You may have heard of the cancellation of Woven, the anticipated YA fantasy novel that I co-wrote with Michael Jensen. To my long-time visitors and those jumping into the Cosmic Laire for the first time, welcome. Allow me a moment to share what led to this moment:
Five years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Michael for the first time as a co-worker. After a few days of getting to know each other, we discovered our common interests in fiction and storytelling. I had been writing for a number of years and Michael had excellent ideas and composed musicals. Sharing my work with him felt natural, so I invited him to read my first attempt at fantasy. He liked it enough, so he shared with me his idea of a princess and a ghost, lost in the woods, looking for a needle that could sew the ghost back to life.
Needless to say, I was sold. "We HAVE to make this a novel," I said. A creative partnership began and we went to work. We molded old ideas with new and developed this story over a few years. A year of shopping later, we were offered a few contracts with small publishers. Cedar Fort seemed to be the better option - and since Michael knew the president of the company (who seemed fine with everything), we felt it was the right choice at the time and we signed a deal.
Man, were we excited! All these years of hard work and sleepless nights were about to pay off, and early reviews were very good! And we had an October 8 release date, just days before my birthday!
Could this get any better? ... oh, it got better, all right ...
Skip to a few weeks ago. Everything was set, ready for the printer. Manuscript edited and polished. Cover finished. Map inserted. It looked amazing. But then, we noticed something was missing:
The last line of Michael's bio ...
Maybe there was a typo ... a cut-and-paste glitch?
We asked "what's up?" We were told that a certain word, one word, would be harmful to their relationship with LDS-based booksellers.
That seemed especially strange to us. We were printing the book under Sweetwater, their national market imprint. That doesn't mean we were selling Woven exclusively to the LDS market, right?
Another word was offered. We were told that that word was also unacceptable. Seriously, what word could that possibly be?
That word is "partner."
He lives in Salt Lake City with his partner and their four dogs.
That's the line that was missing. What followed was an unfortunate string of events that ultimately led to Cedar Fort's decision to cancel our publishing agreement (you can read the whole story here).
You can also check out KUTV 2's coverage on this here.
To make a long story short, Michael is gay. Most of you know this.
As you can imagine, having the rug pulled out from under our book was an unexpected blow, all because Michael wanted to be honest about who he is. There's nothing wrong with that. The sentence shouldn't have been an issue, so I gave Michael my complete support throughout the ordeal. I tried my best to encourage Cedar Fort to see the opportunity on their doorstep. What was this opportunity?
A bridge - those thingies that help you get over stuff, you know?
To make another long story short, I'm LDS (Mormon).
Michael and I knew this about each other. Never once did we think of each other by orientation or religious affiliation. We were people first - talented people who wanted to make a cool story together. We may disagree about a few things, maybe LOTS of things, but lasting, trusting friendship, is more important than disagreements.
When we started - and ended - Woven, our goal was to find a home for it. We think it's a beautiful story. Family friendly, as heterosexual as it gets. As the title implies, this story is about bringing people together, unity, and overcoming impossible obstacles by working together. Perhaps our once-publisher missed this message?
Hard to tell, but I will be honest. I was nervous at the thought of sharing this news with the public. I have friends on all sides of the political spectrum, and I wasn't sure how this was going to effect my standing on the Right side of things. I even had a conversation with someone I hold dear to my heart who advised against going public with this, that it could come back to harm me, all the work I've done into building this awesome platform, and ruin my reputation.
Then it hit me. A question jumped out of my mouth, faster than the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man ran into Ray's head: "With whom?"
In other words, my reputation would be ruined with whom? People who would cancel publishing our book for the reason already said above? Sounds good to me. That way I can sort through the crowd and find the people I'd like to have lunch with. Lunch is awesome!
I digress. Here comes the true test of friendship. Bring it on!
It hasn't been 24 hours since this news broke and I can't keep up with the comments on all my social media sites. I am floored, brought to tears, and completely relieved by the support - and help - of the writing community. Some have gone as far as to say that because I stood up for Michael's right to express himself, they are proud to know me. I thank you, everyone, and I am proud to know YOU!
And I'm proud of Michael for sticking to his principles.
I believe in a lot of things. Love one another is my first rule of thumb. Loves conquers all, dude. I also believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Michael has the right to pursue his happiness as I do. Like the publishing industry, happiness is subjective. Not one thing will make everyone happy. That is for us to discover, a journey, life- long and full. While it is unfortunate that Woven won't be published as planned, I know it will, and this time, in the hands of someone who sees our story for what it is and not turn us down for who we are.
I'd like to point out that, yes, I am Mormon. The folks who run Cedar Fort are also Mormon, but this was not a Church decision. I don't agree with Cedar Fort's decision. I know legions of Mormons who also do not agree with their decision. Some might, I don't know. I have never been a fan of blanket statements, so it is my hope that people see that there are LDS peeps in this world - and many other religious and non-religious peeps - with love - not fear - in their hearts.
Guys, your recent support has restored my faith in humanity.
That's all I have to say for now. It's late and I have a full day ahead of me. Now that you know, author's everywhere, publish with Cedar Fort at your own discretion. If you read here, you will find that we're not the only authors who has had a problem with them. At the same time, I wish them well, with a bright future ahead. Adieu.
This isn't going to slow the spaceship down. I will continue blogging as I always do, sharing everything sci-fi/fantasy/book-related-what-have-yous in awesome pay-it-forward fashion. Bring it!
We appreciate your support and prayers as we move forward.
I'm David, and give a shout-out to Michael, wouldja?
And a big shout-out to DL Hammons and the Blitz team!