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A Swing and a Miss- My Werewolf Brush with Hollywood

Tamed on the big screen??? Almost.

In the summer of 2013, Rhemalda Publishing was set to release my werewolf tale with a twist, Tamed, along with a few other incredible books.

During Tamed’s prerelease build-up, Emmaline, the cofounder of Rhemalda Publishing, sent me a message that she needed to speak with me about something important. I took the call. During our conversation, she revealed that she had just received an email from the head of a Hollywood-based production company who had come across Tamed in a prerelease catalogue and was intrigued by the concept. Her name was Stephanie, and she requested a prerelease copy for review. A quick search of her and the production company she represented checked out to be a legitimate opportunity.

Before Emmaline gave Stephanie the requested copy, she wanted to check in with me since Rhemalda was so author-centric.

I immediately told Emmaline, “No freakin’ way,” because who would want their book to become a major motion picture?

I’m kidding, of course. I nearly swallowed my tongue in my excitement and gave the approval.

Fast-forward a few weeks, because this is a blog and not a novel, and we received Stephanie’s reply. The company loooved Tamed and requested 6 months of exclusivity while they shopped it to movie studios. Despite Spielberg, Tarantino, and Scorsese beating down my door to get at my work, I gave Stephanie the exclusivity. I couldn’t believe what was happening. It was surreal. A dream come true.

Week after week passed and Rhemalda eventually released Tamed to decent results. I even did an interview segment about my life as a firefighter and author on NBC. I was on my way to super stardom. OK, not really. But, hey, it was going well.

And then Stephanie reached out again. She informed us that she had used her connections to get Tamed on the desk of director Sam Raimi. For those who don’t know Sam Raimi, think Evil Dead and the Tobey McGuire Spiderman movies to name a few. When Stephanie heard back from Mr. Raimi himself whom she had a previous business relationship with, he advised her that he was only considering finished scripts at that time and not novels still needing "worked up." (That's a little Hollywood jargon for you.)

But that’s not where this ended. Stephanie advised Rhemalda that she was in the process of hiring a scriptwriter for one of two other projects she had acquired and agreed to present Tamed as a third option. (One of the other two books was a famous best seller, BTW).

Almost like a dream, the scriptwriter fell in love with Tamed and chose it as the book she’d like to work on. It was all moving in the right direction and I was beyond ecstatic.

This entire process took about a year. Eventually, the scriptwriter presented a one-page treatment on how she saw Tamed play out on film and let me tell you, she was gooood. That one-page treatment read like she had taken it straight from my own head. She had the nuances and feels of the book down to a “T.” At this point, she required a written contract before she would move any further which meant Stephanie required Tamed to be under formal contract with her production company. I immediately agreed and advised her to send over the contract.

This is where my dream came to a crashing halt.

Even as this process was proceeding, Rhemalda was struggling with some issues. The publishing world was changing quite quickly and Rhemalda was falling victim to those changes. That’s when I received a terrible phone call that Rhemalda was closing its doors for good. As a final example of Rhemalda’s commitment to their authors, they reverted the rights to all of our books back to us including Tamed. A lot of publishers wouldn’t or couldn’t do that. But Rhemalda did. At that time, I had four books released under them. Hearing that they were closing was as devastating a day for me as it was undoubtedly for them.

I quickly reformatted Tamed to be rereleased under my own publishing imprint of Epertase Publishing and got it out there again as quickly as possible. But to do this, Tamed had to receive a new ISBN number which essentially showed it as a brand-new book at retailers and all the momentum we had built ended on that day. I went from selling a lot of books each month organically to selling zero in an instant.

As part of Rhemalda’s closure, they had to tell Stephanie the bad news. Though they told her they had given me the rights to Tamed and that she would deal with me directly from then on, Stephanie’s contract for Tamed never arrived. In fact, my interactions with her became radio silence from her end. The email about getting me a contract was the last email I would receive.

Actually, that last line is a bit of a fib. After 5 or 6 years had passed, I stumbled across one of her old emails and decided I'd like a bit of closure. I replied asking her why she had cooled on Tamed so suddenly. To my surprise, she responded and was very polite. She advised me that she and the scriptwriter had a falling out in the contract negotiations and that her production company had gotten some heat with a different project and had moved on from Tamed. Of course, that’s probably not entirely true. I can only speculate, but in one day I went from a published author with the clout of having a publishing company behind me to a nobody with no real marketing potential.

For those of you outside the publishing world, this story might seem far-fetched. I mean, Stephanie loved Tamed and saw it as a big-time movie, so what happened? What I have learned after being a published author and then becoming a self-published author is that more doors open when a publishing company is behind you than when you’re doing it on your own. I see this play out on a regular basis in my own career. I’m not saying incredible success is impossible for self-publishers, just that it’s harder.

Even the contacts I had in the media that got me on NBC, book signings at Barnes and Nobles, and in multiple newspapers disappeared in an instant. Opportunities I explored as a published author suddenly closed. People I had already used to get on TV or in papers or in promotional opportunities literally stopped returning my emails. It’s a weird thing. But it is how it is.

I’m not complaining. I have sold a literal shit-ton of copies of A Firefighter Christmas Carol through hard work and not getting discouraged. And I’m releasing the sequel to Tamed that I call Untamed on Oct. 17th on my own, because I am an author regardless of my publishing status. I love putting out books that people truly enjoy. That's why I do it. So, join me on October 17th and let's continue this awesome journey of werewolves being sold as pets.

And that my friends is the God’s honest truth about my brush with Hollywood.

To read more about Untamed and my Werepets Unleashed world, click on the pic:

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