Captive seahorses know we’re watching. Many people seem surprised to learn that “seahorse watching” is a two-way street. My seahorses spend at least as much time observing me as I do staring in through the glass at them. Two years ago, at Christmas, I decorated a little tree and put it in my office. Every evening, my male seahorse, Cygnus, clung to the front of the tank to watch the lights. They quickly learn to recognize the camera (in my case, an iPhone) and usually peek out to investigate when it draws near. I watch them, they watch me–and I see intelligence inRead more
Month: March 2015
What Good is a Writing Retreat? And What Should You Look For?
I blog a lot about conferences, and the benefits a good conference provides to writers. Writing retreats are like mini-conferences, and offer their own set of benefits. Here are some tips for getting the most from your writing retreat: 1. Make a list of your goals and priorities for the retreat before you pick one. That way, you can be sure the retreat you’ve selected meets your needs. 2. If you want a “guided retreat” with writing coaches or workshops, look for teachers whose style and experience interests you, and for classes tailored to the attendees’ needs. Some retreats offer general classes,Read more
Different Genres…Different Names?
Today’s post answers a question I hear a lot: What are the business and legal concerns authors face when using different pseudonyms (or a pseudonym) for writing in different genres? We’ve already looked at the legal issues involved in using a pseudonym (What’s in a [Pen] Name) so today we’ll focus on use of different names (real or fictitious) for works in different genres. As an initial matter, authors can legally use different names (either real or fictitious) for different published works, as long as the use is neither fraudulent nor intended to get around a legal or contractual obligation. In plainer language: you can’t get around limitationsRead more
Getting the Most From YOUR Conference Season
Today’s post looks forward to the summer conference season (which will be upon us before we know it!) with some advice for getting the most from your conference experience.Read more
Be Yourself. Or, if you have to, be a Goat.
Last Friday, I posted this photo on Facebook: I posted the photo on Facebook because I liked the image and also because my social media feeds seem dedicated to the idea of Random Uber Alles – and people like it. Wherein lies a tale. I speak with a lot of authors and artists, either in my attorney role or while wearing my artist’s hat. (OK, you caught me. It’s not a hat – it’s a sparkly cape and Batman underoos – but I digress.) Most of them ask advice about social media, and people often inquire about the way to “Establish An Online Presence” because it’s increasinglyRead more
Authors on the Move
This weekend, I’m participating in Authors on the Move, a charity dinner to benefit the Sacramento Public Library Foundation.Read more
How to Prepare and Use a DMCA Takedown Notice
In 1998, the U.S. enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), which includes numerous protections for authors, Internet Service Providers, and the public, many of which are designed to “maintain a balance between the rights of authors and the larger public interest, particularly education, research and access to information.” I could write a book (and people have) describing the DMCA in detail, but today we’re looking at only one element of the law: the DMCA Takedown Notice. I’ll apologize in advance for the length of this post, which definitely exceeds my usual 500-word cutoff. (There’s just no short way to get this particularRead more
Love on the Reef
Seahorses mate in mid-water, and mated pairs engage in elaborate courtship rituals involving tail-holding, “carouseling” around one another while swimming, and color-changing displays. Mated pairs also seem to enjoy spending time together, and often hitch together in a sea fan or other favorite hitching spot. The young seahorses in my tank haven’t had a chance to observe any older seahorses “dancing,” but that hasn’t stopped them from figuring the courtship rituals out on their own. Over the weekend, Vega and Moya (who ended up being male, despite his feminine-sounding name) started courtship behaviors. They spent a lot of time together, hitched inRead more
Lessons Learned From a Baby Seahorse
Last December, I acquired some new baby seahorses for my aquarium. I quickly realized that one of the four was born without a “snick” – the snapping suction action that seahorses use to capture and eat their prey. Where seahorses normally snick up food, this little fellow could only inhale weakly and hope something made it far enough up his snout to reach his belly. Writing isn’t an easy life. The odds are against a writer from the start. In addition to learning how to write–a difficult task in itself–the writer must finish a novel, edit the novel, choose and pursue aRead more
Piracy, Theft, and Copyright
Although my office doesn’t handle litigation (lawsuits) and contested matters, I often receive questions from authors (and small publishers) about piracy and related issues. The Internet offers authors more chances for discovery, and better contact with readers, than almost any other tool. Unfortunately, it also gives criminals an equally-opportune chance to steal an author’s work. (Let me be clear: people who pirate, copy, or share an author’s copyrighted work without permission are criminals. There are no exceptions or excuses. If you reproduce, copy, or “share” copyrighted work without permission or a legally-recognized defense, you are breaking the law, and that makesRead more