Friday Un-Fun Facts- Your Identity

September 15, 2017

If you haven’t heard about the HUGE Equifax breach which included personal information, like social security numbers, for almost half of the people in the United States, then you need to pay attention to these two items!Equifax-Data-Breach








Link Of The Week- FaceBook Infringes On Publicity Rights

August 1, 2017



This is a link to an article about FB’s policy of using well known artists’ names in other people’s ads. Specifically as advertising keywords. This is something you should be aware of because Amazon has similar issues. So far, it looks like their stable of lawyers are keeping things at bay…….

Let me know what you think. I’m very curious!

A Firestorm This Week- What Do You Think?

March 27, 2015
Is that what this is?

Is that what this is?

There’s been a big uproar this week over the creation of a new app to blur out and/or replace profanity in books. A couple designed it because their child read a book but was sad about the cuss words in it. (Why is a fourth grader reading a book with any cussing in it??)

I digress.

The idea is that if you buy a book from their site, then you get an app that will clean up dirty words. It’s important to note that they do NOT change the book in any way. This app is an overlay on the text and the reader can turn it off at will. The customer can choose the level of “cleanliness” they want and then it goes to town.

As you can imagine there have been some vehement opinions: (Be advised- there are many curse words in these two articles)

So there’s the argument.

I’m on the fence.

On the one hand, I understand the artist’s objection to someone manipulating their work without their consent. I get that, I really do. I don’t want people changing the meaning or the tone of what I write. What I’m having trouble swallowing is the impending disaster that is sure to happen if this is allowed. This app is such a censorship, it will ultimately end with book burning and banning. Hmmmm. This tool does nothing directly to the written work and they are not impeding it being sold in any way. It could be argued that a person who is careful about reading books with no profanity might choose a wider variety if they had something to “bleep” out those words. It’s a personal preference.

The other thing that was said almost immediately was that it was a “Christian” thing. I disagree. I have Zen Buddhist and Hindu friends who avoid all profanity to the best of their ability because it disturbs their balance. Again, personal preference.

The owner of the app wrote an article about the discourse and his stance is that they don’t believe they are infringing on any copyright laws and they are not taking anything away from the author. He also goes on to say that as a consumer, once the item is bought they have the right to consume it however they see fit.

I do have a problem with him mentioning an author he likes to read because he “writes well enough” to avoid resorting to profanity. Whoops. You could sway me on most points, but this is where I draw the line. An author has to be true to their character. A special ops alpha hero will just not say, “Gosh darn it.”.

I know this is an emotionally laden issue. I’m not sure where I stand. Are the rights of authors who haven’t given their consent for the book to be read in a different way being violated? Does Clean Reader have the right to create something that changes nothing of the original work, but makes it far more palatable for some readers to consume? Are there copyright laws being massacred? Do they have a point with- “I bought it. I can read anyway I want.”? Sheesh! I don’t know the answer!

Help me wade through this topic. What are your thoughts whether you are a reader or writer?

All Rise, The Court is in Session

March 13, 2013

Song of the day: Justice by Rev Theory

This month is a buzz of newsworthy stories. The latest being the outcome of a lawsuit filed by an unpublished romance writer against Harlequin.

In a nutshell, the writer claimed that her story was stolen by an author of Harlequin and published by Harlequin. The plaintiff claimed that the Harlequin author was a judge in a Romance Writers of America approved and/or sponsored contest, had read the entry and synopsis, and copied the work as her own. The plaintiff pointed out that there were over 40 similarities to the published, financially successful book and that it was blatant plagiarism of her creative expression.

You can read the claim here.

The judge handling the case disagreed and dismissed the case. The judge, in part, says:

“The similarities that [the plaintiff] asserts are either stock elements of romance novels or plot elements that naturally flow from the broad themes that the two works share with other works in the same genre. The two works share common tropes that are typical of, and generic to, the romance novel genre. A beautiful woman and a handsome, wealthy man fall in love, become estranged, find themselves alone together in close quarters, have a passionate reunion, rediscover their love and commitment, and begin a new life together. These are familiar plot elements in the romance genre. Many of the similarities accompanying these tropes in the works are scenes à faire. They describe similarly choreographed scenes of love, estrangement, rediscovered passion, and recommitted love. The details of these scenes are similar not because of infringement, but because they flow logically from the plot elements.”

You can read the document here. Or you can read the condensed version here.

Getty RF Justice

The author must have felt truly infringed upon. Unfortunately, her actions wreaked undue havoc on an innocent author’s life and likely put a death knell on her own career. Should she seek publication through a publisher, she will probably to be seen as a pariah.

The purpose of my blog is not to chastise this author or take sides, but to point out this is a lesson for us all. A plot, theme, idea, generic characteristics and details cannot be copyrighted. Not even zombie-loving Highlanders with secret babies.

The other issue at hand is now many published authors are reluctant to offer help to newbies still green and learning their craft. There is a fear that they, too, may be accused of stealing. They no longer want to judge contests. This in a time when finding qualified judges is difficult. Published authors are wary of offering mentorship and advice.

What a shame.

The romance genre, with all that amazing talent, is one place where authors share their knowledge freely. There is camaraderie and a drive to help peers succeed. One good turn deserves another. Paying it forward. However you want to describe it, romance authors learn from each other. Judging not only helps others with their craft, it strengthens your own writing. It’s invaluable to both parties involved. I’d hate to see that disappear.

Instances such as this lawsuit are rare. I would encourage published writers to be informed—know your rights, act accordingly. But don’t be so gun-shy that you deny others help. Remember you were once wet behind the ears, too. Your hard work and talent had some guidance and encouragement along the way from a writer more successful than you.

Do you agree or disagree? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you.

You Are Being Tracked- How Do You Feel About That?

January 31, 2013

Did you know your e-reader tracks:

what time of the day you read and for how long?

what passages you highlight?

what notes you might make while reading your book?

if you stop reading the book and where?

how many times you re-read something?

your digital file?

….and we don’t know what they do with all this information?

You just thought you were going to curl up by yourself and read a good book. Who knew you had someone looking over your shoulder and taking notes about you?


From this technology, they now know that the average time to read the Hunger Games is approximately 7hours, nearly 18,000 people have highlighted the same line from the second book, and the first thing that happens on The Nook is that readers immediately downloaded the next book in the series.

In the past when books were tangible items and you actually owned what you bought, the experience was a personal tete a tete with the author. No one was with you two except the wonderful characters that took up residence on the collaborative journey called reading.

Obviously from a business stand point this information is golden. If a significant amount of readers stop reading a book by page 165, then something must be done to bolster that story line. Suggestions have been made that at that point they could then insert a short video or other props to re-capture the readers’ attention. Should they invest in an author if folks only read through the story once or should they only heavily promote those that get their books annotated and highlighted? Amazon is now a publisher as well, this could be the golden ticket to marketing and higher returns.th_doortomoney_zps1709b59f

Certain authors have come out in favor of utilizing this information as well. Scott Turow, award winning author, lawyer, and president of the Author’s Guild says he’s waited for this type of information for years. He once had an argument with his publisher over the fact that he had been with them for years and had sold almost 25 million books yet they couldn’t tell him who bought his books.” He also argues that if you find a book is too long then you have to be more rigorous in cutting.

While I can understand that this information may be useful to authors, are they really sharing it with the authors? If you’ve published, how many of you have gotten reports on your readers’ habits? How many of you know the intimate details of what your audience did with your book? Is that information actually getting back to you? Would you want that kind of data?

Let’s play what if. What if Jane Austen or Herman Melville had access to this, would their masterpieces have been written the same? Would they have written artistically or tailored their stories to marketing feedback? Would it still be their stories or a book written by committee? So many questions.th_magnifying-glass

If I take off my author hat and put on my reader/consumer hat, you’d find that I have some serious issues with strangers being in my head. I don’t want to be a marketing pawn. I don’t want someone looking over my shoulder while I go back and re-read passages or even whole books. This should be my own private fantasy world. I read to escape, to immerse myself, by myself, in worlds and adventures. I’m not a bleeping ride at Disney Land where folks buy a ticket to come along! (Not that I feel strongly about this issue.)

A few of the readers give you the power to turn off these features, but you have to find them and opt out, they come turned on. Most don’t even give you this option. I provided a link on Tuesday to EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and they show a nifty table of all the different formats and how they are set up. I encourage you to glance over the information. You should be informed.

Let me know what you think as an author and as a reader!

Link Of The Wekk

January 29, 2013


I’ve found a web site that we should all be aware of in this fast and furious age of technology. This site is dedicated to defending your rights in a digital world. This is such a new frontier that laws are not set in place yet to protect you from this virtual cornerstone that we find ourselves relying on more and more. I especially like their “Deeplinks Blog” which discusses a whole range of matters. Be sure to read the article on E-readers and how much information is tracked from your reading habits….What???? You thought that was private- think again…..


***My blog on Thursday will do a more in depth look into this matter.




Link Of The Week…And Other Interesting Tidbits

January 17, 2012


By: Stacey Purcell

The saga continues with the debate on Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act. Wikipedia is the latest website to protest the upcoming vote. They will go dark on Wednesday to demonstrate their objections- the opposition say several of the items in the act would stifle innovation. Jimmy Wales who is the co-founder of Wikipedia confirmed this decision by tweeting, “Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!”

They are joining forces with other big names like Yahoo, Amazon, and Google who are also protesting the verbiage of SOPA.

I understand that they have concerns about stifling creativity and innovation, but is anyone concerned with the artists who are losing billions of dollars to thieves? Are they trying to draft a more workable act- one that satisfies them while still protecting intellectual property? Can it be done or are they mutually exclusive?

Now for some links to cool spots for writers:

1. He is CEO of one of the biggest publishing houses and has plenty of insightful things to say about our industry. Rachel is a literary agent who has great advice on how to improve your writing, get an agent, and find a publisher.

3. Rob has wonderful ideas on helping authors sell tons of books. He supplies practical advice on all levels of marketing.


Enjoy your week!!!

Let Me Steal Your Book!

January 5, 2012

Publication – is the auction of the Mind of Man.  ~Emily Dickinson


By:Stacey Purcell

I would like to tell you a story.

Once upon a time there was an author who wrote a novel. This novel took two years to create, many dollars spent polishing their work, sleep lost worrying about their story, and hundreds of hours taken from their families and friends. This creative endeavor came at a high price.

The author persevered and finished. Hooray, a novel is born. Now what?

Now they spend months, maybe years, sending it out to agents and editors. More money, more worry, more time away from their “life”. Perhaps it works and they score an agent/ editor. Perhaps they decide to publish it themselves. Whichever road they take will require more of everything including ulcer potential. (And they say writing isn’t glamorous!)

One way or another, the book is published and available for sale. Their hard work will now pay off.

Not so quick. The book goes on sale at 10am. By 10:30 it’s offered for free at a variety of web sites and the author won’t ever see a dime. And they lived happily ever after…..


Unfortunately, instead of being a fictional piece of writing, this is more like a documentary. Music, photography, art, scientific discovery, books (and the list goes on) have all been stolen from their creators. I believe this not only hurts the creator, it hurts the economy and damages the driving force of what makes most countries thrive. Nations are built and maintained by the innovators, the creators of the next new thing to make our lives better- whether it is a new source of entertainment, a breakthrough in medicine or a streamlining of a business.

“Intellectual property is one of America’s chief job creators and competitive advantages in the global marketplace, yet Inventors, authors, and entrepreneurs have been forced to stand by and watch as their works are stolen by foreign infringers beyond the reach of current U.S. laws.” Rep. Goodlatte

If the reward for that hard work is stripped away, the innovations will slowly fade away as well. We compromise our health as a nation.

There are two Acts before our governing bodies that are designed to help protect the theft of intellectual property. SOPA and PIPA (Stop Online Piracy Act and Pro-IP Act/ Protect IP Act) Both are designed to do more than the current “safe harbor” system that is in place. If a creator finds that a web site is offering their material without their permission, they must submit a notice telling them to take down the material and then the site is given a certain amount of time to take it down. SOPA would override the “safe harbor” system and “allow a judge to immediately block access to sites that are found guilty of hosting copyrighted material.”

SOPA is a bill that expands law enforcers and copyright holders ability to fight online piracy. Actions, through this, could include barring advertising networks and payment companies, like Pay Pal, from doing business with the site in question. They can also require Internet service providers to block access to these sites.( At the moment, the most we can hope for is that a web site in another country will positively respond to our request to take down our books. Law suits would be completely futile.)

As with any other major change, it is difficult. Vehement, passionate arguments can be made for both sides. Companies like Google, Yahoo, AOL, Twitter, FaceBook, Zynga, Mozilla, eBay, and LinkedIn posted an open letter to the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives outlining their arguments stating that SOPA would stifle creativity and innovation on the internet that has created many jobs. It also said that it would be a threat to our cyber-security. (Not sure I understand that one.) Yahoo has also reportedly dropped its membership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over their support of this bill.

Naysayers state that it will threaten online freedom of speech, threaten users uploading content, have a negative impact on websites that host user content, it’s a general threat to web-related businesses, it’s a threat to internal networks, and threatens open source software. They agree that something has to be done about this piracy but think that the wording is too vague and is open to misuse.

So who’s right? I don’t know. I can only share what I think- I believe the spirit of SOPA is something that is desperately needed. Right now, the creator has to hunt down rogue sites, craft a letter and hope for the best. I know of an author who took it a step further and also contacted all the advertisers and host of the web site stating she would make it public knowledge that they supported online piracy by placing their businesses on said site. It seemed to work for her. So now we not only have to try and write books, juggle our private lives, and learn how to be marketers, we have to be internet sleuths and strategic blackmailers.

The spirit is right, but what about the wording. So much of it is in “legalease”, it’s difficult for a lay person like me to tell. I don’t want a community like they have in China where everything is censored or blocked. Would SOPA allow that to happen? Well, when they figure it out and put it in plain English- I’ll let you know.



If you are interested in this issue, this is a nice place to start.

Lawsuits, Cowboys, and Free Speech

October 5, 2011

Song of the Day: Amarillo by Morning by George Strait

Have you ever been sued? Most have not. I’m willing to bet some of you have.

This probably won’t come as a surprise to those who know me, but I have. And it wasn’t for some piddly amount either. Not like my hubby when his psycho ex-girlfriend sued him for the cost of a 12 inch TV and a package of underwear.

Oh no. I was sued for a much bigger sum. Think of a number. Now go bigger. No, bigger. I was sued for a whopping one million dollars. Why was I being sued for a million smackeroos? Let’s just say the Mercedes did not have the right of way.  Unfortunately, the owner didn’t see it that way and my driving came under scrutiny, as I was driving a rental while my Cutlass was in the shop for repairs from a previous accident. Doesn’t look good, does it? At nineteen, there wasn’t much chance the plaintiff would see one cent out of me. I had nothing to my name but a beat-up Oldsmobile worth maybe five grand after a good spit shine. And as the saying goes, you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip. Needless to say, the case was dropped as the owner came under fire for possible insurance fraud.

So why am I talking about crazy litigations? My good friend Christie Craig is being sued by TxDot (Texas Department of Transportation) over the title of her latest humorous romance, Don’t Mess With Texas. Don’t Mess With Texas is also the anti-litter slogan adopted by TxDot many years ago. In a nutshell, TxDot feels that the use of the title violates Texas’s trademark. But that’s not how it all began. TxDot first filed for an injunction to prevent selling Christie’s book, claiming her book would damage Texas’ reputation because her book contains love scenes…between a man and a woman…in a committed relationship…practicing safe sex. When a judge struck down that lawsuit based on the First Amendment of free speech, TxDot slipped in the backdoor citing trademark violations and dilution. Never mind the slogan has been used numerous times in songs and magazines, as well as on clothing.

I love my state. I was born and raised here. We Texans are a rather proud lot. But as a Texan, I’m thoroughly disgusted and embarrassed by what TxDot is trying to do. I’m outraged that in a time of economic strain my tax dollars are wasted on pursuing such a ridiculous lawsuit.

Another writer friend of mine, Suzan Harden, has proposed a write-in campaign to the state’s governor, Gov. Rick Perry (you might have heard of him, :-P) to put an end to such frivolity. Stop by her blog for more information.

Whether you are a Texan or not, whether you are a writer or not, this type of lawsuit affects us all. It’s an attack on our free speech. It’s abuse of our tax dollars. We must make a fuss over this and be heard. Feel free to join me.

Snail Mail: The Honorable Rick Perry, PO Box 12428, Austin, TX 78711-2428
Phone No: (512) 463-2000
Twitter: @GovernorPerry (mention @TxDOT and @Christie_Craig)

Ever been sued? Have an opinion about this lawsuit? I’d love to hear from you.

“Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down”

September 15, 2011

No author dislikes to be edited as much as he dislikes not to be published.  ~Russell Lynes

By: Stacey Purcell

I’m sure a lot of you have read about author Kiana Davenport’s trouble with a large traditional publishing house. In case you haven’t, I’ll do a short re-cap. This author signed a deal for a book that she wrote which was due to come out in 2012.

So far, so good.

Ms. Davenport has won numerous awards, been previously published and by all rights is a wonderful writer. She is also a fashion model who lived the high life and spent most all of her money. She submitted and was accepted by Riverhead, an imprint of Penguin books. The terms for her new contract were less than what she used to command, but she needed the money that the advance would pay.

Just prior to this arrangement, she came across Joe Konrath’s blog about self-publishing and turned to him for help. With a bit of guidance, she sold a collection of short stories and was successful! She then published a second collection and  the proverbial poop hit the fan!

 “The editor shouted at me repeatedly on the phone.  I was accused of breaching my contract (which I did not) but worse, of ‘blatantly betraying them with Amazon,’ their biggest and most intimidating competitor.  I was not trustworthy.  I was sleeping with the enemy.”

Kiana Davenport immediately hired a lawyer. (Good for her!) He pointed out that the first collection was published before she signed the contract, so they turned their attention to the second collection and demanded that she take it off line, erase all mention on the internet about her short stories and that she submit in writing that she would not publish any of her back log items while her current book was with them. (That would represent a good two or more years of her life.)

Can you say straight jacket?

She refused. (Yay!) They terminated their contract and demanded her advance back. They are also holding her novel hostage until she sends them the money. That’s the whole sordid affair in a nutshell.

My first response to reading about her plight was disbelief. I simply couldn’t believe that an established business under the banner of an even bigger company would resort to classic bully tactics fronted by their legal department. After spending several hours researching articles posted by several amazing bloggers (lawyers included), I can say I was wrong. Do they not realize writers have blogs? Stories like this WILL get out and spread like wild fire.

Authors are urged to remember they are “professionals” in most every writing group out there. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it ad nauseum to always be on my best behavior, remember this is a profession, dress appropriately etc. etc. etc. So I ask the question, “How professional was it that the editor screamed at her over the phone? How professional was it that they called her agent offering treats so she would move forward in the right spirit?” I would also answer the questions by saying that they seem to be on shaky legal ground.

I haven’t seen the contract, I can only interpret the actions by both parties. If the publisher thought they had an iron clad legal stand, there wouldn’t be such an emotional outburst on the editor’s part, and they wouldn’t have tried to offer incentives for her to agree to their terms.

“The vice president and publisher of that house called my agent, offering extra little sweetmeats if I would just capitulate and ‘adopt the right spirit going forward.’  This somewhat sinister and semi-benevolent attempt at mind-control fascinated me.”

I think someone at Riverhead omitted the clause about what they would allow her to publish or not publish during the tenure of their agreement. I also think that if all of the above is true, then they are in breach of contract. By terminating the contract and demanding the advance back, on baseless grounds, they are now in the wrong. I believe they are bluffing by demanding the advance back and I’ll bet that her lawyer is telling her much the same thing. **Remember, I’m not a lawyer and am only expressing my thoughts.**

This whole story makes me sad. Not every publisher is a bad guy, some actually support the idea that the author is out there drumming up business and making their presence known on line. It seems to me that it’s a win-win situation and a model that would help traditional publishers stay afloat in this tumultuous time. Scenarios, like this, hurt everyone and I hope that the coming days as the landscape dramatically changes in our business, we will see calmer, more rational behavior from all.