Saturday, 17 September 2016

One of the most fascinating sessions at the Rockingham Writers Convention on Saturday was Literary Agent Alex Adsett talking on copyright and contracts. I can't do it full justice here but these are some dot points.

·       Copyright is automatic and free; it doesn't have to be registered.
·       To claim copyright you have to have something in a tangible form - written or whatever the latest technology is. Talking about it is not enough.
·       It is a myth that writers should self-publish on line to protect their copyright.
·       The copyright symbol © has no meaning except to indicate the owner.
·       Ideas cannot be copyrighted - only the way the idea is expressed.
·       There is no copyright on titles or slogans unless they have been trademarked.
·       Using quotes or song lyrics in your work can be breach of copyright - get permission.
·       If you have a traditional publisher it is still your responsibility to get permissions, but the publisher can help you.
·       Copyright lasts 70 years after the death of the creator. The report suggesting this would be changed to 15 years was rejected.
·       Writers should join The Copyright Agency - it not only monitors and collects fees on your behalf but has a great newsletter and offers training seminars. Their website is
·       If you have questions about copyright the Arts Law Centre should be your first port of call. Their website is at Alex has names of lawyers with copyright expertise on her website at
On contracts Alex said :
·       If you get a three-page contract worry about what is missing - normal contracts are 15-20 pages.
·       Beware if it says "all forms, editions and languages throughout the world for the term of the copyright". Decide what forms and territories you want to give them and retain what you are not sure they are the best to handle. 
·       Make sure the contract includes reversions (where the rights revert to you if they have not been achieved within a set period).
·       Watch out if the contract says they will consult with you on changes to your ms. That means they can consult and go ahead despite your opposition. Make it says you must consent.
·       Watch out for lower royalties on subsequent editions or print runs.

There was a lot more. Have a look at Alex’s website or, better still, watch out for one of her talks or workshops. She is also a contract consultant as well as a literary agent.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Into the plotting stage

I'm a sort of hybrid pantser/plotter, starting off with a spurt of seat of the pants writing until the shape of the story becomes apparent, then going back to plot and rewrite.
It's the plotting stage I am in now with The Man Who Didn't Like People. The story is about a man who deserted his family because he resented his wife having a career and this came to a head when he was made redundent. Twenty years later he has acquired a large amount of money but has learned he has a fatal illness. He returns to find his family and decide whether he should leave the money to any of them. My original concept of the central character has changed dramatically and I am beginning to see that the events of his early life, leading up to when he deserted his family, impacted on them as well as on him. That means his interactions with them as he makes his decision about the money will be largely effected by their reactions to him. It becomes a much more complex story with multiple layers of motivation on all sides. A big part of its success or failure will be how and when I introduce different aspects of the back story.

Monday, 5 September 2016

As part of my research for my current novel I am reading Steve Harvey's "Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man" and find it a fascinating study because while Harvey and I seem to share a lot of fundamental beliefs about male/female relationships, we express them differently and have very different ideas about how males and females should approach each other, Perhaps that's not surprising since he's a black American comedian TV show host and I'm not. He seems to be saying men don't have to change but that women have to be more clever in understanding how men think, Somehow I think that is a bit patronising, especially the way he presents some of his ideas about how men think. My view is that both everyone has to recognise the changes taking place in society and adapt to them, and the only way to do that is through learning to listen to each other. It's something I'm working on at the moment in The Man Who Didn't Like People. My protagonist has a bad case of not wanting to change and not listening but he is going to have to if he is going to solve the dilemma he is facing.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

My talk yesterday was to the Rockingham Sound Day View Club who raise funds for underprivileged children whose families can't afford the often high costs of books and other materials for their education, They were a very motivated and interesting group of ladies and I enjoyed the session immensely. The fact that lunch was included was just a bonus. If anyone has spare cash they'd like to donate to such a worthy cause the club has lots of activities to support. You can find them at