Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Novel Ideas: Are They Really Your Own?

Think about it. A novel idea is born inside a writer's mind. Plot, characters, dialogue, and conflict formulate around the idea. Applying pen to paper, the artist allows the story to be told. But, is it (the idea) really his own?

 Plato was one of the earliest philosophers to provide a detailed discussion of ideas. He considered the concept of idea in the realm of metaphysics and its implications for epistemology. He asserted that there is a realm of Forms or Ideas, which exist independently of anyone who may have thought of these ideas. Material things are then imperfect and transient reflections or instantiations of the perfect and unchanging ideas. From this it follows that these Ideas are the principal reality (see also idealism). In contrast to the individual objects of sense experience, which undergo constant change and flux, Plato held that ideas are perfect, eternal, and immutable. Consequently, Plato considered that knowledge of material things is not really knowledge; real knowledge can only be had of unchanging ideas.
(Source: Wikipedia)

Now, take for instance, vampires. I know, the "story" has been done. And done. And done. However, the IDEA of vampires, is it owned by a particular someone? Copyrighted? According to the U. S. Copyright Office, no, an idea cannot be copyrighted. 

What Is Not Protected by Copyright?

Several categories of material are generally not eligible for
federal copyright protection. These include among others:
• works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of
expression (for example, choreographic works that have
not been notated or recorded, or improvisational speeches
or performances that have not been written or recorded)
• titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols
or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation,
lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents
• ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts,
principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a
description, explanation, or illustration
• works consisting entirely of information that is common
property and containing no original authorship (for
example: standard calendars, height and weight charts,
tape measures and rulers, and lists or tables taken from
public documents or other common sources) (Source: U. S. Copyright Office)

I realize this may be common knowledge, but in this era when so very much of us and ours is out there (on the web) for everyone to see, copy, use, borrow...it's definitely something to contemplate.

A frog can only be produced from a tadpole. Simple science. Can anyone create a picture book about a tadpole growing into a frog? Yes. (Although, I'm sure there are plenty of adorable pbs' about this subject) However, an author's job is to make the story their own. Tell the story in their own words. Make the tadpole truly authentic.

A Polliwog's Tail
(pb idea created for this blog post by Candy Fite)

Piper, an unruly polliwog in love with her own glorious tail, denies her froggy fate by refusing to learn how to hop on her newly grown legs. 

It's that easy. A tadpole to frog...done before. A polliwog with an attitude, refusing her fate...too cute.

So, as writers or readers, what are your feelings on this subject?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Little Acorn Art

I've played all week with watercolors. Most of them I wasn't happy with at the end. A few, I believe capture the essence of the story. Here is a cute close-up of Little A. as he's just fallen from Papa's branch. Tell me what you think. I'd love to hear your opinions! 
Happy Sunday!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Picture Book Dream & Watercolor Art by Candy

For many of us aspiring authors, publication feels unattainable. The thought of seeing our work in print dangles before our faces, just out of reach. Agonizing torment. For some of us, the dream (or nightmare) has visited (plagued) our nighttime slumbers for decades.

My ultimate dream? To publish. Do I need to top the bestseller charts? Nah. If I could make one child smile and cherish my book, my dream would come true.

I've toyed with painting since my childhood. Oils and watercolors are my art of choice. I've never thought of myself as a painter, but sometimes, I actually produce something worthwhile. 

My first complete picture book, Little Acorn's Big Fall was first written in rhyme. After receiving kind rejections (and agonizing silence) for over 18 months, I decided to redraft the story in prose.

In the beginning, I struggled. Little A. was insistent upon rhyming his voice. I begged, pleaded, and agreed, that if he would show a little faith in me as a writer, I promised to be true to his story. So together, he and I reworked the story. We wrote and rewrote until both of us were satisfied that we'd stayed true to authenticity of his tale.

As I typed our prose, something magical happened. I began to visualize the art as the words appeared on the page. Abracadabra. Bibbity-bobbity-boo!

Here's our visualization for page 3:

Oh, if anyone is a grammar person, I've went back and forth with the last sentence on this page. "Only one in ten thousand acorns grows into a tree." I read it as the subject is "one" and the verb is "grows," or should it be "grow," I'm confused!! It looks funny the way it's written now.

If anyone knows of a publisher or agent hunting for author / illustrator combos, please leave me a comment! I have five on my list to research for now. Thank you!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hermione Rocks My Heroine World

All you YA fans MUST check out Jen's latest blog post over at Unedited or The YA Sisterhood! They have an amazing Tournament of Heroines going on over there. It's quite easy to vote! It's as simple as a *click, click, vote* to cast yours and help your fav.

So, who're the heroines you might be asking.

The final two contestants: Hermione (our Hogwarts wizardly heroine with all her super awesomeness), my fav, of course!

Here's my Hermione cheer:

"Go, Hermione...Get busy...Shake your broomstick!"

Claire from the Morganville Vampires--best of luck to ya!

What are you waiting for?

Point your wands over to Jen's or the YA Sisterhood blogs to find out how to vote!

Don't forget to tweet about it #TeamHermione or #TeamClaire #HerioneTourney or @YaSisterhood @jenunedited

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Recovered Book Hoarder

I finally did it. My husband has been hounding me for years to go through my bookshelves and get rid of the ones I'll never read again. He wanted me to photograph my bookshelves and show you the "mess" here on my blog. I refused. I will tell you that on top of the horizontal rows of books, I had vertical stacks of books. They were piled everywhere. 

So, I've got issues. Who cares? I. Love. Books.

I collected 11 bags of books and one bag of Writer's Digest magazines with issues dating back to 1999. Were you aware that Half Price Books buys almost anything? What they don't buy, they'll recycle for you! I figured the magazines would be recycled (I didn't have the heart to do it myself!), but they were thrilled to get them and decided to sell them as a collection. Outstanding.
Half Price Books' 40th Anniversary is coming up this year! Happy Birthday HPB. :))

I walked away with $50 (and two new books...shh!), and my bookshelves are neat, organized, and only contain what I can't live without or what I haven't read yet. It wasn't easy. Actually, it was quite painful! But, I do feel a sense of accomplishment, and the house feels uncluttered.

I admitted to my husband that I've been hoarding books because I feel unsuccessful with my writing. For every day I don't get requests for my Little Acorn PB manuscript or something BIG doesn't happen with my writing, it makes me feel better to buy books.

I'm satisfying my need to be published by buying books. Wow, that sounds terrible when I say it aloud. 

Most books I read, but some just sit on the shelves, looking pretty. I'm also a sucker for a beautiful hardcover. I love the scent and the feel of a book. Does that make me a weirdo?

How about you? Do you buy books for something other than just to read them? How often to you thin out your bookshelves? Do you find yourself hiding the purchase of another book?