Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Writer as God

A writer told me the truth once.

She said, "When I write, I am the God of my world and I am closest to the Divine that I can be. I form the men and women of my world from the left-over dust of my thoughts and I breathe the life of my inspiration into them."

Long hair, rich and brown. A glass of wine bled from fragrant grapes bursting with life. A slight tilt to her chin and eyes brash with a challenge to the whole world as though I wasn't even there. Drunk with the power of creation.

Beyond the porch light of her world, the demons watched, drawn by her passionate fire.

For the difference between the Divine and the Darkness is the gift of creation.

Writers create, plagiarists hide in the shadows waiting to steal what they cannot bring forth on their own.MySpace Tracker

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Over the Holidays, I'd Like What Every Other Writer Would Like

No, Not Another Lump of Coal...

This year, all I want for Christmas is to be able to write for one week straight without having to deal with the rest of the world.  That includes working for a living, of course.  Bills.  Holiday colds.  That sort of thing.

I admit it, when someone says the word Holiday, I usually think of even less time to write.  It's not that I'm not grateful for friends and family and parties, I'd just like for the rest of the world to reconsider.  To think that there should be a holiday from holidays.  At least for writers.

Or bring back patronage.  It worked for artists a ways back.  It could work for writers.

And with the publishing houses investing less in marketing and promotion and expecting more and more of writers including conventions, blogging, Facebook and, yes, the dreaded twittering- when do we get time to write?  Are any of the rest of you social networked to death?  I just learned about LinkedIn.  Or something like that.  Very helpful to writers, I was told.  I admit, I covered my ears while the informant was talking.

So next year, we have to have a new holiday for writers, where all we have to do is write.  No cards to send out- just time to write.

What a present that would be!

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Lisa Morton's "The Samhanach"

This Book Must Be Made into a Movie!

Lisa Morton's gift for pacing is so naturally displayed in this Halloween tale that you don't notice how quickly the suspense builds until your shoulders begin to hurt. 


Here's the publisher's plot synopsis:

The Samhanach by Lisa Morton
“On a Halloween night 300 years ago, something rose out of a Scottish bog to curse the McCafferty clan. Now, in 2010, single mother Merran McCafferty finds her suburban Halloween celebrations torn apart by the arrival of the Samhanach, an ancient trickster demon. When the Samhanach tries to steal Merran’s young daughter, Merran is forced to put aside reason and accept that magic is real, and bogies really do exist on Halloween night.”


In this deftly crafted short novel, Lisa Morton shows such mastery of pacing and tension that when you're through you'll really believe that she can alter your heartbeat.

Because of her internationally acknowledged expert status in Halloween lore, we expect the factual precision she delivers with regard to world superstition and legend, but her buildup of powerful tension through clever placement and presentation of culturally encoded symbolism is a marvelous surprise.  The horror a mother experiences when her child is abuducted is forcefully contrasted with that same mother's life and death struggle against a creature summoned by a man wo died before she was even born.  The intriguing psychological conflict is that her main character must first believe in the demon who has stolen her child in order to confront it.

"The Samhanach" begs to be made into a horror movie.  It's main character, Merran, is a woman that I so immediately liked and cared about that I unconsciously began selecting which actress could play her in the movie while I was still reading the story.  And the visuals of Merran's decent into the Otherworld are as startling as those suffered by Alice in "Through the Looking Glass," by Lewis Carroll.

This short novel can be read in a single setting, which I thought was great because, as another reviewer said, I didn't want to put it down until I'd read the whole story.  In fact, having read "The Samhanach," I'm heading to the bookstore to find another Lisa Morton novel to read.  When it comes to reading, I like to hang out with quality people.

For more information on Lisa Morton, visit her website: http://www.lisamorton.com/

To purchase "The Samhanach," please visit: Bad Moon Books

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Friday, December 10, 2010

The Good Fight

Inivite Your Publisher to Sit Down
With You-
But Not on You


"Union grievance officers have recovered more than $1.4 million for NWU members and have represented members in non-monetary grievances as well."

Source: The Nationa Writers Union website.


J.K. Rowlings probably doesn't need a union.  Stephen King can buy and sell the state of Maine, and Stephanie Meyers is probably looking at buying the Virgin Islands.  They can afford to to stand up for themselves.  How about you?

Let's say you sold an article a few years back to the New York Times.  You sold them First North American print rights.  You beam.  You glow.  Your friends and neighbors ask to be photographed with you and you begin to get holiday cards not addressed to "Occupant."  Things are going well.

Then, someone tells you that they saw your article on the web, or accessed it on an electronic database.  You start to think.  Maybe it's a mistake.  Maybe they misunderstood the deal.  You contact them.  They say they're exercising their rights under the contract.  You point out that the contract is for print, not electronic publications.   They hang up on you.

A quick check of your bank account reveals that you can afford to buy a new blender, but unfortunately can't afford to sue the New York Times. 

You've been proud of your independence.  You take on the world with your laptop.  Your brain and you against the world.  You're published.  By a big publisher.  But now that big publisher is pushing you around.

If you were both a freelance writer and also a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981, you could contact your Union.  If you weren't, well, you'd have a long, uphill and expensive legal fight that just might be more than you could afford.

Here's the story, taken from the National Writers Union Website of "Tasini et al vs. The New York Times Company, Newsday Inc., Time Inc., Lexis/Nexis, and University Microfilms Inc. et al":


"Tasini v. New York Times

Tasini et al v. The New York Times et al is the landmark lawsuit brought by members of the National Writers Union against The New York Times Company, Newsday Inc., Time Inc., Lexis/Nexis, and University Microfilms Inc., charging copyright violation regarding the electronic reuse of work produced and sold on a freelance basis.


For decades when freelance writers sold stories to American publications, it was understood by all concerned that they were selling only First North American Serial Rights which allowed the newspaper or magazine to publish the story in print one time. For freelance authors, retention of all other copyrights is crucial to their economic survival because a significant additional source of income comes from their ability to sell secondary rights such as syndication, translations, anthologies, and so forth, to other publications.

With the advent of electronic media including databases like Nexis, publishers such as Time/Warner and the Times/Mirror Company, the parent companies of Time and Newsday, have been selling freelance-authored material to electronic databases such as Nexis/Lexis without any additional payment or purchase of electronic rights from the original authors. They claim, without justification, that by purchasing First North American Serial Rights they automatically gain electronic republication rights. Tasini et al v. The New York Times et al established that they are violating the copyrights of writers."


Now that's what I call a happy ending.  Oh yes, there was a financial settlement involved.  Guess how much?

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Make It Your New Year's Resolution to Join the National Writers Union

I'm a proud member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981 and today I'm asking you to join, too.  We represent both fiction and nonfiction writers.  But, you may say, I became a writer/poet/screenplay writer/ magazine freelancer to be a creatively independent professional. Why should I join a union?

Put aside your stereotypes for a minute and I'll tell you why.  This isn't about politics- it's about protecting your work and your income as a writer no matter which end of the political spectrum you embrace.

It's a fact.  In this day and age, writers need representation.  I know from first-hand experience.  When I needed help, the National Writers Union was there for me.  But do you need to join this union?  I think you should because of the benefits.  This quote from the NWU Home Page makes the case:

"Now, more than ever, with the consolidation of power into the hands of ever-larger corporate entities and with the advent of technologies that facilitate the exploitation of a writer’s work, writers need an organization with the clout and know-how to protect our interests."

Corporations are taking over the publishing industry like never before.  The National Writers Union has stood up to the likes of the New York Times.  They raised the warning flag about Google moving in on our copyrights.  Believe me, they can stand with you for fair treatment from your publisher, no matter how big or small that publisher or media giant is. 

And writers suffer financially as much and sometimes more than the rest of the workforce during these difficult times. Many of us don't have health insurance, dental and/or vision insurance. We can't always afford lawyers.  We don't know where to go for contract advice. When our work is being threatened by plagiarists, copyright infringment or publishers that don't respect our electronic rights, most writers stand alone. When we're not paid on time or at all by publishers, what can we do? What do we do?

Most writers can't afford to stand up to an Indie Press publisher when they're not paid on time or at all, much less stand up to a large publishing house. In fact, most freelance writers can't even get a press pass.

Regular readers of this blog know that I was plagiarized a while back, and after it sunk in that someone had stolen from me,do you know who I turned to for both advice and moral support? It was to you, my fellow bloggers, and the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981. So I thought I should bring the two of you together. Why might my fellow bloggers/ writers be interested in the NWU?  Because the internet is still full of scam publishers and plagiarists and because the NWU is still the only labor union that represents writers.

My father was a Union President at the Post Office. He also owned his own business, repairing appliances at night. He believed in the right to being an independent, and he also believed in collective representation. The two are not mutually contradictory.  As writers, most of us work independently at our writing business, but, like my father, I believe we still have the right to benefit from professional collective representation.

Stay with me for the next two posts and I'll tell you why being a Union member doesn't take the romance out of writing for me, it puts the excitement back in it!

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