February 2015 Archives

Born to Succeed - Every Day After

everydayafter.jpgLizzie Hawkin's Daddy tells her she was born to succeed. Is it true or not? Hard for her to believe it with him gone. At first, eleven-year-old Lizzie keeps herself going 'cause she knows she has to make her daddy proud. But with all the work she's having to do to take care of her mama and feed the two of them, her grades are beginning to tumble. And because of the newcomer who stole her best friend, the walls surrounding her secret will, too.

Every Day After (Delacorte Press, 2013) by Laura Golden is a historical novel set in the Depression Era. The story was inspired by family events as is her forthcoming book, Standing Tall on Mulberry Hill. Both books are set in Alabama.

One of the things I enjoyed about this book was Lizzie learning to see herself more clearly.

There's a lovely book trailer here.

Captured by the Title - Also Known as Elvis

alsoknownaselvis.jpgAlso Known as Elvis (Atheneum, 2014) by James Howe caught my attention by title alone. Later, I discovered it was a companion novel to a book called The Misfits which inspired No Name-Calling Week. There are two other companions. Looks like I have more reading to do!

Just-finished-7th-grade Skeezie knows his summer vacation won't be like his best friends', who are getting to do fun stuff, like go on vacation, or do something special with their dads. But he didn't know his mother would make him get a job, besides take care of his little sisters. However, summer has some surprises in store for Skeezie Tookus, and some decisions he'll have to make.

I loved Skeezie. Got mad at stuff and adults in his life, and wanted to go check out the Candy Kitchen myself.

Author James Howe has authored more than 90 books for kids, including co-authoring Bunnicula: A Rabbit Tale of Mystery. Read more here.

Poor Man's Copyright, a Myth

image courtesy of jdurham on morguefile.com
file801246654450.jpgA number of years ago at a writer's meeting the issue of "poor man's copyright" was raised as a means to protect your works. Basically the idea is to put your work in an envelope, seal it, mail it and the postmark will "prove" when you wrote it protecting your copyright.

Recently, I heard chatter about this on a listserve, so I updated my research on this topic and am sharing it here.

One of the biggest flaws of this idea is that the postmark and seal prove something.


  • What is to prevent someone from mailing an UNsealed envelope to themselves? It has a postmark. But since it is unsealed, material can be placed in it at any time--2 months later, 2 years later, 10 years later, then sealed.

  • Sealed envelopes can be steamed open (and probably opened by many other methods that I don't know), the material replaced with something else, then resealed.

Read what the copyright office itself has to say:

"When is my work protected?
"Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device."

The Frequently Asked Questions page is very helpful resource. This page has "Copyright Registration of Books, Manuscripts, and Speeches."

A book recommended by the Author's Guild is The Writer's Legal Guide by Tad Crawford & Kay Murray. It is in its fourth printing.

Here are some articles on this topic:

"Poor Man's Copyright" by Peter Clarke

"Poor Man's Copyright" by ©opyright Authority.com

"How To Copyright a Book" at Go-Publish-Yourself.com begins with this sentence: "Before learning how to copyright a book, you need to learn how not to copyright book."

Want to know more?

Some authors may want to consider an intellectual property rights lawyer. I found some information on copyrights here at intellectual-property.lawyers.com. Here's an interesting post with a Literary Agent Attorney FAQ from Literary-Agents.com.

And here's a column on copyright written by Linda Kattwinkel, who is an intellectual property rights lawyer.

So now you know--poor man's copyright, only a myth.

MG Adventure in Verse - May B.

may-b-3001.jpgMay B. (Schwartz and Wade, 2012) by Caroline Starr Rose is written in sparse verse which is perfect for showing the lack of choice that May has when her parents tell her she has to live with another family, and the solitariness of the prairie and a soddy fifteen miles away from anyone. May's parents tell her it will just be till Christmas. But, of course, it means an end to her schooling. May's life takes a turn for the worse when she's left all alone in the soddy and no way to communicate with anyone.

Growing up, Caroline Starr Rose fell in love with the Little House books. When she became a teacher, Caroline wondered what life must have been like for children who found school challenging. She set the story in Western Kansas and gave her main character what we now know of as dyslexia. Read more at her website, not only about this book and all it's recognition, but about Caroline and her other books.

Absolutely Almost

absolutelyalmost.final.jpgI know the book is aimed at kids, but I think it is one both kids and parents should read. Absolutely Almost (Philomel, 2014) by Lisa Graff is one of those books that affects the kid in me and the parent in me. No one is great at everything--no matter what we think of others--and we often don't reach or only almost reach our goals. So I feel Albie from the inside--that struggle of not quite fitting in. That feeling of not being good at anything (at least anything we can see as a kid.) But I also feel it on the parent side, where I'm desperately sorry for him and want to help make it right. The book is an NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor Book for Outstanding Fiction for Children.

Here's a brief intro: Albie wasn't supposed to hear when his grandfather says, "Not everybody can be the rock at the top of the rock pile." But Albie knows he's not good at figuring out how much to tip the delivery man bringing the Chinese food, which frustrates his parents. He also knows he was asked to leave Mountford Prep, which made his dad really mad. Even at his new school he can't get a perfect on his spelling test, something else his dad is unhappy about. Why does everyone else figure out things quicker, faster? What can Albie do to make his parents proud of him?

There's an interview with the author about why and how she wrote this book. Read it here. Find out more about Lisa Graff and her other books on her website.