Sunday, April 29, 2012

Got Nothing. Aurrghh!

By Nan Trammell Jones

I was stumped. The freshly written devotion was powerful, poignant - even unique. But I had no idea how to bring it full circle and end it with a life-changing punch. I clicked my fingertips against the computer keys. Nothing. Moments later, I clasped my hands, rolled them forward and stretched them high above my head, bobbing my neck from side to side, willing the muscles to relax. Still nothing. I lost myself in the candle’s flickering flame teasing me with its fresh apple scent and, you guessed it. Nothing.

And then I remembered.

When I decided to get serious about my writing, the first book I read was Marlene Bagnull’s, Write His Answer. In this fabulous bible study for writers, Marlene instructs the writer to learn to sit quietly before the Lord and listen to His gentle whisper. Ask Him, “Lord, what is Your answer here? What do you want my words to say?” This is a simple solution. It requires discipline, but the results can be stunning.

I have applied Marlene’s instruction many times. When I sat at the keyboard and stared at a blank screen, I sat quietly for a moment, then asked those very questions, “Lord, what is Your answer? What do you want me to write?” Oftentimes, I only hear one word deep in my spirit. If I am willing to type that one word – and trust that I have heard from the Lord – the sentences begin to unfold. It is a matter of intentionally seeking His guidance and listening for His sweet voice. No one is more surprised at His answers than me.

He amazes me every time.

You may visit Nan at her website: or stop by Morning Glory:

If you are interested int the book Nan mentioned, Write His Answer by Marlene Bagnull, use the following link to check it out and possibly purchase it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Call to Writers - OakTara Publishers

To all writers and writers’ group leaders:

Want to get your foot in the door in publishing? Or to expand your current publishing credits? OakTara Publishers (see and attached About OakTara.pdf) is looking for new authors and growing authors like you who have a great story to tell!

Do you have a great falling-in-love story? Or know someone who does who would be willing for you to write it on their behalf? We want to hear it! OakTara is looking for short stories—real-life love stories—for our upcoming anthology, to be published in fall 2012. If your story is chosen, you’ll receive either a cash award or a royalty percentage of net retail sales, plus complimentary copies of the book. And you’ll be a published author, with a credit to add to your growing publishing résumé!

For more information, visit

The deadline for submissions is June 15th, 2012. Send all questions and submissions to
We anticipate hearing from you!

Jennifer Wessner
Social Networking Director
A place to call home

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Copyright 101 for Bloggers, Part Two

Edie Melson
Today I want to finish up my series on copyright.

First, I want to state right up front that I am NOT a lawyer and none of what I’ve said or will say constitutes any kind of legal advice. All I’m trying to do is learn how to be responsible online and share that knowledge with you.

That said, at the end of this post I’m going to give you some links to the places where I found my information so you can go check out the specifics for yourself.
Now, onto the remaining answer of the quiz.

More Copyright Information
Number Seven—FALSE—Fair Use. We are all used to being able to quote passages from books and not get into any kind of copyright infringement. I am here to tell you, that is NOT the case with a song. The only part of a song you may quote is the title.

If you’ve seen songs quoted in published books either someone paid a use fee or the author wrote the song himself. I’ve known of two authors who self-published books and had to pull the books because of songs quoted without permission.

Number Eight—FALSE—Copyright Symbol (c). Copyright symbols are visual REMINDERS that what you’re reading belongs to someone. Just because there isn’t one doesn’t affect the status of what you see in print or online. If someone wrote it, it’s copyrighted.

SPECIAL NOTE: You do not have to apply for a copyright for your work...EVER. You can register your copyright, but it’s expensive and cumbersome to do. And it’s rarely necessary.

Number Nine—TRUE—Facebook Use. This is another trick question I snuck in. Because of the user agreement you signed when you registered for a Facebook account you agreed that your photos were able to be used by them for different online purposes. This makes it VERY difficult to prove in a court of law that you don’t mean that permission for everyone else on Facebook. So, if I post my Niagara Falls vacation photos on Facebook, I can’t complain if you borrow them.
Now, it’s always good manners to ask permission, but it’s probably not going to get you in any legal trouble.

ANOTHER SPECIAL NOTE: If the person posting the photo did so illegally, and you repost it, then you are just as guilty and can also be charged with copyright infringement.

I Pinterest, do you?
Number Ten—FALSE—Pinterest. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE Pinterest! I guess I’m just a visual kind of girl. But there are a lot of folks getting into trouble on Pinterest right now. We have to follow ALL the copyright rules when we’re pinning, just like when we’re posting on our blogs. And, if you violate a copyright with one of your Pinterest boards you, and you ONLY, are liable for any fines or charges. You agreed to this when you opened your Pinterest account and accepted their terms of use. If you want to read them again, here is the direct link:

But there is one slight loophole. If someone or some business has a Pinterest button on their website, you can assume they want their stuff to be pinned and you should be okay.

Number Eleven—TRUE—Book Reviews/Recommendations. This is an instance of Fair Use. As long as you’re not saying the book in question is written by you (if it’s not) you can legally post a review and use the cover.

Number Twelve—FALSE—Copyright Expiration. A lot of folks have heard that copyrights expire after 70 years. In some cases that’s true...but not all. There are some instances when copyright expires 70 years after the author/creators death. There are also times when copyrights are renewed. Beyond that, there are other exceptions, so while the 70 year rule is a good place to start—it’s not the place to end.

No need to Fear
This series of posts was NOT generated to scare you, but to give you confidence in what you’re doing and doing well. Being a writer would give me a reason to be passionate about this, but I also come from a creative family. My mother is Monita Mahoney, an internationally known artist and my dad is a classical musician, as well as a landscape photographer. Believe me when I say, I cut my teeth on this stuff. Back in the day, I’ve known my mother to correct complete strangers standing in front of copying machines with art books.

Now it’s your turn, feel free to use the comments section to let me clarify any thing that wasn’t clear or anything I didn’t cover.
Don’t forget to join the Conversation!

You can check out Edie's blog at

Resources (thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you!)
Good explanations of copyright
Public Domain Info
YouTube Info:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Copyright 101 for Bloggers-the Basics About What You Can and Can't LEGALLY Post Online

Edie Melson
There is so much information I want to share with you I’m going to divide this up into two posts. The first today, and the second next Monday.

So I’m reprinting the quiz here—with the answers—to get us started. Then I’ll go through the issues question by question, giving you the pertinent information.

True or False:
1.I can legally post any picture on my blog if I link back to the place I got it. FALSE
2.I can legally use a song’s title in a post, article or book. TRUE
3.I can legally use someone’s blog post as long as I give them credit and don’t change anything. FALSE
4.I can legally use music or a song as background for an original video as long as I credit the source. FALSE
5.I can legally post YouTube videos on my blog or website. TRUE
6.If I don’t make money off of it, it’s legal for me to use. FALSE
7.I can legally quote a small percentage of the words to a song in a post, article or book. FALSE
8.If I don’t have a copyright symbol on my work it’s not covered by copyright law. FALSE
9.I can legally download photos from Facebook to use on my own site. TRUE (fooled you!)
10.I can legally pin anything to one of my Pinterest Boards. FALSE
11.I can legally post a picture of a book cover I recommend or am reviewing. TRUE
12.Copyright on written works expires 70 years after it was first published. FALSE

Art, ALL art, is copyrighted

Number One: Pictures—photos, sketches, graphics, any kind—are covered by the same copyright law as our written words.

Unfortunately, there is lots of sharing going on over the Internet and it’s not legal. When we borrow photos without permission, even when we acknowledge where we got it, we are stealing. I truly believe that’s not the intent, but we need to educate ourselves on what’s right and what’s not and then lead by example.

Number Two: Song Titles. Song titles are the ONLY part of a song we may use legally. There is something in the copyright law called fair use. Without boring you by quoting the law, it means that you can refer to part of a work without being sued. Contrary to what some think, there is no set number of words or percentage that makes up fair use. Instead, there are four factors used to define it.

 the purpose and character of your use.
 the nature of the copyrighted work.
 what amount and proportion of the whole work was taken.
 the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Because of the small size of a song, say compared to a book, the courts have decided that quoting ANY portion of a song, except the title is a copyright infringement. The reason you can quote a title? Titles cannot be copyrighted.

Number Three—Blog Posts. You cannot legally borrow someone’s blog post without their permission, even if you give them credit or link back to it. Now, there are some sites that post guidelines for you to follow to be able to use their posts. But this doesn’t mean it’s legal to do so for another site.

Number Four—Music or Songs. I imagine many of you got this one correct. There has been so much written and so many fines leveed in regard to stolen music, it’s almost common knowledge that you cannot borrow a song or music for your own purposes.

Number Five—YouTube Videos. This one was a little tricky. You can legally post YouTube videos on your site, because what you’re doing is linking, not reposting. Even when you embed videos, they are still linked to YouTube.

Number Six—Profit. Whether you profit from borrowing someone else’s work has no bearing on the legality.

Bloggers are a Fault
I have an opinion about all the borrowing that is happening around the Internet. I may be an optimist, but this is my personal opinion.

I think a lot of bloggers are generous a fault. They frequently offer their own work to others for free. With this mindset as a foundation, it doesn’t always occur to them to think of what they’re doing as stealing—they don’t see other’s borrowing as stealing, after all.

That said, I applaud the generosity with our own work. But, we should also be willing to guard the uniqueness and value of the work of others.

Now it’s your turn to weigh in. Do you have any thoughts—or questions—about copyright issues?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

You can check out Edie's blog at

Friday, April 13, 2012

Call Out for Writers - Chicken Soup Books

Here is the latest story callout from Chicken Soup. —Tracy Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser. Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angel Encounters or Angels Among Us (tentative title ideas) Celestial, otherworldly, heavenly. Whatever the term, sometimes there is no Earthly explanation for what we experience and a higher power is clearly at work. People see angels in various forms: heavenly, human, animal, and others. If you have had a personal experience with an angel, please submit your story. We are looking for stories of true wonder and awe from people who have directly encountered or received help from angels. How did your angel protect you or someone you know? How did your angel help you or someone you know? How did your angel manifest himself or herself? This book is for everyone who has a story, whether religious or non-religious. Please note that we are not looking for stories about people who are "angels" because they do nice things, and also please do not submit eulogies about a loved one who has died and is now an "angel." Here are some possible story topics, but we know you can think of more: Angel visitations Divine protection and guardian angels Miraculous recoveries Messages from an angel Prayers answered by an angel Receiving support from angels or spirits Angel intervention Receiving guidance or lessons from angels Interactions with angels Receiving news or warnings from angels Please remember, we do not like "as told to" stories. Please write in the first person about yourself or someone close to you. If you ghostwrite a story for someone else we will list their name as the author. If a story was previously published, we will probably not use it unless it ran in a small circulation venue. Let us know where the story was previously published in the "Comments" section of the submission form. If the story was published in a past Chicken Soup for the Soul book, please do not submit it. If your story is chosen, you will be a published author and your bio will be printed in the book if you so choose. You will also receive a check for $200 and 10 free copies of your book, worth more than $100. You will retain the copyright for your story and you will retain the right to resell it. SUBMISSIONS GO TO Select the Submit Your Story link on the left tool bar and follow the directions. The deadline date for story and poem submissions is July 31, 2012. CONTACT US Please do not reply or send questions to this address. For any further questions or correspondence, contact or visit our website at Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC P.O. Box 700 Cos Cob, CT 06807-0700

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The 20-30 Challenge

Marietta Taylor

I've said “I don't have time today to write” more than I've actually sat down to write. It's not that I don't want to, I just get overwhelmed by life and responsibilities and then do nothing with my writing. But last month I found a solution I call the 20-30 challenge to get my behind in the chair and words on the page every day. If you are in need of a writing nudge, would you be willing try it for the next thirty days?

The solution is to write for just twenty minutes a day for the next thirty days. Now don't go off like Naaman did in 2 Kings and get mad because it's not something elaborate. It's simple and it works. I did it as part of a 30-day challenge to discover and spark your passion. I already knew writing was what I was devoted to, so I just needed a spark to get going again. When I first agreed on day seven of the challenge to spend twenty minutes a day on my passion, I didn't think I'd accomplish much. I was wrong. Each day I spent those twenty minutes, I was able to complete or almost complete a devotion using the Hook, Book, Look and Took method. After 23 days, I had written 15 devotions. I think that's a decent return on my investment.

Reflecting on it now, I realize that before this, I thought I needed an hour or more to be productive. Now I know that's not true. My schedule is packed, but finding twenty minutes was easier than I thought. It was definitely simpler than finding an hour. After I saw what could be done in such a small time period, I looked forward to that time each night. I think you will find the same to be true. I'm done with my 30-day challenge but I'm going to commit to the 20-30 challenge every month. Don't get left behind. Mark your calendar and begin your own today.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Small Steps…Giant Gain! Blog Follower or Blog Subscriber—What is the Difference and Does it Matter?

It’s time for another, Small Steps…Giant Gain! post.

Today I want to clear up an issue many are confused about—the difference between a blog Follower and a blog Subscriber.

Often times the two are used interchangeably. They are NOT the same, and beyond that, one is extremely valuable and the other less so. It's also likely that the two numbers differ greatly. For example, I have 137 followers on Google Friend Connect and well over 400 subscribers. But before we go any further, here are the definitions.

A Follower
This is unique to Blogger sites and looks like this:

If you wanted to become one of my followers, you'd click the join this site icon. Then, if you have a Google account with a picture, your face shows up on my blog. It’s nice to see that people like my blog and this is a way to see that others like my blog.

Also, if you’re familiar with your Google Reader, my blog shows up there. But, and this is critical, those who follow my blog this way do NOT receive any kind of email notification when I post something new on my site.

A Subscriber
These are people who sign up to get notification of new posts on my blog through their email account or through RSS. The most common way of doing this is through FeedBurner. This type of sign-up looks like this:

These people are infinitely more likely to visit my blog on a regular basis. And beyond that, they're willing to have my notifications clutter up their inbox. In these days of email overload this is a BIG commitment.

Bottom Line
While there’s nothing wrong with Google Friend Connect, I still have it on my blog, it’s important to make certain you also have a place for people to receive notifications through email and RSS. These are your subscribers and, when a publisher is looking at your platform, these will be the numbers they’re interested in.

Now it’s your turn to share your experiences with following and/or subscribing to a blog. Do you have any criteria to decide your level of commitment?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Edie Melson

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