Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Copyright Bullies

Kathryn Page Camp
These days we hear a lot about children and teens who bully their classmates. We also hear about the copyright police--the ones who remind bloggers and middle school music pirates to honor copyrights. But we rarely hear about the copyright bullies.
Copyright bullies are those publishers who try to scare us out of using their materials for any purpose whatsoever (with the sometimes exception of book reviews). The law reserves certain rights to the public, but these copyright bullies and their lawyers don't want us to know that.
Many books have this warning in front: "No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without permission in writing from the publisher."
Wrong. There are a number of what the law calls "fair uses," and brief quotations in printed reviews is only one of them. To make a general and far too simplistic statement, a fair use is one that takes a short excerpt and uses it in a way that transforms or complements the copyrighted material rather than replacing it. You can find a detailed discussion of fair use in my new book, Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal (KP/PK Publishing 2013), which will be available May 1 from Amazon and is coming soon from other retailers.
Then there are those works that have been around so long that copyright laws no longer protect them. This is called being in the public domain. People can use public domain materials any way they want, although they should attribute the source.
I found the most flagrant attempt at copyright bullying in a book that compiles several of Lewis Carroll's works--all of which entered the public domain decades ago. In that book the warning states: "No part of this publication may be reproduced in any way or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or stored in an information retrieval system of any kind, without the prior permission in writing from [Publisher], except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews."
Huh? All the material is in the public domain, which is where the publisher got it from in the first place. The reader is free to copy at will without worrying about copyright infringement.
We should all be careful not to violate copyrights, and some warning is necessary.
But don't be intimidated by copyright bullies.
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Kathryn Page Camp is a licensed attorney and full-time writer. Her new book, Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal (KP/PK Publishing 2013), will be available from Amazon on May 1 and is coming soon from other retailers. Kathryn is also the author of In God We Trust: How the Supreme Court's First Amendment Decisions Affect Organized Religion (FaithWalk Publishing 2006) and numerous articles. You can learn more about Kathryn at

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Speak to Promote

You've published a book and want to promote it. Or you haven't published anything yet but plan to develop a platform. Have you thought about becoming a speaker?

If you are used to talking to groups, start by deciding what topics you will offer. Then consider joining one or more speakers' bureaus.

Indiana Writers' Consortium offers one as a free membership benefit. It isn't an interactive speakers' bureau that matches speakers with venues, but IWC does list your information on the website for the world to see.

How do you get included? If you aren't an IWC member, the first step is to join. You can do that through the website at Then simply send a picture and speaking information to Although IWC does not require a particular format, you can check the current entries to see what kind of information they include.

So what if you want to be a speaker but are too nervous to follow through? Check out speech classes at local colleges/universities and park districts. Or join a speaking club from an organization such as Toastmasters International.

Belonging to a Toastmasters' club gives you the opportunity to speak in a non-threatening environment while learning how to prepare and present speeches. Members range in experience from other beginners to people who command significant fees for speaking engagements. They'll all help you gain confidence and become a polished speaker.

New Toastmasters members receive a beginning manual that covers everything from organizing a speech to vocal variety, gestures, and using visual aids. After completing the first manual, members proceed to advanced manuals focused on particular types of speaking, such as Humorously Speaking, Interpretive Reading, and Communicating on Television.

To find a nearly Toastmasters' club, go to and use the meeting finder on the left-hand side of the home page. Guests are welcome, so you can attend a meeting or two before deciding to join.

If you want to speak to promote, you have options. Use them.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dissecting a Poem

Peggy Archer
Happy Poetry Month! Happy Spring! For poetry month I thought I would show you the process that I went through when I wrote, and re-wrote, one of the poems from my picture book, NAME THAT DOG!
My inspiration for Melody was my friend's dog, Mellie. Every time I would go to Karen's house, Mellie barked like crazy, even before I got to the front door! I told Karen, "You don't need a doorbell. You have Mellie!"
My first idea was to write about a dog who loved to 'sing,' and with his barking he would get all of the dogs in the neighborhood to join in. I called him Maestro, like a very talented leader of an orchestra. Here's the first draft:
He sings along
When I play the piano
He hits the high notes
In perfect soprano.
He can hold it long
He can sing it low
Dogs follow the lead
Of my dog, Maestro.
Ok. I wasn't really happy with this poem--yet. Here are some reasons why.
Rhythm: This poem didn't just roll off your tongue with easy rhythm.
Stress and natural language: In this first draft the stress falls on different syllables in the lines. I try to have each line stress the same syllable, usually the first or the second, to make it flow and easy to read. It doesn't always work out that way, but at least it feels right when you read it out loud. And poetry needs to be read out loud. The stress here falls on the second or third syllable. The last line puts the stress on the word 'my,' which doesn't feel natural. In addition, the lines don't have the same number of syllables. It doesn't always need to be the same, but I felt that it was too far off.
Imagery: I didn't feel that the end result put any special pictures or images in the reader's mind. Okay, maybe a piano, maybe an orchestra conductor. Boring!
Language: Word choice, or language, is what creates the images that the readers see when they read a poem. It's also what makes the readers feel something when they read a poem. I definitely thought I could do better here.
So I started to make lists. I made a list of words that were sounds that a dog makes: bark, howl, yap, etc. I made a list of words that were synonyms for 'sing': croon, tra-la-la, chant, hum, wail, moan.... I made a list of types of music: country, opera, pop, rock, rap.... I made a list of musical instruments: piano, saxophone, flute, violin....
I decided to re-name my dog Melody, after Mellie, who barked whenever someone came up the walk, and made her a girl, like the real Mellie. I looked at my lists and tried to relate the different words to a dog, in particular a dog who liked to 'sing.'  Here's what I ended up with.
She sings when I play the piano.
She croons to the saxophone blues.
She wails to that sad country music
And moans to the nine o'clock news.
She boldly increases her volume,
enjoying the voice that she's found,
And sings a duet with the doorbell--
That howling, melodious hound.
Poems are meant to be read out loud! I ended up with a much better rhythm and a poem that was fun to read. The language was fun, too. And the images are there in every line for the reader to enjoy. I hope that you enjoy these poems, as well.
NAME THAT DOG! by Peggy Archer, illustrated by Stephanie Buscema, Dial Books for Young Readers 2007, ISBN: 978-0-8037-3322-0
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NOTE: This post originally appeared on Peggy's blog ( on April 26, 2011. IWC thanks her for permission to reprint it. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Writing Takes a Community

Imagine sharing a critique group with Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Louisa May Alcott, or Edgar Allen Poe. Unfortunately, it would take a seance.

Still, all writers start out unknown, and any member of your critique group might be a future bestselling author. Including you.

But first you have to belong to one.

Northwest Indiana has a number of writers' critique groups that are open to new members. Here are some suggestions:

  • The Highland Writers' Group meets from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. on most Saturdays. On the first and third Saturdays of the month, HWG meets at Grindhouse Cafe, 146 N. Broad St., Griffith, Indiana. On the second and fourth Saturdays, it meets at Blackbird Cafe, 114 Lincolnway, Valparaiso, Indiana. This is a classic critique group where members encourage each other by providing helpful comments for improvement. Members write all genres, and there are no dues. New members and visitors over 18 are always welcome. For more information, contact Gordon Stamper at
  • Magic Hour Writers meets at 6:30 p.m. every second Thursday at the Chapel Lawn Banquet Room, 8178 Cline, Crown Point, Indiana. The group's mission is to encourage and promote excellence in writing for children through friendship, education, and peer support to writing colleagues. For more information, e-mail Jackie Huppenthal at or check out the group's blog site at
  • The Northwest Indiana Poetry Society meets at 10:00 a.m. every third Saturday at Lowell Public Library, 1505 East Commercial Ave., Lowell, Indiana. "Words in rhymes, metered times, some thought provoking verse." For further information, call or e-mail Tom Spencer at 219-696-3338 or
  • The Prairie Writers Guild meets at 6:00 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month, almost always at the City Office and Pub in Rensselaer, Indiana. PWG promotes writing and writers in Northwest Indiana. New writers are always welcome. Stop by, have dinner, or just introduce yourself. For more information, go to
  • Write-On Hoosiers meets at 6:30 p.m. each first and third Wednesday (January through November) at the Chapel Lawn Banquet Room, 8178 Cline, Crown Point, Indiana. Its mission is to offer education, friendship, and assistance to fellow writers and to promote the excellence of writing in all its forms. For more information, e-mail or check out the group's website at, or read the group's blog at
We hope to see you soon at one of these venues.