Do You Ever Worry?

Sometimes the icy finger of dread creeps down my back … like, for instance, when I read the “disclaimer” my formatter added to my manuscript on my behalf spelling out that this book was a work of fiction — that characters, places, themes and the like are of my own wonderings and not based off the real life happenings of others …

But still … we live in legal times.  People can be “sue happy” at the glimmer of a windfall and this is true whether you’re insanely successful or selling merely two digits worth of stock.

I can say — in all sincerity — my book was totally made up.  My characters, save for Jenna who has mother’s spirit, are fictional beings living in the land of make-believe.  But, that doesn’t mean someone somewhere someday might not think otherwise.

We hear about it all the time.  And it’s not just the instance in which a story might strum the strings of another’s reality … sometimes it’s simply your book seeming to them a lot like their book — a book that may or may not be published, a book that may or may not be copyrighted … sometimes, it’s simply a matter of them having the idea and nothing more.

Stephenie Meyer was sued a few times over for her saga.  Once, before the finishing of New Moon … a college friend watched the Twilight movie and felt that the story was actually her’s … one that seemed to have many, many similarities to a short story she wrote in college.  Another, was after the release of Breaking Dawn when a relatively unknown author claimed that some scenes of the fourth installment were plucked directly from her own works — works that she had posted online over time but never traditionally or self published — like, the wedding scene or when Bella and Edward do it on the beach.  To her, those moments belonged to her book … and Stephenie Meyer with all her money was the “bad guy” … the thief … she was accused of plagiarism.

The internet has made being an author a dangerous place.  And the novelty of “no original idea” has taken a sharp right turn.

Can you protect yourself?  No.  Not from what I’ve seen … not from what I’ve looked up.  Save for a little blurb on the story being a work of fiction through and through, you’re screwed.  If someone wants a slice … if someone feels wronged by you and your writing … tough shit — that is, tough shit for you.

Thoughts and ideas are not gadgets and things … you cannot patent them … and that works both ways.  While someone may not be able to patent their idea that they never did anything with … you, as an author, cannot patent it either.  However, you can copyright it.  File it with the Library of Congress.  But, it’s not a fool-proof safe guard … loop holes, legal loop holes, exist.

And it’s worrisome, because whether you make bucketfuls of cash or not … you may someday find yourself served.

Do you ever worry?  How do you protect yourself and your work?

 

 

 

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The Twilight Saga

I think, as an author, one of the best things I can do is read.  It makes me a better story teller for one thing, and it also shows me the other side of the coin.

One of my favorite stories is THE TWILIGHT SAGA by Stephenie Meyer.

First of all, I don’t consider TWILIGHT, NEW MOON, ECLIPSE and BREAKING DAWN to be separate in and of themselves.  It is one story broken up into four parts.  And, it’s brilliance.

Meyer’s saga of shape shifting werewolves and sparkling vampires has caught a lot of flack by “big” authors, Stephen King comes to mind, about her writing style–going so far as to say, “…Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn…she’s not very good,” (eonline.com).

To that, I have to say, say’s who?  You?

The first time I read Twilight, I’d already seen the movie.  I was home sick with the flu, as so often happens when you’re chasing after germy kids all day–but I digress.  I’d heard about the hoopla surrounding the books, Robert Pattinson and K. Stew flitted across my television looking every bit the part of those thrust into the lime light resembling two people who didn’t really anticipate such a career windfall.  But, I didn’t get it.  Vampires?  Werewolves?  What’s the big deal?

Then I saw the movie.

I immediately sent my husband to the bookstore demanding he pick up every single book in the series, and gouged myself on Edward, Bella and Jacob over the next three days.  That’s right, 4 books, 3 days, no sleep.  I didn’t care…I was officially on the road to becoming a Twi Hard.

THE TWILIGHT SAGA is quintessential YA, save for BREAKING DAWN which has hot R rated goodness dripping from the pages.  The books ping into the heart of every teenage girl, changing their expectations of love and teenage-hood and what it means.  Gone are the things like cool clothes, fancy cars and promiscuous sex…enter: loving waiting for marriage — or the right person, confidence in ones self and following ones heart.  Not a bad message to send the youth, right?

Other long published, successful authors may miss the point entirely.  But a reader won’t.

TWILIGHT was published at 130,000 words, a dictionary by publishing standards, but it inspired kids–kids, who have their noses in video games, and cell phones and live chat on the internet–to read.  To love to read.  To look forward to reading.  It took adults, with their adult responsibilities and obligations, back to the time when love was innocent and as simple as how you felt inside.  And from there, grew a phenomena.

TWILIGHT may not be everyone’s bowl of ice cream–that’s why there is chocolate and vanilla.  But no one can deny the positive things it gave the literary community.  And isn’t that what a good book is supposed to do?  So when someone says, “oh, Meyer can’t write”…I have to ask…if Meyer can’t write, then what is it that she did here?

Since I fell in love with Edward Cullen THE TWILIGHT SAGA only visited Forks and La Push, but I’ve attended the conventions and opening night of the movies, I’ve visited the blogs and forums and fan sites.  And guess what I’ve found?  Not only are people inspired to read…but they are inspired to write and craft.  Not only do I see gaggles of girls in their “team appropriate” attire, but they are there with their mothers, grandmothers, fathers…there is a connection made between people over these books and movies during a time when connections between parents and children (the teenage years) are tenuous.

Fan fiction and fan created art flood the internet.  Sites like Etsy.com boast page after page of locally crafted wears, jewelry, photo albums, and the like. In this economic climate, crafty folks are supplementing their income by filling a niche.  Fans of the series are writing fictional takes on what could have happened.  How amazing is that?  Kids that can barely force out assigned homework without grumbles and groans are taking to the interest to expound upon the Cullens and Wolf Pack, Bella and Charlie.

Good books make masses of people think and feel.  Not everyone, but some.  So, by definition, TWILIGHT is a really good book.

For more information, including outtakes, soundtracks and breaking new visit: www.stepheniemeyer.com