Category Archives: Writer

From Neil Gaiman

I came across this post from Mr. Gaiman and like he wrote I wanted to pass it on to my readers.

From his website:

Important. And pass it on…

John M. Ford was pretty much the smartest writer I knew. Mostly. He did one thing that was less than smart, though: he knew he wasn’t in the best of health, but he still didn’t leave a proper will, and so didn’t, in death, dispose of his literary estate in the way that he intended to while he was alive, which has caused grief and concern to the people who were closest to him.

He’s not the first writer I know who didn’t think to take care of his or her posthumous intellectual property. For example, I knew a writer — a great writer — separated from and estranged from his wife during the last five years of his life. He died without making a will, and his partner, who understood and respected his writing, was shut out, while his wife got the intellectual property, and has not, I think, treated it as it should have been treated. These things happen, and they happen too often.

There are writers who blithely explain to the world that they didn’t make a will because they don’t mind who gets their jeans and old guitar when they die but who would have conniptions if they realised how much aggravation their books or articles or poems or songs would cause their loved ones (or editors, anthologists or fans) after their death…

Writers put off making wills (well, human beings put off making wills, and most writers are probably human beings). Some of us think it’s self-aggrandising or foolish to pretend that anyone would be interested in their books or creations after they’re dead. Others secretly believe we’re going to live forever and that making a will would mean letting Death in a crack.

Others make wills, but don’t think to take into account what happens to our literary estate as a separate thing from the disposition of our second-best beds, which means unqualified or uninterested relatives can find themselves in control of everything the author’s written. Some of us are just cheap.

All this bothered me, and still bothers me.

Shortly after Mike Ford’s death, I spoke to Les Klinger about it. Les is a lawyer, and a very good one, and also an author. I met him through Michael Dirda, and the Baker Street Irregulars (here’s Les’s Sherlockian webpage).

Les immediately saw my point, understood my crusade and went off and made a document for authors. Especially the lazy sort of authors, or just the ones who haven’t quite got around to seeing a lawyer, or who figure that one day it’ll all sort itself out, or even the ones to whom it has never occurred that they need to think about this stuff.

It’s a PDF file, which you can, and should, if you’re a creative person, download here:

As Les says, your options are:

1) Recopy the document ENTIRELY by hand, date it, and sign it at the end. No witnesses required.

2) Type the document, date it, sign it IN FRONT OF at least two witnesses, who are not family or named in the Will, and have each witness sign IN FRONT OF YOU and the other witnesses. Better yet, go to a lawyer with this form and discuss your choices!

Having said that, the first option, a “holographic will” isn’t valid everywhere — according to Wikipedia, In the United States, unwitnessed holographic wills are valid in around 30 out of the 50 states. Jurisdictions that do not themselves recognize such holographic wills may nonetheless accept them under a “foreign wills act” if it was drafted in another jurisdiction in which it would be valid. In the United Kingdom, unwitnessed holographic wills are valid in Scotland, but not in England and Wales.

So the second option is by far the wisest.

Pass it on. Spread it around. And then, if you’re an author, or even a weekend author with just a few short stories published, or one thin book you don’t think anyone read or would want to republish, fill it out. Sign it and date it in front of witnesses. Put it somewhere safe. And rest easily in the knowledge that you may have made some anthologist, or some loved one, in the future, a bit happier and made their lives a little easier.

(Or better still, print it out and take it to your own lawyer/ solicitor or equivalent legal person when you get a formal will drawn up. As Les says, take it to a lawyer and discuss your choices.)

Feel very free to repost it on your own webpages, or to link to it above, or link to this blog entry — it’s — which contains all this information.

(And the same goes for you artists, photographers and songwriters, although a few words may have to be changed or added.)

Submitting my book electronically

Time: 3:30pm

Date: 2.16.2012

Task: Press send

This was the day I submitted my first electronic submission. I had everything lined up. The synopsis, cover letter, query letter and edited MS for two of my books were ready to go. I lined up the publishing houses that seemed compatible. It had taken me months to get this all straighten out. The hard part was done. I thought wrong.

I opened up my email and got the right address in place. The subject line that was required was listed. In the body of the letter I placed the necessary information that this particular publishing editor wanted.

There I was done, all I had to do was press send. That is when I stopped cold. I just stared at that button, wondering why I could not press it. Time was ticking away as I mulled in my mind what the problem was. A simple process to do right? I had done all the leg work. This was supposed to be the easy part.

So after ten minutes why was the email still sitting in front of me? I knew once I sent that email I could not reach in and grab it back. It would be official and there was nothing I could do about it. I froze. The easiest part of this whole process and I just froze.

Getting up from my desk I walked around my office trying to knock some sense into me as I contemplated my goals. This was what I had been working on for the last two years. Yet here I was scared as hell to send my first electronic submission.

Finally I sat back down, closed my eyes and pressed send. While I felt a chill run down my spine at this I still felt nervous as heck. The second submission by email would be easier I thought. Again I was wrong. Setting up the second email and placing what was required I stared at the button again. It did not take me as long this time around but it was not easy either.

My body was in a cold sweat and I had goosebumps on my arms. You would have thought I had climbed the highest mountain instead of sending two emails.

The day ending with a grand total of four submissions being processed. I am hoping it gets easier and feel it will. For now my written word is out there for people to look at and decide yes or nay. There is no turning back.

I am proud of myself for getting to this point and step, even if it meant drinking two Cokes in a row for it to occur.