Wednesday, July 31, 2013

L&L Dreamspell: Making dreams come true

By T.W. Fendley

In early July, I was among almost 200 authors published by L&L Dreamspell who received an email announcing the small press would be closing due to the imminent death of one of the partners. 

The business had always been driven by a shared dream: "We started this publishing company because we love books and we wanted to help make authors' dreams come true. I do not want to continue without Linda," Lisa Smith said when she notified us July 2 that the London, TX, press would be closing.

Although we hoped for a miraculous recovery, Linda Houle succumbed to cancer on July 12. By that time, Lisa was already in the process of sending "reversion of rights" letters to each of the authors. She also provided interior files and answered countless questions. It continues to be a daunting task, compounded by her own grief. 

I was out of town when three of the seven+ local Dreamspell authors gathered at All on the Same Page bookstore last week for a memorial to Linda hosted by St. Louis Writers Guild. I certainly concur with what they shared about some of the things L&L Dreamspell did right for its authors. It's available on YouTube.

"Supportive" and "professional" are key words that come to mind when I think about the small press experience Dreamspell provided. You always knew what to expect, as outlined on their Publishing Reality Check: "If you understand that you are not just an author, but a small business owner, and that you have an equal responsibility for the success or failure of your book, then you have arrived at the right place! The small press experience is partnership of equals. We aren't doing you a favor by publishing your book, nor are you doing us a favor by offering it to us for publication. We ask authors to sign a contract because we are engaging in a business transaction."

Linda also made sure all the authors had a free copy of her book, THE NAKED TRUTH ABOUT BOOK PUBLISHING.

Being a newbie with only one published book, I didn't come to fully appreciate Dreamspell until recently when I learned what horrors three friends are experiencing with their publishers. One is taking legal action to have more than 200 errors removed from the published copy (many inserted by the publisher during a ridiculous two-day "editing" process). Another signed a contract that the publisher changed after the work was completed to dramatically reduce her advance. The third is in Arbitration over numerous complaints, including the publisher's failure to notify her of foreign sales or to send royalties on a timely basis or at the agreed rate.

I am grateful for a much different experience with L&L Dreamspell, from the professional editing they provided, quality cover and interior design, and distribution to all major outlets, to their Yahoo authors' group, to L&L's continuing support as the business folds. Lisa even worked out agreements with other publishers to give Dreamspell authors priority consideration instead of going through the usual "slush" pile.

The latest events have opened my eyes to contract terminology and what reversion of rights really means. Although I knew L&L Dreamspell owned the book cover and ISBN, I didn't really understand that meant my book would no longer be available when the rights reverted. Nor did I realize the author doesn't automatically get the interior files. Without those files, you essentially must start from scratch to get your book back on the shelves. Thankfully, Lisa is doing everything she can to provide files to Dreamspell authors, making our task much easier. After this experience, I will carefully check my next publishing contract to ensure such details are spelled out. 

Some print copies of my historical fantasy novel, ZERO TIME, are still listed on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but the Kindle version is already down. I hope to have both available soon, thanks again to Lisa's support and to the wonders of self-publishing. If you need a copy before it's available through Amazon, please contact me directly at or visit my website at Print copies are available at several indie bookstores in the St. Louis area and in New Orleans, and ebooks are available at libraries in St. Louis County, Mo., and in my hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Finally, to Linda and Lisa -- L&L Dreamspell made a huge difference in my life. Thank you for making my dream come true.

This is T.W. Fendley. Thanks for reading and commenting on The Writers' Lens. You can find out more about me and my writing at


  1. Your voice is appreciated in honoring L & L Dreamspell. I don't think too much can be said about the positive experience working with Linda and Lisa. author of Ghost Orchid and more

  2. I had seven short stories published in Dreamspell anthologies and four novels. I enjoyed working with both Lisa and Linda and will miss them and Dreamspell greatly.

  3. T.W., thanks for posting a thoughtful and moving piece about our beloved Linda and Lisa (L&L Dreamspell). I joined their team in 2007 and have enjoyed every minute of this association. Linda and Lisa were professional while maintaining a personal touch to each and every author. I thank both ladies for an immeasurable amount of appreciation.

  4. A moving and poignant memorial indeed, Teresa. I, too, as I look at other small (and large) publishers, realize what a treasure we had in LLD while Linda and Lisa were both active. and am grateful to Lisa for picking up broken ends and mending them for us so that we might carry on.

  5. I joined the wonderful team with a story in an anthology. Another story and my first print novel were to be published by them in May and June of this year. To me this was not a loss, just a bump in the road. The real loss is the death of such a fantastic writer, publisher, and leader. She and Lisa both were gracious, kind, and professional during the exchange of emails. I felt we could be considered friends. Lisa and Linda and L&L Dreamspell will be missed!

  6. The interview mentioned above is now on Youtube and will soon be on The Writers' Lens Tumblr Page. I wish the best for Lisa, and all the L&L Dreamspell authors. Great piece TW.

    Here's the youtube link -

  7. I've had three novels and five short stories published through L&L. Linda & Lisa were a class act from day one and never altered their style. They really made me feel like one of the Dreamspell family. I will miss working with them both. Lisa ~ I wish you the best wherever your future takes you.

  8. Thanks, Teresa. What a lovely testimonial to two great ladies. I think it's wonderful how their spirits live on within our group. I hope all of our paths will continue to cross as we pursue new avenues for our publishing dreams.

  9. Teresa, thank you for this. Beautifully said. I, too, am very grateful for having had the opportunity to work with Linda and Lisa.

  10. I had a novel and four short stories published with LLD and referred three other authors to them who were eventually published as well. Lisa and Linda were a joy to work with, and they truly made us all feel as if we were part of a Dream Team.

  11. I submitted my book to them and was referred. They sent me a note when Linda got ill again. The letter from Lisa was so kind and lifted me up by telling me how much they had wanted to offer me a contract. I wanted so much to be a part of their dream team and I'm just so very sorry for the loss of such a beautiful person and a wonderful company.

  12. Teresa,
    As I've said on my blog and in our St. Louis Writers Guild author interview series, this small publishing house was a class act, and we will miss their tireless efforts and quality publications. Thanks for your fine tribute.