has a lot of connections to mine as well, so she almost really is like family. But I’ve built up a lot with this company besides that. Benefits, vacation time, and flexibility help me balance and take care of my family as I need to. I live close enough to go home for lunch! Not to mention, the feeling of belonging in the group and the company are a big part of this job too. Liking what I do and liking the people I do it with is another plus. So the idea of giving all that up and starting from scratch at this stage in my life is more than just a little unnerving. But hey, I’ll deal. It’s not like I have a choice. Besides, that 24 years definitely works in my favor for a lot of other things, like severance.
Then there’s another side to this – the silver lining maybe I’m digging really deep for. I’ll be home during the day – at least, most likely, for a while. A lot of things I’ve never been able to do because I work outside the home will now be do-able – participating and volunteering at school for my kids, working out in the mornings and finally getting back into the routine that I let fall by the wayside, grocery shopping when the stores are quieter than the times I normally have to go, cooking dinner fresh almost every day. And I can write!
The dream/goal has always been that one day I would be able to write full time. My best time to write is always mid-morning to early afternoon anyway, as I’ve proven to myself many many times over the years, so to be able to devote that time on a daily basis to writing is literally my dream come true. And now it looks like I might get the chance to actually do it, or at least see if I can make it work. So in that respect, I’m sort of looking forward to the end of my time here.
Then again, nothing is certain yet. While it’s more likely than not I’ll be unemployed come the spring, this is a big company and there are always opportunities. So with all the reorganizing going on, there’s the chance I could find a landing spot. And everything will go on as usual. And the dream gets put on hold for a little bit longer. I have mixed emotions about that scenario as well. But it does take care of things like medical benefits, vacation time and the fact I have a daughter going to college in a couple of years. And now I’m super glad I spaced my kids 8 years apart, as unintentional as it may have been.
I suppose what’s annoying me most about the whole thing is that the two hours I get to myself each evening before I pass out have been totally unproductive. The distraction is killing my motivation and focus. My two WIPs were going along gangbusters until the last two weeks. Now, I stare at the screen and my notes and still can’t make it work. And I’m so damn close to wrapping one up for good! Figures. Of course, it doesn’t help that there are a million things going on in our world too, so the idea of having 8 extra hours a day to manage it sure is appealing while I juggle everything and try to stay coherent and somewhat sane.
I feel like I’m standing at a fork in the road – except the choice isn’t mine, I have to wait for someone to make it for me. I don’t like not being the one in the driver’s seat, though I’ll admit, the unknown, as frightening as it can be, is also exciting. This could turn out to be a very defining moment.

New Year, Same Old Crap

The new year is supposed to be a time of renewal, beginnings, starting over, etc. In many ways, this proves true – I always find myself more motivated once the holidays are over, and a little less frenzied and hopefully calmer, with a brighter outlook on things.  Of course, considering I am now neck-deep in preparations for my daughter’s Sweet 16 party, this year is not starting out as calmly as others.
Last year was in general a good year – I had two book releases and made significant progress on two other works. However, I also got royally kicked in the teeth by one of my publishers.
Anyone who’s following this blog probably doesn’t need an introduction to this mess, so I’ll keep the recap short. Noble Romance Publishing has screwed me, as well as other authors, and is now infringing on my copyright. When Jill Noble abruptly left and started her smear-campaign against the authors she left in the lurch, I had my eyes opened in a really big way. When the new CEO, Jean Gombart, took over and asked authors to contact him regarding issues, etc., I did so. Got no response. So I waited a week or so to send the contractually obligated certified letter outlining what I viewed as breaches of contract. Most of those items listed were relatively minor, and I could have lived with them if the CEO had acted professionally and responded to me. But one issue was a major breach – I am still owed royalties on each of my books. We’re going on near 18 months on one of them now. Anyway, the certified letter giving them 90 days to correct the breaches went ignored, never mind unanswered. I doubt they even opened the envelope. My numerous follow-up emails have also been ignored, as has the second certified letter I sent stating that I exercised my right to terminate the contracts and that they no longer have the right to sell my books.
Still – not even an acknowledgement of my existence. Oh, I get a royalty check each month – but so far, nothing on what’s owed me. I went so far as to comment on their Facebook page, but my comments are deleted, because we wouldn’t want to hurt the other authors they are promoting and acknowledge to the public that there are unhappy (and furious) authors. WTF? In other words, the ones who either are (un)lucky enough not to have any issues, so they are stuck waiting out their contracts, or are genuinely happy there. Hey it happens, I get that. But as long as Noble keeps stealing selling my books, I’m a Noble author too, so why do I get ignored as if I’m not even real? The one person who did respond to me assured me they would forward my email to Mr. Gombart. I don’t believe that ever happened, and even if it did, it didn’t change anything. This person who calls himself a CEO refuses to respond to me in any way. I’m trying to recall if maybe I ran over his kid, or his puppy, or something heinous like that to deserve such ill treatment at the hands of someone who claims to want to grow the business and its authors. Ha!
Then I hear they opened up a new author’s loop, but authors are not allowed to comment in or participate in any way. It’s only for Noble staff to pass along info. They don’t want to hear about issues authors have, only the happy good thoughts. Give me a break. I didn’t get an invite for quite a while anyway, not until I made a fuss with someone who hadn’t yet gotten the memo to ignore me, claiming they didn’t have my email address – um, hello? Does anyone on Noble’s staff communicate in any way? I do get those statements each month via email – just because someone’s in a “different office” doesn’t mean you can’t get my email address. The more I hear from these people, the more disgusted I become.
The best one is the latest – I made a comment on Twitter to their @NRP_Submissions timeline. I was immediately unfollowed. At first I thought I was blocked too, since I could no longer reply to tweets, but I actually can do that by typing in their Twitter name and making my post. Which I will continue to do. Since they don’t see fit to respond to me otherwise, proving again how childish and unprofessionally they are behaving.
I just don’t understand why. My books with Noble are not selling well, so why go to all this trouble to keep them up for sale, and infringe on my copyright?  Why not just let it go – give me my rights back and it’s done. They never have to hear from me again.  I will take my titles and publish them elsewhere, and do a whole lot better.
I have no qualms about sharing this over and over and over again as publicly as I can and need to. I’m not stating anything untrue – I have adhered to the terms of the contract, Noble has not, and clearly has no intention of doing so. Anyone thinking of signing a contract with them, trust your gut when it tells you it’s not a good idea. If Noble hadn’t been my last shot at getting published a few years ago, I would have listened a lot more closely to that inner voice.
In the meantime, I continue to battle on.