Tag Archives: #AtoZChallenge

Living In New Land Estates: Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Last year my husband and I built a house. Yep, from scratch, from the ground up (and I have the photos to prove it) but no, not with my bare hands. I sensibly paid someone for that part. 

This means we live in what’s called a ‘greenfields estate’, or a newly released area of land which is in the process of being subdivided and sold off in stages. So I have no neighbours, basically. There’s a lot of empty space here. A few other houses are being built in my street, but ours is the only one occupied. The earlier parts of my estate have a lot more houses, but still aren’t completely finished. Basically, I live in a very newarea of Sydney. 

Or, possibly, the cold nether regions of hell. 

Yes, I have a beautiful new house. And apparently to the rest of the world it doesn’t exist. 

It’s news to me, but it seems every GPS is powered by Google Maps or Whereis, and as it happens, even Google Maps in Australia gets its information from Whereis. According to Whereis, our street doesn’t exist. In fact, if you search my suburb, that also doesn’t exist. No one uses an old-fashioned street directory anymore, where we might (possibly) exist in the 2012 edition. I should purchase one just to check. And of course the novelty of owning an actual street directory. 

It’s amazing how many problems you have when you don’t exist.

  • My electricity company sent me an ‘estimated’ bill because they ‘couldn’t find the meter box’ – read ‘We couldn’t find your house’.
  • I’ve had to direct any number of people to my house on the phone, including the furniture delivery man, and the grocery delivery man. In fact, the grocery delivery man calls every fortnight. Invariably, when I ask where he is, he’s in a location I don’t know – just so I can’t direct him here. The one time he was somewhere I knew, he was at the wrong end of a very long road and he kept me on the phone while he drove from one end to the other. I had nothing better to do with that ten minutes of my life after all;
  • Telstra, Australia’s biggest telecommunications company, told me they didn’t provide internet service in my area – because they couldn’t find it. Ironically, when I sorted that out, the guy who came to connect the phone had no problems finding us at all. See my post for ‘U’ in the A to Z Challenge for more information about my Telstra debacles.
  • Australia Post is the only company that can unfailingly find me. As long as you only want to send me a letter. As soon as someone sends me a parcel, they can’t find me. Go figure. I’ve had parcels sent halfway across the country back to the sender because my house mysteriously disappeared when Australia Post came out that day;
  • Telstra (again) tell me I ‘refused delivery’ of modem. I’m assuming this was a convenient excuse for the delivery man who (presumably) couldn’t find us because I never had anyone try and deliver a modem to me. Ironically, when Telstra sent me a piece of hardware I didn’t order and didn’t want, the delivery man found me that day.
So it’s been…fun. I’ve logged a change request for Whereis to include us, but so far no luck. I’ve also lodged a complaint with Australia Post, but I’m still waiting on the outcome of that. 

I guess the salesman forgot to mention this postcode is situated in the outer regions of hell with limited services!
I did wonder about the decor when we first visited the area…
This is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge Series. If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here – A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, and K.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!

Killing You Would Be Easier (Fiction – Part 4)

Killing You Would Be Easier

The final installment to the story posted on April 1 – don’t forget to check out  Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 if you missed them.  
~

Sweat covered Drada’s palms; the fine chain slipped. Am I close enough? He chanced another step and a blast of red light blew a chunk out of a stalactite to his left. He threw himself aside, Phaeton’s scream of rage echoing in his ears. His breath whooshed out of him as he hit the ground. The chain, so fine it was almost invisible, slithered across the stone floor and disappeared into the shadows. Drada skittered after it, sliding on his belly, pushing with his booted feet. Another blast of red light sent chunks of stone and dust raining down on his head. Behind him, Gan called hoarsely. More red light flashed in the sergeant’s direction.  

Drada coughed, choking on the fine dust. His hands fumbled along the stone floor, feeling for what his eyes couldn’t see in the red shadows. Dust ruined his sense of touch, the chain so fine it was indistinguishable among the ruins of stone. Another explosion of red light elicited a glint of gold before stone fragments showered down on him. A piece of shrapnel burrowed its way into his flesh in an explosion of white agony. Choking back a cry of pain, he lunged for the stray gleam of gold. Behind, the stone floor he’d lain on exploded.  

His hand closed on a fistful of dust and stone fragments. Lifting the fist, he saw the links of the chain trail from his grip like stardust. He seized it with the other hand, shaking out its near invisible length. More stone exploded as he rolled onto his back. 

‘Stay still, damn you!’ Phaeton stood with his fists raised. They glowed with a burning, red light so bright it seared Drada’s eyes. He lurched to one knee. Swinging the chain, he squinted into the red inferno and tossed the chain at the figure outlined against the flaming sorcery. 

The near-invisible chain ignited with golden light, carving its way through the malevolent, red glow. It bounced off Phaeton’s shoulder, opening a line of gold fire in his flesh. Phaeton screamed. The sorcerous light at his fists flickered and died. Drada hauled in the length of chain, thick fingers fumbling with the fine gold. Red energy exploded into the stalactite beside his head. A flying stone fragment opened a line of fire on his cheek. The chain’s weight feather-light in his left hand, he flung it again. 

The length of the chain, aflame with gold light, snaked out. It flew true, wrapping around Phaeton before he could fire another bolt of energy. 

The red light winked out. The sorcerer’s howl reverberated off the stone. On his knees, blood dripping down his face, Drada dropped his head and wept. 

Phaeton spun, nearly losing his balance with his arms pinned to his sides. The golden fire dimmed to a dull glow, but it stood out like blazing fire in the darkness of the cavern. Before he’d taken three steps, Gan barrelled out of the darkness and flung himself on Phaeton. The two men crashed to the ground, rolling in a tangle of limbs. Through it all, the impossibly fragile length of chain glowed steadily gold, whole and unbroken. 

Gan hauled the sorcerer to his feet. ‘You won’t be going anywhere for a long time, pup.’ He shook Phaeton for emphasis. ‘You broke your mother’s heart. And your father…’

Drada climbed to his feet with slow, heavy steps. A hole opened in his heart where once there’d been a son.

Phaeton lunged forward in Gan’s grip. ‘To hell with you, and mother! You should have just killed me.’ Vitriol dripped from every word. 

‘Killing you would have been easier for both of us, but you don’t deserve easy.’ Drada swallowed hard. ‘Phaeton, son of Drada, you are under arrest for crimes against the people, unspeakable acts of sorcery and murder most vile. You will go from here to face trial by your sorcerous peers. It will be for them to decide if you will live and, if you do, if you will ever be permitted to wield sorcery again.’

The words fell hard and heavy into the silence, like crypt doors slamming. It lasted a moment only, before Phaeton screamed and threw himself against Gan’s rock-like grip. 

Drada turned his back. It was done. Tomorrow had come. The day after tomorrow would be brighter. 


This is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge Series. If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here – A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I and J.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!

Author’s Note: Due to the time constraints of the A to Z Challenge, this piece of fiction has not undergone my usual rigorous editing process and is essentially a first draft.   

Judgements: Do You Make Unfair Ones?


We all judge. All day, every day, every single one of us. Don’t say you don’t. Every time you form an opinion, you make a judgement. That includes bad judgements and good judgements.

And that’s OK, as long as you have a sound basis for the judgement. So… do you? Or are you making unfair judgements?

A fair judgement is, for example, mistrusting someone because they broke a promise, lied to you, or betrayed you. Hey, that’s perfectly justifiable. I almost choked on my coffee when my ex-husband asked why I didn’t trust him after he’d lost count of the number of affairs he’d had.

In short, a fair judgement is one supported by observable behaviour on the part of the individual you are judging. Note behaviour. So physical characteristics are out. And note also supported. You might argue religious affiliations or sexual orientations are observable behaviour, but all too often those behaviours do not support the judgement being made i.e. there is no causal collection.

So here are a couple of crappy judgements I’ve come across lately that really piss me off:
  • My friend is a Certified Practising Accountant. She’s also a single mother, through no fault of her own, and owing to an unpleasant situation with her soon-to-be-ex-husband which no woman in her right mind would (or should) tolerate.

    Apparently, however, being a single mother makes her the least desirable tenant in the rental market. Despite the fact she has a professional-level salary, a rocking personal reference given by yours truly, lawyer extraordinaire, and is more or less the most moral, honest and trustworthy person I know, she can’t find a house to live in. Why? Because she’s a single mother. This, apparently, means she will bring strange men home to the house she is living in.

    Hello, judgement some? You’re basically calling every single mother a cheap, stupid whore, which is grossly insulting to my friend and, I imagine, other single mothers (@cmajaski, put up your hand! I’m sure you are insulted). For some reason, single mothers rank as less desirable than single fathers, notwithstanding those single fathers may be strange men. Go figure.
  • Sneaky racism – years before he met me, my husband was dating a Korean Australian girl. She called it off because her parents didn’t approve of my husband. Why? Because he’s white (or possibly, more generally, non-Korean). Now, if this was a white person not allowing their child to marry, well, anyone who wasn’t white, it would be racism of the grossest kind. I saw another example of this recently when a friend of a friend of a colleague (did you catch all that?) was forbidden by her Indian parents to see the non-Indian man she was dating.

    I don’t know what the history is to these attitudes.I don’t purport to judge. And I’m not saying that these kind of attitudes are any worse than racism by whites against other cultures. But in my experience (in this country at least) there is more focus on racism by whites against other races and cultures than there is a focus on eliminating discrimination of all kinds, including racism against whites by some individuals. I know there are some who will be inclined to have little pity for Caucasians with their history of racism against others, but this shouldn’t be a tit for tat game. It should be the same rules for everyone and a concerted effort to fix the errors of the past.   

    The simple point is individuals should be judged on their own merits, and not based on the actions of other members of their race, gender, religion, profession, demographic etc. I’m not saying this is easy. It can be very hard, and sometimes it’s much easier to fall into old habits.

    One example of how easy it is to fall into the trap of being racist is in Australia, where many companies outsource call centres to India and the Philippines. This is done for cost effectiveness so I suspect that training might not be top-notch. As a result, customers may get less than stellar service when they contact such centres. Is this the fault of the staff? No, it’s the fault of the company. Is it tempting to blame the staff? Yes, of course, and it’s easy – easier than blaming a faceless company. I won’t deny that many Australians do blame the staff, and therefore have a negative attitude to Indians or Filipinos in general. Is this acceptable? No, and I do not condone it in any way. I try not to fall into those attitudes myself. I try to give every person a fair chance to prove themselves to me on their own merits, and not on the basis of any assumptions that could be made. Is that easy to do, all the time? No, and so we must all be ever vigilant against generalisations.

    If we want to give equality a fair go, we all need to stop being racist. And sexist, and any other number of –ists.  No judgement of any person based on their skin colour, country of origin, or hell, while we’re at it, religion, gender, sexual orientation or other characteristic not directly tied to their own individual personality, is not on, people. Stereotyping, in my opinion, simply isn’t acceptable, no matter who is doing the stereotyping or being stereotyped.  
Is someone judging you? Or someone you love? What’s your pet peeve judgement?

Vector – Goddess of Judgements – Not this kind, I think….

This is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge Series. If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here – A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H and I.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!

Intellectual Property Rights for Books Explained

Intellectual Property Rights for Books

This is a long post. I do apologise, but even when summarised, book rights are a complex topic. I have simplified as far as possible. 

What are intellectual property rights?

When you write something, anything, as long as it’s original, you automatically own the copyright. It belongs to you. You don’t need to fill in any forms or register anything. The simple act of creation makes you the owner. You can use it, re-use it or change it however you please.

So what happens when you sell a story?

A story is not a product, like a loaf of bread. When you sell it, you do not pass over the physical item so the buyer now has it instead of the seller.When it comes to intellectual property, you don’t actually own the hard copy story or the storage media on which the digital files are kept (well, you might, but that’s ownership of the paper or electronic media, not the story).

What you own when you own a story is the intellectual property in the story. It’s an idea. We lawyers like to call it intangible property – that is, you can’t pick it up or touch it. What you actually own has no physical existence of its own. 

So when you sell a story, what you’re really doing is ‘licensing’ (or allowing) someone else to use your story. You can put limitations on how they can use it and for what purpose. ‘Ownership’ of the story still resides with you and you can continue to use it, subject to the rights you have sold. 

For those of you who know anything about property, it’s analogous to an easement – if you own a piece of land, it’s yours to do with as you please. If there is an easement over that property, you can still use the property – subject to the rights of the easement that belong to someone else, such as a right to cross your land. In this case you can do anything you like with your land, except block that right of access. 

You can do anything you like with your story, as long as you don’t infringe the rights you have granted to someone else. So what rights might you grant to someone else?

FNASR – First North American Serial Rights

When you sell FNASR you are licensing the right to be the first to publish the material in North America, but only once. If this is the only licence you’ve granted, all other rights remain with you. You can, obviously, only sell FNASR once, but you can also sell Reprint Rights, Anthology Rights, First British Rights, First European Rights and First Australian Rights. If the publication that bought FNASR is print only, you can also sell First Electronic Rights. However, I suggest you might want to consider keeping this for last as, once published electronically, it may discourage potential purchasers of other rights.  

First Rights

The right to be the first to publish a piece. It can be limited geographically or by medium. You can sell many first rights as long as they don’t overlap.


First World English

The right to be first to publish the work in the entire English speaking world. These rights encompass FNASR, First British, First Canadian, First Australian and any other English speaking country, so if you sell First World English you can’t sell these rights separately.

You can also sell first rights in other languages (sometimes called Translation Rights).

First Electronic Rights or First World Electronic Rights

The right to be the first to publish on the internet, by email, downloadable file (e-book) or programme, on CD etc. A variation is Electronic Publishing Rights in the English Language, which is the same as First World English but limited to electronic media. When you sell FNASR it does not automatically include First Electronic Rights. This must be separately and explicitly negotiated.

Sometimes a distinction is made between publishing on the internet and via other electronic media, but this is not always the case.

If you publish something on your blog, you generally can’t sell First Electronic Rights.

One-time Rights

A right to publish your work once and once only, but not necessarily first. Someone else may have already published the piece.

Reprint Rights, or Second Serial Rights

Offered when the work has already been printed once, it gives a publication the right to reprint the piece. Note that self-published material or work posted to a blog or website is considered published, so you can’t sell First Rights for such work. You can sell Reprint Rights, but usually the payment is lower.
Nonexclusive Reprint Rights gives you the ability to sell Reprint Rights to more than one publication (including simultaneously).

Anthology Rights

The right to publish the work in a collection. This is often a subcategory of reprint rights as anthologies frequently buy reprint material. It’s not always a reprint right, although generally there are more lucrative markets for first rights. Of course, there is an exception to every rule. Terry Goodkind’s Debt of Bones first appeared in an anthology and was subsequently reprinted as a stand alone novella. 

Excerpt Rights

The right to use excerpts of your work e.g. to be used in a standard testing programme.

Small portions of a work can usually be quoted under the ‘fair use’ policy, which allows someone to quote a work as long as they use proper attribution (i.e. attribute the work to its author). The rules of fair use vary from country to country though, so excerpt rights may be desirable when someone wants to quote significant portions of a text.

Archival Rights

The right to archive or make works available on the internet. In short, it means the piece will be kept on file and accessible long after its publication – like an archived blog post. Beware a contract that requires you to sell archival rights! An archived piece is considered to still be ‘in print. This makes it difficult to sell other rights for an archived piece. You should try to limit any archival rights you sell to a limited time, otherwise the piece will never be ‘out of print’, severely limiting your ability to sell it again.  

All Rights

If you sell all the rights in your work, you can never again use the work in its current form. To resell the material, you would need to create a substantially different version. You can still take the characters and reuse them in another story, because the all rights holder does not own the characters, just the story in which they appeared.

You should also be aware that the all rights holder can also license your work to third parties. You have essentially made the all rights holder the ‘owner’ of the work in the absolute sense in which you were the owner prior to transferring all your rights. Anything you could have done, prior to selling all rights, the all rights holder can do, include selling all the above listed types of rights.

You do retain a nominal (or moral) right to have the work attributed to you. So the all rights holder can legally do what they like with the work, but they cannot claim credit for authoring the work.

Moral Rights or Work for Hire

Like all rights, except you do not even retain nominal rights. This means even a substantial revision of the work could be a no-no and you can’t use the characters elsewhere. In many jurisdictions, the author of a work has ‘moral rights’, but under work-for-hire agreements you will be required to sign a moral rights release. From a practical perspective, essentially you never really owned the copyright. Copyright instead vests in your employer or the person hiring you. This is common scenario for professional services firms e.g. employed architects creating intellectual property which vests in the architectural firm rather than the individual architect.  

Exclusive vs. Nonexclusive Rights

Exclusive rights means the piece must not appear elsewhere while they hold rights to the piece. Exclusive rights usually have a time limit such as one year. It would be very unwise to sell unlimited exclusive rights, as it would prevent you from selling other rights! After the expiration of the exclusivity period, the piece may be printed elsewhere.

Nonexclusive means the piece can be printed in two places at once, as long as both publications only hold nonexclusive rights. You can see if your piece is published on your website, or you have granted archival rights to someone, you may not be able to grant exclusive rights so long as the piece remains published in those formats.

The “nonexclusive right to display, copy, publish, distribute, transmit and sell digital reproductions” means you are allowing your material to be sold elsewhere, by someone else. You may not be paid for any of these, depending on the nature of your agreement e.g., a nonexclusive, royalty-free right has no payment attached. 

You can continue to sell other rights to your own work, but be aware the original purchaser may also licence your piece to fee-based databases or other content sources without ever reimbursing you. 


Fanfiction – Case Study

Suppose you write a story using characters from your favourite role-playing game, book or movie. 

Obviously this isn’t desirable, but many of us do this in our early days when we are still starting out writing. Later we may decide some of that material is salvageable and want to reuse it. So who owns what intellectual property? Here are a few variations:
  • Original storyline using characters from a book or game – you own the plotline, but you don’t own the characters. To sell this, you would need to change the characters;
  • Storyline derived from the game using characters from the book or game – bad idea. Go write something of your own!
  • Storyline derived from the book or game using original characters – you won’t be able to sell that story without infringing the book or game owner’s intellectual property, but you can take the characters and re-use them in an original plotline. Note that if you use the names of characters from that other work, but your characters are not actually true to the characters in that other work, the character is yours but the name is not. You could change the names and re-use the characters. However, if the character is properly the property of the owner of the other work, merely changing the names won’t save you;
  • Original plotline using original characters – the only way this would be tied to the book or game would be if you had used names from the book or game, either characters or places. If we assume you have used those names, but the characters are not true to the descriptions in the game, you can change the name and away you go.
Essentially, you can use the parts that belong to you. You can reuse them or modify them at will without infringing any intellectual property rights, because you hold those rights, and therefore you can decide what to do with it. You can’t use or borrow any intellectual property belonging to someone else without a licence to do so. 
 
This is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge Series. If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here – A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!

Author’s Note: This post is designed to provide a factual summary of the different types of intellectual property rights relating to books, but does not purport to be an exhaustive list, nor is it a substitute for legal advice. If in doubt about the rights you are signing away in a contract, always seek the advice of a qualified lawyer.

A Heinous Defence – Fiction (Part 3)

A Heinous Defence

Part three to the story posted on April 1 – you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here

Two figures emerged, silhouetted against the nightmarish backdrop. They were alone, their prisoner already delivered. What was done with them? The guards turned aside before reaching Drada and Gan, swallowed by the wall as they stepped through a doorway out of sight. The echo of boots striking stairs floated into the cavern. Drada’s breath whooshed from him. Behind, Gan prodded him forward. 

Sweat covered Drada’s palms. The heat of the cavern smothered him, but it wasn’t the reason he perspired. His slid slippery fingers into the pouch and fingered the cold, chain links. Can I do this?
 
The red glow intensified and Drada stepped past a wall and into a smaller cavern bordering the edge of the legendary magma lake. He slammed to a halt so hard Gan stumbled into his back, pushing him forward two more steps towards the figure beside the lake. 

The man turned, his face a landscape of shadows and hellish red light leeching his features of all other colour. ‘Father?’

Stunned surprise reverberated through his voice, but Drada barely noticed, his eyes locked to the crude, wooden bench behind Phaeton. A man lay there, strapped facedown to expose the bare flesh of his back. Thick, black lines marked out a space near his kidneys. A low groan issued from the shadowy prisoner. 

Drada dragged his eyes away from the shackled prisoner to his son’s shadowed face. ‘Phaeton?’ He heard the horror in his own voice; so did his son. Even in the red glow, he saw his son’s face harden.

‘You can’t understand, but I’m saving people. Did you know it’s possible to transfer one person’s organs to others? This man’s kidneys will save two other men, with the help of my sorcery. Two, productive lives, at the expense of what? One murderer?’

Drada shook his head. His knees tried to buckle; instead he forced himself forward a few steps. His fingers clenched around the cold chain. ‘What would your mother say?’

Phaeton stiffened. His eyes flickered over Drada’s shoulder. ‘I should have known it was you, Gan. Have you brought my father to kill me?’

Drada silenced Gan with one lifted finger. The heat of the magma lake beat at his exposed face and arms. ‘It nearly killed your mother when she heard the charges brought against you. What do you think it would do if I were to tell her I’d killed you?’ With exaggerated care, he lifted his sword free of his scabbard and dropped it. The clang of metal striking stone reverberated painfully off the cavern walls. Phaeton’s mouth dropped open, hastily closed. 

‘No?’ Phaeton sneered, a poor attempt to cover his surprise. ‘And yet violence was ever your first resort.’

Drada spread his arms wide, the fine gold of the chain concealed in his hand. The links were so tiny the chain formed a ball barely large enough to fill his palm. ‘Won’t you reconsider? Mere mathematics is not enough to justify killing a man.’ He shuffled a few steps closer. Just a few more moments, a few more steps.
 
There was no hesitation in Phaeton. His chin lifted; arrogant, insolent. ‘You think I haven’t given this due consideration?’ He pointed a long finger. ‘That’s far enough, father. Even without your sword, I don’t trust you.’

‘Your mother-.’

‘I don’t want to hear about my mother!’ The scream bounced off the stone of the cavern. Power sparked dangerously around Phaeton’s clenched fists.


Click here to read Part 4.

This is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge Series. If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here – A, B, C, D, E, F and G.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!
 
Author’s Note: Due to the time constraints of the A to Z Challenge, this piece of fiction has not undergone my usual rigorous editing process and is essentially a first draft.