Lawyer Writer News Flash: Freelance Writers' Settlement Screwed

The settlement has been nixed by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in a 2-1 decision, and now the Freelance Writers case, which argued that that freelance contracts do not allow for electronic publication (online, in databases) unless it's specifically stated, is back in the frying pan.

It's a 2-year-old settlement, with around $20 million at issue, and a Who's Who of Publishers as defendants: Knight Ridder Inc., Reuters, West Publishing, etc.

There are several well-known plaintiffs, as well: EL Doctorow, Gerald Posner, the National Writers Union, the Authors' Guild, the American Society of Journalists & Authors, etc.

And the basis for this? Jurisdiction.

Yep. The appellate court has found that the district court lacked federal jurisdiction to approve the settlement in this copyright infringement case. (Well, two justices did -- the dissenting judge said he wouldn't nix this settlement on jurisdictional grounds.) The majority opinion:

"The overwhelming majority of claims within the certified class arise from the infringement of unregistered copyrights ....We have held, albeit outside the class-action context, that district courts lack statutory subject matter jurisdiction over infringement claims arising from unregistered copyrights."

Read the opinion here.

So what happens now? Well, I'm betting that the Freelance Writers' counsel request a full-court review of this 3-justice panel decision - which may or may not get granted. After that, the Supreme Court is the next step, procedurally - and while it's very difficult to get heard by the Highest of the High Courts, they did hear Tasini ....


Putting Putter into Your Writing Schedule

A new study is out: exercising is important, but standing -- well, standing is a big, big deal. The study was published this month in Diabetes, and it's been covered over at ABC.COM.

Bottom line: thin people putter around the house, fat people don't. Being vertical allows your body to manufacture enzymes that are important to metabolism; setting all day, and this manufacturing process shuts down.

So, putter, people. Putter.


Looking for a Good Read? The Literature Map

Here's a fun site to discover new authors, and new books to love -- the Literature Map.

Now, I'm not positive that I agree with its results. For example, I don't know that the closest author to Alexander McCall Smith in my mind is Jan Karon (not that I don't enjoy her work, as well), but hey.

The map explains that the closer two names appear on the map, then the higher the likelihood that the reader will enjoy the works of both authors.

It's a very fun site, and after scanning thru Alexander McCall Smith, I'm reminded that I've been wanting to read Christopher Buckley -- so I've put his name on my list for this week.

They may have something here! Check it out -- it's a fun site.


Want Something New to Read? Check Here

Looking to discover a new favorite author, or a book that haunts you for days? Check out out these sites for some suggestions.

I've collected a group of sites that runs the gamut -- from the professionals at NYT to the Average Joe at AllReaders -- because everyone has their own perspective, and sometimes being snooty just cuts you out of some mighty fine things:




New York Times




Lawyer Writer News Flash: Indian Lawyer Outsourcing Co Owned By Americans

Over at Backstreet Lawyer this morning, I posted on Nikki Finke's reporting that several Hollywood Big Kahuna Companies are outsourcing their transactional legal needs over to an Indian company. Legal research, drafting contracts, things like that ....

I've included a link to an Indian blogger who's watching this Indian growth industry -- apparently, they're very excited about it.

Here's the thing that gets me: the Indian outsourcing company is owned by a Manhattan company that, in turn, is funded by Cisco Systems, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Barclay's Capital.


I don't know how many lawyers are truly aware of this development -- we've heard of outsourcing, sure. It's mentioned in hushed tones. I don't know how many attorneys are aware that American companies are actually funding the outsourcing, though.


Kindle Unveiled Today and I Don't Want One

Amazon debuted its three-year old project today -- Kindle gives you e-books, as well as lots of newspapers and blogs and Wikipedia and other stuff automatically uploaded to the device.

It's priced a little over $300 bucks. There's lots of hoopla about it, seems like a lot of people are very excited about replacing books made of paper.


I like books. I like dog-earing pages, I like making notes in margins, I like flipping back and forth -- didn't he leave the gun in the car? -- and I like carrying paperbacks in my tote and having hardbacks on my nightstand.

I like bookmarks. I like cover art.

I like the feel of paper, and the way a book feels in my hand.

Kindle is a cool toy but it's not friendly like a book. Just look at it. And it costs too much, too.

And then, there's bookstores. I like bookstores. I like roaming the aisles, I like ....

May 2011 Update:  Prices went down.  I got a Nook Color for Christmas - it didn't work, so I returned it.  Now, I have a Kindle 3G with WiFi and I like it.  I like paper better, but I do find uses for the ereader.   For more, please refer to the posts under the label "e-books."


Writer Lawyer Tip: Google Toolbar Buttons for Writers

Google Toolbar has lots of nice things - one click and you're reading the news, shopping on Ebay, laughing at their collection of Stupid Videos.

The toolbar gallery also has a selection of buttons that can help you while you're working: there's so many I can't list them all here. Here are some that look to be very handy, tho:



Lonely at the Keyboard: Finding Free WiFi

When you write for a living, it's easy to lose track of time. And, I'm not talking hours here -- I'm talking days. What?! It's already Thursday?!! It can't be! When was it Wednesday?

I won't even go into the wardrobe thing. I'm always presentable for the unexpected guest, but hey: they're taking a risk, too. I'm not guaranteeing make-up, and the days of my weekly manicure are a part of my PastLife. Calling first is in your own best interests, as well as mine.

Which gets me to the Wonders of WiFi. Not all writers need constant internet access, but I do. My writing involves research, and I envy those fiction writers that can escape the internet connection.

WiFi lets me journey out into the world, and keep working. No, it's not as fast as my high-speed connection at home. Yes, I get distracted and my word count suffers.

But it's a wise thing to do -- taking the laptop and mascara and brushing my hair and getting OUT THERE.

Here's a list of sites that can help you find free WiFi in your area:


There's also WiFi at places like Barnes & Noble, but you have to pay for it and I hate that. There's also places that are within Free WiFi areas which are better for writing than the source itself. For example, here in San Antonio, there's free WiFi from Amy's IceCream that cascades into the Border's Coffee Shop next door. It's a good place to work (sometimes) and you don't have to pay for the Border's WiFi option.

Now, as for plugs ... that's another post, for a different day.


Movies I Saw: Elizabeth the Golden Age Disappointed

Okay, it's not new at the multiplex but I just saw Elizabeth: The Golden Age with Cate Blanchett.

Now, except for a couple of times when Cate seems to be channelling her version of Katherine Hepburn in Aviator into this role, I thought she did an excellent job. The costuming was fabulous, the sets were remarkable, and the music was just fine. Clive Owen is a gorgeous man, and he looked good with a tan.

However, the movie was not accurate. This made it distracting, and ultimately, annoying to me. [A great lesson in using creative license. Be careful.]

The last straw was the Armada scene -- where was the big storm? Where was the lightning and the big waves and the WEATHER factor here? Sure, the fire ships were cool but that wasn't the whole story.

Did they really have to edit Queen Elizabeth's speech to her troops which has come to be recognized as one of the greatest speeches of all time?

Was it necessary to combine Sir Francis Drake with Sir Walter Raleigh here? Drake was the one responsible for the fire ships, not Raleigh. Raleigh was on land at Dover watching the whole thing. Then again, Raleigh is credited with discovering Mary Queen of Scot's plot to take Elizabeth's crown. And, he did marry Elizabeth the maid and get himself thrown into the Tower of London -- but that was after the victory with the Spanish. Of course, this isn't shown in the movie.

Likewise, Cate didn't look in her 50s, nor Clive in his 20s, which was their real age difference. Oh, I feel a serious rant coming on....

Geez. Grrrrrr. It was hard not to leave the theatre with all this unnecessary alteration in a very exciting chapter of history. Why not have two handsome men at court -- Drake and Raleigh? Why not use special effects for the storms that came?

Such, such, such a disappointment. I mean, they had pirates and palaces and one queen plotting to take the throne of another, and Catholic vs Protestant .... And they messed with it.

I wish I had skipped this film. Next time, I'll listen to Rotten Tomatoes.

Image: Elizabeth I ordered a commemorative medal to be cast and distributed, reading "God Blew and They Were Scattered," in tribute to the storms that destroyed the Spanish Armada. I am just shaking my head.


What I'm Reading: Susan Conant's Dog Lovers Mystery Series

Well, actually, I'm reading the last three of Susan Conant's Dog Lovers Mystery Series. Over the years, I've read her Rowdy & Kimi books as they've appeared on the shelves - but there was a gap a couple of years back and I admit to moving along and losing track of her.

I re-discovered the Dog Lovers Mysteries when I found a pretty hardcover of her book, Bride & Groom, for sale in the clearance stacks of Barnes & Noble. Now, I'm midway through Gaits of Heaven and All Shots is next.

I already expect some of you to be snooty here. A dog book? A mystery? What light reading, what secondary fare. Well, you're foolish to think so.

Crime fiction still gets snubbed, and I don't care. It wastes too much time worrying about what other people think, and sooner or later cream rises to the top, anyway. Think Mark Twain. Think Raymond Chandler. You know what I mean.

Susan Conant's work reads well, the characters grow over time, and I like the fact that I'm puzzled over why those darn squirrels aren't coming into the crazy therapists' backyard in Gaits. (I've already decided that the murderer has to be either the plumber or Steve's ex, but I am stumped about this squirrel business.)

Another thing that I appreciate about Susan Conant is that she uses these mysteries to teach me about dogs. I learned about the horrors of puppy farms in Bloodlines. I learned about therapy dogs in the Barker Street Regulars. And, interwoven throughout all her dog mysteries are little tidbits about the training and care and actions of dogs: e.g., the best treats to keep in your pocket, why crating works, and what scent-rolling is all about.

I suspect that this Harvard PhD in human development is patiently teaching us all about dogs via the mystery genre -- and that's fine by me. I'm grateful for these books, they make my life better. And they're funny, too.


Lonely at the Keyboard: Online Writer Chats & Forums

 Here's a list from Google of online writer chats and forums (there's tons more if you don't like these):


Spoiled Ink -
Offers writer to writer exchange of feedback, ideas and support.

White Paper Source -

User based forum dedicated to writing and marketing white papers.

Tag You're It - Writing Club -
Tag writing community in which one person starts the piece, and others contribute. Includes related links and FAQ.

Able2Know -
Active writing forum with creative categories.

Talk about Journalism -
Journalism discussion forums with topics like reporting, newspapers, jobs, research, and even gonzo writing.

The Pleasure Dome -
An online club for writers about discussion, debate, personal, professional support.

WritersWall -
Place for writers to exchange creative ideas, share their stories. Includes a monthly ezine, chat forum, and other resource links.

Mindsight Forum -

Forum for authors, writers, agents, publishers, and editors.

Write Here Write Now -

Forum offering weekly prompts, newsletters, critiquing, and writing over a variety of genres.

Literary Escape -
Member based literary community where users can create clubs, writing galleries, blogs and personal websites to get exposure and critique.

WritingForums.com -
Provides a place for writers to meet and chat about the writing craft, post stories, and meet other writers. Also provides tips, contests, markets and original works.

Writer's Waters II -
Free community and forum for writers, artists, poets, publishers and freelancers.

The Writer Community -

Discussion boards, polls, contests, events calendar.


Ye Gads: I DO watch Reality TV

I believe in the written word, and however bad some of the sitcoms out there may be -- they are written. There are scripts. Reality TV avoids this problem. There's no need for a script when you put a group of people on an island to eat horrid things, or have them race around the world for a prize. Ditto, the dating competitions. And the dancing ones. And the singing ones.

Since I avoid these shows I smugly thought that I didn't watch reality TV. I was lying to myself.

I admit it: I watch Jon & Kate Plus 8 periodically, as well as Dog the Bounty Hunter. I discovered this as I wrote a post about coupons after watching Kate shop for her family of 10 at Whole Foods and come away with almost $100 in savings. Awareness had sort of begun when I wrote another post about Dog the Bounty Hunter being on Larry King Live and the ability to email in your questions or comments beforehand.

My Bad. I am a writer who does watch reality shows. Should I feel bad? I am pondering this. And, I'm adding in the fact that any TV takes time away from other things unless I'm watching the tube while folding laundry or something. There are things like books, after all ....


Writers' Strike: All About the Web - & They've Got a Blog, Too

There's a good article about the Writers' Strike over at Forbes.com. Lacey Rose reports:

"Americans now spend nearly 27 hours a month online, up 8% from just two years ago, according to comScore Media Metrix. And advertising dollars are following: Internet ads registered a 17.7% increase in the first half of 2007, to $5.5 billion, while the broadcast networks saw ad spending slip 3.6%, to $11.8 billion, during the same period, according to TNS Media Intelligence, a division of Taylor Nelson Sofres that tracks ad spending."

In this fight for parts of the Web Pie, the striking writers have set up their own blog, United Hollywood. Interestingly, when I jumped to their site, the top post was about the very Forbes article by Lacey Rose that I'd just read. Small world.

At any rate, United Hollywood should prove to be very entertaining. Already today, there's the post about Steve Carell calling in sick to The Office - he was suffering from "enlarged balls."

And, in an earlier post by the Strike Captain, an explanation on why the Web is so important that it's worth this level of fight:

"The other big reality is that the future of ALL film and television is INTERNET bound, a paid advertising medium for which each and every Guild member currently has ZERO financial participation. With entertainment industry executives and studios raking in exponential profits every year and hiding much of those profits through creative accounting and fuzzy math, it is ESSENTIAL that, as members of the WGA, we stand up for what is only reasonable and just. The studios have forced us into this position through their greed and hubris. The attitude at the executive level often is that these movies and TV shows write themselves when in reality the obscene profits they are making always start with us, the writers.?"

I'm going to continue following the writer's strike, since without writers what do you have? Surely all these reruns already appearing everywhere should be making all the Suits sweat ....

Personally, I want the writers to get everything that they want. Period. And while I'm at it (it's my blog, after all) I don't want another reality show - ever - and I'd like someone to just go ahead and formalize the official Law&Order Network. It would make it so much easier for me to find Bobby.

One last thing. As a writer who provides content on a daily basis to various areas of the web, the news that publication on the Internet is apparently akin to the Gold Rush - or here in Texas, wildcatting for oil, well ... it's good news.


Read Print is a Great Find

Read Print is a great site -- it offers lots of free access to classic works of literature, plus the complete works of Shakespeare. An added feature is a list of articles covering a range of writing-related issues: what is a sonnet? how to write a magazine article? Lots of fun, and there are coupons too! Nice.

No compensation has been received for this review.


Writer Lawyer Tip: Great Find - Natural Reader

I use Natural Reader all the time. I use the free version, with the voice that is far from human-sounding. In fact, it sounds so much like HAL that I am always tempted to type the lyrics to "A Bicycle Built for Two" just for a grin ....

Remember that scene from the movie? Dave ... what are you doing, Dave ....

Okay, fine. Look, Natural Reader gives a final, verbal edit before I send the draft out. It's a big help, and I thought I'd share that with you today.


It's NaNoWriMo Time Again

Once again, it's National Novel Writing Month and we're already four days into the month-long process. You're not too late, if you want to sign up online -- you'll get your own page with a tracker of your progress.

What's NaNoWriMo? From the site:

"National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

"Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

"Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

"Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down."

There are local groups that have writing meet-ups during the month, as well as providing other support (group e-mails, etc.). And, yes, books do get written during NaNoWriMo -- some, ultimately, are even published.

Me? I admit to joining the 2005 NaNoWriMo and it did help me get organized and moving forward on a fiction work. However, no, I didn't finish. This year, I've got my two huge projects, plus a myriad of other assorted projects with deadlines and if I have extra time during this month, I need to focus on getting away from the keyboard ... but I have hopes for NaNoWriMo next year. It was fun.


Writer-Lawyers: Kelly James-Enger

I started watching the career of Kelly James-Enger several years ago, while I was still daydreaming about being a writer while setting at my law desk, and she was out there -- writing magazine articles for a living as well as books telling others how they could, too. Such true encouragement.

Maybe you've read Six Figure Freelancing?

Today, her career continues to evolve. She's written some chick lit, and appears to be having great success as a motivational speaker. Her website is no longer "kellyjamesenger.com," for some time it's been "becomebodywise.com."

If you watch FoodNetwork, you've seen Kelly's work albeit indirectly: she co-wrote Small Changes, Big Results with Ellie Krieger, host of Healthy Appetite.

From her site:

"Kelly James-Enger provides entertaining, motivating conference keynotes, in-service programs, and other group presentations on topics ranging from health to stress management to time management, goal-setting, and pursuing your personal dreams. She customizes her presentations for each audience, and is known as an entertaining, inspiring, and motivating speaker. Review some of her popular speaking topics or check the calendar of upcoming speaking dates.

"As a widely published author of books and magazine articles, Kelly can write, co-write, or ghostwrite for you or partner with you on the road to publication. Take a look at our full list of consulting services.

"Finally, for writers, BodyWise provides resources that teach you the things we had to learn the hard way, including a free monthly newsletter with our latest tips delivered right to your inbox."


Managing Time: SlimTimer

Here's something that you might want to check out -- SlimTimer. It's an online timesheet service. It's free, too.

You get a tasklist and voila! the time shows up on your toolbar, the seconds passing before your very eyes. It will also provide reports for you, which will give you a good idea of how you've been using your time if you've kept up your SlimTimer entries like a good girl.

Me, I didn't like the idea of putting all the gory details of what I'm doing, day in and day out, on the Web. Just a little too spooky for me, but you may feel just fine about it.

I admit to being rather Old School, and I still have a passion for my FranklinCovey binder ....Maybe it's that lawyer in me, and all that early DayTimer training.