DA Kentner writes the column THE READERS' WRITERS for the (Freeport) Journal-Standard and GateHouse News Service. My alter ego KevaD lives under a stairway of dreams where he writes stories and grumbles about everything. Click the pic to visit KevaD's blog.
Drop me a line at dakentner@yahoo.com

I invite you to read my award-winning short story posted on Calliope Magazine's web site.

Friday, December 31, 2010

We lost our girl, Ginger, to cancer Monday, Dec 27th.
I held her in my arms, and we looked into each other's eyes until she was gone.
Words can't express the ache in my heart. I miss her.

Friday, December 24, 2010

An Interview with Iconic Author James Lee Burke

In an electronic age teeming with authors seeking fortune like the gold miners of yesteryear, James Lee Burke stands as not just the inspiration, but the aspiration of many. Yet, few will come to understand that within Mr. Burke is the true nature, the true heart, of a writer. James Lee Burke is the consummate literary artist. Book pages are a palette from which his words paint panoramic murals within the reader's mind and characters take breaths so real, a reader might be tempted to ask one to "sit a spell."

Mr. Burke's novels aren't books read and set aside. They are centerpieces of home libraries patiently waiting to be enjoyed again and again. I proffer "Heaven's Prisoners" as one such example. This novel is one of three turned into movies. Though published in 1988, this spellbinding story remains on the tips of tongues in readers' circles, commanding attention. "Heaven's Prisoners" has conquered the test of time.

Mr. Burke's latest release, "The Glass Rainbow," is on a path to ascend beyond the popularity of any in the Dave Robicheaux series.

The sequel to "Rain Gods," featuring Sheriff Hackberry Holland, is scheduled for a 2011 release.

Though a multi-award winning and Pulitzer Prize nominated author, Mr. Burke remains a grounded gentleman. He readily avails himself to fans through his web site's forum where he personally comments and answers questions. http://www.jamesleeburke.com/

Q) You and your wife are nearing fifty years of marriage – congratulations by the way. How has she enabled you to pursue your writing career?

A) Pearl always stuck with me through the hard years. She and I literally lived and worked everywhere from one coast to the other and did every kind of dirty job in between. We lived in trailers and Okie motels and she waited on tables and I worked on a pipeline and in the oil field and drove trucks and worked as a social worker on Skid Row in Los Angeles and so forth. The real credit for my career goes to my wife and children. They always believed in me and stayed the course.

Q) The Los Angeles Times referred to you as a "prose stylist." How did you develop your unique form of written expression?

A) The biggest influences of my writing style were Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, James T. Farrell, Flannery O'Connor, Tennessee Williams, John Neihardt, and Gerald Manley Hopkins. Ultimately a writer departs from his mentors, but during the early years it's important to have good mentors.

Q) You have provided us with captivating tales for over forty-five years. What do you think is the key ingredient that keeps readers coming back for more?

A) My most successful work has been written in the first person by a protagonist based on the everyman figure in medieval drama.

Q) What inspired you to write your first story?

A) My cousin Andre Dubus won first place in the Louisiana College Writing Contest of 1955. In '56 I decided to have a run at it. I won an honorable mention and have been at it ever since.

Q) I want to share that a James Lee Burke fan drove a number of miles to come to my home, deliver one of your books, and ask me to request an interview with you. How does it feel knowing you have such devoted readers, and is there a message you would like to leave them?

A) It's a great compliment. That's why being an artist is such a wonderful life. You meet the best and most interesting people on earth.

As Gerald Manley Hopkins says, "Blessed be God for all dappled things."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

An Interview with the Very Unique Tony Schaab

So. What could a devout family man, Humane Society volunteer, Disc Jockey, actor, comedian, Troupe Manager of the comedy improvisational troupe "IndyProv," college enrollment coordinator, respected movie critic, and zombie aficionado all have in common?


They could all be writer and author Tony Schaab. Okay. They are all Tony Schaab. Early on, Tony developed a gift to look at the world through eyes that peel away the outer layers and see what many of us miss – the natural humor we were all born with and carry with us throughout life.

But Tony, for whatever reason, also discovered humor in… zombies.

And that unique combination has magnetized him to undead lovers around the world. His humor-laden, tongue-in-cheek reviews are so sought after, he has taken a step I'm sure other critics are soon to follow. He compiled 50 favorites into the recently released book, "The G.O.R.E. Score, Vol. 1".

Tony's short stories have appeared in numerous magazines, New Line Press contracted him for a stand-alone original story, and this multi-talented man has two novels on the brink of publication. Not to mention his short story, "On Ramp," was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. And, Tony's sci-fi/horror novella, "The Eagle Has Reanimated," was just this week nominated for the Science Fiction Writers of America's Nebula Award.

http://tonyschaab.com/ http://www.thegorescore.com/

Q) Your innate humor permeates all you do. To what or whom do you attribute your comedic talent?

A) I'd have to say that my wit comes from a couple of primary sources. First, I have to thank my seventh-grade teacher, Mr. Hilker, for providing my younger self with his copy of the novel "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by the late British author Douglas Adams. The book is a very satirical look at some of the things we as a society do that are pretty silly, even if we don't see it as such; it's written from the perspective of aliens that visit Earth, so it also heavily influenced my enjoyment of science fiction as well. The story really gave me my first exposure to satire and how comedy can be intellectually subtle yet effective at the same time. Another huge source of comedic inspiration is the great Mel Brooks; I grew up watching his hilarious movies, especially "Spaceballs," my all-time favorite film. An interesting side-note is that, now that I am a zombie and horror author, my connection with Mel Brooks has come full-circle, since his son Max Brooks wrote the popular and entertaining novels "The Zombie Survival Guide" and "World War Z."

Q) Congratulations to you and your wife on the birth of your daughter. How do you think she's going to affect your life and writing? Children have a habit of altering our "set" course.

A) Thank you! Since she was just born on Valentine's Day 2010, I fortunately have some time until she's old enough to read anything that I write, which means I can keep working on horror stuff for a while until I have to worry about explaining some of it to her. Of course, you're right, children definitely throw a wrench into even the best-laid plans; I've seen the free time I have available to devote to writing decrease dramatically this year, not that I'm complaining of course. I just have to plan my time more effectively now; I do a lot of early-morning and late-night writing these days! As for my writings that she could read: I actually have an idea kicking around in my head for a childrens/young-adult book series that would combine sci-fi with a good dose of multi-level Disney/Pixar-ish humor, so hopefully that project can come to fruition and she could read that before digging in to any of the horror stuff.

Q) Horror in literature is on the rise. What do you think has rekindled growing interest in this genre?

A) I think it's a combination of a few different factors, but the biggest reason is most likely the increase we've seen in horror stories that cross over into other genres - comedy, drama, romance, and the like. Series like "Twilight" and "The Walking Dead" show readers that stories can effectively utilize horror elements and character types while having them do more than just "be scary" - there are many well-written stories that portray vampires, zombies, and all sorts of monsters having relationships, problems, etc., and these characters are really humanized quite effectively. I'm trying to follow this approach in the story I'm writing for New Line Press that will be released in early 2011: there will definitely be horror-related themes and tones, but at the same time I'm going to have the story focus on romance and intrigue as well, because I feel that it makes for a very unique reading experience, and I think that's what a lot of readers have gravitated to recently.

Q) The G.O.R.E. Score is actually an exceptional system you created for reviewing books and movies. What's the impetus behind it?

A) I knew that when I first decided to start writing reviews, I definitely wanted to avoid being just another guy with a blog throwing his opinions around to anyone who would listen. So I thought to myself, “Self, why not create an objective system to rate the reviewed items in categories that fans would actually want to know about?” I sat down and made a list of the different types of things in horror stories that I, as a fan, liked to see and would enjoy having a bit of advance information about before I bought a movie/book/etc. Through good karma and a little bit of luck, the areas of focus resolved themselves into a nice little acronym, G.O.R.E.: “G”eneral entertainment, “O”riginal content, “R”ealism, and “E”ffects and editing. I still have some of my own subjective rhetoric mixed into each review, of course, but on the whole I think the rating system really helps my reviews stand apart as a great source of insight and information.

Q) Though gifted with humor, you remain seriously devoted to what you do. Where would you like your career to be in ten years?

A) Like most writers, I would love to be able to devote even more time to my creative projects, so being able to make the transition into writing full-time sometime in the next decade would be ideal. In addition to keeping The G.O.R.E. Score going strong with zombie reviews, I think the system could be extrapolated to general-horror and some other genres as well, so that's a passion I will continue to pursue and attempt to grow. I would also like to expand my repertoire of fiction writing as well; since I made the commitment to professional writing a little under 18 months ago, I've had 15 short stories published in various genres and anthologies, and my plans for the immediate future are to focus on producing a few full-length fiction novels. The first, "Zombies Can't Dance," is already in progress and will hopefully be released sometime in 2011, and I have two more ideas in my head for horror novels that are, in my humble opinion, very exciting and original. If I could look back in a decade, I'd like to have made my mark in a variety of ways - short stories, novels, mazaginze columnist, perhaps even screenwriter - my mind is full of great ideas waiting for me to find the time to make them happen!

Friday, December 10, 2010

An Interview with Author Chris Knight Capone

Chris Knight Capone's moving novel "Son of Scarface" is not another book about Al Capone. What it is, is the unnerving story of an abused child, through the eyes of the child abused, seeking to unravel the mysterious life of his beloved father and the mother who physically and emotionally battered her son and daughter.


"Son of Scarface" is a book about healing and the tribulations of one man's lifelong struggle to identify the past and heritage hidden from and denied him.

William Knight, Chris' father, lived a life of assumed identity using a fraudulent birth certificate. While stories of William's life surrounded the young child, all Chris cared about was the love his father showered on him. When William died, a not-so-random comment at the funeral sparked the desire in Chris to learn just who William Knight was.

Merely thirteen years old, Chris took the first steps toward what would become a seemingly never-ending quest to know who he is. Decades and numerous private investigators later, Chris, and the documentation he possesses, hold little doubt William Knight was a son of Alphonse Capone.

But the reader needs to remember, this story is about the child molded in to the man he is through a father's love and a mother's abuse. Today, Chris remains a resolute advocate for the welfare of children. He has personally raised thousands of dollars for organizations helping children, and a portion of every book he sells goes to the Boys and Girls Club of America.
http://www.sonofscarface.com/

Q) The first question has to be the obvious one. Why did you write "Son of Scarface"?


A) As my sister would sum it up for our childhood friends, my brother needed to get this off his chest. I used my 30's to focus on putting the pieces of the puzzle together of my father. I knew he was a Capone but I had to find the pieces of the puzzle so we could see the whole picture. The puzzle is nearly complete and what we see is an amazing story of shame, pain and tragedy for the Capone Family especially my father and his mother. Writing Son of Scarface was my way of keeping my father close to my heart, and also a way to share my story of courage, hopefully people will read and learn or change from it. Our life is about our memories, good or bad. The question I have always had is, How Can I make a difference. I have promised myself that I will not share my father's story unless its going to help raise awareness around child abuse and the effects of it on young adults.

Q) I am aware that little by little over the years, you and your mother have built a shaky bridge in an attempt to resolve the issues between you. Where does your relationship stand today?

A) My mother didn't read my memoir until 9 months after it was released. Apparently she went to Barnes and Noble and picked up a copy and read it. I wasn't aware of this until she called me one day, we talked about the usual things, and then she asked me, Would you really pull the plug on me if I where in the hospital? My mother initially told me I would go to hell for writing this book, and she has stated to me that my father would not be proud of me for writing in detail about the abuse and neglect my sister experienced as children. Basically my mother isn't happy that I have revealed her Mommie Dearest Tendencies. My mother is almost 70 now, she says that she is sorry I have had to go through all of this, she worries about my safety and has said, she is proud of me for telling the story. She says Thank God For You !! We have you to tell Bill's secret.


Q) Fingers point and accusations fly about the results of your investigation into your heritage. How close have you come to giving up and abandoning your efforts to legally prove who your father was?

A) Writing and publishing my book was one thing, rehashing the trauma has caused me and my sister to relive our trauma as children and now I believe with new revealed information from another family member in a recently released Book Get Capone by Jonathan Eig.., I fear that I might be causing additional trauma within other peoples lives. I never wanted to be the one to come out and share my father's secret with people. And quite frankly the emotions encountered with members of the Capone Family have really made me think more then 1000 times Why am I doing this? I remind myself, every time of the life I lived as a child, it was very traumatic, very tragic, and very painful to put behind myself without letting it out in a healthy way. I am done with my search and I do not want to cause anymore trauma then what I already have lived through. Now I am focusing my life on my life.

Q) How has your sister handled the furor around your efforts to identify your legacy? And how supportive has she been?

A) While writing my memoir, my sister and I would collaborate a great deal on our life experiences as children. We also collaborated a great deal on what our father told us about his life when he was a child, when he lived with his parents at the Capone Estate in Miami Beach. Our father would talk quite often to us children about his life as a child, describing in detail his home in florida, the power of his family, the pain, the shame, and he would always use humor in telling us these stories, like for example, I could tell you who I am, but If I did I could really make your heads spin.

My Sister and I live with a hole in our heart as a result of our traumatic upbringing. Not a day goes by where we don't think about our beloved father. The impact he had our on our lives when we were children. He was a good man, a good father and a hard worker. He was a very sick man, with severe arthritis, heart problems, blood clots, fevers. constant coughing, ear infections, my father would tell us that he nearly died as a child from an ear infection. He was a VERY SICK MAN, and we as children had to watch him work, hard as a truck driver. Driving 2000 miles a week back and forth, crisscrossing the country in his rig that had 1000000 miles on it. This is an example of how strong my father was. Shortly before my father died, he had two strokes in Pennsylvania, he knew us kids wanted to go on our yearly family vacation, well, he gathered his strength and drove us to NJ, picked us up and took us down to Seaside Heights, he died right in my arms right when we entered the motel room. My father wanted to die with us and he did... God Rest his soul.

After my book was published my sister was put in the hospital for nearly two months, the anxiety, the flashbacks, and trauma revisited as a result of my book being published sent my sister into a place of great vulnerability. My sister needed to let out her pain and her trauma, and I think this book and journey I have undertaken since the day my father died has helped her overcome alot and has helped her become a stronger mother and has made her feel more confident about who she is. Before My sister was ashamed of who we were, I think this book has helped her share our traumatic childhood with her friends and family. I pray she keeps the strength and continues to work with me in raising awareness around childabuse and the affects of it on young adults.

Q) The vast majority of us cannot imagine the hole in your life you are trying to fill. What is the one real message you would like to leave with people from your experience?

A) Life is not Fair, You never know what you can expect, never assume, just be real and always respect the people who cross your path in life. If you have children, please be careful what you tell your children, what you talk about in front of your children, and please do not abuse your child, physically, emotionally or any other way. Remember to teach your child what you really need to be a a healthy positive person, teach your children the basics about life. And I would like to say you must believe in yourself if you want to accomplish a goal or dream you have set out to achieve. Stick to you heart, Stick to the Truth and Stick to the Dream.. Never Give Up !! We are Human, at death we are stripped of everything but our dignity and the memories we leave for our loved ones to remember us by. This I feel is what life is all about. This is something my father taught me and this is message I am sending to my readers.

Friday, December 3, 2010

An Interview with Award-Winning Author Mary Osborne

An honors graduate, Chicago's Mary Osborne is a registered nurse with a second degree in chemistry. While dedicated to writing, her interests extend to art and alchemy. No, not the making of gold kind of alchemy, the study of self-improvement kind – bringing dreams into reality, formulating plans for achievement. To that end Ms. Osborne works with teen girls and helps them learn to focus their ambitions and develop ways to bring those ambitions to fruition.


Ms. Osborn has melded her varied interests into a YA (Young Adult) series of historical novels revolving around a book of mysteries. The first of the four part series, "Nonna's Book of Mysteries" hasn't just captured hearts and fans. "Nonna's Book of Mysteries" was the Grand Prize Winner at the 2010 Paris Book Festival, the San Francisco Book Festival Best Teen Book of 2010, and recognized by the American Library Association for their 2011 list of Best Feminist Books (the Amelia Bloomer Project). Not a bad debut for an author.

This enchanting tale set in Florence during the Renaissance, is about a young woman who seeks her destiny in defiance of a time and convention when women were not welcomed in the arts.

The second in the series, "Alchemy's Daughter," is scheduled for release in 2012.

And if you get hungry waiting for Lake Street Press to put that next volume on the shelves of your local bookstore, try one of Mary's Renaissance-inspired recipes posted on her web site.
www.mysticfiction.com/

Q) You're a nurse, work with teens, and a single mother. You're the woman next door forced to fit 28 hours into a 24-hour day. Still, you find time to write. How?

A) True, it’s not easy to find time to write! However, when you have a real passion for something, you steal time for it, and sometimes you have to be willing to disappoint others by making this choice. I’ve forgone more than one Saturday night out in favor of writing. During the week, I might not get to my desk until 9 or 10 at night. Though I might feel weary when I sit down, I’m eventually drawn into the process. I once heard someone ask Joyce Carol Oates how she found time to write, and I remember her replying, “Sometimes I sit down to write when my soul is as thin as a playing card.” If you truly want to write, you find a way.

Q) I understand the setting for the book of mysteries series sprang from a trip to Tuscany. But where did the desire to write the series come from? Thousands visit Tuscany without writing a novel about a young woman fighting the odds.

A) The first two (unpublished) novels I wrote were set during modern times. After discovering the world of alchemy through Carl Jung’s book, Psychology and Alchemy, I became fascinated by the Medieval and Renaissance alchemists who worked in secret laboratories trying to turn lead into gold. I learned that Christians of those times interpreted the symbols of alchemy—such as the alchemical vessel and the philosopher’s stone—in terms of their own faith.

I started slipping bits about alchemy into my writing, but an astute mentor who offered a critique of my work suggested that the alchemical content might fit better in a historical setting. I laughed and said I had no idea how to write a historical! But when I gave it a shot, my writing began to click. Meanwhile in Florence, I visited the magnificent churches and viewed the Renaissance masterpieces. Here, I began to see that the Alchemy Series would be the story of an ancient book of wisdom traveling through Italy across the centuries, providing spiritual guidance to those who discovered it.

Q) Following the death of your husband, you drew strength from the lessons and wisdom of your mother. How much of her is in your writing?

A) "Nonna’s Book of Mysteries" is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Loretta Bloom Bohaty. She was a gifted artist, a student of the Cape School of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. She painted throughout her entire lifetime. Growing up, I’d often return home from school to find her at her easel, hard at work on a new painting. At our house, television was dismissed—there was just an old black and white set, much to my chagrin. My mother encouraged me by her example to use my time creatively. As a woman married to a fairly chauvinistic man (my beloved father), she faced some of the same challenges encountered by my heroine, Emilia Serafini, who was not allowed a painter’s apprenticeship because she was a girl.

Q) What do you and your son like to do to together when you need "alone time"?

A) As a typical fourteen year-old with interests of his own, my son does not generally seek out “alone time” with his mother! However, I manage to weave a good amount of one on one time into every day. We talk about the day ahead as I drive him to school in the morning; I’m there for him after school (a good part of my nursing job is done from home, via remote desktop access); we share a family dinner together most nights. In the summer we enjoy biking along Chicago’s gorgeous lakefront.

Q) You have your own dreams of being a successful author. To do that requires more than the book of mysteries series. What else is in the works? What's churning in Mary Osborne's mind, demanding to be written?

A) It’s going to take several more years for me to complete the Alchemy Series. Beyond this, I’ve always been fascinated by playwriting and would love to pursue this craft as well. Eventually, I think I will return to the first, still unpublished book I wrote, which was based on the experience of my late-husband’s death. I drew inspiration from A Grief Observed—C. S. Lewis’s moving account of the loss of his wife. I was too close to my own grief experience when I began writing my book. With the passing of many years, I’ll have enough distance from the experience to write a truer interpretation of this life-changing event.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

An Interview with Author Joel Goldman

Joel Goldman is a former trial lawyer who has authored a number of acclaimed novels in which he occasionally – much to my retired cop amusement – murders an attorney or two.

A fourth generation Kansas Citian, Joel and his wife continue to make their home there.
Mr. Goldman's novels routinely receive award nominations and his short story "Knife Fight" was optioned by Sony Television for development as a series.

His latest release, "No Way Out," is the third novel starring former FBI Agent Jack Davis. What makes Davis such an unlikely and unique thriller hero is a rare movement disorder similar to Tourette's Syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations. It's a condition Mr. Goldman is all too familiar with as he, himself, suffers from this affliction.

But this disorder is also what sets Joel Goldman apart from so many of us. He opted to challenge the disorder on his own terms and, in turn, has made it a podium from which to launch an unforgettable literary hero.

In Mr. Goldman's own words: "Although we often can't choose what happens to us, we can always choose what we do about it."
www.joelgoldman.com/books.php

Q) You hold a deep appreciation for the workings of the mind and the science and research associated with it. In that same vein, one of your three children is becoming a Clinical Psychologist. To what do you attribute this now familial interest?

A) The brain is what makes us who we are. As a crime novelist, I'm most interested in what happens when things go wrong, especially when we think no one is looking which, inevitably, leads to another question I always ask my characters - what the hell were you thinking? I like integrating brain science and psychology into the answers to those questions.

Q) I have to ask since you readily mention this in interviews. What on earth possessed you to ask for your mother's opinion and insight about any sex scenes you write?

A) In my defense, I didn't ask. To her credit, she volunteered her opinion. My mother didn't just think I walked on water, she thought I taught walking on water. So if she had any criticism, I always paid close attention.

Q) In "The Dead Man" you display more than a bit of architectural talent, which leads me to wonder if you ever studied or considered pursuing such a career. What other hobbies or pursuits do you have?

A) I never thought about being an architect but I try to paint realistic word pictures that put the reader at the scene. A year or so ago, I became interested in doing voiceover work. I started studying with a voiceover coach, recorded a demo and hired an agent. I've been auditioning but haven't landed a gig yet. However, I was hired for a non-speaking role as a doctor in a TV commercial, allowing me to finally use the old line, "I may not be a doctor, but I play one on TV". I've learned that there's a lot more acting in voiceover work than I imagined so I've enrolled in an acting class at our local community college. I'm also teaching an online course on the American Detective Novel in the graduate program of a local university.

Q) Unlike a number of writers, you turn your novels' physical scenes or settings into a subtle character all its own. Why is breathing life into the setting so important to you and what do you hope the reader gains from your almost artistic descriptions?

A) I believe that place should be an important character. It can shape, define and motivate human characters and plot. Without a strong sense of place, a story exists only on the surface. There's nothing to support it and give it context.

Q) Most folks don't understand what a solitary profession writing truly is. What do you and your wife do together to reconnect and recharge once you've finished a manuscript?

A) Writing is a solitary profession but it doesn't have to be a lonely one. I do most of my writing at my Starbuck's office so when my wife and I are together, we're tuned into one another.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Trademark Law & Book Titles

Note:
This article is copyrighted. Expressed permission has been requested and granted for the posting of this article to DA Kentner's blog site as well as the Some Write It Hot blog site. No other permission has been provided. No copying of this article in toto or in part is authorized without the express written permission of the author, Lloyd J. Jassin.
The original article may be viewed at http://www.copylaw.com/new_articles/titles.html
I want to thank Mr. Jassin for allowing the posting of this informative article.

How to Use Trademark Law to Create Multiple Passive Income Streams & Avert Legal Battles

By Lloyd J. Jassin

A great title can contribute tremendously to a book’s success. It can also create opportunities for multiple passive income streams from licensing the sale of book-related merchandise and paraphernalia. In this article, I will share with you valuable tips on how to determine the availability of a title, secure its ownership, and develop passive revenue streams through trademark licensing. I will also explain how to protect against unauthorized use of your title by intellectual property pirates.

What is a Trademark?

Searching for the correct titles is like searching for hidden gold. Properly selected and maintained, your book’s title can be your most valuable intellectual property asset. As I discuss below, under trademark law, some titles are more worthy of trademark protection than others. Trademark law protects words, slogans, logos and even designs that identify the source of goods or services. It also prohibits people from trying to pass off their goods and services using the goodwill associated with an established brand. For example, trademark and unfair competition law are the foundations upon which the best selling Chicken Soup for the Soul, Dummies and Hardy Boys series franchises are based. All three, of course, are federally registered trademarks.

What Are the Benefits of Trademark Registration?

Federal registration is not required. In the United States rights arise from actual use of a mark. Generally, the first to either affix the mark to goods (or display it in connection with services) or file an “intent to use” application with the Patent and Trademark Office has the right to use and registration. The benefits to trademark registration include:

Constructive notice nationwide of the trademark owner's claim.

Evidence of ownership of the trademark.

Jurisdiction of federal courts may be invoked.

Registration can be used as a basis for obtaining registration in foreign countries.

Registration may be filed with U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods.

Brand It! Own It!

If you are an author, it is helpful to think of your book as the headwaters of your very own intellectual property Nile. Best selling author, Robert G. Allen refers to it as “infopreneuring.” As an info-prenueur, the goal is to create multiple merchandise licensing revenue streams that flow from your book (and book title). Your focus is not just creating a best selling book, but best selling book byproducts. Lucrative speaking careers – which can dwarf the royalties your book generates -- often start out as books. From books flow distance learning courses, income generating websites, subscription newsletters, audio products, film and television and other opportunities.

Trademarks & Book Contracts

If you aspire to be a published author, or, if you have been offered a book contract, remember, you, not your publisher should retain trademark licensing rights to the title of your work. Merchandising rights -- which is a category of rights a publisher will seek -- includes the right to license the title of your book, and the characters contained in it, for games, toys, clothing, household goods, as well as innumerable other goods and services. To be clear, “licensing” is where the owner of a trademark gives another party the right to use that mark in exchange for payment of a royalty.

Regrettably, many start-up (and even seasoned) info-preneurs ignore the “grant of rights” clause of their publishing agreement. After signing away their rights, a form of seller’s regret sets in. Contracts clauses are malleable, not words set in stone. The reason publishers have contracts department is because contracts are negotiable. Be respectful of your publisher. Know what to ask for, or hire someone that does. That someone can be a knowledgeable agent or a publishing attorney, or both. Or both? Attorneys in the entertainment industry often play a kind of “central command role,” assisting agents in negotiating publishing and merchandise agreements.

Agent vs. Attorney

Entrusting your career solely to an agent is not quite leaving the fox to watch the hen house, but, as your career develops, the issues that relate to your IP assets, inlcuding image and literary works, becomes increasingly complicated. While most agents are good and honorable people, unlike an agent, an attorney owes his duty of loyalty to the client. Find the right people to help you. No single person, whether agent or attorney, can handle all aspects of your career. And, by having a team (i.e., attorney and agent) you create a true system of checks and balances. Agents, as their name suggests, procure publishers. Attorneys advise and counsel, and negotiate contracts. Both seasoned agents and literary attorneys are also likely to have long-term industry relationships that can be leveraged for your good.

A Copyright is Not a Trademark

Before providing you with the tools you need to select and protect the title of your book, it’s important to note that copyright law does not protect book titles. If you go to Amazon.com or the online Copyright Office records (www.copyright.gov), you will see countless examples of duplicate titles. Under copyright law, copyright protection only covers "original works of authorship." To the chagrin of many, the courts and the Copyright Office have made a bright-line policy determination that titles, names (including pen names), short phrases and mere listings of ingredients (as in recipes), no matter how clever, do not possess enough original expression to warrant copyright protection. Fortunately, there is another way to protect the commercial magnetism of your title and to cash in on it.

Look Before You Leap: Trademark Availability Searches

Trademark and unfair competition law protects against confusingly similar usage of source identifying words and designs (including book jacket design) by another. If you wish to publish a book, or launch a series of books, you run the risk that someone may have already obtained rights to a confusingly similar title. Like any business, as you prepare to launch your book, you want to select an appropriate title that is unique to you, and, if your book is an extension of your business, a title capable of identifying whatever your business offers – or, intends to offer as you expand your brand into multiple, diverse industries or product categories. Since trademark rights are granted on a ”first come” basis, it’s important to determine if anyone is using your title in a trademark sense. This is accomplished by doing a screening search. A screening search will help uncover how a trademark is being used in the marketplace. If it’s unlikely people seeing your book will be confused about the source or sponsorship of your book, there’s no trademark infringement. For example, when Al Franken borrowed Fox Broadcastings “Fair and Balanced” slogan for his book entitled “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right ,” no likelihood of confusion was found.

A trademark search, and a working knowledge of this nuanced area of the law, is how you determine whether you can use the title you have selected. When selecting a title an author must take into consideration both registered and unregistered marks. Failure to perform a proper search can result in threat of a lawsuit from someone who believes you are a competing with them unfairly. If during the selection process, you discover a confusingly similar title, used for similar goods, or even related services, it may not be available for use or trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (http://www.uspto.gov/). Bear in mind, the science of searching and determining if a proposed title is available for use is not always a straight forward proposition.

The timing of your search is critical. Unless you file an intent-to-use (ITU) federal trademark application, you should begin using your mark very soon after determining your mark’s availability. Trademark rights are awarded are on first to use /first to file basis. An ITU application is an application for a mark that is not yet being used commercially. Like fresh milk, the shelf life of a search is measured in hours or days, not weeks. After a short while, the relevancy of a search diminishes because new, confusingly similar products and services may have entered the stream of commerce.

What is Trademark Infringement?

In any trademark infringement case, the key issues are “Who used it first?” and “Was it used on confusingly similar goods or services?” Recalling a published book after threat of litigation will cause both financial loss and professional embarrassment. While the cost of doing a full search can be daunting if you are working on a tight budget, there’s no excuse not to do an internet search. While not foolproof, an internet search can weed out obvious conflicts. If you identify marks – including best selling titles -- that are similar in appearance, sound or meaning, and are used for similar or competitive goods or services, you may have found a potentially conflicting mark. When in doubt, engage a trademark specialist to review your findings. As assessment by a trademark attorney who can decode trademark search results may give you the courage to move forward with your title, or caution you against doing so.

Merely descriptive marks are not entitled to exclusive protection without establishing secondary meaning. By secondary meaning, I mean well-known marks that call to mind a particular publisher, producer or manufacturer. Many claims of exclusive ownership turn out to be bare assertions of rights over non distinctive marks phrases for which there is little likelihood of confusion. If you receive a cease and desist letter don’t panic. Take a deep breath. Consult a trademark attorney who can assess the level of the threat. Sometimes a well-written letter, drafted by counsel (or with the help of counsel), explaining why you believe they have a weak claim and are attempting to unfairly silence you, will get them to stand down. For example, on investigation your attorney may advise you that they don’t have a valid trademark. Or, perhaps, you are using the word or phrase in its “classic” or “descriptive” sense in your narrative, not on the cover to suggest endorsement or an association with the trademark user.

Tip! Keep in mind that both identical and confusingly similar marks for related goods and service may be entitled to trademark protection, and that a trademark owner need not register their mark federally to enjoy trademark protection.


Now that we’ve reviewed the basics, it’s time to focus on which titles enjoy trademark protection, and which don't. Bear in mind, there's a large body of law which addresses what is registrable and what's not, so this, is at best, a simplification of the rules. When in doubt, seek out the advice of a seasoned trademark attorney.

a. Trademark Friendly Title: Series Titles Enjoy Trademark Protection

Generally, titles of works that are part of an ongoing series are protected under trademark and unfair competition law. Once a series title such as Chicken Soup for the Soul becomes identified in the public's mind with a particular author or publisher, unfair competition law kicks in to protect against consumer confusion, enforcing a kind of commercial morality on the marketplace of ideas. Once a series has been established, each work in the series reinforces that it comes from the same source as the others. Being a series author or publisher, is one of the secrets of successful publishing.

Without trademark law, consumers might otherwise be deprived of their ability to distinguish among competing forms of entertainment and information. Likewise, producers and publishers would be denied valuable sequel and adaptation rights in best selling books and hit movies. While some might argue that a world without TWILIGHT 3 is a good thing, trademark law allows us to cash in on the goodwill and commercial magnetism of a best selling series title.

TIP! When selecting a "series" title, try to select a title which is coined, arbitrary or suggestive – not one that is highly descriptive of your book’s contents. Arbitrary or suggestive words make better trademark candidates than highly descriptive titles. Highly descriptive series titles are not given automatic trademark status, although, marketing people tend to prefer descriptive titles for obvious reasons. Over time, descriptive titles must develop secondary meaning to enjoy protection. Secondary meaning is the connection in the mind of a consumer between a mark and the provider of those services.

b. Not All Titles Can Are Protected by Trademark Law.

Unlike series titles, titles of a single work, whether a book, periodical, song, movie, or television program, normally, will not be protected under either trademark or unfair competition law. This is one of the quirks of trademark law. To quote the USPTO, “Regardless of the actual relation of the title to the book,” courts treat all single title works as "inherently descriptive" at best and "inherently generic" at worst – unless the single title has had “wide promotion and great success.”

Tip! If today's single title is likely to grow into a series of books tomorrow, consider filing an "intent to use" application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. An "ITU" application allows you to file a "Statement of Use" within 36-months of official approval of your application. By filing an intent to use application, you benefit from the earlier filing date. In trademark law, who came first counts for a lot!

CASE & COMMENT: When McGraw-Hill, publishers of the best selling PT-109: JOHN KENNEDY IN WORLD WAR II , moved to enjoin Random House from using the title JOHN F. KENNEDY & PT-109 on a competing book, the court found that two terms in plaintiff's title -- "PT-109" and "John F. Kennedy" -- were descriptive or generic terms, and therefore unprotectable. Noting the inherent weakness of plaintiff's title, the court commented that the words chosen by Random House were an apt description of its book, and therefore in the public domain. Rejecting plaintiff's unfair competition claim, the court further noted that because of the weakness of plaintiff's title, combined with the differences in the overall look and feel of the two books (including Random House's prominent use of its distinctive logo on the spine and back jacket) there was no likelihood of confusion. McGraw-Hill Book Company v. Random House, Inc., 32 Misc. 2nd 704, 225 N.Y.S.2d 646, 132 U.S.P.Q. 530 (1962).

As the McGraw-Hill case shows, neither priority in time, nor significant sales alone will determine whether the title of a book has achieved secondary meaning. Secondary meaning comes gradually and can be defeated altogether when the words chosen are merely descriptive of the contents of the work. Similarly, secondary meaning can be lost through extended periods of non-use (after two years of non-use there's a presumption of abandonment), or diluted by permitting third-parties to use similar titles.

c. Parody Titles Sometimes Protected

As long as anyone can remember, parody has been an acceptable form of social criticism. However, sometimes poking fun can is no laughing matter; at least as far as some courts are concerned.

The problem with parodies in general is that there is no bright-line test to determine what constitutes a permissible parody, which drives home the point that trademark law is complex. Humor is not an ironclad legal defense to either copyright or trademark infringement -- or for that matter libel. For instance, while a florist's use of the slogan THIS BUD'S FOR YOU in an ad for fresh flowers was held by one court not to infringe plaintiff's well-known beer slogan (Anheuser-Busch v. Florists Assn. of Greater Cleveland, 603 F. Supp. 35 (ND Oh 1984)), the use of the phrase WHERE THERE'S LIFE . . . THERE'S BUGS for a combination floor wax/insecticide, was determined by another court to infringe the very same trademark. Chemical Corp. of America v. Anheuser-Busch, 306 F2d 433 (5th Cir. 1962).

Although commercial identity confusion is the most common form of trademark infringement, a noncompetitive mark can also violate a famous owner’s trademark by diluting the distinctiveness of the owner’s trademark. Thus, Barbie’s Playhouse for the title of a pornographic website was held to tarnish Mattel’s Barbie for toy dolls. Mattel Inc. v. Jcom Inc., WL 766711 (S.D. N.Y. 1998) . Just to confuse matters, in Lucasfilm Ltd. v. Media Market Group, Ltd., 182 F. Supp. 2d 897 (N.D. Cal. 2002), the court held that a pornographic movie entitled STARBALLZ was a permissible parody of Star Wars, and not barred under the Federal Trademark Dilution Act.

Fortunately for literary authors, the courts have placed some First Amendment limits on the rights of trademark owners. For example, in General Mills, Inc. v. Henry Regnery Co. (421 F.Supp. 359 (N.D.IL. 1976)), the owners of the "Betty Crocker" trademark sued a well-known comedian over a spoof entitled MOREY AMSTERDAM'S BETTY COOKER CROCK BOOK FOR DRUNKS. The book, which featured the "Betty Crocker" trademark on its cover, also had a photo of comedian Morey Amsterdam pouring alcohol over a salad. Since the test of trademark infringement is likelihood of confusion, the case turned on whether the public would believe that plaintiff, rather than defendant, was the source of defendant's book. While noting that both plaintiff and defendant published books (a fact tending to support a finding of likelihood of confusion), the court held there was no confusing similarity because the comedian's name appeared prominently in the title, and his photo on the cover, serving as a prominent disclaimer. The takeaway from this case, is that the clear, bold, and prominent use of your own title (or in this case, name and likeness) can diminish the likelihood of confusion to acceptable levels.

Similarly, in Cliff Notes, Inc. v. Bantam, Doubleday, Dell Publishing (866 F2d 490 (2nd Cir. 1989)), a U.S. Court of Appeals rejected an argument that a "Spy Notes' " parody of "Cliff Notes" study aids was confusingly similar to "Cliff Notes''" the well-known study aids. Aside from adopting a cover, title and format similar to the "Cliff Notes" format, "Spy Notes" lampooned a number of contemporary titles and authors in "Cliff Notes" form. Despite defendant's profit motive, the court classified the parody as "artistic expression" worthy of constitutional protection.

Margaret Domin, in a law review article, perhaps, said it best, “A non-infringing parody is merely amusing, not confusing. A “true” parody will be so obvious that a clear distinction is preserved between the source of the target and the source of the parody.”

d. Use of Famous Names in Titles

Unauthorized Biographies: The First Amendment is the patron saint and protector of unauthorized biographies. Consequently, a well-known person cannot stop the use of his or her name in the title of an unauthorized biographical work solely on trademark precepts. The protection of the right of free expression is so important that even where a right of publicity is recognized (the right to commercial uses of one's name and image), the public's right to know what prominent people have done or what has happened to them is generally indulged.

However, authors do not have the unbound freedom to make use a famous person's name or likeness in a title for commercial purposes. For instance, while an unauthorized bio of the late film star Keith Leger entitled "Keith Ledger: The Unauthorized Biography" is permissible, you can't publish a "Keith Ledger Cookbook" without the permission of late star's estate. The general rule is that as long as use of the celebrity's name is a literary or expressive use (i.e., primarily editorial), and not a disguised advertisement for the sale of goods or services (e.g., cookbooks), permission is not required.

Caution! While the use of a celebrity’s name in the title of an unauthorized biography is generally not considered a violation of that individual’s right of publicity, or trademark rights, authors need to be aware that in the U.S. (and elsewhere) false statements of facts, the result of shoddy journalism, can give rise to false light and libel claims.

Artistically Relevant Use of Celebrity Names: Provided a celebrity's name has some reasonable "artistic" relationship to the content of the work, and is neither "explicitly" misleading, nor a thinly veiled commercial advertisement, the slight risk that the celebrity's name might implicitly suggest endorsement or sponsorship, may be outweighed by the public interest in free expression. For instance, the song "Bette Davis Eyes," and the film "Garbo Talks," are good examples of protected uses of well-known individual's names used in an "artistic" manner.

CASE & COMMENT: Eminent filmmaker Federico Fellini's 1986 satire, GINGER AND FRED, concerned two retired small-time dancers who were known as "Ginger and Fred" because they used to imitate well-known dance duo of Rogers and Astaire. When Ginger Rogers learned of the film, she claimed her right of publicity had been violated, and that the movie falsely implied she endorsed the film -- a violation of Section 43(a) of the Trademark Act. Affirming the trial court, the Second Circuit Court appeals held that where the title of a film is related to the content of the film, and is not a commercial advertisement for goods and services, the First Amendment's interest in freedom of expression will outweigh a well-known individual's right of publicity. The court further held that where a celebrity's name has at least some artistic relevance to the work and is not "explicitly" misleading, freedom of expression concerns will generally outweigh the likelihood of public confusion over the source of the work. Rogers v. Grimaldi, 875 F2d 994 (2d Cir. 1989).

The Rogers' case acknowledges that books and movies are hybrid by nature -- a combination of art and commerce. While consumers have a right not to be misled, the "expressive element" of a title may make it predominantly noncommercial, and thus deserving of more protection.

How to Avoid Costly Trademark Battles

Look before your leap! It's always been sound advice. Prior to launching a new series or publishing company, conduct a preliminary search to ascertain if your mark is in conflict with someone else’s mark. Bear in mind, marks do not have to be exactly the like in sight or sound to be cause trademark confusion. Sometimes referred to as "knock out" search, a screening search should include a review of state and federal trademark databases, industry directories and, of course, the internet. Similar marks used for closely related goods or services are what you need to consider. If there are no clear conflicts, retain a trademark attorney who will order a professional search report. The trademark attorney will then provide you with an availability opinion. Failure to do a thorough search, or to properly evaluate a search report, puts you at great risk. The consequences of not searching, could include a court order demanding the destruction of inventory, monetary damages, and, general business disruption.

Trademark Licensing Rights: Optimizing Non-Book Income Streams

If you are an author, before signing your book contract, ask yourself whether your book has commercial licensing potential? As a matter of course, most publishers will seek merchandise licensing rights, but very few will fight you if you wish to retain these valuable rights. If you are represented by a literary agent, and the contract he or she has obtained for you contains a grant of merchandise licensing rights, likely, you are not well represented. Can you rely on your literary agent to guide you properly? It all depends. There are many honest, contract savvy agents out there. However, be vigilant. Once you move beyond the AAR certified agents, you enter a pool of author representatives that includes both stellar agents and predatory practitioners. Read and understand what’s put in front of you. Ideally, hire an attorney to review both your agency agreement and publishing agreement. Unlike agents, attorneys are licensed, and have an undivided loyalty to the client. Are there bad attorneys? Of course. Buyer beware.

Summary

Step 1: Check the availability of the mark you wish to adopt.

Step 2: Have an attorney conduct a full trademark search.

Step 3. Apply for federal (and state) trademark protection.

(c) 2010. Lloyd J. Jassin

DISCLAIMER: This article discusses general legal issues of interest and is not designed to give any specific legal advice pertaining to any specific circumstances. It is important that professional legal advice be obtained before acting upon any of the information contained in this article.

© 1998-2010 The Law Offices of Lloyd J. Jassin. All rights reserved. Copylaw is a trademark of The Law Offices of Lloyd J. Jassin

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Co-author of The Copyright Permission & Libel Handbook (John Wiley & Sons)

Lloyd J. Jassin provides counseling to book publishing, television, theater, new media, arts and entertainment clients on contract, licensing, copyright, trademark, unfair competition, libel, right of privacy and general corporate law matters. His practice includes drafting and negotiating publishing and entertainment industry contracts, intellectual property due diligence, trademark prosecution, dispute resolution and litigation. His expertise in intellectual property and organizing business entities, has enabled him to represent clients throughout their growth cycle. Besides individual and corporate clients, he also represents trade and industry groups such as the Audio Publishers Association (APA) and Publishers Marketing Association (PMA). Mr. Jassin has achieved national prominence with his book, The Copyright Permission and Libel Handbook (John Wiley & Sons), coauthored with Steven C. Schechter.

More information about the author may be viewed at http://www.copylaw.com/aboutus.html

Friday, November 19, 2010

An Interview with author Adrian Dodson

I came across an interesting novel titled "From Acid to the Body of Christ" by Daxx Danzig. This book is so non-mainstream, so cleverly and skillfully written, I immediately wanted to interview Mr. Danzig. One problem – he doesn't exist.


Daxx Danzig is the mind-numbing creation of Adrian Dodson - elementary school creative writing and physical education teacher, and current coordinator for the President's Council on Health & Fitness in the state of Mississippi.

Mr. Dodson drew on his love of music, fashion and art to develop the fictitious memoir of a fictitious person we all have known at some point in our lives.

And that, I believe, is the true magnetic draw to this book. We know Daxx. He is that person who would never go away. No matter what he did, no matter how far into sex, drugs, and rock and roll he fell, how he tiptoed on the brink of insanity, no matter how much he disappointed and irritated us, he could still force us to smile and we just couldn't find the strength or lack of humanity to turn our back on him. Somewhere, something inside us said Daxx would survive – he would persevere, and we needed to know how, to be there at the end of his roller coaster life's ride.

But, in every fictional character, even one as dark and narcissistic as Daxx, is a piece of the author. The quality of Adrian Dodson's own true spirit slips through in Daxx's reflective moments of relationships, religion, self abuse and how within every one of us there beats a flame of passion to live life to its fullest measure. http://www.daxxdanzig.com/

Q) As an elementary school creative writing teacher, what advice and encouragement do you provide your students to open their minds and help them write? After all, for most of them, the freedom and joy of writing is a relatively new experience.

A) Well hopefully I can stimulate mind opening without the use of hallucinogenic drugs, as they were almost the demise of Daxx Danzig in the 70's. I do however play Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon, burn nag champa incense and hang black light posters in my classroom while teaching. Really I encourage young writers to create their own style, and throw the mainstream ideas of what rules they should adhere to out the window. Worrying about how one should write, structure, or format a book to please the masses can hamper one's creative process. My goal was to create a book SO unique and unlike anything ever written, that it transcended genre or classification. I aspire to do the same with my students. I tell them that 10 years ago I was scribbling dark poetry on onion-skin tracing paper because this earthy, artsy fartsy chick I met at a coffee shop thought it was rad! And the rest is, dare I say...history.

Q) You're married with three children, and have written columns on health and fitness for newspapers. Basically, you're what Daxx isn't. Is Daxx a piece of you that wanted to stray from the 9 to 5, or a trace of your past that wasn't quite ready to succumb to laptops, schedules and societal expectations?

A) I suppose I could have written a book on health & fitness, sports or some other subject, but thats all been done before. The 9 to 5 me (Adrian Dodson) tippytoes around on egg shells, as not to step on the "normal" society, whereas my alter ego (Daxx Danzig) has a wierd and psychedelic story to tell, thus throwing caution to the wind!

Q) Daxx has the makings for a cult-like fan base. Have a few of those surfaced yet, and how do you shield your family from the overly exuberant?

A) The fan base is hard to classify, but a good friend of mine categorized the people who would probably "get" the style:
Invite everyone who are fans of Pink Floyd, Vonnegut,TOOL, Black Sabbath, abnormal psychology, Breaking Bad, night skies, higher thinking, the abstract universe, Soundgarden, art, fashion, music, pop-culure, sushi, dark poetry, God, intellect, red wine, Blue Oyster Cult, Hunter S. Thompson, Beavis and Butthead, Dexter, Miami Vice, comedy & humor, Dax Riggs, Acid Bath, Pantera, Confederacy of Dunces, Panic attacks, quirks and disorders, and Bozo the Clown, to check out the book titled From Acid to the Body of Christ.

To answer your question though, I just really dig connecting with fans who comprehend and enjoy my art. It is me as Steven Tyler, watching 10,000 people sing Dream On with their lighters held high!

Q) Your humor has been compared to Denis Leary and Sam Kinison, your plot-work to Quentin Tarentino, and yet the style is decisively your own. Where did your unique literary voice come from?

A) Severe panic attacks, agoraphobia, and depression ruled my life for over 30 years, crippling and dulling all senses inside me, save for one, my sense of artistic creativity. I have finally overcome this disorder, and I got one hell of a wild rollercoaster ride to share with those who wish to hear it.

Q) What's next for Adrian Dodson, and do those plans include Daxx Danzig?

A) Daxx will always be a part of me, albeit a dark and disturbing one. As for plans, I have flown around by the seat of my "britches" with no plan for quite some time now. I really want a plan, I just don't seem to have one. Life is good, enjoy the ride.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

An Interview with Author Amber Green

If Amber Green wrote bistro menus, each would convey a variety of suspense and intrigue within light pastry folds of premières, quick wit.


She is the living definition of wordsmith and undoubtedly rivals the CIA in her knowledge of people, cultures, and traditions.

A born and bred Southern girl, she continues to make her home in the Deep South. Only the sun can match the size and warmth of her heart and on any day, numbers of friends and relatives can be found milling about her home enjoying her hospitality and home cooking. Most stray animals in the area wind up on her porch for a free meal, a warm bed, and a bath. She is a woman devoted to family.

Her favourite quote sums up her staunch support of our country.

"We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home." Edward R. Murrow.

The fact she donates proceeds from book sales to purchase comfort items for our troops says even more about her.

Yet somewhere in all of this she manages to pen stories that will knock your socks off and curl your toes. Her descriptions of people and places are so vivid, so exquisitely detailed, the reader swears they have met the characters, walked the streets, and inhaled the fragrance of local foods.

A word of warning – Amber doesn't write for the sexually moral community. And that has to be the lone reason this author has yet to become a household name.

Is she planning to go mainstream? We'll have to ask her.

Though not her most recent in a long list of releases, THE HUNTSMEN 2: BAREBACK, serves notice of the true depths of Amber Green's abilities to create unforgettable characters, plots, and imageries.

http://www.shapeshiftersinlust.com

Q) What stories and books caught your attention as a child and inspired you to write?

A) Walter Farley's Black Stallion series captivated me. Also, my sixth grade teacher--desperate to shut me up, I think--handed me a tattered copy of The Fellowship of the Ring. Oh, I hated having to hand that back! For the next couple of years, I thought it was a one-off with a strange ending. I couldn't stop thinking about why a book would have been written that way, and what would have happened after "Yet we may, Mr. Frodo. Yet we may." I think all that wondering might have twisted my mind a bit. (Something did; let's blame kindly old Professor Tolkien!)

Q) What edge do you believe your Southern upbringing has added to your writing?

A) Air conditioning was far from universal when I was a kid. The house was too hot to be comfortable long after the evening air cooled off outside, so after supper everyone sat outside on the steps or on the porch. The grownups talked. They told stories. They told jokes. They handed down bits of history, disguised as gossip, and gossip disguised as history. We kids spent as little time as possible practicing our band instruments and as much time as possible playing tag or hide and seek, or catching lightning bugs in mason jars. Those of us who weren't that much into the game, or who were older or younger than most of the kids playing, sat on the steps and listened. Or read under the porch-light. When the mosquitoes drove us indoors, we'd read or watch TV. Bear in mind that most places I ever lived had three channels, two of which heavily overlapped one another and a third that came in all buzzy and grainy, so TV wasn't a great option for entertainment. Another factor was the southern sports culture. I couldn't see well enough to keep track of what was happening on the field, but not going would have been socially impossible. So I spent hour after hour trapped in the stands, either reading or playing out scenarios in my head--re-writing the plots of TV shows I'd seen and picturing the actors playing out my version, or mentally finishing books I'd had to give back before I read all the way through.

Q) Let's get to it. Your mastery of story telling deserves a greater fan base. Are you planning to go mainstream? If so, when? If not, why not?

A) I'd love to go mainstream. For the longest time, I thought the story I'm writing now, Khyber Run, would be my mainstream story. But the story wouldn't go there, and the more I tried to make it work, the more stiff and awkward it felt. Now I'm letting the story go where the characters need to go, and we're all happier. I'm in a good place right now. The small presses and epubs give me a great deal of flexibility. If or when I go mainstream, the pressure to produce will become much stronger. So really, I have no answer for you.

Q) Your characters are so believable, yet, so varied, where do they come from?

A) Working out characters, then deciding what they'd do in a given situation and why, takes up the vast majority of my writing time. Once I get the characters clearly drawn in my head, everything else is easy. When I was in college, I played role-playing games (Call of Cthulhu, Dungeons and Dragons, Traveler, Aftermath!, Twilight 2000, Chivalry and Sorcery, Gamma World, Boot Hill, you name it) obsessively. Though I really didn't have that much fun playing as a character, I liked making up characters and watching other people interact in character--seeing if they would act as I expected, and what happened when they didn't. I don't play anymore because the same energy goes into writing. Sometimes I start with a stock character with a few minor changes or a major change, like I would developing a game character, and run him through a couple of scenes. Playing out what "works" in my head defines the character as an individual, often moving him rather far from the stock. If I feel like I'm close but still not quite clear about what makes a character tick, running him or her through an online personality quiz really helps.

Q) In a perfect world, on a perfect day, how would you spend your morning?

A) My husband would bring me coffee without grumbling about how early it is, then we'd both play with the puppy, then I'd read while my husband scrambles breakfast. After breakfast (omelette with salsa and home-grown eggs, washed down with "lemonade" from our limequat tree) I'd spend the rest of the morning alternatively writing and flea-combing the cats. Oh, and nobody would get arrested.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Nelson Ottenhausen, A Sterling Example of Indie Press

Those not familiar with the benefits of Indie Press are sometimes quick to shout them down as too small, too inexperienced, the authors are unknown, etc, etc.

Indie Press is here to stay.
The reason is people like Nelson Ottenhausen.

Mr. Ottenhausen prohibits the use of profanity in the books he publishes (other than an occasional “damn” or “hell"). But this author and president of Patriot Media Publishing is one of the greatest examples of where Indie Press is headed, and why growing numbers of authors are knocking on the doors of small publishers.

Nelson sells roughly four hundred of his authors’ books every time he arrives at a congregation of his target audience. That doesn’t include Internet sales.

It is the fact he understands who his target audience is and caters to them that makes him, Patriot Media, and thusly his authors so successful.

Patriot Media publishes stories of American heroes (both real and fictional) who are either in or veterans of the U.S. military. His audience? Veterans. Wherever large groups of veterans gather, a Patriot Media rep is there with trunk loads of books.

Nelson readily communicates with the veterans who buy Patriot Media novels and has learned exactly what they want. He designed the standards of Patriot Media around that information. He personally reviews author submissions to guarantee those standards are met. As such, the rejection pile is high. The books meeting those standards are published and Nelson develops one-on-one relationships with the authors.

Yes, his own books such as the murder mystery “The Killing Zone” are published by Patriot Media. And, yes, they are held to the same standards by other editors of Patriot Media.

Patriot Media was contacted by unknown author Lt Colonel Peter Clark. He’d written a book.
Patriot saw merit where others hadn’t. Nelson and his group worked with LTC Clark and the novel “Staff Monkeys: A Stockbroker’s Journey Through the Global War on Terror” was born.
Why should you remember this novel published by a press you never heard of?

“Staff Monkeys” is now a certified 2011 Pulitzer Prize Nominee.

How many more reasons do you need before you submit your manuscript to a small press?

http://www.patriotmediainc.com/

Friday, October 29, 2010

An Interview with Bestselling Author Graham Brown

With degrees in Aeronautical Science and law, pilot and lawyer Graham Brown has traversed a wide path.


His debut novel BLACK RAIN released to international acclaim and quickly hit bestseller. BLACK SUN is following the same ascent. But he's not finished yet. The third member of this trilogy has been contracted for publication by Random House.

The series follows government operative and reluctant hero, Danielle Laidlaw, as she realizes the 2012 doomsday prophecies aren't necessarily set in Mayan stone. Instead, they are a time bomb… one very much alive and ticking. Now she just needs to find it, and figure out what the heck to do with it.

Blessed with Pierce Brosnan good looks, the ability to turn a phrase, and believably chilling plots keeping audiences around the world glued to their chairs to the last page, Graham Brown is soon to be the answer to the question: "Who are you reading?"
http://www.authorgrahambrown.com/

Q) What books or stories captured your imagination as a child, and who was it that shared them with you?

A) - My love of reading came from my parents - they read to me and taught me to read before I even went to kindergarten As far as what captured my imagination - it went something like this - Dr. Seuss, (still love Green Eggs and Ham) then a little older it was of course - the Hardy Boys mysteries. It’s no secret to me why young people love reading about young characters - you identify with them more - I saw myself as a Hardy Boy - right down to them getting in trouble with their parents and other adults for trying to solve the mystery. Although I never actually found Wildcat Swamp. I swear I was looking though.

Q) You once said your first fiction story was about a war caused in part by bad mail service. I find the concept intriguing. When did you write it, and is there any chance of our reading that tale in the future?

A) How did you know about this? Yes -this is true. It was before the internet. The Prime Minister was dying and rather than wait for the regular battle of succession - a polit-bureau member sent out secret orders through the mail to instigate a coup. In my imagination the mail with its billions of letters was the one Russian institution that the KGB could not keep complete track of. Problem was the letters only got through to some of the parties and next thing you know Russia was in a civil war - especially as the Prime Minister recovered. It was my 17 yr old mind trying to be Tom Clancy. But you know what - I may have to write that book - there's something in that.

Q) You belonged to an impromptu group of writers dubbed the Maui Inner Circle from which several notable authors have emerged. Do you stay in touch with your old friends?

A) Hmm... You seem to have a knack for discovering secret information. Are you sure you're not a spy yourself? This is also true. A great group of people. we met at the Maui Writer's conference - bonded and the next thing you know we were all sticking together. We still stay in touch - in a sort of random - chaos theory type way. Nothing will happen for a while - then someone will send an e-mail or make an announcement or appear on Letterman (Ok so not yet but maybe someday) and then a flurry of activity erupts. The thing I find about true friends is that there's no pressure - you can talk when you want to and everyone's cool with that.

Q) For your series, even with your aeronautical background, you had to conduct hours and hours of research for the techno-thriller portions of the books. Because you recognize the intelligence of your readers and strive to deliver sound step-by-step action the reader won't hesitate to follow, do those writers who don't conduct sufficient research on a topic ever frustrate you?

A) Not really - I try to suspend dis-belief when I start reading a book. I don't like things that are obviously wrong - in my book or anyone else's - but in general it's fiction. I also think that there are levels of realism in books. With a guy like Michael Crichton the science feels so close to reality you’re left wondering where reality ends and the fantastic begins. I think his was a unique gift.

Q) No doubt, your spare time is decreasing daily. When you find some, what do you like to do to recharge your batteries?

A) In the summer I play golf in 117 degree heat. Its crazy but not as crazy as it sounds - no one else is out there, I can hit as many shots as I want and still lie about my score when I get to the clubhouse. In the winter I love to ski - the mountains of Colorado are unbelievable. There's a great place on top of Vail mountain called Eagle's Nest where you can see for 50 miles or so in every direction. You can't come away from a view like that and not be inspired. Also this time of year I take Sundays off, wear my Eagles gear and shout at the TV all day long - trust me it's not a pretty sight when they lose. But when they win… all is right with the world.

An Interview with Author, Animator, and Businessman Mark Glamack



If you ever saw "The Jungle Book," "Bed-Knobs and Broomsticks," "All Dogs Go To Heaven," "Spawn," "Yogi Bear," "Tom & Jerry," or countless other animated films, you are familiar with Mark Glamack's work.
If you use Scoreguide to improve your golf marketing strategies, you know Mr. Glamack's work.
And if you served with the First Air Cavalry Division in Viet Nam, the medic beside you, awarded the bronze star, may have been Mark Glamack.

Six time Governor for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, presidential appointee to the ATAS Activities Committee, Mr. Glamack holds the principles of celebrating the human spirit as critical to not just the entertainment industry, but to life itself.

A sterling example of his beliefs is his latest multi-award winning novel LITTLUNS, AND THE BOOK OF DARKNESS, "… a story for all ages, depicting everyone's journey through life facing choices for the Light or darkness." And, yes, it includes 63 stunning color illustrations reminding us of Mr. Glamack's ability to "draw" us into his fantastic and unique world.

LITTLUNS is a book designed and written for families, and deserving to be in every home. http://www.littluns.net/

Q) You have described LITTLUNS as a live experience for the reader, as if they are watching a movie. What inspired this amazing book and the concept of creating a visual reading experience?

A) I always look at what is and imagine what can be. The events leading to, and through, the more than three year completion process of “Littluns” is a very long story with more miracles happening to one person (me) than anyone could possibly believe. I was in the process of funding my other projects which range from two motion pictures, a television series, and three inventions; one of which I was awarded a patent as you mentioned above, when an unexpected event changed my life forever. That event and inspiration came in the form of an epiphany asking me, “Write Littluns.”

That was how it all began…

It was from this experience of pure love so powerful that I shelved all of my other six projects that I had created and developed over a decade to spend full-time creating all that has become “Littluns.”

I was guided to create a very different reading experience that readers had never experienced before; a present-tense movie like experience that could only be read as a novel. I also wanted to take animation to a higher level while still having readers use their imaginations to fill in the visuals between the art and established characters. Although everyone is on the same page with characters and locations, their imaginations complete the visual flow in this one-of-a-kind unique reading experience that can’t be found anywhere else.

Q) The Viet Nam draft tore you away from a career at Walt Disney Productions, yet you have remained entrenched in your love of life through animation and family values, and we are so grateful for your perseverance. What first drew you (pun intended) to animation?

A.) I love your pun (DREW) it makes me feel all animated. Picture a bunch of “Littluns’” ears wiggling, and their furry feet jiggling all over the place with all of us shouting “Hootsy-bootsy!” thanking you for your kind words.

When I was seven years old I knew that I wanted to have an animated life (pun intended), although I can be very animated at times. The thought of creating something on a blank sheet of paper from scratch; creating a secondary world than can only come inspired from the imagination, is an art form like no other. Animation has no limitations – if you can think it, you can make it a reality in the hearts and minds of people who want to discover its limitless potentials, and more yet to be discovered.

Q) Your business ventures, patented inventions, entertainment industry obligations, and so much more command your full attention. Why have you now chosen to write and publish LITTLUNS?

A.) Those projects surely did consume all of my time until I walked away from all of that years ago to work full-time on “Littluns.” There was simply no other way but to put everything else on the back burner.

My epiphany experience was like nothing I had ever experienced before. It was from this initial encounter and calling that began it all. The why of it all is in a need for truth to be discovered and where we are all headed from the resulting debilitating influences of evil. Mark Twain wrote: “A lie travels halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its boots.” “Littluns” tells it the way it is in a non-stop a one-of-a-kind adventure and experience like no novel has ever offered before. You can read about us breaking all the rules at http://www.littlunsblog.com The full impact can only be experienced by going on the journey and adventure with “Littluns.”

A Need For An Alternative.

For some time now, many parents, and others, have voiced their concerns about popular books that send the wrong messages to impressionable, unsuspecting minds. Most of these people talk about their concerns, but few have done anything about it and fewer new options exist that have any appeal to both Christian and secular; young adult and grownup readers. Some popular titles with widespread interest have become more a peer issue than anything of substantive value. On the surface these works seem harmless fun, but they have significant dangers where, as one example, some people would have everyone believe that there is good and bad evil and supporting such popular books from the pits of misdirection and deception create a dangerous vulnerability. Evil becomes victorious when good people do nothing, and even they have fallen prey to reading these not to be trusted books. Hopefully most parents can explain the difference, and hopefully young and old alike will discover the alternative, "Littluns."

An Out of Control World In Chaos.

The negativity and chaos around the world has been building for some time now, and left unattended that bubble will eventually burst. At that point it may be too late. I hope that “Littluns” will contribute a little, or (Litt-L-un), to truth, peace, love, hope, joy, and the heart’s desire in people’s lives. The novel, "Littluns: And the Book of Darkness" triggers EVERY emotion. From life and death, to truth, peace, love, hope, joy and foreboding in drama and comic relief, and the heart's desire, to mystery, terror; to friends and family, to extreme good and evil, to our choice in this life for His Light, or that of darkness. "Littluns" is a fantasy that takes readers into reality, and truth. This may be the first animation-like novel for grown-ups that is also family friendly.

Publishing Beyond What Is To What Can Be.

Imagine an independent publisher offering its readers more than any traditional publisher could or would. We did and published with content and quality second to none. See for yourself at http://www.littlunsblog.com click on the TAB at the top of the page “Breaking All The Rules.” The result is “Littluns,” a family friendly animation-like novel for grown-ups of all ages. Not recommended for anyone under ten years of age because as one reviewer wrote, “…you might want to keep more lights on than just the reading lamp.”

I was forced to self-publish when traditional publishers would not print “Littluns” in color; would NOT print in the USA, and insisted on doing (antiquated) business as usual. Because of their overhead and business model, they would have needed to charge much more for such a book. I created a NOVEL that is affordable and a truly very different reading experience that readers have never experienced before, with quality second to none. Now it’s up to readers to decide for themselves if “Littluns” adds value to their lives.

Q) In your article "At What Cost is FREEDOM Worth Fighting For?" you voice concern people have become too complacent about the Internet and its use. Do you believe the vast pool of virtual information could be dipped into to chip away at our freedoms?

A.) Yes, it could and is in many areas. In fact, much of what is happening on the Internet is more a barrage of incomplete information generated for a self-serving, behind the scenes agenda. If that information is not scrutinized and people continue to be intentionally misinformed by fast talkers, the results will be no one’s fault but our own. In many areas our democracy is presented in the guise of a democracy that is really socialism and this has been building for some time, chipping away at our freedoms one item at a time. With a One World Order looming on the horizon, terrorists could become the catalyst for that to happen virtually overnight. The Internet frenzy will continue until the people put their foot down and say enough is enough. Instead of the safety valve it could be, most of what I’ve seen online are opinions; others are manipulations for self-serving purposes and agendas on a much larger intrusive scale. People continue to be fragmented and disorganized with some good ideas and thoughts going nowhere. The special interests are counting on that to continue. It has also become a useless waste of time that could be otherwise constructively used to implement solutions for the greater good. The bottom line is, don’t take anything for granted in the knowledge that trust needs to be earned.

To be as effective and progressive as it could be, the Internet needs to be organized BY, FOR, and OF the people. Then they must demand with impressive support in numbers that our elected representatives do the will of the people that elected them. Anything less is at our own peril.

Q) What's next for Mark Glamack and LITTLUNS?

A.) In two words, “Everything “Littluns!” Although the novel is complete as it is, if sales and demand dictate, a sequel is possible, but not planned. “Littluns” is complete as it is. There’s been some talk about a television special which would be a new story as a prequel to the book. I have no plans for a motion picture from the novel unless enough people read the book and express an interest in a film being produced. I’m not getting any younger so if that is to happen it would be better sooner than later. The first book took me long hours full-time, culminating in over three years to write and create all the illustrations…When “Littluns” is on autopilot I may just get back to my other projects and let the chips fall as they may. Either way, I wouldn’t trade this blessing and experience for anything.