Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Ric Locke

Writer Ric Locke Has Died

with 50 comments

Folks, this news stuns me.  But here goes: writer Ric Locke, who was a very good friend of my husband Michael, has died. 

Now, why should you care about this?  Simple.  Ric Locke was a very, very good writer — and he also was an extremely close friend of my late husband Michael.  Ric’s self-published novel, TEMPORARY DUTY, is a particularly good novel of military science fiction and adventure, and was one of the last novels that Michael edited.

Now as to the particulars of Ric Locke’s passing: he was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer around Father’s Day, but had been given up to a year to live.  However, Ric had apparently been having money problems; he couldn’t get the needed medical equipment to help him (oxygen tanks and the means to carry them around).  Worse yet, the Social Security Administration was after him because supposedly Locke had “earned too much money” from TEMPORARY DUTY to qualify for help (this last according to writer Tom Kratman).

Ric’s last blog post, made only a few, short days ago, said that he wasn’t doing well, and that the sequel to TEMPORARY DUTY was unlikely to be able to be completed.  Because of this, he apologized to those who’d donated in efforts to help him complete his second novel, and he asked for forgiveness.  (Which of course he didn’t need to do, but that was Ric; he was conscientious to a fault.)

Ric was a very good man, someone who’d do anything he could to help if he was able . . . he was an excellent writer, a gifted conversationalist, and someone whose loyalty was bone-deep.  I know this because of two things — how he thanked Michael years after the fact for editing his novel in a written foreward (something Ric didn’t have to do as Michael was long-dead by the time TEMPORARY DUTY got into print), and because I got a chance to meet up with Ric when he took Michael and me out for dinner back in 2004.  We had a riotous writer’s conversation, full of wide-ranging chatter, puns (my husband loved puns, and Ric was no slouch in that department, either), and more than a few alcoholic beverages.  (None for me; I was the designated driver.) 

It was a night to remember.  And it’s something I’m doing my best to recall, because I believe it’s important to remember those you’ve lost the way they actually were when they were brightly alive.  (It’s tough to do.  But ultimately, it helps a little bit.  Nothing helps that much when someone you really care about it is gone from this plane of existence, and I’d be a fool if I said anything else.)

Ric Locke died at 1:36 PM on July 24, 2012.  Funeral arrangements are pending, but according to his son, James (who made a comment at Ric’s blog to this effect), his memorial service will be held in Mineral Wells, TX — Ric’s hometown.**

You may have noticed that I haven’t given an age for Ric — that’s because I’m unsure what it actually was, except “older than me or Michael.”  (My best guess is that Ric was in his early sixties, but I may be wrong.)  But age is irrelevant; what matters is what you did on this Earth, and the people you got a chance to meet while you were here.

Ric Locke did a great deal, met many interesting people, and wrote a fantastic book of military SF that you owe it to yourself to read.   He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

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**Those of you who read this blog who wish to go to Ric’s funeral need to get a hold of his son, James; he has a Facebook presence, but if you can’t find him, let me know and I’ll be glad to help if I possibly can.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 27, 2012 at 12:41 am

About Self-Publishing from two examples; Kiana Davenport and Ric Locke

with 6 comments

Today it’s time to talk about self-publishing — the good, and the bad.

First, unfortunately, is something bad that happened due to self-publishing (which is, in and of itself, a generally good thing writers do when they’ve exhausted all other avenues of getting their books or stories out).  Kiana Davenport, a writer with many awards and sales to her credit, had a novel scheduled to come out in 2012 with a “Big Six” Publisher (she doesn’t, or can’t, name which one), but that contract was canceled after Ms. Davenport self-published two collections of short stories the very same publisher didn’t want.  (Hat tip to Sharon Lee, who posted about this on Twitter and Facebook.)

Here’s the link, and a relevant (unfortunately quite lengthy) quote from Ms. Davenport’s blog:

In January, 2010,  I signed a contract with one of the Big 6 publishers in New York for my next novel.  I understood then that I,  like every writer in the business, was being coerced into giving up more than 75% of the profits from electronic sales of that novel, for the life of the novel.   But I was debt-ridden and needed upfront money that an advance would provide. The book was scheduled for hardback publication in August, 2012,  and paperback publication  a year later.  Recently that publisher discovered I had self-published two of my story collections as electronic books.  To coin the Fanboys,  they went ballistic.  The editor shouted at me repeatedly  on the phone.  I was accused of breaching my contract (which I did not) but worse, of ‘blatantly betraying them with Amazon,’ their biggest and most intimidating  competitor.  I was not trustworthy.  I was sleeping with the enemy.

My lawyer  quickly pointed out that the  first collection, HOUSE OF SKIN, PRIZE-WINNING STORIES,  had been e-published  in December,  before I signed the contract with the publisher,  so they immediately targetted the second collection, CANNIBAL NIGHTS, PACIFIC STORIES, Volume II, published recently in July.

Most of the stories in both collections had  each been published several times before,  first in Story Magazine,  then again in The O’HENRY AWARDS  PRIZE STORIES anthologies,  the PUSHCART PRIZE stories anthologies,  and THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES, 2000, anthology. And, over  several years  both collections had been submitted  to each of the Big 6 publishers in NY.  I still have their rejection letters,  including one from the house I was now under contract with.  So you might say these stories were, in a sense,  recycled,  sitting  in my files rejected.  Yet,  as published collections,  this Big 6  publisher  suddenly found them threatening.

So, here  is what the  publisher demanded.  That I immediately and totally delete CANNIBAL NIGHTS from Amazon, iNook, iPad, and all other e-platforms.  Plus,  that I delete all Google hits mentioning me and CANNIBAL NIGHTS.  Currently,  that’s about 600,000 hits. (How does one even do that?)  Plus that I guarantee in writing I would not self-publish another ebook of any of my backlog of works until my novel with them was published in hardback and paperback.  In other words they were demanding that I agree to be muzzled for the next two years, to sit silent and impotent as a writer,  in a state of  acquiescence and, consequently,  utter self-loathing.

Note that Ms. Davenport is fighting back, as well she should.  Because to my mind, this sort of attitude makes no sense whatsoever; if Ms. Davenport’s short story collections do well in any format, anywhere, that can only help raise the name recognition for her novel in 2012.  And while I realize the “Big Six” publishers are nervous and don’t seem to completely understand the e-book revolution, why on Earth don’t they realize that any publication in any format, especially from an award-winning writer, can only help them down the line?

This is a short-sighted, self-serving attitude at best, and completely stupid at worst, from the “Big Six” publisher in question, which is why I’m making sure that anyone who reads my blog knows about this as a possibility with regards to self publishing, even though I hope it will not happen again to anyone else due to the utter stupidity of this happening at all. 

Ms. Davenport has the right to earn a living; it is absolutely, positively wrong for any publisher to try to keep her from doing so.  Period.  (And if you want to help her earn some money this quarter — I have no money or I’d throw some her way — go buy one of her short story collections, here or here.  That’ll help her, and spite her idiotic “Big Six” publisher, all at the same time — the very definition of a win/win.)

My hope is that by writing about this, and all the discussion of it (here, at Ms. Davenport’s blog, at Passive Voice, by Sharon Lee, and by many, many others) has to help get the word out that some publishers are just plain crazy.  And that “sisters have to keep doing it for themselves.”  (Or brothers.)

Now, on to a very good example of self-publishing that has worked well.

Ric Locke, who was a good friend of my late husband Michael, self-published his novel, the milSF TEMPORARY DUTY, at Amazon.com and other places.  (Here’s the link to his book at Amazon.)  Locke dedicated it to Michael, which I greatly appreciated once I found out about it (through correspondence with Locke, which I didn’t see for months due to not checking my e-mail as regularly as I should).**  I’ve read Locke’s novel — it’s excellent, and I don’t say that lightly — and believe it should’ve been picked up by someone in the mainstream, mainline publishing world.  But since it wasn’t, I’m glad he published it himself.  So far he has around 11,000 downloads since he put it up at the end of May of 2011, and that’s great.  98 reviews to date at Amazon.com, too — most of them positive.

All of that said, I’m still a bit leery of self-publishing even though I have seen it work for Ric Locke and have seen it work for a few other friends.  But it has become a worthy option for many, and it’s much better to have good novels like Locke’s coming out somehow rather than being forced to the sidelines because none of the “Big Six” liked what Ric was doing.

So, there you have it.  Self-publishing is how more and more authors are making a go of it to attempt to pay the bills, and it’s here to stay.  So let’s hope that whichever publisher Ms. Davenport was dealing with will get with the program and realize that, as the old adage says, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

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** Note that Michael helped to edit Ric Locke’s novel.  (Which should tell you how long Locke tried to get his novel published before finally taking the plunge and publishing it himself, as Michael has been dead for nearly seven years.)  I read it and commented, too, but compared to Michael’s comprehensive efforts, it was nothing.