Saturday, September 18, 2010

Your pics?

Just quickly, for those commenting or even just wanting to say hello, is it possible for you to send a smallish version of your picture, photo, or composite, because we're trying to humanize this blog a bit more.  Okay?  Thanks.

Welwyn  (who is really bookavenger, and looks like this lovely cat, in disguise.)

Continuing on with The Contract and Lack of Payment to this Real Writer

At 18 September, 2010 , Blogger Welwyn-on-books said...

The link above should take you to the original post by Michael on his problems getting paid, but if it doesn't, then just click on the post of 16th Sept. and read the four comments to that post.  It's really important.

And yes, M Pax, you're so right that there's so much to look out for in this business!

(We actually outwrote Blogger's capacity on that post!!!  And there's so much still to come....)

see you soon,



Thursday, September 16, 2010

This is a real reader's real problem with being paid for his work.

I'm re-posting here this comment that came in a bit earlier, because it was a bit hidden in the contest posts, and I'd really like everyone to read it and think about what has happened to this person.  I'll just take out his last name to try to keep him "everyman".  His second question (which I've taken out for now) I'll get to another day.


My name is Michael and while looking for some writer support groups I came across your profile on Windows Live. Your profile mentions that part of your life’s work is helping writers avoid bad publishing behavior. Unfortunately, I have already started down the path of bad publishing choices. I had a short story called “XXXXX” that was part of the now defunct Amazon Shorts downloadable offerings. Although I know people who downloaded my work, I never received any compensation

This is a very serious problem, though fortunately for Michael's sake it seems, so far, to affect him only with regard to one short story.  Not that that makes it unimportant in any way, just, "whew", think if it had been a whole novel!

I am not a lawyer, and laws of different countries vary.  However, most civilized countries in the world have signed the same International Copyright Agreement, which means the publishers of Canada, USA, Britain, and all others that I know of whose people speak English as you do, have to follow their country's signed agreements with other countries.  These agreements are limited, but they do help keep a publisher under control, and in this case, Michael, Amazon is your publisher.  When I answer questions on contracts and copyrights and dealing with publishers or stores that publish, please be aware that I speak from my own experiences only.  This will protect both me and you.  I do not want to be sued by anyone, and you don't want to take my words as Absolute Truth.  They will be as close to the truth as I know, and will reflect what I now realize is a pretty vast set of experiences with trouble that I've encountered, and that's all I can do. 

Before I can answer you, Michael, I would need to know a few things.  First, did you ever get a written contract in the mail that you had to sign?  I would imagine it didn't work like that, but I'd like to be sure.  Places like an online store that publishes other peoples' original work usually get your permission and give your their offer by means of a "Membership Agreement" of some sort that is published on their site online.  You're supposed to click on the Agreement to open it, and then, read it very carefully, and make sure you click on any links within the agreement to read them very carefully as well.  The best procedure is always to print out that agreement, then go back to the online one and print out every single linked document, and if there are links within those links, continue printing until you have in your hand a completely exposed set of clauses in what would be called a contract, in any normal world.  Once it's in print, where you can scrawl things and put question marks in and so on, it's a really good idea to read that "contract" at least half a dozen times, looking for problem areas.  I can tell you about dozens of problem areas that might crop up, but I don't want to get into that until I know how you and Amazon came to agree to Amazon's publishing your story.  If you clicked "I Agree," whether or not you read what you were agreeing to, you are committed to everything that was in Amazon's online Agreement.  It's a very unfair way of negotiating a contract, since it's a "Take it or Leave it" proposition that is being offered to you.  Sometimes, though, it really is better to leave it.
This clicking "I Agree" to let Amazon publish your work isn't like downloading something from say, Microsoft, where you have to agree to their pages and pages of legal terms in order to get what you know you want and you've heard is pretty safe so you think it is probably not going to fry your hard drive.  Most people, faced with these kinds of "Do you agree ?" buttons, do not read the online agreement.  Most people just click on "I agree".  We know we shouldn't. But we do it anyway.  And, let's face it, it gets to be a habit. 

In this case, you are not dealing with a download that could simply ruin your computer.  (And I mean that word "simply").  By agreeing with one click to a document that deals with the publication of your writing, you could, for example, lose possession of your own story for the rest of your life. Because the Shorts program came to an end, I think we can get you back any previously doubtful ownership of your story.  But whether we can get you fair payment for the downloads that Amazon did of your work is entirely dependent on the agreement you have with them.  And so it's really important for me to know some things:
(1) Did you print out your Agreement with Amazon, with all links printed too?
(2) Do you still have that Agreement, if so?
(3) Did you, instead, click on "I Agree" after maybe just reading it online, without printing it?  If so, did you make notes or do you have an excellent memory of what you read?
(4) Finally, if this is indeed a button click agreement, did you just click on "I Agree" without reading or printing what you were agreeing to?
(5) If you got a written contract, which means 1-4 above don't apply, did you keep it?

Please write back with the answers to these questions, and if you have anything written down, could you have it handy to answer my next questions, after you write back? 

Talk to you again soon, I hope.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


So, just to be clear: here is what Robert Graves said EXACTLY as he said it, and following it are the posts with names removed (though I know them) of the brave and articulate souls who approached the concept of trying to not only figure out what he meant by this poem, but how they could say what they thought in 140 characters or less. 

The Devil's Advice to Story-Tellers
Lest men suspect your tale to be untrue,
Keep probability - some say - in view.
But my advice to story-tellers is:
Weigh out no gross of probabilities,
Nor yet make diligent transcriptions of
Known instances of virtue, crime or love.
To forge a picture that will pass for true,
Do conscientiously what liars do -
Born liars, not the lesser sort that raid
The mouths of others for their stock-in-trade:
Assemble, first, all casual bits and scraps
That may shake down into a world perhaps;
People this world, by chance created so,
With random persons whom you do not know-
The teashop sort, or travellers in a train
Seen once, guessed idly at, not seen again;
Let the erratic course they steer surprise
Their own and your own and your readers' eyes;
Sigh then, or frown, but leave (as in despair)
Motive and end and moral in the air;
Nice contradiction between fact and fact
Will make the whole read human and exact.
               - Robert Graves


At 08 September, 2010 , Anonymous  said...
I believe the poem by Robert Graves says: To make your novel believable, apply behaviors, emotional and physical, you observe from society into your characters.  
At 12 September, 2010 , Blogger said...
The power of observation is the story-teller's greatest asset for creating believable characters, rather than relying on clichéd archetypes.  
At 12 September, 2010 , Anonymous 
Story tellers must lie elegantly about ordinary people in probable situations.  
At 13 September, 2010 , Blogger said...
Sprinkle your stories with bits of real life and people but don't let truth get in the way of good fiction.  
At 13 September, 2010 , Blogger said...
Observing the demeanour of strangers is essential to writing believable characters whose humanity is diminished by cookie-cutter lives.  
At 14 September, 2010 , Blogger said...
A believable character can live beyond the page and is made flesh by acknowledging the reality of human chaos and avoiding a polished finish.  
At 14 September, 2010 , Blogger said...
Human nature is contradictory, and believable characters must reflect as much, or else they become predictable, rather than probable.  
At 14 September, 2010 , Blogger said...
A believable character consists of the perfect ratio of fact to fiction, where fact is behaviour acutely observed and fiction is probabilities imagined.

New pictures

Welwyn at age 5, sister Roberta age 4
This is my daughter Meredith who is a game-designer in Victoria, B.C.

My mom and Dad before I was born, mid 1940's
My husband Greg and Chloe (aka bookavenger)
Welwyn at Picton Harbour, Prince Edward County, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Your Readerly Laugh for the Day

One morning a woman decides to take her husband's fishing boat out.  She motors out a short distance, anchors, puts her feet up, and begins to read.  The peace and solitude are magnificent until...

Along comes a Fish and Game Warden in his boat.  'Good morning, Ma'am. What are you doing?'
'Reading a book,' she replies, thinking, Isn't it obvious?
 'You're in a Restricted Fishing Area,' he informs her.
 'I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading.'
'Yes, but I see you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up.'
'If you do that,’ says the woman, ‘I'll have to charge you with sexual assault,' says the woman.
'But I haven't even touched you,' says the Game Warden.
'That's true, but you have all the equipment...  For all I know you could start at any moment.'
Silence.  Then, 'Have a nice day ma'am.'


The Book and the Game Warden.

        One morning, a woman decides to take her husband’s fishing boat out. She motors out a short distance, anchors, puts her feet up, and begins to read her book. The peace and solitude are magnificent, until...
       Along comes a Fish and Game Warden in his boat.  'Good morning, Ma'am. What are you doing?'
       'Reading a book,' she replies, thinking, Isn't that obvious?
     'You're in a Restricted Fishing Area,' he informs her.
     'I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading.'
     'Yes, but I see you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up.'
     'If you do that,’ says the woman, ‘I'll have to charge you with sexual assault.'
     'But I haven't even touched you,' says the Game Warden.
     'That's true, but you have all the equipment...  For all I know you could start at any moment.'
     Silence.  Then, 'Have a nice day ma'am,' he said, and he putt-putted off. 

Moral: Never argue with anyone who reads.
It's likely that person can also think.

How to Avoid Butt-Chair

This is an amazing idea, cheap if you already have a treadmill and use a laptop with attached real mouse.  I can't do it because the car accident left me with balance problems, but if you want to walk miles and miles (slowly) and write at the same time, here's your girl:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The hare seeks posts.

The contest to see if you can figure out a poem called "The Devil's Advice to Story-Tellers" by Robert Graves ends two days from now, Wednesday at 6 pm EST.  That's 48 hours less four minutes for you to figure it out and write an elegant short sentence summarizing what Graves is really saying.  Only one person has entered.  Will no one else join in?  The contest, with the poem, is summarized on this blog only a few posts down, the word CONTEST prominently in the title of the post.   You read it there, on this blog.   You enter your elegant sentence there, on the same page.  WIN A BOOK BY ME, AUTOGRAPHED!

One Day After

Sept 12, today, comes as a huge relief to me.  I can, for another year, put the twin towers behind me.  I read today that they are building four new towers to replace them, one of which will be the highest building in the USA, with an additional museum and transportation hub. 

In Canada we have a misplaced, almost smug, sense of safety, which was shaken last week when the RCMP and CSIS (our spy agency) and Local Police cleaned out (we hope) a terrorist cell whose intention was either the Toronto subway or Canada's Parliament Hill.  One of the members of the cell lived on a quiet street in the very same mid-sized city I live in, after becoming a physician in one of Montreal's universities.  I read, somewhere, recently, that terrorists consider Canada and the USA to be the same.  We aren't the same in so many ways, but with the Canadian government turning what used to be the finest peace-keeping force in the world into battle-seasoned warriors, and all of Canada enjoying the same kind of wealth and consumption as our American friends, we have to expect consequences here.

And even here:
Welwyn at Little Bluffs, end of July 2010
Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
See you very soon.  See that relaxed, truly contented face up there?  Be happy like that.



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