Due to unexpected circumstances, 21 Indie Days of Christmas has been suspended. If you signed up for a free e-copy of Winter Wonder, it will still be sent by email as soon as possible. I hope you enjoy the books from the first 7 days of this event and please check back on 1 January for the first Monday Morning Indie of the year.
Reading to your little ones increase their vocabulary.
White Christmas of a Loooong Dog: Beautifully Illustrated Christmas Poems for Kids and Dog Lovers (Loooong Dog's Adventures Book 3) by Jessica Neal
I love dogs so I enjoyed reading this little adventure to my Katie (she is bigger than Billy). I think your little ones will enjoy learning about Billy’s snowy day.
Keep those middle-graders busy with this short story and then sneak and read it yourself.
The First Ride: The Real Story of Santa Claus
by Gary Paul Bryant
An interesting take on the origin of Santa Claus. This one is a short story that would be an excellent reading assignment for the Christmas holidays. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Suitable for teens/young adults, and adults
Merry Murder: A Fiona Quinn Mystery by C. S. McDonald
Romance, family, 6 little dogs, Santa Claus, and a murder make for Fiona’s Christmas. A cozy mystery suitable for teens on up.
For those little ones who won't go to Sleep!
Santa Says by Austin Carroll
A bedtime game for children, Santa Says is a version of the familiar game Simon Says led by a delighful Santa. There is even a counting song. This is one of a series including Five Little Elves and Where is Santa?
A Christmas story and activity book for the little ones.
Snowflake and Christmas by Ezra Monson and illustrated by Dasha Skripkina
Soft, almost pastel-like, detailed images illustrate this spectacular little picture book about a snowflake who wants to learn what Christmas is all about. Bonuses in this book are the interactive pages and free downloadable coloring pages.
For Middle Grade and above
A Pony for Christmas by Bev Pettersen
Suitable for middle-grade children all the way to the oldest of readers, this inspiring novella features a six-year-old girl who wants a pony for Christmas. I can’t recommend this book highly enough for its magic, its humor, and its message. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Teens/Young Adults/Adults - for you to enjoy!
Christmas Loves by Cynthia A. Clement
A quick read, "Christmas Loves" tells of a Regency romance between two very different characters from the norm. Now older, wiser, and with much more to risk and to lose, Alicia and Thomas have history of a sort and much between them to be settled. With a bit of heat here and there, the story unfolds into an enjoyable few hours journey into a holiday of the past.
Fun for the little ones in your life.
Christmas Best by Diana Kizlauskas
Meet Santa’s elves in this lively book for children! The wonderful, detailed illustrations will delight your child over and over as they view the inside of Santa’s workshop. In the mist of the illustrations lies an inventive tale of how each of us should use our talents!
Middle grade mystery.
The Missing Horseshoe: A Christmas Mystery (Sidney Sinclair Adventure #3) by Kathryn B. Butler
As a middle-grade author I love to read what others are writing for this age group. This book, the third in the series, delighted from the beginning. Directed toward girls, the book also includes horses and a Christmas party. The mystery of the missing horseshoe is a minor factor in the book, but other mysteries will keep you reading this clever book. I think it will draw your middle-grade girl to read the entire series.
Holiday Heist by Zanna Mackenzie
Need a quick read to help you escape from reality? Then try this short romantic mystery - it will fill an hour or so and entertain you fully. I just might be in the market for more of Zanna’s books for future escapes this season. Also, I love the British setting.
For your little ones,
How Santa Changed by Karl Steam and Maksym Stasiuk (Illustrator)
Realistic, old -fashion illustrations tell the story of Santa Claus becoming the man we know today. Santa faced a number of situations as his responsibilities grew and this book tells how he adapted. This picture book will delight and draw in the little ones over and over again.
Written for middle grade readers.
Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy by Maxine Sylvester
Suitable for reading to the little ones or for early middle-grade readers, this well-written, delightful book is filled with humor and teaches about perseverance. The illustrations will delight. I recommend it for the whole family.
Suitable for older middle-grade readers to adult.
A Tin Train Christmas by Melanie Lageschulte
Lageschulte’s short story will fill you heart with Christmas spirit and remind us all that some have so little but can find a way to share. This was my first book by Lageschulte, but I’ll be back for more in the new year.
Picture books to delight your youngest readers and listeners!
The Warm Hearted Snowman by Sigal Adler
Colorful illustrations illustrate a rhyming story about a snowman and his nose. Delightfully written and illustrated this story for young children reminds one and all about the value of a gift.
Christmas Stories by Sigal Adler
The author has placed three of her Christmas theme picture books in one collection, including The Warm Hearted Snowman.The other two are Sea of Love and Oh, Dear! Said the Deer. These additional rhyming stories tell of two dilemmas facing their main characters. Lovely images illustrate each and will delight over and over.
For ages 8 to 88, some exciting Christmas action!
The Tannenbaum Tailors and the Secret Snowball by J.B. Michaels
Wow, flying Chrismas decorations, evil elves, and fairies to save the day. A science-fiction adventure set at the North Pole full of danger, fire, explosions, and risk-taking will grab your middle-grade reader’s attention and keep them reading. I think boys will especially enjoy this holiday exploit.
This one is for the ladies who need an escape from Christmas madness! Nice, Christian love stories that are suitable for teens as well.
IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE COWBOYS (COLLECTION Book 2) (responded)
by Susette Williams (author), Leah Atwood (author), Heather Blanton (author), Lynette Sowell (author), Laura J. Marshall (author), Tina Dee (author)
Fun reading about mail-order brides. Each story is Christian and Christmas-themed. I found all of the stories to be a light-hearted read where Christmas plays only a small background role. If you are looking for a bit of historic, Christian romance - this is your book.
My Snowman, Paul & Snowman Paul at the Winter Olympics
Yossi Lapid and Joanna Pasek bring to Paul the Snowman to life in a wonderful series of picture books about a little boy and his friend Paul. Each book in the series presents a child’s real-life problem and its solution in an adorable picture books for ages 4 to 8. This year the author has added Christmas with Snowman Paul.
Picture books for your youngest!
Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf by Dorothea Jensen with illustrations by Andrea Agostini
While still a picture book, Jensen’s elf series (This is #3) is written for middle grade readers. Her rhyming story about an elf on Christmas eve is excellent for ages 8 to forever, as it tells a great story about Santa and the mishaps naughty children can make happen. It might become a family favorite. The others in the series are Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf, Blizzy the Worrywart Elf, and Frizzy the S.A.D. Elf. Don’t forget to look for Dorothea Jensen’s award-winning, middle grade historical novels.
Suitable for middle-grade readers or can be read aloud to younger children.
I see you are Egyptian by birth, but raised, educated, and live in Australia. How has this affected your writing?
I've been living in Australia practically my whole life, so I'm not exactly sure how much of my background has influenced my writing. Although I do tend to use common themes such as Loyalty, Family and Friendship in my stories. I also try not to curse so much since I don't really like using swearwords, but besides that much of my writing has been inspired by other authors.
What/whom influenced you to write this particular story?
I guess my biggest influence for my story was actually The Walking Dead T.V series. The reality of having to survive each day and place your trust in complete strangers, really made me interested in what humans were willing to do to survive, the kinds of relationships that are formed and the consequences of poor decision making
Is “The Beginning” the first book in a series? If so, when might we expect the second book?
The Middle Part 1 (Title of the novel might be changed) will hopefully be released next year in 2018 or 2019. Currently I'm about halfway into completing the novel.
What obstacles have you encountered in getting your book published?
I guess the biggest obstacle I've encountered on my journey to getting my novel published was finding a good editor to look over my work and clean up as many of the mistakes as possible before handing in the manuscript. Other than that my publishing experience has been fairly quick, I received one rejection letter before being accepted by a small Independent publishing company in America called NuffSaidPublishing and accepted the offer.
Learn More about R. Malak at:
Twitter handle @BreathOfWar
C.M. Huddleston's Comments on The Beginning:
First let me say, I have not finished R. Malak's The Beginning. I don't generally enjoy this genre of fiction and had 20 plus other books to finish by 1 December. I have read enough to know the book is well written and edited. The story line is well developed and full of realistic (fantasy) action. The characters are varied and strong. I would recommend this book to any who enjoy this genre. Give this new author a chance, as I believe he will surprise you.
I invited my friend Patricia Reding to be featured after hearing her speak about the law and authors at the Great American Book Festival in Rapid City, SD. Patricia won a silver medal for Ephemeral and Fleeting, her third award for this series. Patricia is a lawyer who specializes in copyright and trademark infringement by day and writes young adult fantasy (see 14 August 2017) by night.
1. In your experience, what is the most common legal mistake that authors make when publishing?
This is a great question.
The first thing that I see authors do, is the same thing I see people do in general: they assume the bad stories they hear only happen to others. Thus, they proceed without arming themselves with necessary information in advance, or they fail to take action that could protect them down the road. This relates directly to a second mistake people frequently make. That is that all too often, they think that a mistake is “temporary,” or that it will be quickly or easily resolved in the future. In truth, a mistake with your works in the early days can result in the loss of your rights in your works forevermore, and in a lifelong loss in their revenue-generating value.
Remember that your copyright rights will exist for your lifetime—and for decades after you’re gone. This means that you may pass your rights to others just like any other important asset. If, however, you’ve not protected your rights adequately from the start, you’ll have less—if anything—from which you may enjoy the fruits of today, and/or that you may pass on to your loved ones later. In short, don’t skip an expense today that may cost you considerably more later; don’t sign anything without a full appreciation of what you’re signing away.
2. Why might an author need a trademark?
I love this question because it assumes that a trademark is something that a person chooses to “use” in a way that differs from what people frequently do in actual practice. In the real world, people often use trademarks without even being aware that they are doing so.
When someone chooses a title for a book series, or that she also uses for other goods (including things like dolls or toys, or stationery, or posters) and/or for other services (such as speaking engagements), that person is choosing a trademark. For this reason, one should choose her titles carefully—so that she knows she can protect the mark in the future and so that she doesn’t end up unintentionally infringing on the rights of others.
When you choose a title and/or create a trademark for other purposes—you open the door for others to claim that your use infringes on their trademark rights. This can happen without your intention. Keep in mind that if another party approaches you with a claim of trademark infringement, you may need to pull your product, destroy inventory on hand, and possibly, disgorge any profits you’d made on sales to date.
Here is an example for your consideration. Suppose I’d entitled my book differently. Let’s say I called it, The Law for Author Dummies. The FOR DUMMIES trademark is owned by and is registered to another party for use as a series title for books that provide information much as my work does. If I used that title, consumers could be confused. They could think that my work comes from the same source as the works offered by the party that owns the FOR DUMMIES trademark. On those facts, the owner of that mark could demand that I pull my product, change my title, destroy any inventory I have on hand, and possibly even disgorge any profits I’d earned on sales of my book prior to that time.
I note that the confusion over the selection of a title likely comes about because of the common knowledge that a title is not copyrightable. For this reason, people think that titles are not protectable in any manner. That is not true. A title for a series of works, and/or one used in connection with additional goods and/or services, may be trademark protectable.
3. Why is there so much confusion over copyrights?
There are so many old stories floating around about copyrights. Some of them derive from days long gone when the law differed from what it provides today. Some have come about because people fear they couldn’t prove they created something if the issue ever came up. Finally, I think some confusion comes because people think that the copyright law is too difficult to understand. Consequently, they rely on the information that others spread (which often is misleading, at best). In truth, there are some great materials available on the U.S. Copyright Office webpage. For starters, take a look at https://www.copyright.gov/circs/. At a minimum, you’d be wise to review “Circular One: Copyright Basics.” The link to it is on the site. Likewise, you’ll find links to numerous additional Circulars there.
In fact, your copyright rights in a work begin the moment you create “an original work of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” That means that the moment you take your “idea” and put it into a written form (or into an audio form, or into any other form that may be “copied,” such as in a picture form), your copyright rights come into being. You do not have to register the work in order for those rights to exist or to belong to you.
The more difficult issue could be in proving that you created the work “first.” Remember, however, that for copyright purposes, it’s not the “idea” you put into writing that’s protected. It is that “idea” in the form you put it in. (With advances in technology, if you ever did have to prove that you created the work (because someone actually “stole” it from you and published it in the form of the expression that you put into writing), it is likely you’d be able to point to your electronic history to show your creation of the work.)
All that said, it’s best to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registration will make it possible for you to bring a copyright infringement action against others in the future. Also, it will help others to locate you to request a license to reprint all or some portion of your work if they are interested in doing so. (Incidentally, licensing others to reprint your works or portions of them could generate income for you.)
Assuming that you file your work within five years of the publication, your registration will act as prima facie evidence of the validity of your ownership of your copyright. This means that you wouldn’t later have you to prove that you are the actual owner. Rather, if another party claims you are not, that party would have to prove that you are not. That may sound like a small difference, but in practice, it can be quite significant.
4. Your book explained DMCA to me for the first time ever. How does this affect authors?
Interestingly, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the “DMCA”) is not meant to protect authors quite so much as it is intended to protect online providers of digital content. That said, authors may benefit from it.
Consider a party that makes content available online. Perhaps they solicit for articles. Now, suppose you’d written an article that you suddenly find re-published on that site. If you did not give permission for the re-publication of your work on that site, you could ask the website owner to remove it. If they do not, and if you follow the DMCA procedures, you may be able to get the party that allowed that content to be available on the site in question, to remove it. Their removal will keep them from being liable for copyright infringement. Of course, that will not compensate you for the unauthorized (pirated) copy that had previously shown up on the site, but it could get the copy removed.
Let’s take another example. Suppose an online service provider hosts a site for a party that makes books available to others to download for free. You discover that the downloading site includes your own book—but you never gave them your permission to provide downloads of your work. In such an instance, you could ask the website to remove your book. If they do not, you could follow the DMCA. You would go to the host of the site, inform them of your copyright, and try to get that party to remove your book from the site they are hosting. As a consequence, the host would not be responsible for copyright infringement (that is, for the pirated, downloaded copies of your work). The party who owns the site would still be responsible for those pirated copies. However, given the cost to bring an infringement claim against that party, it is likely that your main goal is just to get your work removed from the site. (Of course, you could still bring a copyright infringement claim against the website owner that had provided pirated downloads should you have a lot of extra cash around and no better plans for something to do with it! J)
Having said that, keep in mind that many of the sites that offer free downloads are for parties located out of the U.S. and therefore, those parties may be outside the reach of U.S. law enforcement. Therefore, the actual use of the DMCA to get the materials removed can prove difficult. Still, it makes sense to start with a DMCA notice because the procedures are inexpensive and they could resolve your problem.
5. I quoted a bit (about 3 lines of lyrics) of a well-known song in my second middle-grade book. I’m not sure if I am in violation of copyright laws. Should I be worried?
The first thing I want to do here is clearly distinguish between plagiarism and copyright infringement.
One plagiarizes a work when he takes a portion and copies it, without identifying the creator of the work. It is as though the person is claiming to have created the work himself.
By contrast, copyright infringement occurs when you “copy” a work or portion of a work of another without their permission—even though you give them credit as the author of the work.
Your example includes using three lines of the lyrics of a song, crediting the author for the work. I will set out some options, but before I do, I suggest that it is always best to have the permission of the party whose work you’re going to copy. In the end, you will rest easier.
You could check where you found the work. Does it include the publisher’s information? If so, contact that party, tell them what you want to do, and ask for a license to do it. Another option is to check the U.S. Copyright Office for the registration of the work and the name and address of the owner of the work. Unless your use would put the material in a bad light, or would be somehow offensive, it is likely that the copyright owner will grant permission—a license—to you for your use. The fee is likely to be quite low (and could always be negotiated). The advantage of this approach is that so long as you act within the terms of the license granted, you can rest easy.
Another option is to find out if the work is on a website or other place that provides a license for the use of the work. This is less likely to be the case for written works, but is common on sites that provide pictures, videos, recorded songs, and/or other sounds. Such sites typically give the parameters for who, when, where, and how, the materials may be used by others. Remember that when you are using the works (or some portion of them) in your books (including your audio versions of your books), that your use of the work of another would be for a “commercial” purpose. This would be true even if you give copies of your book away. So, watch for the license terms for “commercial” use.
If you cannot get a license for the work because the owner refused your request, I would stay away from it. On the other hand, if you don’t get a license because you can’t find the owner or because the owner doesn’t respond to you, you’ll need to consider whether your intended use would be a “fair use.” I suggest, when working on “commercial” works (which your books very likely are), that you err on the side of assuming that you may not use something under the “fair use” doctrine. That said, if your use is truly minimal and is not central to your work, it is less likely that the owner will challenge it later.
For your “fair use” analysis, consider the manner in which you would use the work. If I had a character in a present day setting who happened to say something—that is, to “copy” in his speech—the lyrics to a song, that use might be treated differently than if I used the lyrics as a part of a chapter heading. For example, if my character happened to recite something that is common to her age group and well-known in the community—and that also just so happens to be derived from the lyrics of a copyrighted song—I’d be less inclined to be concerned about getting permission. That’s because people talk the way people talk. For example, suppose your high school-aged character, a lover of all things Broadway, teases her friend and says, “Popular! You’re gonna be popular! I’ll teach you the proper poise when you talk to boys . . .” In real life, people don’t check with the author of the lyrics to a song before reciting them. Likewise, they don’t check with the owner of the rights to a musical before they do so. Right? So, I’d not be terribly concerned in this case. That said, there’d be no harm in getting the permission—especially if the song/lyrics played some central part in my work. On the other again, if I was using those same lyrics as a part of a chapter heading, I’d be more concerned about getting a license for the use.
What if you already used something and now you are worried? Yikes! If you are truly worried, you might do one of two things: (1) revise your work and re-publish it as an updated version; or (2) request permission and only if it is refused, revise your work and re-publish it. Note that if your request is refused, you’d be very wise to remove the offending materials. Of course, one more alternative is available, and that is to continue to use the work as though nothing is wrong. In such event, the owner could approach you at any time. However, if the unknown is a risk you can live with . . .
Learn More about Patricia Reding at:
C.M. Huddleston's Review of Ignorance is Not Bliss:
Patricia Reding, intellectual rights lawyer and YA author, wrote Ignorance is Not Bliss: A Primer for Authors as a handbook and guide to legal issues affecting writers. The book is well organized, has plenty of examples, and explains legal terms in ways we can all understand. It covers copyrights, trademarks, DMCA, fair use, and even delves into the world of publishing contracts. Reding constantly reminds the reader that her book is simply a guide and that you may need a lawyer for some issues; however, the book covers the most frequently asked legal questions associated with publishing. The last section covers ISBNs in a way that should clear up any questions the new author has been wondering about. There is even a list of additional resources! I frequently reply to new authors with answers to questions that Reding covers in this book. In the future, I’ll be suggesting they purchase a copy, as it is an excellent reference and should be on every author’s desk.
Recently, someone asked me if I only read Indie authors. How ridiculous! I read all types of novels and nonfiction books, traditionally and independently published. Right now I am reading Michael Medved’s The American Miracle: Divine Providence in the Rise of the Republic. I just finished Helen Simonson’s The Summer Before the War - an excellent historical novel that I highly recommend. I am also reading short stories by O. Henry, as is my youngest grandson. There are several Indie books on my Kindle and tablet that will soon be moving up my very long list.
I also have a Nook; it was my first e-reader. It is full of books I keep handy, those by my favorite authors both traditional and Indie that I might want to read again at any time or just browse while killing a bit of time. When I sew, I listen to books. Right now I am almost finished with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I have all seven books on CD and have listened to all of them more than I can count. I always have a book ready for long car trips. On a recent trip to South Dakota and back, my husband and I finished Lonesome Dove, followed by a Louis L’Amour western, and then back to Larry McMurtry with Telegraph Days.
As you can see, I am a reader, well over 100 books each year. What’s your latest read?
Author Interviews and the Occasional Blog by