The Moment When It All Changes

Do you remember the first book you read that spoke to you?  I don’t mean the one that made you nod your head because you can relate to the story or the characters.  And I don’t mean the one that made you cry because the words were so beautiful.  There’s one book that makes you say, “This author is in my head!”

That book for me is A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers.  By the time I got around to reading the hardcover edition, a paperback edition with a new foreword was released.  I still read the hardcover book I had.  There are tangents in the telling of a scene that remind me of the tangents I have with my thoughts.  It’s like there’s something that sparks a memory and the memory has to play out before returning to the original line of thought.

 What book first spoke to you?

Works in Progress

A few weeks ago (actually on the 14th) I finished the last book review I had assigned to me.  The editor is in Fiji so I have no idea when the reviews will be posted.

In general I don’t like to talk about the things I have in progress.  When talking about the work face to face with someone I’m often enthusiastic.  The energy is gone when I sit down to write or it doesn’t come out the way I see it in my head.  As a result I tend to either not talk about my works in progress at all or until the pieces are in the revising stage.

Plagiarism or Copyright Fair Use?

While traveling to the AAA auto repair center to pick up my car I heard something on NPR that caught my attention.  The latest literary scandal involves Cassie Edwards, Paul Tolme, and the black-footed ferret.

Cassie Edwards is a historical romance novelist.  I don’t think I’ve read any of her work.  Her 100th novel, Shadow Bear, appears to contain information that Paul Tolme reported in 2005 about the endangered black-footed ferret.  The absurdity is that after the love interests show their love for each other (if you know what I mean) the black-footed ferret becomes the topic of conversation.  A dry and very clinical sounding conversation. 

Paul Tolme’s web site has the links to his NPR interview, his recent article about it and his original story.  Until recently, Cassie Edwards’ web site had information about all of her books and the link to her fan club.  Now her web site is simply “under construction”.

Copyright fair use allows a person to make copies of the media (for example, it’s okay to make a copy of your favorite CD so you have one at work and one at home but it’s not okay to make ten copies and give them away) or use bits and pieces of information.  The US justice system takes a look at how the information was used, how much of the information was taken and if the use devalues the original work. 

Plagiarism is basically lifting or taking the work of someone else and calling it your own.  No credit or acknowledgement is given to the original source.

For writers who need to do a lot of research it can be a fine line between the two.  Sometimes we read things so many times it becomes ingrained in our heads and that’s the only way we think of it. 

Signet, the most recent publisher of Cassie Edwards’ books, is looking into the matter.  Their original statement is that she used the information under copyright fair use and forgot she needed to provide acknowledgement of her sources.  Now they are looking into all of the books she’s published with them.

If a writer has to do research for their books and has been with more than one publisher, wouldn’t an editor at one of the publishing houses ask about how the research was done?  If writing about a specific location, did the author visit it in person, take tours through web sites or use travel brochures? 

I’m not a judge or an expert on copyright laws.  Everything I know about copyright laws is what I’ve read in writing magazines and Wikipedia.  This isn’t the only book in recent years to come under scrutiny and that’s a shame for the entire writing industry.

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

About three years ago I met Elmore Hammes at a local NaNoWriMo kickoff party.  He’s impressed me with the number of novels he can churn out each year and with the quality of his writing.  Elmore’s been published in The First Line and submitted one of his novels for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.  I received an email from Elmore today to find out that from 5,000 entries, Elmore is a one of the 800 semi-finalists.  An excerpt of Elmore’s novel can be found on Amazon here.

Amazon customers can read excerpts of the semi-finalists and provide customer reviews until March 2nd.  Finalists will be announced on March 3rd.  If you review the excerpts you’re in the running for a prize package of goodies.  It looks like the catch is that you have to provide at least 25 reviews.  Think of it this way… if you do one review a day you’ll be in the running for the prize package before you know it!

Reviews Done and Preditors and Editors Poll

This week I’ve managed to finish two book reviews and send them off to the editors.  I have one more book review assigned to me to finish.  Once it’s complete, all my assigned book reviews will be off my plate so I can work on some new fiction.

The Preditors and Editors polls for 2007 close tomorrow.  The site serves as a resource for writers.  While looking through the nominees I found many familiar names.  I recognized them from editors/writers I work with and as presenters from the 2007 Muse Writing Conference.  It’s good to work with such highly regarded people!