"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Copyright and Legal Advice

Some friends and I have been discussing copyright laws. Many authors feel the need for extra protection while others argue you don’t need it.
The simple truth is that as soon as you create something and put it in physical form (write it on paper, post it to the internet, take the picture, put brush to canvas etc.) your work is automatically protected by copyright. In other words, this post became copyrighted as soon as I saved it. However, what legal recourse do I actually have should you decide to steal my post?

You can copyright your work through the US Copyright Service. Most publishers would never steal your work, either due to ethical beliefs or from fear of a lawsuit. However, why take the chance when you can pay such a small fee (about $30 - $45) for the extra protection? By obtaining this copyright license, what you write today will be protected for the length of your life, plus at least 50 years. You also become entitled to legal fees in the event of a lawsuit.
Some editors and agents will even insist that your ownership is established before they will sign a contract with you. (I’ll talk about signing away rights in a later post.)
It may take several weeks or months before you receive confirmation of your registration from the Copyright Office. You don't need to wait for that confirmation before distributing your book to publishers. The copyright registration date will be retroactive to the date the Copyright Office receives your registration packet. For the most current fee schedule and other how-to guidelines go to www.copyright.gov.
So what do you do if you suspect or have proof of plagiarism? Most of us are not rich. We can’t afford massive retainer and following legal fees even if we know we can win and will be reimbursed. Some lawyers have experience dealing with the arts, copyright laws and offer pro bono services. You can find states’ volunteer legal services at Volunteer Lawyers for the ArtsTheir resource page offers information about copyright, trademarks and contracts.
Most of the information in this post is based on personal research or tips shared by colleagues and friends. Please share any personal experiences or tips with those of us still learning. Happy writing!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thankful Writer

Thanksgiving is next week so naturally I am reflecting on the blessings in my life. Today I thought of ten reasons why I’m thankful to be a writer…

1. I get to play with my love of words.

2. I write about what’s most important to me – faith, family, friends and fantasy.

3. If I couldn’t write down some of the things floating around in my head, I might be in an asylum somewhere!

4. Writing has led me to befriend some wonderful people through guilds, conferences and in blogging.

5. I am thankful for rejections. They force me to work harder and keep trying. When I receive a rejection I realize three things: A) I CAN make it better. B) This piece WILL be published somewhere, someday and C) This publisher who just rejected me will print something of mine eventually, it’s my GOAL.

6. I love the First Amendment - Writing lets me open my soul, heart and mind to others. I write things I would not have the chance to say let alone publish in many other nations.

7. I can write in my pajamas and no one knows.

8. Writing is a fulfilling outlet for my creativity.

9. It gives me an excuse to read, another activity I love. I read to be inspired by other writers.

10. My writing is stumbling and imperfect, but it is an art form than can always be pure and true.

Are you thankful to be a writer?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Beautiful Books and Another Writing Contest

I'm extremely behind on my NaNoWriMo project. I only have about 11,000 words typed. Too many responsibilities and pleasures have interfered with my quiet time this week. A new book release, meeting several deadlines, and kids activities have kept me from writing much, but it's been a great week. My only true complaint is that it's the middle of November and I'm still breaking a sweat walking out to the car!

Tuesday was the GTWG meeting. The hurricane anthology, It's In the Gulf, is finally complete - see sidebar for picture and other information. The guild started the book after hurricane Ike and problems with a publisher have kept it from being published for nearly two years now.  Proceeds from sale of this book will be divided between the GTWG and several disaster relief funds.

Debra, Peggy, Laurie, Sylvia and Carol

Above is a picture of me with several friends who also have stories and poems appearing in the anthology. Peggy recently published a children's book Queen of the Castle, Laurie's short story "A Christmas Basket" appears in the book Christmas Miracles and Carol has seven beautiful books of travel, loss and love available. I encourage you to check out their blogs in the sidebar. Any of these books would make wonderful Christmas presents.

Cleopatra Literary Contest for Young Women: http://www.stephaniedray.com/literary-award/

A rainy, but busy weekend is heading my way. Good luck with your own writing projects.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Writing Persistently

If you are like me, you have numerous writing projects, both finished and incomplete, laying around the house. Some of you may not be participating in NaNoWriMo due to a lack of confidence or inspiration. Never let your writing go stale. If you love to write, do so, even if you don't finish. Eventually you will use it.

When I hit a wall or block in my writing, I simply switch gears. Sometimes I work on other writing projects. When that doesn't help, I just sit and copy lines from favorite stories or lyrics from favorite songs. I love the feel and flow of copying something that caught my attention and tugged at my emotions. When you write something that appeals to you, you can't help becoming inspired. Try it.

Whether you are working on that new novel or not, here is another writing opportunity for you. There is no entry fee. Literary Laundry Contest for poetry, prose and plays. http://www.literarylaundry.com/submissions
Each issue of Literary Laundry is accompanied by a writing competition. All pieces submitted to them for review will be entered into consideration for their Awards of Distinction. They offer the following cash awards:

$500 for best poem
$500 for best short story
$250 for best one-act drama

In addition to considering undergraduate works for the Award of Distinction, they will also consider them for the following undergraduate awards:

$250 for best poem
$250 for best short story

Deadline December 1, 2010.

Writing: My NaNoWriMo project is titled Wishes from Wonderland - Do you see a pattern? :-) I have a working outline for the entire story, and numerous rough notes and scenes, but I've only typed about 3500 words. While I like the idea and can see a lot of possibilities, I feel myself drawn to complete other stories I've started. It will be interesting to see what I'll finish first. Happy writing!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ready, Set, Write...

November is National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to begin with an idea on November 1 and finish a 50,000 word novel by midnight November 30. I know several of you have accepted this challenge as well and I look forward to reading your work.
This will be my first year to participate. I have my idea ready. You will be my accountability partners in seeing where it leads. Hopefully, this won't land in the dust pile with all of my other unfinished or unsubmitted works. I'm simultaneously trying to meet a few other deadlines.
Reading: A friend gave me The Devil Who Tamed Her by Johanna Lindsey. So far, it's not too bad; a sort of Victorian Age Taming of the Shrew. This is a welcome respite to all of the horror and murder mysteries I've been reading lately.